On my trip to the New Forest last May with the Sea Cadets there were a few unusual and beautiful sights to be found.
Many of the wildflowers in the New Forest get cropped back by all the animals grazing but looking closely I found some lovely Bugle, Tormentil and Lousewort.
I spotted a log pile of conifer wood and a number of the trunks were made up of two trunks merged together. Quite a weird sight to see what looked like weird robotic eyes looking out at you as you passed by.
While walking around we came across two Holly trees that were joined together by a horizontal trunk. It made for the perfect seat.
Also I spotted what looked like a small vole rummaging around in the grass (bottom left). He spotted me and played dead so letting me get up real close.
And as usual there were plenty of bracket fungus to be seen across the whole forest.
Since it was May there were plenty of seedlings around. There were plenty of Beech seedlings on the ground but I did spot one snuggled into a hollow at the base of an Oak tree. It looked lovely however not a good place in the long term I think.
The gentleman you can see playing golf with some pony poo is Chief Petty Officer Paul Townsend of City of London Sea Cadets. Paul has managed this weekend for a number of years now and it is one of the main weekends in the units diaries.
We had a great time navigating in the woods, playing woodland Jenga with logs, arm wrestling or just helping each other along.
The temperature was well into the late 20,s so some of the cadets took it upon themselves to cool things down.
We met up with the BEL staff monitoring the DofE groups along the way, helped each other and learnt a thing or two from the staff.
One of the things I like about this weekend is that we get excellent cooking from our very own RAF chef Simon. Simon has the uncanny knack of taking a few basic ingredients and turning them into a delightful meal.
In the evening I lit a Finnish candle and I managed to get some amazing Fire Faces from it. How many can you spot?
The Sunday is a day of stances. The BEL students ran a variety of classes such as camping kit, compass work, food and first aid.
Charlie had a great morning teaching the cadets how to use both modern and traditional firesteels.
In no time he had them blowing tinder bundles into flame.
Once the fire was going well Simon had the cadets making the best Shmores (melted marshmallows and biscuits) you could imagine. I managed to get myself a decent sized one eventually.
There were a lot more activities going on incling the Atlatl being run by the DON Lt Cdr Mark Macey (I am sure Mark is a secret bushcrafter at heart), running the DofE, campfire cooking and volleyball.
While we were doing all this a group of cadets with Paul were performing an honour guard at Boldre church for the HMS Hood Remembrance Service.
I have never gotten to this service as I have always been running the camp activities but every year I love to see the pictures of the guard.
That was the end of another great weekend so here is to another great one next year.
Day 30 of the 30 Day Challenge has arrived for me and a lovely day it was spent walking by the River Loddon here in Hampshire with my family.
We decided to head off down some of the tracks Alison uses to run along and explore them in a bit more detail. There were plenty of beautiful horses grazing in their paddocks along the way and a perfect bridge for Pooh sticks.
I was particularly glad to be at home for this final day and to spend it with Alison, Catherine and Finlay just having fun outside with nature.
We soon headed out onto the fields as there were lots of private property signs discouraging us from going further along the river. There was though plenty to find in the fields and the hedgerows such as these Poppies Alison found in the wheat..
I spotted the tiny little Shepherds Purse plant along the path and there were beautiful thistles growing in the hedges.
The path took us across a field and Catherine spotted herself a little moth hidden in the grass. There were butterflies flitting about everywhere but too fast for me to photograph.
There was plenty of more exploring to be had both in the grass and the hedgerows. I spotted some lovely Woundwort by a bridge and Finlay got himself part of wing from a recently killed bird.
As it was a school night we could not stay long so it was soon time to go home. We got in one more set of Pooh Sticks, climbed a few logs and Finlay got himself a large Pheasant feather.
That is it for me for the 30 Day Challenge. It has been a challenge to make time every day for nature however it has been well worth it – a real tonic you could say.
The Wildlife Trusts no doubt will run this again next year but in the meantime the next project is Random Days of Wildness. I can work with that I think.
Thanks for following me on this journey over the last 30 days.
I was in class all day followed by an evening of delayed train travel (I am still on the train as I write this).
I managed to get this nice shot of some Meadowsweet on the canal side at Shipley as I left the office to head home.
Today has reminded me of how lucky I have been to manage to squeeze time in each day to do this challenge over the last month. I was desperate to get some more pictures but the battery in my camera gave out (switched itself on in my bag somehow) on the way home that I forgot that part of the challenge was just to get out and about to appreciate nature – even if that was just for a few minutes.
Looking at the canal picture I think I managed that even if it was just for a minute in my otherwise busy working day.