All too often I find my son buried into technology. His hands furiously moving rapidly around a tiny screen, building castles, defeating Zombies, winning the world cup. My eldest daughter favourites place is in front of a TV screen, watching YouTube or Netflix, her eyes transfixed on the moving characters acting in front of.
I remember my own childhood, darting home from school to warm up the Atari to play Daley Thompson. Then firmly plopping myself in front of my white box TV, with in built video cassette player, at 5.10 to watch Home and Away, then Neighbours at 5.35.
Time has not changed that much, but it feels like technology plays a far greater part in our offspring’s growing up.
But I want to ensure that my children grow up with as much of a love of the world and the outdoors as they do a virtual reality.
This desire took me back to Wales this weekend.
With a tent….
The Reality of Camping in Wales in the rain.
I am not a fan of camping at the best of times. However as my life has got more and more active in the last few years, I have accepted that sleeping under canvass may have to become part of my life.
I wasn’t daft enough to take three kids alone to a campsite in Wales on a wet weekend, he who helped them agreed to join us for a weekend of unity. I had no intention of suffering alone.
Our reason for visiting Wales was twofold, we were hoping to climb Pen Y Fan, and the twins and their Dad were attempting Gorge walking for the first time.
The tent was erected amongst the drizzle, the bags unpacked, sleeping areas decided, and an utterly pleasant first afternoon was spent at The Big Pit, a cracking free attraction in the Breacons.
Gorge Walking was the first thing on Sunday’s adventure, so we hit the sack early on Saturday night, the kids lulled to sleep with excitement in their belly, and my own was filled with a delicious Rose wine which put me to bed so well that I didn’t even feel my bed deflate rapidly through the night.
Six am and the sun was awake which meant every occupant of my tent was. Excitement had been replaced by nerves in the children and they questioned me anxiously on what Gorge Walking would entail. Even he who helped create them looked a little fearful as he packed a bag full of warm clothes preparing for when he emerged from the river.
Reassuring my trio of little and big adventurers that they would be fine we bundled into the car and drove to the waterfalls nearby where their mission would begin.
We met Jen, the woman who was to be our instructor and would be guiding my children through gorges and up rocks. I liked her instantly, she didn’t worry about my eldest daughter being a Type One Diabetic, she even impressed instantly with her knowledge of the condition and sugar control. She reassured, excited, and got my children to listen easily (after they had finished jumping in puddles).
Then suddenly they were off.
Libby-Sue, who at only four was not quite old enough to walk the gorge, and I positioned ourselves at the top of a bridge to watch my little explorers navigate through the rushing water.
They appeared in sight, dripping wet, scrambling in crevices, fighting the water to make it past. All three of them have grins the size of the moon. They safely wrestle over a swirling pool of water, my heart sits in my mouth as I watch Owen grab at a rock as the water kisses his chest.
Watching your kids do something a bit scary is harder than doing something a bit scary yourself.
But they were amazing.
The next time I caught a glimpse of my family was as they approached a stunning waterfall.
“Mum,” called Molly, “we are climbing that!”
Again my parental fears started to tingle. Again, Jen, the rather fabulous instructor, expertly assisted and empowered my little people to climb to the top, allaying all my worries and igniting my parental proudness.
That Sunday morning, my children did the conga in the shallow rapids, they scrambled over rocks, swam against currents, and laughed till their cheeks hurt.
They didn’t stop talking about their activity all day, daring me to join them next time, inspiring me to want to be part of the fun.
Sbri Cymru were an excellent company, one of the only ones in South Wales to insist all Gorge Walkers wear wellies, therefore reducing the risk of any accidents tenfold. You can find them here: www.sbricymru.com.
They offer a full range of glorious outdoor activities from caving, to abseiling, to archery. They cater for families and groups. As a parent, they made me feel safe.
And the rest of the adventure…
Following the kids having all the fun, I was more eager than before to pull on my hiking boots and drag my children up a large hill. The weather looked bright for Monday so after an hearty welsh tea at a local public house we headed back to camp ready to nestle down and prepare for the following day.
As we approached the campsite, where we were the only people under canvass, the weather turned foul and the wind started to scream. The rain lashed down onto the car and I feared it would be an uncomfortable night ahead of us.
I wasn’t far from wrong….
The tent had not survived the fury of the weather, the poles had snapped and gone to heaven. I remembered all too quickly why I dislike to camp.
It was beyond salvage for the night. Drenched to the very core we packed the car as the last of the April downpours fell from the sky. We bundled the tent into the car, wrapped the kids in duvets and set off on the long drive back to Berkshire.
Pen Y fan would have to wait for another day.
Wales – we will be back.
Thank you to Sbri Cyrmu for allowing us to review their activities and a special thanks to Jen for being great at what she does.
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