If I could give you one gift it would be to see yourself through my eyes and then you would see how special you really are.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Number 1 - Climb a tree

Have you ever climbed a tree, especially a tree in the English sunshine? Pulling yourself up onto its lowest branches like a child climbing into his mothers arms. Then finding your balance, no matter how tenuously, so that you can reach the next one. Finding a strong handhold, feeling the roughened bark against your hands as you use your feet to push yourself up to the next one and so on and so on until you have clamboured up to the highest point you can and through the dappled sunshine you can survey your Kingdom far below. What an achievement. Working your way to the top of a climbing frame feels good but, to climb a tree is a completely different experience. Trees grow in their own erratic way, not providing easy smooth handholds or evenly spaced footholds. You, the climber have to work out the best and safest route  to your lookout point. What a fantastic way to learn about spacial awareness and coordination, children learn how to develop their attention spans (a lot of concentration and problem solving is required in the art of tree exploring) and being outside hopefully with friends and family who can encourage and share ideas builds strong relationships, self esteem and confidence. 

So climbing a tree was the first adventure for the year, the sun was shining, a packed lunch was stowed under the buggy and our clever zip up picnic blanket was hung over the handles.  Then child 2, 3, 4 and myself headed off to meet up with new friends at the local cathedral gardens. Child 1 is gallivanting around in NYC this week on a drama trip, the lucky, lucky girl.

Since child 4 has arrived we have been wholeheartedly accepted into a new social circle of families who have children his age. Of course they also have other children so meeting up is a community event, I think today involved 5 mums and 15 children, 12 of whom were boys. As you can imagine it was a very noisy affair. 

Our initial plan was to take part in some craft activities but they were full, so we headed into the gardens to complete the Easter trail and to play. These gardens are fantastic for all ages of children, there are banks to climb, fast flowing streams to play pooh sticks in, allotments to gaze over, wild flowers to go bug hunting in, trees are planted to make tunnels to stroll through, willow has been twisted to make a dragon sleeping under the green blossoming overhang of boughs. In the middle of the picnic area is a huge tree with boughs that sweep down to the ground, perfect for children to clamber upon and then if they are brave enough they can scramble up to the highest branches and gaze out over their newly found kingdom.....

Climb a tree is the number 1 activity in the National Trusts 50 things to do before you are 11 3/4s. 

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