Left or right? I let Freya decide. We often take the path less travelled – even if it leads to nowhere.
We stop and watch frogs “cuddling”. We pet friendly dogs. We scratch stray cats.
From conversations with strangers we have learned about the importance of yellow birthday scooters (no pink allowed), how to make frothy milk with a whisk and the torment that is left after the suicide of a beloved son.
We make daisy chains (badly), spot planes, count bees. We have time to notice things; the shiny sticker lost on a path, the first butterfly of the year or the squirrel attempting to carry too many nuts up a tree.
I love this pace during the odd free hours I get to spend with her but I know, even a year ago, I would have found it … excruciating.
Walking was about getting somewhere – and you needed to be quick if you wanted to keep up with me.
I saw no point in dilly dallying whether I was going to a job, the shops or even when supposed to be enjoying a leisurely stroll around a local beauty spot. If the pace wasn’t world record level it was certainly very close to it.
“Slow down!” People would say. “Why are you always in such a hurry?”
For me it was about getting to where I needed to be. Fast.
Oh, how times have changed.
Now a walk often takes twice as long as it should – and sometimes we don’t even get to where we are supposed to be going.
It has taken some time to get to this point, to realise that the philosophers and poets are right and that the journey is as important as the destination.
And it is Freya that has led me.
Sometimes I feel like I’m teaching her and then every so often I will think: “Oh, hang on. Surely this is the meaning of ‘stop and smell the roses'”. Often literally.
Toddlers have such a fascination for everything. Everything needs to be looked at and poked if mummy will let her, which quite often, now, I do (I’m a bit less trigger happy with the wet wipes these days too).
Our plans are fluid. There is no concept of time. I don’t even wear a watch anymore.
She takes my hand and off we go.
And, I have to say, I’m very much enjoying the ride.