Monday, 22 July 2013

Taking the Wild-time Challenge - No 3. build a den - Ham House, Surrey

A post from Rebecca, our volunteer member blogger, about trying our 50 things Wild-time challenge. She's going writing about our adventures with her family all summer.

On a gloriously sunny Saturday afternoon, Big Tot and I decided to embark on the first of our outdoor adventures.  We have been looking forward to tackling some of the challenges on the list of 50 Things to do before you're 11¾ for some time.  I will admit that neither of us are the ‘explorer’ sort but somehow the 50 Things have inspired us to have a go at activities that have miraculously drawn us away from our books and the telly!  

Our location of choice: Ham House, a 17th-century  treasure, tucked away in a sleepy corner of SW London.  A house with a wealth of stories both upstairs and downstairs and a walled kitchen garden where you can actually get up, close and personal with fruit and vegetables, sampling them in the cafĂ© too.  You can definitely see why Ham House is one of London and the South East’s National Trust gems.  

Our first challenge: Den building

The very helpful gardeners at Ham House had been busy cutting back and pruning the trees, providing us with the ideal materials for building our very own den!  As we turned the corner, we could see that The Orangery was alive with children of all ages and their parents fetching sticks and creating the perfect hideout.  Not knowing where to start, BT and I took our lead from a 9 year old boy who took it upon himself to instruct us in the art of finding the right branches to begin our master build.  When asked if this was the first time he had built one, he replied: 'Oh no! I love making dens and hiding from my sisters!BT and I quickly decided that he was the ‘man’ to follow - nothing like being taught by a professional!   A few false starts and BT did wonder (out loud I might add) if what Mummy really ought to have packed, was some rather useful sticky tape to stop the branches from falling over at every turn!  

We persevered and finally had a den to be proud of; not totally camouflaged but BT and I were rather pleased with our handiwork!  One of the most wonderful bits of the whole afternoon was watching BT set up her own tea party inside.  Such a wonderful idea from the volunteers at Ham House to include a little basket complete with cups, saucers and spoons.  LT would have been more than happy to have joined her sister in the den, but on this occasion she was not invited!  BT had created her own secret hideaway complete with afternoon tea!

Top tips – Remember you are not building a house, just go for it!  No DIY experience needed!

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