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I love rural life but is it time to keep my children off the roads?

PUBLISHED: 13:25 13 March 2017 | UPDATED: 13:25 13 March 2017

The girls enjoy the freedom of their rural bike rides but pulling over to make room for other vehicles takes time. Picture Jo Malone

The girls enjoy the freedom of their rural bike rides but pulling over to make room for other vehicles takes time. Picture Jo Malone

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Thalia nearly getting knocked over by a car has been giving me nightmares.

I do my best to keep them close, but with the girls going in all directions on rural bike rides I can't imagine sharing our lanes with a flow of Fastracs. Picture: Jo MaloneI do my best to keep them close, but with the girls going in all directions on rural bike rides I can't imagine sharing our lanes with a flow of Fastracs. Picture: Jo Malone

She was on her scooter and I think she must have heard my “Don’t go” as a “go” and set off.

Luckily the aware driver managed to stop. We are still feeling incredibly lucky and it was a reminder that we are responsible for our children’s safety, whether we think they’re road savvy or not.

That real life almost-nightmare has twisted and fused into an old recurring nightmare, inspired I think by the time I wrestled a very unwieldy pram with baby Keola up a steep bank to allow one of those giant tractors pulling a large and laden trailer to pass.

I should have carried on my walk, along one of many single track roads near us, until there was somewhere to safe to put the pram. Or picked Keola out of the pram, put her safely on the top of the bank and then pulled the pram out of the way. But I didn’t.

This beast was huge, and noisy, and the driver looked busy and close behind me. So I panicked, dragged the pram up the bank and it went past. My head felt barely level with the top of the tractor tyres and, as I struggled to hold the pram on the slippery slope I realised the driver probably had no idea that I was only just keeping it together and stopping the pram, and baby, from sliding down the bank and under its wheels.

It was so big he may not have even felt the bump.

So now I have a nightly repeated nightmare of a parade of huge tractors with even bigger wheels chasing the girls and me as I try to pull them - and a seemingly never-ending amount of prams, scooters and bikes - out of the way.

I think worries about a proposed industrial bio digester for a couple of fields away from our home aren’t helping. If that goes ahead, I fear it could mean that dozens - if not hundreds - of times a week vehicles will be criss-crossing the country lanes around ours, bringing farm slurry and maize to feed it and taking waste away.

It’s difficult enough to take the little ones out on their bikes; one turns round to ride through a puddle again, the other won’t stop, then the first one hits the bank and falls off and the other one still won’t stop.

We stand to one side as soon as we hear a vehicle coming, but it can still be a squeeze for them to get past.

Add frequent processions of busy drivers with huge tractors and laden trailers into the mix and all I can visualise is terrified or squashed children.

Then I hear one of my nephews wants to be a tractor driver when he leaves school. That puts him potentially behind the wheel of a giant tractor in Norfolk. What if he ends up in the bio digester convoy and he and the girls collide?

The nightmares are worsening.

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