I have nearly always lived in houses with big gardens and I have never run out of things to do in them. I have just turned eighteen but it doesn’t mean that the things I enjoy doing change. I was discussing this with a friend, how so many activities stop at eighteen which is rubbish. Just because you have been alive for eighteen years doesn’t mean that you want to do different things to when you were seventeen or six. However, in your own garden (or the woods or park or friends garden) you can do whatever you like so here are my top ten:
- Climbing trees. I love climbing trees. I don’t remember ever living in a house where we didn’t find a tree to climb (even house no. 12 which only had one tree in the entire garden and you had to balance precariously on the fence to get onto the first branch). You don’t have to climb very high if you don’t want to but the feeling of siting on a branch looking around at the world from a higher view point that normal is very unique.
- Make daisy chains. If you fancy sitting on the grass instead of up a tree then this is the perfect pastime. You can do it while having a chat or watching YouTube or singing to yourself or whatever else you like to do. Generally I just make very long strings which I dangle over something but you can decorated a willing sunbather (usually my father – as long as we promise not to email the photo around his private clients…) or the dog.
- Make a campfire. When we were younger we would make pretend ones, e.g. a pile of twigs, and then mix up a concoction of blackberries, apples, plums, greengages, hazelnuts and bay from around the garden. Why did we put the bay in? It was vaguely edible until that point. Now we make real ones and sit around them with tubs of homemade marshmallows (when I was twelve I discovered they are ridiculously easy to make) and the cleanest sticks we can find striped down with a penknife to roast them on the end of.
- Play sports. Cricket is always good, normal or French. Tennis is harder unless you have a large patio like we did in house no. 12. In house no. 11 we mowed a vaguely flat patch of lawn very short and stretched a rope between two chairs and played with wooden rackets. I wouldn’t recommend this unless you are very dedicated to memorising every ex-molehill bump. Another good sport is you have apple trees is apple-hurling or whatever you want to call that thing where you put a rotten apple on the end of a stick and fling it as far as you can. You can also do this with lumps of soil if your soil is basically solid clay like we had in house no. 7.
- Have wheelbarrow races. I don’t mean that painful thing where you hold onto someones legs, I mean push someone around in a wheelbarrow. If you only have one wheelbarrow they you can just do rides but it you have two then you can properly race. Obstacles are optional.
- Make a camp. In house no. 7 we had a den with our neighbours in a laurel bush. In house no. 4 we had a playhouse. In house no. 5 we would sit under umbrellas in the rain. In house no. 11 we had a camp in the woods, built of sticks and marked with a roof tile painted with a skull and crossbones in Farrow and Ball tester pots. In house no. 9 we strung a piece on canvas between two apple trees. We slept under the same piece of canvas several houses later. In house no. 8 we nailed planks of wood up some trees to make tree houses. You get the idea – a camp is essential.
- Have a water fight. Granted, there are very few days each year in the UK when this is feasible but if you happen upon one then give it a go. A summer party in house no. 11 ended in an epic water fight with no sides or strategies and only two water pistols but this is the best sort in my opinion.
- Put up a swing. House no. 8 was the record, I think over the one summer we lived there we put up about six. Mostly our swings consist of a piece of rope over a fairly strong branch (one that’s not going to snap but bouncing adds another dimension) with a stick tied to the end.
- Get a hammock. Hammocks are wonderful. We have normally been lucky enough to have two trees to hang one between but in house no. 12 we hung it between two unused fence posts or you can get hammock stands.
- Do some gardening. I know this is possibly the most obvious choice and I have put it last but my version of gardening is eating all the vegetables which my parents have carefully tended for months. When I was younger I would have a small patch of garden to grow anything I liked in which I did quite enjoy. I remember growing carrots in house no. 6 and lots of nasturtiums in house no. 7. I still like doing a bit of digging and weeding if the weather is nice but I don’t really have the dedication to keep my own garden.
There are lots of other things which are fun to do in the garden, I would love to know if there are some obvious ones which I have missed (I’m sure there are). Hope the sun is shining where you are and you can go outside and enjoy it.