On Friday 12th Feb, we packed our rucksacks with provisions, water, and emergency items (toys trains for on the train, and notebooks for interviewing adventurers), and headed to London's Excel Centre for the 2016 Telegraph Outdoor Adventure Show and the London Bike Show.
A double whammy of excitement, and the perfect solution to an inset day at the boys' school.
We met up with Andy Bartlett, who was putting the final preparations in place for his epic Stand Up Paddleboard adventure following the Danube from source to sea, and went exploring around the stands, speakers, and shows that are squeezed in under the enormous roof of the Excel.
Highlights of the day included meeting some of the soldiers from the Paras, who were recruiting (but not 5 year olds, much to Henry's disappointment); slacklining with Elephant Slacklines; chatting with Russell from Shand Cycles, about their excellent Stoater (which has the makings of a full-on #dadventure machine, if I can get my hands on one to review); some fascinating new gear (watch this space) at the UK Outdoor Industry Awards showcase; hands on marine science at Whalefest; and the stunts and jumps of the bike-wielding maniacs at Air to the Throne.
For both boys, though, their first motorbike lesson on diminutive Honda 50cc bikes took top billing for the day. The patient and fun instructors from the Honda team got them suited up in mini bikers jackets and helmets, and took them through their paces on a specially designed carpeted track with mini roundabouts, lanes, and bystanders, while I watched from the sidelines, and started wondering whether introducing small boys to motorbikes was really something I'd thought through properly...
Catching up with Andy after our London to Paris ride the previous weekend was one of my highlights, and it was great to hear his excitement mounting about the trip to the Danube. I said I would try to find some time to join him for a leg of his SUP trip, and he suggested bringing out the boys, so watch this space for a SUP #dadventure. Although meeting Andy the Adventurer was "amazing" for the boys, they confessed on the train home that he had been pipped into a narrow fourth place by the Alpkit guys, who allowed themselves to be interviewed by the boys and told them about a secret cave in the Peak District, which we could bike to and camp in.
Almost too much excitement for one day - the thought of pizza for tea was all that got us home.
The boys fell asleep clutching notebooks full of plans, ideas, and stickers, and with heads full of wide-horizoned dreams.