Art / Eat / Gift / Grow / Make / nature

30 Days Wild: Day 22 – Go Wild When You’re Tired

By day 22 of #30DaysWild, I was feeling tired. I’d seen a few too many dawns, due to a combination of painsomnia, Solstice and nature putting on excellent sunrises that were too good to miss. If I’m awake when the sun starts coming up, I find it hard to pull myself away, and get a wave of energy from the new light. I’ll often go to sit outside while my neighbours are asleep, enjoying a light show that feels as if it was made just for me. I’m self-aware enough to realise it isn’t, but the solitude of dawn is magical, particularly if a bird or cat decides to appreciate the display too (I imagine I’d be overwhelmed with joy if a fox, hedgehog or some other wild creature joined me at dawn but so far, Charlie cat is my main morning companion.)

I’ve tried to photograph the dawn but there’s a fresh beauty in the soft, milky light and feeling of peace that needs to be witnessed in person (though there are some incredible photographers who almost manage to capture the full glory). I also love the sound of dawn, when silence slowly eases into the dawn chorus, and as a night owl who works across time zones, I’d rather see it by staying up all night than getting up for it!

As the weather turned from hot to colder, with more damp in the air, my body sulked, so day 22 was my second wild day indoors. Luckily, I had a lot I could do at home.

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I finished making the blackcurrant and redcurrant cordials I started last night, adding sugar and lemon to my steeped berries mix, after straining them through a sieve. It looked beautiful as it bubbled (video) the berries given an extra sheen by the melting sugar.

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I’ve never cooked with redcurrants before and was pleasantly surprised by the sharp, tasty flavour. It was the colour that really blew me away though: a vivid red that I suspect would stain anything it touches (I may investigate this for cosmetic making, as an alternative to beetroot, which I’ve used as an effective blusher and lip stain before. Redcurrant has a more scarlet hue, compared to the pinky-red of beetroot so may well be the ideal ‘night out’ lip stain colour.)

Seeing the colour drain from the berries and transfer to the liquid was magical. I’ll be taking my cordial with me to the Transition Loughborough community allotment when I go back-  and hopefully getting more redcurrants to experiment with. I’m also going to take the seeds that were left over in the sieve and see if they’ll germinate somewhere wild, in a fruity alternative to wildflower seedbombing. It’s a long shot, but if they don’t, at least it will make the birds happy. If they do, I’ll have redcurrants and blackcurrants closer to home in years to come – as will my neighbours.

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The redcurrant cordial is in the Lucozade bottle in the front left, with blackcurrant in the front right. I deliberately used Lucozade bottles as they are apparently one of the hardest things to recycle due to the entirely unnecessary plastic wrap around them. I’d love Lucozade to change this for the sake of the planet – and am tempted to tweet them about it to see if social media could help change their minds – though it did save me the effort of soaking and scrubbing the bottles, as I have to with ones that have stuck on labels.

My wild drinking cabinet is shaping up well. My rose petal and elderflower fizz has started bubbling enthusiastically.

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Such was its fizz that I decided to empty a little of it into the leftover dregs of redcurrant and blackcurrant cordial, to see if it will turn into a fizzy delight too (and avoid any bottle explosions from excess yeast in my elderflower and rose petal champagne). I like mixing leftovers from cordial and jam making to test out new recipes and flavour combinations, rather than throwing them away. In the autumn,  I created ‘Purple’ (the drink, not the colour, obviously) – a mix of blackberry, elderberry, rose hips, haws and other random hedgerow treats that tasted great (but isn’t to be drunk when wearing white, unless you like living dangerously.*)

I didn’t taste the elderflower and rose petal fizz at this point, as it has a way to go before its ready. However,  I have transferred it into mini screw-top champagne bottles which I’ll be checking regularly (I once forgot to do this frequently enough and the resultant glass and sugar mix was hell to clean up so it’s stuck in my mind as an essential! That said, you can use plastic bottles which makes it less dangerous, even if it looks less pretty. They’ll still need opening regularly to let the gas out though. I keep them in the kitchen and undo them every time I make a cup of tea, particularly if the weather is warm.)

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I also turned my lemon balm into cordial, by draining the mix that had been steeping all night and adding honey, lemon juice and sugar (I didn’t have quite enough honey, or I’d have used that alone).

I read up on lemon balm and discovered it’s long been thought to lift your spirits and relieve anxiety, along with helping with stress, muscle spasms, IBS and aiding sleep. I like the idea of happiness cordial that eases pain and settles the stomach – ideal if you know people going through exams. It may be a murky green but it’s surprisingly tasty.

I used the strained leaves to test out a different approach to leaf paper. I’ll report back on the results once there’s something to see.

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I also checked on the flowers I’m pressing and was pleased to see the stalks left over from making elderflower cordial now look like tiny trees.

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This put me in crafting mood but I saved the elderflowers for another day and instead, made a dinosaur garden from the free succulents I got at the weekend’s Loughborough in Bloom event, some recycled plastic packaging and some dinosaur toys I was given for my birthday (my friend knows how much I like making mini gardens).

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I then checked in on #30DaysWild on social media, sharing some pictures and recipe ideas (rose petals and clover are my new obsessions. I like borage too, but the beautiful blue blooms go brown in alcohol rather than retaining their colour, so I think I’ll be using them more fresh  than cooked.) It felt good to share what I’ve learned – and see other people’s ideas too.

Constant foraging leads to constant mess, so I gave the kitchen another clean. Rather than using commercial cleaning products, I opted for a more old fashioned approach. It’s easy to get into the habit of squirting cleaning spray every time you wipe down – or worse, cleaning with single use cleaning wipes. However, I prefer the more eco, and cheaper way of cleaning, using hot water, elbow grease and vinegar, soda crystals, bicarb and lemon juice as required.

I find a lot of modern cleaning products have artificial aromas added that give me a headache, whereas home made products are scent free (though I have been known to add lavender oil to vinegar when cleaning glass with vinegar and newspaper, to help tame the vinegar smell.) I’ll share some cleaning product recipes in a future post.

I still ached well into the evening, so opted for an easy couple of random acts of wildness: having a meat free dinner (a delicious Higgidy cauliflower cheese and broccoli quiche, which was reduced – and as tasty as home made – with salad from the allotment) and watching TV.

I searched  Netflix for nature programmes and was excited to spot Last Chance to See. Sadly, it wasn’t the Douglas Adams version (I’m a huge fan of his). However, Stephen Fry is a joy to watch and I loved learning about the manatee  and seeing its calm and kindly face: it looked like the sort of animal Douglas Adams would have invented.

This may yet turn into a Netflix binge – the episode about the white rhino was on as I started writing this post and was just as fascinating  – with the added advantage of a great shot of bats. It doesn’t make up for my lack of bat spotting in real life to date, but it helped me feel connected to nature even though I’m stuck indoors.

I am now on the ay ay episode, and have fallen a little bit in love with this nocturnal, curious creature. You don’t always have to go outside to feel connected to nature. But I’m hoping my body will let me get outdoors tomorrow.

Random Acts of Wildness So Far…

  1. Spread the word.
  2. Start a weather/pain diary.
  3. Look at the clouds.
  4. Photograph wildflowers.
  5. Look for urban nature.
  6. ID a butterfly.
  7. Find a fledgling.
  8. Feed a swan.
  9. Collect feathers.
  10. Stake out a foraging site.
  11. ID birdsong.
  12. Tweet using the #30DaysWild hashtag.
  13. Plant a virtual seed.
  14. See new life growing.
  15. Feed the ducks.
  16. Protect an animal from a predator.
  17. Reflect on nature.
  18. Look closely at your lawn.
  19. Make someone a nature hamper from recycled materials.
  20. Share nature photos using #30DaysWild on Instagram (and help the hashtag trend).
  21. Show your houseplants some love.
  22. Tell friends about #30DaysWild.
  23. Talk to a junior naturalist and encourage their creativity.
  24. Photograph a favourite cuddly toy in nature.
  25. Add a nature event to your diary.
  26. Look closely at a friend’s garden.
  27. Take photos for #Rainbowblooms.
  28. Find a plant that looks like a bug.
  29. Watch a bee.
  30. Read a nature-based research paper.
  31. Get overawed by nature
  32. Watch the dawn.
  33. Walk barefoot in dewy grass.
  34. Try a nature meditation.
  35. Raid and repurpose the recycling.
  36. Go on a wild date.
  37. Go litter picking.
  38. Protect the soil.
  39. Make nature art.
  40. Watch the sunset
  41. Turn your desk wild.
  42. Water your plants.
  43. Celebrate World Environment Day.
  44. Take part in the plastic challenge.
  45. Watch nature videos.
  46. Tell people who run your favourite hashtag hour on Twitter about 30 Days Wild.
  47. Tell a colleague about 30 Days Wild.
  48. Take a closer look at foxgloves.
  49. Share nature-themed recycled crafting ideas.
  50. Have a natural aromatherapy bath.
  51. Dress for the weather.
  52. Connect with a local nature lover.
  53. Look at a puddle closely.
  54. Rescue a plant.
  55. Make a mini meadow in a recycled container.
  56. Photograph wet leaves.
  57. Welcome new wildlife to the area.
  58. Make a bottle garden.
  59. Make a wild bouquet.
  60. Collect flower petals for your nature crafting box.
  61. Tend a garden.
  62. Feel the wind in your hair.
  63. Collect leaves for crafting.
  64. Grow a tomato.
  65. Create a 30 second wildlife habitat.
  66. Admire an insect.
  67. Photograph something blue.
  68. Make a nature video.
  69. Go on a flower pot hunt.
  70. Wear nature-inspired fashion.
  71. Vote for nature.
  72. Plan a windowbox walk.
  73. Celebrate World Oceans Day.
  74. Go wild in a graveyard.
  75. Love lichen.
  76. Be amazed by moss.
  77. Find fungi.
  78. Stock up on wild supplies.
  79. Bag a bargain to bring back to life.
  80. Find something new in nature.
  81. Grow your own food.
  82. Reflect on nature and what it means to you.
  83. Look closely at cuckoo spit.
  84. Plant something pollinator friendly.
  85. Plant a herb garden and share cuttings.
  86. Look for bugs.
  87. Let your garden go wild.
  88. Read the weather.
  89. Brighten a corner of your home with plants.
  90. Use an eco friendly search engine.
  91. Repurpose plastic packaging.
  92. Use biodegradable glitter.
  93. Collect flower petals.
  94. Find the perfect feather to make a quill.
  95. Add fairyland magic to your home with a fairy doll made from recycled materials.
  96. Use feathers as home decor.
  97. Wear nature-inspired jewellery.
  98. Watch the moon.
  99. Go for a dawn walk.
  100. Invite people to a wild cocktail party.
  101. (Try to) put up a bird box.
  102. Make a bug habitat.
  103. Take a bug’s eye view.
  104. Follow an ant.
  105. Take a macro shot of the earth.
  106. Plant strawberries.
  107. Plant a bird seed garden.
  108. Collect rainwater for the garden.
  109. Think about light pollution (and turn off garden lights when not in use).
  110. Create a kitchen herb garden.
  111. Put out a bird feeder.
  112. Photograph flowers in the dark.
  113. Go for a canal walk at dusk.
  114. Forage for your supper.
  115. Make flower tea.
  116. Make a floral face wash.
  117. Press flowers.
  118. Craft a story with wild finds.
  119. Read William Morris’s nature writing.
  120. Fill your pockets with pine cones.
  121. See fledglings fly the nest.
  122. Look through the leaves.
  123. Find a ladybird baby.
  124. See a seed you sowed grow wild.
  125. Pay attention to a warning sign in nature.
  126. Find ferns.
  127. Find a flower fairy.
  128. ID a wildflower.
  129. Find nature art.
  130. Made floral cocktail ingredients.
  131. (Try to) rescue a wildflower.
  132. Make a daisy ring.
  133. Make a bottle garden and get back to your roots.
  134. Follow an ant.
  135. Check for evidence of wildlife, in the absence of any obvious creatures.
  136. Collect a feather to ID.
  137. Find wildlife in the clouds.
  138. Find a plant that looks like an alien.
  139. Find a solution for a waste problem that annoys you.
  140. Research nature-based citizen science.
  141. Look at nature through a window.
  142. Make something that you need instead of going to the shops.
  143. Learn a new nature word.
  144. Share a happy nature memory online.
  145. Make a natural face mask.
  146. Make a herbal remedy (check for any side effects, particularly if you’re on any medications. Medications don’t always mix well with herbal remedies and many people forget to check this. Read up about all the ingredients you’re using to be on the safe side,)
  147. Share nature-themed style that you love.
  148. Buy a nature-related book (I’m donating all June profits from my book, Go Wild: Over 200 Ways to Connect With Nature to the Wildlife Trusts.)
  149. Trade links with another nature blogger.
  150. Listen to the dawn chorus.
  151. Make an indoor night garden.
  152. Made dinner for a hedgehog.
  153. Use solar powered lights to reduce the amount of electricity you use.
  154. Give nature a libation (pour a bit of drink on the ground and thank nature for all it provides).
  155. Go on a mini-beast hunt at night.
  156. Photograph a snail.
  157. Look into the shadows.
  158. Take a different view.
  159. Find the fairies at the bottom of the garden.
  160. Drink elderberry port outdoors.
  161. Get involved with Britain in Bloom.
  162. Find out more about Transition Towns.
  163. Eat food that would otherwise have been wasted.
  164. Admire a blue sky.
  165. Make your business greener.
  166. Watch the sun through the trees and see how it changes as you move (or move your camera.)
  167. Photograph a blackbird.
  168. Have a 30 Days Wild fail – and learn from it.
  169. Make a bug (boutique) hotel.
  170. Craft a natural scene from your #30DaysWild finds.
  171. Forage for edible wildflowers.
  172. Set off down an unknown path.
  173. Hug a sapling. Baby trees need love too.
  174. Find a tree with a face.
  175. Admire a tree stump.
  176. Forage a friend’s garden.
  177. Grow the amount of nature you have indoors.
  178. Make a herbal hair tonic.
  179. Look for bats.
  180. Make a herb vinegar.
  181. Put water out for wildlife on a hot day.
  182. Make rose cordial (and experiment with other edible flowers.)
  183. Make a herbal oil.
  184. Make leaf paper.
  185. Get food from a community allotment.
  186. Have a barbecue.
  187. Watch a stream flow.
  188. Look into a fire.
  189. Create an outdoor air freshener by throwing woody herbs on the fire.
  190. Watch the stars emerge at dusk.
  191. Create your own nature magazine, booklet or scrap book.
  192. Light a candle in the dark.
  193. Go outside wearing your pyjamas.
  194. Celebrate Summer Solstice.
  195. Think about the impact you have on nature.
  196. Collect herbs by moonlight.
  197. Listen to the wind in the trees.
  198. Study a slug.
  199. Burn natural incense.
  200. Make herb salt.
  201. Watch a daisy open up.
  202. Make herb ice cubes.
  203. Get involved with a gardening community.
  204. Share food or drink with other people.
  205. Weed the garden.
  206. Make blackcurrant or redcurrant cordial.
  207. Make borage gin.
  208. ID a ladybird.
  209. Make your own Summer Punch (vodka, fruit, edible flowers and herbs)/
  210. Start a herb garden.
  211. Cook using a wild ingredient you’ve never tried before.
  212. Share your wild recipes.
  213. Re-use a Lucozade bottle..
  214. Press elderflower stalks left over from cordial making to make tiny trees.
  215. Love lemon balm.
  216. Read the science behind a herbal remedy and see if it stacks up for you (tips on research can be found here. If you’re after something more in-depth, read The Research Companion by the brilliant Petra Boynton).
  217. Opt for eco cleaning.
  218. Make a dinosaur garden.
  219. Go meat free.
  220. Watch a nature TV show.

* My idea of living dangerously has tamed with age.

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