Well, after yesterday’s dismal failure to fit in any wild time, we made up for it today. Out of the house by 9am and straight to the beach for a dip in the sea, in water that was almost a pleasant temperature!
After that we headed to Kilmington on the hunt for one of the Great Trees of East Devon – a massive Monterey Pine growing next to the Cricket Pavillion. We gave it a hug, but unfortunately, it wasn’t particularly photogenic due to its location next to an ugly shed and several bins. The nearby toddler-sized playground proved too tempting to resist, so that was next on the agenda.
A bit later, I took the kids to Grandmum and Grandad’s house and we wandered down to the packed beach, where a brass band was playing as part of Branscombe Festival. We arrived as a demonstration by the coastguard was taking place – somebody was being winched from a boat into a helicopter just off shore. We ate our picnic and the kids amused themselves by putting pebbles down Grandad’s shirt and in his pockets, then we wandered back again for a spot of playing and cloud-watching in the garden
B greeted us at home with some freshly caught Mackerel cooking on the barbecue. He had also foraged some blackberries whilst walking the dog, so we had a wonderful dinner of free, fresh food. It was a pretty perfect end to apretty perfect day (except that E got his hand stuck in the garden bench, then painted himself in yogurt, apparently in order to do an impression of a reversing baby monkey and Izzy couldn’t sit still to eat her dinner because she was desperate for a wee, but point-blank refused to go to the toilet.) I’d love to be able to say that they fell asleep as soon as their heads hit their pillows, but sadly that has never happened yet and wasn’t the case tonight either..
Total wild time – All day! (about 8 hours)
I felt a bit of a failure today, as by the time I had finished giving E’s room a second coat of paint, it was almost dinner and too late for my planned trip to see some ancient trees (although earlier in the day whilst walking the dog with E, I did witness 2 Moorhens chasing a Black-headed Gull and then a Heron away from the river, which made me smile). Instead, we took some time to sit in the hammock in the garden and I managed to persuade both children to be quiet for a few minutes and listen. We heard a Blackbird scolding, the baby House Sparrows in the nest in our porch roof (must be the 3rd brood they’ve reared this year), a Pied Wagtail flying overhead, but mostly we heard buzzing bees. Izzy then pretended to put on make-up using flowers she found in the garden and made me watch a dancing/fashion show, which apparently I had to join in at the end
Total wild time – 30 mins or thereabouts
After a boozy night out with B to celebrate our wedding anniversary, today was a bit of a write off, but we managed a quick trip to Lyme Regis, where we walked the length of the Cobb, then pottered about on the tiny beach behind the aquarium, watching the Herring Gulls and Rock Pipits at the edge of the waves. Izzy made some sand castles, which E promptly destroyed.
Heading back towards Monmouth Beach, Izzy tripped over and grazed her knees, which triggered a bit of a meltdown. We decided it would be best to call it a day.
Total wild time – about 30 mins
I had to take a deep breath as we arrived at Colyford Common, as Izzy was driving me a little bit crazy. We followed the path down towards the marsh and found a Slow-worm under a bit of corrugated roofing felt (obviously left there as a reptile refuge). There were loads of butterflies too – Gatekeepers, Speckled Woods and Red Admirals.
Izzy raced ahead, totally ignoring any instructions from me, onto the boardwalk and towards the bird hide overlooking the tramline. We peered through our binoculars at the Herons and Little Egrets, but there was somebody else in there trying to do some serious birdwatching, so I thought I had better remove my noisy children as soon as possible. I checked the logbook and noticed that a juvenile Marsh Harrier had been spotted there earlier in the day. Back outside, I’m sure I spotted it perched on an overhead wire, but with the kids racing off in opposite directions, I had little chance to double check. We waved to passing trams and I tried to remember my marsh plant ID, as we followed the markers around the reedbed. We tried to guess what had made the footprints we found in the mud, Izzy guessing that they were made by owls, then, munching on banana chips to keep the hunger whinges away, we carried on, along the narrow path between the towering reeds, which rustled loudly in the breeze. Izzy was in her element, pretending she was in the jungle and singing a made up song.
Izzy then took it upon herself to rescue ‘drowning flies’ from a pool, using a feather to scoop the insects out. She also found the remains of a crab shell and insisted that she wanted to take it home to keep (luckily she lost it moments later).
Charging ahead again, she stung her legs on some Nettles. I found her some Dock leaves and she rubbed the stings, noting the little lumps that appeared.
Total wild time – 1 hour 30 mins
We had friends to visit, so walked up to the Hillhead Picnic Site in Colyton to eat our lunch al fresco. I had planned for the kids to play in the community woodland area afterwards, but it was sadly uninviting – the meadow had been mown, I think, so there were no flowers and few butterflies, plus there was lots of rubbish strewn about (made a mental note to go back soon and do a litter pick). We did spot some Peacock Butterflies resting on the bench and there were the usual grasshoppers jumping from under our feet, but we didn’t hang around for long and headed back to play in the garden, instead.
Total Wild Time – 1 hour 25 mins
We had fun making hanging clay decorations (in theory, for the Christmas Tree), using natural materials to make interesting impressions. Shells, leaves such as Rosemary, Bay and Sage, plus grass flowers, made good prints. We had less success with feathers and other flowers. This was a really relaxing activity, that Izzy and I enjoyed doing (E just played with the clay and a snail I made for him) and the time we spent doing it was only limited by the amount of available clay we had.
We had heard that ‘the Mackerel were in’ , so later in the evening, we took a picnic dinner and a fishing rod to the beach to try our luck, but sadly caught nothing.
Total wild time – clay decorations – 35 mins, fishing – 1 hour 20 mins.
My mum and I took E and the dog out for a walk somewhere we hadn’t been in Colyton before. We walked through a lovely meadow at the top of Ridgway, then along Sand Pit Hill Lane, through a field of cows, past a hollow tree, then down through a very peaceful woodland, full of Enchanter’s Nightshade, Honeysuckle and Downy Birch, where E fell asleep.
We got back home just in time to leave again to pick up Izzy from Holiday Club. At the Playing Field, we made a map, did some sketches and explored the river bank.
Total wild time – Dog walk (E) – 1 hour 30 mins, Map-making etc. (E & Izzy) – 45 mins
We joined Izzy’s preschool for a sponsored walk along the river, through fields full of calves (and cow pats, much to E’s delight). The highlight was seeing a Heron from Chantry Bridge. We had an early lunch at Road Green picnic area and played in the playground. On the way home, we saw a Large White Butterfly laying eggs on somebody’s Nasturtiums.
Total wild time – 2 hours
We had friends to visit, so took them for a little walk around Colyton to Liddon’s Dairy Tea Room. There, we sat in the garden and ate ice-cream, whilst watching the bees on the Lavender. We checked out the Chickens, Guinea-pigs and Llamas, then headed home alongside the river, past a Heron perched in a tree.
Total wild time – 2 hours
Again, not wild at all, but Izzy walked 6.5km playing Pokemon Go with Daddy in Exeter, whilst E and I spent the morning in the garden.
Total wild time – About 2 hours