Day 13 – Tree Identification (30 Days Wild)

Armed with some tree identification reference sheets from Nature Detectives, we headed to our local park to investigate. 

We tied this activity in with some maths, discussing how to tally and thus, counting in fives. We discussed data, and made a bar chart to see which were the most/least common trees. Once we had identified numerous trees in the park, we guessed how old some of them were using this method. 

The method uses your hand span to measure around the tree. All three boys tried, and used the different calculations according to the measurement of their hand span. Simple pleasures for small boys. 

Fast forward to bits of paper and lidless pens being thrown in my bag and the boys were soon hanging upside down in their favourite climbing trees. Their confidence is growing and they slip past me in a whisper – no longer taking shaky steps but stepping confidently from branch to branch, ever upwards. It’s not until they reach the top branches, thinner and less stable, that they worry how they’ll get down. They’re a joy to watch as the day begins to wind down. 

We wander home down the canal path, picking great handfuls of dandelions and racing ahead of each other with breathless giggles. 

‘Mum! You take that path and we’ll stay on this one. We’ll see which one is quickest!’ 

My eldest loves the sticky-weed. Officially known as Galium aparine, or Cleavers – it sticks to most things thanks to its covering of tiny, hooked hairs. It’s also commonly known as Sticky Willy, which obviously, three small boys find hilarious, and I find myself wishing I hadn’t mentioned it. 

‘Mum, why have they painted the town through the tunnel? Look! There’s a Wickes lorry! There’s a school! Mum! They’ve painted the actual street we’re walking under!’

I love their running commentary on life. It makes you stop a while and marvel at the awe with which they see the world. It’s infectious, and I love it. 

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Day 12 – Raspberry and Peach Crumble (30 Days Wild)

Today was a lazy day. The patio doors have been flung wide open and the boys have wandered in and out all day. My eldest watches a spider spin his web on Daddy’s motorbike. My youngest feeds the hens handfuls of corn. 

As dinner approaches I send the boys out to pick some raspberries so we can make a peach and raspberry crumble. Together we mix flour, sugar, ground almonds and butter before patting it down on top of the fruit and then sliding it into the oven. 

My middle boy checks on his carrot seeds and screeches with delight when he sees tiny green shoots peeking out of the earth.

I love the simplicity of lazy days, and today was much needed. 

Day 11 – Bikes, Dandelions and Cherries (30 Days Wild)

We took the bikes out this afternoon, ending up at a park we don’t usually go to. 

The boys cycled for hours, their faces flushed with colour. Eventually, my eldest took a tumble, splitting his lip open, and so we took a break from cycling. Instead they played in the play area with toy diggers, slipping down the zip-wire and throwing the maple’s ‘helicopter’ seeds into the air. They watch, over and over, as they spin to the ground. 

We collected dandelions to make some salve for my eldest boy’s skin – the boys weaving through the long grass with their fists full of little yellow flowers. They shout each time they spot clusters of mushrooms nestled in a patch of clover. We picked cherries from the trees, promising the boys we’ll come back in a few weeks to gather enough to make a cherry pie together. 

We let the wind, ferocious but warm, blow away the cobwebs of a Sunday afternoon. 

Day 10 – Steam Fair (30 Days Wild)

Image courtesy of belpersteam.com

The day started early thanks to a knock on the door at 4 a.m. I lay in bed beneath the open window listening to the birds sing their hearts out. A cool breeze washes over me as I sip my tea, watching the stages of the dawn move incrementally through every shade of grey before thin, watery colour starts to seep in at the edges. 

Today brings a steam fair to a local town. It’s a young boy’s delight. Tractors and trains, a fun fair, classic cars, chip wagons and ice cream vans, dog displays, helicopters…

Rising at 6, I rhythmically make sandwiches, a slow comfort of such familiarity and routine. There’s a dance to it, these same movements over and over. Weary hands place little triangles of sandwiches into Tupperware in a perfect game of Tetris you’ve got down to a fine art. You reach into haphazard cupboards for dates and apricots. You snap off a couple of bananas, placing them into the lunch bag. 

I watch the wildflowers outside; the poppies’ crimson petals looking like bloodstains on a bleak horizon. A solitary pigeon sits on the fence, surveying the road. 

I fill flasks with black coffee, adding them to the bag. On top I throw my purse, my keys, baby wipes – the last fragment of babyhood I still cling to as my boys grow and change each day. 

Sometimes I catch sight of them and momentarily I fail to recognise them. I know it’s my child, but it’s wrong somehow. They’re taller, more boy-like. Their legs are too long, their jaw too angular, the confidence and maturity that is beginning to surge to the forefront of their demeanour can’t possibly belong to my baby, can they?! 

And I stop and stare, chastising time itself. My boys got their first watches this week and my middle boy sits watching the hands move. He says to me, ‘Mum, the blue hand (second hand) moves so quickly, I can’t keep up with it. That’s quite annoying.’ I hear you, kid. We’re halfway through the year and it’s mid-morning, the day stubbornly refusing to get any brighter and I know I need to put my phone down today and just enjoy another day with this beautiful family of mine.

Because when it really comes down to it, time is the best thing we have to give. 


Day 9 – Paddle and a Picnic (30 Days Wild)

We met friends today at a local park. They’ve just filled the paddling pool for the summer months and so we thought we’d visit before the schools kick out for summer. 

Filling our bags with towels, swim shorts and sun cream, we left the house. The boys chat amongst themselves, discussing their favourite toys to play with in water, and whether or not the paddling pool cancels out their need to have a bath. 

Arriving at the park, they strip to swim shorts within two minutes. I love how they ignore the play area when there is water to splash in. For hours they play, in and out and back again; over and over. 

Once they finally clamber out of the pool, we wander around the park, watching the squirrels skitter as we pass them by. The boys head straight for the pond, trying to spot the fish beneath the water. They lay flat on the ground, hanging over the edge, squealing as butterflies and dragonflies dance around them. 

Returning home, the boys pick every last raspberry with such enthusiasm you’d think they were picking penny sweets. From my own childhood, I remember the taste of the first raspberries my Dad would bring home from the allotment. And I remember the weeks that followed…. endless bowls of plump, pink raspberries – with cream and sugar or yoghurt, honey, ice-cream. That sweet burst exploding on your tongue each and every time. 

It brings me joy to be able to provide my boys with such a simple pleasure and I hope they’ll remember these childhood days as fondly as I remember mine. 

Day 7 – And the Rain Came Down (30 Days Wild)

While we managed to get out in the rain yesterday, today was swimming day, followed by an afternoon spent with family. This morning we made cheese scones using the wild garlic we picked yesterday. 

Once they were cooked, we sat by the window with a scone watching the rain come down and the birds flitting across the garden for juicy worms and the odd snail. We sat with our RSPB book and identified those we didn’t know. 

And it was nice. So rarely, as a family, do we just sit and watch. I sipped hot, steaming tea as the boys flipped through the pages of the book. I listen to them talking between themselves.

‘No, it’s not that one. It’s got an orange beak.’

‘This one?’ 

‘Maybe. I’m not sure though. These two look similar.’

‘Look! The pigeon! We don’t need to look him up!’ 

And as they continued their chatter the rain fell seamlessly into the edges of the day. The garden is waterlogged and the hens cower in the coop looking decidedly dejected. 

The afternoon brought swimming – 3 boys splashing wholeheartedly in the water, their confidence growing as they dive under the water, twisting ‘like whales’ over and over. 

We return with family, spending the afternoon with damp hair and warm clothes, sheltered from the rain that never relented.