June 1, 2013 by talkaboutyork
When I was a child I spent a lot of time on bikes, getting muddy, building dens, having secret passwords, running around barefoot, looking for fairies, playing board games, making up plays and performing them for long suffering parents and generally being free to roam. I think many people who grew up in the 70s would say the same. Those same people are now parents and like me, probably wonder how it is that their own children don’t seem to be able to do the same.
I have blogged about my children and their slight addiction to screens before. I yearn for them to have a childhood like my own. But somewhere between the 1980s and now, the Enid Blyton pleasures of life seem to have been lost. Picnics in the great outdoors without a parent in sight, featuring corned beef sandwiches and lashings of ginger beer with fresh plums and possibly some fruitcake wrapped up in brown paper seem a million miles away from the fast food, wrapper covered snacks of today’s generation that are usually consumed in front of a screen.
But this half term we went in search of simple pleasures. We went camping. Four mums. Six boys. Mission: to get away from screens and just have fun.
Actually, we went glamping- at Jolly Days Luxury Camping*, just outside York. Our tents came equipped with four poster beds and roll top baths, private toilets and a wood burning stove, not to mention bunting and pink bed throws. But that is not the point. Neither is the fact that instead of plums and fruit cake, our children could delve in the snack box and help themselves to crisps and chocolates and other things involving wrappers.
BUT. It was still camping. And there wasn’t much to do there except be boys. They rode bikes. They pushed each other in wheelbarrows. They fell in mud. They swung on a rope swing and threw pine cones at the football that had got stuck in the tree. They burnt marshmallows on sticks that they’d found in the wood over the roaring campfire. They kicked footballs. They hid in dens. They shot each other with nerf guns. They did a treasure hunt. And a talent show. We played charades. And trivial pursuit. And rummikub. And cards. We went on a night safari in search of wildlife (or fairies). We did nighttime orienteering using compasses. They had fights, as boys do. They made up just as fast, as boys do. They visited the on site sweetie shop that sold jars of old fashioned sweets like pear drops and gobstoppers, which they bought in brown paper bags and put on the honesty bill. They got to wash the dishes and share a bath together, making more mess than before they started.
They did still play on the odd screen, when there was torrential rain or first thing in the morning when it was too dark to read and too early to wake the rest of the tent up. But mostly, if they used a screen, it was to make movie trailers using an app. They spent hours filming each other, mock fighting, pretending to be goodies and baddies. They were actually seriously impressive. So what if make believe now involves technology, at least they were still using their imaginations.
As for the mums, well we became kids again. We rode our bikes and raced each other. Or pushed each other in wheelbarrows. We swung on the rope swing. And played charades. And made fires. We created meals out of odds and sods that turned into feasts. We laughed a lot. And drank even more.
There were things that could have been a bit better. Some of the tents were on the shabbier side of chic and there was definitely not enough wine glasses or cutlery to go around in one of the tents. And it would have been nice to have slightly less rain or ear plugs to block out the thundering downpours at 3am or the screech of an overly officious pheasant at 5am. But I am nitpicking. Because whatever niggles there might have been, there was always the tea tent where we could have a cup of tea and a slice of cake and listen to the gentle rain fall on the canvas as we watched the logs in the wood burning stove crackle and hiss.
To me it was bliss. My children came home exhausted. And filthy. I have an enormous bag of washing that is going to take a lot of Vanish to ever get clean. But that to me is the sign of an excellent holiday.
If you ask my children what they liked best about the holiday it could be summed up like this:
Friends to play with
Bikes to ride
Freedom to go where they liked
Fire and burning stuff
So there you have it. No whinging about not having an xbox or tv or McDonalds or chinese take out. Just happy to be wild and free with their mates. As far as I’m concerned, a perfect holiday.
This is not a sponsored post. We paid (quite a bit) to go to Jollydays. It is near Stamford Bridge, about 20 minutes from York. It is a small site that has a range of different size pre-erected tents, all kitted out with everything you need. See the website for details.
**About Salad Swearing
In a bid to get the children to eat their salad, as opposed to a steady diet of junk, a game was devised in which whoever ate all their salad was allowed to say one swear word, as long as they said it in context. They all ate their salad. All of it. And took immense enjoyment in the sheer luxury of being allowed to say the S word in front of their mums. The looks of delight on their faces and the belly laughs that followed were worth it, however unorthodox it might seem!