As a child I was lucky enough to have a large garden which I rapidly turned into an adventure playground to be proud of. I was always a thrill seeker but my family lacked the funds to set me up in motor sport or to buy me a horse and so I had to create my own exciting activities in the garden. Looking back some of my efforts were pretty impressive and I could make a good argument for them becoming mainstream sports.
Our garden was large but the house was small and so my father decided to add an extension. When the new foundations had been dug a marvellous opportunity presented itself. The pits in the ground were just too tempting and so I placed planks in and out of them to act as ramps, filled the pits with water and created an all action cycling assault course. It was fabulous fun careering around the garden on my bike and plunging into pits of water. I had several days of muddy nirvana until my father realised what I had done and exploded with rage. Apparently it is not a god idea to build a house on a lake. I can’t imagine why!
The new extension and home improvements also saw the rather fortuitous ripping up of several metres of linoleum from the floors. I took the rolls of discarded material and laid them out along the lawn. I then placed my slide at one end and ran water down it with the hosepipe. It was terrific fun to fly down the wet slide and skid rapidly along the lino. The idea was to slide as far as you could which led to more and more water being run down the slide. I had created the best water ride ever in my own garden. Unfortunately I flooded the garden, ruined the lawn and killed most of the plants and bushes in one of the flower beds. A small price to pay, I thought, for the brilliance of the creation but my parents did not have quite the same take on the project. I am convinced that the idea of the water park was born in my garden but my parents were convinced that they had the most destructive child in the country.
As dad seemed rather annoyed at my sporting endeavour in the garden I decided that I needed new territory. The now completed extension had a flat roof which I thought would be the perfect place to play. There was plenty of room and I would be out of everyone’s way. I could not ruin the plants and the lawn would have time to regrow. I started to climb up onto the roof each day and created my own bowling alley up there using milk bottles filled with water and a football. Mercifully the water never penetrated the roof and the plan seemed perfect until one fateful day when I tried to get down in a rush. My foot slipped on the guttering and I swung round putting my foot through the brand new pane in the extension. As I had also walked straight through a plate glass interior door the week before I was really in trouble!
Fearing being exiled to boarding school I had to lay low for a while. Thankfully my mother had been watching St Trinians and had rejected that idea on the ground that it would probably make me worse and so I was encouraged to take up some new sports instead. It was this way that I discovered roller skating which opened up all sorts of new opportunities for adventure but that is another story. In any case none of the real sports I tried were as good as garden cyclecross and extreme water slides!
Article by Sally Stacey