Despite having no telly, much less a Skybox, or a Wii, or computer even, Little Boots was very good in not voicing dissatisfaction with the absence of the technology that is so, so, so, taken for granted back home.

However, after a day spent mostly inside because of rain I could tell the munchkin was really fed up. What could I do to make life interesting for a five-year old I thought?

Then inspiration struck.

“Shall we make a bow and arrow?”

Little Boots almost bounced with glee, because back in the UK requests for such an item have been put off for a while now. I’m not opposed to it per se, but the layout of our garden means that there really isn’t the space. So being in France, with a whole orchard to practice in, provided the ideal opportunity.

As we scouted along the mixed native hedge that I had a hand in planting one cold Christmas seven years ago, in search of suitable wood, I showed Little Boots the various plants, explaining about the “bread and cheese” from Hawthorn, how the Romans introduced Sweet Chestnut with its twisted bark, that my granny used to make lots of Damson jam but it was bitter and horrible*, and how Blackthorn was used for drinks for grown ups and clubs in Ireland, but that some farmers hated it because it could hurt cows’ feet.

The munchkin appeared interested, though this may have been more to do with anticipation of the end result of our efforts.

Once we had the right sticks, I fished string and a sharp knife out of my pocket, and we sat down on a log and set to work.

“How do you know how to do this?” asked Little Boots as I strung the bow and twanged the cord to test the tension.

“It’s what we did when I was little”, I replied. “We didn’t have Wiis and stuff. And the telly was rubbish. Besides this is much more fun.”

And the twinkle in the munchkin’s eye told me that, for that short moment in time at least, I was absolutely right.

*All these years I’d thought that my granny was just a bad jam maker, but I recently read in A Garden In The Clouds that the author found it similarly bitter and awful.

 

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