It 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
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
Today’s nature craft did not go to plan. We attempted to make tea light holders by pressing colourful autumn leaves between 2 pieces of wax paper using an iron. The kids fought over who could use the iron (closely supervised, of course), but for some reason (possibly because this is the first time I have used the iron since I can’t remember when) only one section of the paper melted and stuck together, whilst the rest resolutely refused to do what it was supposed to do. Abandoning that idea, we instead tried to stick the leaves directly into the jam jars with a glue gun. This did not work as well as I would have liked at all. It was too difficult to get the leaves in the right place without covering my hand in hot glue. I think PVA would have worked much better, but by the time I had worked that out, it was too late. The end result was nowhere near as pretty as I had hoped, yet when we lit the tea lights, they actually didn’t look that bad and glowed quite nicely.
Total wild time – 50 mins
We 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.
Total wild time – 1 hour 35 mins
We had a great afternoon on East Cliff Beach, between Lyme Regis and Charmouth. We skipped down the 114 steps, past some sculptures, patches of Bristly Ox-tongue and a couple of Clouded Yellow Butterflies. There were some great rock pools to potter around in and we saw several crabs and little fishes. Izzy slipped rather dramatically on the green algae and ended up with her feet in the air. Undeterred, she continued to jump from rock to rock. We arrived at the beach at the same time as a load of students, who looked very busy with tape measures and clipboards. Skirting around them and the jagged bits of metal, which have apparently come from a tip exposed by the eroding cliffs, we found a boulder on which to unload our stuff. From there, we searched for fossils (yet again the best one, a tiny shell, was found by E), collected sea glass and paddled in the sea. I tried to make a picture of a dragon with the sea glass, but it was hijacked by Izzy, who turned it into a fish. We took a photo, before it was covered by the incoming tide, then we changed E’s soggy trousers and socks, before climbing the 114 steps back to the car park.
We had thought the kids would be worn out, but apparently not – Izzy serenaded us with Christmas songs all the way home.
Total wild time – 2 hours
We went to the playground with some friends, then to the adjacent green to pick up conkers from underneath the Horse-chestnuts. We noticed that the cases of conkers from one tree were spiky, whilst the cases from another tree were smooth. We also found some acorns and picked a few blackberries.
Back at home, Izzy made conker fairies with a cool-touch glue-gun.
Total wild time – about 1 hour
We met the animals on the farm of some friends and Izzy took their pony out for a spin in beautiful countryside. Then, we went to the Thelma Hulbert Gallery, where we made snakes out of beads made from Elder twigs. We all had a great time (especially B) using the saw to cut the beads, scraping the bark off and threading them onto pipe cleaners.
Total wild time – 4 hours
Our plans scuppered by a cancelled bus, we went instead into Lyme Regis and sat on the beach eating our lunch. We searched for stones with holes in and were shown how to blow into them to make a whistling sound.
We walked up through the scented gardens and woodland, then back at the car park, we rested in the shade, waiting for the daddies, who had gone for a sneaky beer or two at Cellar 59. When I investigated the stump the boys were bashing with sticks, I found it was covered in Dead Man’s Fingers fungus. There were also some lovely leaf and Sycamore helicopter skeletons lying around. We threw helicopters into the air and watched them spiral to the ground.
Back at home, the kids made a hanging garden decoration with the stones they’d collected, threaded onto twine. Then, the dog found a Frog, which we relocated to the log pile, out of its reach.
Total wild time – About 1 hour 30 mins