Growing up in West Wales (see THIS and THIS post for a more visual idea), I am no stranger to nature. The saying 'being at one with nature' was very much a description of me as a child. Since getting married and moving to more built up towns, my need for exploring nature has never left me. Each place we have lived, I have tried to find a place which gave me that same freedom to walk and explore unspoilt countryside. I have been lucky enough to find little pockets not too far away from our house each time we have moved. This love of nature is something I am desperate to instil into our children. I hope that they can derive the same pleasure from discovering nature the way I was able to as a child.
Today has been a very satisfying day. I my soul feels thoroughly nourished. After running out of time yesterday, I had promised the kids that today we would visit the old park and footpaths we used to live next to at our old house. I was determined not to break that promise this morning, setting off at 9am with a backpack of supplies and the boot of the car rammed with bikes and wellies.
On the way we picked up Mamgu who'd decided she'd love to come along for a bit of fresh air and time with the kiddies. After arriving at the park, I was delighted to see it was totally empty and the sun was shining. The early start had paid off!
I watched proudly as they zoomed up and down the BMX track confidently on their bikes, totally amazed at how grown up they now seemed.
We played on the hills and in the park for a good little while, where both Aniah and Zak's imaginations made us chuckle (we had to drive to an 'animal shop' where they sold toys and mermaids).
Then we took to the woods to begin our exploration and nature hunt. I'd given the children a sheet each with various pictures of things they could try and find while we were out (something we did over a year ago ).
It was brilliant watching them discover new plants, talking about what they could spot, what they recognised.
Nature is a parents best resource... there is no preparation involved, no clean up afterwards. You literally just let children 'be'. I could quite happily have stayed out there in the woods all day if it wasn't for the fact that the snacks I'd packed weren't enough to keep the hunger pangs away.
Moments like these make my heart sing. It's a bit like music for some people. It really speaks to their soul. Nature is something that 'speaks' to mine. I could visibly see the multiple aspects of learning that was happening throughout our little adventure. 'Why kids need Nature' is a really great article which has some really interesting nuggets of information.
Along our the journey there were several forks in the pathways. It was great fun letting the children choose which path we should take next.
I was a little sad to have to take the kids home, but after Aniah's grass cut (didn't know it could be so sharp!!) and Zak's more frequent requests for food I knew it was time.
Once Zak's belly had been satisfied, the afternoon evolved into an equally pleasant experience. Aniah's snail (carefully transported from our woodland walk)got given a royal treatment and overloaded with healthy veg to eat.
We then had a closer look at some of the plants we had collected along the way and had a go at identifying some of their names using the trusty internet (I really must invest in some decent nature books)/
Sadly the buttercup lost all its petals as Aniah decided the snail - now named Lexi, MUST have them for her bed.
We then made some nettle tea...
I couldn't resist giving the kids a home-made tent in the garden and reminiscing of days gone by where I used to make Indian tents with my brothers and sisters.
We had a moment where we thought Lexi had made a break for it, but thankfully found her in a box Aniah had been playing in.
She's now safely tucked up in bed next to her new friend. Sadly tomorrow I think I will have to break the news to Aniah that we can't keep her forever.