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“I’ve got four girls under eight and this is brilliant. It’s a really handy book for dads, showing how to build a raft or an insect trap. I built a Viking boat recently out of wood. It’s a very good antidote to the iPad’ Jimmy Doherty, Daily Express

 

Dadventures

What is it that we remember most about our childhood?

“I remember disappearing off across the fields all day, kids don’t do that now”

It’s a sentence I hear all the time, of course it’s not strictly true, some do, but certainly not as many as when we were kids or when our parents were young. Dadventures is a guide for parents, grandparents or carers of young children, born from the realisation that it’s now not so common to know about outdoor pursuits that were once widely enjoyed. It’s a book for people who have slipped into the routine of busy, working lives, who have fallen into the trap of finding screens the answer to the hectic home life. I’m not advocating total removal of screens. Our children need to be able to navigate this connected world, it’s a skill and an understanding that is becoming ever more important, but I think they also need to continue to be in touch with the natural world as that is something we’re losing.

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The motivation to write Dadventures came from a number of different areas. I have written about the things I loved to do as a child and things we love to do as a family now. As the parents of three young children time is not always our friend. It’s impossible to devote all our time to all of them, so it’s the quality of time that I believe really counts. Having sadly missed two of my three children’s births during my rowing career, time together has become something truly important to us.

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Finally, while floating somewhere in the Arctic ocean in the middle of a storm, many days away from anywhere in any direction, certain death if we were to capsize our tiny ocean rowing boat I was curled up, wet, freezing cold in the three foot by three foot cabin. I wrote a final message to my family on my phone just in case we didn’t make it. I realised then that my kids didn’t care if I was being a brave Arctic explorer doing something that no one had ever done before, they didn’t care about records or personal discovery, all they cared about was time at home with me, having a bike ride, camping in the garden or cooking marshmallows over the fire. The most precious thing we have is time, and with young children that beautiful time is finite. Thankfully I made it back home safe with my fellow crew mates. We had a risky but wonderful expedition across the Arctic ocean with some stories to tell and records to note, but any time I have now, I know I must spend on smaller adventures that will create happy lasting memories with my children - Dadventures!

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I’ve divided the book into 8 chapters, each based on a different amount of time. From ‘After school activities’ to ‘Overnight expeditions’, hopefully there’s something for everyone in there. The point about the book is not that every activity has to be done perfectly, or even to completion, but it’s about giving people the helping hand they may need to get outside with a purpose. That initial purpose can change, be adapted, altered or forgotten, but by that point they have spent time together in hopefully memorable ways!

Dadventures is available in Hardback or Audio format.

 Photo:  @PeteReed

Photo: @PeteReed