We had a rare sunny day recently, so we didn’t waste the opportunity of getting outside, and the children loved being able to take their coats off and play. With the sun on our faces we didn’t feel the slight cold in the air and enjoyed being outside without having to wear lots of layers of clothing.
It may not the best quality, or a posed shot but watching my daughter and her cousins use a fallen down tree across a stream a place to play, to push their boundaries and explore their risk was so special and I’m happy I was a part of it.
It didn’t cost any money or have an adult telling them what to do, it just took imagination, confidence and the element of fun!
The joy of being a child and the happiness of natural play.
My daughter and her friends found this giant up-rooted tree, while walking in the forest.
I didn’t want to reduce the size of the image, as I wanted to show the massive scale of the tree and its’ roots.
It certainly made me slightly awestruck, and happily amazed at the wonders of nature.
Once again, Mother Nature shows us how awesome she is, and puts our place in this world into perspective !!
Last Sunday, we had a beautiful sunny day. It was a joy to be outside, with some warmth on your face and not have to have a minimum of four layers of clothing on!
We decided to visit a local beach very near to our home.
Aberavon beach is a thirty minute drive away, and is a lovely long beach which we often use in work. With the nice weather, it seemed that everyone else had the same idea! The beach was full of people out splashing in the shallows, or digging for shells and enjoying the sunshine. We had a lovely long walk, enjoying the sunshine, climbing rocks, finding new shells for my daughters collection and making funny shapes in the sand with sticks. As we got back to the car, the day was so nice that we realised it was too nice to go home.
Luckily, about ten minutes away from Aberavon beach, is Porthcawl. This also is an amazing beach, which, in season, is a favourite with surfers and beachcombers alike. This is one of my favourite places as we use Coney beach a lot and, in summer, it turns into a traditional seaside beach, with fair ground rides, donkeys on the beach, ice cream stands and, of course, plenty of places to buy fish and chips.
As the tide was well out, we made our way to the rock pools. One of my daughters’ favourite things to do at the beach, is rockpooling. We scrambled over the rocks, carefully hunted through the seaweed (looking for crabs) and my daughter found lots of caves to explore and climb through.
I used the opportunity to practice some of my beach training, and we looked for different types of seaweed and animal life that live on the rocks. We photographed dog whelks, limpets, barnacles and anemones. I also showed my daughter how (and why) different seaweed can be found at different levels on the beach. It all depends on how much sea water they need to survive. We looked at toothed wrack, bladder wrack and green seaweed that looks a lot like lettuce! It’s a good way of introducing learning, within a fun and relaxed setting.
We visited two brilliant beaches in one day. They are beautiful, clean beaches with lots of activities to fill out our day. My little beach combing daughter even managed to sneak in a cone of chips and a hot chocolate !!
I think that’s why I love living in Wales. We are very lucky, as we have everything needed for outdoor adventures. The mountains, the sea and endless forests.
But, I also think that we all have outdoor adventures near to us, we just have to take the time to seek them out. I would love to hear about the Great Outdoors near to you… !!!
Its been a while since I have posted and I must admit I am really struggling with time on my blog at the moment. Currently I am desperately trying to finish my Level 3 in Forest School work, it’s been a huge task and lately I seem to typing away on the computer early in the morning and then grasping moments late at night when I come home from work, or some days I’m faced with a mountain of paperwork finishing an ecological impact mixed with holistic learning development. It’s slightly manic and I really cant wait to finish, a brilliant course but working full-time and being a mum makes any type of training hard!
Mix in being a part of the PTA for my daughters school, a Governor and also teaching Duke of Edinburgh one night a week and other things seem to be getting squashed to the back of the queue sadly.
Then I have the dilemma that I am an outdoor based blog. When the weekends come we try to get outside and make the most of our family time together. So does it make sense that my posts come when we have had family adventures and I really want to share a story?
It has aways been an aim of mine that we don’t get to involved with mobile phones, social media and computers, especially when its family time. Our summer was great this year as I made it a mission not to be the one behind the camera capturing every moment but missing the important ones. It worked and we had one of the most action packed adventurous holidays this year.
What I wanted to share is that I am still here, some weeks are more busy than others, we continue to have outdoor experiences and fun but like everything in life it’s about getting that balance. I know that when my Forest School training is over I have a lot more time to dedicate to my blog and do have a nice list of ideas that I would like to write about when I have more time.
My daughter enjoying her first surfing lesson!
I know that allowing children to take risks can be a scary thought.
Some people recoil in horror and run a mile when I explain that some element of risk for children is a good thing. In work, we spend a lot of time managing risk, and making sure that our activities are as safe as possible. It’s such a benefit to a child when they tentatively take a little risk, and the resulting confidence they gain from that experience is huge.
The element of outdoor risk, in our little family, is definitely increasing as my daughter is getting older, so I thought that an activity involving an introduction to fires would be a new and exciting experience for her.
While on holiday recently at Coombe Mill, we visited the beach at Polzeath.
It’s a beautiful beach with the most amazing panorama. There are wide open spaces for children to run and still be seen by parents. There are small cliffs and rock pools for exploring and, of course, little pools of sea water which are great for jumping in and splashing around.
We found an area that was sightly hidden and eroded into the rock face. It was really functional, as we were sheltered well out of the wind. I had brought a Kelly Kettle with me from work. The Kelly Kettle is a great way of introducing fires to children. You build the fire part on the bottom ‘bowl’. This keeps the fire small and contained.
Then, you put the main Kelly Kettle part on top of the fire. This becomes a kind of funnel. You put water into the outer “skin” or jacket and the flames send heat up through the middle of the Kettle. This heats up the water and, as the design acts like a chimney, one is able to keep putting little bits of wood directly into the fire bowl, to keep the fire going.
The interesting thing was that my daughter was, initially, very interested in learning about the fire. How it’s built, what was needed to keep it going and so-on but, rather than wanting to constantly “play” with the fire, she ending up being very aware and behaving very safely. She understood the dangers, kept her distance, didn’t put too much wood in the fire and, while waiting for the water to boil, became more interested in getting creative with bits of wood, string, cotton wool and the tub of vaseline we’d brought along to help initiate the fire!
We sat together, watching the smoke billowing lazily out from the top, and waiting for the water to boil so we could enjoy our hot chocolate on the beach.
So, when a it’s managed conscientiously, and explained simply and concisely, a little bit of risk has a great learning potential and confidence-building outcome for children. We had a lovely afternoon in a stunning environment, and our risky activity resulted in us both enjoying a delicious cup of steaming hot chocolate!