Who Plays In The Garden?

The long, lazy summer days, endless trips to the kitchen for drinks, the odd grazed knee and maybe even a barbecue or two. But it’s recalling the games we play at home in the garden that really bring the past to life. As long as you can move around, even slowly you’re too old to find time to play on the lawn.

The Toddler Years

Games are simple when you’re a toddler. A spot of tick, Mr Wolf or catch-kiss can make an afternoon fly by, and they give you mptor skills that will prepare you for the shopping mall later in life. Or you lay out some planks and other odds and ends on the lawn, to all the world a random mess, but to you and your the world’s most awesome pirate ship. If there’s a paddling pool nearby, the fantasy is complete. And finally there’s the secret den made from tree cuttings and old carpets, which is most people’s first taste of the property ladder – and oh, how you wish it was your last.

Once toddlerhood is over, garden games start to take on a more sporting streak. Whether you’re beating your friend in the FA Cup final or being timed on makeshift obstacle courses to prove your athleticism, you’re driven by a sense of one-upmanship that might never leave you. The time-served way of never losing, of course, is to be the owner the ball, racquets or whatever other item is essential to the game; that way you can retire in a sulk when the going gets tough. Childhood is the age of the water fight, too. Or more accurately, the age when the innocent splashing of your toddler days gives way to a primal urge to leave no thread of your opponents’ clothing dry. Buckets, hoses, garden Sprinklers and sponges all develop new value in the water fighting season.

Adolescence

Why would you go into the garden when you could hang out at a bus stop?

Adulthood

Once adulthood is reached, garden play is either a serene time-killer or a way of proving to the kids that you’ve still got what it takes. There is a wealth of options, from those water-filled boules (of which at least one has lost its filling) to the near-violent pastime of Swingball, the closest most family members get to open warfare. With a little more space, a communal game of rounders or the mysteriously named French cricket must feature in any game organiser’s repertoire.

So whatever your age, as soon as the weather forecaster gives you the all clear, getting out into the garden is more than just a way to relax – it’s a way to build a lifetime of happy memories, improve your skills and spend time with your family and friends in the shared euphoria of outdoor living.

Callum has written about gardens and garden accessories for many home and garden publications.The options of garden play equipment and other children’s garden items is growing all the time but the common items of swings and climbing frames seem to be continual favourites

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