When I think back to when I was the girls’ age, I was always outside.
My dad was in the New Zealand Airforce, so my sister and I grew up on airbases. It was idyllic really – they were cordoned off and the entrance was protected by guards, so we were safe and surrounded by kids our own age.
The bases were full of adventure (or is that just the beauty of a child’s mind – turning the everyday into something wild and exciting?). I remember rushing creeks, and bountiful feijoa patches (a creamy South American fruit that grows everywhere in New Zealand) and tangled blackberry patches to explore. We’d spend entire days in the bush, making bivouacs out of fern fronds while the native songbirds trilled above us.
These were the days before mobile phones and before I was even old enough to tell time, so I have no idea how we even knew when to come home, but we’d turn up on the doorstep hours later, smeared in mud, twigs in our hair and ready to wolf down dinner (unless it was Mum’s 70’s-style curried sausages – bleurrgh – sorry Mum).
I hate that my girls can’t enjoy that kind of freedom in their lives, but it also makes me more determined they achieve the balance that only a day in the outdoors can bring (have you read about our first family camping trip?).
FLIBBERTY DEN MAKING KITS
When I was contacted by Flibberty to try out their Truly Beautiful den-making kit I got really excited. We’re lucky to have some stunning ancient woodland just a few minutes drive away, and I knew this would be a brilliant day out for us all.
The weather cooperated with a perfect warm – but not too hot – day. After lunch I packed the girls up we drove to the woods. We only had to walk for a few minutes to find the perfect clearing. While the girls raced around climbing trees and collecting chunks of flint and chalk, I opened up the kit.
Inside the stylish blue haversack was a length of jute rope, which I tied between two trees. There was a ground sheet and a waterproof tarpaulin, which I swung over the rope to create our pretty purple tent. Next I whacked in the pegs, using the mallet from the kit.
The girls helped by laying out the fluffy rose blanket inside. While I strung the bunting, they carefully stacked the enamel mugs to one side (there was also an adorable mini flower press included in the kit, but I forgot to lay it out!).
So then we just set about doing… nothing really, yet everything at the same time. You know what I mean?
I was strangely pleased to discover that my phone had no reception – I’d have been tempted to constantly check it otherwise but now I was forced to truly unplug.
While the girls made aeroplanes out of sticks I sat and just took in our surroundings. There literally wasn’t a sound (apart from the girls whooping and hollering as they ran around with their planes), and I couldn’t remember the last time I’d felt so relaxed.
I loved seeing the girls energised and excited, without an iPad or an electronic device in sight.
We snuggled into the tent for some biscuits and a drink, then the girls were off again.
This time they built a pretend campfire, ‘just like I learned to do at forest school!’ Big Sis announced happily.
Followed by some bubble blowing, some tree climbing and some general chasing each other around.
Before we knew it three hours had flown by, and it was time to pack up and head home. As we walked back to the car the girls proudly compared the scratches on their legs (which would have prompted shrieks of distress if they’d happened at home!).
Thank you Flibberty, for one of the best days we’ve had in ages.
• you might also like to read about our ‘Stream Dipping and Wellie Wading‘.
• our den making kit was provided for review