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).

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?