It was a day of heightened sensory awareness in the Ashdown Forest and were greeted with a very curious abnormal yellow sky, allegedly from hurricane Ophelia sucking up sandy winds from the Saharan Desert. After some extreme hide and seek spots we paired up, blindfolded our partner, were led to a tree and led under all manner of dizzy -making and disorientating tactics and led far away. Then entirely reliant on our other senses and experience....everyone found their way back, eventually! It proved to be a relatively quiet and certainly mindful activity.
As the eerie pastel sky clouded over we drew our focus toward hearing; hidden deep in the trees and bushes by the stream I sat banging a drum. Reliant on touch, sound and instinct everyone was blindfolded and let loose. The lack of sight instigated a lot more conversation and sharing of discoveries in the landscape like streams or gentle river banks! Upon reflection of that afternoon, we had developed a stronger sense of perspective for the other senses that are awakened after just an afternoon in nature.
Right from the offset there was energy and intelligence flowing freely: 6 out of 6 animal tracks correctly named by the group and a tip top performance yet again on bird calls and 10/10 on leaf identification!! A short awareness game of the wildlife and nature around us, then bags down and into a fiery, energetic game of ‘Highway man’ - running between tree bases without being caught and taking all manner of tactical, stealthy approaches.
We learnt the reef knot to start off on building our knot knowledge over the coming weeks, which enabled us to make a giant paracord circle for us to all carefully leeeaaan back into and give thanks to what we were grateful for.
From there it was another flowing day packed with sharing, playing, learning, crafting and connecting :-D
Anna started fire by percussion, an ancient method used by stone age people which involves striking Flint against Iron Pyrite onto a tinder holding fungus and we had fire!!
After fire, story and lunch we carefully sawed through a few more sit logs as a team, made leaf mandalas, did some whittling: clay moulding, den making, learnt the slip knot to make snares (only for our clay made mice) and heard two heart warming stories of life mixed in nature.
If that wasn’t enough we made and mixed some scrumdidlyumptious Acorn chocolate brownies, so tasty in fact that it was a true battle to get back up to pick up point and defend the remaining brownie from gobbling children so their loving parents could actually try some!
Ross - co-facilitator of the Wild Woodpeckers
Our Tuesday began with collecting, shelling and crushing….ACORNS!! Blanching them in hot water to make them easier to peel, and taking turns to crush with a gigantic pestle and mortar. But what can you possibly make with crushed acorns…?
Still blessed with clear weather we headed over to the Ashdown Forest and a morning packed with nature rich activities! Starting off with a full on game of Bear’s Lunchbox which turned out to be so exhausting it led us to a incredibly comfy lay down in the heather (with an almost magically coloured spider) and a beautiful story packed with facts of the Oak tree from Vicky.
A walk down right through the heart of the woods and to the stream, where the crushed acorns are currently being washed out to release all the Tannin, so that next week we can make our very own….ACORN CHOCOLATE BROWNIES!! We went our separate ways to either help in dam unblocking, mushroom hunting or making a magical forest mixture in the cauldrons we dug out in an old, old oak tree stump; where we found a hornet, which we carefully rehoused.
Beginning by gathering together in a circle of appreciation for our afternoon of nature connection and sharing something we had learnt over the past week. Then straight into a pretty intense game of killer frisbee; all packed in a border of bags with flexi frisbees flying everywhere!
Down into the woods for wolves and deer, two wolves hunting the remaining deer hiding the best the can deep in the Rhododendrons, buried in the old roots of upturned trees or stealthily moving through the woods - see if you can spot the lazy 'deer' in this first photo….
At camp after snack we had a balancing slackline setup, learnt a few techniques and tricks. After today’s interest, we are planning to have it set up each week; just taking time to balance with your body whilst being surrounded with the beautiful balance of nature can be a very calming and healing process, not to mention damn good fun!
We set up a little low ropes track and learnt a few key knots and how to be mindful of tree bark. Meanwhile others were chatting and sharing while working on some clay moulding of bowls and autumnal figures or getting with some good old tree climbing.
All in all lovely afternoon out in the woods. So, to close we all made our very best wishes to Daniel just landed in Seattle and ready to explore for new games, stories, tales and experiences to bring back for us!! All the best Daniel!
What a delight to go back to a place where we've been getting to know the land, the wildlife, the trees and the streams over the past 6 years! I look forward to our first session back at Hawthbush Farm each year.
Highlights from our time in the woods for Vicky and Ed's group included finding our camp that had been somewhat re-claimed by ferns and doing some tending of the space for our upcoming season here. Much joy and exploration occurred after discovering bracken tunnels. We gathered and shelled acorns to leave in a stream to cold leach for the month. We also enjoyed cooking sweet chestnuts which were delicious!
Daniel, Carrie and Ross's Group - Monthly Mentoring
Victoria Mew, Founder of Cultivating Curiosity