On day 27, I had a busy day of work. I wanted to get outside but by the time I’d cleared everything I needed to, the ache had set in. Combined with the rain – which always makes my body sulk – I faced another evening in.
I’ve been missing going outside and seriously considered going for a walk in the rain – particularly when I heard the cry of ‘ducklings’ from my partner. I didn’t get to the window fast enough to see them, but I did get to enjoy the sight of three ducks grooming themselves (in annoyingly brilliant light, given that I wasn’t out there with my camera – and didn’t have my phone with me. I knew I wouldn’t get a good enough shot out the window so just enjoyed watching the ducks – and ‘outside’.)
I love the changing light as spring turns into summer. I feel that the light has a huge effect on the way we feel: almost everyone smiles more on a sunny day.
By connecting with nature over the last year, I’ve noticed the changing mood with the changing light.
The brightness of summer and vibrant colours bring festivals and play to the fore.
As autumn draws in, the purples and oranges of the hedgerows give a rich, comforting edge to the increasing darkness. A bowl of blackberry crumble, or bright yellow corn-on-the-cob eaten in the glow of a bonfire night fire, bring a wonderful warmth to the season.
Though there’s a chill in the air, it’s worth wrapping up to witness the glorious sunsets that accompany the darker days.
With winter comes a harsh white light, that can feel overwhelming. Everything is thrown into black and white, but for the occasional splash of red from berries (and the occasional valiant dandelion, shining on regardless).
However, when the world turns totally white with snow, and the sky is clear winter-blue, the joyfulness of a summer day can return as people join each other with toboggans – and maybe share a glass of mulled wine (or mulled elderberry port, for a near-free and decadent alternative. It’s also a great way to use overly sour but still sound port, as you can mask the flavour with honey or black treacle, citrus and mulling spices.)
If my health limits my ability to get outside, I always find myself drawn to cooking, nature crafting and tending my plants. Until I was unable to get outdoors on occasion, I took it for granted and would grumble about grey weather as much as anyone. Now, if my body is able to get outside, I’m out there.
It’s very easy to see the healing powers of nature when you’re denied it, and it’s amazing how beneficial a nature boost can be – even something as simple as having a cup of tea outdoors, or watching a bee on a flower for five minutes.
It’s a form of mindfulness that works for me, and my enthusiasm for nature is in part down to experiencing so many benefits from revelling in it that I want everyone else to feel the joy of it too.
When I first realised that I was going to have to get used to occasional bouts of being housebound, I started stocking up my craft basket.
I have a fairly large crafting collection for someone without children, as a result of putting together events and installations for Brighton Science Festival and Latitude Festival (among other organisations) for a fair few years.
In addition to GrowEatGift, I also created the Forest of Thoughts, an evolving STEAM collective (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths) of people who love play and education in equal measure, and want to make the world a better place by sharing their insight into the magic of science and nature, along with a sprinkling of fairy dust.
I’ve been considering evolving it into a STAMEN Collective, by adding nature to the mix. The science and art experimentation we do seems to be drifting ever more towards nature, as the perfect tool to help people learn about both (along with building resilience, self sufficiency and general health).
As anyone who’s worked a festival will know, you often end up with a fairly random assortment of items after running an event – and if take-down is affected by bad weather, it’s entirely possible to end up with a mixed carrier bag containing everything from solar powered fairy lights to a glittery unicorn.
There are usually a few local leaves thrown in, as most of the events we do have at least an element of outdoors, and we’ve been incorporating more nature crafting with every passing year.
The more events we do, the less we take with us as there’s always so much to work with on site, from the leaves on the ground to ‘found’ items galore. We spent hours turning spaces into indoor gardens of delight when we first started putting on Forest of Thoughts events but using the ready-made wonders of the world around us saves hours in set up because nature is such a skilled artist. With a little fairyland sparkle (of the biodegradable kind), nature is all you need for festival fun. However, I still have several trunks worth of nature crafting materials, so I decided to sort them out while I was stuck indoors.
It wasn’t just the weather that made me want to sort my nature crafting finds, I had also had exciting news: the listings for Latitude Festival had been updated, and I can finally officially announce that I’m going to be helping the faerie folk of the Faraway Forest grow a love revolution, sharing tips on making the most of nature’s bounty to fill your store cupboards, your weekends and your life with fun.
I’m going to be joined by Clover the Rainbow Fairy, along with Prickles Nettlethorn and Hops Burdock the elves, who will be sharing their nature magic secrets to help you grow the love (and save money with nature’s help). Find out more here.*
Sorting my crafting supplies is always a calming thing to do on a grey, achy day. I find it soothing putting everything into neat piles, matched by colour, material or whatever other parameter makes the most sense for whatever I’m doing.
I sorted a pile for costume making. While the faeries of the Faraway Forest are obviously very well dressed, and have been making their own preparations, I need to make sure that I dress up for them too.**
I sorted another pile of natural goodies for decorating my desk (which is growing wilder every day) and a further one for fairy wing decoration (I wear wings at Latitude to show solidarity with the fairies. They have assured me it isn’t appropriation.)
After sorting my crafting supplies, I then checked on the kitchen. The drinks are still bubbling away. My rainbow cocktail cabinet of foraged drinks is coming together. Among other things, I have:
- Redcurrant champagne and cordial.
- Peach and apricot vodka.
- Elderflower and rose petal champagne and gin.
- Lemon balm champagne (which is a murky green but in a darker green bottle – always a good way to hide drinks that taste great but look ‘interesting’. You can also add blackcurrant or redcurrant cordial to mask the colour – or serve in silver goblets. You could add natural food colouring too – and on Instagram, there’s even a company selling glittering spirits!)
- Borage gin with blueberries (the borage went a disappointing brown after initially filling the bottle with blue joy. It tastes great, but I’m going to add more blueberries over time, to make it less murky, and bluer).
- Blackberry gin.
- Elderberry port.
- Blackberry and apple vodka
I want to gather some mallow petals to see if they will create the violet that is currently missing from my rainbow. If not, I’ll experiment with blackberry cordial and one of the paler bottles of fizz.
Half the fun of making your own fairyland champagnes is that you get to play. The other half comes in the glee of making something luxurious for free: the fairies of the Faraway Forest should be happy with their rider…
After checking on my drinks and shaking or de-fizzing them as appropriate, I checked on the seeds that were left over after making them. I’ve been leaving them to soak so that I can remove the pulp from them, in the hope that some of the seeds may be viable and I can sow some blackcurrant and redcurrant bushes for people to enjoy. It’s a long shot, but if it doesn’t work, the local birds will be happy.
Random Acts of Wildness So Far…
- Spread the word.
- Start a weather/pain diary.
- Look at the clouds.
- Photograph wildflowers.
- Look for urban nature.
- ID a butterfly.
- Find a fledgling.
- Feed a swan.
- Collect feathers.
- Stake out a foraging site.
- ID birdsong.
- Tweet using the #30DaysWild hashtag.
- Plant a virtual seed.
- See new life growing.
- Feed the ducks.
- Protect an animal from a predator.
- Reflect on nature.
- Look closely at your lawn.
- Make someone a nature hamper from recycled materials.
- Share nature photos using #30DaysWild on Instagram (and help the hashtag trend).
- Show your houseplants some love.
- Tell friends about #30DaysWild.
- Talk to a junior naturalist and encourage their creativity.
- Photograph a favourite cuddly toy in nature.
- Add a nature event to your diary.
- Look closely at a friend’s garden.
- Take photos for #Rainbowblooms.
- Find a plant that looks like a bug.
- Watch a bee.
- Read a nature-based research paper.
- Get overawed by nature
- Watch the dawn.
- Walk barefoot in dewy grass.
- Try a nature meditation.
- Raid and repurpose the recycling.
- Go on a wild date.
- Go litter picking.
- Protect the soil.
- Make nature art.
- Watch the sunset
- Turn your desk wild.
- Water your plants.
- Celebrate World Environment Day.
- Take part in the plastic challenge.
- Watch nature videos.
- Tell people who run your favourite hashtag hour on Twitter about 30 Days Wild.
- Tell a colleague about 30 Days Wild.
- Take a closer look at foxgloves.
- Share nature-themed recycled crafting ideas.
- Have a natural aromatherapy bath.
- Dress for the weather.
- Connect with a local nature lover.
- Look at a puddle closely.
- Rescue a plant.
- Make a mini meadow in a recycled container.
- Photograph wet leaves.
- Welcome new wildlife to the area.
- Make a bottle garden.
- Make a wild bouquet.
- Collect flower petals for your nature crafting box.
- Tend a garden.
- Feel the wind in your hair.
- Collect leaves for crafting.
- Grow a tomato.
- Create a 30 second wildlife habitat.
- Admire an insect.
- Photograph something blue.
- Make a nature video.
- Go on a flower pot hunt.
- Wear nature-inspired fashion.
- Vote for nature.
- Plan a windowbox walk.
- Celebrate World Oceans Day.
- Go wild in a graveyard.
- Love lichen.
- Be amazed by moss.
- Find fungi.
- Stock up on wild supplies.
- Bag a bargain to bring back to life.
- Find something new in nature.
- Grow your own food.
- Reflect on nature and what it means to you.
- Look closely at cuckoo spit.
- Plant something pollinator friendly.
- Plant a herb garden and share cuttings.
- Look for bugs.
- Let your garden go wild.
- Read the weather.
- Brighten a corner of your home with plants.
- Use an eco friendly search engine.
- Repurpose plastic packaging.
- Use biodegradable glitter.
- Collect flower petals.
- Find the perfect feather to make a quill.
- Add fairyland magic to your home with a fairy doll made from recycled materials.
- Use feathers as home decor.
- Wear nature-inspired jewellery.
- Watch the moon.
- Go for a dawn walk.
- Invite people to a wild cocktail party.
- (Try to) put up a bird box.
- Make a bug habitat.
- Take a bug’s eye view.
- Follow an ant.
- Take a macro shot of the earth.
- Plant strawberries.
- Plant a bird seed garden.
- Collect rainwater for the garden.
- Think about light pollution (and turn off garden lights when not in use).
- Create a kitchen herb garden.
- Put out a bird feeder.
- Photograph flowers in the dark.
- Go for a canal walk at dusk.
- Forage for your supper.
- Make flower tea.
- Make a floral face wash.
- Press flowers.
- Craft a story with wild finds.
- Read William Morris’s nature writing.
- Fill your pockets with pine cones.
- See fledglings fly the nest.
- Look through the leaves.
- Find a ladybird baby.
- See a seed you sowed grow wild.
- Pay attention to a warning sign in nature.
- Find ferns.
- Find a flower fairy.
- ID a wildflower.
- Find nature art.
- Made floral cocktail ingredients.
- (Try to) rescue a wildflower.
- Make a daisy ring.
- Make a bottle garden and get back to your roots.
- Follow an ant.
- Check for evidence of wildlife, in the absence of any obvious creatures.
- Collect a feather to ID.
- Find wildlife in the clouds.
- Find a plant that looks like an alien.
- Find a solution for a waste problem that annoys you.
- Research nature-based citizen science.
- Look at nature through a window.
- Make something that you need instead of going to the shops.
- Learn a new nature word.
- Share a happy nature memory online.
- Make a natural face mask.
- 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,)
- Share nature-themed style that you love.
- 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.)
- Trade links with another nature blogger.
- Listen to the dawn chorus.
- Make an indoor night garden.
- Made dinner for a hedgehog.
- Use solar powered lights to reduce the amount of electricity you use.
- Give nature a libation (pour a bit of drink on the ground and thank nature for all it provides).
- Go on a mini-beast hunt at night.
- Photograph a snail.
- Look into the shadows.
- Take a different view.
- Find the fairies at the bottom of the garden.
- Drink elderberry port outdoors.
- Get involved with Britain in Bloom.
- Find out more about Transition Towns.
- Eat food that would otherwise have been wasted.
- Admire a blue sky.
- Make your business greener.
- Watch the sun through the trees and see how it changes as you move (or move your camera.)
- Photograph a blackbird.
- Have a 30 Days Wild fail – and learn from it.
- Make a bug (boutique) hotel.
- Craft a natural scene from your #30DaysWild finds.
- Forage for edible wildflowers.
- Set off down an unknown path.
- Hug a sapling. Baby trees need love too.
- Find a tree with a face.
- Admire a tree stump.
- Forage a friend’s garden.
- Grow the amount of nature you have indoors.
- Make a herbal hair tonic.
- Look for bats.
- Make a herb vinegar.
- Put water out for wildlife on a hot day.
- Make rose cordial (and experiment with other edible flowers.)
- Make a herbal oil.
- Make leaf paper.
- Get food from a community allotment.
- Have a barbecue.
- Watch a stream flow.
- Look into a fire.
- Create an outdoor air freshener by throwing woody herbs on the fire.
- Watch the stars emerge at dusk.
- Create your own nature magazine, booklet or scrap book.
- Light a candle in the dark.
- Go outside wearing your pyjamas.
- Celebrate Summer Solstice.
- Think about the impact you have on nature.
- Collect herbs by moonlight.
- Listen to the wind in the trees.
- Study a slug.
- Burn natural incense.
- Make herb salt.
- Watch a daisy open up.
- Make herb ice cubes.
- Get involved with a gardening community.
- Share food or drink with other people.
- Weed the garden.
- Make blackcurrant or redcurrant cordial.
- Make borage gin.
- ID a ladybird.
- Make your own Summer Punch (vodka, fruit, edible flowers and herbs)/
- Start a herb garden.
- Cook using a wild ingredient you’ve never tried before.
- Share your wild recipes.
- Re-use a Lucozade bottle..
- Press elderflower stalks left over from cordial making to make tiny trees.
- Love lemon balm.
- 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).
- Opt for eco cleaning.
- Make a dinosaur garden.
- Go meat free.
- Watch a nature TV show.
- Look at nature photos when you’re stressed.
- Relieve the pressure.
- Learn about yeast.
- Make a recycled funnel from an old plastic bottle.
- Dissuade unwanted wildlife from your home.
- Befriend a bug.
- Get surprised by wildlife.
- Burn herbal incense.
- Sniff Mycobacterium vaccae.
- Track your growth.
- Listen to nature-inspired music.
- Share your favourite nature bloggers with other people.
- Watch the slipstream.
- Be inspired by someone’s recycling idea.
- Notice the light through the trees.
- Look at the way the wind affects things around you.
- Talk to your local restaurant about recycling flowers (and other waste).
- Have a drink in a pub garden.
- Compare man-made magic with natural magic.
- Notice the shadows at night.
- Have an explosive nature experience.
- Clean up the mess you’ve made.
- Upcycle a found item, rather than buying something new.
- Chop an onion the ‘minimum waste’ way.
- Save onion skins to make dye.
- Start a compost bin.
- Make Fridgetata.
- Take a new approach to a familiar experience.
- Collect egg shells for egg shell mosaics.
- Learn about a local farm shop.
- Photograph pink clouds.
- Check on your bug habitat, and top up the water.
- Plant a tree.
- Investigate bonsai.
- Let your garden run wild.
- Deadhead flowers.
- Make a Rumtompf (or ‘Joyful Jamjar).
- Make an ‘elderflower trees’ collage.
- Make her bread.
- Eat a meal you’ve grown.
- Watch wildlife through a window.
- Watch a duck groom itself (if you can, watch a swan too. They’re amusingly inelegant when grooming, compared to their usual sophisticated selves).
- Look into the light.
- Make a ‘rainy day; nature crafting kit.
- Drink a cup of tea outdoors.
- Organise a nature-themed event.
- Make a nature-themed fancy dress costume.
- Take stock of nature’s bounty.
- Make a foraged rainbow cocktail collection.
- Save seeds.
* Latitude still had a final few volunteer slots available last time I checked, a few days ago, so if you’re skint, you could still come to join the fairies in the forest if you don’t mind working for your play. Alternatively, you can buy tickets here. There are hundreds of wonderful performers, across the full spectrum of arts (including arts you may never have heard of before…)
** Fairies can be a little standoffish if they don’t think you’ve made the effort, if you catch them on a bad day. On a good day, they’ll enthuse about everything you do – but whatever you do, don’t accept any celebratory food and drink they offer you, as it may spirit you away into another world – according to a helpful person on #FolkloreThursday (if it was you who warned me, thank you and please mention it was you in the comments so I can add a link to you.)