As the weather continues to wage an assault across the country, chances are your plans for the half term week have also taken a bit of a battering. It’s hard enough to get kids outside and enjoying the fresh air when it’s warm and sunny, but when you add 70mph winds and rain so hard that it physically hurts into the mix, it becomes that much harder.
Of course, staying safe should always be the number one priority, however, if you’re willing to persevere, there’s something intensely rewarding about being outside in dramatic weather. Providing you’re properly prepared, there’s no reason why the rain should dampen your enthusiasm for spending time outdoors.
Having just spent a very wet, windy and muddy weekend in Devon with the extended family, it was wonderful to watch my nephew Henry (who is yet to turn two) whizzing about outside on his balance bike without a care in the world, whilst the grownups took shelter against the storm indoors, or in the welcoming warmth of one of the many local hostelries.
The key to Henry being able to blissfully ignore the raging storm was I believe his waterproof onesie. With a pair of wellies completing the ensemble, even the worst that storm Dennis could throw his way was being easily repelled. Henry’s dad probably wasn’t quite so happy, as it meant him having to stand outside in the rain whilst Henry went endlessly up and down the ramp into the car park. The trick seems to be; keep kids (and adults for that matter) largely dry and they’ll be largely happy.
So, what are the essential bits of kit that no one, (adult or child) should be without when it comes to being out and about in the wet weather? Perhaps we should start with one of the cheapest bits of kit; the humble wellington boot. Starting at under a tenner a pair, you can’t go too far wrong. Simple, quick and easy to slip on an off, waterproof, grippy in the mud, and even a fashion staple at festivals, whatever you pay for your wellies will inevitably prove money well spent. Team your wellies with a decent waterproof jacket, and you’ll invariably be set fair for 90% of whatever the British weather can throw your way.
A good pair of waterproof hiking boots makes a decent, if somewhat more expensive alternative to the welly, adding warmth as well as water repellency. However, when it comes to bangs for your buck, the versatility of wellies is hard to beat. I recently extolled the virtues of my hiking boots in a blog, praising them for their 17-year longevity, warmth and comfort. The next time I wore them both soles promptly fell off, so perhaps I spoke too soon when it came to lavishing praise on them. You could argue that I’d had my monies worth from the hiking boots, but I’ve yet to have the soles fall off a pair of wellies which cost a tenth of the price.
Perhaps the biggest investment you’ll make, but one that’s very worthwhile when preparing for the wet weather, is a good quality waterproof jacket.
Kids will inevitably outgrow an expensive jacket within a few months, so it’s probably not worth spending quite so much, but expensive items can always be passed down to younger siblings or to family and friends. As an adult however, it’s well worth investing a little more in a jacket that features the latest waterproofing technology, by the likes of Gore Tex or Event. Treat it occasionally with a wash-in re-waterproofing product such as Nikwax and it should last you years. Despite having recently treated my own jacket after many years of faithful service, it proved utterly ineffectual in repelling storm Dennis over the weekend and instead soaked up water like a sponge. Perhaps it’s time I took my own advice and bought myself a new jacket along with new boots.
Sadly, waterproof onesies for adults aren’t as readily available as they are for kids, and those that are may be water resistant, but are unfortunately not resistant to ridicule. It’s probably a better look therefore, for adults to pair a waterproof jacket with a separate pair of waterproof trousers. The cheapest cost only a few pounds and are readily available at your local sporting goods emporium, or can often be found in the middle aisle of your local German supermarket. With variations available for hiking, cycling, or simply for sloshing about in puddles like a big kid, they too are likely to prove a worthwhile investment if you’re determined not to let the weather stand in the way of you spending time outside. You’re unlikely to prove the envy of the fashionistas, whatever style you go for, but style surely comes secondary when it comes to dealing with wet weather.
Of course, you could simply invest in an umbrella to keep the rain off, but due to their rather cumbersome nature, to me these seem to cause more problems than they solve. Umbrellas are particularly useless when it comes to warding off extreme weather such as we’ve experienced over the past few weeks. You’ll inevitably see someone wrestling with the wind as their umbrella is blown inside out, whilst you stand there feeling smug and looking stylish in your waterproof trousers.
Hopefully this blog will have proved helpful in inspiring you to enjoy the great outdoors this half term. Speaking from experience, it seems that whilst we’re always careful to wrap up our kids well against the cold and wet, as adults we sometimes forget to dress ourselves as appropriately. Partly, this could be explained by the cost, with kids waterproofs often proving inexpensive compared with adult kit, but perhaps we also forget the simple childlike joys of being outside, wrapped up warm against the cold and wet.
Happily, by the time the next half term holiday rolls around, Dorset Adventure Park will again be open for business, and the conundrum of what to do with the kids on a wet and muddy day could be easily solved. Until that time, stay safe, stay dry and enjoy the great outdoors.