Places like this are only found by either pixies or children. For starters, it was somewhere past the distant parameter of cell phone range, which automatically reduces its chances of being found by at least 95% of the world’s Western population.
On our first evening there, I went over to fetch the boys for tea, but soon found myself embroiled in a stand-off against the two defenders of a river bank den. Blankets and a shredded tarpaulin clung to several tree branches, giving the protagonists a home advantage and hiding place over the wicked henchman that had stumbled across their set. Almost immediately, I found myself being attacked by sticks and tied up with at least 30 metres of rope. Perhaps I was being held captive due to my instant transformation into a baddie role, one that comes naturally to any father by a sudden change of voice and posture, demanding surrender, or face the malevolent forces of Venom-man, Skeletor, or whichever other heinous creature I was meant to be that day.
Maybe they held me captive because they weren’t ready to make the sobering return to reality. Or possibly, it was just because they’d heard I was cooking tonight and there wasn’t any point in rushing back to one of Dad’s bland rice dishes, often disguised as a ‘rice surprise’ – ’cause It’s always a surprise if it tastes good!
Either way, tea had to wait, especially as the days were drawing in. With only an hour of light left, the next 60 minutes promised so much in adventure, drama and bruising to the old man’s hands as sticks inadvertently rode up and over my intruder’s weapon, a flimsy twig which happened to be getting smaller with each riposte.
Over the week that followed, this special place was frequented on more than one occasion by Spiderman, Batman, Peter Pan and Tinkerbell, as well as being the best local spot for chapters of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five. All whilst read under the partial shade of trees shedding the first falling leaves of Autumn.