Has the sudden spring weather made you long for that lazy summer holiday? Or think about the three – yes three! – Bank Holiday weekends coming up?
Over the last ten years I've taken my brother's kids away at least a couple of times, often with some other friends and their kids, so we can all get away from the noise and enjoy that sensation of cold dew on flip-flopped feet...
Holiday successes have included a week camping by the beach at Eweleaze farm - swimming in the sea, and cooking our dinner over a fire every night. Or there was a trip to Fisherground Farm in the Lake District; they have a pond in the middle of the campsite with a zipwire near it, old tractor tyres to float around on, and plenty of trees to climb.
And, every year, we take a trip to Womad, the ultimate family-friendly festival, where you can hear music you'd never come across, especially if you're from rural Cheshire.
Although a ticket to weekend festival will set you back a few hundred pounds, a family camping trip can still be done on a budget. And some of my fondest memories are from very local, and very low-cost mini adventures. Just a trip to the local park when the cherry trees are in flower. Price of a lifelong memory? One ice-cream! In that spirit, I've put together my five top tips for the making of memories.
1. Firstly, you don't need to overthink it! Children, teenagers, adults too, can make an adventure out of a trip to a local park, if the company is right, if the sun is out. You don't have to empty your wallet, just looking up at a tree on a Spring day can form a perfect and lasting memory.
2. The key, especially with young teenagers, is being somewhere where they can go off and explore themselves, where you don't have to be with them all the time. You can enjoy swapping stories in the evening.
3. Having challenging and new experiences – climbing a particularly high mountain, swimming out to sea, building the perfect cooking fire and looking after it – all the more memorable because of the novelty.
A few summers ago I took my second eldest niece to Wilderness festival where she showed me how to row a boat (I was honestly getting into a terrible mess before she took over). We drifted in the lake as the sun set, the fairy lights came on around the banks and the stars started to come out.
4. If you do a bit of research, and plan well, some great experiences are available for nothing, or next-to-nothing. Over that same summer, my niece also took part in some great activities at Hackney's Laburnum boat club. They offer kayaking, bouldering and more for just £2 a day over the holidays - amazingly, many of Hackney's youth clubs are still free.
I owe a lot of my love of the outdoors to, firstly, my mum and dad, who dragged me up hills long before I appreciated them, and secondly, to the Netherley Youth Trust who were a brilliant small voluntary group in Liverpool in the 70s that took kids from the L25 area to Wales and got us camping, canoeing, abseiling and very, very muddy.
As kids we never really gave a thought to how much time those volunteers gave us, to teach us precious skills and then let us test ourselves to the limit. But without them, I and many other kids would have never known we had the courage to walk over a cliff edge, would never have known the sense of pride in having slept in a shelter we built ourselves. So I want to say a huge, if belated, thanks to Nigel and all the other volunteers who made those adventures happen and helped me lay down some great memories!
5. Be mindful. Enjoy the moment. Don't get distracted by getting the perfect photo for your Insta, or instantly sharing the experience on Facebook. We've taken to pocketing an object on every adventure we go on - a shell, a stone, a head of wheat. They sit as a little collection of memories in a cabinet, and every so often I'll make a cup of tea, pick them up one by one, and remember the days that gave them life.
So this Easter and summer we want to lay down some more memories with the children from our extended families and friends, to make sure they get to enjoy that complete freedom of playing outside. But where to go?
Do you have any holiday places to share for spring or summer outdoor play treats? Where did you love as a kid? Where do your kids love now?
If you can help us take some families camping this summer, or share our GoFundMe, then please share.
First published on Love Outdoor Play in 2013