Do you, like me, find yourself going into a blind panic when the summer holidays arrive? Whenever I think of the impending school holidays, I always feel a dread, how am I going to keep my darling boys amused for the entire 5 weeks? You might recall the TV show “Why Don’t You?” the catchy theme tune rings through my head: “Why don’t you just switch off your television set and go out and do something less boring instead?”, years later, nothing’s really changed except we’re complaining about how our children are continually playing Xbox and simultaneously, ‘searching up’ on their mobile phones. My brother and I were often glued to the TV (not literally speaking), although I have to say my mother was very good at getting us to participate in various board games such as Snakes & Ladders, Ludo and weather permitting, the odd game of Swing Ball or badminton, only the other week she had my sons playing boules in the garden on Easter Sunday!
I do think that the UK’s climate is partly to blame for lack of outdoor activities, especially in the winter months. Often on a dull wet day, I am somewhat envious of my brother’s lifestyle in Sydney, Australia, where for his children beach life is the norm; endless days of entertainment in the swimming pool, family bike rides around the lake, fishing, and even eating is eventful, simply cooking ‘prawns on the barbie’. There’s much to be said about outdoor life, the fulfilment and the sense of freedom it brings…
Thankfully in the summer, we do seem to come out of hibernation; akin to the anticipation of watching Freda, the Blue Peter tortoise clambering out of her hay-filled cardboard box after 3 months of darkness! A sunny day is always a godsend particularly in the holidays – let’s face it, even a picnic and a game of rounders is heavenly, what’s more, it’s cheap and let’s be realistic, there’s only so much you can keep splashing the cash on cinema tickets, swimming and bowling.
This summer as a family we are fortunate enough to be going abroad for a week, but it still leaves 4 weeks to fill. Having recently been inspired by the BBC show Pilgrimage, The Road to Rome, where 8 ‘celebrities’ adorned with backpacks tackled 1,000 km of the ancient Via Francigena pilgrimage, from the Italian Alps to Rome, I’ve realised that walking is an ideal hobby for my family and myself to pursue. I just fell in love with the concept of freedom and adventure. We are fortunate to be situated close to the woods and common, the fresh air and purity of nature really is good for the soul and in my opinion alleviates the tension of our busy lives. This summer, kids in tow, we’ll be going out for a fair few hikes, incentivised of course with rest breaks in the local village cake shop or pub, just to keep up the morale! The High Weald in Kent and Sussex has lots to offer www.highweald.org. You can explore the High Wealds’ unique landscape whether it be a simple nature trail suitable for young children or, if you’re feeling ambitious, a long-distance route The High Weald Landscape Trail which is approximately 90 miles and takes approximately 7 days to complete starting in Horsham and finishing in Rye. My colleague at work often raves about being a member of the National Trust, she’s forever visiting beautiful places of interest (over 500 to choose from) and it’s a perfect remedy for children to get their daily dose of fresh air and to brush the cobwebs away. https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/join-us#membership-family
A stunning venue on my list to revisit this summer is the extremely popular Groombridge Place Estates www.groombridgeplace.com, which is just perfect for families, where children can explore the delights of its Enchanted Forest; Crusoe’s World which has chain bridges, tunnels and exceptional climbing nets, rope swings – a treetop canopy walk, it really has everything your cherubs could wish for and more!
On a serious note I think we’ve all been shocked watching the BBC’s Blue Planet regarding plastic pollution and the utter devastation it’s causing to marine life – thankfully with this awareness, there are many organisations that are endeavouring to make a difference. I think a beach clean is an exceptional idea to help keep the coast clean and a great opportunity for us all to give something positive back to nature. So go on, get the kids involved www.thanetcoast.org.uk … the 2minute beach clean has stations dotted around the coast. At each ‘station’ you can collect your litter picker but you’re encouraged to bring your own reusable long life bags which can be emptied in the large bins provided. I can’t think of a better way to spend the day by the seaside and that same time educating children (and adults) to think about the impact of dropping just the tiniest piece of litter has on the environment.
I really do think it’s high time we all made a concerted effort to spend more time outdoors and inspire our children to do the same… whether it be volunteering to do a litter pick up, enjoying a nature trail, booking a camping trip https://www.bedgeburycamping.co.uk/ – with the added bonus of a campfire, and where children can go back to basics and learn about bushcraft and forest school activities …the list is endless…go on, why don’t you?