Review: Family Activity Day, Longridge

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I told you I’d do it! After my oldest son had such a brilliant time doing the kids Activity Day at Longridge (see my review here), I decided it was something healthy, outdoorsy, and wholesome goddammit! that would work for the whole family.

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I have slowly been declining as a physical role model for my children over the years, despite occasional flashes of lardy determination in triathlons and 10k runs. Historically I’m super sporty, but there, what’s the good of that? It’s like saying that Mickey Rourke used to be handsome. Who cares how gorgeous he was, have you seen the poor sod now?!

Anyway, I have been thinking for quite some time that I don’t do enough physical play with the kids, so I saw this as a chance to do something active that isn’t a walk with a large cappuccino and cake at the end of it. Though, um, I did have the cappuccino after lunch *sigh*.

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Longridge, if you don’t already know, is just outside central Marlow – literally 5 minutes around the corner from The Compleat Angler – and it’s a fantastic riverside base for everything from kayaking and canoeing to zorbing and wall climbing. Today was a shorter day than the individual activity days – we had to be there for 10.15 and it finished at 3.45, which was perfect actually, time enough to try water zorbing, go-carting and dragon boating with an hour for lunch at the onsite cafe in the middle.

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Another family had booked in today as well, making 11 of us in all, and I think it’s common to share the time with another family. In fact, it was fun having another group to spar with. Mr Muddy, usually so calm, took the go-cart time trial extremely seriously, but lamentably lost 2 secs on a messy turn and …. but no, let’s not go there. I had two goes on the go-cart where I tried to run my oldest son down because the little bugger was in my way.

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Meanwhile on the Zorb I managed a single embarrassing attempt largely comprising of cow positions (inelegant is an understatement – Mr Muddy has been ordered to delete evidence) though my kids couldn’t drag themselves off it; my two oldest racked up about 6 goes each and didn’t look remotely bovine.

After lunch – basic sarnies or toasties but just what I felt like eating – both families joined up to go on the Dragon Boat together which was probably my favourite bit of the day. We didn’t use these decorative racing boats below, instead we went on Team GB’s boat (they lend them to Longridge as they train here) which was pretty cool.

The equipment hut

The equipment hut

We paddled up to Marlow weir and the lovely church, peered at all the beautiful houses from the river, admired an occasional goose or coot, and then gently meandered back. Be warned, the dragon boat instructors like to make you chant stuff do ‘team-building’ things. I am horrifically self-conscious about stuff like that, but no-one else seemed bothered, so meh, I guess I should just get over myself.

One thing to say is that as parents you need to do the Family Activity Day expecting it to be still geared at your kids. The activities are fun for everyone of course, but the instruction and scale of what you can try is still largely geared towards children because you’re all doing it together. So though I enjoyed  zorbing, go-carting and dragon-boating well enough, I think a lot of my pleasure during the day came from watching the kids getting into it, and actually just hanging out with them.

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At the end of the day, it was ice-creams all round, and as we closed the car doors it began to rain, so it felt like perfect timing to finish a perfect day.

If you want to give it a stab, the Family Activity Days go through to the end of September and are available on Saturdays and Sundays. The stated minimum age is 8 years, but if your kids are younger it’s still worth giving Longridge a call – as I understand it that age limit is set for height reasons as much as anything else, so if your child can fit a harness or life-jacket and is sensible, you might be fine.

As ever let me know if you manage to make it, I always love to hear your feedback.

Hero x

www.longridge.org.uk

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