After a run around to warm up we headed to the woods for a truly trusting challenge: together both partners came up with an audible code that translated to directions, one of the pair chose a tree at least 50m away and was directed towards it by their partner, blindfolded. We heard all manners of codes from simple clapping, to donkey sounds and some form of mystery sounds; very impressive to see that all the group made their way to the trees with no tree face-plants!
Once in the woods, we got the fire roaring straight away and set an intention of well being for an endangered animal. This led to a rich and heartfelt discussion around an apparent rhino ranch in which the owner is appealing to the South African government to sell his Rhino’s horns to stop poaching on his land, and to feed the demand of East-Asia with his legally obtained rhino horn. If interested, there’s an article online on the Telegraph about it:
Part of the group continued to build the tree house, while a partnership formed to make a ladder up to the tree house platform or worked on crafts around the fire.
We started with an energetic game of wolf tag in the woods, then, the challenge to build a head shelter (covering head and shoulders) in 10 minutes that was capable of keeping one lucky teenager dry for the equivalent of a heavy rain shower. Challenge was passed….mostly!
The fire was soon roaring and we learnt a little about the sweet chestnut and a short story of the Tree of 100 horse in Scilly, 58m in circumference!!
Then onto a long desired project…..A TREEHOUSE!! We set to choosing a tree and sawing some fallen sweet chestnut to length and planning out or foundations, while others enjoyed free play then painted and carved some beautiful crafts.
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.
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!
Victoria Mew, Founder of Cultivating Curiosity