30 Days Wild 2016

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Day 8!

The lovely hot weather continues here in Wiltshire and we are out in the garden again after school. Inspired by all the lovely looking cordials popping up on the 30 Days Wild Facebook page we decide to make the most of all the Elderflowers we have in the garden and make some of our own Elderflower cordial for the second year running. We were quite alarmed at the amount of sugar in last years recipe, about 1kg of it, so we are trying out a refined sugar-free version that we found on http://www.mummytries.com.

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We started off by inspecting each flower head carefully for bugs before putting them in the pan. Georgia was delighted to find a small, bright green caterpillar, which we’ve not been able to identify. He was very athletic and kept Georgia and Hazel entertained for a while.

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Inspecting flower heads and removing wildlife

The prep was a fun thing to do together and we also both marvelled at the bright citrus colours of the orange and lemon against the white and green of the Elderflowers.

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Prepping and cooking

Georgia and Hazel disappeared into the garden, no doubt to have their own secret wild adventures together, while Mum saw to the boiling, simmering and bottling of the cordial.

We can report that it actually tasted jolly nice, certainly substituting sugar with honey has made a big difference in the level of sweetness. Mum found last years recipe with sugar to be overwhelmingly sweet, even diliuted. We can highly recommend this recipe.

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The finished cordial

We are looking forward to making ice lollies out of the cordial for Georgia and her friends and Mum and Dad won’t be adverse to adding an Elderflower ice cube, or two, to their gin.

Cheers from Team Lovett πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

 

 

 

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30 Days Wild 2016

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Day 7!

Today has been a hive of activity for all of Team Lovett with work, school, end of school term events and Rainbows, and now that dinner is out of the way and Georgia is tucked up in bed Mum, Dad and Hazel, two glasses and a bottle of wine are heading out into the garden.

The sun is coming down, but the heat of the day is still hanging in the air. We watch the Robins darting around to and fro and the Swifts zooming overhead, the insects flitting about and the stream babbling along on its journey through the garden. The white flowers of the Lilac, Hawthorn, Viburnum and Elder flower are beginning to glow against their darker background as the daylight fades away, and the smell of Honeysuckle is both overpowering and divine.

The air is very still and filled with humidity, as we soak in the sights, sounds and scents of the garden we can feel a calmness descend over us. Hazel is lying flat out beside us and is obviously just as affected by the serene atmosphere.

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An evening in the garden

Isn’t nature grand!

Happy wild, but calm times from Team Lovett πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

30 Days Wild 2016

 

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Day 6! A day late too, but hopefully the day we get back on par.

Georgia emerged extremely excited from the downstairs loo this morning, Apparently the aftermath of last nights flying bug rave was still in evidence and a number of moths and other bugs were still making a rather futile attempt at Β escaping out of the open window.

We decided to arrest them one by one, take their mug shot to identify them later, and send them on their way with a word of caution.

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Moth detective

…..So after work, school and parents evening we sat down with some wildlife books and and attempted to identify our line-up of bug criminals….

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Brown house moth

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White shouldered house moth

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Diamondback moth

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Crane fly

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Daddy long legs

….. It turns out that all our detainees are very well known house interlopers and are UK citizens except for the Diamondback moth who is a migrant from Europe and in the caterpillar stage is a vandal of plants, particularly of the cabbage family.

A motley crew indeed, but looked into individually we see that each is actually a character of interest and with his, or her, own particular beauty.

πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

30 Days Wild 2016

wpid-screenshot_2015-06-19-07-35-28-1.pngDay 5! A day late, but, oh boy, what a day it has been.

Today has been defined by three things…..

  1. The weather
  2. Open Farm Sunday
  3. How ‘Going Wild’ has taken over this house.

On waking this morning Team Lovett quickly came to realise that the weather has suddenly remembered it’s supposed to be doing it’s rightful Summer thing and very soon our part of Wiltshire was basking in 30 degree temperatures with the most stunning blue skies.

Georgia and Hazel were out in the garden even before breakfast pottering in the stream looking for that elusive ” Dinosaur bone” and pottery of ages past, or in Hazels case just nosing around and generally getting wet as a Labrador is wont to do. Dad had headed out Β on his bike to be a mobile marshal for the Macmillan Cancer Trust Castle’s Bike Ride, which would take the cyclists on a route through the Marlborough Downs along the Ridgeway and by-ways. Mum, meanwhile, took the opportunity in this window of respite to sit outside in the sunshine with her morning dose of caffeine.

Late morning saw Mum and Georgia too heading through the Marlborough Downs on the drive to the Open Farm Sunday at Manor Farm, Avebury Trusloe, Wiltshire hosted by the farmers of The Marlborough Downs: A Space for Nature partnership. This partnership is a fantastic farmer lead Nature Improvement Area project for the benefit of wildlife and the locality and is supported by a whole host of partners including The Wildlife Trusts, Bumble Bee Conservation Trust, RSPB, Butterfly Conservation, National Trust and lots more. They are all working to one common goal, ‘To improve the condition and connectivity of the ecological network of the Marlborough Downs NIA and to connect people to the downland landscape.’ (Marborough Downs: Space for Nature website).

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A view of Manor Farm nestled in a landscape featuring Avebury Stone Circle, Kennet Long Barrow and Silbury Hill

We went to last years Open Farm Sunday hosted by the same partnership, but at a different farm and today, just as last year, it was just the most amazing opportunity to meet all these different wildlife organisations in one place and see first hand some of the wonderful results of their partnership throughout the farms.

Mum and Georgia had a great time learning about all sorts of ‘wild’ subjects: We watched and listened with interest demonstrations and talks about Tree Sparrow conservation and ringing by the Wiltshire Ornithological Society; How the number of farmland owls are being helped to increase with the introduction of bird boxes, ringing and the creation of habitats for their prey; How bees work to produce honey and their value as a pollinator; How our food is produced from farm animals and agricultural crops; How the farms plant areas of their land with wildflower seed specific for bees, butterflies and birds thus creating a link between farming and the natural landscape; How sheep are sheared and how the wool is spun on a spinning wheel.

We got up close with farm animals, birds and machinery, handled and learnt about wild animal skulls, snake skins and bird nests, created a wildlife badge, an origami bug, a bug house and a bee house.

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Hands on with wildlife skulls, snake skins and bird nests

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Georgia’s wild creations

Georgia also had an “Awesome” time having a go at fly fishing, watching the gun dogs training, hurling herself around an assault course, over and over. Both Mum and Georgia enjoyed going for a drive with the Β Kennet Valley Driving Group RDA, who are helping to make the Marlborough Downs more accessible for disabled people. Their horses are gorgeous and always a hit with Team Lovett.

There were just so many things to see and do, wild or otherwise, that we’ve surely missed some things out. All round it really was a fantastic day out, wild and wonderful learning and fun, but exhausting, especially in the heat. We went home very happy, but thoroughly worn out.

Later in the evening after a half hearted tidy up Mum was in no doubt at all that ‘Going Wild’ had entered the house with a vengeance, for everywhere, room after room, were the fruits of a day cycling the Downs and of a day at the farm doing just about every conceivable wild thing going; grass, grass seed, hay,straw, grain, moss, petals, and flying bugs, lots of them, because someone had left the light on in the loo with the window open. Needless to say, Mum turned the lights off, shut all the doors and trudged up to bed to join the rest of Team Lovett happy in the belief that some things are best left for another day.

Heart hands @Dani Cox

πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

30 Days Wild 2016

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Day 4!

Georgia had a sleep over at Grandma and Grampy’s last night and has spent most of today with them too. She has been put to good use though and has been busy helping Grandma build a new bird table to replace one that had deteriorated to such a degree over the winter that it is rendered unrepairable.

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Grandma’s Little Helper

At the garden centre Georgia was given the opportunity to choose some seeds to pot up and chose, “Poppies for the meadow and Sunflowers for the birds when they set seed”. (Mum was very impressed to hear about that, her daughter listens and learns well).

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Busy potting flower seeds for meadow and birds

In the experience of Team Lovett there’s nothing quite like outdoor learning to engage and keep the interest of children. The Wildlife Trust’s and 30 Days Wild really do rate highly in our estimation.

Meanwhile, Mum and Dad have been running an errand over in Oxfordshire and were pleasantly surprised by the number of Buzzards they spotted along the way, especially as it was only in the last day or so that they had been discussing the lack of them around locally. In the past six years there has been a noticeable increase in Red Kites in our locality of North Wiltshire and it seems at the same time there has been a reduction in the sighting of Buzzards. We were discussing this and pondering the territorial Β and dominant behavior of Red Kites and wondering if it contributed to this state of affairs?

As dusk descends over Wiltshire, Georgia is tucked up in bed and Mum and Dad are out in the garden unwinding with a glass of ginger beer amid the chattering of roosting birds and with a lolling Hazel at their feet.

Good night from Team Lovett πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ :-).

 

 

 

30 Days Wild 2016

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Day 3….. and it’s Fridaaay!

A busy week at work and school comes to an end and is awarded with a relaxing hack out along the lanes on the lovely Tonto. One of the many wonderful aspects of horse riding, we think, is that it gives one the ability to merge with nature much more than with other modes of transport; No clanking of mechanics, or the roaring of engines, just the gentle clip clop of hooves; the flexibility to venture into countryside inaccessible, or less so, to other types of vehicles; and not to mention the extra height one gains to peer over gates and hedges and take in otherwise unseen sights. It really is quite hard not to feel at one with nature when on horseback whether out in a country lane, in the woods, or out in a field.

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Stunning countryside views from horseback

Whilst out riding we take the time to note what’s new along the hedgerows. Today we spotted Red campion, Speedwell, Common vetch and Field buttercups amongst the Cow parsley.

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Wild flora along the hedgerow

We were also delighted to see an abundance of Yellow iris in flower at the mill pond and also stayed here awhile watching fish leaping out of the water to catch gnats.

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Yellow iris at the mill pond

Back at the stable yard the Swallows were out in force swooping around and putting on an entertaining acrobatic display.Β All in all a very pleasant ‘wild’ evening.

Hope you have a lovely weekend from Team Lovett πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

 

 

30 Days Wild 2016

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Day 2! In our part of Wiltshire it is drying up fast and the sun is doing its utmost to break through a dense barrier of clouds. Come on Summer, you can do it!

Today, as last year, our random wildness is dictated by Β work, school and Grandma’s birthday. Last year we went out into the fields after school to pick some common wild flowers to make a posy for Grandma’s birthday cake….

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Last years Wild Posy birthday cake

….and this year we have made another ‘Wild’ birthday cake with a seaside theme, which was randomly decided only yesterday just to add to Mums stress levels.

A hurried plan was devised;

  • Mum would prepare the board and make the cake;
  • Georgia, after school, would create some rock pool wildlife and a 30 Days Wild flag, and decorate the cake with shells and beach pebbles collected on holidays past;
  • Dad would help eat said cake later after Grandma has blown out the candles;
  • Hazel would receive a treat if she stayed in her basket and refrained from constantly lolling around in the middle of the kitchen floor.

To much amazement the plan worked out with surprising ease and, we all agreed, that we ended up with actually quite a credible cake….

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Wild cake bake and decoration

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This years Rock Pool Wildlife birthday cake

To add a bit of education to the mix we had a look at our British Shorelife poster….

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Daily Mail British Shorelife poster in association with BBC Wildlife Magazine

….and noted our starfish most resembled a Common starfish and our crab an Edible crab (Although lacking a fourth leg on each side). The shells we used from Georgia’s collection were a Slipper limpet, a Dog whelk, and Common limpets.

As a last note for the day; Grandma, Dad and all approved the edibility of the cake, so Team Lovett are happy to chalk up Day 2 of 30 Days Wild as a success πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ :-).

 

 

30 Days Wild 2016

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Whoop! Whoop! It’s finally here…. Day 1 of 30 Days Wild!

Here in Wiltshire today it’s wet, cold and rather windy, but are we downhearted? No, not a bit of it! The light was particularly stunning this morning and the array of highlighted greens and many different textures were a sight to behold. The trees and shrubs in the hedgerows along the school run route were heavily laden with glistening raindrops and the abundance of white and pink blossoms of the Hawthorn wasΒ simply dazzling against the dark backdrop. Along the wooded driveway of school the play of light and shade beneath the trees canopy was magical and we could smell the musty, but pleasant, smell of the damp humus.

Today is already proving to be all about the senses. See it, hear it, smell it, feel it, the power of nature is certainly all encompassing and it’s no wonder being out of doors is such a marvellous mood enhancer.

After school Mum, Georgia and Hazel headed up to Charlbury Hill, Wiltshire Trig Point, which is one of our most favourite places to visit for a spot of random wildness on the way home from school. It’s a little hill on a big, flat topped hill along which the Ridgeway passes from the Marlborough Downs and on to Oxfordshire.

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Charlbury Hill, Wiltshire Trig Point – The little hill on a big hill

This little hill is a gem and was our ‘Adventure’ for the first day of 30 Days Wild last year too. On a warm, sunny day it is positively a hive of activity, both visually and audibly, with numerous species of butterflies, moths, bees, flies and insects can be easily spotted and the views over Wiltshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire are, as Georgia would say, “Awesome!”. We will definitely venture back when the sun comes out this month and share our finds with you.

This afternoon, although the rain had stopped, the light was dimmed from an overcast sky and the wind had picked up making it less favourable for flying wildlife and awesome views.

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The views from the trig point today

We were, however, greeted by a sentry of snails on the gate….

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The Sentry

….and numerous other snails and slugs, which held Georgia and Hazel in enthralled fascination for quite some time. We also spotted our first, and as far as we could see THE first orchid on the hill this year (Last year there was a big swathe of them towards the end of June).

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The wildlife spotting buddies

To continue todays random theme of ‘Senses’, I asked Georgia what sounds she could hear while we were on the hill (Mum is deaf). Today she “….can hear the wind and the rustling of the grass”, but on a sunny, less windy day she”….can hear bees, crickets or grasshoppers (Maybe both) and birds.” She also added ” I love to feel the grass tickling me and the feel of insects on my hand.” It warms Mums heart to hear Georgia say these things, and both Mum and Dad are so proud that their daughter has such a keen interest and caring nature towards wildlife.

Wild and wonderful wishes from Team Lovett πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

30 Days Wild 2016

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Another year, a fresh challenge and a new garden…… 30 Days Wild…… bring it on!

Tomorrow is the first day of the Wildlife Trusts ’30 Days Wild’ a challenge to do something randomly wild everyday for the month of June. Team Lovett had a great time doing this last year and the anticipation has been building up in the household since the arrival of our 30 Days Wild pack.

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Having recently moved and with the disruption involved we have had less time for planning ahead, so there will definitely be an emphasis on randomness to the wild things we get up to this year. We have a lovely new garden, which we are still getting to know and combining the two should be an exciting and worthwhile experience for both us and the wildlife. Signs of hedgehogs have already been spotted after a scout around the garden during Hedgehog Awareness Week (1st-7th May 2016) and we DO have plans to build and install hedgehog housing, so….. one down and 29 to think about…..

Happy wild times from all of Team Lovett πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

sky @happy hippy d