I have been somewhat distracted over the past few days. For the best of reasons. The Netherlands branch of the family came to stay for a few days. My family seems to have rather a lot of birthdays at this time of year and as my grandson, Oliver, celebrated his first birthday on October 14, and as his sister, Effie, would be celebrating her fifth birthday on October 27, and as my birthday falls neatly between the two, it was decided to have a Big Birthday Bash celebrating all three anniversaries at the same time.

This was the first time Oliver had visited us since he became mobile: crawling rapidly all over the place. So a risk assessment was called for. Not merely placing easily breakable objects on a higher level but, literally, crawling around to see what might delight the eye of an adventurous one-year old. Cables which if pulled could bring down a table lamp. The tables themselves could be moved as he seeks for an object he can use as his version of a Zimmer frame. 

Who would have thought such a small child could move such an object? Action and reaction is learnt at a very early age.

One of Effie’s delights when visiting us is to go to the playground on the Wheatsheaf Common. We had warned her that it was currently closed but on a walk to view the Rive Ponds on Wheatsheaf Common she demanded to see, with her own eyes, that the gate to the play area was locked. It was. Padlock and cable ties.

However, on a walk into town she had said: “People are there, why can’t I go there?”

On return from town the area was checked once more. All firmly locked. No-one there. That some people had got in previously was upsetting. Had they managed to clamber over the fence? Had they passed small children over the fence to be retrieved when tired of testing all the play apparatus? It all appears to be in good order, by the way.

It rubbed salt into the wounds when on a visit to a friend in Staines she was taken to a playground which, despite faulty flooring, was open.

The reason for the playground on The Wheatsheaf to be closed is given that the surface covering has shrunk and therefore caused gaps which could be termed trip hazards. In my day that same playground was just earth apart from some tarmac under the swings. Is that plasticky covering necessary? 

Part of my research for this piece necessitated my watching a fair amount of CBeebies programmes. There, no lesser persons than the Teletubbies showed a children’s’ playground surfaced with wood chippings. I had assumed that someone in health and safety would have deemed wood chippings unhygienic, or found some other reason for not using this simple material, as used by Teletubby friends. It would not puddle for rain would soak through it. 

Horsell Common Preservation Society use it on paths. Perhaps HCPS could supply some to the council for a reasonable price. I do not like seeing my youngest granddaughter in tears by a padlocked gate! This brings back young memories of when almost everything was shut because of Covid.