Thursday, 2 May 2013

Going Wild

We're not a sporting family. The gene pool for physical co-ordination that I could provide for my children was always going to be pretty murky. I can't get a mug of tea to my lips without spillages and my instinct is to  flinch and run if anyone tries to kick, throw or bat a ball towards me. When Bill was about 3 I took him to the physiotherapist because he couldn't jump. Where all his friends were bounding off walls and sofas and flying high on trampolines, Bill would just crouch low and then stand up again with arms stretched up.
 "I jump" he would pronounce proudly with soles of feet still planted firmly on the ground.
 I'm not sure what I thought the physio would do- provide special insoles or a course of exercises or something. In the end she just looked at me pityingly and said, "There's nothing wrong. He's just slow to jump." My eyes were opened. 'Slow to Jump'. Of course he was; he was my child. It was a powerful early lesson in the futility of Tiger parenting and lucky for Bill that I learned it.

In the absence of much (capital letter) Sport, alternative activities must be embraced. We're good at vigorous cake mix stirring, Bill-Fu and Kitchen Gangnam Style but they're probably not enough for health and fitness. The sun has started shining properly again this week so it's time to embrace the Out-Of-Doors again and shift our bottoms from their respective comfy cushions. To nerve us up for that transition I did what I always do- I bought some books and then sat back down to read them.

'Go Wild' and 'Make it Wild' by Fiona Danks and Jo Schofield and 'Cook Wild' by Suzanne Fischer-Rizzi are the kind of books to inspire even the most committed comfy cushion lover to want to rush straight outside, build an open fire pit, coppice and lash their own sturdy sapling tripod and cook their own loaf of bread outside in a dutch oven. I say this with experience. That is exactly what the boys (particularly the grown up one) spent last weekend doing. There's also been some pretty furious whittling and frying up of nettles for crisps going on (all activity is better when accompanied by salty snack food after all). Treehouses are being modified and the lawn is suddenly covered with weaponry. Bill spent a proportion of Sunday rubbing ash over exposed areas and gaffa-taping together sticks and stones for caveman axes. He then only spoke in grunts for a few hours; preparing me for his teenage future.

The books are beautiful- full of inspiring photography of slightly feral kids doing slightly feral things. Some of the ideas are obvious but plenty are not: I'm looking forward to a session digging, making and wood firing our own river clay pots this summer for instance.

Of course, there's a limit to the amount of adventure you can have in your own back garden- if you are fortunate enough to have one at all. We are very fortunate to have space here and also to live in one of the leafiest, woodiest, greenest patches of London but it is still London. There's always people. So this weekend we're packing the dutch oven and the axes and heading out camping for a bit more Wild to Go Wild in.
I will still be packing some comfy cushions and plenty of books to read though...

Cooked Wild (ish) Dinner
FERAL! (the tomato soup adds a nice touch I think)

'Cook Wild; year round cooking on an open fire' by Suzanne Fischer-Rizzi , 'Make it Wild! 101 things to make and do outdoors' and 'Go wild! 101 things to do outdoors before you grow up by Jo Schofield and Fiona Danks are all published by Frances Lincoln isbn 978-0-7112-2939-6 for the latter.

Because we are going camping we are missing out on this Saturday's amazing looking Oxford Children's Comic Festival hosted by the incomparable Phoenix Comic. Don't YOU be so stupid. Find out more here.
And in other exciting Phoenix-y news. They have a brand new beautiful website being unveiled tonight at 6pm. It promises lots of shiny new features and (dangerously) a shop. Click on this after 6 tonight to enjoy.

Final other booky news. The Federation of Children's Book Groups are hosting a festival of their own in Birmingham in November and they have launched a competition to find an illustrator for a logo for the event. It looks like an amazing opportunity for someone to get their work seen by the Right People. If that might be you- have a look here to find out all you need to enter.