Thursday, 13 June 2013

Natural Childhood - playing in the great outdoors.

Having grown up in the country in Wales and lived on a farm for most of my childhood, most of my childhood was spent outside enjoying the great outdoors and experiencing nature at its best.  I would spend hours and hours outdoors with my sister and friends, having fun and playing in the surrounding countryside.  We would play outside all through the year, enjoying what the great outdoors had to offer over the various seasons. 

We loved trawling the countryside picking blackberries, damsons, apples and lots of other fruit flourishing in the beautiful countryside to take home to mum for her to use when cooking with us to make gorgeous treats.  I also have fond memories of scouring the fields looking for mushrooms to pick.

I loved spring time where the air was fresh and the flowers starting to poke their heads out from the ground.  After hours spend playing outside I loved running home with a bunch of freshly picked daffodils or snowdrops to give to my mum who had been busy working on the farm.  I also loved seeing the new lambs in the surrounding farms; I have one particularly fond memory of feeding a new-born little lamb by hand with a baby bottle at a family friend’s small holding.  Another fond memory I have is going on Easter egg hunts on the farm at Easter, following clues my mum had left across the whole farm for us to follow to find chocolaty treats.

During the summer holidays our outside adventures would flourish as we had full days throughout the whole week to explore outside and have lots of fun doing so.  Even though we would enjoy the outdoors and going to the beach throughout the year in various weathers, in the summer we would enjoy the visiting the beach very often.  I have an array of memories that I cherish of trips to the seaside.  We would dig in the sand, build sandcastles, bury each other in the sand, explore rock pools and climb the rocks, splash and swim the sea; bob along on the sea in dinghy’s and enjoy bbq’s at the beach in the evening.

During the long days of summer we would ride our bikes going on long bike rides in the country, we would speed around the fields on our go-karts and explore the expansive countryside as well as the nook and crannies.  We would climb trees, race rounds fields and tumble down hills.  We loved building dens and in the forest at the bottom of one of the fields we would spend hours at a time construction a wooden hideaway hut.  We would paddle in the rivers and skim stones across the water.  We also loved making mud pies, decorating them with delicate flowers and natures treasures.  The days were filled with fun and laughter, with our giggles of delight filling the countryside.  It was a truly joyous time, relishing the amazingness of the great outdoors with the wind blowing in our hair and the sun radiating on our skin.

In the autumn we would love hearing the rustle of the fallen leaves underfoot as we would run and jump and walk through the countryside, kicking the bronzed leaves with our feet.  We would also relish the chance of puddle jumping (not that puddle jumping and rainy days was restricted to one season).

In the winter we would still enjoy days playing outside with the cold winter air crisp on our faces.  We would be over the moon if Jack Frost would pay a visit and bring us icy weather and snow was a welcome sight.  We loved throwing snowballs, building snowmen and sledging in the snow.

We had hours and hours of enjoyment from playing outdoors and rarely spend any time indoors.  I remember the sense of achievement and pride we felt from doing things outdoors, we were so happy when we climbed a tricky tree or made a marvellous mud pie or built a den or the other outdoor activities and adventures we got up to.

As I had such an amazing childhood experience the great outdoors and getting up to lots of fun, innocent adventures I hope to encourage Bug to enjoy a similar childhood.  Luckily we live in the same area I grew up with lots of stunning countryside surrounding us which is perfect for outdoors adventures for little ones.

It is because my fond memories of playing outdoors and my passion for Bug to have adventures outdoors that I love the concept of the National Trust50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 ¾’ campaign. 

Information from the 50 Things website (

I love the list of 50 things for children to achieve and think it is fantastic that they are encouraging an enjoyment of playing and exploring the great outdoors.    The list of 50 things has been grouped into 5 different categories that highlights the theme of the adventures; Adventurer, Discoverer, Ranger, Tracker and Explorer.

I know Bug will do a number of the 50 things adventures numerous times and I do think that a few of them has a different significance depending on the age of the child, for example what would be considered a big hill for a child Bug’s age would be a different size for what would be considered Bug for a 10 year old.  Even though after Bug’s first accomplishment of a 50 things adventure which will be a huge accomplishment that I will definitely record, I will most probably not record every single completion of that adventure, i.e. I will not record every time he climbs a big hill but after his first accomplishment of the task I will record and celebrate other accomplishments of the same adventure if for example when he is older the climbs a big hill that is huge for his size/age being triple the size of the hill he will have climbed now.

A few of the adventures on the list are a tad too ambitious for Bug at the moment but he has 9 ¾ years to accomplish all the adventures listed plus many more not on the list.  A few adventures not on the list that fit the theme of getting outside and exploring the great outdoors that I hope to see Bug do are wake up to see the sunrise, feed animals by hand, bury someone in the sand, sledging plus many more fun filled adventures.

Even though I think there are lots more adventures that fit into the theme of enjoying the great outdoors I do think it is a great list for children.  I look forward to recording his adventure milestones over the years, watching him have lots of fun as he masters adventures galore.  The ‘50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 ¾’ campaign is a great starting point to encourage fun activities outdoors and I think it is a fantastic way to inspire children to get outdoors and have adventures, embracing Mother Nature at her best.

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