It was a gorgeous, sunny morning, so E and I ate our lunch in the garden, noticing the buds growing on the apple trees and a pair of Jackdaws sliding down the thatched roof of the house opposite.
After school, we dragged a reluctant Izzy out to the beach for a dog walk. The waves were crashing against the pebbles, as we practised Parkrun, by jogging along the promenade. We took the steep steps up the cliff to walk back through the park, then kept Izzy happy by buying her a drink and a Kitkat in Coast cafe.
Total wild time – just over 1 hour
Izzy’s school went to the picnic site at Hillhead to celebrate (rather weirdly) the Queen’s birthday and 40 years since the opening of the community woodland. E and B joined us up there. The kids did a scavenger hunt and made a picture of their teacher’s face with their finds, then sat on a tarpaulin to eat cake.
Total wild time – 1 hour 15 mins
We took a Mendip Mule Open Top Bus to Beer, where we went swimming in the sea. On the cliffs, we listened to the singing Crickets and noticed a beautiful Common Blue Butterfly. Then, we took the bus to Lyme Regis and visited Town Mill. The bus was a brilliant way to see the countryside – we spotted loads of birds on the Axe Estuary, including a Cormorant and a Rabbit hopping through a field.
Later, we had a lovely dinner in my parents’ garden in the evening sunshine. We avoided the wasps nesting in their roof and had a close up sighting of a Buzzard, which dropped down into the grass as we passed.
Total wild time – about 6 hours
The grasshoppers were singing at Seaton Wetlands this morning, as E on his scuttle-bug raced Izzy on her bike, whilst B held/rode the scooter for interchangeable wheelie action. Apart from seeing plenty of waterbirds, we rescued a hairy caterpillar, which was crossing the path at top speed, saw an Emperor Dragonfly skimming a pond alive with Whirligig Beetles and B and I had a close-up view of a Swallow feeding three hungry mouths (the kids had almost vanished out of view though at this point so I had to scurry after them). There were also three fish blowing bubbles in the pond by Reed Base and then to top it off, two miniature ponies from Munchkins on a lead rope walk, which we were kindly allowed to stroke.
Back in the garden, I suddenly realised that the kerfuffle in the corner was the dog harrassing a baby House Sparrow. It was clearly unable to fly and so we scooped it up in our sweep net and popped it onto the porch roof, next to its nest, with a cardboard box for shelter.
Late afternoon, we headed to Seaton Beach to try out Izzy’s early birthday present – a body board. Conditions were far from ideal – the waves were very choppy, but we had fun playing in the foamy water. We had a quick visit to the playground and the labyrinth, then we had a takeaway burger from Flipside, whilst watching the ocean.
Total wild time – 1 hour at the wetlands, about 3 hours on the beach.
B woke Izzy at 1am to lie out in the hammock and watch the Perseid meteor shower, whilst I stayed in bed with E. It was a clear night and Izzy stayed awake long enough to spot half a dozen shooting stars. She told me all about it in great detail in the morning.
Later, we visited friends at their holiday cottage in Kilmington and had a picnic dinner in the garden, where there was a pond with Dragonflies and Water Boatmen. The kids stayed up way past their bedtime and were delighted to see the moon make an appearance. Jackdaws and Rooks flew home to roost overhead as the sky darkened and just as we were about to return home, we saw a bat.
Total wild time – 30 mins watching meteoroids (Izzy) and 3 hours having a picnic (Izzy and E).
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
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)
Our 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.
E and Izzy held hands and explored amongst the trees, tried the rope swing and found some cool bracket fungi on a dead tree.
Total wild time: roughly 1 hour (I forgot to check the clock!)
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
We ate our lunch at the picnic site off Hillhead in Colyton, then counted the number of plant species we could find in the meadow area of the community woodland. We reached 37 in about 10 minutes, including the lovely Yellow Rattle. Then, Izzy decided to draw some of the things we had seen and did a fab picture of a shield bug, a butterfly and a spider. I now somehow have to convince her to give my hand lens back….
Total Wild Time: 1 hour