There are a million and one things you could do with a long Saturday in the middle of summer. You could sit in your garden drinking Pimms, you could have a barbecue with your friends, you could go to the beach and get mildly moist. When you’re celebrating a friends birthday, any of these would be a reasonable thing to do. But like my friends and I said when we ganged up on that badger and stole his wallet for badger currency that we can’t even use, we’re not very reasonable.
So on one Saturday not so long ago, a group of friends headed deep into the woods to celebrate a birthday on a giant rope swing. And endeavoured to break my one remaining good wrist.
We had found the rope swing in question a few nights before when we were out in the woods taking a stroll and building a den. As we head back to the car in the pitch black we came across a large rope swing that swung out over a steep drop. The obvious thing to do was take a running jump at it not knowing if we’d be able to hold on, or even if it was attached to a tree of just a squirrels tail. Whatever it was attached to we didn’t die, so we decided we’d head back at the weekend.
The weekend came and we could see in the clear light of day how the rope was attached. As Sam had suspected a few days before, the rope had been thrown over a sturdy branch, clipped over the other side with a caribiner and then pulled tight to create minutes of fun. Once we zoomed in with a camera to take a closer look at the set up it looked remarkably like the caribiner was open. Naturally we carried on regardless.
Unlike a few nights prior, we had prepared for our Tarzan trials and came fully equipped with harnesses. This meant we could swing as far as we possibly could without relying on broken hands to hold onto it. This added safety made the whole thing somewhat boring. After debating whether to set fire to the rope or build a large platform out of fallen trees to add excitement, we threw the lit matches in our rucksacks and proceeded with the sensible option of building some kind of platform. Might have been more of a beaver dam. holding back all of the beavers.
As the day went on we built our platform higher and higher. Every time someone took a big swing, the other two would swoop in and drop extra logs on the pile. As our swings got larger we came ever closer to reaching the tree opposite the swing that had become our ultimate goal.
Moments away from success we decided it would be a good time to briefly give up and head to the country parks café for some refreshing beverages, and to buy Rhys some birthday cake. An offer he politely refused, so instead we brought some Birthday bananas. Potassium. nice.
It was at this point we came up with the genius decision to wedge one large piece of tree into the pile we had created earlier. Overlooking the risk of slipping up and wondering why the log hadn’t brought you dinner first, this worked out quite well. With incredible balance we were able to walk up along the branch, and given a little nudge from each other, gave ourselves enough height and distance for an almighty swing. We held our breaths as I began the biggest swing of the day. Sure enough I reached our goal. This heroic effort was met with cheers from Sam and Rhys. We had tasted success. And it tasted suspiciously like that banana was back for an encore.
Next up to molest some woodland was Sam. Rhys and I waited for him to summit the balance branch, and gave him a nudge. Apparently not enough as he missed the tree. So we waited for his return to give him another push. It was around this time that we realised if you stood right behind the launch platform your friend would swing back quite uncontrollably, and his arse would come perilously close to your face. This is how you bond in the woods. Another large push and he made it too the tree.
Rhys was next up, and it was around this point that reaching the tree simply wasn’t enough, the true winner would be the first to get hold of the tree and not let go. We pushed Rhys like a British Leyland car, but a tree wrap seemed just a little too far away. It was around this time that we realized our pushing skills weren’t very accurate. With every push someone came closer and closer to hitting the tree from which the swing was hung. For a while this simply provided lots of funny faces, the kind of faces that only exist when your friend requires some new pants. Of course there came a time when I was heading directly for that tree, and at some speed. It was down to Sam to take a face load of me, and save me from a barky death. or bruise.
Not long after we decided to quit while we were ahead. We drove home listening to a nice mix of Muse, Milky Chance, and Taylor Swift, because we are nothing if not diverse.
Spending an entire day on a single rope swing may not seem the most incredible way to spend a day, but it’s not as bad as spending ten minutes reading a poorly written blog about it.
Me one you zero.