Why, oh why, have I not found Green Park sooner…?
I might be a bit late to the party on this one – but Green Park, which is literally about ten minutes in the car from where I live, was a bit of a mystery to me. I know people whose children have had swimming lessons there but (being honest here) I didn’t even really know where it was.
Last weekend, I took my eldest there to try out some of the activities on their family taster day. And now we know what it is and where it is (I very nearly went to the wrong place), we’ll definitely be going back. In fact, Mr C is being dragged there at the weekend for a sneaky round of footgolf.
There is so much more going on there than just swimming and footgolf (is that really a thing?). Seriously. There are high ropes, low ropes, climbing, archery, mountain biking, fencing, orienteering, you name it.
I signed H in for a taster of 2 different activities – archery and the ‘Postman’s Walk,’ which was a high-ropes based activity. But I was talking to other parents there who had booked in for a couple of activities in the morning and had ended up staying the whole day and trying everything. And I reckon that if we’d not arrived after lunch, we would have been in the same boat.
H started off with archery – something he’s tried before and knows he enjoyed. Carly, the instructor was very careful about the whole safety aspect (important when you’re dealing with pointy things), and that everyone in the group had the right size bow, knew what they were doing, that sort of thing. In one taster session, H got to have three goes at the target – 3 arrows first time to get the hang of it, 6 aiming at a balloon in the centre of the target (which he popped with the last one) to get used to ‘clustering’ (technical term) the arrows in one place, and 6 in a synchronised round at the end.
I had a quick nosy round the site while he was having a smoothie – clearly exhausted from all that archery – and it’s massive and very beautiful. The entrance is just off the main road but it felt like we were miles from anywhere. Fields and trees as far as you can see, and all sorts of activities and trails everywhere.
There’s a big camping field, too – there was a family group there when we went – as well as a couple of yurts that you can hire for parties, activities or sleepovers. Rather fancy that, to be honest. The facilities, campsite-wise, aren’t great – yet. The funding’s in the pipeline, though, for a development of that aspect of the site.
Second activity H tried was the ‘Postman’s Walk.’ He’s been desperate to do some sort of high ropes for ages, so it was a great (and not-so-pricey) way to check it out.
The instructor, Owen, was brilliant. He had a group of 5 – but they ranged from an adult (a braver mum than me) to a tiny girl of 9 who, bless her, could only just reach all the bits she had to reach and was on tiptoes on the wire at the top. He was patient, careful, and encouraging – it was all about “challenge by choice,” pushing themselves only as far as they wanted to go.
He also got them all doing everything: putting on their own helmets, learning how to adjust them, knowing how the harnesses needed to be fastened, that sort of thing. Definitely not a ‘stand still and we’ll strap you in’ thing – more of a ‘you do it and I’ll check.’
It was more of the same once one of the group was up on the ropes – everyone was involved in belaying (see? I even picked up the lingo!) and making sure things were as they should be. There was no standing around waiting for someone else to finish.
And I ended up talking to a few of the other parents there – some of whom were joining in, other just watching. No one had anything bad to say about the place at all, and everyone was planning to make a return visit at some point. There was some considerable excitement about their holiday days – which were long days, only £30 for 4 activities, and (praise be!) lunch was included. (Not a fan of making packed lunches, me.)
I can’t believe I had no idea about everything that’s on offer there (what a total chump). Although, to give myself a break, the site’s been taken over recently by the Adventure Living Foundation (it used to be run by Bucks County Council) and they are definitely breathing some new life – and bucket-loads of enthusiasm – into the place. The developments so far are great, and I get the impression there are big plans to make it even more impressive. And now I know it’s there…
H’s verdict? And I quote… “It was amazing. I had such a good time. All the activities were made hundreds of times better by the people there, the instructors.” Would he go back? “Of course I’d go back!” Can’t beat that, really.