“I used to think that the top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse, and climate change. I thought that with 30 years of good science we could address those problems. But I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy and to deal with those we need a cultural and spiritual transformation. And we scientists don’t know how to do that. – Gus Speth”
So today marks the end of #30dayswild and it has been so great to see so much enthusiasm for the natural world over the past month. I really hope that everyone who took part will make the connection between the minnows their kids caught in the stream and the washing up-liquid they drain down the sink. It is easy to think that as individuals there is little we can do to save the environment, but whilst we may have almost no say in fracking, or fishing quotas, or where houses are built, our power to make a difference lies in our role as consumers. Almost every decision we make has an impact on the environment and we can choose to take the least damaging option. Rarely, we can even choose to have a beneficial impact.
I want my children to grow up in a world where there are healthy ecosystems, with clean drinking water and clean air, so I use eco-friendly cleaning products. I want my children to grow up surrounded by bees and butterflies and wildflowers, so I buy organic whenever I can. I don’t want their world to be swamped with rubbish, so I recycle and use reusable nappies. I don’t want them to have to live through catastrophic climate change, so I walk when I don’t have to use the car. I imagine how much energy is required to create and transport every little crappy plastic toy that ends up in the shops and I avoid buying them as much as humanly possible. I don’t knowingly buy products with micro-plastics, or unsustainably caught fish and I do buy the most efficient appliances possible….The list could go on and on. Often, but not always, these choices cost more than the less eco-friendly alternative, but the issues are so important, I think it is worth it.
I don’t want my kids to be apathetic about the environment, so I show them the joy that it can bring. I teach them the names of things and I try to show them how everything is connected. I hope that by spending an hour every day outside, exploring the wild, they will learn to feel comfortable in the natural world and that they will care enough to try to protect it, too.
#30dayswild may be over, but in my family, we will be #stayingwild and I will continue to share our adventures on www.kidsinthewild.co.uk.
We decided to explore somewhere new for the final day of #30dayswild, so we picked Izzy up from preschool and headed straight to Seatown. When we got out of the car, it was blowing a gale and the waves were crashing against the pebbly beach. Kite in tow and keeping the kids very close, we followed the path along the the clifftops at Ridge Cliff, which were adorned with Thrift and Birds-foot-trefoil. Once everybody had been untangled from the kite’s ridiculously long tail ribbons, Izzy manaed to get it into the air and we made slow progress up the hill, with the kite crashing into the grass every few seconds.
On the other side, we found a sheltered spot to sit and admire the amazing view. I’m sure we could see right the way to Portland Bill. Looking inland, Izzy was confused by the sight of a rippling field of Barley, which she thought looked like a river. A charm of Goldfinch descended onto the thistles behind us, whilst Swallows swooped low over the grass and a steady stream of ramblers with spaniels passed by. The kids took some photos with my camera, devoured some oatcakes, then we all ran back down the hill, giggling, our arms held out like aeroplanes.
We went for a drink at The Anchor Inn and sat outside on the terrace, watching the seagulls riding the wind, a Pied Wagtail on the roof and in the distance, a couple of Rabbits chasing each other around a field. Then, we played Pooh Sticks from the bridge over the stream and the wind was so strong, they floated the wrong way, up-stream. As we left, Golden Cap was lost to cloud and the mist rolled in for our journey home.
Total Wild Time: 2 hours 10 min
Trying not to be defeated by the weather, we put on our coats and made a ‘worm hotel’ in the garden. We filled a little vivarium with layers of grit, compost and soil. Then the kids added leaves, flowers and basically anything else they could find to the top. It would have been nice to have layers of different coloured sand, but ‘work with what you’ve got’ and all that… Next, we dug for worms and popped some in the hotel. Most of them were ‘really sweet babies’ of indeterminate species, but we did identify one as an Angler’s Red Worm by the way it wriggled and curled madly when picked up. We watched a few of them squirming down into the soil. Afterwards, we read the section on worms in Nick Baker’s Bug Book and Izzy was fascinated to learn that worm casts were really poo and (unsentimental child that she is) that people can eat worms, remarking that you would have to ‘chop off their heads first’ to make the Earthworm Meatloaf.
The worms have all disappeared into their new home, but hopefully we will see some action over the next few days – check back for updates!
Total Wild Time: 45 mins
It’s been a low-key, lazy kind of a day. This morning, whilst the sun briefly shone, E and Izzy played with water in the garden and made flower potions using scented herbs, such as lavender and mint. Then, on the way to and from preschool, we did a scavenger hunt. Nothing fancy, I just gave Izzy a clipboard with a list of things to find and tick off:
- something shiny
- something sticky
- something spotty
- something stripy
- something sharp
- something crunchy
- something bumpy
- something something soft
- something stinky
- something round
- something heart-shaped
- something triangle-shaped
We found them all, except something stinky, as, for some reason, Izzy rejected Yarrow and Herb-Robert for not being smelly enough.
Total wild time: 1 hour (or near enough)
Izzy woke up with the sniffles, so I just took E out to walk the dog. We went to the river to count the ducks, but the highlight of the walk for him was seeing the rubbish truck drive by at least twice.
Total wild time: 30 mins
We all went for a walk with the dog. Izzy did a lot of whingeing, but perked up when there was the opportunity to clamber about on an old Crack Willow tree with an almost horizontal trunk.
Total Wild Time: 1 hour
Our day did not get off to a good start. Izzy woke up at stupid o’clock and she and B immediately started niggling at each other. When we eventually hauled ourselves out of bed just after 7, we got straight in the car, only to find that the road was closed due to a crash. We took an alternative route and got stuck behind the longest line of dairy cows in the history of the world. A journey that should have taken 10 minutes ended up taking an hour and everyone was clamouring for theirbreakfast.
Eventually, we reached Blackbury Camp, a lovely wooded Iron Age Hill Fort and we set out our rug, food, juice and most importantly, flask of tea. The air was a bit chilly (B really should have listened to me and put on his coat), but the stresses of the morning drifted away, as we listened to the rustling Beech leaves and chattering birds. We had the place to ourselves, except for a boy and his mum, who were looking for caterpillars and who were, I suspect, also
taking part in #30dayswild.
E and Izzy held hands and explored amongst the trees, tried the rope swing and found some cool bracket fungi on a dead tree.
Total wild time: roughly 1 hour (I forgot to check the clock!)
We did our weekly Tesco shop in Seaton and bought some instant picnic bits, but when we left the store, it started hammering down. Undeterred, we hopped over the road to the beach. With the sun being so bright and the rain drops so huge, it looked quite magical. We headed for the only bench under cover, next to the toilets, but luckily, as we got there, the rain cleared and we were able to sit at a much more pleasant table overlooking the beach. We ate our salad and sandwiches, listening to the sound of the waves on the pebbly shore, then we went for a stroll. I picked up some holey stones, which I am hoping to make use of another day and then found a stone that looked uncannily like a face, which I proudly took back to show Izzy and B (not sure how impressed they were to be honest!). We paddled in the water and then Izzy and I had a fight with some leathery, washed-up kelp. It was a lovely way for the kids to let off steam before bed (especially compared to their usual after-bath game ‘towelly’, which involves them racing around the house shrieking and naked with towels over their heads).
Total Wild Time: 1 hour
Izzy went on her weekly pre-school welly walk (and came home sockless after getting wet feet catching fish in the river), so I just took E out to walk the dog. I made an effort to slow down and enjoy the sound of the breeze in the trees, to notice the pattern the leaves made overhead and to smell the Honeysuckle. As usual, E took it all in, wanting to smell every flower we passed.
Total wild time: 55 mins
Izzy, E, my mum and I joined another Legacy to Landscape event, this time in a hay meadow near Wilmington. Armed with collecting jars, we searched amongst the Corky-fruited Water-dropwort, orchids and Knapweed for pollinators and other insects, which Martin Drake of Axe Vale and District Conservation Society identified for us. We saw Cleg Flies, Soldier Flies, Soldier Beetles, Red-tailed Bumblebees, Meadow Brown Butterflies, a Common Blue Butterfly, Leaf Hoppers, Grasshoppers, Flower Bugs and much more besides. And amazingly, the sun actually shone for a couple of hours.
Total Wild Time: 2 hours