A year in review

So it is time to start 30 days wild again and a year on from starting he blog. Alice is now one and a lot has happened over the year. Alice has grown, we moved house and I’ve changed schools for a promotion. So as I get set to start 30 days wild again I’m going to use this blog to look back on the amazing events of the last year.

For the first 30 days I was taking part in the 30 days wild, so every day had some activity. Each day had something good, but here are a few highlights.

My class getting beetles was popular with the children.

The Great British Bee hunt was great fun with the class.

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Setting up the trail camera at school brought some great footage that amazed the kids.

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After the 30 days were up my wilding still continued.

By August we had moved home and I’d started the RSPB homes for nature.¬†Amongst the most exciting thing to come from this was the discovery of a visiting hedgehog in the garden.

September saw speckled wood butterflies, giant moths and a moth for Amy.

October saw us take Alice up to Robin Hoods Bay to Alice’s grandads house and a walk down to the seafront.

December saw the garden frosted over and some nice crisp walks and my Christmas present the baby howdah.

January began with people throwing themselves in the cold North Sea. The big garden birdwatch saw a good variety in the garden. We even had a few days of sun to go to the park.

February saw a trip to see the blade, a giant instalment part of the Hull City of culture. Through the month we saw lots of signs of Spring being round the corner.

March saw my birthday, the garden starting to come together and a visit to the wildlife photographer of the year exhibit.

April was a busy month with walks out to the seafront, blossom on trees, lots of butterfly sightings, trips on the North Yorkshire Moors railway and finally starting at my new school with its outdoor area to develop.

April also saw lots of Robins.

May has seen me get stuck into improving my school outdoor classroom.

My own garden is really coming into its own now with lots blooming or set to.

We finished the month with a lovely trip to Wassand Hall where I was happy to photograph rabbits and a fox.

Most exciting of all the year has ended with Alice turning one and learning to walk, opening up a whole new world of adventures.

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Taking part in 30 days wild set much of this in motion and I’m glad I took part. It taught me to appreciate many daily little pleasures nature provides. That nature contact also enlivens all other areas of life teaching me to appreciate my life, my family, friends and everything I have going for me. I look forward to the next 30 days.

A hidden gem

Today has been wet and miserable, so we decided to head out to the garden centre to do a quick run out for compost. However we never made it. We’d forgotten garden centres are where people go for bank holidays, so we turned round in the car park and came back the way we’d come. We didn’t head home though we made the decision to go to Wassand Hall.

Wassand Hall is a regency house just outside Hornsea. The mere where we visit regularly is part of its estates, but neither of us have ever been to the hall and gardens. But I’m glad we decided to today. The hall hosts an amazing arboretum with some enormous specimens of trees that have the feel of a Canadian wilderness.

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There was a vintage car display on, although neither of us has any interest in cars we were amused by what classes as vintage.

We didn’t pay the extra for entry as it didn’t look great for pram manoeuvring. But it has the look of a setting for a MR James or Caranaki ghost finder story.

The walled garden were restored in 1997 and contain a series of courtyards. They follow standard country house layouts, but done with style. The first courtyard is square shaped with the standard fountain and laburnum arches in the corners, nothing to rival Bodnant Gardens but pretty nonetheless.

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The outer wall was covered in honeysuckle. If it had been a sunnier day I imagine this would have been awash with insect life, but the drizzle was keeping it subdued.

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The other courtyards comprise a pond, a herb and vegetable patch and the cafe. The greenhouse apparently contains a succulent collection, but didn’t notice this.

 

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After finishing in the walled gardens we went back round to the vintage cars to enjoy a Mr Moos ice cream. I had a rhubarb and ginger, while Amy and Alice enjoyed a raspberry ice cream. Being Mr Moos it was top notch.

Across the field were some of the cows I assume make up chestnut dairies herd, who supply our local milk.

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Refreshed with ice cream we left the halls garden to walk along a bridal way away from the hall.

We saw lots of bee activity on the wild flowers.

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The pram was going to struggle going any further so we got Alice out to practise her newly discovered skill of walking.

 

 

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On the way back to the car I spotted a still orange form in the cow field we’d passed on the way to the buttercup field. It was so still we weren’t sure if it wasn’t a sculpture, but as we got closer we saw flickers of movement. I was very excited to see the fox. While I knew they were in the area since moving to Hornsea I haven’t seen any of these lovely creatures. It seems appropriate that on the day people marched in London to keep the ban I’d spot a fox.

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We saw it disappear back into the bushes as we went on, but then up ahead further excitement as I spotted a rabbit. A bit too far for a decent photo.

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But as went along the path I caught sight again amongst the trees.

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An excellent end to a tremendous walk on a day we weren’t sure we’d go out. Wassand Hall was a wonderful hidden gem and I’m sure we’ll revisit.

Quest for a hat

Today me and the family headed out for a walk to the Freeport Shopping Centre to look for a new sun hat for me. The day has been lovely with the sun out bringing all the visitors to Hornsea beach. The route to Freeport took us along the seafront first fighting our way through the crowds of bank holiday visitors.

After that we turned away from the seafront to go along the old railway line. It was Pleasantly  cool in the shade.

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Birds, butterflies and bees flew back and forth across the path. The cow parsley is all flowering making the path a haven for pollinators. There are still some trees in blossom making the route a wonderful mix of green and white.

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We made it to Freeport through the cemetery, which wasn’t too busy as with the baking sun most people had headed to crisp themselves on the beach. I found not one, but two hats as they were on two for one. I wanted neck cover to stop my neck getting burnt gardening and when I’m doing outdoor duty at work. Now I’m back in Foundation Stage I’m out for full mornings.

On the way back Alice was restless in the prom kicking her legs.

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The last few days she has started to walk without support of holding onto one of us. So we got her out to have a walk in the cemetery. Initially she wanted to hold onto both of us, then just Amy.

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Confidence gained, she was off on her own. She’s very proud of herself. We’ve had little tantrums of frustration the last month as she’s wanted to be off, but couldn’t manage. So it’s nice to see her managing. Now we can start building up the miles ready to go exploring.

So while many in our area have been off at the radio one big weekend Alice is walking amongst the daisies in her own Woodstock with her psychedelic vest.

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We seem to find robins each visit to the cemetery and today was no exception. He was hopping close along the branches, perhaps interested to see Alice’s new walking development.

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The flowers laid out were drawing in a number of butterflies, but only captured the red admiral.

Then back along the railway line I captured a snap of a crow in flight. I like seeing the close up of the wonderful wing structure of this ever stylish black shadow gliding into the trees. They are spectacular birds in flight.

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So a successful shopping trip out. A nice stretch of Alice’s legs and some wildlife spotted along the way. I love how much we can do within walking distance of our house.

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Garden update

Having updated on the school garden yesterday I thought I’d update on my own garden as a few flowers have come into bloom. Last year entering the 30 days of wild we were living in our previous house. The garden was nice, but we were surrounded by paved over gardens and little wildlife of any sort came in. The new house is surrounded by other gardens containing trees and flowers bringing a greater biodiversity. The big garden birdwatch saw double figures of species. The newly relaunched Great British Bee Hunt is seeing a greater variety of bees in my garden. I’ve made good steps towards making the garden welcoming to wildlife.

In the last few days the first cornflower has bloomed.

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I have the fist daisy flowering in the border amongst the forget me nots. I believe it’s camomile, although I do have oxeye daisies as well. I’ve already seen a few butterflies coming down to settle on it. Just one flowering daisy already making the difference.

The foxgloves are set to flower. I love foxgloves, so I’m keen to get them established and then hopefully they’ll reseed. Great for the bees and very pretty at he back of the border. Mine have been chewed a lot, but I’ve tried to remain spray free to encourage all life.

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The lavender has come back strong. I cut it back a lot at he end of Autumn as advised and it’s flowering well this year.

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My alliums are looking good. I’ve seen quite a bit of alliums over the last week on the Chelsea Flower Show coverage. There clearly a bit of a trend at the moment. Mine I believe are Turkish onion.

The first of the roses to flower has done so spectacularly. It was a bit limp last year, but after a harsh pruning it has come back surrounding the butterfly house beautifully.

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So this year I’ll be starting the 30 days wild with my own little wildlife space looking much stronger than last year. Only a few days to go until the big month. I managed one wild act every day last year. I’ll have to see if I do as well this year.

School update

Today is the start of the half term holiday, but over the last week I’ve made a bit further progress with my F2 (reception year) playground.

I’ve painted one of the planters smartening it up a bit.

The kids have got the message not to climb through, so the bamboo has been removed. The flowers have taken well now.

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The music area has had some bunting added for decoration.

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Next to the music area the TAs have started to tart up the stage by adding curtains. I’ve seen some good performances over the week.

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Between the trees the TAs have added some mobiles.

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Within the garden the first two plots are dug over and planting has started. The soil is pretty poor and becomes clay at a spades depth, so will need to look at the children collecting the leaves from our trees for mulch come Autumn.

I’ve planted a dwarf apple tree in the corner as the children often play at planting their pips. I thought it would add to our discussions of the seasons with the blossom and fruit. In Ben Law’s woodsmen he pushed the message of the importance of planting fruit trees ready for a less carbon reliant world, so thought I’d make a start.

I’ve also gone for lavender and rosemary, as they are drought tolearant for if the garden is neglected. I used some potting grit to help with the drainage as that’s often an issue for both. I’m not sure I’ll keep them in the current positions, but wanted them in the ground.

In the middle plot I’ve gone for an acer variety that’s meant to stay small. Again like the apple tree it will help add seasonal interest for discussing with the kids. It’ll be a few years though to get it to a decent height.

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A hydrangea and bedding plants are adding some instant colour. The bedding plants should self seed for next year hopefully.

The last plot is still a wilderness, but it’s bringing in lots of bug life for now. Step by step making an area the kids and staff can be happy to be in. Lots more to go, but from a month ago it’s moving on.

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Garden and school update

At work the TAs have been working hard to spruce up the outdoor area. There is an area with posts, which so far I’ve used for den building. Apart from that though it’s underused. They have set up a threading area encouraging gross and fine motor skills.

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They’ve given the allotment fence a lick of paint and added some number flowers to the fence. They won’t last for long outside, but might manage a few observations showing the children recognise numbers to 20.

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They discovered paint and have now brightened up the bench, so we now have a minion bench.

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It’s all little things, but it livens up the area a bit and hopefully allows staff and kids to take some pride in the area as we develop it.

My own garden is looking nice at the moment with lots of shades of lilac and pink coming out. Here are a few high lights.

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The roses last year were badly eaten, but theyve been cut back and have come back stronger for it. I’m not a fan of roses as I dislike gardening gloves, so get spiked lots. However I can appreciate a nice large bloom.

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Some of these he bulbs I planted last year have come into bloom. I’d forgotten what they were, but I’m assuming there some sort of allium. Lovely structure.

 

The rose campion is doing well. I had one in my last garden, last year, and liked the little pink flowers it produces, so bought another. The lavender from last year has come back stronger.

The bluebells near the shed are doing well. There adding a nice dash of colour I can see nicely as a patch of blue from the kitchen table. I’m trying to encourage a patch of native bluebells in the shade that will hopefully spread.

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Still spaces to fill and next year I’d like to have better seasonal coverage, but it’s getting better all the time.

School visitors

I am building a record of wildlife visitors to my outdoor classroom. After the success of discovering hedgehogs I’ve been monitoring bird life.

We’re fortunate to have several tall trees providing a rich canopy complete with birds and insect life. I’ve spotted a number of butterflies up in the leaves, but no decent photos yet. The blackbirds however are fairly welcoming.

A robin on a toadstool seat. First one I’ve seen on school grounds.

And one of my favourite smaller birds the pied wagtail. I has discussed how their becoming increasingly urban and that does seem to be showing in the frequency I see them around school.

The kids are interested to see what I’ve discovered. We’ll have to wait and see what we can find next.