June 23, 2011
There can be no denying that my children are all growing up – fast! I want to have as many memories of their childhood as I possibly can. Looking through some old photographs recently, I realised how many happy days out we have enjoyed as a family – many of them in Essex.
With the soaring cost of everything from food to fuel, going out as a family can seem like an expensive luxury but enjoying a day out needn’t be expensive. We are very fortunate in this county to have so much on our doorstep from coast to countryside and it costs nothing to swim in the sea, walk in the woods or play in the park. When they were very young, our children all enjoyed Sunday afternoons at a local playground and as they got older, this turned into trips out on bikes to be replaced again by walks along the estuary, sometimes now, joined by one of their friends or boyfriends. These occasions are the glue that holds families together and they are the times that our children will also remember when they look back on their childhoods. I can remember days out with my own parents and sister and how much I loved it when aunts, uncles and cousins all joined in an impromptu game of cricket or rounders.
The summer holidays are nearly upon us. Families are being squeezed financially at the moment, making it harder than ever to get away but it is still important to have time out together. With ‘staycations’ becoming more popular, it is time to take a good look at what is on our own doorstep. Some of our happiest times been those that have cost the least; the day we got our kite stuck in a tree, getting lost in the woods, building a damn in a stream, running barefoot across the mud, crabbing, walking the dog… the list goes on.
I must admit, that now the house is largely occupied by teenagers, it is becoming increasingly difficult to get everyone together. The kids would naturally rather spend time with their friends than mum and dad, but there are still times when we manage to pull it off. And the summer months do offer opportunities if you look for them, such as free concerts or festivals, boot sales (my girls love a bargain), or camping.
When my husband first suggested that we bought our own tent, I wasn’t at all sure that I would take to sleeping in the great outdoors. However, our first trip was a resounding success, thanks in part to the glorious sunshine (I should add that we have since had several trips in the rain so we always have a pack of cards handy!). The children all love camping, they have so much freedom on a campsite and always make loads of friends. And they don’t seem to care about the weather. Another good thing about camping is that you really don’t have to travel very far. Our own county has lots of good sites, making it an ideal choice for a weekend away and no moaning about the long journey.
So I for one, intend to get out and explore the best of what Essex has to offer again this summer.
By Essex Mums Guest Blogger Kim, author of the blog Mum in the Middle
For ideas to keep the family entertained this summer, take a look at the Things to Do section and browse events in your area.