Make / nature

Explore the Canal

I’m lucky enough to live near a canal. It provides me with hours of joy. You might be surprised by how near a canal you live.

When I was in London, I often walked from Ladbroke Grove to Camden along the canal. I’ve also enjoyed the more developed canals in central Birmingham (which has 35 miles of canals – compared to only 26 miles in Venice. However, the latter has more concentrated areas of water which is why you may have missed Birmingham’s watery delights).

In total, there are over 2,000 miles of canals and rivers in the UK. Find your nearest canal on the Canal and Rivers Trust website, then get outdoors to enjoy them.

Feed the Birds

As the weather grows colder, it becomes more important to feed the ducks. However, don’t feed them bread as it’s bad for them – and the water, as it encourages algae growth. Instead, feed them oats, bird seed or other bird safe food.

NB I have tried using peas and lettuce to feed the ducks, as recommended. As yet, the ducks have shunned them though they may get less choosy as the naturally available food becomes less available.

Admire the Wildflowers

The canal routes are full of beautiful wildflowers. I’ve seen dandelions and daisies, buttercups and poppies, mallow, comfrey and a lot more besides.

If you want to hone your wildflower ID skills, the canal offers a great opportunity. Take photographs of the flowers then ID them online, or grab a wildflower guide and ID flowers the old fashioned way.

Collect Nature Crafting Materials

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At this time of year, the canal banks have loads to offer. Leaves, pine cones, feathers and twigs can all be used to make seasonal decorations. The banks can be particularly fruitful after windy days.

Go Foraging

Though the blackberries may have been spat on by the devil at the end of Septembet if folklore is to be believed, there are still plenty of things to forage. Apples, pears, rowan, hips and haws are still abundant – and add colour to the hedgerows. Get foraging now and you’ll have tasty jams and pickles ready in time for festive celebrations (or even the weekend).

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