run wild child!

Last week, we hopped, skipped and jumped over to Manchester for Run Wild Child, a whimsical, nature-y scavenger hunt of sorts run by the people behind the Just So Festival. I’ve always wanted to go to the festival, but it’s both physically and financially inaccessible for us at the moment, so imagine my excitement when I found out we could partake in a somewhat similar experience (albeit, on a much tinier scale) not far from us! Raspberry was super excited about it too, although she wasn’t familiar with the festival. The day before, we’d collected bits of nature from the Huyton Wetlands, with which she made a headband that was meant to resemble a bug’s antennae. I’d heard that lots of people were dressing up, and this was the closest we got, because these days, I don’t quite have the mental energy to invest in being incredibly crafty.

The day started out grey, wet and dreary (what’s new?) and we were damp by the time we got to the train station, but that didn’t deter us from our adventure. At least it’d stopped raining by the time we had the scavenger hunt map in hand.

We had almost three hours to track down the clues, some of which involved talking to adults dressed as bugs. The letters gathered would eventually spell out where the grand finale would be held. I thought three hours was plenty of time. What I’d failed to take into account was the fact that the scavenger hunt was being held in an area I wasn’t all that familiar with (read: I’d only ever been there once, for a short period of time, earlier in the year when we were there for Chinese New Year). I figured that since I had a map, it’d be all right. And there were only eight clues to track down. Eight clues in three hours should be easy peasy, right? Wrong. While we occasionally briefly followed other people carrying the maps, much of our time was spent walking in circles. Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers who’d ask if we needed help (YES!) and pointed us in the right direction. One guy who’d been unsure of the location even popped into a shop to ask for directions on our behalf, after he’d led us the wrong way. I can only imagine how much worse it could’ve been. When we arrived home, Lucas (who knows how directionally challenged I am and scoffs at my turning a map sideways to the direction I’m facing) immediately asked if we’d gotten lost, to which I sheepishly nodded. Due to our prolonged, circuitous route, we weren’t able to get the final clue, owing to the fact that we were cutting it too close to the grand finale and the people giving the clues had left (so I assumed from the empty table and the full garbage bags), but it was simple guesswork.

Because Run Wild Child was part of the Dig the City festival, there was a much else going on and this corner of the city was filled with colourful pop-up stands filled with flowers and all nature-based things green and brown. I hadn’t taken this into account when I naively thought three hours would be more than enough time for us. We stopped at a couple of booths, Raspberry partook in some crafts and Ares gleefully exercised his little legs.

He was none too pleased when I strapped him back onto my back for the grand finale, a water fight. Having been aware of the nature of the event beforehand, I wisely packed a towel and extra clothes for Raspberry (and to some extent, Ares), but I didn’t fancy running after a toddler amidst airborne streams of water and flying soaked sponges, nor did I relish the thought of getting wet (my neurotic nature eschews getting messy). Excitedly, Raspberry got right into the fray while I stood atop the sunken amphitheatre, keeping safely dry. It didn’t end well for her though. Despite the rule that no one was to get anyone else in the face with their bottle of water, Raspberry unfortunately fell victim to getting sprayed in the face and it hurt. After the melee, I had to usher a very tearful, howling Raspberry away, wrapping in her what used to be Avy’s towel. Chocolate pudding cheered her up and by this time, the sun had finally emerged, much to our delight.

We took our time, re-visiting some of the stands we’d passed earlier. They looked so much more vibrant in the sunshine. It was around this time though, that we encountered a miserable old man. Raspberry’s headband won her lots of compliments from adults but this hunched, wrinkly person in thick glasses balanced on his nose, just stared and mumbled something incoherent as we walked by. I couldn’t make out exactly what he said but I did catch snatches of it: “this country;” “fucking America;” “fucking Red Indian.” The polite smile I initially gave him turned quickly into a glare, as he became yet another racist old white guy I’ve encountered here. Sigh.

This encounter was only a tiny blip in our otherwise fun day. Raspberry may not have enjoyed the water fight as much as she’d expected, but she definitely liked gathering the clues and I think that experience in itself blew her mind. Meanwhile, I revelled in the gorgeous vintage aesthetic of the event (just the kind of inspiration I need for an artistic kick in the pants). Perhaps one day we’ll make it to the Just So Festival, but for now, I’m so glad I got to experience a day of glorious whimsy.

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