Laying down memories…
Every year I take my brother’s kids away at least a couple of times, often with some other friends and their kids, so we can all get away from the noise and enjoy that sensation of cold dew on flip flopped feet.
Holiday successes have included a week camping by the beach at Eweleaze farm – swimming in the sea, and cooking our dinner over a fire every night. Another time we went to Fisherground Farm in the lake district – they have a pond in the middle of the campsite with a zipwire near it, old tractor tyres to float around on, and plenty of trees to climb. We usually go to Womad, where they can be outside all weekend, and hear music they’d never come across in their small town home.
The key, especially now they are young teenagers, is being somewhere where they can go off and explore themselves, where we don’t have to be with them all the time, but where we can enjoy swapping stories in the evening. Having challenging experiences – climbing a particularly high mountain, swimming out to sea, building the perfect cooking fire and looking after it themselves – makes it all the more memorable because its so much fun.
Last summer I took my second eldest niece to Wilderness festival where she showed me how to row a boat (I was honestly getting into a terrible mess before she took over… her week’s playing at Hackney’s Laburnum boat club was definitely useful as well as fun!). We drifted in the lake as the sun set, the fairy lights came on around the banks and the stars started to come out, and she turned to me and said “This is laying down a memory”.
So this Easter and summer we want to lay down some more memories with the children from our extended families and friends, to make sure they get to enjoy that complete freedom of playing outside. But where to go?
Do you have any holiday places to share for spring or summer outdoor play treats? Where did you love as a kid? Where do your kids love now? We’d love to hear about them, and maybe add them to Play England’s playmap so other families can see where you love to play outdoors.
Lastly I just want to say I owe a lot of my love of the outdoors to, firstly, my mum and dad, who dragged me up hills long before I appreciated them, and secondly, to the Netherley Youth Trust who were a brilliant small voluntary group in Liverpool in the 70s that took kids from the L25 area to Wales and got us camping, canoeing, abseiling and very, very muddy. As kids we never really gave a thought to how much time those volunteers gave us, to teach us precious skills and then let us test ourselves to the limit. But without them, I and many other kids would have never known we had the courage to walk over a cliff edge, would never have known the sense of pride in having slept in a shelter we built ourselves. So I want to say a huge, if belated, thanks to Nigel and all the other volunteers who made those adventures happen and helped me lay down some great memories!