On the road

The unschooling diaries: weeks twenty-seven and twenty-eight

To celebrate Leigh’s graduation (and to maximise the time our family had together before we were hit with the schedule of a junior doctor) we headed off for ten days or so in our campervan.

We have always loved camping as a family, but recently succumbing to the dream of having a van has taken things to a whole other level. It makes it so much easier (and more comfortable) to hit the road – particularly with a little person.

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Arthur had an awesome time, and learnt so much. Travelling is always so inspiring, but there is something very grounding about being together in a small space surrounded by nature, and something strangely mindful about the repetition of all the little tasks that need to be done to keep our little camp ship-shape.

Most of the time of course we ventured out together to explore.

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We were generally retreading familiar ground, but even then (and particularly with Arthur leading the way) there was always wonder to be found: from breathing in spectacular views to examining the insects we came across along the way.

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We swam in the sea most days, despite the fact that there were rather too many jellyfish for my liking. There was one particular day when the sand was strewn with them, and we spent a fascinating couple of hours identifying different types and working out which ones would sting and which ones (the vast majority) were harmless. Still, neither Arthur or I were all that keen on sharing the sea with them, and we were glad to see that the shift of tides the next day had left the shallows at least much clearer.

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There were other animals to bond with too: we gravitated back to Arthur’s Field, a lovely campsite in Cornwall that we discovered last year, where Arthur spent his mornings collecting eggs, and fed the guinea pigs before bedtime.

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Arthur also loved the fact that there were lots of kids around. I do still worry sometimes that because he’s not at preschool (apart from a few hours in the forest) that he’ll find it hard to make friends when the opportunities arise, but watching him fearlessly approach other children to play as soon as we pitched up reminded me that I really don’t need to.

He especially loved hanging out with his cousins for a few hours when they came down to visit, and we spent an idyllic evening by a fire pit overlooking the sea listening to stories and poems and music. I might not have quite plucked up the courage to join in, but it was still lots of fun.

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And then there was of course the quality family time. The opportunity to touch base with Daddy, who has been crazy busy in pursuit of his medical degree and is about to get even busier.

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All three of us really benefited from that time to be honest: I guess the enforced proximity of the campervan could become claustrophobic, but actually it meant we had to focus on each other, on listening and understanding and cooperating.

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We’ve come back stronger as a family, and whilst Arthur is desperately missing his Daddy who is nervously donning his scrubs for the first time, he is also super happy to be home.

He has been doing some seriously good playing over the last couple of days with all the toys he’d almost forgotten about – and, as he always seems to whenever we go away, has levelled up yet again.

 

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