Keeping your children active is sometimes easier said than done. I’ve always found that it helps massively if you do things together as a family. You’re setting a great example to your kids by being active yourself, there’s an opportunity for family bonding and you’re making memories too. It’s important to remember that being active doesn’t just mean doing sport. There’s endless things you can do which all count as activity that don’t involve kicking a ball or chasing after your children. I thought I’d share our latest project designed to help us be active and healthier.

We’ve tried to take as many positives from this period of lockdown as we can and one thing that has sparked our interest is food. Not just baking and trying out new recipes (although we’ve done PLENTY of that) but a desire to look after ourselves better through what we eat. We’ve been using our local butchers for our meat and our milkman has been bringing potatoes, eggs and fruit juice as well as our usual enormous fresh milk order. But, we wanted to go even more local and focus more on plant based recipes. With more time at home and the lovely weather, we’ve been tidying up our small garden. We decided to dig up one of our flower beds and put some vegetables in. With a poor track record when it comes to growing veg I wasn’t hopeful but the seeds we put in there as well as in various pots, all seemed to be growing well and our ambition grew along with them!

We’ve been walking past the village allotments most days on our daily exercise slot and just love the peaceful spot by the river. We decided to go and ask if there was a plot free. When I say ‘we’, I mean myself and my teenage son. He had his GCSEs cancelled and let’s face it, he’s got a bit of time on his hands! He’d been the most enthusiastic about the whole ‘growing our own’ thing and had been working hard in the garden to get us started. There was one small patch at the allotments left, not a plot but a patch about 4m by 3m. We were quite relieved by this really as being complete beginners we didn’t want to overwhelm ourselves. We jumped at the chance and the patch was ours!

We returned the next day to make a start on digging over the soil; the patch hadn’t been used for a couple of years. I could hardly get the spade into the ground so we were incredibly relieved and grateful when one of the other allotment owners offered to run his rotavator over it for us. It took him about half an hour. We would have been there all weekend trying to achieve the same. There are some very helpful and welcoming people on the allotments, all ready to lend a hand and give you advice as well as spare lettuce and fresh eggs! We’ve been honest about our beginner status and they’ve made us feel comfortable to ask even the most silly of questions. I’m so grateful.

Over the following couple of weeks we’ve planted carrots, beetroot, parsnips, kale and pumpkin seeds. We’ve transplanted some courgettes we’d grown in pots and we have some tomato plants promised. My daughter wants to put some peas or beans in and I’m pining for a chive plant. My youngest son spent ages breaking up old roof slates to make a neat border for the plot. Our enthusiasm is there, let’s just hope Mother Nature and the wildlife are kind to us and we see some return on our efforts.

It’s been a great activity for getting us active. Aside from the digging, raking and watering, we’ve have to get to and from the allotment. We’ve walked but we’ve also been cycling there, it’s only a few minutes away but when you forget something and have to go back home for it or you just want to nip for a quick look or watering session, it all adds up. I’ve even bought a bike from a friend as mine was fit for the bin. I’m really impressed with the children’s attitude and enthusiasm, they keep asking if they can go down there, let’s hope it continues.

So, I’m looking forward to not only enjoying time outdoors being active with my family but also having the satisfaction of choosing and growing ingredients for our expanding interest in plant based recipes. Fingers crossed! I’m just hoping our memory won’t be, ‘Mum, do you remember the time we thought we’d get an allotment’ …

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