When my daughter telephoned me with her AS results earlier this week, I was once again reassured that my husband and I had made the right decision supporting her move into independent education. Her astonishingly good results instantly wiped out the remnants of stress I'd been feeling ever since her minor pre-results nerves that we attempted to fix with pizza in a rather nice Italian restaurant. She is currently on her way to Scotland to perform in a musical at the Edinburgh Fringe which rounds off a busy summer that started with charity work in Malawi. She is certainly taking full advantage of every opportunity that comes her way.
Of course, all of these things cost money and although I am absolutely convinced that it is money well spent and my daughter is benefitting enormously, it does mean that there is little left in the budget to spend on such things as a family holiday. As much as I would have loved a week (or two!) somewhere beautiful (exotic?) and relaxing, we are having to be content with staying home and making the best of what's on offer locally.
During a shopping trip to Telford to buy new school uniform for my 6 year old Addy and my little Dylan about to start his Reception year, Addy's attention was drawn to a prominent Shropshire landmark - The Wrekin.
The Wrekin is a hill that rises 1,335 ft above the Shropshire Plain.
To my daughter it was a mountain.
It was a mountain she wanted to climb.
Climbing a 'mountain' seemed like exactly the sort of low budget activity that I wanted to encourage - combining fresh air, exercise and getting better acquainted with our local environment.
Back home I had a go at baking brownies to take on our expedition and told the children the story of the Shropshire Giant that allegedly had a grudge against the people of Shrewsbury and wanted to destroy the town. The giant had a plan to dump a shovel load of earth into the River Severn to flood Shrewsbury but did not know how to get there. He met a cobbler on the road and asked him for directions. The quick thinking cobbler was returning from market with a bag full of shoes for repair and sensing that the giant was up to no good, emptied his bag and told the giant that he had worn out all the shoes on his journey from Shrewsbury. The giant concluded that Shrewsbury must be too far away to bother continuing with his plan and dumped his shovel load where he stood. Thus, the Wrekin was created. A smaller hill next to the Wrekin known as The Ercall was created when the giant scraped his boots before returning home to wherever giants return home to.
Addy thought this was a stupid story... and anyway, giant aren't even real.
She did, however, approve of the brownies.
The next day, we set off early to catch the best of the weather and climbed that mountain. We had plenty of breaks to eat brownies, climb trees and pick blackberries.
The children made it all the way to the windy top where fifteen counties can be viewed - if you know what you are looking for!
After a slight disappointment from Dylan that it wasn't possible to sit down and slide back down the mountain, we made our descent.
It was a lovely trip with a great sense of accomplishment all round, not least because of the brownies that turned out to be a chocolatey success.