More ways to love woods


This blog post is by Nicola Baird sharing ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children. This post suggests it’s time to get out in the woods, or just listen to a tree. For more info about my book Homemade Kids, with lots of ideas about parenting click here.

There’s a little park near me – just 4ha that used to be a railway coal sidings. It now boasts a woodland, a large pond and enough scrub to guarantee a place to find sticks. Last Friday it offered a wild places workshop for any age so pensioners could pond dip and tots could try following a nature trail. My youngest and her friend, both 11, went along and were transfixed by the tree listening opportunity. Now, I wasn’t there, but I understand a tree is found, a bunch of head phones are attached to the branches (the canopy) and then anyone who wants to listens in. Turns out trees make pops and rumbles as water passes through cells. The genius man – Alex Metcalf – who runs this workshops has lots more info here, and though I long to find out more, and hear for myself, regrettably I can’t get his audio link to work.

Trees guarantee a good time with kids, if you aren’t in a hurry, and especially as autumn creeps nearer. I normally take the dog for a walk on Hampstead Heath (because we live in London), but today popped on to the mainline train to a Hertfordshire station called Bayford just 30 minutes away from the metropolis.

It is so quiet at Bayford station when the train’s gone it’s spooky. There’s a bridleway near the station which provided a fabulous place to picnic and whittle sticks, lots of crazy routes for the dog to run  around and the opportunity for Nell to build a fairy palace and Lola and I to stare up at the tree canopy- still green and lovely. Pix above of Lola and Nell with dyed sticks, Lola and Billie practising for Hogwarts with their wands, Nell and a den, Lola enjoying the view of an oak.

And on the way home we picked blackberries to freeze, guzzle and use in crumble.

The following week our visit to the woods was all about staining wands a fiercesome red – use blackberry or elderberry juice – and tree climbing. It’s hard to be at a loss what to do when you are in the woods, and especially if you have a friend with you.

Autumn book: for grown ups: Thomas Hardy’s The Woodlanders – makes you feel like you can do anything if you’ve got the timber (except choose the right husband). It’s a bit sad.

Autumn book for kids: The Stick Book: loads of things you can make or do with a stick by Jo Schofield and Fiona Danks. This is a fab crib book which distracted both my daughters and made us all long to get to the woods. Great tips on how to hollow out elder, make fire lighters, cook trout on a stick, play pick up sticks etc, etc. Would make a fabulous present for most ages.

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4 Comments on “More ways to love woods”

  1. Sandra Bell Says:

    At Danny’s school ‘get out day’ they made stick men with sticks and string based on Stick Man in the Julia Donaldson story then wrote stories about their own stick men…inevitably Danny’s was a footballer stick man.

    • homemadekids Says:

      Hi Sandra, I think that is adorable. Am also very impressed that schools can run something as fun for children as “get out day”. A good idea for other families perhaps? Nicola

  2. Kate Says:

    what a genius post and some lovely ideas (and pics!). Have just found the stick book on Amazon and duly ordered…. neither harry nor I can wait 🙂

  3. […] blogs I’ve shared tips on how to make a wand and dye it with squashed blackberry juice. See here.   But if it’s rainy outside and you just want to settle down by the fire or woodburner it […]

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