john-groves-smI love spending time with my grandchildren and it’s something I look forward to doing more and more as I get older.

Our grandchildren are getting older as well, of course, so this means they can join us on longer walks without the complexities of buggies, or having to be carried! I have found every stage with the grandchildren enjoyable, including when they were very young, however, there is a special joy in having a good walk in the countryside together.

Marian and I are blessed with 10 grandchildren ranging in age from 4 to 18 and 3 grown up children, all now with their own families. Over the Christmas and New Year period we enjoyed several walks with each of the families and to my delight, found real connection walking with some of our grandchildren. Spending time at home with games and screens is great, but there seems to be a much deeper connection in walking together. You can talk about things that are important to them, or to you, without doing so continuously. After a short chat you may stop and look at a bird or play ‘Pooh sticks’ on a river bridge before picking up another topic. It’s an easy way to chat with one child and then another, a great opportunity to interact with them all.

On a recent walk I found myself talking at length to my eldest grandson. We talked about college, work, cars, money, friends who don’t believe in God, friends who’ve wandered away from God, and all sorts of things! I don’t think the conversation would have been so easy indoors with everyone else around, or even sitting face to face over a meal.

On another walk I was talking to my 7 year old grandson. He likes animals and is very inquisitive. We have recently had some British White cows introduced to the downland behind our house. Seth and I must have talked for over 30 minutes around the subject of ‘cows’! Our conversation ranged over; bulls, cows, mating, milk, bullocks ( why they were different!), cowpats and wild life conservation! I really enjoyed it and it was so lovely to hear that my son and daughter-in-law were told, “I like my walks with grandad.” I occasionally send him pictures of the cows which are now called “my cows”.

In our over busy, hyper-connected world of screens, phones, TVs and headphones, it is good to take time out to simply go for a walk. It may be a walk in a park or in the countryside. It may be a walk alone or with friends or family. Whatever way you choose to do it, it can be a great opportunity to re-connect. Perhaps to talk to God, to appreciate His creation. Or maybe to have a leisurely but good conversation with a friend or a relative.