30 Days Wild – 29 to 30 June, and reflections

On Monday 29 June I was able to enjoy the coastline once again, but this time from the deck of a ferry. Bright sunshine and a soft breeze made time spent on deck really peaceful. The building in the distance is another peaceful place – Quarr Abbey, home to a group of Benedictine monks and a place of sanctuary since 1132.

And on Tuesday 30 June I wrapped up my wild month with a visit to the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show. Interestingly there were lots of show gardens that included areas of wild planting – a fitting end to a wonderful month.

Time spent in nature has always been important to me (hence this website). It is a source of joy, tranquility and healing, and yet when life gets busy it can be one of the first things to fall by the wayside in my schedule. Taking part in 30 Days Wild has meant finding a few moments each and every day to prioritise time spent outside, and that has been invaluable.

I am lucky enough to live in a place that is surrounded by countryside but even when I was spending time in the city I was able to connect with a wilder, more natural life. The lesson: it is always possible to strengthen our connection with the natural world, no matter where we live or how little time we have. A big thank you to The Wildlife Trusts for coming up with this amazing campaign. I joined my local Wiltshire Trust this month as a way of showing my ongoing support!

If you’ve enjoyed reading these updates then do keep an eye on this site as I will be adding lots of resources over the coming months, all designed to give you easy access to the healing powers of nature.

 

30 Days Wild – 22 to 28 June

On Monday 22 June I visited a local churchyard in search of a few wild moments. I stood quietly and looked at all of the wonderful mature trees and pretty soon a host of birds and squirrels appeared to join me. I have always found churchyards to be beautiful spaces and time spent wandering around one never fails to give me a feeling of peace and tranquility.

On Tuesday 23 June I spent the day in London and visited the Chelsea Physic Garden, a four acre plot founded in 1673 by apothecaries keen to study the medicinal power of plants. Today it is run as a charity and offers visitors the chance to see some rare specimens as well as learning more about potential uses for the plants that surround us every day.

Wednesday 24 June saw me chasing butterflies. I saw several species but this little beauty was the only one that posed for a picture!

On the evening of Thursday 25 June we arrived at one of our favourite beaches and went down to watch a pale, pastel sunset by the gently lapping waves. I also took a video which will be added to this site in the near future so keep your eyes peeled.

On Friday 26 June I went beachcombing. I was hunting for seaglass which I like to use when making jewellery. It’s awful that bottles end up floating in our oceans but, as often happens, nature takes charge and creates something beautiful out of this debris.

Saturday 27 June saw me glued to the shoreline as hundreds and hundreds of yachts took part in the Round the Island Race, around the Isle of Wight. This is the first time I have been able to enjoy this event and it was a truly magnificent spectacle. The water was filled with brightly coloured sails as the crews took full advantage of a breezy day to try and register a competitive time. It was like watching a host of butterflies flitting across the sea. Magical.

On Sunday 28 June the wind had dropped and I enjoyed a quiet morning walk to one of my favourite wildlife ponds in Bonchurch. Originally a withy bed it was gifted to the people and is now home to some very large fish, a family of noisy ducks and the occasional heron.

 

30 Days Wild – 15 to 21 June

On Monday 15 June I spent some time wandering amongst the daisies (Latin name Bellis perennis, which means ‘pretty everlasting’). I really love these tiny flowers and made endless daisy chains and crowns as a child. Nowadays I like to let my lawn grow between cuts so I can enjoy the clumps of cheery yellow and white.

Tuesday 16 June saw me strolling by my favourite stream. A tributary of the River Cole (which is itself a tributary of the River Thames) this is a gentle, shallow stream for much of the year and I love to sit on a rock and listen to it babbling while the birds sing overhead.

On Wednesday 17 June I noticed that our apple tree was suffering from an infestation of aphids. I am trying not to use any pesticides in our garden so I mixed up an organic concoction of water infused with onion, garlic, pepper and mild soap. Time will tell if this works on the aphids but it certainly repelled me quite effectively!

On Thursday 18 June I enjoyed a walk around the village. We’re quite lucky to have a number of wild verges and I particularly love this one, which is full of valerian. These beautiful flowers were used as a perfume in the C16th and the root is also said to have sedative properties.

Friday 19 June was a bit of a manic day but I still found time to download a new ‘wild’ app for my phone. ChirpOMatic will allow me to record bird song before suggesting a possible match for the bird that is singing. I’ve wanted to try and learn to identify species by song for a really long time so I’m looking forward to playing with this.

On Saturday 20 June I spent the day at the village fete, on a stand which promoted our local wildlife refuge. We had a great display detailing some of the rare and declining species that people can help us to save and, thankfully, I think we signed up a few new volunteers.

On Sunday 21 June I attended a really beautiful Solstice event: a blessing for an ancient spring in the village of Alton Barnes. The ceremony was led by druids but also included contributions from folk musicians, a choir and a historian. It was wonderful to see a community come together and celebrate the gift of fresh water in a spot that has been home to a seies of natural springs for many hundreds of years.

And here’s a bonus image taken this week, just because few things make me smile more broadly than a field of bobbing red poppies.

Picture of a field of poppies

30 Days Wild – 8 to 14 June

On Monday 8 June I spent some time working in the garden. One of the jobs I needed to tackle was cutting back a lavender bush that had become so unruly it was beginning to block our front door! It was a shame to cut it back just as it was about to burst into flower but I made the best of it by saving two bunches of the flowerheads and hanging them up in the kitchen to dry. I should also point out that there is still loads of lavender in the garden for the butterflies and bees to enjoy.

On Tuesday 9 June I took a nice long walk, out across the fields and back along a disused railway path that is beloved of local walkers, riders and cyclists. It was a somewhat wild and windy morning so I walked with a backdrop of whispers, wails and rustlings. Here’s a little audio recording that should give you an idea of the soundtrack!

On the evening of Wednesday 10 June I joined a group of people being given a tour of a local beauty spot. This secluded, wooded valley has been reclaimed for people and wildlife by a group of volunteers – of whom I am one. I’ll be writing more about this project in future posts, but it certainly was lovely to wonder through the valley as the sun set.

On Thursday 11 June I visited one of my favourite woodlands. As well as saying hello to some wonderful old trees, I was able to enjoy numerous birds flitting around overhead (many of them newly fledged), a number of mischevious squirrels, a close encounter with a curious sheep and a beautiful buzzard soaring and calling. Magical!

Friday 12 June was spent in London, but even in a big city you can find beautiful green spaces to relax and reflect in. For example, these glorious white roses were making the most of the London clay and filling the Tibetan peace garden in Lambeth.

On Saturday 13 June we drove home through the Chiltern Hills. It was a rainy, misty morning with low clouds scudding across the valley and it inspired me to write a little haiku:

White whisps softly drift
along the lush, green valley.
Quenching thirsty ground.

Sunday 14 June was spent quietly at home. I am working on a little timelapse film and wanted to capture the first few flowers that are appearing in one of my mixed seed beds.

30 Days Wild – 1 to 7 June

 

On Monday 1 June I took a leaf out of Gene Kelly’s book and went ‘Singing in the Rain’. Yes I included the dance steps (well, some of them) and the whole experience reminded me of Billy Connolly’s excellent quote: “There is no such thing as bad weather – only the wrong clothes”.

On Tuesday 2 June the skies began to clear and I visited my local wildlife refuge (more on that later) in search of a new arrival – the beautiful wildflower ‘Ragged Robin’. This species, formerly known as the ‘Crowflower’, is now in decline so it was fantastic to spot one!

On Wednesday 3 June I went out into my garden and cut some sprigs of fresh sage to put into a lovely beef stew. I grow sage, chives, thyme and mint (all in pots which is especially important for mint as it is invasive in the garden). A little herb patch like this can provide fresh ingredients all year round if you freeze some batches of herbs in the late summer. It also smells divine and provides a welcome food source for butterflies.

On Thursday 4 June I enjoyed a spot of cloud gazing. The formation pictured above reminded me of delicate, hand-marbled Italian paper – perhaps that’s where the first paper makers looked for inspiration…

On Friday 5 June I attended an environmental volunteering day at the headquarters of Nationwide in Swindon. I was there promoting my local group of conservation volunteers (WARP) but I also took some time out to chat to the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and take part in their #MyWildLife campaign.

Saturday 6 June was mostly spent sitting in a car, but even in that environment it’s possible to have some contact with wildlife. As I wasn’t the one doing the driving I was free to enjoy watching magpies and red kites soaring over the motorway verges and, on the way home, to witness an incredible sunset.

On Sunday 7 June I visited a lovely garden courtesy of the National Gardens Scheme. This particular garden surrounds an old lock-keepers cottage so, as well as enjoying its colourful planting (which was alive with bees), I was able to spend a wonderful half hour strolling down the towpath and taking in the reed beds.