We had a bit of a wobble when we arrived at Trill Farm this evening – had we accidentally crashed a private party? There weren’t many people there, but we soon realised that that helped create the intimate atmosphere of their Autumn Celebration. We decorated Willow Crowns with Spindle, Guelder-rose and Rowan berries, Cherry leaves and conifer twigs, then carved a pumpkin and laughed as the kids tried apple bobbing.
We had game stew and the best veggie curry I’ve ever tasted, washed down with mulled cider and apple juice, in a barn decorated with fairy lights and candles. The kids wolfed down the food and just as we were about to fork out for more, the toffee apples appeared, so we bought them one each and then stood around the bonfire. Izzy managed to stick her apple to her head and I had to remove quite a lot of her hair from the sugar, but that didn’t seem to put her off.
After a quick game of table tennis, we called it a night, only managing to part E from his toffee apple at bath time.
Total wild time – 1 hour 40 mins
The car park at Seaton Wetlands was full and a couple of cars had become stuck in the mud using the overflow car park, so we parked in the cemetery, the kids got straight on their bikes and were off towards Reed Base, where we joined a very popular event making halloween crafts. First, we made lanterns using autumn leaves, ironed between wax paper. Unlike our previous attempt to make tea light holders in a similar way, these actually worked and looked great. Next, we made hobgoblins (Izzy made a princess goblin, obviously) using clay on a stick and natural materials. E was kind enough to let me make his! We also made some creatures out of Teasel, Sycamore seeds, pinecones etc. At this point, E started to lose the plot because he was hungry and would not cooperate when I tried to take a photo of him with his creations. He was happy to get back on his bike and head home for lunch.
After his nap, I took E and the dog out for a walk by the river. E was delighted to find a huge stick, which he rode like a horse, used like a crane and then to ‘cut’ the grass like a combine harvester. We had to drag the stick all the way home, of course.
Total wild time – about 1 hour 30 mins
The kids didn’t get any wild time today, I’m afraid, as I walked from Axmouth to Lyme Regis on the South West Coast Path, just with my mum and my dog. It was a walk of 7.5 miles, up and down numerous steps through a nature reserve known as The Undercliffs, a jungly woodland on an area that has been subject to numerous landslips. We didn’t see much wildlife, or many people, come to that, but we did notice a Buzzard being mobbed by crows, overhead and a Red Admiral that settled in front of us as we ate our lunch.
Total wild time – me and my mum – 3 hours 40 mins. Kids – 0 mins
We drove through the fog to Poole and caught the ferry across to Brownsea Island – somewhere I have wanted to go since I was a child. Once there, we paid the extra to enter the Dorset Wildlife Trust nature reserve (bit of a gip after paying for the ferry and the island, but hey ho). We followed the board walks to the hides looking out over the lagoon, where hundreds of waders and waterbirds gathered. We saw Avocets and Oystercatchers, Bar-tailed Godwits and Shelduck, but small children and bird hides don’t mix very well, so we didn’t stay for long. We ate our picnic by the Wildlife Trust villa, where happy chickens pecked around and Blue Tits, Greenfinches and Coal Tits visited the bird feeders. We checked out the fish tank containing Common Blennies and other local sea-life. Then, we continued on the trail into the reedbed, where 2 Herons hunched like little old men. Later on, in the woods, a Sika Deer was pottering about, totally unafraid of the crowd of people watching it.
Back on the main part of the island, we finally saw a Red Squirrel, burying chestnuts in the ground and under logs. We walked/dragged the kids past the Peacocks and a plague of Ladybirds to the natural playground, which was pretty cool. We threw pinecones at log targets, then continued to the area of heath. We paused to climb some huge trees and kick Sweet Chestnut leaves at the Horse Field, then walked down to the little beach. We sat on a rock to rest and searched for shells, then noticed the huge, partially buried wasp nest right behind us.
We climbed back up the steps to catch the ferry and drove back home into more fog and a beautiful sunset.
Total wild time – 7 hours
On this very wet day, the nearest we got to the wild was a mad dash between the car and the swimming pool and supermarket in the rain.
Total wild time – 1 hour
We started the morning by admiring the sunrise, but between cooking and DIY and everything else, we didn’t manage anything wild today. I did take the kids to the playground with their bikes, so at least they were outdoors for an hour. E was very impressed by the boy on a scooter riding the ramps and Izzy did well for her second time without stabilisers. We found some lovely leaves of different colours and shapes around the swings and slides.
Total wild time – 1 hour
We had a lovely outdoorsy kind of a day today, starting with a pony ride on Cracker and ending with time on the allotment, sowing our packet of free GrowWild wildflower seeds, digging up weeds, falling in nettles (Izzy) and picking flowers from Grandmum’s garden to brighten up our house.
Total wild time – 2 hours 40 mins
Whilst Izzy was at school and E was asleep, minded by B, I went to explore some new footpaths with the dog. I returned home hot and sweaty and stressed, after my dog was nipped by a farm dog, then vanished into the distance chasing pheasants, then, when she eventually returned, we were both chased by cows.
Later, E and I pottered around the garden looking at spiders and their webs and I saw the results of Izzy’s school welly walk when I went to collect her – they had collected natural objects, then used watercolours to match the colours they had found.
Total wild time: E – 15 mins, Izzy – 1 hour
It was pretty cold today, so my family took some convincing that it would be fine to eat fish and chips on the beach. Eventually, they agreed, with the caveat that we would retreat indoors after 5 minutes if it became uncomfortably cold. In the end, of course, the chips kept us warm enough to eat sitting on the beach wall overlooking Lyme Regis harbour. Afterwards, we ran down to the sea and within seconds, both children had wet feet. We noticed the Limpets and Barnacles stuck to the beach defence wall and the kids enjoyed climbing over the sandcastles and down into the holes left behind by other children.
On the drive home, the sun set in a stunning orange sky and a small murmuration of Starlings swooped over the marshes.
Total wild time – 1 hour
There was a chill in the air this morning, as well as a large number of noisy seagulls. I took E and the dog for a walk along the lanes around Colyton. We turned around when the way was blocked by a tractor flailing the hedgerows and parked the buggy by the gate to a field. We meandered our way along the river bank and paddled in the water in our wellies. A pair of Mallards was swimming and a Yellow Wagtail flew by. At Ham Bridge, we turned around and went home.
Total wild time – 1 hour 20 mins