I recently went on a training day through my work. I spent a gloriously sunny day at Caswell beach in the Gower, South Wales. It’s a stunning beach where we, as a work unit, regularly surf and coasteer. But my visit was slightly different this time. The course was all about the promotion of Beach Schools.
Its’ aim is to bring children out of their classrooms and into nature, where they can learn about, and appreciate nature, within the environment. It was a brilliant day. I came away with a wealth of knowledge of sea life, learned some new, fun (and cheap) games for children to play on the beach, incorporating sensory activities, beach art and, most importantly,.. the joy of rock pooling.
I remember, as a child, spending hours exploring rock pools when the tide was out at my local beach. Waiting patiently, expecting to find huge crabs; always finding unusual and colourful shells which were shoved into pockets for “trading” later on in school. Always, the while, thinking that it was daring to leap from one rock to the next to avoid whirls of incoming tidal sea water.
With this in mind, I took my daughter to a nearby beach to pass on everything I had learnt from my course. It was a sunny, but slightly windy day, but that didn’t deter us as we loaded the car with buckets, spades and our nets. Off we went to Llantwit Major, where my father knew of a great rocky stretch which wasn’t too busy and was a great place to explore.
We arrived just as the tide went out, leaving us with perfect conditions for rock pooling. As we started exploring the pools of crisp, clear, salty water, I started to tell my daughter about the different animals she could find, about the different shells and what animals could have lived in them. I explained how there where so many varietys of seaweed. It was fantastic. She was so interested in this simple activity. We jumped from rock to rock, exploring each pool and identifying shells and animals trapped within.
I was so happy in her enthusiasm. It was great experience, as through her sense of exploration, my mother and father, (who had “tagged along”!!), also became engrossed in searching for good rock pools and I could regularly hear them calling for my daughter to “come and see what I’ve found”.
We spent nearly three hours at the beach. We came away with a great collection of shells and a hunger for a slice of Victoria sponge and a steaming mug of hot chocolate, bought from the beach’s quaint, old-school cafe, selling homemade cakes, which was another amazing bonus.
What a great way to spend a Sunday. My daughter went to school the next day with stories of her adventures, her shell collection and lots of facts about sea life.
In an age of computer games, “Kindled” novels, DVD’s and smartphones, it was fantastic that this simple activity could engage my little girl in such deep exploration of her environment. More importantly, it was amazing to watch her grand-parents…… my OWN mum and dad, revisit activities that were such a huge part of their own childhood activities and development.
This weeks’ question, dear reader, is what was the thing that bridged the generation gap for you, and your kin. What happened. Was it a momentus thing, or did it go unnoticed by others, except for you and your young ones.
So, the time has come for my husband and I to start the talk of the “holiday“. Talk of new destinations and are we a package-style family, or shall we explore the Britain we never do? It all comes into the mix. Then we come to the subject of remembering holidays past. Since our daughter came along, we’ve noticed a huge difference in how we plan a holiday. Gone are the days of throwing some clothes into a carrier bag, filling up the car with our daily junk needs and going with the flow. Holidays have a different meaning to us now.
It got me to thinking of our first big holiday as a family. We played it safe and went to France, where my husband had found a lovely little campsite. As we turned up, the sun was shining and we did our best to not look like “camp virgins”, while putting up our rather huge family-sized tent. It was a tense hour with the husband and I trying to complete the task without too many cross words! Eventually, we did it and when we stood back and admired our new home for the week, we were all very pleased. We had smiles on our faces until the second night when the rain started, and it came down for the rest of the week. We had slight moments of sun, when we would frantically try to dry kit and clothes, or run to the indoor pool…. but the majority of our week was spent with wet feet and with sodden clothes hanging from a make-shift clothes line inside the tent.
At the time, we thought it was a rather rubbish holiday but, looking back, we had a great holiday which has given us some brilliant family memories. It was quite cosy listening to the rain on the canvas outside, while being cuddled up as snug as bugs in our coccoon sleeping bags… (bless you, Rab, whoever you are). My talented husband created the perfect spaghetti Bolognese, while wearing a black bag and with a cleverly-tied umbrella hanging from a tree. My daughter learnt to swim underwater, as we spend all our time in the heated indoor pool. We remembered hunting for cockles at a beautiful beach and then having the pleasure of a steaming bowl of cockles with a crisp, cold white wine, later that same evening…. listening to the storm outside!
It didn’t really matter about the rain, wet feet and cold mornings because, looking back, we really do have some brilliant family memories. Even the bad ones we can now laugh at, with the passage of time!!
So, I guess the question for you is, what are the unique ingredients that make a holiday a pleasured memory for you and your family?
Being in the outdoors is a big part of my life. It’s my work, it influences my hobbies and is also important in how we spend our free time as a family. Creating this blog and putting my thoughts and feelings into words has not only been a big challenge, but is a slightly scary commitment.
So, here we go.
Firstly, I must say I huge thank you to my sister and brother-in-law who gave me all the information and support that has helped me get to where I am now. THANK YOU!
When people ask what I do for a living I explain that I have an ‘outdoor office’. I work as part of a team that provide outdoor activities to children and young people in Cardiff. I also have huge elements of training which bring up a number of challenges and experiences which I would love to share.
I have a creative element to my personality and nature is a big influence in my work especially, when it comes to my love of photography.
Most importantly, the outdoors is a huge part of our lives due to my beautiful 6 year-old daughter. She is at her happiest when she is knee-deep in mud, or attempting to climb an extremely high tree. She really makes me see the outdoors in a fresh and exciting way.
So, I’ve explained a little about what the outdoors means to me and how important I feel it is.
My first question, to set the ball rolling, is how and why the outdoor world is important to you?
I look forward to any and all comments, and I can’t wait to hear from you.