Friday, 24 May 2013

25 wild adventures...

Here are our top 25 'wild' adventures that we're planning to do this summer and even better most are FREE! 

1 - Camp Out

Summer is the perfect time to sleep under the stars, whether it's in your back garden or on a family holiday! Get out your tent and cook tea on an open fire. 

2 - Climb a Hill 
Climb to the top of the highest hill, how far can you see? Then run or roll back down again!

3 - Geocaching 
Technology and old fashioned treasure hunts meet. Use smartphones or GPS to locate hidden containers called "caches" hidden around the countryside.

4 - Canoe down a River
Canoe down river and get an otters eye view of the natural world. 

5 - Make Hedgerow Jam
In late summer pick blackberries, crab apples and elder berries from hedgerows and make into hedgerow jam with sugar. 

6 - Make a Pooter 
Discover insects up close by making a pooter from an old jam jar. 

7 - Go on a Bat Walk 
Warm clear nights are perfect for spotting bats - looking for bat watching events near you as experts will have detectors to help you identify the different bat species you may see. 

8 - Fossil Hunt 
Discover wildlife that lived 180 million years ago, by visiting local cliffs or quarries to look for fossils. 

9 - Track a Wild Animal 
Take advantage of rainy days by looking for animal footprints that have been made in the mud. Look in woodlands for deer slots, fox and badger prints to make plaster casts

10 - Hopper Hunt 
Lie in a nature reserve on a sunny day and listen for grasshoppers and crickets as they 'striate'. Can you see them jump between the tall wild grasses and flowers? 

11 - Look for Nibbled Nuts! 
Visit a woodland and look on the floor for nuts, by examining the marks you can tell what animal nibbled them, is it a mouse, squirrel or the elusive dormouse? 

12 - Play Pooh Sticks
There's nothing better than racing sticks along a meandering river, drop them from a bridge and cheer until yours wins! 

13 - Bushcraft Adventures
Have you ever wanted to learn how to light a fire, build a shelter or whittle a spoon? Look in local press for bushcraft events near you, if you've ever fancied yourself as the next Ray Mears or Bear Grylls! 

14 - Wild Photography
Whether you've a camera phone or an SLR then get snapping, make a nature journal of all the things you photograph over the summer. 

15 - Make Damper Bread 
Damper or Campfire bread is easy to make, you cook it by twisting pencil shaped bread around a green stick over a real fire, turning so it doesn't burn! 

16 - Perseid Meteor Shower 
From the 10th - 13th August you can watch the Perseid Meteors race across the night sky, one of the fastest and brightest meteor showers of the year. 

17 - Owl Pellets
Look for owl pellets under trees and roost sites. These are regurgitated by owls, who can't digest small mammal bones and fur. By gently teasing them apart using cocktail sticks or tweezers you can see what the owls last supper was! Expect to find mice, vole and shrew bones, maybe even mole or frog too! 

18 - Collect Tree Seeds to Plant 
Grow a forest of the future by collecting native tree seeds and planting them. To test of they're OK to plant, put them in water and if they sink they won't germinate, so plant the floaters! 

19 - Glow Worms 
After dusk look for glow worms these tiny insects glow like an LED torch and are easy to spot once your eyes become accustomed to the dark! 

20 - Rockpooling
If you are lucky enough to go to the seaside this summer, take a fishing net and bucket and see what you can discover in rockpools or try crabbing.

21 - Eat Peas Straight from the Pod!
Grow and eat your own peas straight from the garden you could always make a scarecrow too.

22 - Ride a Bike
Pack a picnic and ride your bike through country lanes.

23 - Wild Swim
Visit secret coves and quiet riverbanks and dip your toes into the chilly water. Find places near you.

24 - Make a Nature Diary
Fill it with pressed flowers, drawings and observations of all the naturey goodness you find.

25 - Lie in a Wild Flower Meadow
Lie in a wild flower meadow, close your eyes and listen to the grass swaying in the breeze, the bees hover from flower to flower and the sound of skylarks in the sky. 

Sunday, 19 May 2013


A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013

Stanley - big blue eyes and rosy red cheeks. Taken on a quick trip to Baileys Home & Garden in the cafe!

wild garlic...

We bought a really delicious wild garlic tear-and-share loaf this weekend. The wild garlic is so late this year and still flowering in the valleys near me so we're still picking handfuls to cook with.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

my first lomokino films...

I have just received my first lomokino films back from the developers! The top one was taken when we were staying in Cornwall last week and the children were excited to race to the beach with their boards. The film below, was taken a few months ago when we had snow. I obviously need a lot of practice with focussing and how quickly to turn the handle, which then determines the film speed - but despite their imperfections I am completely enchanted by the grainy nostalgic results. 

Saturday, 11 May 2013

muck and magic

For three years now I've been feeding my compost bins almost daily. They have taken the waste sawdust and manure from the chicken house, the contents of the vacuum cleaner, thousands of old tea bags and coffee grinds, vegetable and fruit peelings, all of our grass cuttings, the non shiny Christmas wrapping paper ripped into tiny pieces, nettles and comfrey leaves*, crushed egg shells and I sometimes add egg boxes or cardboard loo rolls broken up if the mixture is too wet. I have turned them a few times, if I'd turned them more often they'd have broken down more quickly but I've primarily turned them to deter rats from nesting.

The bins are warm to the touch in winter as the nitrogen releases from the rotting vegetation and the thousands of worms and mini-beasts work their magic to produce a sweet smelling, crumbly compost ready for the boys to plant vegetables in their raised-bed.

My compost bins were really cheap and bought from the local council when they were promoting composting a few years back, they're not pretty and resemble big black dalek's! You can get much more attractive versions if you want to spend more money. But tucked in a corner of the garden they do no harm, and it's estimated by composting I'm saving 40% of my household waste from going into landfill, which has go to be worthwhile. And if that wasn't enough for a clear conscience, making your own compost is helping the environment too, as most compost on sale is made with peat and peat bogs are one the UK's most threatened habitats.

Tomorrow if the sun shines we'll plant out the first of our plants we've grown from seed; courgette, pea and pumpkin.

*you can make organic liquid fertiliser from nettle and comfrey leaves too.


A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013

Alfie - Cool surf dude - stood up on his board at his first attempt! His energy just amazes me.
Ted - Loved playing with his friend on holiday in Cornwall.
Stanley - My baby took his first steps this week!

Such a busy time, the sunshine at the beginning of the week has really lifted our spirits and put freckles on our noses. I have a renewed energy to get lots of jobs done next week that I have been putting off for a long time, but don't hold me to anything!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Bank holiday beach huts!

Do you holiday with friends? We've just spent the most fab bank holiday weekend with friends in Cornwall. We never used to be keen to holiday with other families but it has huge benefits such as sharing the cost of the accommodation and holidaying with babysitters! The children love it too as they have playmates readily available for constant entertainment - games such as 'who can stand on the post the longest' (who knew how entertaining that could be?)

The golden rule of holidaying with friends is to find the right accommodation, as friendships can become strained when our noisy boys wake up at the crack of dawn! This weekend we stayed at Rockpools Beach Chalet, which had a double bedroom, bunk room and shower room upstairs and a double bedroom, bunk room and family bathroom downstairs, perfect for two families to have their own space. The large open plan lounge was perfect to relax in, with a huge TV and massive DVD collection and had 'fold back' doors for that Californian feel! Being open plan also meant that there was always someone on hand to watch the baby, who chose this weekend to take his first five steps! 

Outside there was an enclosed decking area which was a real sun trap and there was also a shower, meaning you could get wetsuits off easily without getting sand everywhere. We fired up the barbecue for a huge feast on Saturday evening, before watching the sunset on the front deck with a glass of wine in hand, which was supplied in the welcome pack along with milk, bread and local biscuits. There was also plenty of tea, coffee, sugar, oil, kitchen and toilet roll and washing up liquid, all the little details that made this holiday so family friendly. 

We pretended that we were cool surf dudes and borrowed wetsuits and bodyboards from the chalet. On Sunday, the boys had a family surfing lesson, with not one but two amazing surfing instructors Freddie and Jackamo (who resembled a young Keano Reeves). The boys (including Pete) listened to all the safety rules and then learnt how to balance on the board before practicing in the sea. Ted stayed in the very shallow waves as he's not a very confident swimmer, whilst Alfie went in up to his waist, the instructors high-fiving them and giving them so much encouragement. Ted gave up quite quickly after getting 'wiped-out' and sat with me on the beach, whilst Alfie went on to stand up on his first attempt, I couldn't believe it! Pete unfortunately didn't quite make the 92% stand up rate of the school, but took advantage of the additional hour and a half extra board and wetsuit hire to have another go the day after and absolutely loved it ~ I fear this may be the start of a mid-life crisis! 


Freddie entertained Alfie by balancing the board on a pile of sand so he could practice after getting wiped out!


One of my favourite things this weekend was discovering the Porthmeor Cafe in St. Ives, that sits right on the beach underneath the huge Tate St. Ives. The narrow streets away from the main drag are just enchanting and getting up early for breakfast meant that not only could we park in the beachside car park, we could take advantage of breakfasting in one of the cafe's ultra cool heated pods, with blankets to keep the early morning breeze off our legs. We ordered saffron toast, crab and scrambled eggs and croissants with nutella from a menu beautifully decorated with old newspaper stories of shipwrecks. 

You probably know by now how much I love beach huts, Rockpools is the third beach hut we've stayed in and it's by far the largest and most luxurious. It was wonderful to pretend for a few days that we lived there, right by the sea!

We stayed at Rockpools courtesy of Forever Cornwall, unique and eco-friendly self-catering holiday cottages in Cornwall and our surfing lesson was courtesy of Gwithian Surf Academy

Find more pictures here
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