Advent-ure calendar

With so much of the run up to Christmas revolving around all things material, and chocolate, it’s always lovely to find ways to celebrate in a more natural manner. I came across the idea of an ADVENT-ure Calendar a few years ago and have enjoyed sharing it with those I love, both young and old, each year since. Living alongside three outdoor loving children, I was only delighted to start a new tradition with them on this, our first Christmas season together. For each day of Advent they will complete a new adventure, from as simple as “give a tree a hug”, or “jump in puddles” to as challenging as “whittle something from wood”. These kids are fairly adept with knives, so there is no great challenge in that for them, but they do love getting my knives out, so any excuse is always welcome. You can, however, adapt the adventures to suit your comfort levels and the abilities of those taking part. Last night was the full moon. It still looks pretty full, so to start us off, tonight we’ll be howling at the moon.

Some ideas include: make a stick creature, find two mini beasts, create a bug hotel, sit outside and note all the sounds you hear, find pictures in the clouds, count the stars, find something that makes you smile, find somewhere peaceful and sit and relax for two minutes, create a picture using leaves. Adapt and create your own, thinking of the space around you, and enjoy connecting to nature right on your doorstep.

Follow us on http://www.instagram.com/wonderingwild.ie or on http://www.facebook.com/wonderingwild.ie for updates every few days as to how we are getting on. Advent may have started today, but it’s never too late to get started. Keep it simple and joyful and let the nature connection begin.

Nature Play, the antidote to all

Living without TV or radio, and while not quite as bad as dial-up, but I do have to plug my laptop in to a LAN cable each time I want to access the internet, it is always a very conscious decision for me to connect to the outside world.  Yesterday, I must have been one of the few to be totally unaware of the Taoiseach’s announcement until late afternoon, by which stage the supermarket shelves were cleared of fresh and tinned foods, and every form of social media was hopping with news of school closures and cancelled events. Read More

Rainy days & water play

The recent rainy weather has many despairing, and I can remember well from my days as a primary teacher how challenging it was for all of us on the days the children didn’t get to go outside at break times.  The problem in those days was that many children didn’t have appropriate clothes for playing outside in the rain.  Working since with schools where outdoor and nature play are central to their curriculum and their ethos, the rain never stops us from getting outside.  Equally if you are at home and looking at the rain through the window, most likely you have coats and wellies that you can wear, or at worst, if you get wet, you can always change into fresh dry clothes later. Read More

Family Tree

I recently spent a few days with my father, who lives next door to the house where I grew up.  My brother and his family are living in the old family home now.  Often when children grow up and parents move there can be a grief at losing the place where so many childhood memories were forged.  I am incredibly lucky in that I am forging new memories with my niece and nephews while reliving memories past, in the house, garden and fields where I grew up.   Read More

Yarrow

I live in the countryside. I am surrounded by nature. In summer I share this space with midges. Because of them, I also share this space with bats and swallows. I am just one of many creatures that calls this place home.

Luckily the midges don’t bother me too much. But some days they do. Today I collected yarrow from the roadside near my home. I chopped it and covered it in vodka. I’ve put it at the back of the cupboard, where I’ll leave it for 8 weeks. Then I will strain it, and transfer it to a bottle with a spray head. I’ll have a tincture to protect myself and visitors from midges all next summer.

In folklore, yarrow is known for protection, especially when going on a journey. Grateful for the many gifts that nature provides.

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Sea Glass

Now that the summer has come to an end and many families are back to the routine of school and work, this time of transition can be difficult for everyone, especially as many are returning to a very unfamiliar environment.  With lots of new protocols in place in schools, added to the fact that children have been out of school for six months, it is more important now than ever to nurture ourselves, to spend time together outdoors, reaping the calming benefits of being in nature.  

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Sound Maps

I recently spent a few days with my six nieces and nephews, aged 14 down to 5 and a half.  We were all at my mum’s old family home, and as usual, spent most of every day outside, in the sea, on the beach and in the garden.

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Colour Palettes

For those of us in Ireland, our worlds have just gotten a whole lot bigger, we can now explore anywhere within our county, and up to 20km from home if we cross a county border.  I am incredibly lucky to have both lake and woodland on my doorstep, but for many people this may be the first time that they can access wild and natural habitats in quite some time.  For those who may not have been to a favourite woodland or natural space in some months, the colours and lush growth might come as a surprise, as though spring passed you by and you find yourself waking up in summer. Read More

Happy Earth Day

Wednesday was Earth Day, fifty years of celebrating the earth.  Started by Senator Gaylord Nelson who was concerned about the deteriorating environment in the United States, it is now marked globally and said to be the largest secular observation in the world.  There is no doubt that the conversation around our use of the earth and its resources has become a mainstream topic in the past few years, and this celebration of the earth is a fantastic way to further that conversation.  However, it is also a lovely opportunity to just celebrate the planet we call home and the many wonders it beholds.  The fact that my mother shares this date with the earth means a lot to me.  I love that we celebrate the earth as we also celebrate her life and the memory of her, as she was always very connected to nature and indeed, it is from her that I learned my love of all things natural.     Read More

Memento

I came home recently to find that the enterprising boys next door had been hard at work chopping my bigger logs down to size for my stove. While I was very grateful, their price was a little steep!! I haggled them down to a cup of hot chocolate each the next morning. While enjoying that outside in the sunshine we decided to head off for a cycle together, Read More

Let Them Play

“Play is the work of the child.” Maria Montessori

I am very aware that many parents are overwhelmed by trying to homeschool, while also working from home. There is a lot of fear and anxiety in our lives at the moment, and adding the stress of daily battles over school work is surely only worsening it. There are many ways to learn, and in my opinion, filling in endless worksheets is the least effective way. Read More

Dandelion Fritters

We’ve been blessed with the most glorious weather recently, and given that we are being asked to stay at home, or within 2 kilometres of home, it has been a wonderful gift to help us enjoy our outdoor spaces with ease.  I love being outdoors no matter the weather, but there is a certain joy in not having to put on multiple layers before venturing outside.  For those who may not tend to spend much time outdoors, it definitely makes the option of time in the garden, or other open space, much more attractive.  Read More

Fire Cider

The full moon will rise tonight, a super one this time, meaning it will appear closer and bigger than usual, and often has a bright orange/pink hue, the perfect time to make fire cider. Read More