Be a wild thing

m-5242c3332abbaLast night I went to a screening of Project Wild Thing, a film to prod, prompt and inspire us all to get more kids playing freely outside and reconnecting with the natural world around them.  As someone who used to be Wilde by name, and often in the wild by nature, I was taken aback to reflect how little time I, and so my children, now spend in nature.

The film looked at the pressures that have lured children to swop wild time for screen time,marketing, the increasing health and safety culture of fear, and literally shrinking amounts of green space, particularly in urban environments.  David Bond, the film’s director, and self-appointed marketing director for nature, asks some big thinkers does it matter?  A UNICEF study from 2007 placed the UK at the bottom of the child well-being league table among developed countries.  More recent research by Ipsos MORI for UNICEF UK has shown that children in the UK feel trapped in a “materialistic culture”.  The children in survey reported that things important to their well-being were time and good relationships with family and friends, and a range of activities, particularly outside of the home.  The RSPB published a report last month, Connecting with Nature, that found only 21% of children are said to have achieved a level of connection to nature that is ‘realistic and achievable’ for all children.  So what can you do?

Watch the film, or at least the trailer, and ask yourself, “How is my relationship with nature?”.  You too might be prompted to join the Wild Network, the network of charities and organisations that are working to tackle some of the issues raised in the film.  You might be curious enough to take the RSPB’s Connection Measure to see how connected you are to nature.

If like me, you realise you have been neglecting the call of the wild, download the Wild Time app.  Depending on how long you have, 10 minutes to half a day, the app will give you and, or your kids, some pointers on what you can do in your window outdoors.  For a longer list, check out the National Trust’s outdoor explorer programme, “50 things to do before you are 11 and 3/4”.

Give nature a new home for Christmas with a insect habitat, nest box or tree.  Check out your local garden centre, or look at the online shops of the RSPB, or Woodland Trust for some ready made homes, or advice on how you can make your garden more inviting.


Climb a tree with Monkey Do or Go-Ape

Or as it is National Tree Week, (23rd November-1st December), to mark the start of the winter tree planting season, have a look at the Woodland Trust’s Nature Detectives site for a tree activity pack, including a brilliant tree identification set and conkers advice!


Stocking fillers


It is time to embrace the inevitable march towards seasonal festivities and the hunt for gifts that give that little bit extra! I have my eye on some stocking fillers for the kids from Bigjigs, one of the leading wooden toy designers in the UK.  I like the colourful set of 72 interlocking wooden discs that creative, dextrous kids (and adults), can build into endless shapes (£6.99).  The bright, slightly retro look appeals, and the fact that all of Bigjigs’ wooden toys are made from rubberwood from managed forests.  Rubberwood  is from trees that are only felled after completing the latex producing cycle, generally after 25-30 years.

There will be more festive pointers to follow, this is just a little heads up about Bigjigs as they are currently running a competition, on their Facebook page to win their  Top 10 Stocking Fillers, which runs until Friday 22nd November.

Festive knits

Advent Calendar 260x310Cosy up on your sofa and have a go knitting your own Christmas decorations, either for on the tree or cluster them on a shelf or mantelpiece for a seasonal scene.  There is a whole family of winter animal patterns are available for free from Rowan with their suggestion of Fine Tweed and British Sheep Breeds yarns.  Penguin or polar bear, owl or rabbit, all are cute, and even come with their own accessories.

Or if knitting is not your bag, pictured is an advent calendar designed by Jemma Weston (pattern available for free from Rowan) to crochet and felt.  It makes good use of all those odd bits of yarn you might have left.  The calendar is a crochet and felting pattern.  It can be saved and savoured for many years, and filled with little treats.

Repairs after ravaging moths


My eldest daughter found her favourite jumper had been ravaged by moths this morning.  I am far from a dab hand at darning, so I was relieved that I had bought these delightful and humorous iron-on patches last week.  The patches are from Twisted Twee, home to all manner of whimsical and wonderful things for men, women, weddings and the home.

The jumper itself is made from recycled wool.  Old jumpers are felted, recut and remade, then finished by hand with original crochet and trimmings from recycled fabrics.  So now it is on its third life!

Sleep tight

The seasonal shifts of an Indian summer can cause the thermometer to yoyo and make it tricky to be just warm or cool enough in bed, so I find myself cherishing our wool duvet.  I have long been persuaded of the benefits of wool clothing, and a couple of years ago bought a wool duvet.

In summer, the wool’s capacity to breathe keeps us cool, and in winter, wool’s excellent insulation keeps us warm.  It also keeps you dry, perhaps more than all natural fibres, as wool can absorb water quickly, up to around a third of its weight, and release it back into the environment slowly (polyester and nylon only absorb 1% of their weight in water).  This helps to control humidity,  which makes the environment less hospitable to dust mites, a boon for allergy and asthma sufferers.  Wool will even moderate each person’s micro-climate under the same duvet!  And the wool doesn’t all get clogged down one end, as some other duvets do.  What is more, wool is natural, flame retardant and sustainable as Shaun the Sheep gets a shear at least once a year!

When I bought my wool duvet, I could not find a British product, but at the Little Creatures Festival at London Zoo last weekend, I met Jen from The Wool Room who were supporting the Shaun the Sheep Pom Pom Parade, along with the Campaign for Wool, to make pom pom sheep out of wool and to set a new world record.  The Wool Room produce a range of bedding from British wool as well as a range of blankets and nursery items like baby sheepskins.  Prices for a duvet start from £90.

And if you fancy making a friend join Shaun’s flock at home you can download the official PomPom making kit from the Wool Room website.


Beware the little nippers

Mosquitos are now no stranger to our back garden in London, and as a favoured target for years I am delighted to have found an extremely effective, DEET-free insect repellant, incognito.
It is made from 100% natural ingredients, so is safe for all the family. It does not contain any toxic chemicals, lasts for 5 hours, and smells of essential oils such as bergamot and eucalyptus. No more the feeling of applying paint stripper to my skin in the fight against mosquitos!


Buckets of fun

With summer holidays and seaside trips ahead, we needed some beach equipment that is made to last. After a few renditions of ‘There’s a hole in my bucket’, we bought a new sand set from Green Toys. The set of bucket, spade, rake and castle-shaped sand mould are made from 100% recycled plastic (milk cartons, so BPA and phthalate free). The handle is made from a stretch of rope. The set is robust, and sturdy. It is also comfortable to use, even little fingers can get a good grip on the handles!


Wipes without the nasties

With two small faces to wipe, one of which has eczema, I have been hunting for an effective baby wipe that is gentle on sensitive skin, and kind to the environment. Jackson Reece unscented, natural baby wipes are hypoallergenic and free of nasties such as alcohol, SLS, SLES, parabens, chlorine, and fragrance. They not tested on animals. 99.9% of ingredients are derived from plant or vegetable extracts, including the preservative.

They are simply brilliant wipes that are also biodegradable, compostable and British made. The wipes feel much better than many alternatives we’ve tried…a lot less slimy!