This morning as we fastened our seatbelts I turned to my partner and said: ‘I have very low expectations.’ He responded: ‘I think it’s best that we abandon all hope.’
A bit strong, but he had a point.
Recently any attempt at a nice family day out seems naïve at best and reckless at worst. We simply don’t have nice days out, we just muddle along and hope to survive with our sense of humours intact.
So I exaggerate, but it is extremely rare for us to take the little ones (and to be fair they are both still pretty small) to any kind of activity without it ending or starting or floating along on tears. Or tantrums, or worse. That’s why it’s best for us not to expect a good day out, but just to face the weekend knowing that we’ll somehow get through it and for the first time in our lives, pray for Monday to start.
This morning my planned activity was a recce to Finlaystone Estate, which I wasn’t quite ready to commit to Doggynet. My previous foray had involved a 10 minute stop in the car park with a flask of coffee on a quiet Monday morning in March. Like today it was a very rainy, non-day and lucky for me both kids had been fast asleep, so I’d simply jumped out of the car, taken the mewls for a dump and a few other items on her doggy business agenda, before returning to the car and abandoning my visit.
I had reasonably high hopes for the Finlaystone Estate, as I remembered a serene and beautiful approach and what looked like some interesting trail walks. Regardless, I never like to get too over-excited about a new doggynet find, after so many disappointments over the years. In addition, the prospect of dragging the squirrels around anything that isn’t specifically child-friendly, never fills me with too much joy. We were prepared.
But, wonderfully, Finlaytone Estate was a great big pleasant surprise. The Estate is every bit as beautiful as I’d first thought and those trail walks did actually materialise into something pretty lovely.
We followed one of 2 routes (the red one), which took us past play boats and trains, bug hotels, swings and picnic areas. The oldest one was in her element, she even managed to walk the full length of the trail without any kind of lifting or carrying. At one point she started babbling about a previous life when she’d lived in one of the many huts on the trail and made berry soup with her friends. This is the same child who only gave up the double buggy this week (ok, yes, I gave up the double buggy, but she was one half of its occupancy) and has since cried every day on the way to and from nursery.
The little one was extremely unhappy, due the latest in a series of colds that she’s picked up in her residence on Misery Lane, so yeah she cried most of the way round, but as she was strapped to me I felt less guilty than I would have done if she’d been wailing in a buggy.
Only one child crying! That’s the secret of happiness.
Sure, I’m getting a bit carried away and oops, haven’t even mentioned the dog, but you get the gist: Finlaystone Estate must be a winner if we could manage a dog walk and get some pleasure out of it.
Ah yeah, sorry mewls, it was doggy heaven too. Admittedly there are many signs about keeping your dog under control and on a lead etc. (might have ignored the latter a wee bit) but she had a pretty good romp. In addition, we didn’t encounter a single other small person. In fact the youngest person seemed to be about 85, so it was little person-free.
Maybe I’m unlike other people, but a place that is practically deserted is always a win in my book.
To top it all off, the Estate is right next to the M8 towards Greenock, so it’s easy to get to and at a speed that optimises sleep (for the little ones).
Don’t worry, I’ll continue to keep my expectations low, but as far as Finlaystone Estate goes, it’s a yes from me.