Monday, 16 August 2010

Wood you believe it?!

As the whole world and his wife go on holiday in August, the country's news-deprived journalists often desperately try to cobble together papers and bulletins based on the flimsiest of studies and surveys, and summer-time Mondays are usually particularly bad.

Today's Monday morning, random, poll-based horror story, however, has actually prompted me to mount my moral high horse in protest at the sheer ridiculousness of its findings.

One in five British children - we are told today - has never climbed a tree or visited a farm.

As a one-time tree-climbing and farm-visiting child myself it is hard to imagine how children can grow up without expriencing these simple pleasures. Indeed, tree climbing was an almost compulsory part of childhood in the countryside in the 1980s and I fondly remember receiving my cub scout tree climbing badge after pack leaders judged my ascent of one particularly large tree worthy of the coveted sew-on award.
My brothers and I, meanwhile, spent hours on end in a wood close to our childhood home, utilising the abundant flora to reenact scenes from Return of the Jedi (minus the ever-annoying Ewoks of course) or to declare jungle warfare on each other. It was a blank canvas for the imagination of youth, not simply the accumulation of trees and weeds seen by the adult population.

Wellies and grass stains were part and parcel of my life as a child, along with the local farms and typically eccentric farmers. Cows, sheep and cowpats were commonplace and we came to realise how vital farming was to country life from a very early age. What's more, we knew where our food and milk came from, we could see, hear and smell it every day.

To think that children today can grow up without knowing any of these things, without falling out of the odd tree and without enjoying the opportunity to let their imaginations run wild amidst spectacularly beautiful rural settings, is frightening.

In my opinion parents have a responsibilty to ensure that they provide their children with the chance to see and experience as much of life in the UK as they can, urban and rural. We shouldn't be a nation of town mice and country mice, we should embrace, experience and find out as much as we can about all the varying regions of this country.

Now living in the big smoke, I could not be further away from the trees, woods and farms that made up my childhood. While I can appreciate all that life in London has to offer (apart from the tube), I'm also proud of my country roots and will ensure that Baby B, no matter where we live, will get the chance to climb as many trees and stomp in as many cowpats as he/she wants to.

Wellies unite!


  1. My boys get no greater pleasure than being outdoors, climbing, exploring and bug collecting. Climbing trees is great for them. Hubby doesn't like it as he's scared they'll fall, but they haven't yet.
    They love the freedom. Maybe we should campaign for proper 'Outdoor Ed' in basic form on nursery ciriculum - H&S would love that!

  2. Strange I should read this today...we are off to St Werburghs city farm today (Bristol!)..not quite a full farm but plenty big enough for a 2yr old..wellies are lined up at the front door!