Fun in the park for kids big and small

The Rev Canon Bob White with representatives of the groups involved in our Christmas campaignh run with churches in Portsmouth - Comfort and Joy

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Afew weeks ago I wrote in this column about my hope for more dry weather so I can take my daughters to the play park to release all that energy they’ve stored up while the clouds were grey and the garden was muddy.

Let’s be honest, no-one wants to get to the bottom of the slide to be greeted by a puddle of water and a wet bottom.

Well my wish has been granted and the recent spell of rainless weather meant I could strap Caitlin and Alyssa into their car seats and make our way to the place where fun is completely free.

In the past we’ve visited most of the parks in the Portsmouth area, so I asked them to choose which one we would go to and a very rare thing happened. They actually agreed with each other.

From both of their mouths came the words ‘the one with the big slide’, meaning the park next to Baffins Pond.

It’s a beautiful part of the city, especially on a warm day, with the sunshine bouncing off the large natural pond.

This is an area where you’ll be greeted by a diverse community of wildlife including ducks and swans. Apparently it is also home to the protected Brent geese.

Of course my daughters weren’t interested in any of this. You guessed it, as soon as we arrived they headed straight for the big slide.

On the day we visited, the park was very busy, mostly with mums.

As a dad I was in the minority. I counted just two of us compared to more than 20 of the opposite sex and the big slide was very popular.

My daughters climbed to the top, took up their position and after shouting ‘look dad’ propelled themselves forward.

My role was, with the other parents, to stand at the bottom of the slide and cheer them on and share in their delight. Good practice for sports day I thought.

But obviously one go was not enough – neither was two and nor was three.

I spent a lot of time at the foot of that slide, but it was time for me to do some climbing of my own.

‘Daddy can you come on with us?’ was the plea from my four-year-old daughter Caitlin.

I broadcast to thousands of listeners every week on Heart and I’ve performed to a full Kings Theatre in the pantomime. But now I was being asked to join the queue of under-fives and propel myself down a slide with an audience of mothers waiting at the bottom.

Did I do it? Of course I did and what fun. It was like being a child again and my daughters found it hilarious.

Of course one go was enough for me. I prefer the swings and I told Caitlin not to push me too high.