I’ve just spent the last seven weeks with family in London. When you live as far away as Riyadh, family time becomes very precious, and so there are many, many tales I could tell – feeding the pelicans in St James Park, doing the London Eye, a Dedication service and a Very Hungry Caterpillar themed first birthday party.
But if I had to choose just one story, this would be it. It’s the story of a small boy and a yellow plastic duck. It began with some plants - geranium, lobelia and lavender - all bought from the hardware shop down the road. It continued with their need for water, and someone, who having already helped with the potting, wanted to carry on helping with the watering.
The next part of the story was the shop around the corner, the Happy Shopper. “You’ll find a watering can there”, my daughter had said. “They have everything.”
So I wasn’t surprised when I asked, and Harry the shop owner nodded from behind the counter. He went to get his ladder and climbed to a high shelf in the corner. “This one?” he said wielding a tin can in the air, and wobbling just a little on the top rung of the ladder. “Hmm,” I said. “It’s a bit big,” and explained that it was not for me but the small person currently smiling and chatting away in the buggy beside me. “What about that?” I asked pointing to a yellow plastic duck I’d just spotted, a little further along the shelf.
A few minutes later we left the Happy Shopper and its jam-packed shelves. The little one was happily clutching his yellow plastic duck and making loud quacking noises to it and all and sundry who passed by. I figured that at £4,95, even if it was terrible as a watering can, I'd already had my return just in entertainment value.
Back at home it was afternoon tea time and Duck sat very close to the high chair and was offered his fair share of blueberries and water from Tommy Tippee. Then the three of us ventured out into the sunny back yard for the all important watering test run.
This was the best of all. The duck was perfect. It was just the right size and shape for a little hand to grasp, and the small trickle that came from its bill perfect for pouring over the plants. And of course there was the additional fun of letting some of the water course over toes and onto the ground, making dusty puddles for little feet to stamp in.
Now that we’ve had our practice and the plants have been well and truly watered, Duck sits alone outside, waiting patiently for tomorrow when someone will reach down again, and with appropriate duck like quacking sounds, grab the handle and pour some much needed water over the small collection of backyard plants.
And, even though I've left London and I’m a long way away again, I guess that the day after tomorrow will be the same all over again.