Outdoor Mama to relaxed Mama – JD Williams review

I had a request to review some outdoor clothing from JD Williams, something I’m very happy to do as I’m always keen to know good options that help us get outdoors easily and comfortably. Being comfortable and happy outside gives us a better experience – keeping us WILD, HAPPY, and WELL! I chose a good quality jacket and a pair of comfy joggers – both of which I could foresee getting a lot of use out of.

Here’s the link to all the options:

http://www.jdwilliams.co.uk/shop/womens/sports-leisure/_/N-1ytvx05/products/show.action

Archie in I enjoying a walk at our local National Trust property, Tyntesfield. Me enjoying my Snowdonia 3-in-1 jacket!
Archie and I enjoying a walk at our local National Trust property, Tyntesfield. Me enjoying my Snowdonia 3-in-1 jacket! How nicely does it go with my gorgeous Joules wellies?

Snowdonia 3-in-1 jacket, in cobalt

I chose this because I was considering buying something like this anyway, so the approach was actually extremely well timed for me (thank you, JD Williams)! I already have a thick winter coat (by Berghaus, I adore it) but this is often too warm, especially when I’m taking little Archie out. Running around after him, carrying him, etc, always seems to keep me pretty warm. So I wanted something a bit more light-weight but that was still waterproof and versatile. My Berghaus coat is quite smart too so I wanted something I felt good in down town as well as in a forest or up a hill. I also needed one that came down below my bottom, to keep warm the bits that ALWAYS get cold! As a Mama: pockets, pockets, pockets! Enough said. The Snowdonia 3-in-1 jacket appeared to fit the bill perfectly!

There are multiple options on the JD Williams website for different colours, all the same price (£85). I went for cobalt as being a dark brunette, bright blue suits me and I love bright colours 🙂 It’s great as it has a removable fleece jacket that attaches inside a waterproof outer layer, both with zips and pockets. Ahh the pockets… zipped pockets in the outer waterproof layer plus a handy zipped breast pocket, pockets in the fleece (although not zippy). These include handy waist-level inner pockets for stuffing tissues, pinecones (from the toddler…), etc. The inner fleece easily unzips to be removed. It’s held in place by zips with the outer layer plus poppers on loops at the cuffs to hold the sleeves in place. This bit kind of works but the fleece sleeves do have a tendency to come out further than the waterproof layer and I quite often find myself fumbling with hands stuck half in-half out…a bit annoying but not a deal-breaker.

Size-wise, I ordered a 10 as that’s my usual. As I wanted this for light wear I figured I wouldn’t be wearing big jumpers underneath so didn’t need to consider a larger size. This works well – there’s definitely no room for a thick jumper underneath (ahem!) and especially so on the arms. My arms aren’t skinny but they’re certainly not well-built and the sleeves are fairly snug. The jacket fits well and has a nice line: what with the slender sleeves and the drawstring waist, I feel confident that I look a good shape 🙂

There's no fun like snow fun!
There’s no fun like snow fun!

Here’s the product description from the website:

This jacket features two jackets in one and lots more! With an outer waterproof coated membrane to keep you dry, and a detachable fleece inner – if you’re too warm, just remove! Internal drawcord for getting a comfortable shape and adjustable cuffs for additional protection. Peaked hood with drawcords to adjust. This coat has it all!
  • Machine washable.
  • Polyamide. Fleece: Polyester. Chinguard: Polyester. Lining: Polyester.
  • Product available in sizes: 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, 32

Value straight-leg joggers, in black

I adore my slouchy, comfy joggers… most nights when I get home from work I’m straight into these to mooch around the house, play and snuggle with Archie, and chill on the sofa before bed. I’m also a keen yogi so need a steady supply of trousers like this on hand. I got these as, honestly, I wanted to test out whether a cheap option would be any good.

These are only £14 so a snip, and I’m happy to say they are great, if you want stretchy, comfy joggers with a neat waistband. They are fairly wide-legged, more so than I expected, and they’re generally larger than I’d anticipated – again I ordered a size 10 but these are more like a 12, compared to the sizing of the Snowdonia jacket. This isn’t a problem though, they’re extremely comfortable and I happily yoga in them but they’re not as flattering as I’d expected.

I’ll admit I haven’t worn these outdoors yet but it has been rather chilly out there since I got these, so that’s hardly surprising! However, as they are just sooo comfortable, I can see myself wearing them for yoga in the garden or forest walks with Archie when the weather warms. They’re so cheap and simple fabric, I don’t mind getting them dirty and they wash well.

Snapped having a cheeky cuppa on the deck in my super comfy joggers!
Snapped having a cheeky cuppa on the deck in my super comfy joggers!

Here’s the product description from the website:

These straight-leg jogging bottoms are perfect to wear around the house. Designed with a flat-fronted waistband for extra comfort, the comfortable fabric makes these ideal for your leisurewear wardrobe. Available in multiple lengths and colours, there is something to suit your every need!
  • Regular – to fit inside leg 29in/74cm.
  • Machine washable.
  • 95% Cotton, 5% Elastane.
  • Product available in sizes: 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, 32
  • Available in: Black

If you want to check out JD Williams’ outdoor clothing options check out this link and go get yourselves confident, comfortable and cozy outdoors!

Ta ta for now,

Nina

Parallel London 2017

Parallel London 2017

The big day arrived! Sunday 3rd September 2017 saw the second ever event in Parallel London 2017, at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The day was such a treat! I’d never been to the Olympic Park before so that alone was a good experience. But, oh my, the event itself was incredible! An electric atmosphere of fun, camaraderie, and achievement pervaded wherever you went.

Parallel London 2017 at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Parallel London 2017 at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Super Sensory 1km

Prior to The Sensory Projects‘ sensory field events in our tent, there was the Super Sensory 1km event. This race was the brainchild of my good friend Joanna Grace. It is a 1km course with a buffet of sensory experiences that is absolutely completely and utterly inclusive!

Fun warming up for the Super Sensory on the start line!Fun warming up for the Super Sensory on the start line! Joanna Grace is in the fabulous frock on the far left.

Last year Joanna designed and created the sensory installations; this year they had been up-scaled to mega-event level. It was an incredibly popular event, and the atmosphere was fantastic! There were so many people lined up on the start line together, it was so much fun as the event leaders got everyone warming up nicely and busting out some funky dance moves (which I had the pleasure of capturing on my camera)! Everyone was rearing to go when it finally started and it was a delight to see the range of brilliant outfits participants were wearing. It was also awe-inspiring to see so many people with different physical challenges visible to me taking part alongside people with no apparent challenges, proving that the event is absolutely inclusive. And the smiles. THE SMILES!!! Why don’t we see more events like this? Designed for everybody.

The Sensory Projects tent: Sensory Field Events

WE HAD THE BEST FUN!!! Quite simply the tent was filled with people from as soon as we opened the doors (we even had a little queue waiting for us to open!) and it remained that way late into the afternoon. Visitors sampled sensory delights from each of the field event tables and the tent was filed with chatter, laughter, and music. Each field event table was run by a volunteers from different little enterprises, like little old me at WHW. Hannah and Lucy from The Sensory Dispensary wrote about each of the activities in their recent blog post about Parallel London 2017, have a read of it here.

Sensory Tent antics!
Sensory Tent antics before we opened!
Joanna Grace and her Sensory Field Event Tent
Joanna Grace and her Sensory Field Event Tent
Sound Tracks and The Best Medicine (plus visitor Becky Lyddon from Sensory Spectacle)
Sound Tracks and The Best Medicine (plus visitor Becky Lyddon from Sensory Spectacle)
Claire Chalaye helping youngsters stimulate their vestibular systems
Clare Chalaye helping youngsters stimulate their vestibular systems.

At the Wild Happy Well table, as you know, I was providing olfactory sense stimulation using my glorious herby sniff bags. I brought pictures of the herbs for people to look at too but I couldn’t leave it at that; I just had to bring a great big pot of the herbs with me and they really brightened up the place. It’s amazing what even the smallest bit of nature indoors can do for our comfort levels. I had an extraordinary amount of fun! I chatted to so many nice and interesting people, and I was delighted that so many people enjoyed my sensory activities.

  • The sensory stimulation was smelling the contents of the herby sniff bags, something that anyone can do. I brought lavender, mint, and lemon balm. For those with PMLD, I described what it was to their carers and warned that the scents could be quite intense so that they could carefully offer the sniff bags. Most visibly enjoyed at least one of the scents although one or two did find the smells a bit too much. It just goes to show that for people with PMLD, interaction with nature isn’t always a pleasurable experience. I find this a very interesting area and am beginning some research into options for sensory gardens that provide a gentle experience of nature, inclusive to all. Watch this space!
  • The tougher challenge was then to match the scent to the plant. I thought this would be really easy but I was surprised at how many people got at least one wrong. And it seemed that my lavender was the one to trip people up the most – it was often confused with rosemary (not that I had any of that with me).
  • The next part was me getting all Wild Happy Well: I then asked people some questions specifically designed to enhance their connection to the nature provided by my lovely herbs
    • What does it mean to you? Does each smell remind you of anything? A person, a place, an event?
    • Does the smell make you feel different? If so, how does it make you feel?

This part was really interesting for me, especially as this was my first time trying something like this out. The questions really made people think. I could see so many different responses: some got a bit misty-eyed as they recounted stories of childhood memories involving that herb, others seemed a bit bewildered apparently struggling to locate that herb/smell in any part of their day-to-day life, some enthused about how they love to make tea with it! Some simply grinned and said it made them happy. That was the best bit for me!

The Wild Happy Well olfactory table
The Wild Happy Well olfactory table! Me and my herbs 🙂 [Only photo in this post not taken on my Nikon DSLR – this was on my Samsung Galaxy S5]
Overall, Parallel London 2017 was an incredible experience, one I will never forget. It was the first time Wild Happy Well was out on the road meeting people, and that was a great learning experience. It was also an incredibly inspiring experience as I witnessed participants achieving amazing feats of personal accomplishment. Everyone had so much fun, I thoroughly recommend it to you for a grand day out!

Photography

If you’re interested in photography, I took these photos on my Nikon D7000 DSLR and post-processed them in Adobe Camera Raw (Photoshop).

Jacamo cargo shorts for Dad: review for getting out and about with baby in comfort and style

Summer time!

Hurray, it’s officially summer time – that means Jon’s leggies start to appear in daylight after a long winter covered in trousers! (They’re not even that pastey, thanks to that bit of Spanish blood he has…) Today’s post is exciting for me as it’s my first containing ‘sponsored’ content: today I’m reviewing three pairs of men’s Jacamo cargo shorts for Dad which were gifted provided that I publish this review. I wanted to do this as I think it’s important that Dads also build their confidence getting out and about in nature with baby, and clothing is an important part of that (and having to focus on my husband’s mountain-biker legs and bum wasn’t exactly a hardship!). As a new mum, I went from enjoying choosing pretty/funky outfits to pulling out the most sensible/practical get-up for what I wanted to achieve with Archie that day. In the early days, having any vague clue what you’ll need can be tough! (See this post for a description of good kit for getting out for walks with baby.) So, an outdoor parent needs practical clothing that is preferably stylish too so you don’t completely lose your sense of identity.

The three of us enjoying lunch outside in beautiful natural surroundings. Jon is wearing the smart Williams & Brown Linen cargo short (and Archie is being just scrumptious!).
The three of us enjoying lunch outside in beautiful natural surroundings. Jon is wearing the smart Williams & Brown Linen cargo short (and Archie is being just scrumptious!). FYI, my blue hair has now gone.

The engineer will out

Jon is an engineer. He is the consummate practical man, but he does like the finer things in life (ahem, obviously). Jon knows the style of clothing he likes to wear and tends to stick to it (think poster boy for Fat Face!). The couple of indy-boy tees I may have encouraged him to buy over the years have barely seen the light of day: he is a more smart polo shirt kind of guy, with jeans or cargo trousers, and it suits him. As woman, mother, and primary care-giver I had to learn early on which tops/dresses/jumpers I could wear for feeding baby when out and about, and which trousers are best for cramming all sorts into pockets and comfy enough for getting down on hands and knees for impromptu nappy changes wherever the need arose. Jon hasn’t really had to do that as much. So when this opportunity arose, I seized it to encourage him to think more carefully about how his wardrobe fitted with his new needs as a father, particularly when outdoors.

Three pairs of cargo shorts

To compare a range of shorts for different activities and looks, we selected three different brands and style of cargo shorts from Jacamo:

  1. Craghoppers Kiwi Pro Long short in dark khaki
  2. Jacamo Bexar cargo short in wine
  3. Williams and Brown Linen cargo short in navy (these don’t appear to be available, so here is a link to the trouser version)

This selection proved to be an absolute winner as Jon had something good to say about each one – they each performed very well for different purposes.

Overall winner for regular cool comfort and a smart look

His overall favourite was the Williams & Brown Linen cargo short as these were light, cool, comfy, and looked good, so he chose these for day trips with friends/lunch out, that sort of thing. Jon is not a man who enjoys hot sticky weather in the slightest so the cool linen kept him happy when carrying Archie around in the sling on hot days (Archie is no mere bagatelle….at 9 months he’s a whopping 24lbs!). It has a couple of good sized buttoned pockets to accommodate a medium sized wallet, smart phone, and keys. The only downside with these though was the belt – he said is was less than useless sadly. The buckle pin would slip through the buckle meaning it just wouldn’t stay done up, plus the fake leather details were a bit dubious… However, his usual belt fitted instead so order was restored!

Jon wearing the Williams & Brown Linen cargo short - Daddy time off action shot!
Jon wearing the Williams & Brown Linen cargo short – Daddy time off action shot!

Best Outdoor Dad’s choice

For more active pursuits like hiking, the Craghoppers Kiwi Pro Long short were by far the best. Good quality active wear material kept him cool as he exerted himself. The good stretch in the material gave excellent flexibility and manoeuvrability. These shorts were the only ones to have a zipped pocket which he really liked: great for keeping keys and other valuables safe when you’re being active. His only complaint was that compared to the others their fit was a little more snug. Watching him exert himself marching about, I, however, did not complain about this.

Jon wears the Craghopper Kiwi Pro Long cargo short on a walk around Glendurgan Gardens in Cornwall. THe weather started off nice enough but soon it was raining cats and dogs. I was feeling a bit peaky so Jon had to push the buggy and carry the camera bag. The shorts didn't get waterlogged and dried quickly when the rain stopped.
Jon wears the Craghopper Kiwi Pro Long cargo short on a walk around Glendurgan Gardens in Cornwall. The weather started off nice enough but soon it was raining cats and dogs. I was feeling a bit peaky so Jon had to push the buggy and carry the camera bag. The shorts didn’t get waterlogged and dried quickly when the rain stopped.

Casual day-to-day shorts

The Jacamo Bexar cargo shorts were still rated highly: he considered these to be more of a casual day-to-day option. With thicker material than the linen, they were more hard-wearing so we figured they’d look good for longer with frequent use and greater daily wear and tear. These also had more of those sought-after big manly pockets so apparently good for keeping a tape measure and multi-tool handy (snigger snigger). They were a good comfy fit and the wine option was a really nice colour (more daring than Jon tends to plump for so good for pushing those personal style boundaries!).

This is Archie's very first experience of the beach and the sea! It wasn't the best weather by any means but a few spots of rain didn't spoil his fun! Jon wore the Jacamo Bexar cargo shorts, and we all got a bit wet!
This is Archie’s very first experience of the beach and the sea! It wasn’t the best weather by any means but a few spots of rain didn’t spoil his fun! Jon wore the Jacamo Bexar cargo shorts, and we all got a bit wet!

Jacamo website and delivery service

A separate aspect of these clothes is how you order and obtain them. While I didn’t need to order them from the website (submitted preferred choices through the agent), we both navigated it a few times to look through the options. It’s quite a data-intensive website that tends to take a while to load but I think this is due to the many images which are actually pretty helpful (the colour representations are accurate). The searching options are extensive so it’s easy to find exactly what you’re looking for. Once ordered, I received an email telling me my parcel was on its way, providing tracking information. It arrived promptly and was securely delivered to a neighbour as I wasn’t at home to receive it. From our experience (neither of us have ordered many clothes online before), we would be happy to order from them again. Jon was really happy with all three pairs of shorts and he will consider Jacamo in future when he needs new clothes, not something he’d ever have done before.

I hope you’ve found this useful. It was a fun exercise for us, and got Jon thinking about how he equips himself when taking Archie out and about, particularly when getting active in nature.

What outdoor wardrobe hacks do you use? What clothing options help you and your family get outside easily?

30 Days Wild: Days 9 to 20 – struggles to maintain momentum

Maintain momentum

I made a commitment to complete 30 Days Wild and that’s what I’m going to do. For me, a key part of the scheme is to get oneself into the habit of connecting to nature daily. However, when it’s a conscious thing to do initially, you have to maintain momentum to get that habit established. Additionally, I’ve started the Wild Happy Well blog with a view to this becoming a small business, so I’ve wanted to carve out time to do this and again get into the habit of writing and posting regularly. I’ll be honest, over the last 12 days I have struggled with both of these.

Sleep, oh precious sleep

Archie is now 7 months old and up to this point he’s been an excellent sleeper (4 month sleep regression notwithstanding!). Over the last couple of weeks however his night-time sleeping has been more disrupted and as a result I’ve been decidedly more zombie-like. That’s an understatement: I find it extremely hard to function like a ‘normal’ human being when I’ve had either very little sleep (5 hours or less), or very broken sleep (1.5-2hr chunks – although managing around 7 hours in a few chunks isn’t too bad). I had planned to post every 4-5 days throughout 30 Days Wild with daily pictures and nice stories of what we’ve done. I was also planning to continue adding more informative posts about the science of how nature benefits our health and wellbeing. But, over the last 12 days I just have not had the brain power to think ahead and plan/seize those lovely pictures, or think more critically and read more academic papers.

A lovely sunshine walk in our local park: space, green, and peace
A lovely sunshine walk in our local park: space, green, and peace

Keep going

I have however made sure I did SOMETHING every day to connect me with the natural world, however short and however small. This, for me right now, is a win. I’ve missed a couple of daily pictures over this period but I’m taking part in 30 Days Wild to benefit me and not to produce an album for others to see so I figure this is actually fine! It’s funny, looking back through all the pictures I’ve taken over the last 12 days, I’ve forgotten how much I have done which is heartening – I mustn’t be so hard on myself!!!

Random Acts of Wildness (that I can remember)!

Day 9: In the evening I started reading a paper: Cox et al. 2017, ‘Doses of neighbourhood nature: the benefits for mental health of living with nature’. Honestly, I didn’t finish it, I was too tired and needed to go to bed, but what I did read was really interesting – I’ll include it in a post sometime.

Day 10: We visited a local garden centre as a family to buy a pot and some plants for our new deck – we settled on three different types of mint so that we can use them to make our own herbal tea as well as being a nice sensory experience as we brush past them. 

Day 11: We visited the Festival of Nature on Bristol Harbourside. We visited various tents including that of Avon Wildlife Trust where we chatted to volunteers about 30 Days Wild, picked up interesting leaflets, learned about planting for wildlife in your garden and enjoyed looking at plasticine insects and bats the children had made. I also met Steve Shepherd from Shepherd’s Way show on Bristol Nature Radio and we had an interesting conversation – you never know Wild Happy Well might be on air sometime!

Day 12: I went for a walk with Archie around our local park. I was happy to see a section of verge cordoned off as a ‘no mow’ zone to allow it to go wild, excellent!

No mow zone!
No mow zone!

Day 13: Out in our garden, I am still contemplating what to do with the olive tree, and how to hard prune it (as I think this is what I’ll end up doing). It is beautiful and Archie loves watching it wave around in the breeze so it would be a shame to lose this feature. After Archie went to bed I ate my dinner out on the deck in the last rays of sunlight – a good way to reset at the end of the day.

Dinner on the deck - yes that is a potatoe waffle!
Dinner on the deck – yes that is a potatoe waffle!

Day 14: I can’t remember…

Day 15: Baby in bed, dinner cooked and eaten, I stepped outside for a breath and to do something, anything in the garden (NB: I was in a foul mood…probably down to tiredness). As soon as I entered the garden my body took a deep breath, almost subconsciously showing me I needed this. It reminded me of when Archie was on hospital and I had been with him for four nights. I was so sleep deprived, so shaken by worry for him and the constant crying and screams from the ward. When Jon stayed with him on the fifth night and I went home to get some sleep, I stepped into our garden and stood. There was bird song, green, moisture. Nature. Rejuvenation. It was incredibly healing. I’ll write about that experience another time as it’s etched into my memory, particularly how the sudden presence of nature was a balm to my poor state of mind.

Day 16: A short walk around Castle Park near the river. We heard a peregrine falcon but didn’t manage to spot it, but we did see a cormorant diving for fish!

Day 17: Watched a beautiful rose chafer beetle that landed on our deck (see featured image). Luckily we get quite a few of these in our garden, bumbling around with their deep drone-like buzz. Their iridescence in the sunshine is simply stunning to behold.

Day 18: Mega hot today so Jon and I went to B&Q early to get some form of shade for our new deck (all finished now, I must post an update following from this). Having a south-facing garden means it gets incredibly hot and with Archie no shade is a big no-no. We ended up buying an amazing ‘mega-sol’!!

The new finished deck with mega-sol which makes being outside in summer with baby sooo much easier and safer!
The new finished deck with mega-sol which makes being outside in summer with baby sooo much easier and safer!

Day 19: It was soooo hot again today and we were finally all set up for paddling pool action so Archie and I chilled out in there late in the afternoon and even had ‘bath time’ out there! He absolutely loved it, splashing around, looking at the trees waving in the breeze and flinging his squidgey fish around. I was in the pool too and it was lovely to share that experience with him – we shall be repeating this lots over the summer!

Day 20: We had a mini pool party today on the new deck! Mini in multiple senses: mini-pool, mini-people (babies), and only two of them! It’s such a great way for all of us to keep cool, be outside, and have fun.

Hopefully with the weather cooling down a bit we’ll all manage to get more sleep and then we can finish 30 Days Wild more in the manner with which we started! Here’s to maintaining momentum!

Have you struggled at all with maintaining your momentum with 30 Days Wild, or any other venture you’re going for at the moment? Let me know. How do you keep focus and re-energise your activities?

30 Days Wild, Days 3 to 8: our family focus on wellbeing

Delightful British summer

Well! What weather we’ve had this week… Not exactly the delightful British summer we always hope for, but then we’ve had some amazing days in the last couple of months. When the weather turns bad, it can be hard to think of ways to connect with nature when you have a young baby, without having to don the waterproofs and wellies, and wrapping baby up in all manner of layers (then CONSTANTLY worrying that baby is too hot/too cold/wet/etc.). For me, taking part in 30 Days Wild is not just about connecting myself more with the natural world, but also finding ways for Archie to also benefit from the goodness the wild has to offer, as we both focus on wellbeing (well, he kinda just focuses on milk and toys, but hey!).

 

Five ways to wellbeing

A report published in 2008 identified five actions to improve wellbeing:

  1. Connect
  2. Keep active
  3. Take notice
  4. Keep learning
  5. Give

Getting stuck into 30 Days Wild, I’ve had these in the back of my mind when deciding what Random Acts of Wildness to do each day. I’ll be going into more detail on these soon, looking at studies The Wildlife Trusts highlight that demonstrate how nature can contribute to each of these categories to improve wellbeing.

 

Our Random Acts of Wildness, Days 3-8

Day 3: Another visit to our favourite local National Trust property, Tyntesfield. My mum was staying with us and she loves the place too so it was a fun, easy excursion for all of us. It really has something for all the family: beauty in nature, architecture, and gardens, easy spots for feeding baby and play breaks from the buggy. This time, we got active and took notice: we explored further on foot and found parts we’d never visited before. I turned green with envy at the gorgeous kitchen garden. I’d absolutely love to have such an organised and productive area of our garden, however small!

Day 3: Another visit to our favourite local National Trust property, Tyntesfield. My mum was staying with us and she loves the place too so it was a fun, easy excursion for all of us. It really has something for all the family: beauty in nature, architecture, and gardens, easy spots for feeding baby and play breaks from the buggy. This time, we got active and took notice: we explored further on foot and found parts we’d never visited before. I turned green with envy at the gorgeous kitchen garden. I’d absolutely love to have such an organised and productive area of our garden, however small!
30 Days Wild day 3

Here’s a little gallery of our DSLR photos from the day – mostly taken by hubby on the Nikon D7100, post-processed in Photoshop.

 

Day 4: Getting to know my fruit trees, learning about when and how to prune them (bad weather again). When we bought out house, it already had a fig tree, olive tree, and what I thought was a peach tree in the back garden. It turns out the peach is an apricot tree – big oops! from the supposed biologist…!!! The apricot was never trained and is now out of control and not fruiting well, and the olive has become rather unruly where I would prefer it provided some form of screen, so both of these need attention. I’ve never pruned a tree and the last thing I want to do is do them any harm…so learning was in order. Now I feel much more confident and informed as to what is required and when 🙂

(I was bought the book below as a present – you can buy it here)

Day 4: Getting to know my fruit trees, learning about when and how to prune them (bad weather again). When we bought out house, it already had a fig tree, olive tree, and what I thought was a peach tree in the back garden. It turns out the peach is an apricot tree – big oops! from the supposed biologist…!!! The apricot was never trained and is now out of control and not fruiting well, and the olive has become rather unruly where I would prefer it provided some form of screen, so both of these need attention. I’ve never pruned a tree and the last thing I want to do is do them any harm…so learning was in order. Now I feel much more confident and informed as to what is required and when
30 Days Wild day 4

Day 5: Learning about native and tropical marine life at Bristol Aquarium, as it was STILL raining. It turns out my mum had never been to an aquarium before (Archie has already been several times – annual membership oh yes!). She loved it and as Archie gets older he notices and enjoys more of it which is lovely to share. We were lucky to be near the seahorses when they were fed. They rose towards the surface all together in a beautiful display, and you could hear them eating with loud POPs as they took mouthfuls.

Day 5: Learning about native and tropical marine life at Bristol Aquarium, as it was STILL raining. It turns out my mum had never been to an aquarium before (Archie has already been several times – annual membership oh yes!). She loved it and as Archie gets older he notices and enjoys more of it which is lovely to share. We were lucky to be near the seahorses when they were fed. They rose towards the surface all together in a beautiful display, and you could hear them eating with loud POPs as they took mouthfuls.
30 Days Wild day 5

Day 6: A brief nature fix today in between breaks in yet more rain… I seized the opportunity to dead-head my roses and create a small home-grown bouquet for our living room, bringing the outdoors in. Both these activities felt almost meditative so although brief, they were good for heart and mind.

Day 6: A brief nature fix today in between breaks in yet more rain… I seized the opportunity to dead-head my roses and create a small home-grown bouquet for our living room, bringing the outdoors in. Both these activities felt almost meditative so although brief, they were good for heart and mind.
30 Days Wild day 6

Day 7: As we’ve had a bit of a learning theme this week, Archie and I continued this today with a learning walk around Clifton and Durdham Downs. It was a sunny but blustery afternoon, so we were certainly connected to the elements (hello windburn…)! There was a lot of wildlife out: we saw four grey squirrels and many different bird species. Swifts wheeled in the sky above us; their elegant scythe-shaped wings giving them incredible manoeuvrability. A pied wagtail flitted and hovered over patches of grass presumably nibbling tasty insects. Only in the last few weeks have I noticed their flight pattern – it’s actually very pretty. They flutter and change direction in a delicate way that reminds me a little of a hummingbird (humour me slightly!), with their long tail waving behind. Around the city you tend to see them in car parks or the edges of pavements; if you see one in a garden or park do take the time to notice how they move. We also saw butterflies in the meadows that now fill a number of areas around the Downs.

Day 7: As we’ve had a bit of a learning theme this week, Archie and I continued this today with a learning walk around Clifton and Durdham Downs. It was a sunny but blustery afternoon, so we were certainly connected to the elements (hello windburn…)! There was a lot of wildlife out: we saw four grey squirrels and many different bird species. Swifts wheeled in the sky above us; their elegant scythe-shaped wings giving them incredible manoeuvrability. A pied wagtail flitted and hovered over patches of grass presumably nibbling tasty insects. Only in the last few weeks have I noticed their flight pattern – it’s actually very pretty. They flutter and change direction in a delicate way that reminds me a little of a hummingbird (humour me slightly!), with their long tail waving behind. Around the city you tend to see them in car parks or the edges of pavements; if you see one in a garden or park do take the time to notice how they move. We also saw butterflies in the meadows that now fill a number of areas around the Downs.
30 Days Wild day 7

Day 8: An odd day with random naps, a Dr’s appointment, and many household chores so my act of wildness today was to write some poetry when I had some space and time while Archie napped. I’m happy with the beginning, but we’ll see how it progresses. Whatever it turns out like I will share – you’ve got to just get these things out there sometimes, don’t you?! I’m not sure which of the Five Ways this might incorporate, I think mostly taking notice as I was imagining what sensing nature for the very first time might feel like.

Day 8: An odd day with random naps, a Dr’s appointment, and many household chores so my act of wildness today was to write some poetry when I had some space and time while Archie napped. I’m happy with the beginning, but we’ll see how it progresses. Whatever it turns out like I will share – you’ve got to just get these things out there sometimes, don’t you?! I'm not sure which of the Five Ways this might incorporate, I think mostly taking notice as I was imagining what sensing nature for the very first time might feel like.
30 Days Wild day 8

That’s it for now, keep sharing your Random Acts and think about the Five Ways to Wellbeing – how do you focus on wellbeing?

Taking part in 30 Days Wild 2017

Wild Happy Well is taking part in 30 Days Wild!

The Wild Happy Well family is taking part in 30 Days Wild! Here on the blog I’ll be writing about our wild adventures – our Random Acts of Wildness – and how I think it’s improving our nature connection. See Part 1 of my post on how Nature improves our health and wellbeing if you’d like an introduction to the evidence. I’ll share our photographs so you can get an idea of what we’ve been up to and the nature we’ve seen in our local area, plus tips on simple easy ways to connect with your nearby nature.

The Wildlife Trusts’ scheme

30 Days Wild is a scheme run by The Wildlife Trusts that aims to get people more connected to nature in order to benefit from the health and wellbeing boosts that science shows us nature provides. It also helps people and families learn about the nature around them which will hopefully help the next generation care for the world around us, protecting and preserving our biodiversity. By signing up to and taking part in 30 Days Wild, you can be inspired by the many ‘random acts of wildness’ they suggest and get your paws on some fun materials to make taking part even more fun for all the family!

Peony at Tyntesfield, taking part in 30 Days Wild
Day 1: A stunning display of flowers at Tyntesfield, like this gorgeous peony.

Getting into your wild swing!

I think the key with really engaging with this scheme is consistency – achieving regular exposure and connection with nature, even if only for a short duration. After all, we know that the first 5 minutes or so in nature can give the greatest benefits. This is why I’m not going to be putting pressure on us to go on enormous expeditions, but instead carve out quality moments in which we can really be present. With a young baby some days you are just too tired to even get out of the house, let alone go on a long walk or pack us all up to go somewhere further afield. So, whether it’s meditating in the garden, arranging some flowers, or even just a quick walk around the block noticing the trees, flowers, birds and bugs, taking part in 30 Days Wild we’ll do SOMETHING to connect with our nearby nature.

WHW’s first few days

On Day 1 of taking part in 30 Days Wild, my mum, Archie and I visited the National Trusts’ property Tyntesfield near Bristol. It was a beeeeautiful sunny day and we saw many stunning displays of flowers, walked around the grounds, and rested beneath lush leafy canopies provided by the mature trees. Day 2 was a tired day for me and it was quite rainy so we stayed in until both the weather and I had perked up when went for a walk around our village for Archie’s late afternoon nap. We admired flowers in people’s gardens and walked through a local community park where my mum searched for four-leaf clovers. She has a gift of being able to spot these genetic rarities and enjoys peering over the green leafy spread. Having not found any for over a year, she found five in about 10 minutes!!! She believes that they bring good luck, and she found one for each member of our immediate family, so hopefully it’ll be a healthy, happy and well summer for all of us!

Four-leaf clovers, taking part in 30 Days Wild
Four-leaf clovers my mum found during a walk in the park.
Under the leafy canopy at Tyntesfield.
Resting under the leafy canopy at Tyntesfield.

 

If you’re new to Wild Happy Well, find out what I’m about here.

Today’s task: We’re a few days in but it’s still not too late to sign up to 30 Days Wild! Will you go for it? Have you done it before, and if so did it benefit you in some way?

Enjoying the calm before the storm: getting out for a walk with baby

Getting out for a walk with baby

As you can see on our homepage, Wild Happy Well is all about enhancing our connection to nature for all the family. To me, particularly as a new mum, the most basic way to do this is to get out for a walk. In the early days of having a baby getting out is no mean feat. Getting out for a walk with baby requires planning: the right kit, good timing, and a suitable route. In today’s post I tell you about one of my recent nature walks with Archie and talk you through the practicalities of my choices, the benefits they provide, and how you can circumnavigate some of the potential pitfalls of getting out and about on foot with baby.

Reset and recharge

The day started off beautifully weather-wise (we’ll ignore the 4:45 AM wake-up call from Archie…). Hubby remarked that if I was going to go out I should do it sooner rather than later as the weather would turn due to Storm Stella coming in. As Archie had had a good nap in his bed in the morning I planned to head out on foot with him at lunchtime. That day was also momentous for Archie as it was his first day of weaning, so during his late morning feed I’d introduced him to some baby rice made up in (breast)milk. I’d normally take him out for a walk in the buggy and bassinet but as he’s been quite a sickie baby I thought keeping him upright after his first solids was a good idea so I plumped for the sling instead.

We toddled off for a good hour or so down the paths in our village to my favourite field; a little patch of countryside nestled amongst some fabulous properties, with far reaching views to the city and hills beyond. It gives me the space, light, air, and greenery that I need to strip away the cabin fever. It kinda presses my reset and recharge buttons. We headed a little beyond there until the winds began to whip up, the temperature dropped and the clouds rolled in. With a nipper in tow you always need to turn back sooner than you think – where I’d happily march back home in some refreshing rain, a soggy baby won’t thank you for it! We were lucky and got home just in time. We’d made the most of the beautiful calm before the storm enjoying some clean fresh air and I got to properly stretch my legs in peace and quiet as he slept the whole way. Most importantly, we had both been able to happily absorb some goodness from a little pocket of nature not far from home with minimal effort or assistance. To me that feels quite a lot like freedom and good fortune, for which I am very grateful.

So, what made getting out for a walk with baby relatively easy and hassle-free?

Kit

Choosing to take baby out in a sling means I need to be wearing the right tops – no zips that would dig into Archie’s face, and a high enough neckline so that he can’t suck my skin (as he likes to do sometimes…drool everywhere!) or get stuck to my skin as I inevitably get a bit sweaty during the walk. I like to wear a suitable tee and layer up with a fleece/body warmer or coat as the weather requires. I find this gives me a nice amount of flexibility as I will warm up or cool down with minimal disruption to a (probably) snoozing baby.

As for Archie’s get-up, I find a short-sleeved vest and long sleeved, thickish top are typically fine in the sling, which is quite thick (Ergobaby 360) with a water-resistant, fleece lined sling cover (Bebamour). The latter has a hood that keeps the wind and rain off his head and face. He’s normally in comfy leggings and socks so I add Mocc-Ons to keep his tootsies nice and warm in the sling cover. Stick a hat on top and he’s good to go! The Bebamour cover is nice in that it covers his arms and hands in soft fleece and if I have got a zippy fleece on undone as well then his hands are always tucked into something warm. The sling cover is great as it also has a handy pouch on the front that I use to store a clean muslin and some snacks for me, plus I can put my hands in there to keep them warm. I don’t normally bother carrying the change bag as well if we’re just walking from the house as I will never be that far away and he’s normally asleep. However, this is a bit risky – I’ll probably get caught out by a mega-poo-explosion at some point!

Archie walk kit cropped
Archie demonstrating the quick walk kit! Left to right: Ergobaby 360, Mocc-Ons and hat, Bebamour sling cover, muslin and snack.

Timing

You say timing and immediately think timing for baby, and yes this is most crucial. I tend to try and time going out with when I expect Archie to be tired for a nap. It normally takes him about 10 to 15 minutes to drop off; sometimes less if he’s really zonked. But it is also important to time it for you – I find it can be easy to forget about my own energy levels and often the walking nap falls over lunchtime, so it’s important to make sure you’ve either had some food or got something to take with you that you can eat on the move. Also a simple thing, go to the loo before putting baby in the sling! The number of times I’ve got all ready to go and then nature has called in the most basic way… Such a faff to deal with, especially with an increasingly tired (ie. screaming) baby!

Route

Oh, how I have been thwarted by kissing gates that are just too small for the buggy, or styles that you just don’t recall being there! As you get started going out with all the paraphernalia of a baby, it suddenly makes that nice little ramble to one’s favourite field more akin to climbing Ben Nevis in a sleeping bag. It can be incredibly disheartening when you’re merrily on your way to find that just because you have a baby in tow you can’t go where you want to. Or you can’t get yourself, plus baby, plus stuff over/around/through an obstacle because of the after effects of pregnancy and birth. This is something that has got me down on more than one occasion. When your core stability is shot, your joints hurt, you’re still healing, and you’re carrying/pushing the weight of baby plus stuff and maybe still a few pregnancy pounds, it can demand a huge amount of physical and sometimes emotional effort to keep going. Be kind to yourself and chalk it down to learning the new parent ropes. We have all been there. There are compromises to be made in pretty much all aspects of a new parent’s life, some that last longer than others, but with a bit of forethought and research, plus a few choice pieces of kit, you can get yourself and baby out to many varied natural spaces to get your wild nature fix.

Today’s task: tell me your stories of how you get your easy nature fixes in the comments below.