Eat / Grow / nature

30 Days Wild: Day 23 – Go Wild When You’re Flagging

By day 23, my tiredness had exacerbated. The weather was continuing to work its (dark) magic on my joints and between work and 30 Days Wild, I was feeling shattered.

That’s not to say that connecting with nature is tiring: quite the opposite. I find myself feeling energised by time spent outdoors.

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I did manage to make it outside at dawn, to photograph the glorious clouds. I also saw my first strawberry plant flowering, and was excited by its progress. Soon(ish) there will be strawberries. Or at least a strawberry.

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When I got inside, I sat down to work – and was surprised a few minutes later to feel something warm pressing against my leg. It turned out that the local wildlife – Charlie Cat – had decided to sneak into my flat while the door was open. He was in heavy purr mode, and made the start of my day uplifting.

One of the things I love about Charlie is that he’ll demand attention but also make it clear when he’s bored: something that would be useful in many humans! He headed downstairs, having clearly indicated it was time for me to open the door (though he did pause for another stroke before shooting out the door.)

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2017-06-23 07.02.44.jpgI had work to do, so got settled into that. However, I was still pining for outdoors. Research shows that looking at nature pictures can be uplifting and calming. I found it genuinely soothing scrolling through the #30DaysWild tags on Twitter and Instagram, and found lots of wonderful people to follow.

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Take photos of your favourite nature spot – or even a 360 degree recording, if you’ve got the tech – and you can always connect with your favourite places.

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However, I had work to do and drinks to tend. I’d started off numerous different foraged and fruity ‘champagnes’ and one of the keys to success (and a kitchen without sugary walls) is making sure you relieve the pressure in the bottles regularly. In the early stages, it can generate a lot of gas very fast, so I checked the bottles hourly (I keep them in the kitchen and release the pressure every time I have a cup of tea.)

Fermentation is a wonderful process to watch – like making magic – and I couldn’t resist videoing it. My video of bubbling redcurrant cordial had proved surprisingly popular on Instagram so I uploaded the ‘yeast forcing bubbles out the bottle’ clip – and discovered that I’m not the only one who enjoys watching the process.

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I also read up on how yeast works, as I wanted to confirm the process. I am particularly intrigued by wild yeast (the reason elderflower champagne works so well is that it tends to be high in wild yeast).

I was fascinated to learn that the sludge left at the bottom of a bottle of fizz once it’s fermented, known as gross lees, can be used to make sourdough. I may add this to my 30 Days Wild list.

After de-fizzing my wine – and decanting the lemon balm cordial from miniature champagne bottles to a large plastic bottle as it was rather too fizzy to be in glass at this stage – I decided to get my drinks in order. My collection was coming together well but, after experiencing issues with beer flies last year when I was making elderberry port (unless there’s such a thing as elderberry port flies?) I am scrupulous about ensuring all bottles are clean.

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When making large amounts of sugary, fruity (or flowery) liquid, some of which explodes, it can be easy to get sugar around the kitchen so I always double check that the outside of bottles are clean (the culprit that attracted the flies in the autumn) and generally wipe up more than usual (before bringing in more fruit and flowers to mess up the kitchen again. Foraging and making your own booze is not a job for people who hate cleaning, or love order).

Making booze also involves a lot of decanting, which is much easier with a funnel, so I made myself one by cutting a leaky soft drink bottle in half (I’d discovered it was leaky when I tried to fill in with lemon balm champagne),. The top can be used as a funnel (you can cut just the base off the bottle if you want a larger volume funnel) and the bottom half used as a planter or cloche to protect plants from slugs.

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After all my cleaning, I sat down and relaxed with a  cup of tea. A long legged spidery-looking thing joined me, and I tried to get a photo but when I looked back on my rather blurry picture, the ‘spider’ only appeared to have five legs.

I know this is possible, having once befriended a spider that went from eight legs to six over time, but it could equally be a crane fly without wings (or neither of these). Whatever it was, it was friendly enough and didn’t seem too worried about being slightly legless.

One of the things I love about 30 Days Wild is that it changed my approach to bugs. I’ve never been hugely squeamish but would generally bat bugs* away. Now, I’m more likely to get my camera out to see what it looks like close up.

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I lit a stick of Green Lady incense, made from natural products, and enjoyed its fresh smell. I find aroma can have a real influence on my mood: some smells are energising and others are calming.

While the evidence behind aromatherapy is still fairly thin on the ground, some oils have been found to make a difference to stress levels and I’m certain more oils will be found to have benefits as more research is carried out, if my own experience is anything to go by.

It could be placebo, of course, but I’ve found certain oils have had noticeable effects that I’ve then Googled and discovered they are known for, so if it is placebo, I must have absorbed the information about the oils on a subconscious level as I haven’t been expecting any specific result.

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One aroma that does have proven benefits is soil. It contains Mycobacterium vaccae which has been dubbed ‘natural Prozac’ by some. Many studies link gardening to enhanced mood.

I always feel better after I do some gardening – and make a point of breathing deeply to get the maximum benefit from the soil. I tend my indoor plants when I can’t get outdoors, and it always makes me feel relaxed so maybe I have Mycobacterium vaccae to thank.

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My bottle garden is growing at speed – in both number of bottles and vigorousness of plants. It’s a real joy watching everything grow.  There’s no doubt my flat is a lot wilder than it was at the start of the month.

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.
  221. Look at nature photos when you’re stressed.
  222. Relieve the pressure.
  223. Learn about yeast.
  224. Make a recycled funnel from an old plastic bottle.
  225. Dissuade unwanted wildlife from your home.
  226. Befriend a bug.
  227. Get surprised by wildlife.
  228. Burn herbal incense.
  229. Sniff Mycobacterium vaccae.
  230. Track your growth.

*I know that it’s technically an arachnid, but as I’m unsure whether it’s a crane fly or a spider, I went with the generic ‘bug’. My apologies to any entomologists reading. And if you can help ID my 5-legged beast, and let me know the correct term for the family it comes from, I’ll happily correct it.

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