CaveMammy is back, after a little hiatus to deal with chicken pox in the Cave. Well, the first proper Free Range Tuesday was a runaway success! We took ourselves down to St. Anne’s Park in Raheny, it having been recommended to us by a few people as a great natural outdoors space with loads of forest and wildness and all that malarkey. The park is HUGE and you can come at it from lots of different ways apparently so we just did an eeny-meeny and parked on Mount Prospect Avenue, near Dollymount. I wanted the kids to be able to get as dirty as they wanted so I stripped off their normal clothes before we left the house and replaced them with rain trousers (lovely comfy ones with a strap to keep them down, often on special in Lidl) and welly boots and jumpers that could get muddy. Well CaveCousin’s jumper wasn’t really one that was supposed to get muddy but CaveAunty will never see how bad it got as I took it home to wash the bejaysus out of it in the washing machine before giving it back! CaveBaby was travelling in his sling so I packed a warm waterproof cover for him and a brolly to keep off the rain if the heavens opened and we needed to dash back to the car.
We parked up and came into the park across a bit of grassland, coming straight on to a lovely forest path. The boys spotted an embankment and went up to investigate. A stream was found on the other side and there was much excitement when they were told they could scramble down on their bums to have a look. Then bemused glances when I told them they could get in to it if they wanted. I mean, CaveMammy is not normally very precious about clothes getting dirty but the line would usually be drawn at full immersion in mucky water. But today we had wellies and rain gear and a change of clothes in the car and the world was our muddy oyster! And so in they went, there was scrambling and splashing and jumping and general filthiness.
We continued on the path a bit and found a nice climbing tree to play on and then, a little further on, came upon the huge hit of the day: a stand of trees with a big ridge inside, with lots of exposed roots for scrambling up and down. This little spot is down by the rose garden in the park and, well, the boys were in heaven. They chased each other up and down the ridge, they played Batman in the tree roots and CaveCousin spent a good 20 minutes digging a bat cave with his fingernails (I can only admire his perserverance!). CaveBoy found his inner hunter and started stalking CaveCousin from the top of the ridge and got extremely annoyed with me and CaveBaby when we broke a twig and betrayed our location. Fun and unnerving in equal measures – we won’t do any weapons making classes just yet.
We must have spent more than an hour there, it was a perfect natural playground. On the way back out I actually spotted the official playground of the park, which is a lovely wooden one and which I’d had in my mind as a fallback, but it wasn’t needed that day. Going back to the car, we passed the stream again and there was a second visit and this time they really, really got manky. They emerged from the forest like a pair of wolf-raised children. Too dirty to be even let sit in the car, I made them strip their boots and muddy clothes at the side of the road to get their clean clothes on and tried to bring some order to their face and hands with baby wipes. As a pile of mucky clothes built up, they got more and more hyper and started roaring “we’re FILTHY!!!” at passersby. “I can see that!” was the response from most. It was a bit hectic but great fun and the novelty of it thrilled them!
They were full of the joys in the car on the way home, dissecting the afternoon in louder and louder voices. Poor auld CaveBaby’s ears were battered with them. And that was our first big dirty day out. One last picture of the Superheroes in St. Anne’s.