I cannot believe that is Week 2 of 30 Days Wild over already! The weeks are whizzing by so quickly. The kids have only 2 weeks left at school until the mayhem of 8 weeks of summer break commences (Yes, you heard me right…8 whole weeks – this fills me with a mixture of both dread and delight!).
Sadly, the weather here in Northern Ireland hasn’t been quite so tropical and glorious as it was for Week 1 of the 30-day challenge. However, that has not deterred my 3 boys, my husband and myself getting outdoors, being active and getting up close and personal with nature at every opportunity! I recently joked with a friend that I reckon my children would happily go live in the garden all year round as long as regular meals and snacks were delivered to their tent.
In our modern times it is evident that people are busier than ever. Despite the modern technologies that are supposed to simplify our lives and speed things up, when I look around people seem to be juggling a whole heap of stuff! There are so many demands on the modern person that finding time for some wild connection can indeed be a challenge. But it is totally possible to create some space in the daily routine for some wildness – even a few minutes spent outdoors on a daily basis can be of benefit in so many ways. Try it if you aren’t convinced!
This evening I got to spend some quality one-to-one time with my youngest son while his two big brothers were off filling their faces with sweets at a friend’s birthday party. It is a rare thing to get an entire evening with any of my kids so in a bid to make the most of it we packed up a little picnic and headed for the hills! It was a lovely bright evening for a leisurely dander around Cregagh Glen, holding hands, skipping and chatting about our week. We sampled a few wild edibles I had learned about during my forage walk with the lovely Clare the previous evening – my son’s face lit up in pure delight when he tasted the tartness of common sorrel! A taste sensation!
While I was at work today my husband, Trevor, took our 3 wildlings for an adrenaline-filled trail bike ride with an obligatory ‘stunt’ session. They whiled away a few hours roaming around off-road at Ormeau Park, following animal prints and generally getting muddy! They love these Father-Son times when I am at work, getting out and about exploring our own urban landscape which is filled with nature and wonderful things to investigate.
We spent an incredible day in the Mourne Mountains today on one of our family-friendly hikes. Five families joined us for a day-long expedition along the Trassey Track to Hare’s Gap and then along the Brandy Pad, where we were able to rest and enjoy the stunning views across to Slieve Bearnagh, Buzzard’s Roost and beyond. We even watched the incredible Mourne Mountain Rescue Team airlift an injured walker from Slieve Donard! The 5 families had a super day exploring in the mountains, picnicking at the Diamond Rocks, getting to know one another and we even cooled our tired feet with a dip in the river towards the end of our walk! An all-round wonderful day in the Mournes!
After work today we took to our own back garden to plant some cute wildflower butterfly cards made by the talented Sow Enchanted, which had kindly been gifted to us by Natural Parenting Ireland Magazine. These lovely little butterfly-shaped cards are made with Irish Wildflower seeds and recycled materials – we can’t wait for them to grow and blossom and hopefully attract lots of bees and butterflies to our garden!
Today we gathered some bits n bobs that were lying around our garden and used them to make some ‘wild print’ cards for friends and teachers. It was a whole lot of fun seeing what different patterns we could make using twigs, leaves, flowers and bark. Kids always love to get messy using paints and craft materials so this was definitely a winning activity, plus, the boys now have end of terms cards to give their teachers which they have lovingly made all by themselves – saving me buying a card wrapped in plastic from the supermarket so win-win!
Boo! The rain returned to Northern Ireland today! Just when we were getting used to the beautiful sunshine and warm days spent in the garden. Not to worry – the plants were probably relieved to get a drink and our poor kitty-cats were glad to emerge from their permanent 2-week shady spot under a tree! Being Northern Irish, we are well used to the rain so dark clouds and an impending downpour don’t stop us from having some outdoor fun in our day. After school we took a nice bike ride along the Connswater Community Greenway – pausing to explore ‘down in the hollow’ where Van Morrison used to play and famously sang about. There are lots of plants and wildlife on the Greenway to see and the regular ‘What’s growing on the Greenway’ feature is well worth checking out.
With Storm Hector having passed through overnight, the garden was strewn with leaves and branches and at one point during the night I did fear for the patio furniture. Thankfully, by the time the boys had cycled home from school, the winds had settled and they were able to take their pens and paper outdoors for an art session. The mission was to create some special ‘Happy Father’s Day’ posters for a surprise early Father’s Day dinner. My husband and I are heading off on a mini-adventure this weekend but we didn’t want to let the occasion pass without the boys letting their Daddy know just how truly special he is to them. They spent ages on their designs and made up songs and poems to put inside a card while I cooked dinner. It was a lovely way to spend the afternoon and avoid doing homework! Dad was over the moon with the boys’ creations and after we had eaten dinner, he took them all out for a cycle while I had the task of clearing up! FUN!
Last night while tidying up the garden I noticed we had a guest in our newly appointed bug hotel. He stayed the night, was given some sugar-water to help revitalise him as he looked a little weary, no doubt nearly blown to pieces by the windy weather. Poor thing! He is still enjoying a nap in our luxury accommodation and we hope he will soon buzz off to be with his friends!
Check out the Ulster Wildlife Website to find out more about some of the wonderfully wild events taking place in Northern Ireland. They include Barn Owl Surveys, a Moth Night and a Guided Marine Mammal Watch – lots to choose from!