Last year the National Trust had their 50 Things To Do When You’re 11 and three-quarters campaign which encouraged children to enjoy being outdoors – based on the Natural Childhood Report which found that these days we don’t get out as much as children used to – we’re in the age of digital, so there’s tv, iPad games and so on – and we’re guilty as much as the next person – although do get out when the weather isn’t too bad (maybe that’s the problem too – maybe we need to get ourselves kitted out in the kind of clothing so it doesn’t matter?).
I remember growing up in the seventies how we’d get into the car and drive for trips all over Yorkshire and Lancashire (I still have nightmares about the drains in the Ladybower Reservoir), trips to caves and more. It was great and a big part of who I am and what I want H to experience now she’s got her memories and remembers things so much more than when she was smaller.
Now H is a good age (she’ll be 4 in August) I know I can let her take risks – bearing in mind she wears glasses and is set to have a tooth extracted due to bumping it I probably do try to protect her more than I should – and slowly we are letting go, and letting her have more freedom – and add to that we do tend to hibernate in winter too (unless there’s some unnaturally good weather!).
We do get out and about to local National Trust places – we’re lucky that Morden Hall Park is a short bus ride away, and to drive we’ve Ham House & Gardens, Clandon Park, Claremont Landscape Gardens, Hatchlands Park, Polesden Lacey and a few more places well within half an hour to 45 minutes – but Shaun keeps telling me off. We love Polesden Lacey, though it has become our place we’ll go (as if you couldn’t guess) – so I’ve set myself a little challenge – as well as giving H more freedom, I’m going to make sure we go to other National Trust places, and I’ve got until next January to do it.
Granted, it’s easy really – locally there’s a lot of choice – but I want to head out a bit further too, get to places we haven’t (like Bodiam Castle) and maybe revisit some we’ve not been to for a couple of years (hello Scotney Castle) as well as places we’ve never got to and should have (hi Winkworth Arboretum). So this is the challenge – while we’ll go back to our ‘usual’ places, we’re going to go further. Not every month, but as often as we can.
So where would you recommend that’s near London?
In addition to this, the new Gardeners World magazine has a pass which offers 2 for 1 on gardens around the country, which includes Painshill Park (hurrah!!) so we’ll visit more of these too. Where is good? Tell us in the comments!