When i was a young girl, my summer holidays were longed for. We would dream about those hot summer days in the depths of winter and when they finally came round, the freedom was overwhelming. No school for 6 weeks! Only now that i’m an adult does it dawn on me how tough summer holidays can be for parents. Juggling your annual leave, asking favours from relatives, and what on earth do you do when it’s raining?!

But, as a child, summer holidays were nothing but laughter and adventure. Thinking back, it fills me with nostalgia. I remember taking trips to the beach where we would run onto the sand, bang in our retro windbreak, cover ourselves in suncream, eat sandwiches and make sand castles. We would carry our nets over one shoulder and look out for crabs in rock pools and collapse into the car for the journey home, tired and weary. When the seaside was just a little too far to travel, me and my friends would set off on our bikes, pockets full to the brim with penny sweets. All kinds of wildlife would cross our paths from bugs and moths to swifts and barn owls. For a real adventure, we would sometimes camp out in our back garden. And when darkness fell the night time came alive with hedgehog snuffles, bats zipping around overhead and moths delicately taping on our tent door. I can vividly remember just how exciting it was to be outdoors, under canvas and experiencing nature, first hand.

This summer, the RSPB wants to take you back to your childhood and offer you the chance to take part in its first ever Big Wild Sleepout. Whether you want to take part as a family, a couple or fancy accompanying your grandchildren, sleeping out on a nature reserve is a fantastic adventure. There are four RSPB nature reserves in Norfolk and Suffolk offering a camp-out experience where you can have a real night time adventure under the stars. Or, you could simply get out into your own garden put up a tent and have your own camp out. Whether you try to identify what night-time noises you can hear or simply have a tea of toasted marshmallows and hot chocolate, getting outdoors will feed your soul. Waking up with nature through the summer months is much better than the normal drones of your alarm clock and as the dawn chorus starts to stir and the melodic chimes of blackbirds, robins and thrushes. Big Wild Sleepout is taking place on the 9, 10 and 11 August. Visit rspb.org.uk/thingstodo/sleepout/ for all the information on how you can take part.


As featured in the Eastern Daily Press, Saturday 27 July