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Playgrounds

This morning I got up at seven thirty and went for a run. The hotel where we’re staying is ideally located: you walk out the door, down into a subway and come out at the entrance to the infield of the Happy Valley Racecourse. I did three laps and a bit to get myself up to five k, then went back to our room to clean up. Obviously after that we all had to leave to escape the stench of my running kit, but fortunately we had arranged to meet friends in Victoria Park so the compulsory exit wasn’t so bad.

There are lots of children’s play areas in Victoria Park, which is good for entertaining the little ones, although less helpful if you agree to meet at "the play area" without stipulating which one. Still, that gave La Serpiente Aquatica Negra half an hour of clambering over things signed as being suitable for 5-12 year olds, until our friends arrived.

Her cousin, aunt and uncle turned up as well, and we had a good couple of hours of play before she was worn out. This was also a good opportunity for my wife to practise her kindergarten Cantonese and tell off some other children when they didn’t share the various playthings scattered around. I don’t have this linguistic ability so when a slightly older child shoved our daughter out the way so he could play exclusively with something, I wasn’t sure what to say, whereas I’m fairly sure my wife would have sternly upbraided him.

After two hours of hurtling around, it really was time for breakfast so we went to get scrambled eggs in a restaurant in a mall, then happily got our daughter to sleep for two hours. Ah, bliss.

When we got back up out of bed, we took her back to the park for another hour of rushing about on climbing frames. There are lots of apparatus that people have for blowing bubbles for their children; some battery powered, some enormous and high-tech, and others fairly traditional. Hong Kong is a collision of these different things. Or maybe everyone is showing off.

(The latter may well be true as every Sunday some odd bloke takes his remote control speedboat down to the pond in the park and sends it back and forth, because apparently the only thing he enjoys is soaking all the people near the edge of the pond. If you can’t own a radio controlled boat and annoy people, what can you do?)

My daughter found lots of vaguely dangerous things to do, mostly involving running along metal grates and close to other, similarly high velocity / low self-preservation children, while I ran along behind trying to keep everyone out of trouble. Obviously this could only go on so long without my nerves fraying, but no disaster occurred and so I took her off to dinner unscathed.

Dinner where she decided she didn’t like sausages any more and would only eat chips. Has she reached the difficult years of teenage life already? Next thing you know she’ll be quoting Camus at me and smoking clove cigarettes. Which you might think is cute and charming coming from a two-year-old but frankly…

We brought her back to the hotel and put her to bed, where she sang for half an hour before going to sleep. If she wasn’t so cute, I’d have lost my mind by now. I can only content myself by remembering how fit I must be getting by carrying all thirteen kilos of her around with me.

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