"How's it going?" I asked McColleague, as she approached.
"All right, " she replied. "I've had to come back once already. One of the kids was taken poorly in the woods."
We didn't have time to exchange much more information than that. It was the changeover section of our children's event, our Bug Hunt and Pond Dipping activity. This outdoor event is very popular and always fully booked. As the numbers are so large we split it into two sections, with one group heading off into the woods - on this instance with McColleague and Lovely Warden - to hunt for insects and wildlife, while the other group stayed with me and New Warden for a go at fishing in the moat for water creatures. After an hour the groups swap over, so everyone gets to have a go at both activities.
"Right," I announced to the assembled crowd of adults with children in wellies, clutching brightly coloured fishing nets. "Those of you who have done the moat dipping will now be heading off with McColleague and Lovely Warden here. Those of you who have just been on a bug hunt will now be coming with me to see what we can find in the moat!"
I did the usual health and safety chat about taking great care by the water's edge, washing their hands after they'd finished, and then handed out the plastic trays into which the children would be landing their catch of the day. It's always water boatmen. We get the occasional stickleback, a water scorpion, perhaps a leech. But by far the most common sight, zipping about in their trays, is the water boatman.
"Now, what have you caught?" I will ask, squatting down to peer into their inch of muddy water with leaves. "Ah yes," I'll continue, "It's a water boatman."
It was as I was crouched over just such a tray full of little black aquatic beetles that I heard the splash. Then I heard the crying. A small boy came running up to me. He was laughing. "My brother's just fallen in!" He pointed at the source of the noise - an even smaller boy, crying, soaked through from head to toe. As I strode over his mother appeared beside him. She soothed him. "It's all right," she said, "you're just a bit wet. I've got dry clothes here." And to my pleased amazement she produced a towel and a full change of clothes. I was impressed. Once the child was dry and happily sucking a sweetie I expressed my admiration to this paragon of motherhood.
"Oh," she said, "I always come prepared. I know what he's like. Honestly, he was sick in the woods earlier."
I couldn't wait for McColleague to return with her group. "Hey," I pounced, as soon as she returned. "You know that kid who was sick in the woods?"
"He fell in the moat!"
Oh, how we laughed. He's not going to forget his big day out at our property in a hurry. I would love to read his "what I did in the school holidays" essay, complete with pictures.