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We have just returned from our “big wild sleepout” that was an initiative run by the RSPB to get more people out into nature.  We sent off for our night-time passport, which came full of ideas and some stickers.  Our little lady has got the passport to fill in, and she also made the glow in the dark bunting to hang in our wild camp 🙂  We tied into our trip away, the Woodland Trust’s initiative of inviting a tree for tea and their activity pack, as well as ticking a few things off the national trust’s 50 things to do list; night-time nature walk, and camping.  We had a very exciting trip away, and everybody did manage to get some sleep (although we lost twin no.2 to his bed at 1730hrs tonight, even with an hour’s nap in the car coming home!).

z15When we were wondering where to go for our big sleep out, we had wanted to head to a ‘dark skies’ area in order to do some star gazing with our trio.  However, in the end, we went to the New Forest with the idea that if things were not working out, at least we were not too far from home.  In the end the skies were cloudy so no star gazing was done, so that is something for another day.  We set up our tent, after it had spent the last 6 years in the bag, and our camp was fully unpacked and erected in under an hour, even with three children “trying to help”.  So we were pretty pleased with that.  We then decided we all needed feeding…the whole idea of this first camping trip as a family of 5 was to keep things simple, so we headed to the local chippy, and took our suppers to the seashore.  All three children were literally fizzing with excitement with everything by this point, so we aimed to try and do a night-time nature walk with them, and set about running their energy off for the rest of the daylight hours!  The campsite we had chosen was unusual in that it really encouraged and supported people to have open fires…it sold the logs, and the marshmallows and sticks to make the experience memorable.  So after playing football, tag, and generally running manically round the huge tent field, we set about lighting the fire, and enjoying a yummy treat before bedtime.  It was so lovely (and of course the now chilly toes in flip flops appreciated the warmth!), and a real family bonding experience.  After this and a toothbrush, we pottered out up the country lane listening, smelling, and looking for sounds of wild night life (other than a man weaving his wobbly way home on a bike from the pub :-)!!).  This was a huge adventure for all three being out very late in the dark and I’m not sure how much wildlife we located (a little), but lots of nervous jumpy excitement at being out in the pitch black, with no street lights and no other noise was an experience enough for them to start with, and something we can build on with future trips.

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z13After all of this, and being very very late (2230hrs) all three piled into their new sleeping bags gratefully, and conked out.  Apart from a few brief wakeful moments in the night (that fortunately they didn’t talk in), and despite the early bright sunrise streaming in through the tent, everyone slept through until 0730hrs…a lie in by our family’s standards!  They had all been warm and comfy and were in bright spirits, so brekkie time it was.  Again, in the spirit of keeping things simple, pain au chocolats were devoured!  Whilst Dadda and I got on with faffing around (various showers and sorting out that goes on when camping), our trio set about enjoying the camping field again, running miles doing various games and kicking a ball.  They also found the dog’s old Frisbee in the car, so had a go at throwing that around.  The plan for the day, was to get up and get going, but take as long as it took us….no rushing going on here, and enjoy the laid back vibe of camping.  Then once we were packed up, head off into the New Forest to follow a walking route of 5km, and do some scavenger activities from the Woodland Trust’s initiative of ‘invite a tree for tea’.

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The children were doing so well, and we do have good little walkers, but when we sat with our trees for our picnic lunch, the loss of three hours sleep the previous night was beginning to take its toll on at least 2 of them….mini man no.1 seems to run on Duracell batteries until you put him in a car seat or a bed, and then he sleeps to recharge, either waking at his destination ready to go again full steam ahead, or in the morning. But while he is awake, it’s full volume and full throttle into whatever he’s up to!!  Luckily we had pre-empted the energy slumps with a well placed pub refreshment stop 3/4 of the way round, and three OJ’s and lemonades plus ice cream, and a cider and wine for the grown ups, got us through the last little bit of the walk.  We did quite well on our scavenger hunts too…there was only one type of tree we didn’t come across (horse chestnut) and a few items (like a four leafed clover!!) from the other hunt sheet, so we were pleased with that.

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All the kit is now packed away, and we have promised our trio they were so good that we will definitely be able to go again….whether that’s here or in Sweden, I do not know.  All three are exhausted back in their own beds now, but would have easily stayed out again tonight if their parents had the stamina!!!

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