Rock Hunting: Nature’s Answer To Pokemon Go! #30DaysWild 

Have you heard of the new craze? Painted rocks have been hidden all over our local area to encourage people to get outside and explore to find them. And to spread some love and positivity around; like a little act of kindness for the person who finds it. What an amazing way to put a smile on peoples’ faces! Of course, we could not wait to go out on a rock hunt to see what we could find!

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It turned out to be much harder than we thought! We knew very rough locations, and had vague picture clues, but looking for small rocks in a very large area is… well… abit like looking for a needle in a haystack! But that just encouraged us to look more closely, stay out longer, walk further and explore different areas – which is great!

Just a little note to anyone considering doing this as a set activity (e.g. home educators or organised groups for example): it would be easier, and an awesome educational activity, if they were mapped out in advance. Great for developing old school map reading skills too! (I guess this would make it more of a geocaching style activity). Of course this would rely on people not removing, or relocating, any of them. (Hopefully no one will remove them anyway though obviously, as it is meant to be an activity for everyone to enjoy!)

Also, if you were doing this, a handy suggestion might be to map them out with a small circle radius rather than a precise location, so that it still gives abit of freedom to rehide them elsewhere – as long as it is within close proximity to the original spot. I say this because Squiggle was really keen to move one to a new hiding place so we compromised and she hid it right by the next tree instead, less than a metre away!

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Anyway, they are just little tips if anyone is thinking about doing it as a home ed activity or setting it up as an ‘organised’ event. But back to our fun of rock hunting…

We were incredibly lucky to find not just one, but two painted rocks! Squiggle was delighted that she spotted them!!! The first was a beautiful heart rock…

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The second was a pretty colourful rainbow…

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We had so much fun! It is such a lovely activity and a brilliant, creative, inspired idea – love it!!! Thank you so much to the wonderful people who came up with this initiative and organised it in our area. We are so grateful! For more information, check out St Albans Rocks UK.

We then also painted our own rocks when we returned home, so we will be hiding those in our local park soon too! Thanks again!!!

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Happy rock hunting! 

My Pregnancy Care Story: The Highs and Lows

Good patient care throughout pregnancy, birth and post-natal is essential; it affects our body’s ability to heal from pregnancy and birth. Experiencing poor medical care or negligence during this time can not only lead to injury but also contribute to developing mental health issues such as postnatal depression or anxiety, which could potentially affect future decisions. It could also make it more difficult to care for our child (and any older siblings too), delay recovery or impact on enjoyment of life.

Yet did you know that, despite extensive guidelines in the UK about how pregnancy and birth should be handled by professionals, 25% of women felt that they were not always involved in decisions about their care? (CQC Maternity survey). Furthermore, there is limited government guidance on post-natal care for mothers, and Mumsnet aftercare, not afterthought survey reveals worrying experiences in some cases. For example, 45% could not access required pain relief, 61% lacked food when needed and 21% had no access to water, plus 19% did not have access to washing facilities.

On this note www.yourlegalfriend.com wants to help raise awareness of what to expect from healthcare professionals, and what to question, in order to empower new parents to know their rights as a patient during pregnancy. They have done some research into women’s experiences of pregnancy and birth on the NHS, and have pulled together some interesting statistics on how some women were treated during their pregnancy and labour. You can find further details on their blog.

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My own maternity care had its ups and downs. I had a fairly smooth pregnancy but there was a small bump in the road when, during my 20 week scan, I was told that my baby had a severe cleft lip. We were referred to a consultant but it turned out to be a false alarm. I understand mistakes happen but I did feel that it was not dealt with very well, and it left me feeling quite nervous for the rest of my pregnancy. 

The birth itself was somewhat traumatic; my plan was to have a natural water birth in a midwife-led unit, but I wound up having an emergency c-section instead. I’ll try to keep a long story (fairly!) short but basically my waters broke at home, before I had even noticed any real contractions, and there was very clearly meconium. So I headed straight to hospital and was sent up to the labour ward to (reluctantly) be hooked up to monitors. I was not allowed to eat during this time as they were already preparing for the likelihood of me going into theatre sooner or later, which made me feel impatient, stressed and miserable to be honest because I was really hungry!

However, the midwives and consultant respected my preference to give birth naturally if possible, but I was induced to speed things along. My contractions then started coming fast and strong very suddenly and at this point it became more obvious that my baby was in distress. They waited as long as possible but I failed to dilate at all (I was not even at 1cm!) so it was agreed I would most likely be needing to head to theatre sooner rather than later. I was being closely monitored and waiting for an available anaesthetist, but then a crash c-section happened so they were rushed in ahead of me. By the time the team were available again, I was fast heading towards a crash situation too.

It all happened so quickly I honestly cannot remember how much ‘choice’ I was given at this time, but I did feel like I was kept informed and I fully understood that it was just a difficult situation that had limited options. I was wheeled to theatre so hurriedly though that they almost forgot that they hadn’t given me an epidural! It wasn’t an issue as such, it just meant that I had to have a spinal block instead, but I did panic for a moment at their ‘oversight’! I remember my partner being sent off to put on scrubs and me screaming that they could not start until he was in the room. Then I recall him worrying that my heart dropped so low, but everything was abit of a blur after that.

One negative thing that did stand out for me happened straight afterwards, once I had been stitched up and was ready to leave theatre. The spinal block had meant that I lost the use of feeling in my arms and upper body too; this is apparently not usual. However, when I tried to tell the midwives this they dismissed me. I then got worried that they placed my baby in my arms to head to the recovery suite but I really couldn’t feel her, let alone safely hold her, so I asked for my partner to take her instead under the circumstances. But the midwives gave each other a ‘look’ as if they didn’t believe me, which understandably made me feel stressed about the total physical numbness, as well as helpless and guilty about something that in reality was entirely beyond my control and not my fault.

However, there were some positives too; it was obvious that they were trying to salvage any scrap of my birth plan that they could, which really helped me to cope better and it made it feel all abit less out of my control. For example, they played my CD in theatre and asked her dad if he wanted to cut the chord, as I had requested. Little things like that made all of the difference; it helped me to feel respected and valued. The simple fact is that things don’t always go to plan; it is what it is.

maternity, pregnancy, birth, postnatal, postpartum, medical care, newborn, baby, new parents, parenting, Your Legal Friend, Living Life Our Way

My hospital postpartum care was a mixed bag of contradicting advice and unsympathetic midwives with some who were absolute gems. I regained feeling after several hours but my mobility was still limited from the op and also from a drip in my elbow. (It got pulled from my hand several times until there were no other veins left!) However, I had drink and food available, plus washing facilities and pain relief so that ticked most of the boxes. My daughter was also extremely fractious throughout our 48 hour postpartum stay and had to have blood tests, which made things more challenging than they might have otherwise been. But to be honest I think she just needed a more comfortable environment – she just wanted to get home as much as I did! We both just couldn’t wait to be discharged!

maternity, pregnancy, birth, postnatal, postpartum, medical care, newborn, baby, new mums, parenting, Your Legal Friend, Living Life Our Way

When it comes to pregnancy care there are a few points to remember:

  • Pregnant women have the same rights as everyone else when it comes to making decisions about their body. 
  • Genuine and informed consent must be given for medical treatments (unless you are unconscious or otherwise unable to). You should be told the risks, and should not be bullied or pressurised into decisions. 
  • Your birth partner can be a great advocate, so make sure they understand your birth plan and rights. 
  • A final point I would add is that I asked for a de-brief with my midwife and a copy of my maternity notes, but this did not happen. I think that is a massive shame as it would have really helped me to process everything better. I really recommend that mums request this if they think it would be helpful and please definitely do pursue it if you get fobbed off at first or forgotten. I wish I had! 

    How was your pregnancy care? Share your story in comments!

    *Disclosure: This post was written in collaboration with Your Legal Friend.

    Visualisation: How To Connect To Our Natural Environment From Anywhere

    Whilst visualisation is often a major part of guided meditation, for me personally I feel that meditating is more about aiming to clear your mind and let thoughts float into your head naturally whereas in contrast, visualisation involves purposely constructing thoughts. Both serve the purpose of helping us to relax, regain/ maintain balance and achieve a sense of inner peace, plus help us to feel connected with ourselves, each other and our planet. These are brilliant to do outside in nature.

    However, visualisation is also a great tool to help us maintain a deep connection with nature and our natural environment even when we can’t physically get outdoors. Using visualisation techniques, we can take our mind outside and on a journey to a place we love, intentionally focusing our thoughts and mind on what it really feels like to be there, by imagining and recalling using all the senses, whilst switching off to anything else around us. 

    Find a quiet spot anywhere and close your eyes. Picture in your mind your favourite natural spot. What do you see around you? Take it all in, imagine every detail. Take some deep breaths. What do you smell? What do you hear? What can you feel? Really immerse yourself in the moment and the feelings of being there.

    For example, I am going to visualise sitting on a rock in an entrance to a waterfall at sunset…

    The waves created by the waterfall crash around as the water cascades down in front of me. The rock is cold and wet but the warmth of the sun bares down on my skin. Splashes of the waterfall catch me; it feels cool and refreshing. I take in the clean air and that glorious smell of fresh running water.

    The sun begins to lower, turning the sky into a beautiful canvas of orange, red and gold. The fading sunlight reflects on the water, dancing colours around like a carnival of light. A bird soars past gracefully. I close my eyes and take in my surroundings using my other senses for a moment. I feel at peace, a deep sense of calm.

    visualisation, meditation, 30 days wild, #livinglifewild, #30dayswild, natural environment, nature, our planet, waterfall, connected, peace
    Do you use visualisation techniques to connect to our natural world from anywhere? If not, give it a try! 

    Puddle Jumping #30DaysWild

    Today has been a very wet day. But that definitely doesn’t stop us from getting out and having fun; it was the perfect day for a rainy walk and splashing in puddles! 

    30 days wild, #30dayswild, #livinglifewild, childhood unplugged, puddle jumping, splashing, rain, blue mind

    What have you done today? Tell me in comments!

    Fungi Facts – #30DaysWild

    I received an email from Grow Wild (Kew Gardens) recently all about fungi. There are free downloads on their website with lots of interesting information and even a fun(gi) quiz to do too! So I decided my challenge for today would be to do a mini project on fungi, then share with you some of the fascinating facts I learned!

    So here are 5 cool things you might not have known about fungi…

    • Fungi is closer to a creature than a plant.
    • Fungi can be found in space!
    • We depend on fungi to survive.
    • Fungi has been around for millions of years; it preceeds dinosaurs.
    • Chocolate, amongst other food and drink, contains fungus!

    Fungi, The Wildlife Trust, 30 days wild, #30dayswild, #livinglifewild, nature, wildlife, home education, freedom to learn, natural environment, outdoors, get outside, go explore, Living Life Our Way

      Here is an ode to fungi too…

        Gobions Wood, Hertfordshire: A Magical Place To Explore

        Today we visited Gobions Wood in Hertfordshire for the first time, which we discovered from a useful list of local nature reserves on Herts Wildlife Trust website. 

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        The first section of our walk took us past beautiful meadows, where moths and butterflies fluttered around us as we walked. 

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        We then reached the entrance to the wood…

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        Honestly, I have never felt quite so overwhelmed (and almost intimidated!) walking into a wood. I literally got tingles down my spine and a surge of excitement in my tummy. 

        Two huge ancient trees guard either side of the path as you enter, towering above everything, watching over the rest of the woodland…

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        It looks like something out of a film; like walking into a Lord Of The Rings set or somewhere…

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        I love the colours and the way the lower leaves create a whispy appearance, almost motioning to the path…

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        Squiggle found this and asked me to take a photo…

        She loved exploring…

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        It is a magical, enchanting place to explore and we hope to return soon! 

        How Your Garden Transforms Through The Seasons 

        The garden is meant to be enjoyed. With only a little attention here and there, your garden can flourish. Understanding the seasons, the challenges and the opportunities it brings to your garden is key to success throughout the gardening calendar.

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        Darkness and Cold of Winter

        Protect your garden and wildlife from the worse of the winter by ensuring vulnerable plants are protected and give wildlife ample opportunity to make their homes.

        The Green of Spring

        As the days begin to warm, plants and wildlife awaken from their winter slumber. Night time can still be cold, but with mulch and fertilisers, your garden has everything that it needs. 

        The Golden Glow of Summer

        Long days with soaring temperatures bring colour back to the garden. But take care of the soil and maintain its moisture levels for your plants to bloom, and your vegetable plot to produce an abundant harvest.

        The Red Autumn

        Just before trees shed their leaves, the golden yellow colours and deep, dark reds are a joy to behold – enjoy every minute of the autumn garden, helping it to remain strong and lush for as long as possible.

        Do you know how to work with the seasons in your garden?

        *Disclosure: This post has been written in collaboration with Rattan Direct.

        Pick Your Own: Fruit Farm Visit #30DaysWild

        Today we visited a local pick your own fruit farm. We love growing our own food at home of course, but we also love the fun of visiting the PYO fruit farm too! It had only just opened for the season so there were quite alot of people there, but there was an abundance of delicious fruit that was ripe for the picking! I took some pictures of the fruit, which you can find in my photo gallery. And here are some of Squiggle collecting various fruits…

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        childhood unplugged, fruit farm, pick your own, PYO, places to visit, Herts

        childhood unplugged, fruit farm, pick your own, PYO, places to visit, Herts

        childhood unplugged, fruit farm, pick your own, PYO, places to visit, Herts

        childhood unplugged, fruit farm, pick your own, PYO, places to visit, Herts

        By the way, does anyone else see a smiley face strawberry with a big nose…

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        What have you been doing so far this weekend, and what plans do you have?

        Star in the Night Sky #30DaysWild

        In the early hours of yesterday morning, around 3am, I stood in the garden and looked up at the night sky. There was a bright light flashing, at first I thought it was a plane. After watching for several minutes though, it was definitely not moving and I realised it must be a star. But it was genuinely – by a million fold – the brightest, twinkliest, most magical looking star that I have ever seen. It made every other star in the sky look practically invisible because it shone so bright and twinkled so much. I know that this probably sounds silly, but honestly I cannot emphasise enough how mesmerising it was. 

        I tried to get a decent shot of it but it just doesn’t even in the slightest tiniest way begin to do it even a miniscule amount of justice. You can only just see it as a small white dot in between the trees (to the left in the photo above, in the very middle of the photo below).

        I started thinking; I wonder how many other people have ever looked up at the night sky and spotted that same star? I wonder if they had the same thoughts as me? I wonder if anyone else is out there looking up at it right now, this same moment? Truly amazing when you think about it. The universe is so huge, and we are all just a small dot in comparison. Yet everything is connected. And each one of us has an impact and can make a difference. Incredible.

        The Secret is in the Soil: The Importance Of Healthy Soil

        We don’t give much thought to the soil under our feet but without it, we wouldn’t have food on our plates. It takes a lifetime to create the ideal soil conditions for plants and crops to grow, but no time at all to destroy it. For every plant to thrive, it needs nutrients. And these are found in the soil. With the right nutrients in perfect balance, a plant or tree thrives.

        Healthy Soil = Healthy Planet

        So how is Soil Made? And why do we need to keep adding organic matter and other nutrients to get the best from it? Does it mystify you as to why soil in one part of the garden is fine and dust-like but in another part, heavy and dense?

        The soil is made from the earth’s crusts and its deposits being ground to a finer powder over thousands of years. The type of soil created, depends on the deposits that created it. The quality of soil also depends on how much life is in the soil. Worms, for example, are essential to mixing the soil as well as aerating it. Other soil-borne life forms are important too. Soil needs plenty of nutrients and water to offer the best growing medium, an increasing problem in a world with an increasing number of mouths to feed.

        Do you know how to look after soil?

        From adding organic matter to understanding the type of soil and what will grow best, this infographic has it all. Find out more and truly understand the ground beneath your feet. 

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        *Disclosure: This post has been written in collaboration with Rattan Direct.