And so it was that I ended up with a lovely young man tightening my harness (oppsie, was it loose?!!) and showing me the ropes at The Reading Climbing Centre (see what I did there?). After an initial form-filling session and a check that our footwear was suitable (don't go in flip flops), we were kitted out with suitable harnesses and helmets for the kids. And then our instructor Josh led us 'en famille' into the wall hall to see how it's done.
We started on a little orange wall close to the door. This enables the kids (oh alright and the grown ups) to get the hang of the technique (more pushing up with your legs and less pulling up with your arms than I had imagined) - and to truly believe that you won't fall if you let go. We also had to learn just how to bounce back down after you'd reached the top - again an issue of trust, you have to sit quite far back and down.
Then the kids were asked to choose where they wanted to climb next, although, to be honest, the walls all look the same to the uninitiated. We took turns again, although our youngest was less keen on reaching the summit by now. Which is when I mentioned that if there were Smarties at the top she'd have no problem. So, Josh disappeared off to reception to obtain a little motivational tool...a bag that each climber could take up and hook on the hand holds for the next person up the wall to retrieve.
Like a rat up a drainpipe once an element of competition was introduced!
Sibling and spouse rivalry soon set in, with the younger desperate to take the bag up as high as she could - hoping her sister would be unable to retrieve it. When she did, my eldest set about putting it out of my reach, but I got it. Then I took it up to the top - naturally hoping my less-than-keen-on-heights hubby wouldn't cope (although he did of course). I'm sure we were a heart-warming example of familial love to all those around us.
Again the kids chose our next wall (or 'line' as the professionals say) and couldn't wait to play the bag game. My daughter plumped for a one of the highest walls I could see, although said that she would never make it. In fact she did - all 14 metres of it, which at age 7 isn't bad. At this point Josh began to toughen up on me and hubs. We were only allowed to climb using certain coloured handholds - making it that bit more difficult. I helpfully pointed out when my husband was using the wrong colour. Nothing is too much trouble for me you see.
The place to be heading is Reading (Climbing Centre)
And all too quickly our session was over - Josh was needed elsewhere - doubtless some other floozy was rapidly loosening up her harness (tsk!). We returned our equipment and headed for some lunch (there's a cafe on site). The taster session we took was excellent - I hope it encourages my girls to try it again - maybe during the holidays as a course or maybe as a birthday party venue. It's certainly something we'd try as a couple or as a family again.
How about you? What exercise do you fit in as a family? And does climbing sound like a good option for you and yours? Let me know in the comment box below.
Thanks for reading