Country mouse on birthday parties

After the party, the rosy-cheeked children stank of smoke and were covered in mud. ‘That was a really cool party,’ I heard one of the eight year olds tell her surprised-looking mother at the end. It was the result of an outdoor birthday celebration with 20 children. Ambitious in February at the best of times, and we didn’t really have a suitable Plan B.

But even if we had another dump of snow, we calculated that a snowman and sledging party would be unforgettable. In the event, it was dry and sunny and the white stuff had disappeared. We played hunt the gumboot and then towed everyone in a trailer up into the woods. We built a bonfire, cooked sausages and toasted marshmallows.

I’m now confident that young girls don’t need magicians paid by the hour or elaborate princess outfits to enjoy themselves. We struck a blow in the campaign against child obesity by sending them to swoop round the garden like a shoal of fish in search of manufactured rubber footwear (although the effect may have been negated by the marshmallows) and proved to ourselves that country children don’t require expensive entertainers (I didn’t charge for my time). A stick, a sausage and a box of matches may become the motif of the rural credit crunch.