Time with the family is very precious

Toormore (right) ridden by Richard Hughes beats outstrip to win The Veuve Clicquot Vintage Stakes during day two of Glorious Goodwood at Goodwood Racecourse. Photo: Mike Egerton/PA Wire

Toormore (right) ridden by Richard Hughes beats outstrip to win The Veuve Clicquot Vintage Stakes during day two of Glorious Goodwood at Goodwood Racecourse. Photo: Mike Egerton/PA Wire

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When the children were very young we would frequently drive off for a couple of days camping, staying over in a B&B or occasionally, when funds permitted, stop in a hotel. These were very happy times in our lives as the complement of children was usually boosted by the addition of two more little girls and so meal times were always lively affairs as six of us sat down to eat.

The additional personnel varied but two in particular were regulars and it was quite flattering to be introduced to a third party by one, now a 25-year-old women, as “This is my other dad!”. Obviously we did something right and she reminisced in very affectionate terms about the adventures we had been on and the places we visited.

Wifey and I loved it because the happy babble of voices in the back of the car meant no one was ever bored. As a group of four, all the girls played together and we needed to do little but organise them. Carting six bicycles about took some doing but we would cycle across the moors always on the lookout for a café or better still “a top boozer” for dad.

Back at the campsite, cooking for six was challenging but fun and, as night drew in, it was always a pleasure to see those four little girls well-fed, tired out but contented still babbling away but slowly starting to doze off. Happy days.

Organising these things was easy as Wifey and I had full editorial control and decided what the day might bring be it cycling, swimming, crazy golf, adventure playgrounds, fishing, train rides. Not quite so easy now.

I was chatting to one of the “borrowed daughters” recently and she was dead keen for the old gang to meet up again. We fancied a day at the races but then the girls had to consult their partners. They weren’t sure about the proposed venue, prior engagements and work commitments and money, too. After faffing about for three months, planning picnics, travel arrangements and trying to sort holidays, eventually and with a mixture of sadness and relief, I pulled the plug on the proposed outing and left our get-together for some other time.

Out of the ashes, however, my eldest daughter proposed ‘just the four of us’ go racing. Done and dusted and sorted in minutes our tickets were booked. Of course that means I will be paying for all of us, but as they grow older our time together will be more difficult to organise, so what the heck! Anyway a cinch compared to organising a bigger group.