Saturday, 29 July 2017

The Smalls Investigate

We've come up with a few ideas to keep the smalls busy this Summer...


Using chalk, draw around a puddle. Check on it throughout the day to see it evaporate.

Dandelion Writing

Find a space with Dandelions. Break the stem of the Dandelion. Mark/make a letter or name on a piece of paper using the sap from the stalk. At first it will appear invisible, but once dried they will be able to clearly see their writings.

Mud Painting

Exactly as it sounds! Grab a brush, or make one using leaves and get creative with mud and water.

Painting with water

One of the smalls favourite things to do...grab a brush and get started!

Mud Cake Contest

Get competitive with friends and family. Create an awesome mud cake and win The Great British Mudcake Competition!

Tree Bark Rubbings

Take some paper and crayons out on a walk to the woods (or park) and create your own bark picture (you can use the paper for wrapping presents!).

Shells and Water Play

Use collected shells to make a mini beach in a tub or bucket.

Paint with nature

Use items collected from the garden (or walk) to create, paint and explore - Top Tip: pine cones make fantastic prints!

Where are you exploring this Summer?

S xox

Thursday, 27 July 2017

The Uncommon Gift

Opening the calendar, I was overwhelmed to see the list of upcoming birthdays and weddings. There's always an abundance of Summer birthdays, and it can be hard to find the perfect gift for everyone.

Sustainability is hugely important to me, and as many of you are aware, I always try to hand make gifts where I can. However, I'd never see the light of day for crafting if I made for everyone! So how can I gift an uncommon affordable present from a sustainable company...

It was like all of my prayers had been answered when contacted me to show me their latest range. Sustainability is high on their agenda, alongside providing a range of creative gifts produced in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.

Reading through their company policy, they seem like pretty cool guys to work for!

I won't lie... I got lost for hours pondering their gift ranges!
Wooden Wine Glasses - By David Rasmussen

Their Bridal Party Gifts and Personalised Wedding Gifts were first on my hit list, with a number of weddings on the horizon.

I swiftly moved on to Anniversary Presents and then got thoroughly lost searching through New Baby Gifts, as I appear to have reached the age where the majority of my friends are popping them out all at the same time!

Mother & Her Little Ducklings Necklace - By Ian Gibson
Latitude Longitude Pendant - By Ana Talukder

Seasons Terrarium Necklaces - Featured in the Uncommon Collection

I have quite the extensive amount of items saved on my wish list, and won't be giving anything away on here in case they see, but I've definitely found a few fantastic gifts for my upcoming events!

S xox

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Staying Wild

The Wild Sheep took part in The Wildlife Trust’s #30DaysWild for the month of June.
Below is a summary of what we got up to…

Day 1 – Camping in the South Downs

Day 2 – Playing in the rain

Day 3 – Fun in the sun

Day 4 – Looking up

Day 5 – Trip to the beach

Day 6 – Consuming the wild garden

Day 7 – Out for a hike

Day 8 – Hiking through local fields

Day 9 – Taking a close look at the bug hotel

Day 10 – Admiring wild flower

Day 11 – Keeping warm by the fire

Day 12 – Making rain chains with our shells

Day 13 – Seeing fruit appear in the fruit and veggie garden

Day 14 – Water painting

Day 15 – Hiking

Day 16 – Hiking at sunset

Day 17 – Connecting

Day 18 – Wild Swimming

Day 19 – Under the microscope

Day 20 – Shadow play

Day 21 – Celebrating Summer Solstice

Day 22 – Wild flower

Day 23 – Fresh veg from the veggie garden

Day 24 – Water fun

Day 25 – Sweet Peas

Day 26 – Fresh Flowers

Day 27 – An abundance of ladybirds

Day 28 – Helping

Day 29 – Messy toes

Day 30 – Bubbles

We were sad to see the end of #30DaysWild, which is why, along with @thegoodlifeprojectfarm, we’ve decided to carry on sharing using #365DaysWild
Have you been wild in June?
S xox

Salty Sea In Sight

One of the many health benefits regarding the outdoors is improved mental health and well-being…

‘Lucy – From Lucy With Love’

I recently caught up with Lucy Carter of ‘From Lucy With Love’. (Unfortunately, we had to use technology to communicate as now living in Cornwall, she’s a little too far away for a day visit… much to my disappointment!)
Lucy and I share a passion for nature and the outdoors, and having married in Cornwall myself last year, I didn’t need to ask why she’s recently chosen to move there!
Originally from Camberley, Lucy lived in Berkshire and Wiltshire before moving with husband Joe in February, fulfilling their dream of living with the sea in view. Joe and Lucy shared a desire to live in Cornwall from the off, and Joe proposed at Marazion Beach before they eloped (something we also have in common) two years ago, getting wed in an Arts and Crafts house near St Just.

‘St Michael’s Mount from Perranuthnoe’

I asked Lucy what had given them the final courage to make the move and she told me that although she deeply loved her job working in a school, after seven years she felt that it was time for a change. With the dream of her own business in mind she knew that she’d like to launch it from their dream location and so the pair set about looking for a home online. When they found a gorgeous cottage, everything fell into place very quickly for them and before long they could smell the sea from their doorstep.
“From the very first time I visited Cornwall I felt that I had been here before; it felt like my spiritual home… It was like I was being pulled back year after year”
Before I go on to tell you about Lucy’s exciting upcoming venture, I want to talk about her mental health. It’s not a taboo subject! In fact she is incredibly passionate about raising awareness, and actively encourages those in need to reach out for help…it’s not something to be ashamed of!
Lucy developed mental health issues herself at the age of 14. Putting plans of a conventional education path on hold, she had a successful career in the health and fitness industry before returning to study. She completed an Access to Art and Design Course followed by a Fine Art Degree, graduating from the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham, in 2009.
Although she takes daily medication to help keep things at bay, and her ‘down days will always be down days’, she has found that now living in more natural surroundings has greatly improved things for her.
“The difference now is that if and when a bad day comes along I can step out into a garden full of birds, breathe in the fresh sea air or go for a walk and watch the waves. I have always been someone who has needed nature and it certainly helps my mood.”
During her time at university, she began to document some of her work online. Putting herself out to the world helped her to build confidence in herself and before long the blog as it is today took shape. Adding YouTube videos in 2014, she now uses both mediums to document her life with Joe and Gizmo (their cat), her work, and the daily battles with anxiety and depression.

Nature now plays a dominant role in daily life for both her and Joe. Her desk sits by the window with the sea in sight, and she opts to spend all of her lunchtimes outside. Evenings are spent in the garden watching Gizmo run up the palm trees, whilst listening to the nearby waves crash on the beach, and clear nights are spent stargazing (subscribe to her YouTube and Joe might treat with you to a space fact or two!).
Their days off are spent walking, or visiting nearby National Trust properties and Lucy has plans to learn to paddle board once her business is established.
It’s safe to say that Lucy is making the most out of the nature around her. She told me that she feels at peace when out walking along the coast, and her darker days have been brightened by Cornish life.

‘St Michael’s Mount from Perranuthnoe’

Over the last two years, Lucy has been working with life coach, Gemma Sands ( Gemma helped Lucy to identify her goals and find her self-belief, which gave her the determination to begin the journey of fulfilling her business dream.
Using her creative talents and passion for stationary and watercolour, Leaf Lane StudioLucy’s upcoming wedding stationary and paper product business, will officially launch in the Summer. Being a romantic, Lucy wants couples opening a parcel from Leaf Lane Studio to have a sensory experience, a keep-sake creating a lasting memory.
“I want them to feel butterflies in their stomach as they untie the silk ribbon that encloses the order, and take in all the details of their stationery and feel like they want everyone to see it but, at the same time, can’t quite bring themselves to send it out because they don’t want to disturb it from its package.”
Everything is hand designed and painted by Lucy, before being professionally printed to a high standard (whilst being ever so kind to the planet too), giving couples and their guests beautiful memories of their day. Lucy aims to develop the business further, adding greetings cards, art prints and other stationary treats in time. The biggest influence in her work is the nature surrounding her, and she uses the countryside, wildflowers and the ever-changing colours of the coast to create stunning backdrops to her lettering work.
Lucy documents her world online via her blog and YouTube channel. You can follow along on her TwitterFacebook and Instagram pages.
The Leaf Lane Studio website is currently a work in progress, but you can head over and pop your email address in to receive up to date news on the progress. She’ll be adding sample packs of her stationary ranges to the site in the Summer, and you can watch the beginnings of the business unfold on the Leaf Lane Studio TwitterFacebook and Instagram pages.
I asked Lucy where she’d like to be in 5 years time, and whilst most people starting a new business would be likely to say that they’d like to be successful, Lucy explained that she’d like to be in a position where she could perhaps focus on other product lines with their aim to raise awareness for mental health charities. I think that statement alone goes to show the kind of person that Lucy is!
When a content provider chooses to put online their daily life for the world to read, hear or see, it’s easy to forget that you don’t really know them. Many share the downs as well as the ups, but you are watching (or reading) a snippet of what is happening in their world. It can be easy to assume that you know a person when they share their life via the internet. If you yourself are suffering with mental health, reach out to your GP who can provide help and support.
How has nature helped you?
S xox

Rain-Kisses In Red Suits

Forest School isn’t a place or a person. It’s a philosophy in which an outdoor natural space provides an environment for creative learning development. Using Scandinavian principles and European pedagogical theories in it’s teaching, frequent Forest School sessions empower the child with a range of skills that are often untouched in a standard classroom setting. The benefits to physical and mental health aside, it builds confidence and encourages self awareness.
I was thrilled to be invited back to South Lee School (read about my last visit here), and was even more excited when Mrs Julie Last – Head of Early Years, informed me that it was Outdoor Learning Week for their Nursery and Kindergarten children.
Introducing a strong relationship with nature at an early age has been proved to provide children with a list of qualities that are taken through life into adulthood. Schools across the globe have participated in Outdoor Classroom Day this week, and in recent years outdoor learning has become a much talked about subject. At South Lee, they have inestimable enthusiasm for their outdoor education and it has developed substantially for the Early Years department over the last few years. It has the teachers from upper school eager to include more outdoor learning into their teaching, and Mr Paul Burrows – Head of Mathematics told me of his plans to build bird boxes with some of his class.
20170517_130544-01Mrs Last is a Level 3 Forest School Practitioner. Using her training she has created a whole new meaning to outdoor learning time at the school. With the encouraging support from Mr Watch – Headmaster at South Lee and her teaching colleagues, she has transformed a secluded area of the school site. It now plays host to not one, but two designated outdoor learning spaces and the children are in contact with them as often as possible. The Forest School space is fenced off to conserve and protect it’s wildlife, and guards an entrancing natural space. The school are looking to add to the area with plans for an outdoor open classroom. Funds are currently being raised via the school PTA. 
Whilst Mrs Last has only one official rule, ‘NO RUNNING’, the children abide by many many more. They protect their surroundings, and ensure that they leave the site as they find it.
Encompassing the Forest School is another natural area where children can spend break and lunch time frequenting the space below the trees. With tarpaulin, tree stumps, cable reels and willow, they design and build their own play area encouraging team building, determination and self reliance.
‘Excavating with Mrs Last’
For the morning session, I was lead by the Nursery class across the playground and down to the Forest School. Dressed in their red waterproofs and wellies, they sang cheerfully all the way! When we arrived Mrs Last invited us to lay on the grass and look up at the tree coverage and sky above us. The children were respectful of this time and laid still, focusing on the tiny raindrops falling from the leaves to their face. They were asked to think about what they heard, felt on their faces, and saw. A valuable skill which is transferable to the classroom when they begin to read and write. A few children shared some of their thoughts before we went on into the Forest School grounds.
Entering through the gate, the children told me not to walk through the centre of the grounds as it boasts wildflowers which provide habitat and refuge to a range of bugs, beetles and bees. They informed me that we must help to look after it for them. They pointed out a suitable hiding spot for a hedgehog, and a small group began making hedgehogs of their own using clay, sticks and leaves. Others went off to make wands using sticks, string and leaves. Casting spells, I was turned into a frog called Rosie!

In a fast paced world many of us are guilty of overlooking the nature we come into contact with on a daily basis. Something Mrs Last said to me stuck with me long after my visit…
“I’ve been out in the rain, of course I have… But Forest School has given me the freedom to stop, notice and appreciate it. How many people pause to really take it in?!”
Mrs Last has a energy for Forest School that has to be seen. I challenge anyone to spend just ten minutes as a silent bystander and not feel the magic of her natural play sessions.

‘Blowing the clouds’

Taking teaching into natural surroundings has provided a new platform. Children seen to struggle with certain factors in the classroom, have been found to strive in different measures in the outdoors. Mrs Last and the other Early Years teachers have watched natural leadership. They have seen the children’s creative minds develop and the strengthening of communication between the children.
They have been astounded by the bewitching power of the outdoors. Touching not only the children, but the teachers themselves. Often Mrs Last will suggest that a class teacher can remain in the classroom whilst she leads the Forest School session, only to be met with a disappointment and plea to take part. The staff are as eager to participate as the children, and there are many wanting to undertake the Forest School Practitioner Course for themselves in the near future.
‘Admiring ‘Sally the Slug’ and lifting up logs to say hello to some minibeasts’
The hour whizzed by in the afternoon session with Mrs Gisbey’s Kindergarten class, during which I observed 5 or 6 micro-adventures unfold. A group of boys debated how to use the pulley system hung in the tree in order to lift some logs. They challenged spacial awareness and one boy naturally took the lead, guiding and directing his peers to obtain the desired result. They cheered wildly as they succeeded in lifting the bucket and a large heavy log, high up into the tree. As this played out, another boy had observed and identified that the pulley rope had caught itself under a branch. With quick thinking, he problem-solved and used another log to prop up the branch, freeing the rope.20170517_141306-01
Another group of boys took ideas from their recent work on volcanoes and created their own in the ground. They used spades to dig a hole for a cup and then used mud to create the mound around it. When they were ready, they beckoned Mrs Gisbey so that she could watch their spectacular moment! Pouring more water in to the hole than the container could hold, made it erupt over the side in a volcano style fashion!
A group of girls and boys used flowers, leaves and water to stir up perfumes whilst several other children took turns in making the log scale balance by standing in the centre. Those waiting for their turn directed their friends to move slowly along until it was level.
Using hand-eye coordination and balance, some of the children chose to manoeuvre themselves along a slack line which stretched between two large trees.
‘South Lee’s Site Manager is a dab hand at making tools for the Forest School’
Although some of the skills learnt outdoors at school aren’t measurable in the conventional way (how do you measure a child’s self esteem, confidence and their resourcefulness?), as a parent myself I’d say that independence and strong determination are qualities I’d like my own children to be endowed with.
Once again, a big thank you to South Lee for inviting me along for the day. The staff and children were a pleasure to be amongst… and school dinners have certainly changed since I was at school!
Did you take part in Outdoor Classroom Day? I’d love to hear what you got up to!
S xox

Sunset at the Sea

Sunset at the Sea  I've recently celebrated a milestone birthday, and was treated by a very talented photography friend to a natural ...