"Families who play together, stay together" - so say the numerous family guides and counsellors trained to sort out the dysfunctional units that go by the name of family.

My leisure interests are bog standard adult female, my husband's the equivalent adult male and my son's are what you'd expect a 12-year-old boy to go for.

We are probably happiest in different parts of the house doing our own things. But every now and again, we feel constrained by such social wisdoms as the above, to do something together.

The most common choice is a walk. My husband and I positively enjoy this - though different types and different lengths, of course. He is the "because it is there" mountaineering sort, where as I'm more of a river bank stroll type. My son, as I always tell him, loves it once we get going - and you can see the end of it.

How do you get children to enjoy a walk?

Method one - take their friends. They use up lots of energy doing anything except walking in a straight line but it is more obvious fun for them. The down side - strong pressure to stop at every stream, climbable tree, anything you can slide down.

Method two revolves round food. My son's Must Have is a picnic that resembles Rat's in Wind in the Willows. Careful forward planning essential - no impromptu outings - and someone, not the child, carting a hefty rucksack.

There will be the inevitable refrain "When are we stopping for the picnic?" This fits well with my husband's type of walk as the answer is "At the top". Whether or not you go for the full meal option, copious amounts of chocolate also have to be available every five minutes.

I have no idea what the health police would opinion about the balance between fresh air and exercise and the downside of copious chocolate. If they dare say "dried fruit and nuts", my response is "Just you try it, sunshine".

The third method is about distraction. I'm keen on this one. I indulge in it a lot when the chest is ripping and the legs are pulling at every step. I lose myself in some daydream of a bed and glass of wine.

But my son needs more structure. When he was little and the walks were still gentle, I used to make up endless stories for him that involved characters from his favourite books all mixed up together with him as a hero in an adventure. But his favourites these days are rather less engaging. So he tells me the stories. We got through the whole Garth Nix trilogy on a recent ascent of Great Whernside.

This however only works if we are out of hearing distance of my husband, who, to the bemusement of my son, considers walking to be about silence or at least listening to the wonders of the natural world.

Last Sunday he was drawing my attention to a skylark while my son was half way through the plot of what sounds a singularly ghastly film called The Dogs of War. It was not a happy combination and if anyone saw a family on the Clent Hills walking as three separate units several yards apart, it was probably us.