Published: 00:00, 02 May 2016
| Updated: 10:21, 14 July 2016
Being an aunt means you can often indulge your nieces and nephews with treats their parents might not normally buy them.
On days out, it might be that extra ice cream or a big bag of candy floss. You know you should be buying them apple slices, but you’re not the one who is going to be around when the sugar rush wears off, are you?
It’s the same when it comes to Christmas and birthday presents. I do try to make sure there is some sort of educational element to everything I get them, but with a bit of imagination you can stretch that to cover most things.
For example, a toddler’s drum set teaches them hand-eye co-ordination, surely? And that karaoke microphone machine will have done their musicality the world of good.
The fairy princess castle was a huge hit with one of our godchildren, and the life lesson there was how to fit two grown-ups inside and serve refreshments from a plastic tea set. Mum was terribly graceful, even though it took up a large chunk of her living room for several weeks.
As they eldest ones hit their teenage years, the challenge to find something cool has grown greater.
A few years ago, we threw down the gauntlet with some tickets for Go Ape. For those of you who haven’t come across it yet, it’s an aerial assault course which includes rope swings, plenty of things to clamber across, nets to throw yourself into and zip wires.
What we hadn’t expected was for the challenge to be thrown back at us, which is how we ended up one Saturday afternoon trussed up in safety gear and swinging among the trees at Leeds Castle.
A couple of years - and a few more sensible presents - have passed, so it was time for another challenge. Segway.
I turned up to watch my niece and nephew set off on their trek but that day couldn’t join them for the ride, but it should have come as no surprise when vouchers turned up for us at Christmas.
And so, on Friday hubby and I joined half a dozen others for a “thrill experience” at Mote Park, Maidstone.
What a way to travel. I’m telling you, if I could go to work on one I would.
It wasn’t without a few hiccups. The first time I climbed on board, I leant back too far and the thing kangaroo-hopped forward almost hitting my instructor.
Then when I set off, I couldn’t remember how to stop but a well-timed instruction saved my blushes.
But after a few minutes practice, whatever had clicked with everyone else clicked with me, and I was off. Round slalom courses, speed racing, and then onto the woodland course - there was no stopping me.
So the only challenge now is what to buy them for their next present - and whether or not I can tackle it too.