With the scorching summer we had all given up hope of ever having finally upon us, it was only a matter of time before I’d hear the dreaded question from one of the kids.
‘Daddy, can you put up the paddling pool?’
Ah yes, the paddling pool. Bought only last year from the supermarket, found last week in among a pile of grass cuttings and other garden clippings that I’d yet to take to the tip. Smeared with mud and rotting leaves, inhabited by slugs and a few faster moving insects. Not a pretty sight. My first mistake was leaving it out for the boy to see.
Now had it just been a normal sunny weekend, I could have distracted the kids for a couple of days before they were back at school. But, of course, the holidays were upon us and there was no getting out of it. I had to put up this paddling pool.
There are a handful of tips to doing this task efficiently that I’ll do well to remember next time.
1. Always store your paddling pool rolled up neatly, preferably in its box, IN the house so you don’t have to spend two hours in the intense heat cleaning it. Enough said.
2. Remember where you have put the battery-operated pump. In my desperation after half a day of looking for it, I finally asked my daughter where it was. ‘In the airing cupboard’, she told me. And she was right. That’s the first time that’s happened in seven and a half years and maybe the last for another seven and a half years.
3. Blow up the paddling pool in a shady place so your kids won’t be splashing about in direct sunshine. Stick the garden slide beside it so it can act as a sort of water slide. If you don’t, your kids will, except they’ll move the pool over to the slide, spilling out half its contents in the process.
4. Ignore any child’s diva-like expectations that the water should be warm. Or else stick the pool of cold water to heat up in the sun an hour beforehand.
5. Keep that battery-operated pump handy if after 10 minutes you find that one or both layers of the pool has holes in it. Or after five minutes in my case.
6. Try to ignore the people over the road whose kids are clearly having a much better time in their garden because their parents had taken much better care of their paddling pool during the winter months.
7. But then rejoice at the immense kindness of those kids when they invite yours over to play. Result!
8. Roll up your sorry excuse for a water park and stick it back next to those garden clippings ready to either take to the tip or be discovered next year under yet more cuttings, by which time you’d have forgotten that it leaks, but only after spending two hours cleaning it up.
9. In the meantime, resign yourself to having to fork out for a replacement paddling pool next time you’re out shopping. Curse yourself for not having bought one a week beforehand when it was pouring with rain and the price had been significantly reduced because supermarket bosses had written off the summer for this year.
10. Smile 12 months on when you have the first opportunity to use this new paddling pool for the first time and revel in its pristine, leak-free condition. But when the wife asks why the battery-operated pump isn’t in the airing cupboard, deny all knowledge and then go check under those grass clippings.
Ah, summer days…