I have just finished reading Robert MacFarlane’s book” Landmarks” it is a great book on nature and a wonderful book of gifts on other nature writers. At the end of Landmarks there is a chapter called Childish, in this chapter I was saddened to find that 9/10 children can identify a Dalek but only 3/ 10 children can identify a Magpie. Children do not venture no further then their front garden and use computer games for their imagination. In 2015 Oxford University press revealed its children’s word of the year to be Hashtag, this is worrying.
I grew up on a council estate in Ely, Cardiff in front of my house was a green and on this green were cherry blossom trees, these tress fascinated me. This green was also our cricket and football pitch and we played for hours on this green. I walked to and from school it was rare to see a child having a lift to school back in the 60’s and 70’s.
We knew bird names all the trees. I swam in the river Ely, Birdies lane which saddled Ely and Fairwater was my Barry Island. I walked 4 miles there and back to Llandaff Fields open air swimming pool. 1971 aged ten I walked my longest walk without my parents, 20 miles. I encouraged a cousin to visit an aunt unannounced. I lead the walk, remembered land marks from sitting in the back of my aunties Clark’s pie van. We followed the busy A48 the Wenvo mast was my guide. no one stopped to ask why two ten-year olds were walking alone, the reason being kids walked everywhere.
One of the best childhood pleasures was a den,our den was in Plymouth woods it was amazing massive oak tree. All children should have a den for their imagination to run riot, day-dream, to sit and gather. Kids in my street followed me everywhere I was a natural leader of walks. Sometimes I was naughty and I walked with half of my street behind me and nick into St Fagans hide under the antique bedding and shout boo at tourists. Victoria park I swam not just in summer but the middle of November. There were many kids like me back then.
The next best thing was a swing. yes that is me aged 52 I am now 55.
Aged 55 not far off 56 and I still walk 3 miles a day sometimes more. Walking is so therapeutic and gives one a good sense of wellbeing. To feel the wind and other elements and to be immersed in your own breath is pure joy . I also walk bare foot it is truly wonderful to feel the earths heart beat beneath your feet.
Today I see parents speeding to get their children to school when the walk to the school is not even half a mile. I see cars queued up outside schools 30 minutes before school finishes they park on pavements drumming their fingers on steering wheels, anxiously waiting for their children or grandchildren. Knowing that the children can walk quiet safely to and from school. Where does the bodies natural energy go when it is not be used? It converts into sadness the body cries to be sung to sing its tune and it can only sing if it is upwardly mobile. Let children be children let them be surprised, take them on a walk give them your stories of your childhood allow them to use their imagination by being part of nature.
Remember always let the child in you out to play too.
Me walking up Pen Y Fan