Give children lots of fresh air, a wide open space and some freedom and you'll be amazed at their imagination and creativity!
I love seeing the change in people from when they arrive all stressed out and wired to when they leave: relaxed, happy and with maybe just a whiff of wood smoke from the campfire in their hair.
As we welcome people and show them to their tents, explaining that we are off grid (i.e. no electricity, no TV, no screens) you can sometimes catch the slight look of panic in the eyes of the parents as they think to themselves, “I hope we have enough to entertain our kids for two whole days here….!”
But then they unpack and get the hammock set up, spark up the campfire and you can start to feel them starting to unwind. And as for the kids, I’ve been amazed at just how much they can find to amuse themselves. Here are just a few of the games and activities they’ve come up with all by themselves which have entertained them for hours!
1. Frog hunting: we are lucky enough to have lots of areas of wetland around in our woodland and fields which are home to lots of baby common frogs. Once you know where to look this can occupy your kids for HOURS. Especially once they’ve caught them and then have to build elaborate homes for them using leaves, grass, moss, stones, water and a beautiful array of wild flowers ("just to make it pretty for Froggy and Kermit....")
2. Wheelbarrow racing: these barrows are supposed to be for the guests to move their luggage and goodies from the car park to the tents but we are finding that it’s so much more fun to use them like chariots and race up and down the grass paths!
3. Castles, dragons and dinosaurs: yes, apparently we have them all. An old gnarly willow tree has become 'Willow Castle' complete with moat (bit of boggy pond) and battlements (mossy boughs) from where you can attack marauding dinosaurs and dragons with your bows and arrows (an elaborate array of twigs and sticks).
4. Finding the perfect marshmallow stick/poker for the campfire: no mean feat. You need exactly the right length, thickness and angles to toast the perfect marshmallow over the fire or be able to give the burning logs a good old poke. Once you’ve found the right one though it can be tricky to limit the sugar intake – be warned!
5. Hide and seek: an oldie but a goodie, especially when you have lots of long grass, gorse bushes, trees and a hill fort to add into the mix. Rebrand it to ‘Manhunt’ for the older kids and you are onto a winner!
And if all that fails to keep them busy, we can also lay on slightly more structured bushcraft sessions where you can try your hand at lots of different types of fire-lighting, cook your own bannock bread over the fire or learn how to build a real-life survival shelter. Or maybe this is just for the mums and dads once their backs have packed in from all the wheelbarrow racing 😊.
What an amazing weekend I have just had at The Forge with my hubby and three kids. Sheena couldn't have been more welcoming and helpful throughout our stay and even let the kids collect some eggs this morning from her hens for us to take home and enjoy! We will definitely be back - what a little piece of paradise