Firstly, let me say I never had a Wooden Swing Set. I wanted one, oh how I wanted one. But it was the 1970's, and it was the UK. Things were beige, depressed and oh so frugal. A wooden swing set just wasn't for the likes of us.

Not that we were deprived. Far from it. We ate, we had a TV (some of the time), and we even had our own bicycles (though usually second hand). This was an era of hand-me-downs and pre-Eco-friendly-era recycling. Things were done on the cheap. The wooden swing set has never been quite cheap enough for my Dad to have invested in.

But, still I dreamt of my own Jungle Gym. A fort, with decking, slides, swings, monkey bars and more. Eventually, the 1980's began, and with it a world of primary colored optimism. We kids were the ecstatic recipients of a swing set. Not the fairytale wooden fort of my dreams, but a plastic and tubular steel creation. Still at last we could swing and slide in our own backyard.

But the dream of the perfect wooden swing set still haunts me. So here, for prosperity, and for any of you thinking of a Wooden Swing Set as a gift for your lucky kids, are my top tips for the perfect playground / fort / climbing frame/ jungle gym or any other such extravaganza of outdoor play equipment. Your children will thank me!

The Best Wooden Swing Sets

  • Must be made of wood. Not all of it, but there must be some wood involved. This gives it the fort, come fairytale princess aspect so needed in any large outdoor play equipment.
  • Ladders - you cannot have too many sets. Kids are never allowed to use ladders so this is there one chance to have a go at an exciting 'forbidden' activity.
  • Slides - ideally there should be two to ease the bottleneck of small children queing!
  • Spiral slides - if you're gonna do it you may as well do it right. There is no slide more exciting than one that turns corners!
  • Monkey bars - these are absolutely critical. They are scary for the youngsters and nothing is more fun than scary stuff, and they give the older kids a reason to still play with their wooden swing set; the chance to show off!
  • Decks - ideally two and as big as possible.
  • Awnings - one of those decks should have a covered awning so the whole thing doubles as a play house, tree house and somewhere to nap when things heat up. On no account should a swing set awning be floral. Stripes are what's called for to ensure this is a dual gender piece of outdoor play equipment.
  • Swings - at least two but you really cannot have too many. If you can manage it, vary the swings - tyres, rope, wooden, belt swings all add to the fun of coveting the bit of the play set another child is playing with.
  • Endless Possibilities - you have to buy, build, borrow or steal a wooden swing set that can be added to. This is why those plastic and metal creations just aren't as much fun. They're static. But a wooden swing set can be added to forever. If you're creative you can build bits to add on yourself and if not, no worries there are an infinite array of playground accessories such as metal monkey bars, spiral slides, swings and things that are easily bolted on.

You may thank me when the kids are playing happily and you're enjoying a siesta in a peaceful backyard! Wooden swing sets are the ultimate piece of Outdoor Play Equipment. A little world just for kids to run, play and create their mad adventures on. I hate to say it, but I'm a thirty something who still hankers after one after all these years!