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Where the wild things are: Unearthing the natural world on your doorstep

With no school or activities to keep them busy, children have a chance to really explore their surroundings. That brings rewards for all the family

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The great outdoors: Kathy and her sons Oirghiall (8) and Dallan (11), Wyatt the dog, and the den they made. Photo: Lorcan Doherty

The great outdoors: Kathy and her sons Oirghiall (8) and Dallan (11), Wyatt the dog, and the den they made. Photo: Lorcan Doherty

The great outdoors: Kathy and her sons Oirghiall (8) and Dallan (11), Wyatt the dog, and the den they made. Photo: Lorcan Doherty

For days it was planned, then executed with precision. Sand bags, tarpaulin, a few wooden pallets. I watched from the window as the den took shape, not realising that soon it would become more important than we could've imagined.

While it was built (with the help of their dad) in the days pre-lockdown, the 'bunker' as it's become known, has become a refuge. An old carpet was repurposed as a soft floor. A couple of cushions that have seen better days made it more habitable. The tarpaulin acts as a rain cover. Their favourite sticks have homes in between the pallets. Worlds are being created outdoors where the wild things are.

My two boys are spending a lot of time in their den at the back of the garden. No school and no after-school activities means like every other family in the country we are not leaving home except for a walk. The mad dashing around and shuttling-here-and-there treadmill that we were on has stopped abruptly.