When I lived in Finland, there was no such thing as “wet play” where children had to stay indoors if it was raining. You went outdoors whatever the weather, with the exception of the temperature being below -20°C and then children were allowed to stay indoors. We bundled the children into their all-weather suits and wellies and off they went to play in the puddles and rain. There were covered areas to play and not get soaked too, lots of Scandinavian life is outdoors so Finland’s infrastructure and way of doing things supports this. I completely loved their way of doing this – it didn’t feel like you had to organise your life around the weather and the day was never wasted if it was raining. With 1 in 3 days in the UK being rainy, I’m not sure why we don’t have a different set up here, everyone seems to flock to the cinema or soft play centres if the dark clouds come in and cross any options of being outdoors off the list rearranging their plans.
In the winter, I get hugely claustrophobic. After a while, I need some fresh air and big skies. I need to get out of centrally heated buildings and climb out from under my blankets to air my lungs, get some vitamin D from the winter sun and feel some breeze. Ben knows how much I love a good landscape and bit of scenery so last year, he decided that I needed to join all the senior citizens and middle class families with children under 10 and get a national trust membership…and I completely loved it! Just before Christmas, we wrapped up warm and took our niece and nephew for a day out running in the gardens of Cliveden.
I’m not going to lie – I was expecting them to whine and get bored very quickly. Cliveden is effectively just big gardens with an old house. There were no screens, and just lawns and topiary for entertainment. We took some cameras along and gave them free reigns on the day. What I love is that they made a game out of everything: the little bridges, the sticks, the pathways, running and skipping in the fields. We gave them our cameras and they decided to be photographers for the day. They ran around in the maze and at the end of the day they discovered the giant slide and frolicked as they raced down it. When you’re not given amusement or entertainment and have to create your own fun, you’re forced to be more creative.
Here are our budding photographer’s portfolios along with some other favourites from the day:
We’re planning some more days out this winter, determining not to let the rain and hail stop us. Watch this space.