Wednesday, 17 September 2008
I hope we have given our kids good play experiences.
We have been to Sundown Adventure Park (close to home), Legoland, and even Disney World, Paris, but I don't think you can beat playing in the back garden. All were memorable, though we spent most of the time queuing at Disney World, though I quite enjoyed this and spent some time quite agressively working out which rides to go in the minimum space of time based on observation and when people would be taking their lunch. I took the kids to Legoland, but Mark sensibly took himself off to Stonehenge on the same day. I think we borrowed a buggy and I piled the kids in when they got tired so that we actually went on most of the rides, again based on logistics. I like to get my money's worth.
As for Sundown, we have been there quite a few times, but I don't like the way everything is garish and plastic and everything is in your face, with all the imagining done for you by designers. I secretly think things like this are more for the parents. 'Sundown' is actually a great success commercially speaking, having started off by a farmer in a chicken shed and now expanding all the time. A lot of the rides have been based on Disneyland, but on a smaller scale, and you don't have to queue. Actually, all things considered, a better experience than Disneyland.
When I had Jack I did buy expensive educational toys, but quickly realised aagain that these were more for the parents. Jack played with wooden spoons and rolled around on brown crinkly paper which made a noise, which his Dad had done before him.
The kids have a lot of toys, but they have always enjoyed playing outside. We had a paddling pool and I did buy water pistols, but these quickly broke and you are just as well off with washing up liquid bottles, plastic bins and buckets. I used to quite enjoy myself putting bath toys like ducks,whales and divers into the paddling pool to make an attractive ensemble and play experience, but they were soon scattered to the four winds LOL I also liked getting a dolls house and putting all sorts of interesting little things in it as well as people and furniture, like horses, treasure and even tigers onto a table when Eleanor and her friends came home from school and this actually did work, as they spent ages playing games with this and constructing stories round it. I used to keep biscuit tins in with little odds and ends, even things like plastic toys from cereal boxes.
I bought an a climbing frame for the kids to play on and did it properly with bark chippings. (For the eagle-eyed amongst you, the orange plastic sheeting was a stopgap lol)Of course they loved this, as you could make a den in the middle of it. I used to sometimes put the slide bit into a paddling pool for a water ride.
They play out on the street ('larking'), and we are lucky enough to back onto a tenfoot which is the track that backs onto garages, and they have spent a long time playing hide and seek on this. I used to pull them about on a tractor tied to a piece of rope while walking the dog (Someone once said 'You've got your hands full') round the block. This tractor made quite a lot of noise, and you could always here us coming. We also have sledges, which I pulled them to school on, and which they use on a railway embankment near here which has terrific slopes.
I do think we are lucky to live where we do, which is pleasant and safe, with little traffic (not the inner city)where people still talk over their garden fences and where kids can still play out until sunset in the street. I don't know whether there are that many places left like it.