Signs of Spring

Today is Imbolc day, and so we left the house with a mission: to find signs of Spring.

Sure enough we found some, but also made me realize if we do decide to stay in Portugal or somewhere else, this might just be the last time we experience Spring this way! And of course, when you live in a place for ten years, raised a family and connected with the natural world in a deep way, there is something magical, definite and sad about it!

After the park we went to the shops, hail stones fell, my hands were freezing from being exposed to the elements, the wind was bitterly; and at that moment I didn’t feel that sad anymore… But that is Scotland.

 

First shoots of Daffodils

signs of spring

Daffodils and Jack-by-hedge

signs of spring

Elder

signs of spring

It always impresses me the way daffodils use their mighty strength lift the dead leaves to make it throw

signs of spring

 

Snow drops and I think ground elder

signs of spring

Wherever my daughter goes, she finds something wild to eat, and it was her who first spotted this first shoots of wild garlic; before we know it we’ll be eating wild garlic pesto!

signs of spring

Playing “don’t step on the snow drops”

signs of spring

signs of spring

Joining in the wonder!

signs of spring

I think this might be blue bells; the flowers come in around May but this is a spot where we’ve seen them in previous years

signs of spring

winter solstice celebration

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the land of wishes: natural decorations

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the land of wishes

 

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the land of wishes: solstice wreath

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the land of wishes: presents for the animals

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the land of wishes

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the land of wishes: solstice walk

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the land of wishes

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the land of wishes

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the land of wishes: wee solstice fire

Coll

Coll is this small island in the Inner Hebrides, and it’s amazing! Nine hours of travel totally worth it!

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Those tiny silver spots near the middle rock are seals, they were so close!

A big Thank you to the weather for giving us beautiful days to explore the islands and the sea around it, and, of course, to dear friends for taking us in the first place!

Autumnal Equinox

Yesterday we celebrated the Autumnal Equinox with our friends at the home education group. We made a communal soup on a open fire, inspired by the stone soup story. We have been doing this for three years, and is something that I really recommend to do as a group when the weather gets colder. Each family brings a vegetable (just two or three is enough, you don’t need the full bag), then you cut it and throw it all in a pot. While the soup is cooking, you can tell the story of the stone soup, as we also did. Seasonal baking is also recommended, and we were lucky to enjoy that too!

It is a very special thing to come together like that! Food cooking and sharing is  a special thing indeed, besides it’s delicious too!

The West Highland Way

WHW

WHW

WHW

WHW

WHW

WHW

WHW

About four weeks ago I was talking with a friend about her experience on long distance walking. A few days after that conversation, I realized that was exactly what I needed to do! And this being Scotland what better walk than the West Highland Way?

After doing some research, I decided to do it in seven days and sleep in Hostels or bunk houses. I would recommend booking accommodation a few weeks before you go, unlike me, as you might not get to stay exactly where you want. One day I had to take the bus from Kingshouse to Glen Coe Village because there was no accommodation at Kingshouse stage, and another day had to book a four person cabin because the others were all taken. I bought this book, but to be honest you can get all the information you need online.  The book however, has little extras, like plants and detailed maps that were useful, and I enjoyed reading about each stage without giving to much away. I also had this map on hand because I didn’t really liked the maps on the book and I tucked it on the waist straps, so I didn’t need to stop to look at it.

Something that I really appreciate about this walk, besides the scenery, is that its very well  signposted, making it very easy for someone like me, a novice or stranger to navigation, possible to complete it. Additionally I think that it has enough challenges to really feel like an achievement, but never felt impossible to complete it, even without any training before hand. I wouldn’t recommend that thou, because my knee suffered a little, after the long stretch from Rowardennan to Crianlarich, but it’s possible, even for someone who is not that fit…

I did it alone, but never felt alone or scared for tackling something like this on my own. Of course I did it this way because I was looking for the solitude , but at the same time was grateful for it to be a busy walk, both with day walkers or people walking the 154 km. On the whole I found myself alone for long periods of time, but felt safe enough that if something had happen to me, someone would pass at some point.

Another of the most asked questions is about midges… to which I don’t have much to say. If you do it at this time of the year, you either have rain or midges, there is no way around it. I had a homemade spray (and oil, but I gave that away to someone who had nothing and was camping) to keep those annoying critters away, which helped a little… You just have to keep moving, get the food out of the bag as soon as possible and keep walking, or sit in a windy spot, that helps too.

I loved it! It was an amazing experience and miss it every single day…

our nature bag

nature bag

nature bag

nature bag

I’ve wanted to start a nature journal with the children for a long time. And for as long, I tried to think about the best way to do it…  I read some posts on Charlotte Mason’s nature study and a few times this page on getting started, but still wouldn’t take the leap. Until I told myself to stop complicating and just do it! Just do it, stop thinking, analyzing, whatever and get on with it!

So I did. I ordered a few things that I thought it would be a nice to have, made a nature bag (which happens to be the same one that I sell in the shop) and as soon as everything was assembled inside the bag, I took it with us, when we went to the woods.

Once there, we found a nice spot to sit, as we usually do, I picked up a leaf and simply, naturally said that I was going to draw it. I took the bag from the basket, the children of course were curious: “what’s that?”. We took time to go throw the things that were inside the bag and then I started drawing my leaf. They soon found something to draw too. Sometimes is me, sometimes one of them who suggests we take the bag with us, and as simply as that we’ve started a nature bag! We do not draw on it every time, but it has come in handy to identify bugs and birds.

Now, I do think that the Handbook of nature study is a great resource, specially if you subscribe to the newsletter, there are printable pages and challenges that look fun and we will be using those too. Additionally, I really like the Charlotte Mason’s take on nature study because of it’s emphases on observation;  what I’m trying to say is, if you are interested to do a nature journal too, get a bag with paper and pencils and go outside! That’s it. Ours has a handy place, hanging in a door in the hallway.

So, what’s inside our bag?

– seawhite Sketchbook ( on the first pictures we were still using Pink Pig spiral drawing sketchbooks, because I liked the hard cover and we’ve used them before, but I found them too heavy, so I switched for lighter one and they work well too)

– coloring pencils, 6B graphite pencil, pencil sharpener, a pen and sellotape

– Small Magnified Insect Boxes and magnifying glasses

– the book RSPB pocket nature wildlife of Britain (For a long time I wanted a pocket nature book that I could take out and one day I saw this one and bought it. I think the session on trees very, very small, otherwise a very good source. Since I bought that book, I’ve had a look on this one and it looks good too is small enough to carry about)

– Because of the book’s small section on trees I bought The tree name trail and garden bugs and beasties

– We’ve some of these identification postcards for a long time, so I thought they were a nice addition to the bag

Já há muito tempo que eu queria começar um diário de natureza com as crianças e durante este tempo todo pensava na melhor maneira de o fazer… Li alguns posts no método da Charlotte Mason, li umas quantas vezes esta página, em como começar, mas mesmo assim continuava sem iniciar o processo. Até que decidi parar de complicar as coisa e simplesmente começar  dito do diário!  Resolvi parar de analisar demais, de pensar demais e um dia comprei umas coisas que pensei que seria vantajoso ter e pronto. Fiz um saco para ter tudo organizado (que por acaso é um dos que vendo na loja) e assim que as coisas  chegaram, pu-las dentro do saco e quando fomos para o bosque, levei o saco conosco.

Quando lá chegámos, encontramos um sitio bom para sentar, como tantas vezes fazemos, eu encontrei uma folha e simples e naturalmente disse que a ia desenhar. Tirei o saco da natureza do cesto da cadeirinha, e eles logo ficaram curiosos, e juntos vimos o que estava lá dentro, eu depois comecei a desenhar a minha folha, e não demorou nada eles também encontraram algo para desenhar. Agora, às vezes sou eu, outras eles que se lembra que se lembra de levar o saco Não desenhamos todas as vezes, mas já foi muito útil para identificar pássaros ou insectos.

Agora, eu não quero dizer que o Handbook of nature study não seja um bom recurso, é, especialmente se subscreveres à newsletter, há desafios e outras coisas que se pode imprimir, que parece muito divertido e nós em breve começaremos a usá-los. E  também gosto muito do estudo da natureza no método da Charlotte Mason, principalmente pela importância que ela dá à observação, o que eu quero dizer é se tu também estás interessado em começar um diário de natureza, arranja um saco, põe papel e lápis de cor lá dentro e vai lá para fora! Só isso. O nosso tem um lugar pendurado numa das portas dos armários do corredor, bem à mão de se pegar quando estámos de saida.

Então, o que está dentro do nosso saco?

– cadernos de desenho Seawhite (nas primeiras fotografias nós ainda usávamos os cadernos Pink Pig porque eu gostei da capa dura e já os tinha usado antes, mas o saco ficava muito pesado, por isso mudei para estes mais leves e funcionam muito bem à mesma)

– lápis de cor, lápis de carvão 6B, um afiador e fita cola

-caixas pequenas para insectos com lupa e lupas de mão

o livro RSPB pocket nature wildlife of Britain (durante muito tempo procurei um livro de  natureza para nos ajudar a identificar espécies Britânicas, mas leve o suficiente para carregar no dia a dia, quando vi este comprei. o unico criticismo que tenho até agora é que a secção de árvores é muito, muito pequena,  tirando isso é bom. Mais tarde vi este livro e também me parece muito completo e leve)

– Por causa do tal capitulo de árvores pequeno, eu comprei o The tree name trail e outro sobre insectos

– Já há muito tempo que temos alguns destes postais de identificação, e achei que seria uma boa adicção ao saco