Before our move back in October last year, we had been living in a property for four years that did not have any outdoors space. OK, I’m bending the truth a little bit, it did have some outdoor space if you count the communal access alley way for the five terraced properties we were attached to. We tried to make great use of that space with a mini paddling pool and sandpit.
My girls adore being outside and we spent most of those four years spending time at the local park or visiting National Trust places just so the girls could be outdoors. I am a strong believer that it’s such a crucial and important part of a child’s childhood so when we moved my top priority was to make sure we had a garden.
Lo and behold we landed ourselves with not just a garden but a 110 foot long garden! It was beyond our wildest dreams yet was about to become our biggest nightmare if I’m honest. It was a state but that is for another blog post I have planned of the transformation of our garden. Part of the process of transforming our garden and making it a safe and fun place to be, was creating the girls their own area of fun.
We really wanted them to have a climbing frame so at the end of last year Hubby and P2 measured up and picked out the Dunster House FortPlus Escape Climbing Frame to add to our garden. We were all pretty excited but decided to wait for slightly better weather. Typically the UK then endured a sudden freeze of snow and ice which put our gardening efforts back quite a bit. Finally in April we placed our order.
Dunster House offers a free one man delivery as long as there is an able bodied person (my Hubby apparently) at the delivery address to help unload. They use their own couriers with super friendly staff. He was actually so sweet with the girls and was getting them very excited about the delivery. I know this sounds cheesy but it was a really lovely experience.
The girls had to wait another whole week before we could put the climbing frame up. The FortPlus Escape needs two people to build it although I am a person, I am much more a half person and definitely not able bodied for that task. So we shipped the kids off for a weekend with the Nanny in Essex and invited my MiL’s partner to help Hubby.
There are lots of different companies who make and provide climbing frames, we chose Dunster House as the timber wood is all pressure treated which means it has a guarantee for 10 years as it comes. We didn’t have to pre-treat the wood or paint it and as a busy mum of three that was a huge relief. Everything except tools were provided and ready to go, in fact there was a whole box full of screws/bolts/bits!
You can see when our climbing frame arrived and the two able bodied men building it in this video I created for part 1 of our garden transformations. The whole process took them two days but honestly that wasn’t to do with the climbing frame being super difficult, it was more the fact that we hadn’t taken into account the ground preparation that was needed for the base of the climbing frame. Levelling the ground out took up a lot of time. According to Hubby, the instructions were easy to follow with step by step guides and pictures too. I definitely think you could get it done in one day especially if they started earlier in the day.
The girls ended up having their weekend cut a day short as two of them came down with chickenpox. Since my Mum’s kidney transplant she has to be very careful with the illnesses that she exposes herself too. It meant that the girls arrived home just as Hubby was completing the climbing frame. Seeing their faces light up was just so emotional for me. We still had a long way to go but they were so happy.
So there it is in all its beautiful glory. The Dunster House FortPlus Escape. We picked this one, over the many other climbing frame options for different ages and budgets because we felt it would grow with them much more. Like I said all the wood is pressure treated before arriving to its destination. The FortPlus Escape is 4.2m wide, 3.75m deep and 2.8m tall. It fitted perfectly at the end of our garden and has been the basis of our other plans that we have.
The play tower is a brilliant basis for the girls to explore their imaginations. It stands at 1.2m from the ground and has a ladder to access it. It comes with a few climbing stones to attach to the ladder for those little monkey climbers like P2 and P3. We actually bought some extra ones to attach to one of the side panels as P2 is a little dare devil when it comes to this sort of thing.
The platform itself has plenty of space to stand up in (I am 4ft 7in tall and can stand up without knocking my head in the centre area). We plan to pop some felt on the roof to make it waterproof but it can be left as it is. We also added some cushioned pads along the edges of the walls to make it less harsh for the girls if they were to knock onto them for whatever reason.
Underneath the play tower platform is a little den. Two of the walls are completely enclosed with one as a half wall, and one obviously completely open for access. You can pick which way you want these walls to be, we decided to put the opening at the back to give the girls some privacy with the half wall to the side of the garden. I really want to add a waterproof/outdoor beanbag for the girls to chill out on and some fairy lights to create a magical den.
Dunster House provide lots of different options to customise your climbing frame; a personalised plaque, extra climbing stones, nest swing seats, monkey swing, telescopes, steering wheel and many more options. We opted to add the Buzz Pack which is the steering wheel, telescope and hand grips. This has allowed the girls to further their games and bring so much more to the climbing frame experience.
All of the Dunster House climbing frames come with a wave slide. It is made from a thicker and more durable plastic. I have noticed that the slide gives off quite a bit of static when we slide down. I love that it is a wavy slide rather than a straight one as this adds to the amusement of sliding down.
The monkey bars are definitely the bit of the FortPlus Escape that the girls cannot do unaided at the moment. It will grow with them as they grow more confident and taller. The frame of the monkey bars are also the bit where the swings are attached. The girls love climbing up which is helping to improve their strength and coordination. I can’t wait to see them push out of their comfort zones as they get older.
The girls favourite part is definitely the swings. They get so much enjoyment from just swinging. I have found P2 out there swinging on the swings from the moment she wakes up in the morning, and it’s the first thing she does when she’s home from school too. There are 7 different swing options to choose from when you order, they obviously have different additional costs but they are; Nest Swing, Duoseat, Swing Seat, Babyseat, Ring Trapeze, Knotted Rope and Monkey Swing.
We decided to go keep the two standard swing seats, we have one slightly lower than the other for P3 to be able to get on by herself. Already I have seen so much confidence shining through for P3. She would only ever use the baby seats at the park but now opts for the grown up ones and has been learning to swing herself.
We are so impressed with the quality of the Dunster House FortPlus Escape Climbing Frame and its already transformed the way my girls interact with each other on a daily basis. Whilst the weather has been sunny they have been out there every single day. The climbing frame costs £574.99 which I actually think is a pretty good price, especially when you compare quality and service to other brands. Dunster House have given me the opportunity to allow my readers the chance to receive £10 off at checkout when entering the code: PINKPRINCESS10 This is valid until the end of summer (end of Sept 2018) and is valid on any Playhouses or Climbing Frames on the Dunster House Website.
I created a little walk through video of the climbing frame so you can see it much better than in photos. I hope you enjoy!