On my favourite radio breakfast show this week, the DJs – Catboy and Geordiebird – were talking about a list that’s been compiled of things to do before you turn 12.
Skim a stone, climb a tree, roll down a really big hill, camp out in the wild, play conkers, get behind a waterfall, hunt for bugs, feel like you’re flying in the wind and go on a nature walk at night were all included in the list of 50 things to do before the age of 11 ¾ – put together by the National Trust.
It was nostalgic stuff, especially as the NT’s intention was to inspire today’s high-wired pre-teen generation – shackled as they are to their computers, Xboxes and TVs – to get out the house and have a go at what we used to do by default.
Listeners to the show then came up with a number of other suggestions – like buy your own school shoes, drink water from a hose pipe, ring the bell and run away, drop a stone down a well and listen for the splash, race lolly sticks under a bridge, let frogspawn run through your fingers and show someone yours (if they show you theirs).
By this point, I was getting so wistful, I was ready to ditch city-living, move to the hills and raise BB and LB as free-range kids – hunting for worms with them every morning and playing Pooh sticks.
Anyway, it got me thinking that a Dubai version of this list would look somewhat different. It might read something like this:
● Feel like you’re flying in the wind at iFLY, Dubai’s indoor skydiving facility
● Go sand boarding down a massive sand dune, standing up
● Spend the night at KidZania
● Go camping / drumming / hunting for scorpions in the desert
● Take a telescope into the desert at night and try to spot at least three planets among the stars
● Get picked up in a Hummer to go to a party at the Atlantis hotel
● Climb the stairs up the Burj Khalifa
● Throw snowballs / cuddle a penguin at the Mall of the Emirates
● Play pass-the-parcel and unwrap a Tag Heuer watch at the end
● Go on a hot-air balloon ride over the desert at dawn
● Run around in the rain
● Visit a World Island
● Find gold, at a gold-dispensing ATM machine
● Canoe down the creek
● Take a glass-bottom boat ride on top of the Dubai Aquarium
● Get behind the fountain inside the Dubai Mall
● Swim with dolphins
● Play with a friend’s lion cub
● Fry an egg on the bonnet of a car in summer
● Learn Arabic and the history of our amazing little-fishing-village-that-could
To see the National Trust’s list, click here