Keeping it safe for kids

We are revving up to what could be described as our season of summer madness.

I am rifling through cupboards for items for the Tombola at yet another village/church fete, repairing the paddling pool and cleaning up my old trainers to wear for the parents’ race at Sports Day. Tom, meanwhile, is dusting off the moisture meter and hoovering out the sheds ready for harvest.

Feeling the pressure of B&B enquiries as the phone rings for the 10th time today, I find myself trying to watch my own children in the garden, while organising Mr and Mrs Lovely from Dudley fishing, riding and water sports for their own children.

The issue of child supervision and safety has come up recently with our new garden trampoline. We are aware of the potential dangers posed by this play equipment, so I researched the best possible options before buying. This included ensuring the strength of the steel frame could cope with mummy and daddy, and their friends feeling the need to demonstrate a “forward roll”, having a high number of springs to enable even the largest of our chums an enjoyable bounce, and a net to prevent our “mini-mes” from toppling off and giving us another reason to visit the A&E.

Being responsible these days does mean you have to give most careful scrutiny to the potential hazards of everything to the point that, generally, children are protected so much that they are unable to ascertain the boundaries of danger for themselves.

But allowing children of our guests to use our tree house, trampolines and swings, means we open ourselves up to a potential

problem if any accident occurs. Our insurance company has advised that we don’t encourage it, but as a safeguard we must provide clear danger warning signage.

Tom has also advised me that despite my confidence in his constructions, his prize for top machinery student at Shuttleworth College did not necessarily qualify him to know the correct specification for our self-made, home-designed children’s play equipment.

Trampolining children are not the only airborne objects this weekend, as it is also the Fairford Royal International Air Tattoo. We have a houseful of aeronautical enthusiasts.

The same guests return year on year and have become established friends. Michele the handsome Italian grabs an early continental breakfast, borrows a bicycle and gets to the airfield by 7am. Tim and Peter from Germany would struggle to get their large array of cameras, long lenses and comfortable fold-up chairs on a bicycle, so set off in their hire car every morning after a hearty breakfast.

The phone rings for the 20th time today as an optimistic voice enquires as to the availability of a double room for this Saturday. I patiently explain that getting accommodation might prove as difficult to obtain as a reliable weather forecast these days. Outside I can hear the daredevil aerobatic display team warming up again – the trampoline display team, that is.

Suzie Paton’s farm B&B columns

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