Opinion with Matthew Munson: Water fights, the Friends of Montefiore Woodland and banana biking

Bryan tries out banana biking

The Summer Holidays are now in full swing. It’s different to last year in some ways, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Last year, I had everything planned with military precision, and it worked – for the most part – because we had a wide selection of things to choose from.

This year, there are still things to do if you know where to look. I’m actually getting worried we won’t get it all into the next four weeks, but what can you do? This lock-down has brought us closer to our neighbours – I’m writing this after Bryan and I spent two and a half hours on a water fight with the other children in our block – and closer to our community.

We have spent so much time in the local open spaces that can give us pleasure; parks, beaches, flat areas that allow us to pedal our bikes at full speed. I didn’t know until just the other day, for example, that a small woodland near the Montefiore GP Surgery in Ramsgate even had a name (the Montefiore Woodland, perhaps unsurprisingly), or that it was worthy of a “Friends of …” group who took great care of it.

Every month, on the first Saturday, a group – open to all – meet in the woodland to tidy, organise, and improve everything. It’s an ongoing process, and the pioneers are incredibly passionate about this patch of beauty in the middle of Ramsgate. I took Bryan there so we could help, and what a brilliant couple of hours; we helped with a butterfly count, a litter pick, and clearing some of the dead plants away – as well as Lisa, the chair of the group, showing Bryan some of the plants and berries, which he cheerfully repeated back to me as we meandered home. We should all contribute to our communities in whatever way we can, and I recommend this wonderful group – we’ll certainly be going again.

Incidentally, who here has ever heard of a banana bike? They’re odd things, very low down to the ground; when you first turn, you think that you’re going to fall off – you can see Bryan here modelling what they look like.

We went away last weekend and, because he had been asking to do this for the past nine months, I acceded and took him banana biking in a London park. Well, if you ever get a chance to do it, then do it you must – I beg of you. I’ve not laughed so much in ages, and it was so easy to get into the swing of things; after a brief training session, we both felt so confident and had a brilliant time.

So, all in all, this summer is looking bright; local places are clearly giving careful thought to what needs to be done to keep us all safe, and makes me happy. It gives Bryan and I opportunities during the summer to spend time together as a family, as well as with other people that we cherish where we can. And I can never ask for more than that.