I must have been a nightmare for my parents. Ok I did my homework, worked hard at school, largely went to bed when I was told and I was always polite but I also had a sense of adventure which ran me into plenty of trouble. Little wonder that the adult me has the travel bug and the thrill seeking urge. The signs were there from the start and my fun and games wreaked havoc with the family home.
A Father’s Rage
The first time I can remember my father being really annoyed was when he discovered that I had ruined his carefully manicured lawn. I had given no thought to the hours he had lavished on this precious rectangle of grass and had set up what I considered to be the most marvellous game. I had placed the foot of my slide into my paddling pool and run a hose down the slide. Hours of fun throwing myself down the slide and hurtling into the pool had sent tidal waves of water over the garden to the point that the grass had simply floated away. What remained was a muddy quagmire with the odd pathetic blade of grass stubbornly clinging to life.
The Skid Pan
I had also pinched a long length of vinyl flooring that had recently parted company with our kitchen. This I arranged on another portion of lawn and lubricated it with the hose. I could then take a run at the linoleum, throw myself onto it and slide for what seemed like miles until I was ejected at the end onto what also started out as grass.
The Water Park
I had never seen a waterpark and yet I had invented one in my own back garden, a garden I had comprehensively ruined in one afternoon. The grass was gone, the flower beds were now a series of ponds and all forms of life had been extinguished. Dad was not amused but I escaped with my life only to be banished from the garden for a week and compelled to indulge in my Mother’s choice of hobby for me – dressmaking.
After a week with the sewing machine I was going stir crazy. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy making my own clothes but a whole week without adventuring was almost unbearable. Eventually I was released into the great outdoors once more on the promise that I would not use water in any of my chosen activities. At least I had some new clothes to wear.
The garden now held little prospect of excitement and so I took to my bike to explore the local countryside. I was thrilled to discover that the local woods had a hidden secret. There was a small series of caves into which I could just about squeeze and my friend and I spent many happy hours building a den in the largest chamber and merrily ruining the clothes I had made. We decided not to mention to my parents that we had taken up speleology nor that our caverns were on private property owned by a local farmer whose vegetables we may have occasionally borrowed!
For as long as I can remember I have wanted to be out there exploring and finding thrilling ways to have fun. I no longer have a slide in the garden but I love ziplining, paragliding, quad biking, white water rafting, roller coasters and caves. In truth I haven’t really changed at all. I have stopped trashing gardens and trespassing but other than that I do the same things but on a much larger scale.
Article by Sally Stacey