It has been five weeks since we left Anguilla for Cambridge, England. During this time we have searched extensively and fortunately found an apartment we like, set up our utilities, bought items for our home, enrolled Xavi in preschool and much more. There were definitely some highs and lows but we are grateful that for the most part everything has fallen into place. Technology of course has kept us connected to family and friends so we are not home sick yet. The best news is the weather has totally cooperated and it has only rained once since we got here. I am literally pinching myself at our good fortune at having a great British summer and fall thus far.
Xavi is enjoying all the new experiences in Cambridge. I thought he would have missed having his own cars and ‘drivers’ but he loves the bus. In the dead of winter his opinion may change but for now he is happy. Bonus, we live to close to the bus stop and within walking distance to church, Xavi’s school, supermarkets and playgrounds and parks.
In fact, we spend a lot more time outside than I anticipated (definitely more time walking from place to place than I do at home) and I am enjoying the outdoors here. I will blog again when it starts to rain to tell you how I feel then! Very little can compete with the sand, sea and sun that I enjoy at home but if I could have the best of both worlds I would magically transfer the following three things I am enjoying about my outdoor experiences here in Cambourne, Cambridge to Anguilla.
Public Playgrounds in Cambridge
Back Then in Anguilla
Growing up our entire neighbourhood was our playground and as children we played outside all the time. I remember going through the bush and exploring with my cousins and the other children in the neighbourhood. There was a lot less traffic, we knew our neighbours well and I dare to say our parents felt comfortable and secure letting us wander for hours at a time. We had each other and looked out for each other. Our creativity blossomed as we made mud cakes, played marbles, set up dolly houses, rode our bikes and played hide and seek and freeze tag and catch, up and down the streets. I saw some of this re-occurring in the months following the hurricane with the neighbourhood children and it warmed my heart.
This type of spontaneous play within neighborhoods is becoming less common. I believe it is time to reintroduce public play areas within communities (villages) for children 0-14. This will hopefully encourage children to come together to play outside in a safe, creative and fun space. I remember many years ago there were some public playgrounds attached to schools. Due to various reasons they have all been completely removed.
Njeri Richardson Carty of Branches of Learning is currently on a learning journey in Finland. I enjoy seeing pictures of the beautiful playgrounds there. One of her goals is to build a modern and creative playground. This is an excellent initiative.Read more about Branches of Learning or learn how you can contribute to this initiative here. You can follow Njeri’s journey here.
Xavi and I love Magic City. It is a much needed soft play area and has been a game changer in Anguilla. However, it is a paid play space and there are many children across the island that cannot afford it or cannot afford to access it regularly. We also miss the playground at Tropical Treats very much!
We visit the public playgrounds in Cambourne, Cambridge almost daily. Xavi gets excited every time and the outdoor time has been good for both of us. I always say the beach is his playground and honestly it is still one of the best playgrounds in the world. I wonder now though if our beach experience would be enhanced for little ones if we were to introduce some structured playground equipment on some of our beaches like seesaws and swings and climbing structures for further physical and creative outlets.
Green Spaces and Paths and Trails for Runners and Walkers
We are enjoying all the green open spaces and eco-parks in Cambridge where we can let Xavi be free. It is also relaxing for Nash and I to run on paths and trails rather than open road. Planned spaces for creative play, leisure and exercise are great for both children and adults.
Cycling Culture From Cambridge
We got into Cambridge and the first thing I noticed was that everyone was riding a bike. Three year old children and eighty year old adults and everyone in between were cycling to work, to school, to play. I immediately wanted a bike and Nash promptly reminded me that I have not ridden a bike in over 20 years. I rode a bike for a minute a few days later and while I was a bit wobbly initially, it is true that you never forget this skill.
Anguilla is very hot and I can’t promise that I would be willing to ride a bike during the day but in the morning and evenings I would love to if I felt safe on the streets. There are bike lanes and trails here and where there are not, cyclists are respected. I would love to see more of that in Anguilla and I know more people would be willing to cycle. I am hoping that Xavi will learn to ride a bicycle soon as the children cycling to school in Cambourne, Cambridge are just the cutest thing ever.
I know all three of these suggestions have been discussed extensively in Anguilla. I am also aware that there are factors in Anguilla which will make it harder for some of these things to materialise. Harder never means impossible.
Please share your comments and thoughts on what may be currently being done, what is planned for the future and what would work best in Anguilla.