What’s your idea of a perfect day outdoors? Often it depends on your mood, invariably the weather plays an important part and it is usually very difficult to please everybody.
Well last weekend we came as close to perfect as possible. Thank you weather for performing for once. Thank you also to The National Trust for providing the venue, Kingston Lacy near Wimborne, Dorset. This is a National Trust property we have visited several times and always had great fun. This time however it excelled itself.
The day started well with a picnic, first one of the season. It always fun to eat outside and a picnic is great for a group. It’s probably the one time when children are not asked to sit for any length of time during a meal. There is just a lovely feeling of space and sense of freedom.
You can’t eat a picnic without playing games afterwards. We hadn’t brought any balls etc. with us. However Kingston Lacy had thought of that and there is a large play box of outdoor toys on the lawn in front of the house we were able to use.
Our game of cricket was even watched over by some of the residents of the garden. I just love the topiary on these hedges.
50 Things to do before you are 11 3/4
On entering the house we had seen a great den built to advertise the National Trust’s 50 Things to do before you are 11 ¾. These are 50 outdoor challenges from rock climbing to making a daisy chain. That day the House was hosting about 5 of the 50 activities. Were we going to try them? This was the tricky bit. ‘I’m not sure’, ‘What about and ice cream’ and ‘I rather go the play area’ were all views aired.
We managed to agree on at least having a go at the den building. We were therefore duly given a map of the location of the activities. My heart sank. They were quite a walk away. It was possible that enthusiasm would lag before we reached them. Yet some canny person had thought about the route finding and we were not long into our journey when a way marker was spotted. The children were then off to look for the next marker and then the next. They even made one or two of their own along the way. Those signs were a creation of inspiration, so simple, but effective.
Building a Den
I have heard from play therapists that building dens with your children is great way to bond with them and build up relationships. Certainly it’s a very constructive activity! There is a real feeling of achievement when built and you can all cosy inside together.
The Trust had made it easy by providing all the den building material. We picked our support tree carefully one with a fork so it was easy to prop up the material. Then the fun began. Large trunks, bushy pieces and small twigs all played their part. There were 4/5 other dens being built at the same time and it was great to see that in every case all the family were involved. The good news is that Kingston lacy always have this den building area operating so if you do visit its worth seeking it out.
Our creative juices were now really flowing and the wild art activity now appealed to the boys. Through the bamboo and up a path to a little hut we found a hive of activity. What was going on with all those hammers tapping? We soon found out. You place a flower, in this case a pansy, between two pieces of cloth. You tap the area of the flower with a small hammer and its colour imprints onto the cloth. Hey presto you have a piece of cloth with a flower print. I learnt later that the technique is called hapa zome.
Some of the smaller children were also having a go at these clay tree faces. They looked very easy to do and a great use of foliage. We will certainly be having a go of both these forms of wild art in our garden. Find out what we did.
We all ended the day happy smiling people.