Tuesday, 24 January 2012


I went to a meeting at my daughter’s special school last night, where some of the staff were giving parents information about a trip coming up.

It’s a PGL ‘multi-activity’ holiday. Thousands of children go on them every year. They stay in lodges, and take part in things like rifle-shooting, raft building, archery, orienteering, abseiling, climbing, and fencing.

For most families it would really be nothing out of the ordinary. But it’s an AMAZING thing to me.

Imagine this: Three days and two nights away from home, in a strange environment, when you can’t cope well with change. Days packed with physical activities, which are challenging and even scary - especially if your muscles don’t work that well, spinal surgery means you can’t bend your back, and your stamina isn’t great. Menus that contain some foods you’re not allowed, so you have to be rationed whilst others can get stuck in. And all of this alongside schoolmates whose own set of idiosyncracies, weaknesses, and behavioural issues can upset you.

I wouldn’t want to do it. I don’t think I’d have the bottle.

But my girl, my hypotonic, titanium-rodded, routine-loving girl, can't wait to go. 

There are many parts to my daughter’s unique personality. But there’s a word that describes a beautiful and surprising slice of her soul. And that word is intrepid.

She’ll have a wonderful adventure. Now I’ve just got to find £150 to pay for it.

Song is Natalie Merchant - Adventures of Isabel, based on a poem written by Ogden Nash for his seven-year-old daughter, Isabel.

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