3rd April 2017 – Birdsong at Holyford Woods

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My mum took Izzy. E, Bramble and I for a walk at Holyford Woods. The kids enjoyed running down the hill from Seaton Down, but once we got to the woods, Izzy started whingeing because she didn’t want to wear or carry her coat. This continued for some time, until she eventually carried it with her hood on her head. E copied her. Once the wailing had stopped, we were able to appreciate the amazing sound of birdsong that rang through the woods. We had a guess at how many birds we could hear – Izzy suggested 5. I told her that I thought it must be much more than that.

We noted a single Bluebell in flower, but the woods will be a sea of blue in a few weeks. We walked past the pond and through some very sticky mud. My mum regretted not putting her wellies on and I had to carry E over the worst. E picked up a stick and Izzy decided to make a fairy boat, which involved a lot more whining, because she couldn’t find a stiff enough leaf to use as a hull. I found some Wood Sorrel and we snacked on the leaves. Izzy was interested to know what else we could eat, so we tasted some Stitchwort and Gorse, too. We gave the Wild Garlic a miss, though. Looping back around on the higher path, we found some muddy puddles full of tadpoles. Both kids were fascinated, but I had to stop E sucking the stick that he was poking in the water. We walked on, but E wandered back towards the puddle, where he got stuck in mud up to his knees and had to be rescued. I then had to carry him back up the hill to the car.

I gave my mum carrot cake when we got home – I think she felt she had earned it! Later, we logged our Bluebell sighting on The Woodland Trust website.

Total wild time – 1 hour 40 minsIMG_0313

3rd November 2016 – Peanut hearts

IMG_20161103_172053835It began to spit as we waited in the playground to pick up Izzy, so we danced home in the rain and put a jug out in the garden to monitor how much was falling.

We roasted some foraged chestnuts on the woodburner and then Izzy and I made peanut heart bird feeders, which is an idea from ‘My first nature activity book’, published by Cicokidz. We went out into the wet, dark garden to hang them on the bird table and found some snails on the plant pots, a big spider on our house wall and some moths, which landed on the door.

Total wild time – about 45 mins

22nd September 2016 – Musbury Castle

IMG_20160922_160219999_HDRWalking to Musbury Castle was the perfect way to spend the afternoon this autumn equinox. We saw a Mistle Thrush and a couple of Wrens amongst the scrub, plus some Red Admirals and Speckled Woods. E enjoyed poking a stick in cow pats and Izzy pretended to be a superhero, with her cardigan tied around her shoulders. The panoramic views from the top were fantastic and unlike the previous time we visited, nobody fell in the nettles, so that was a bonus. We snacked on Blackberries and picked haws, which are now turning slowly into fruit leather in the dehydrator.

Total wild time – 1 hour 55 mins

21st September 2016 – Bark rubbing

IMG_20160921_154624149IMG_20160921_152446031We slogged up the hill to Hillhead Picnic Site and battled against the wind to do some bark rubbings. We noticed the different patterns on the trunks of Beech, Cherry, Sycamore, White Poplar, Ash, Oak and Whitebeam trees. Izzy wanted to look through her binoculars and E wanted to run circles around the trees, then they both wanted to go into the community woodland for a look around. There, we found a Dark Bush Cricket and loads of apples ripe for picking, so we did a bit of foraging. I also picked some Rowan berries to make Rowan vodka. Back at home, I found a Shield Bug amongst the berries, which we released outdoors. Later, we cut up our bark rubbing patterns to create a collage.u1j2h

Total wild time – 1 hour 35 mins

2nd September 2016 – Corvids

We took the dog for a walk to the playground and as the kids played, a huge mixed flock of corvids flew over us in the grey sky. Afterwards, Izzy wanted to collect more conkers, so whilst she searched for those, I picked a few blackberries.

Update – All these blackberries were put to good use a few days later to make an apple and blackberry frozen layer cake

Total wild time – 25 mins

1st September 2016 – Colaton Raleigh Common

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It was lovely and peaceful up on Colaton Raleigh Common, with just the sound of Swallows skimming the heath. The Gorse and Heather were in full bloom and there were loads of Blackberries ripe for the picking, which proved a wonderful incentive for walking. E decided to pick up stones from the track and dig with his hands in the dirt. When Izzy saw how filthy he was, she joined in, so they were both in dire need of a bath by the end of the walk. An unexpected view of the sea was a bonus.

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Total wild time – 1 hour 25 mins

 

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

1st August 2016 – Rainy days

A broken handbrake scuppered our plans today, so we went for a walk in the rain with visiting friends. There were Grey Wagtails on the river, but the ducks were all sheltering under an overhanging Willow tree. Growing on a hedgerow, we found a few huge blackberries to snack on, which kept morale up for a few minutes.

Total wild time – About 45 mins

14th June 2016 – Rain bugs

Izzy wanted to go bug hunting in the garden again today, so I let her and E loose with collecting jars and magnifying glasses. The highlight of the search was a Seven-spot Ladybird. The hunt turned into a rain dance and then descended into fighting over the pink, unicorn-adorned umbrella.

Later, whilst walking the dog, I picked a few elderflowers (not ideal weather for it, but hey ho) and for pudding we had Elderflower Scotch Pancakes (from a recipe in the Forager’s Kitchen), which B, E and I loved, but Izzy didn’t like (but then, she doesn’t really like any food unless it is in ice-cream form).

Total wild time: 1 hour 15 mins

7th June 2016 – Foraging for Elderflowers

IMG_20160608_142556285We didn’t have a particularly successful wild time today – we foraged for Elderflowers with the intention of making sorbet for pudding (from the recipe in The Hedgerow Handbook), but the recipe involved boiling sugar syrup, so the kids couldn’t really get involved in making it. Then the the ice-cream maker didn’t work properly and several hours later, the sorbet is still in liquid form. The kids weren’t happy that they had to go to bed without it. Hopefully, I will be able to provide an update tomorrow and report that it was delicious….

Total Wild Time: 45 minutes

Update! The sorbet did freeze eventually, but the kids didn’t like it anyway. It is a strong flavour and a bit overpowering to be honest – better used diluted with water to make ice-cold cordial!