CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to EADT Suffolk today CLICK HERE

In search of a perfect moment

PUBLISHED: 12:11 10 February 2015 | UPDATED: 12:12 10 February 2015

A family walk at Sutton Hoo.

A family walk at Sutton Hoo.

Lucy Etherington organises The Family Walk . . . sort of

I always imagine everyone else’s family walks being jolly, ruddy cheeked affairs, with muddy wellies and waggy dogs and sparkly eyed children running up with pine cones held in their mittens. “Look what I’ve found, Mummy!”

Mine are a peculiar kind of hell that, for some reason, I keep repeating.

They go roughly like this.

It’s Sunday, no one is dressed, there’s a build-up of sticky inertia in the house, and everyone is happy playing computer games or reading papers. I, however, cannot relax, because I am possessed by this idea that every other family in the universe is outdoors in the bracing winter sunshine being wholesome.

“Let’s go for a walk,” I say in a voice that isn’t really mine (I think it’s my late Great Grandmother, Cross Country Champion of Glamorgan), pulling back the curtains and letting light pour on all the screens and swirling dust motes.

Everyone hears The Crazy Voice and does that thing when a mad person enters the room of pretending they’re not there. Which, of course, makes the mad person madder.

“Come on! It’s a lovely day!”

The 18th century philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, wrote in his Reveries of the Solitary Walker (note: “solitary”), “I have never thought that a man’s freedom consists in being able to do whatever he wills, but he should not, by any human will, be forced to do what is against his will.”

I entirely agree with him. However, I’m possessed by a Fun Nazi running a Country Magazine Lifestyle Bootcamp, some residue of early childhood brainwashing. The word ‘family walk’ lights up a neural pathway in my brain that orders me to stride madly up some sleet-whipped ragged mountain until my feet explode.

My husband doesn’t have that. Childhood ‘walks’ for him were more field trips. You only go outside to look at something specific, like a deer or migrating swallows, then get back in the car and go for a Kentucky. He’s easily affronted by any weather that isn’t controlled by air conditioning as it reminds him he’s not indoors. Naturally, he’s the only one of us who was born and raised in the countryside.

Then there’s my 14-year-old daughter, born with a cynically arched eyebrow, who has been going through the ‘phase’ of not wanting to be seen dead with her family since she was around eight.

She doesn’t do wellies or coats, and likes to walk about three miles behind us, pretending to the world that she’s actually heading in some other direction on her own, which is why she is wearing pink DMs and a crop top, and looks murderous if we try to broach her. I realise that used to be me, glaring from under my eighties fringe at my triumphant parents at the top of some fell, cragg, seat or pike with my backcombing all awry, but I’ve conveniently forgotten all this.

Finally there’s my son. He genuinely loves walking. In the absence of an actual canine, he is the family dog. He will run to and fro, fetching sticks, even if he does point them at our heads and make exploding noises. Yet finding wellies that still fit him and that haven’t been left at school takes a few hours, usually ending with him wearing trainers and coming back looking like a mud fondue, as does trying to get my daughter not to dress for a night club while verbally psychoanalysing me with such brutal precision.

“We are only doing this because you are insane.”

We finally get out the front door at the moment the sun disappears behind a cloud, an icy chill slams us in the face and clouds rumble. We set off, my husband ambling while reading football scores on his phone, my son running through trees gunning down imaginary zombies, my daughter trying to kill us with her stare, and the spitty rain doing the rest.

I’m far ahead because my wellies have been cursed (by my Great Grandmother) to stride like seven league boots.

If we were walking with friends, we’d naturally adjust to each other’s pace. But there’s a will to individualism in the family that makes us look like angry toy bunnies run on different batteries all going off in different directions.

An hour or so into the walk, we may all come together, mostly to argue about which direction to take.

Every time, I vow never to do this again. But, you know Freud’s theory of repetition compulsion – where we helplessly repeat self-destructive patterns thinking they might actually be different this time?

Also (usually in the last five minutes) there might be a ‘moment’, one for the Rose-tinted Family Memories album. One was my daughter on Holbrook Bay calling a curlew “magical”. Another where my son says “I love woods”, eyes bright and cheeks aglow. There’s one involving den building at Thorndon – at least I think that was my memory: I could have been wistfully admiring another family while my own beat each other with sticks.

For a brief instant we become that ruddy-cheeked wholesome family – until I try to capture it on the phone camera . . .

Lucy Etherington writes regularly in Suffolk Magazine

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other EADT Suffolk Magazine visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by EADT Suffolk Magazine staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique EADT Suffolk Magazine account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Suffolk

Fri, 16:28

Spirit Yachts is a Suffolk success story. After 25 years of designing and building luxury vessels sailed all over the world, it has plenty to celebrate | Words: Ross Bentley

Read more
Wed, 14:52

Creative couple David and Henrietta Villiers have designed a stunning new home at Aldeburgh | Words & Photos: Tony Hall

Read more
Wed, 14:40

With so much going on around Suffolk this weekend, it’s not easy to decide what amazing events you’ll be attending. Allow our handy guide to 5 things to do make that decision a little easier!

Read more
Tue, 14:44

Cocktails with dinner? Tessa Allingham dines at The Northgate, Bury St Edmunds, where chef Greig Young says good food can be fun

Read more
Tue, 12:04

Not many people know it but a lot of your favourite films have been made in Suffolk. From blockbusters to independent, here are 21 films made in Suffolk.

Read more
Tue, 09:34

With breath-taking beaches, stunning stately homes and picture-perfect places, it’s no wonder so many TV shows choose to film in Suffolk. Here are 20 that set up camp in our county

Read more
Friday, November 9, 2018

We’re always looking for ways to reverse the signs of ageing, and ways to keep our skin looking fresh and youthful, and the ACCOR Plasma Pen is the new treatment promising to deliver these results. Sue French at French Complexion in Hadleigh answers your questions...

Read more
Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Private, intimate and unforgettable: here’s why you should consider a bespoke package wedding at a stately home

Read more
Friday, October 26, 2018

We all love a good cup of coffee, whether it’s a latte, flat white or just plain black Suffolk is home to a multitude of wonderful local coffee shops. Here are 10 of our favourites with no chains in sight!

Read more
Friday, October 26, 2018

An exclusive charity sale at Bishop & Miller gives Ed Sheeran fans the chance to own some of the singer’s personal items

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

EADT Suffolk Magazine regular newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy


Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search