It was when the donkeys started nibbling my arm that I decided the time had come for action. Launching myself over the gate, I nervously approached a lady with hot pink hair. "I'm very sorry," I started, "but could you possibly show me the way out?"
In case you think I've started blogging about my dreams, let me assure you that I was wide awake at the time. The walk had started off innocently enough. Theo was happily ensconced in the carrier, and we strode cheerfully across a green and growing field under a sunny sky. A couple of stiles and a little bridge later, we found ourselves in a small wood. Butterflies flitted by, and hazel trees arched over the path, creating an inviting tunnel.
A few steps in, though, I realised it was a rather muddy tunnel. The wet underfoot was quickly seeping through my battered trainers. My jeans had been not only clean that morning, but also brand new. They were now decorated with dirt splashes up to the knees. Things were quickly heading downhill.
Sure enough, the path promptly disappeared amongst the trees. I kept catching tantalising glimpses of open fields outside of the wood, but at every turn my way seemed to be blocked by barbed wire and brambles. Finally I found what appeared to be some kind of track, albeit one composed of knee-high wet grass trying to grow in a stream. By this time my sodden shoes were beyond help. I sploshed through.
We reached another dead end. On my left was a broken sign with the name of the wood. "Walkers welcome on waymarked paths" it read. Muttering darkly about the standard of waymarking on these particular paths, I turned to my right, where there was a metal gate with - oh joy! - a field and a house beyond. But. No stile, and a distinct lack of waymarking. Could I climb a five-bar gate with a 14-pound infant attached to my front?
As it turned out, yes I could. But as it turned out, that barn at the top of the field contained three very inquisitive donkeys with no sense of personal space. At first I wasn't worried, thinking they'd just come for a quick sniff. Donkeys are pretty docile creatures, I thought. But they pushed in closer. And closer. Hairy noses at every turn, and questing mouths taking much too close an interest in Theo's dangling feet. And my arm. Ouch! By this point they jostled us up against the gate, but I didn't dare open it in case they all stampeded. So it was up over the top again, and into, effectively, someone's front garden.
Fortunately the woman mowing the grass wasn't as alarming as her day-glo hair might suggest. She took the arrival of an extremely muddy mother and baby entirely in her stride. Shutting off the mower, grabbed the largest dog, yelled at the other three, and walked me to the front gate.
I'll never look at donkeys in quite the same way again.