I wrote a post last Sunday called From Screen to Green which was all about ways to entice children away from their devices into the garden.

My two daughters had just returned from Australia that morning.

I always encourage them to spend time outdoors on the day they return, as daylight can help to re-set the body clock and reduce the effects of jet lag.

We are lucky to have my stepdaughter with us for the rest of the holidays, and she was full of beans, so this helped in keeping the two sleepy ones awake!

We were also preparing for a 70th Birthday party at our house for my dad.  So I suggested that the girls cut and arrange flowers.

They were on a roll.  I had been talking to them about my blog-post, and about all the things they have enjoyed doing in the garden.

They decided to make a shelter.

For two or three hours, they rigged up rope and tarpaulin under our willow tree.  They made buttresses of sticks and covered them with leaves.  They asked if they could use the cushions from the sun-loungers for ‘seats’ that could be rolled out to make ‘beds’.  They added a log ‘table’.  Then a campfire and food store.



What was really nice was that their older sister had fallen asleep long ago.  She would usually be the ‘ideas girl’, and is pretty nifty at construction.  The younger two were able to prove to themselves that they are pretty handy too.


It wasn’t long before they were asking if they could sleep there.

Well, I couldn’t say no, could I?

So they packed up sleeping bags and pyjamas and a torch.  They took dried fruit and cereal in plastic containers for the morning.  I warned them about wildlife (we have a lot of squirrels, a few mice, a family of slow worms in the compost, and at least one grass snake).

Jet lag – pah! After 36 hours without sleep, who would choose their own nice comfy bed when you can have a rolled-up mat under a tree?

I can confirm that they made it through without being mauled by wild animals.  They just got licked a bit by Ruby and Ziggy in the morning.

Here they are foraging for berries and eating their breakfast.


With a wild wolf.

Do you remember camping out in the garden?  Have you ever made your own shelter?  Do you have any horror stories to share?

I aim to share whatever is going on in the garden in this blog.  There are gardening hints and tips, but it is also about making the most of being outdoors, learning about nature, and living a joyful, mindful life.

If you would like to join me, then you can receive an email each time I post.  Just click on the ‘Follow’ button at the bottom of this post!


26 Comments Add yours

  1. Wonderful. Given the right stimulation I believe all children can be creative, even while they are into their electronic gadgets. As a boy I made dens on railway land behind our house. Here is a story from my children’s days:

    1. Ali says:

      That looks amazing, Derrick! I have wondered if our willow is big enough for a treehouse…

  2. Emma Cownie says:

    Yes, I remember camping out in the garden as a kid. I think I got scared half way through the night and went indoors!!

    1. Ali says:

      I left the back door open just in case!

  3. pommepal says:

    What a lovely childhood they are having

    1. Ali says:

      It is important to me that they have this freedom; my favourite childhood memories are of this sort of thing. They get so absorbed, and the project grows and grows…I love it.

  4. How sweet. I do remember sleeping outside as a kid. My parents made us a tent by draping sheets over the clothesline. Thanks for stirring up fond memories!

    1. Ali says:

      The smell of canvas always takes me back to camping in the back garden. And Guide Camp!

  5. FlowerAlley says:

    My sister and I used to play like this. I loved this post.

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you; I am really happy that it has stirred nice memories.

  6. bcparkison says:

    Making memories! Good that you have wonderful place to forage for breakfast.

    1. Ali says:

      You can’t beat raspberries for breakfast!

  7. Cindy Lewis says:

    When we were young, my sister and I piled sword ferns to lie on on the roof of a lean-to in our grandmother’s garden. We spent hours there reading under the spreading branches of a cherry tree. This was even better when the cherries were ripe and we could beat the birds to them. (We got on the roof by climbing the cherry tree.)

    1. Ali says:

      That sounds heavenly (cherries are my favourite).

  8. Lovely story – great to see kids off screens and active outside!

  9. Christina says:

    As an only child there were few opportunities for making camps etc. your children are lucky to have the possibilities of camps on the garden etc.

    1. Ali says:

      They are. They give one another ideas.

  10. That looks like a lot of young fun and what an amazing garden you have. Its a long time since ive camped and with a bad back it might be a long time coming if it does indeed happen but I remember summer camps and this time of year always reminds me of those rainy tenty days.

    1. Ali says:

      Yes, waking up in a tent is special.

  11. Eliza Waters says:

    I loved sleeping out as a kid. The grass was always dew-soaked. We must have been consumed by mosquitoes, but I don’t remember that. Sometimes we slept in the back of the station wagon. At our next house there were three porches and I loved sleeping there as we were off the ground and dry from any weather. So much fun!

  12. This post filled me with delight and happy nostalgia. I was an inveterate fort-maker when I was younger. My favorite fort was one my brother and I made on our back patio in a house in Oregon. We stood wooden slats up and draped a blanket over the top. It was not the stablest of forts, but we loved it. We called it the Loony Tunes Fort. I recently traveled back to Oregon to visit my family, and walking out doors on my return has really helped me with managing jet lag, too.

    1. Ali says:

      I love that name for your fort!

  13. Read this and thought who wonderfully lucky your girls are to have you as their mom! What a great homecoming!

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