J thinks I sound very poncey (no idea if that’s how you spell it) for calling this the recreation area but we did originally call it the grassy area and that name doesn’t really apply anymore. So this was the area when we moved in.
Now this area was originally a substantial vegetable garden with a bit of general garden space as well. That was of course at a time when everyone had substantial vegetable gardens as they had to grow their own. The area was completely overgrown (can you see a pattern here with the cottage) and the ground was very uneven. So we arranged for the area to be completely stripped back to bare soil and then we seeded it ourselves (wasn’t that fun). It then stayed as just grass for all summer and into winter.
Then come January we began finalising what we wanted the area to look like. So we had the random bits and pieces of hedge and bushes removed from the corner by the apple tree as the tree wasn’t really accessible and it all looked a bit higgeldy piggeldy (again apologies for the total lack of spelling knowledge here). Then the plan was to install six raised beds and a climbing frame for C into an enclosed bark area. This was brutal and pushed both J and I to the limit at times but we’ve created an area we’re really happy with. You can read about it here, here and here.
We have also created a patio as an eating area, our bifolding doors will eventually lead out here. This has a lovely lamppost on it and electricity so I can have my patio heaters here if required. You can read about that here and here.
We also have a patio at the back of the garden for a greenhouse (still to be purchased) and of course we have the craft cabin.
This is my little space for being me. It still needs some finishing touches to the paintwork inside and out but it is the only place where a can put things in their permanent place as the cottage is going to be totally ripped to pieces. The recreation area is something I’m really proud of. J and I have worked together to design an area which really enhances our lifestyle. It’s the area which most people comment on, even our Tesco delivery guy said he could holiday there! For this area there is very little still to be done. A bit of finishing of the border of the bark area and probably topping up the bark. The greenhouse needs purchasing and installing. Longer term we want to put some decking outside the craft cabin and create a nice relaxing area with sofas. Next week I’ll have a look at the changes that have gone on in the field in the past year.
So C’s climbing frame has been fully assembled for a couple of weeks now and I thought it might be a good time to post a review. I’ve mentioned before some of the reasons behind choosing this particular climbing frame; the durability, the age range, the quality, the brand. We bought C the Kingswood 2 tower frame with climbing bridge and swing arm accessories which is made by TP Toys. It was an absolute beast to put together. It wasn’t helped by having to supervise C whilst doing it, nor was it helped by my lack of knowledge or skills with any kind of tools. But even with J being fairly knowledgeable and if we hadn’t had a toddler running about I still think it would have taken two skilled men the best part of a day to put together. The instructions were clear and the parts and screws are well labelled with the instructions clearly showing what tools are required. The whole thing came in about eleven boxes, many of which were such a weight or size that they would require two to move them. Each accessory had its own set of instructions showing how to build it, and then how to attach it to the main frame. Whilst C is still too young to use the climbing bridge it seemed silly to wait until she was old enough to buy it, I’d rather just have the finished product ready and waiting for her to grow into.
Wooden PlayFrame (Kingswood Tower) with Platform, Sandpit & Climbing Wall
Now one thing that isn’t made clear on the website or the introductory pages of the instructions is that it needs concreting to the ground. I can imagine suddenly discovering that you need to concrete it could prove a problem if the area you have sorted for the frame wouldn’t take to concrete, or if you have started building on a time pressure situation. It certainly wasn’t something we had in stock when we started (I don’t imagine many people keep concrete to hand just in case). We did use the frame for a few days without the concrete as it was just too hard to keep C off it and it was very secure. However, she is only two and a half so I imagine if it was to have more weight on it or if children were hanging off it, it would need anchoring to the ground for peace of mind.
The climbing frame has a section underneath which is designed to be a sandpit. However, we felt that that section was too small and so instead, with some spare wood, fashioned a much larger area instead. The sandpit has proved to be one of C’s favourite parts of the climbing frame. An added bonus as we hadn’t really realised it had a sandpit. The sandpit comes with a liner and a cover, both of which can be cut to size. Although the frame comes already pretreated we’ve decided to give it some extra protection in the form of Osmo UV protection oil. We’ve used this before on the oak beams of the porch and really like the protection it offers. It has taken a while to get it totally covered, we’ve ended up having to do small sections at a time, but we’re really happy with the overall effect.
What are the negatives? Well it was a proper challenge to put up and did require a certain basic skills level. It also needed a number of tools which some may not have. Aligning and joining some of the parts together was a challenge and they had to be almost forced at times as they were a very tight fit. And the stickers to label each piece of wood were a right pain to get off, they seem to be stuck on with superglue! Only time will tell how well it will wear but so far it seems to be just what we were after.
So Easter Monday was designated as the day to build the climbing frame. Now it worries me slightly that no matter how hard I’ve searched on the internet I can’t find a guideline for how long it will take to build. We searched for quite a while to find a suitable climbing frame. We wanted one which would be accessible for C at two and a half and would also also grow with her, we didn’t want to have to replace it in a few years time. It also mattered to us that it weathered well and still looked good. Quality is always worth prioritising when it comes to something your child will be suspended from the air on! So we ended up settling on the Kingswood 2 Tower with climbing bridge and swing extensions by TP Toys. We chose TP Toys for many reasons, not least as they are sold in both John Lewis and ELC who we feel sell good quality products. When it was delivered last week it was a total beast… eleven boxes in total, most of which were huge and too heavy for one person to lift. Unfortunately this was also the day that was designated to rain, which hampered our progress somewhat. I did manage to move 2 tonnes of bark and do some more pegging down of the liner but J has the start of a cold so it wasn’t fair for him to work outside in the rain and we could hardly keep C outside in the rain. So at the end of the day the climbing frame was 40% built. J’s dad came over and babysat so we could get out for a bit. Our plan was to get up the next day at 6am (having checked the weather was going to be good) and get in a good two hours work done before C wakes up (she’s normally a seven til seven girl but in holidays she often sleeps in until gone eight, half eight if we’re really lucky). It seems horrible to give up the idea of a lie in but needs must as we’re so much more productive without a toddler to supervise. If she doesn’t love it I think I will cry!