We are a great lover of Manchester parks and green spaces – there are so many great ones to choose from.
Parr Fold – close enough to walk to, Longford with the greatest zip-wires, Heaton where we did Buggy Bootcamp every Thursday (free with the fab Parklives initiative) and then had cake at The Stables and visited the farm, and the wide open spaces at Wythenshawe where we completed the colour run with Rita in the carrier on my back!
There are parks aplenty across Greater Manchester and the North-West – a great source of free entertainment for families.
We are lucky where we live, we can get on the Worsley loop line which used to be the railway line, and we can walk all the way along to Parr Fold Park or to Roe Green. It’s a beautiful traffic-free walk – we love Worsley Woods and we regularly go there through all seasons.
We walked Rita through those pathways in her stretchy sling as a tiny newborn baby. In those very early sleep deprived days of just getting out of the house for some fresh air, we walked her through the woods and marvelled at how tiny she was.
I have pushed her in her pram when she was small and screaming and I got lost in the windy pathways of the woods, and had to phone my friend Lisa and not get teary and then trek the long way home.
We have sat with her on walls, carried her over stepping stones, waved at every single passing dog, and cyclist and jogger.
We have pushed her to the swings, and the swimming baths, the cricket ground in summer and Monton for a real stretch (and half a lager).
We have pushed her to sleep, for five minutes peace, to get out of the house no matter the weather.
I’ve pushed her whilst running and she snoozed. I’ve pushed her whilst she smiled and I cried through the exhaustion. I have pushed her in the sun and the rain – and sometimes both at once.
The first day she went on a swing she was so excited and laughing – shouting with joy. The swing was her new favourite thing and she quickly learnt ‘higher, higher!’ as she giggled in delight.
She gradually built up her confidence and her strength at the park – Rita didn’t walk until she was 16 months old but eventually she made it onto the climbing frame with help, and down the slide. More excitement, more fun and then needing to go on the slide approximately 34 times every time we went to the park.
A whole new world had opened up. She quickly became quite a dare-devil wanting to take on everything!
The walks through the woods took longer as Rita wanted to walk too.
Toddling through the leaves, falling over, climbing on logs, falling over, tormenting the ducks, falling over, determinedly trying out the trim trail despite being far too small, still waving at every person or dog that passed us by.
Picking her up from the child minder’s on Tuesday and heading straight to the park became part of a regular routine. Rita running ahead now in a wobbly, drunken sort of way. Still attempting climbing frames far too difficult and regularly falling off the round about. Ice cream from the cafe in the summer, take away brews as the weather cooled (which was August in Manchester).
We have chased the ducks at Pennington Flash, kicked the leaves at Calderstones, laid back and relaxed at Tatton Park.
Swirled down slides at Walton Hall, picnicked at Lyme, and attempted the ladders to the towers at Barton Airfield.
We have been on deer watch at Dunham Massey, bounced around at Beech Road and explored the huge play area at Haigh Hall.
She has started to attempt a balance bike now, with a helmet like a mushroom on her tiny head. Her legs are not quite long enough – but she is not far off.
On our last visit to Longford she took on the rope bridge solo – no longer in need of a helping hand through the sides. She made it all the way across ‘My did it!’ And with a renewed confidence she was off.
Independent and climbing away.
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