Monday, 21 April 2014

We're off to Neverland! The Lost Boys' Day Out

A couple of weekends ago, we took a Sunday trip to somewhere we used to go when I was but a wee lassie; The Den in Kirriemuir.
The entrance to the Den - under a road!
Lots of bridges for Pooh sticks of course

 It's a gorgeous, sprawling stretch of park, which must be ancient.  Lined by a fast-flowing river that starts at the most beautiful waterfall, and surrounded by trees and acres of grass and wild flowers, the Den has a perfectly-sized little park in the middle.  It's quite old-hat now I imagine, what with the new and fancy Peter Pan play-park at the other end of Kirriemuir Hill, but in my mind, you can't beat this place.

A climbing frame that doesn't give me 'the fear'
Right-sized play-equipment that doesn't give me 'the fear'
The paddling pool - definitely coming back in the summer!

Picnic Time!
It even has a paddling pool that's filled in the summer, and tons of space for the perfect picnic.  After you've exhausted the playground facilities, there's a lovely short walk into the woods to the aforementioned waterfall, and back towards the car park again - perfect for little feet.  Quite long, but not too far and lots to distract. Brilliant!

Tom and I on our walk after the play-park

Gorgeous crocus display - they are everywhere in The Den
One of the many bridges over the river

A gorgeous walk up the stone steps to the waterfall

The waterfall view from the bridge

Today we had also come to see the new Peter Pan park.  Built in 2010, we'd never been.  In fact, we hadn't heard of it until recently, and what with Ethan's new Peter Pan obsession, we just had  to go!  What kind of parent would I be if I withheld that kind of information?

O.K, so we only got slightly lost.

We knew where the cemetery was, and that it bordered the cemetery.  But what actually happened is that in our frustrations we ended up in the cemetery.  But, serendipitously, we happened upon the man himself's grave.  The Peter Pan of Kirriemuir - the town's whole raison-de-etre: Mr James Matthew Barrie himself, creator of Peter Pan.

I have a special interest in Mr. Barrie's works, and if you have time, please spend it having a look at his birthplace, which is in Kirriemuir, just a street away from his headstone.  We've been once, when Tom was little, and it was great.  It's a National Trust site now and houses a lot of important information about one of Scotland's favourite sons. We will certainly be factoring in another visit soon.

Once we'd figured out where we were (at the back of the park) we managed to find our way to the top of Kirriemuir Hill and to Neverland.  And what an awesome sight it is.

We're off to Neverland!
What a splendid park.  A proper adventure for children, with imagination grabbers all over the place, all pretty much carved from wood.  It was beautiful and I can think of no better homage to Mr. Barrie and his timeless creation, than this marvelous play-park that feeds children's imaginations.

Peter, watching the magic from on-high

Ethan finally finishing his feud with Hook!
Escaping the ship on the slide!
At the helm
Watch out for tick-tock crocs!
Try not to get carried away though...
Escaping from Pirates!
It was a very windy day, and on the top of a hill means very little shelter, but we still had an ace time.  The kids can't wait to go back.  It's not too far from us either - I can forsee many happy memories being made her (as long as we go to The Den first!)

The Den at Kirriemuir was somewhere my sister and I would be taken to as children with my Nana and Grandad.  On the way home, he would always point out The Soldier On The Hill - a memorial to The Black Watch.  My Grandad served in The Black Watch in WW2, so I suppose it was quite poignant for him.  In a nod to him, we stopped on the way home to pay our respects - to all the lost men and boys, and my Grandad too; a lost boy himself, really.

It was quite moving to see my son pay his respects with his daddy, safe in the knowledge that neither of them would have to go through what my Grandad did.  In a way, he did it for us.  I made sure to explain to Tom as best I could about war and soldiers and WW2. He was very solemn.  He has a really good heart, that kid.

We left in the spirit we set out - adventure in our heart and happiness in our souls.
What a view!

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