You have a different writer this week. We thought it was only fair to give Annie the week off every now and again!
They say, ‘Write what you know’, so as a father of two children, I wanted to write about the incredibly positive effect both nature and art have on the young.
The times they are a changing, and how right Bob Dylan is! Interactions on screens now dominate our lives, and children are in the thick of it. In fact, it’s the children that don’t see this as change, rather they see it as the norm. However, without getting into all the negatives of using screens and the very sad rise of online hate, simply switching off and using our eyes and hands and bodies differently is such a vital thing to remember.
I was in London recently with my children, and apart from trying to book a table to eat, we didn’t look at a screen for 4 days. Of course, being in the biggest and best city in Europe meant there was a never-ending supply of reasons not to be looking at a screen, but we still took regular breaks from the hustle and bustle and sought solace in the many parks the capital has to offer.
We watched squirrels in Green Park playing what my son described as ‘It’. We hired a pedalo in Hyde Park and saw fish, horses (admittedly they had police on their backs), a heron, lots of different breeds of geese and duck, and we were even treated to a wonderful display of speed swimming by a little Shag (like a small cormorant). We also waited patiently while geese hustled their goslings across the road.
Then we come on to art... Of course, many things can be described as ‘Art’, one of which being brilliant architecture. On that front, London has all the bases covered. Ancient, Georgian, Regency, Victorian, as well as incredible modern architecture. My children are age 7 and 9, and normally have no interest in architecture, but there was no end of ‘Wow’ moments when looking at all the different buildings. The fact that the Shard towered over the conservatory where we ate breakfast each day helped with that.
Even buildings you've probably walked past or seen many times before make you marvel at how wonderfully detailed they are, such as the Freemasons hall, Tower Bridge and the Natural History museum.
The children got a real kick out of some of the murals painted on public walls, as well as watching someone create a wonderful scene out of chalk from a Disney film, on the path outside Tate modern. They loved the bronze statues in Leicester square and they stood in silent wonder on the Southbank at a guy doing beatboxing and an incredibly skillful ‘Football freestyler’. My son now wants 'Gates like the Queen has' (Canada Gate, pictured above) for our little driveway at home!
I hope you enjoy these pictures as much as we enjoyed being there, and it is worth saying that, despite loving our time in London, both children also enjoyed getting home, getting out in our own garden and stroking our pet cat.
Sadly, we all have to grow up, but let’s not forget how we felt as children seeing art and nature. Maybe turn those screens off and view art and nature like a child again?