It’s usually a matter of grabbing a couple of hours here and there whenever we can to do something outdoors. It’s rare for me to have a whole day off at the moment so we make the most of it when we can. Last week Jasper and I decided to head up to this little pocket of beech trees we are lucky enough to have close to home. It was a cool, dreary, damp British summer’s day so we needed a plan of action to keep us moving and entertained in the drizzle.
A few weeks before we had built a den in amongst the low hanging tree branches. It was simple, old rotten sticks propped up against the growing arms of the tree, nothing more than that but it seemed to work. Jasper (5) worked hard for a hour hauling logs to the building site, the result was a very breezy mish mash of rotten logs that you could squeeze underneath and have a vague sensation of being sheltered, perfect. There was a main entrance, an emergency escape route in case of invading baddies and a hidden escape hatch that was for sneaking out and raiding the enemy. All very well thought out and explained in detail as we worked.
A number of weeks on and it was still standing as we arrived with a thermos flask of hot chocolate, a bag of marsh mallows and two soggy, panting dogs. Crawling through the dripping entrance way we sat huddled on our designated log seats and cracked open the flask of hot chocolate. Too hot to drink, Jasper was off out the emergency exit looking for the inevitable storming of his den by the army of baddies we had heard on the way. I was happily wedged into a tiny gap between two branches. If we had been invaded then I’d be done for. Jasper was content climbing in the swinging sweeping branches that hang down nearly to the floor, chatting away as he does. I didn’t mention to him that his nattering would actually attract this fictitious enemy. Our youngest puppy Tiggy kept coming in to see me hoping for a swig of hot chocolate or to find a loose marsh mallow, she’s the greediest dog I have ever come across, if in doubt swallow seems to be her motto in life.
A couple of cups of hot chocolate later Jasper came back into the den only to find the dregs of the flask remained. He dunked his mallows, downed the last of the chocolate, we collected the dogs from various holes and ditches and headed back in a homewards direction.
We both came home with smiles on our faces. It was only a quick trip into the countryside on a miserable day but the effect it had on us was refreshing and satisfying. If we ever need a breath of fresh air and an activity to keep us occupied we have plenty of holes to patch up on the den!