OVER the summer, we've spent many a lazy afternoon working and playing in what's become known as "The Magic Forest". This is a small wooded area at the back of our back garden which has been adopted by children and gnomes.
Like other forests, it is constantly evolving. The toddler-sized obstacle course was long ago moved around to challenge longer legs and greater balance. When we discovered a stash of tree trunks across town, we made a few trips and now have a table and chairs as well as various stepping stones, benches, a hammering table and whatever else the game requires on any given day. One afternoon was spent moving a little house into position, and 'landscaping' around it. Another making a simple rope swing.
Emma likes to play homeowner and designates me as the gardener. She finds this a good arrangement, as she is then at liberty to drink tea and mustard soup (her recipe, usually made from sand) while I carry out whatever maintenance is required. Now and again she gives me advice, or even deigns to help on occasion. This week I was needed to fix some holes in the roof of her fort, which was a good use for pruned branches. Wisteria vines are especially great for fort building, as they are like rope! Alexander takes on various roles in the game, usually involving sticks in his hand, dirt all over and some object in his mouth.