30 Days Wild – Day 27: Identification Challenge

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, I found identifying wildflowers and other flora really challenging, much more difficult than I thought it would be! Thanks to members of the 30 Days Wild group and some other friends who helped me and shared their knowledge.

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1. Bluebell seed heads- When the flowers die, green seed pods are formed. By July these will be dry and brown and full of small black seeds. The seeds may take 5 years to develop into a mature flowering bulb.

2. Sheep’s sorrel (rumex)- This is edible with a sharp lemon taste.

3. Statchys- Nicknamed lamb’s ears because it is soft and furry. My daughter loved the feel of these, and bees love them!

4. Red leaved cherry tree- I don’t know if these are edible or not!

5. These red ‘eggs’ are caused by parasites (mites?) inside the field maple leaf so the leaf reacts by producing a growth.

6. Blackberry brambles- I look forward to some foraging when they fruit, yummy!

7. Gorse bush- The seed heads explode when ripe so that the seeds spread widely. It also has yellow flowers that smell like coconuts!

8. Chicken of the wood- This edible fungus tastes like chicken, hence the name.

9. Cow parsley- Short lived but very common, it can be found spreading wildly along roadsides, meadows, woods and other places in early summer.

I am going to make a simple identification chart for Squiggle to use to find out the names herself and I will also use these pictures/ descriptions to make a matching game for her too.

30 Days Wild- Day 12: Watching the Sunset

I took a few minutes earlier this evening to stand outside alone. I listened to the birds sing, looked up at the clouds and watched the sunset. So peaceful. So beautiful.

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We also went to a summer fun day earlier today, where we watched horseball and saw birds of prey (as well as various other activities).

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Horseball

30 Days Wild- Day 11: Good Energy

Today we have been mainly inside working on other projects, but I did spend some time looking through my nature photos, taking action to support conservation and environmental campaigns, and also shared on social media my recent switch to clean energy supplier Good Energy. So I guess I did more today that links in with 30 Days Wild than perhaps I realised!

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If anyone (UK) would like to switch to Good Energy then please do get in touch with me first, so I can refer you to them. For more information please see their website www.goodenergy.co.uk

Squiggle also went outside this morning to practice yoga in the garden again.

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Tree position

30 Days Wild- Day 7: Damsel in Distress

Whilst playing outside in the garden this morning, Squiggle spotted a damselfly struggling in her paddling pool. She put her finger out to help and it quickly clambered on. Its wings were soaked and all scrunched up but she set it down in a patch of long grass, hoping they would soon dry out and recover.

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We also found a ladybird lavae too, which was exciting as we had never seen one before!

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As we outside outside in the garden, we also took a moment to reflect on our recent nature walk. Squiggle had asked me to find out more information about some of the wildlife we spotted so we talked a little about that. One of the things she asked during our walk was what these are…

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She was very interested to discover that they are bluebells gone to seed (I didn’t realise, I perhaps should have been able to guess though based on location!!!!) Later, on our walk back from music class, Squiggle looked for more in a small patch near our house where we had seen bluebells in bloom and was very excited to spot some.

30 Days Wild- Day 4: Slugs

This morning Squiggle found several slugs in our garden. She watched them closely and noticed that they were various different sizes, then she held them gently before carefully placing them in a safe spot.

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“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” ~ Dalai Lama

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Squiggle’s own photo of the slugs.

As for me, I have been trying to identify some of the wildlife we spotted on our recent nature walk. Turns out that developing my own identification skills is more of a challenge than I thought!

30 Days Wild- Day 3: Grounding

For day 3 of our 30 Days Wild challenge we did something very simple: going barefoot on the grass. This is a lovely sensory experience and is calming to connect to the earth in this way.

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Grounding

Paddling Pools and Splash Parks (Herts and surrounding area)

Summer Fun: Parks and Paddling is one of my most popular blog posts and, rather unsurprisingly, has had alot of hits this past weekend! So here is the latest info for this season…

 

● Cassiobury Park paddling pool: closed for refurbishment

 

● Verulamium Splash Park: Now open 10-6pm daily until Sunday 11th September 2016  www.stalbans.gov.uk/community-and-living/communityleisure/play_areas/splashpark.aspx

 

● London colney (Morris Way) paddling pool: opens 28th May. No further info.

 

● Paradise Wildlife Park lagoon: Now open daily. This is part of the wildlife park (no separate entry)- admission costs apply www.pwpark.com

 

● Leighton Buzzard splash park and beach: Now open 10am-6pm daily www.leightonlinslade-tc.gov.uk

 

● Ruislip Lido: Now open daily until end of September www.hillingdon.gov.uk/ruisliplido

 

Of course there are many others in and around Hertfordshire, this is not a comprehensive list! Others I have heard of but never visited are Harpenden outdoor pool, Letchworth splash park/ paddling pool and Hitchin outdoor pool. Plus, of course, there is natural water play such as the stream at Wheathampstead, Stanborough or Cassiobury and plenty of beaches within an hour or two (driving or train) too!

Leighton Buzzard Splash Park

Leighton Buzzard Splash Park

 

Happy splashing!

A simple day in the garden

Today Squiggle decided to spend all day playing outside in the garden. As soon as she went outside one of our cats, Gingerbread, followed her and promptly started to drink some dirty rain water that had pooled up on her sand pit cover. This got her wondering about our cat’s eating and drinking habits so she developed her own experiment to find out what he prefers.

She collected some grass (as she has seen our cats eat this) and two containers, one for wet grass and one for dry. She then asked if she could put some cat crunchies in one of them, so I took this opportunity to explain the concept of a ‘fair test’. She decided she would therefore put an equal number in each and only change the wet/ dry aspect (we should have used the same containers to of course, we discussed this later!) She then observed him to see what he ate most of. She discovered he seemed to prefer wet and concluded this was possibly because he could then both eat the food and drink the water to. She even gave the mixture a name ‘cat lick’ and said it is produced in a place called ‘Gingerbread Gardens’.

(Please note our cat was a willing participate in this investigation, I would go as far as to say he very enthusiastic in fact; we did however talk in brief about it being entirely up to him whether or not he chose to take part though obviously!)

She had her lunch outside in the garden, where she spontaneously did some adding up with the food items. Later when it started raining she became fascinated with watching snails. We talked about them in detail, discussing their differently coloured and patterned shells, studying them carefully and observing them. We also counted them, then she carefully handled some.

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Explaining to our cat what she is doing
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Observing to see what he eats most of
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Writing her instructions
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Explaining to him that she has made a book for him
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Reading the instruction book to him
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Finding snails in the rain
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She found it fascinating to watch them
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Holding snails with care
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How many snails can you see?

Van Hage- it really is more than just a garden centre!

We went to Van Hage today, not for the first time, but I really think it deserves a mention as a great (and FREE) family trip out. In addition to things you might typically expect to find in a garden centre there is a lovely animal garden. They have a range of animals there and offer opportunities to interact with some of the animals at weekends and during school holidays (see website for details). There is even a miniature train ride (small charge of 80p per passenger applies).

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Stroking a snake at the reptile encounter today.
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She had the opportunity to touch a lizard.
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The chickens roam around freely and some are happy to be touched.
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They have a lovely range of animals.
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Looking at the giant bunnies and goats.
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She was able to stroke a tortoise today as well.
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We enjoy looking at the pretty displays.
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There are fun facts and activities in the animal garden.
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She learnt she was about the same height as a penguin.
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There is lots of useful information available.
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There are lots of flowers to look at to of course!
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The pet shop has a resident cat.
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There are lots of interesting things to look at in general.

 

Definitely worth a visit! See website for more details of events and activities http://www.vanhage.co.uk/garden-centres/great-amwell/