Dan Morris: Kayaks, Camping and Kids at Christmas
The motorhome is packed, and the open road awaits...
I say 'packed' in the loosest possible term. I've decided what to take on my pending kayaking trip, yet have done nothing to physically stow it aboard what will be shortly be my free-wheeling home for a few days.
It's been a while. Mr Morris Snr and playful pooch are aboard, yet we haven't breathed the free air courtesy of the great white camping shark for over a year. And, crucially, the last time we took our behemoth of a bus for a trip it was the height of summer.
A water sports holiday in November seems more the kind of 'relaxation' a certain Mr Grills would opt for rather than a king of home comforts like myself. Yet, of course, for Big Bad Bear, he'd no doubt have to team it with sleeping under the bus and dining on the dog's biscuits for the time to have felt truly well spent.
These days though I'm about saying yes to everything, particularly when it comes to resurrecting my love of adventure and the outdoors. As a kid I was never one to spend hours in front of a games console, and spent as a little time in my bedroom as I could during a typical weekend. This followed through into young adulthood, and my enthusiasm for fresh air never fully evaporated as I made my way through my 20s. I have however found that in my 30s – and with the lovely responsibilities that they involve – it can be harder to make that time to feel the wind in my hair.
Where possible therefore, in my breaks from Weekend Towers, I like to indulge my country-boy roots and get stuck in to a bit of nature. Even near-frozen lakes in November.
So like Mr Grills, Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Captain Scott before me, I will shortly be letting the intrepid explorer in me loose, and will be spending a chunk of this brisk month in the great outdoors, searching for a slice of the beautiful calm that only they can provide.
The bell is of course already tolling for the start of the festive season. Christmas goods line the shelves at emporiums across the land, and in certain sectors of the region, Bublé is already blaring from supermarket speakers.
I'll leave the appropriateness/inappropriateness of festive tunes pre-December to Matt and Caroline with this week's The Big Debate. But what I will say is that, for me this year, I'm ready for Crimbo in general to get into gear.
Recent trips to a local garden centre with the little 'un have thoroughly reinforced the idea that the greatest joy in the world is experienced through the eyes of a child – and the lovely thing about this is that it is highly contagious. Watching her sweet little face light up at the sight of sparkly festive goods ready for purchasing has put me straight back into 'kid at Christmas' mode, and staring at her beautiful smile never fails to cause one to spread across my own chops.
"It'll be at least another year before she truly understands what Christmas is all about," so they say. I prefer to think that Christmas is absolutely all about smiling and being happy just 'because', so I'd say Little Miss Morris has already cracked it.
Without question, when I return from my winter kayaking excursion, I'm going into full-on 'Danta Claus' mode, and will be doing my best to banish "bah, humbug!" and spread seasonal cheer to all I meet. Before the inevitable canoe frostbite puts paid to my fingers, I'm going to get all of my shopping done so that Yuletide in the Morris household will be a thing to behold; and the feast will be an absolute beast.
When I was six, my love of both the outdoors and Christmas knew no bounds. At 36, I will bring that back tenfold. Because if I want my daughter to learn one lesson from me right now, it's that growing up completely is never a great idea. We all need to keep part of us as kids – always. And I want that little smile to sparkle forever.