Goodbye skinny dipping, hello pond dipping

by Julie Alpine-Crabtree







I took this picture of Milo this morning at our lake house in Martha’s Vineyard Camley Street Natural Park – two acres of wild green space a stone’s throw from King’s Cross St Pancras. Although it’s within earshot of the trains coming in and out and the diggers at work on the massive redevelopment of the surrounding area (where once stood Bagleys and The Cross, now only dumper trucks), it feels a million miles from central London. Run by the London Wildlife Trust, it is an utterly beguiling spot, especially when, as was the case today, we have the whole place to ourselves.

The first rule of pond dipping: you do not talk about pond dipping

Give a boy a net, a tray and a magnifying box and set him loose on a muddy, bug-filled pond and is it any surprise he won’t sit still long enough to eat his sandwich?

While we kept our eyes peeled for a moose or a grizzly, it was mainly water fleas we found, though we did have visitors in the form of a squirrel, a turtle (terrapin?) and several moorhens.

The whole enchanted-forest spell was only broken when we got the bus to Moorgate – and nursery – in the 27-degree heat. Milo fell asleep slumped against a total stranger, Nini, teething and red of cheek, required constant bouncing and entertaining and, when we reached our stop, getting the three of us off the bus plus buggy-with-attached-buggy-board felt like it should be an event all of its own at next year’s Olympics. When women talk about motherhood unleashing the tiger within, I know what they mean. Even if in my case that most often translates as not being embarrassed to yell at the bus driver to hold on while I manhandle us all off.

Geeing along a half-asleep toddler while holding a crying baby and steering an empty buggy through the office lunch-hour crowds, my mind got to thinking about that fantasy house in Cape Cod. To a grown-ups-only getaway. To sleeping beyond 6am, taking meals uninterrupted, skinny dipping in the lake. Because at the fantasy house, I still have my pre-baby body. Although I’d be far too shy to yell at a bus driver to wait up.