Friday, February 28, 2014

Wild walks to school

Mornings in term time are hectic. I get up earlier and earlier in order to try and get out of the house on time, but always end up with the last minute rush to get to school. School is only a ten minute walk away, but with Harry it could take anything up to an hour if I let him!
Most mornings, the walk involves me quoting one of my favourite songs of the punk era "Hurry up Harry, c'mon", while Harry dawdles and stops to look at sticks, or disappear into holes in hedges.
This morning, however, I left a whole half hour earlier and let Harry follow his nose, so to speak.
I think kids are fascinated by the world around them. It doesn't take long for a sleepy five year old to fire up his imagination and enter a world of magic, danger and intrigue. Today I went with him and it was amazing.
"STOP!" Yelled Harry. "BLOW!"
I thought he had gone mad.
"BLOW! Like a dragon does!"
I breathed out and he squealed with excitement.
"You're a dragon like me! I can see you breathe smoke!"
The cold air made puffs of our hot breath and the adventure was underway. I was Purple Dragon and Harry was Red Dragon, due to the colour of our coats. Together we burnt tiny villages and towns, but stopped to watch a worm on the pavement.
"I think that's his head, and that end is his tail." Harry Red Dragon was completely absorbed, crouching over the worm as his school friends walked by.
"We must rescue it from the baddy worms and it might get squashed by feet too!"
He tried to pick it up, but wasn't too chuffed with the way it contorted in his fingers. Purple Dragon stepped in to put the worm on a patch of ground away from feet and baddies.

Next stop, the park. Purple and Red Dragon were amazed to see piles of twigs and branches blown down in the last storm.
"I am going to pick up that one myself" purred Red Dragon as he sauntered over to the largest, lichen covered branch. And he did.
When we got to school, Red Dragon told one of the mums about his adventure and when he told her about picking up the BIGGEST branch in the park, she replied "Wow Harry, you must be, like, one of the strongest boys in the world!"
That was the most perfect thing a relative stranger could say to my boy. I saw him swell with pride and a huge smile took over his entire face.
On the way home, Red Dragon found his giant branch and played with it some more, before finding a hiding place for it in the hedge.
"I hope it's there on Monday."

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Getting outdoors in 2014

Introducing little Katy!

Time has flown and I am now the proud parent of five year old Harry and 11 month old Katy. However, life is so hectic that we have had little time to get outside for adventures. As a result, Harry is fast becoming an indoor boy, often glued to the TV or computer for hours on end. How has this happened?!
I spend my working life campaigning to get more kids outdoors, I train teachers and youth group leaders on simple ways to spend more time out of the classroom, so I should be ashamed of myself, right? Well, it turns out that I am not alone. In order to pay the bills and afford the roof over our heads, my husband and I have two jobs each and often work over 100 hours a week. So, while I am out telling others to get out, my kids are waiting indoors until I get home.
Something has to change.
From now on, I will be blogging about my attempts to add more adventure into our lives and how that affects us as a family.
There will be a blend of professional with personal. Activity ideas and stories, places to go and links to good resources, all with a family feel.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

New year, new beginnings

What a start to 2013! I am about to launch "My Climbing Tree" as a new business. It's taken a lot of thought, but my simple aim is to connect communities to wildlife at a grassroots level.
This means I will be getting out the maps and discovering local allotments, school growing projects, Forest Schools and walking groups. Anyone who values their plot of greenspace can get involved...
Is there a way to link all of these spaces together? How do we turn small green plots into large, snaking and vibrant green splodges all over our towns and countryside?
I shall be running events, creating new projects and supporting existing ones: all with the aim of linking up and strengthening our fragmented communities, habitats and wildlife.
So if you would like to be involved this year, keep watching this space for details of upcoming events- some of which I promise will be unusual and an awful lot of fun! Here are a few clues- slugs, mud, chocolate, campfires, wild walks, barn owls, picnics and crafty much more.
I am based in Shropshire, UK so I am starting from where I know best. However, the more I talk to people, the more connections I find. I'm pretty sure that the "My Climbing Tree" network will soon spread far and wide.
I will also share some of my favourite places to go, inspiring people I meet, plus some great activities to get all ages outside exploring your local area.
Please share your experiences with me too. What do you and your family like doing? Tell me about the plants and animals near you, link your blog to mine and let's get talking!

Oh and I am due to have another baby in 5 weeks! Happy New Year!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

...Lower Wallop...

I'm in love with a farm. Last September I met the Roberts family who live at Lower Wallop. They have three hundred acres of organic food, semi-ancient woods, bats, barn owls and otters.
I haven't felt able to blog for a month, as I've been so busy exploring the farm and helping Angus and Mandy open their farm gates to the local community. Six months of planning led to an event called a BioBlitz. sponsored school children, families and professionals to take part in over 24 hours of continuous wildlife recording. Over 200 people, 16 different organisations and at last count over 300 species.
We're still recovering, but we're so proud of what we've achieved. We can't wait to do more and are already hoping to run another event later this year. Isn't it a great name for a farm too?

Peter keeping the kids happy with gruesome tales of bones.

Recording well into the night: the BioBlitz bat walk.