“Follow us to find the treasure, follow us to find the treasure”, I sing as I skip through the Church Manor Estate car park in green dungarees and gingham headscarf. “Follow us to find the treasure, stop!”
I whirl around. A group of about ten families stand behind me, laughing and trying to freeze on the spot, a few children sneak forward a couple of steps.
“Let’s keep going to find the treasure!” I say. Jay starts up his guitar again and Sally, Elodie and I lead the group up the path into the sunny garden.
The garden is a maze of low hedges and small trees. The families hunt for treasure. Children pluck bells on pipe cleaners from tree branches, unwind coloured wool from benches and extract willow stars from the hedges. Then it’s back to the playground to make star wands.
Time for lunch. We spread out our patchwork picnic blanket on a raised mound in playground. Parents lay out the dishes they’ve brought, bright orange firfir from Ethiopia, baked chicken, vegetable samosas, curry and home made doughnuts. We all sit down to eat, the children choosing their favourites and everyone talking together. It’s the first time I’ve eaten firfir and as I finish my last spicy mouthful I help myself to a bit more.
“Wack!” the bat hits the piñata and sends it swinging from the tree branch. Everyone cheers. “Ok, you’re next”, says Elodie, lifting up a little girl so she can have a go.
“We made it extra strong” laughs Ben.
“Yeah, it took us all afternoon”, says his twin brother.
All the children have a go and finally the piñata bursts, raining brightly coloured tissue paper and little sweets over all of us.