Wild Family Fun

Tales of living, working and enjoying life in the outdoors


My Sunday Photo

bristollocks

 

I love this photo.

While on a day out in Bristol we wandered across a bridge and discovered these beautiful love locks dotted along the bridge. I can remember seeing them in Paris and adored the idea.I love that the idea is catching on here.

Hopefully they might find their way to Cardiff soon!

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Sticks and stones might well break bones, but shells & driftwood excite me!

Every time we come back from one of our outdoor adventures, my husband and I find that our coat pockets and bags are filled with interesting stones, shells and unusual sticks that my daughter has collected. It happens every time, and our garden is littered with memento’s from our beach and forest visits. I hate throwing some of them away, as it reminds me of certain days out and the fact that my daughter spends hours placing them around the garden. It really is special having them on display.

I have been thinking of how I can display them properly without them all looking like just another pile of shells on the shelf. The first idea came while I was wandering around one of our local bargain stores near our home. I spied a lovely clear glass vase which seemed like a bargain at £3.50 and so I snapped it up. When I got home, I filled the vase up with all the variety of shells from our beach visit, and had a very colourful and personal memory display…..

 shells

Next were the pebbles. My daughter had a friend over to our house, and with some craft googly eyes, felt pens and glue, they created their very own garden rockery stones, which they decided will protect the animals who visit our garden. Again, very simple, but a good recycle activity that was quick, and ultimately brightened up our garden.

pebbles

Our biggest challenge is the driftwood. Collecting unusual driftwood is one of my husband’s hobbies. We love finding pieces while at the beach, then deciding what could be created, and how we get to achieve it. Our shed is full of random bits of driftwood, in all shapes and sizes, ready for creation.

driftwood2

Our first project is turning a big piece of driftwood into a large, free-standing photo frame. A visit to a local timber yard meant that we could shave the back of the driftwood flat, so that it would sit against the wall more securely and, visually, would look a lot smoother and cleaner. The next job will be sanding down the wood and, if the weather stays like this, I will be sitting in the garden , enjoying the sun and getting creative. I’m really excited with this project and can’t wait to see the results.

driftwood

Watch this space……

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Learning for Life



Mini Creations

A Wet Weekend With the Duke of Edinburgh.

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Duke of Edinburgh season is now in full swing.

Many young people are taking part in practice camping weekends, during which they’ll gain valuable skills and knowledge ready for assessment in a few months.

I’m lucky enough to be part of the teaching staff for all three levels of the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, (Bronze, Silver and Gold). It’s a long-term commitment for the young people involved, and not just with outdoor skills alone. They also have to complete a personal skill section, a volunteer section and a physical section, all over different periods of time dependant upon whatever level they may be at. This, for many young people, is in addition to school work and other extra-curricula activities.

The Duke of Edinburgh Award is available to all young people and I have been able to work with many young people, from a very diverse range of backgrounds and abilities. I think it’s a very positive and wonderful experience for any young person to be able to take part in.

These thoughts were confirmed, recently, as we had the wettest and utterly miserable weekend, while camping in preparation for a Bronze expedition. All through the week leading up to the “off”, I kept checking the weather reports for the Gower area. I kept praying and hoping that those dark clouds full of rain would disappear and we would see those lovely weather-chart images of bright sunshine, or a half-hidden sun, or maybe just a white cloud………..?

…. but they never changed.

When we all gathered, very early on the Saturday morning, the weather was OK with a clear sky. We held our breaths and didn’t mention the R**N word, so as not to bring a curse upon ourselves. However, as we started to pack the mini-buses, the rain came. It didn’t spot, or pitter-patter at first…… it just arrived in force, and that was pretty much that, until Sunday morning.

It either rained in heavy downpours, or continuous fine-mist, or somewher in between the two, (which was also very cold), so it was impossible to get dry, be dry or stay dry, all day.

I was lucky. I only had to walk to three checkpoints, and so I was only in and out of the periodically, rain for a couple of hours. However, my good deed for the day came when I offered up my waterproof trousers to a young girl who’d forgotten to pack any waterproofs for herself. I trudged along behind the group with my trousers getting wetter and wetter. By the time I was able to get some respite back inside the mini-bus, my trousers were stuck to me like a second skin and, worst of all…. wet pants are definately no welcome guest, in this situation!

Once inside the welcome cocoon of the mini-bus, I began the planned ride around the Gower, going to each of my allocated checkpoints. It’s a case of ensuring that each of the small groups walks through, and is aware of where they are and where they have to head for next.

As I sat, quietly waiting for each group to pass, looking at the dark, rain-heavy clouds just dumping gallons of water over all out in the open, I realised that this is part of the reason why I love working within the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme.

All the young people passed by me, completely soaked through to the skin. Wet clothes, wet hair, wet feet. They’d eaten a cold, wet lunch while nestled in hedges to keep out of the rain and, all the while, made sure they’d used their route card and map to ensure that they stayed on the right track. Each one of them stopped and talked to me and all the other staff. They adjusted rucksacks for each other, and asked “How long left”, but they never stopped. They could have shouted, “That’s it, I’m done”, and climbed en masse into a nice, dry, warm mini-bus at any of the checkpoints.

But they just kept on walking.

Eventually, they arrived at the campsite and put up their tents in the rain. There was still no moaning. The rain finally eased off, and so we advised the young people to cook their dinner on their little stoves while the weather held off a bit for them. The comforting aromas of pasta with a variety of sauces filled the air, with one small group even taking the adventurous leap to cooking thin slivers of steak, then rammed into baps with salad and relish.

After a tidy-up, all these young people sat around with full tummies and the night to themselves. A slippery game of football took place, and then the staff wandered around the site, checking on the young candidates and making sure that all kit and people were safely inside tents, protected from the stormy night ahead.

These young people had achieved so much in one very wet day, still smiled, put up a shelter for the night, cooked food and also had the energy to play a game of football in the rain…….. I really don’t know where they get the enthusiasm and energy from.

We often hear about anti-social behaviour in young adults. We hear about hostile reactions to difficult circumstances – either by choice, design or, sometimes, simply by no fault of their own.

Without wanting to be too generally judgmental, what I do know is that many young adults in todays’ society would run to the comfort of a car, or a warm bed, and ring the local take-away for their dinner, on a wet week-end like this one.

Some young people, but not all. For me, I feel very lucky and privileged to be able to spend my time with some of those very strong-spirited, focused young people, who completed a difficult camping expedition under extreme weather conditions.

I don’t have a magic solution, I don’t know what the answer is, and I can’t save the world (though I wish I could). The young people that I meet through the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme have taught me that “size really doesn’t matter”, and the louder you shout doesn’t make you any tougher. These young adults find determination to succeed, and strength from within……….

……then they put that spirit into something good.

 

My Sunday Photo

boat1

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That’s Nature

It can be messy, muddy, wet, hot, uncomfortable, funny and enjoyable, in equal measure. It can make you happy and take certain risks that you would never have otherwise imagined. It’s educational, and a greatly diverse learning tool for all ages. You can end up with splinters and cuts, being bitten and stung and, if you’re anything like my family, you will always end the day with dirty clothes.

That’s nature…

…and it’s a wonderful thing.

Throughout my time presenting my experiences via this blog, I have seen how superbly rewarding it is to spend time outdoors together, as a family. I believe that outdoor activities, (from a simple walk through a woodland, up to an exciting wild-water gorge walk), gets everyone involved by interacting with the surroundings and each other, and benefits children and adults alike.

The benefits even include the recalling of fond memories while sorting through some old photographs…….. I immediately remembered us all foraging for mussels and spider crabs in St Davids, Pembrokshire, or taking part in the early morning animal-feeding run at Coombe Mill family farm in Cornwall, and watching my husband, (from the realtive shelter of our tent), while he cooked spaghetti Bolognese in the rain, with only a black bag as his rain coat !

However, in current life and times, there are always going to be barriers creating difficulties in spending time outdoors. Most folks work or have child-care responsilbilites and, after a day filled with commutes or rushing around dropping children to school, making sure household chores are done, (and so much more besides), it’s no wonder that a collapse into bed, or the sofa, remote control in hand, is sometimes all the exercise one can muster.

I’ll tell you……. as much as I love the outdoors, come Friday night, after a busy week, there’s nothing better than a sofa-night, with a movie and a bowl of treats !

But, as the days get longer, and with the threat of warmer weather, we’ve started to plan family camping holidays and activities. Another goal for this year is to walk to the top of Pen-y-Fan, Brecon.

As my daughter gets older, our outdoor adventures are getting more and more challenging. It’s great for our little family to plan ever more adventures and create more memories.

Daily life will always get in the way, and the British weather will always happen, (good and bad), but it won’t stop us from getting out and having our adventures.

I guess that’s just our nature !

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Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall



 

 

My Sunday Photo

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Llanthony Priory in the Brecon Beacons. This is part of a campsite we use for Duke of Edinburgh, an amazing place and you get to wander around the ruins.

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