Since finishing her GCSEs 3 weeks ago Amy has been at a bit of a loose end and it's been nice to spend a little more time with her. On Thursday evening we went for a long walk together, exploring some of our local countryside around Great Amwell nature reserve and walking the Amwell walkway which follows the course of a dismantled railway branch line. It was a lovely evening and we saw and heard lots of wildlife including rabbits, butterflies, dragonflies, some huge Roman snails (Helix pomatia which was exciting as they are quite rare and endangered here in the UK), a green woodpecker and lots of water birds. I was really hoping to see a barn owl but we weren't that lucky.
Along the path that runs through farmland we had an uncomfortably close encounter with a herd of cows, young bullocks I think they were. When we first walked through their field they were laying down but on the way back they were drinking and grazing, stopping when we walked past and becoming very curious about us. Disconcertingly they followed us all the way down the field, getting closer all the while and we were relieved to reach the stile and climb over, leaving them on the other side.
Before returning to the canal we climbed Widbury Hill and enjoyed the views across Ware and the Lea Valley. On the way back down, with the rich evening sunlight warming our backs we could hear bells pealing out across the fields as the ringers practiced at the church and it felt like a perfect moment in time.
It's not easy to remain connected to your child as they navigate their teenage years. Often I feel that my words and advice are not welcome and mostly actively ignored. Spending time with me is often pretty low on her list of priorities, so sharing moments like these with her is a precious thing and I treasure them all the more because of their comparative rarity. It fills my heart with pleasure that despite her usual preference for spending time immersed in the technology of computers and digital communication she can still enjoy and access the simple and rewarding pleasure of being quiet, observant and appreciative in a beautiful place.