I knew when we went to Cornwall a few weeks ago it would be a very special experience for Ava. She's pretty well travelled for her age actually, but I realised this would be the first holiday she would understand, the first she would get properly excited about and the first she would really remember (for longer than a week).
We talked about it for 10 days or so before we set off. The prospect of the seaside resulted in frequent gasps of anticipation, hand clapping and checking she knew where her spade was. Partly because she didn't know we had a seven-hour drive ahead of us, setting off in the car gave rise to countless whoops of joy.
Well, as is so often the case with UK holidays, the weather was not looking too good when we arrived. But it did nothing to prevent my little girl from enjoying herself – she was so delighted at setting eyes on the long imagined beach, she celebrated by immediately removing every stitch of clothing and running, at full pelt in big circles, for about two hours.
One day, when the sun was feeling shy, we visited the wonderful Lost Gardens of Heligan. As we didn't arrive there until almost 3pm, we decided to pick just one part to amble through and we settled on the Woodland Walk, which is magical with its ancient twisted trees and cool, damp air.
When I saw in the leaflet one of the highlights – a huge sculpture of a giant's head poking out from the ground – I decided to make the experience a bit more magical.
'SSSSHHHH!' I said, as we started our little trek. A cow had mooed somewhere off in the distance.
'I think I heard one of the dinosaurs.'
She gasped. 'Dine-y-sors?'
'Oh yes. But they only have little ones here. They're about the size of rabbits. Oh, and there are fairies,' I said. 'But those are even smaller.'
'And, of course, there are giants.'
'Yes darling! But if you want to see any of them, you have to make a wish.'
She squeezed her eyes so tight her whole face changed shape.
'What did you wish to see?'
Phew. The plan had worked. I knew Ava would wish for a giant and her expression, when she saw him peeking up through the ground was a picture. She approached very cautiously, and then quietly said to him: 'Hello. Want walk with me?'
Unfortunately, being buried up to the nose prevented the mossy monster from answering, but I managed to convince open-mouthed Ava that he had winked at her and, after having what she presumed to be an appropriate conversation with a giant (all about her sparkly pumps), we went on our way.
As we wandered, I thought how lovely it must be to be two – when magic is still a real part of life. But then Ava screwed up her face again. Uh-oh.
'Er, what are you wishing to see now darling?'
Her answer was not what I expected: 'A frog!'
Excellent! We were considerably more likely to come across a frog than a fairy or a dinosaur – and I was really hopeful when we walked down a steep slope to a large lake. But what with all the foliage, I couldn't get close enough to the water's edge and, despite looking and looking, there were just no frogs to be seen.
Ava didn't seem too disappointed so we started back up a steep track. Despite lagging behind, she impressed me by walking and not asking to be carried and when we were close to the top, I tried to hurry her on: 'Come on darling, nearly there!'
But Ava was looking at something tiny on the ground. And then she gasped.
I walked back, and there it was: a teeny weeny little froglet, perhaps a quarter-of-a-mile from the lake, just ambling along that stony track.
I haven't ever seen anyone quite so excited to see a frog. Daddy had to come back down from the top (carrying Ruby) to see it. We named it ('Froggie'), we asked it whether it had lost its mummy and we offered it some juice from a beaker approximately 30 times its size.
It took quite some convincing to get Ava to leave that little creature, but after a bit of a cuddle and (almost – I didn't want her to inhale it) a kiss we put in back in the undergrowth. Ava waved and looked a bit sad. 'It's special frog,' she said.
Yes, of course it was special – it wasn't just a frog, it was a wish come true.