Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Woodland nature walk in December

 This morning the sun was shining, after what feels like weeks of gloom and rain, so we put off our 'school work' until the afternoon and headed out to the woods.

The very slightly cold air made for great steam trains and dragons on the way, and the sunshine was making the birds sing riotously.

We stopped every so often and took closer looks at the moss, always there but shining as a star of the show with the more obvious plant life having died back for the Winter.

Tree stumps wrapped in ivy and carpeted in moss provided lots of interest.

Toby was excited to spot these mushrooms peeping out from a different type of moss.

Plenty of squelchy mud for jumping and dancing in.  Ollie noticed the different colours of mud in an exposed bank, prompting a quick lesson on soil horizons and the role of fallen leaves in producing humus for the woodland's brown earth, underlain by the yellow clay that was used for centuries here to make tiles, in kilns fired with charcoal from the coppicing of the woodlands.

A good look and careful feel of the waxy leaves of the evergreens, and why they cling on through frost and snow when the bigger, floppier oak and chestnut leaves drop in the Autumn.

We found a partly constructed den, which Ollie decided should be a bird hide, so we spent an hour weaving in bracken, twigs and leaves before crouching inside and watching bluetits dart around the clearing.

An adventure trail on the way home, with the boys shouting out each fun aspect 'Jumping over logs', 'A ducking down under tree', 'a shakey shakey tree', 'a balancing tree', 'a tickling fern' and so on.

Then home for a warm bath and a bowl of soup before we cracked on with maths, English, making and science.

Disclaimer: in the interests of full disclosure for the folks who read internet posts of perfect days and worry that their own experience differs: We all stepped in dog poo, and Toby got knocked over by a husky that charged out of the bushes when we were nearly home and left him screaming and frightened of every dog we saw the rest of the way home.  The bath was at his insistence to 'get the bad dog lick stink' off his face.  If you have a big bouncy dog, please please keep it under control, and where you can at least see that it's not mugging people on the street.  I love dogs, but the constant shoe poop and untrained, unrestrained dogs haring around is starting to turn me off them (or at least their owners).  Every perfect trip out has some poop, actual or metaphorical, so it's good to focus on the nice bits, not get too disheartened by the bad, and to expect things to not go 100% to plan which prevents disappointment.

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