Self-evidently, a pond, usually where ducks live.

The idealised village of English imagination has a pub, a village green, and a church. The pub is always warm, friendly and welcoming. The church is made from a honey-coloured stone, was built many hundreds of years ago and is always open to passing visitors. The green is large enough to play cricket on, and has a duckpond near the edge, where you can pass lazy summer days with your loved ones, lying under the sun, idly throwing pieces of stale bread at the quacking ducks. listening to the comforting click of leather on willow.

In reality, the duckpond is often the place where small children first learn the difference betwen cold, wet clothing and warm, dry clothing, and where parents first discover that their childrens' responses are triggered by cues from the parent.

Picture the scene. It is a winter day. Child and parent are happily throwing bread to the ducks. Ducks are happy to eat said bread. Child wants to join ducks, so jumps into the cold water. Child discovers water is cold and waist-deep. Freeze frame There is an instant when the child looks to its parent to see how to deal with this new situation.

Option 1: Parent laughs. Child realises new situation is fun. Child laughs. Parent and wet child retreat to warm, friendly pub to dry off. Log fires burning, warm beer, cherubic child. Everyone is happy.

Option 2: Parent looks worried, expresses concern, starts worrying if child is OK. Child realises new situation is bad. Child starts to cry inconsolably. Parent bustles screaming child into car, drives 50 miles home, child screams all the way. No-one is happy.

Moral: If you want to encourage children to enjoy new situations, then you have to show them that new things are fun, even though you know this means more washing and dirty footmarks all over the car.