It’s coooold out there, and there’s ice on the roads. Some of us stay close to home drinking hot chocolate and reading our way through the heaps of books we got for Christmas, and when we must go out we go slooowly.

Others of us complain bitterly that the icy roads and pavements has to be someone’s fault, and pontificate at length. To each his own. This family felt that it would be great to begin the new year by trying something new, and since falling over on the ice is foremost in everyone’s minds, we decided ice skating at the BIC would be just the thing.

To add adventure to our wild plan, we all got on our bikes and cycled there. It was a beautiful, sunny day and downhill all the way, so we arrived Bournemouth’s Lower Gardens in high spirits and looking forward to making complete fools of ourselves. We had researched Ice Skating Tips For Beginners on YouTube and we lined up at the skating rink reminding ourselves to bend our knees and lean forward. We were fairly confident, figuring that if we had rollerskated, skateboarded and waterskiied then ice skating should come naturally, right? It looks so easy! Surely this sporty family would be gliding and leaping like Plushenko in no time.

Our skates strapped on, we zipped on to the rink and fell immediately on our backs. It is completely impossible to get up on ice wearing ice skates while laughing helplessly at yourself, but the staff at the ice rink seem to be aware of this and were at our sides in seconds to offer a helping hand and a quick word of advice before speeding to another would-be Olympic Gold-Medallist’s assistance. They made it look so easy, and such fun.

Clinging desperately to the sides of the rink seemed to be more our speed. The kids retreated to the kiddie rink, where they could hold on to penguin-shaped skate assistants - sort of Zimmer frames for pint-sized skaters - under the watchful gaze of experts. I was groping my way around the wall of the rink, thinking “Knees bent, lean forward AAAARGH!” when suddenly, my husband Sean sailed gracefully by, singing “Be confident! Let go! It’s GREAT, like surfing!” Hello? How did he do that? My eldest son, too, swanned by grinning maniacally, “Come on Mum!”

So I let go, (knees bent, lean forward) and was soon swanning too, except that my swan was trying to get the attention of random other swans by waving his wings madly in small circles and saying “eeeeeeeep!”

Ice Skating is fun! Really really fun! We got the hang of it pretty quickly (though steering and brakes continue to elude me) and fell down less than you would think (I am pleased to say that my husband the Confident Swan crashed at speed, slid for some distance on his belly and had to hoist himself upright on the wall, providing comic relief for the rest of the family) and we will certainly return soon to the BIC Skating Rink. But first, our stiff muscles need rest and our few bruises must heal. (And our heaps of new books beckon: the delightful, 566-page biography of Gabriel García Márquez by Gerald Martin will keep me Magically Real for a while)

I think that ice skating has given me the best ab-and-thigh workout I’ve had in years, and the feeling of gliding over the ice is wonderful. And next time, we’ll bear in mind that when the ride to a place is downhill all the way, it means that the ride back? Will be uphill. Sean had to push our youngest most of the way home!

The skating rink will be open every day until February 21st, check the Bournemouth International Centre website for details. See you on the ice!