As confusing as the weather might be in this ozone depleted, globally warmed world of ours I can still just about recognise the change in the seasons. As such I am gearing up for lighter nights and the promise of a trip to a local beauty spot. We will look at old buildings eating ice-cream and, if I can convince my wife to bring the flat shoes she uses for driving, we will sample some local ale.
The day out will no doubt include two things that are as traditionally to our family as raincoats and flip-flops.
Firstly, we will walk far enough to hear the girls complain about the distance; this will develop in to an argument about wearing the correct type of shoes and end in at least one party member refusing to budge another 2.54 cm.
Secondly, one of the girls will decide to challenge mum to do something a little more daring than would be her natural inclination. 'Come on mum, have a go. Everyone else is doing it' they will cry leaving her protestations ignored.
Last year we took on the delights of Bolton Abbey. We looked at relics and ate frozen dessert before setting off on the path towards the river. Here we were faced with a choice that divides all families into two camps: stepping stones or footbridge.
The girls started work on chipping away at mum’s footbridge selection. 'Look mum, even little kids can do it' says daughter number two laying down a challenge.
My wife asks for my opinion and, to be honest, I am torn between two thoughts. Firstly, I feel the need to protect her from the overwhelming power that is 'four daughters working together'. However, I am also caught by the idea that it might well be fun to watch her attempt the stepping stones. Her fate is sealed.
Two daughters head off across the stones without fear of the two-foot deep stream of water. I walk ahead of my bride in an attempt to talk her through the whole process with two other daughters in tow. Ten stones into our journey and my wife's nerve disappears. Now please don’t think of her as fearless. You can't give birth to four daughters without having some ability to face a challenge.
On this sunny day however the bride of my youth stopped in her tracks and refused to make another step. Returning the way we came was not an option because the steps were full of other eager travellers. By now whole families had stopped to watch proceedings from both banks of the river and the nearby footbridge.
Using all the encouraging words that I could find I attempted to lure my wife across the waters but the lady was not for moving and I had to make the ultimate sacrifice. Without fear for the safety of my own Nike trainers I jumped into the river to hold her hand as she continued. I was neither bothered by the applause from the assembled crowd nor by the cold water rising towards the area that men are most accustomed to protecting; my wallet. No! It was the thought of how much my footwear was going to smell after such an episode.
We arrived at the other side to cheers and I received a worthy hug as my wife once again saw me as a hero. I am certain that she is not the only person to have reached stepping stone number ten and refused to move in either direction. I have therefore decided to set up a new help group for those who have suffered a similar trauma at Bolton Abbey; VENUS; ‘Vow Eternally - Never Use Stones’. I also feel the need to set up a group for all those heroes who, like me, have felt the cold water in vulnerable places. It will be called MARS, ‘Manly At River Steps’. We will gather in a local hostelry to dry our trainers and share stories of our heroic deeds.