What could be more quintessentially winter than an afternoon ice skating on a frozen village pond? Well when the temperature has soared to a tropical 9 degrees centigrade the village pond is replaced by the ice rink set up at the local garden centre, but the fun had by both participants and spectators was about the same.
In our case the participants were young Josh, the son of our friends Gill and Andre, and three of his mates, all aged 12 or thereabouts. The spectators were Jean, Gill and I. Gill wasn’t exactly a spectator as she spent most of her time running around after the lads ensuring they had what they needed to skate, and at the same time making sure they didn’t lose clothes, shoes, gloves and possibly their heads while skating.
Talking to the boys before the skating they seemed to be seasoned experts. They discussed the techniques they would employ and how they had done this many times before. But, as Jean said when we arrived at the rink, ice skating is the great leveller. If you don’t know what you’re doing it is totally debilitating. Everything you know about moving forward, backwards and staying vertical is useless and you start learning all over again.
Our young experts quickly realised this as they clung to the railing with skates pointing in different directions and their young ankles bent sideways at close to 90 degrees. Suddenly the bright orange “seals” that others were holding on to for support (imagine bright orange seal shaped Zimmer Frames and you’ll get the idea) were in use by our lads as they slid, slipped and tiptoed over the ice.
Thirty minutes later they were finding their feet and starting to look a bit like ice skaters but at that point the bell rang and the next group of eager skaters were ready to take to the ice. It was time for hot chocolate and cake and to adjourn to Josh’s place for an afternoon of “nerf gun” fun followed by McDonalds for tea.
Oh to be 12 years old at Christmas time.