3rd August 2016 – Blackberrying

I managed to get out of the house on my own and join a Legacy to Landscape event, run in conjunction with The Species Recovery Trust, which involved a search for the rare plant Heath Lobelia. We visited a ‘wild’ garden in Shute, where there were about 80 plants growing in a lovely meadow, then searched a nearby field, but failed to find any more.

IMG_20160803_172335729When I got home, it was a struggle to get Izzy out of the door, but, as expected, she really enjoyed herself once out. Juggling both kids, plastic tubs and the dog was a bit of a mission, but we walked towards the Blackberry bushes found earlier in the week, noticing ant nests and a Hornet, as well as numerous butterflies, including plenty of Red Admirals. The Blackberry bushes were growing over a wall and are, I suspect, an escaped garden cultivar, which explains why they are fruiting now, whilst most other bushes still have unripe green fruits. The kids picked a small punnet each and managed to not eat all of them by the time we got home, where I rustled up some Blackberry muffins.

Total wild time – 1 hour

31st July 2016 – A pretty perfect day

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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!

IMG_20160731_094129477After 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 gardenIMG_20160731_094254888

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..

IMG_20160731_160821743Total wild time – All day! (about 8 hours)

30th June 2016 – Flying a kite

DSC_0431We 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. DSC_0428Once 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.DSC_0419DSC_0418

Total Wild Time: 2 hours 10 min

29th June 2016 – Making a worm hotel

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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

28th June 2016 – Flower potions and scavenger hunt

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:IMG_20160628_110324954

  • 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)

25th June 2016 – Another day, another picnic

DSC_0384Our 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.DSC_0392

E and Izzy held hands and explored amongst the trees, tried the rope swing and found some cool bracket fungi on a dead tree.

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Total wild time: roughly 1 hour (I forgot to check the clock!)

24th June 2016 – Picnic tea on the beach

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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

23rd June 2016 – Walking the dog

IMG_20160623_134309246Izzy 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

20th June 2016 – Chasing grasshoppers

IMG_20160620_160021468For the first time in days, the sun was warm on our backs as we hiked up the hill with a sweep net and ID book. Once in the meadow, we quickly had a net-full of interesting insects – tons of little brown Weevil-type things (Apion beetles maybe?), a red and black Rove Beetle, which Izzy loved because it moved so quickly, tiny Harvestmen, some green Capsid Bugs, a Common Froghopper, hundreds of tiny flies… but then, I caught a couple of grasshoppers and suddenly, Izzy wasn’t interested in catching anything else. E was getting hungry and grouchy, but Izzy insisted that we had to wait for her to catch one. She was very happy when she eventually caught four in one sweep of the net.

Total wild time: 1 hour 20 mins