Opinion with Matthew Munson: Enjoying Thanet’s outdoor spaces

Bryan and 'Poseidon' the dog

I am not into sports; not in the slightest. I don’t care for football, I have never played rugby in my life, and I simply don’t understand hockey. I loved the 2012 Olympics, probably because we hosted them here in London, but the atmosphere more than the sports, I suspect.

I parent a child who is far more active than me, and it’s a privilege but exhausting. He is at school four days a week during the pandemic (lucky him), and he has been playing kick-about football with a couple of the other kids in the class bubble – not something he’d usually play, but he has enjoyed himself and started to ask to play with me when I homeschool with him on Fridays … and over the weekend as well.

I’ve managed to convince him to spare me the ignomy of doing this every single day, because I would otherwise die of exhaustion very quickly indeed. Thankfully, he’s also interested in lots of other things as well – and, from time to time, he will want to watch some TV or do some art and promptly sit down for a while. Sports and me don’t mix; my father was a sports journalist for many years and my grandfather had every single sports channel on his Sky deal, so you might imagine how the sports gene has died with me. I don’t honestly know how my granddad managed to watch even a fraction of them, but he seemed remarkably well-informed about what was going on – although I found myself going blank more often than I should have done.

But I am reminded of how many open spaces we have here in Thanet; how many do you know? Just in the neighbourhood where Bryan and I live, we have King George VI park, Montefiore Woods, Pierremont Park, Broadstairs Cricket Club, and a funny little cut-out of woodland along Bromstone Road in Broadstairs, somewhere Bryan discovered entirely by accident. We don’t have a back garden, so these areas give us a lot of opportunities to get fresh air.

I can’t wait to get out of lockdown; going out for lunch, popping into the arcades for a fun flutter with some two pences, or going to the cinema are all pleasures we don’t get at the moment. I haven’t even been to the casino for a very long time, although  that’s something I would do without Bryan, of course. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have any pleasures at all.

I’m also on the look-out for any ideas along the way from readers; Bryan’s birthday is fast approaching, and he has asked for history activities and language learning activities as well. I’ve had some really interesting examples, already – although some are for when lockdown ends and we can expand our horizons once more – but I would value your thoughts as well.

I’m actually thankful for lockdown, in a weird  kind of way; I have changed jobs, got more settled in my “role” of being a dad, and we have found extra ways to entertain ourselves. I genuinely love being a dad and exploring parks and woodland with my nine-year-old son – and seeing that he enjoys it as well is a joy.

Just last week, we spent an hour walking around the Broadstairs Cricket Club’s woodlands, and I can’t tell you how much fun it was; our imaginations ran riot, Bryan was quite content making a documentary on my camera, and he even held my hand all the way home. You couldn’t bottle those moments, but if you could, you would make a lot of money.


  1. A few years back, myself and my other half put together a 10 mile walk from Margate Station to Ramsgate Station for a rambling group, incorporating as many parks and green spaces as possible. People were amazed at just how nice much of Thanet is!

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