Kids play at Longridge

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Why didn’t I do this before? Last week I sent my son on a Activity Day to Longridge, 5 minutes from the centre of Marlow, and he had the time of his life. So did I – I got rid of him from 8.45am to 5.30pm which is some kind of heaven now that he is entering the wonderful tweenie stage of being lippy but yet still incredibly needy (grrrr).

Longridge is a charity that focuses on outdoor experiences, mainly for kids, and of course it was horrifically flooded early in 2014, with the tragedy of losing a staff member at the same time. Apparently they had 200 volunteers in two days after the floods for the clean-up which gives you an idea of just how much this place is loved by locals.

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As you can see from these pics, Longridge is set in lovely grounds, 12 acres of them, all weeping willows, Thames river and glorious outward-boundness, with kayaks neatly stacked, sheltered picnic areas, and a whopping climbing wall, which you can just make out in the pic below.  It has a lovely feel to it, ordered but relaxed.

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The centre has been going for 50 years and is recognised as an Olympic training centre (the GB kayaking team and womens Olympic rowing team both train  here), as well as being approved by the BCU (British Canoe Union), RYA (Royal Yacht Association) and British Rowing, so Longridge knows what it’s doing, and has an excellent safety record.

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There are Activity Days every day through the holidays (£40-50 with lunch included, which I think is a steal) where the kids get to try 4-5 different things. My son went water zorbing (I think – those big plastic balls right?); kayaking; raft making; and climbing; and, er, one more but by that point I was delirious with excitement that I’d found something to boot him off to and lost my concentration. Oh hang on, I remember now, it was the leap of faith. That’s my son standing on the top (eeeeek), just before he leapt off to grab a kind of trapeze.

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He went with a couple of friends which always makes it easier, though there were a couple of 8 year old boys (and some girls) there who’d just come on their own and seemed perfectly happy, and when I came to see if the boys wanted to leave at 4pm or stay for an extra hour, they were desperate to continue. I therefore felt impelled to go into Marlow for a prolonged cappuccino, just to facilitate their happiness, as I am utterly selfless like that.

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What else to tell you? There’s a little cafe, above, serving what you’d expect – no polenta or black squid ink pasta on the menu, but a great line in ice lollies and juices – but I’m not sure the kids spent much time hanging out anyway. At the end of the day, admittedly a scorching one, the boys were absolutely knackered. They did have a bit of a moan about the lunches, as the food order had got mixed up and the requested ham turned into something else, but other than that they had a fantastic time.

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The result of this successful toe-dipping is that am an utter Longridge convert and we’re coming back for a Family Day in a couple of weeks (only £15 per person for the day which seems incredible value to me). We’re even considering camping on Taylor Island for the night ( I said considering!), Longbridge’s own island in the midst of its grounds, though I’m officially the world’s most reluctant camper and will be only be enticed under canvas if the weather holds.

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I’ll let you know how the Family Activity Day goes as and when, but if you want to check out Longridge in the meantime, have a gander here.

www.longridge.org.uk

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