Woodland Mayhem

GREETINGS!! Are you excited? I certainly am! I have got so much to talk about in terms of what I have been doing with Circle of Life Rediscovery recently! So, hold on to your hats and away we go…

So, as mentioned in my March blog I was taking part in a woodland day with Circle of Life Rediscovery which was in partnership with CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services). We do various woodland days together, which is all very exciting.

When CAMHS and CLR take on the adventure of spending the day in the woodland we are usually based in the woods at Bentley Wildfowl & Motor Museum, which is a stunning woodland and one of my favourites. This time was a little different, CLR decided to take us somewhere new, open our young minds to new places and new experiences… I was a little apprehensive but all the more welcoming to this new endeavour.

Bright and early on a Thursday morning – still a little sleepy-eyed – we were gathered in the car park of Powdermill Woods in Battle. There was a good turn out in terms of participants, ranging from ages 13 through to 19, I felt quite and happy proud being the oldest youth participant! I think it shows that even adults (scary to think I’m an adult!) enjoy messing around in the woods reverting back to the young child that I used to be.

We all made our way down into the woods, stopping along the way to see what nature has to offer in terms of living off the land and what to look out for when the tummy starts to rumble. One of the plants we tried tasted a lot like celery, which I was quite surprised by… A very fresh tasting plant, you could imagine it almost in a homemade, living-off-the-land-type-salad. Good to know for future reference! Of course, not everything you see in the woods is edible. We were advised to look out for particular plants which can potentially kill a person in a few short hours! YIKES!

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Ready with our new plant knowledge we continued our walk into the woods. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great walk but I certainly wasn’t prepared for the amount of mud that we faced during our walk into the heart of the woods. Dressed in jeans, (not the best I discovered when the weather is slightly wet and damp) my sisters favourite hoodie and colourful Nike’s… I very quickly learnt that I wouldn’t win best dressed for being out in the woods! But hey ho, you make do with what you got. It took a further 45 minutes of walking (not to mention slipping and sliding in the mud) until we reached our destination point… the heart of Powdermill Woods.

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So I was a little apprehensive about being in these woods, being somewhere new, but as soon as we reached the heart of the woods, all my apprehension evaporated.

Powdermill Woods is simply stunning.

When we arrived the fire was lit in the centre of the circle, bearing welcoming warmth to my cold self and not to mention cold feet. The wood itself is beautiful, surrounded by trees and open spaces to run around in. I felt this was a place where I could let my inner child out. As soon as I saw the rope swing my heart was sold to Powdermill Woods.

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One of my all time favourite things about the woodland days with Circle of Life Rediscovery is the fire in the centre of the camp. I know, it really is that simple but I adore it. It’s a place to gather, to sit and share stories and to share a hot chocolate or two. It’s warming and inviting and a good place to sit and gather your thoughts or to simply just sit and admire the breathtaking view that’s completely surrounding you.

It only reiterates in my mind simply how much I LOVE being in the woods, ever since I was little I have loved being in the woods and forests. I love the open spaces, fresh air and most of all the freedom that comes with it. Who can resist a cosy, warm fire?

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Armed with hot coffee and chocolate biscuits we sat round the fire for discussion, what fun and exciting things our day will consist of, what games to play and the general rules of the wood. Although the wood is a fun and exciting place to be, it is armed with a few things to watch out for. At least unlike the Canadians and Americans, us British kids don’t have to worry about Grizzly Bears or Coyotes, although in saying that… One of my outdoor dreams one day is to see a Black Bear up close and personal in its natural habitat (from a safe distance).

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No CLR woodland day is complete without fun and games. Hands down, the all time best CLR game is Deers & Wolves. If you’ve yet to play it… go grab some friends, an open space and play it- you don’t know what you’re missing out on! It’s intense, fun and gets your heart pumping but at the end of the day it’s a game filled with so many laughs and smiles… and for me a scratch or two from getting over excited and falling over in the brambles. I particularly love this game as it’s a chance to explore the wood through our own eyes, take in what the wood has to offer and of course, between you and me, search out the best hiding places for future games!!

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Hiding behind a thick trunked tree!

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Playing ‘The Karate Game’!

Running around pretending to be a Wolf, karate chopping people’s arms off (not literally) and having the time of my life on the rope swing was all in all thirsty and stomach rumbling work. The only thing on our minds then was FOOD! You soon build up an appetite in the woods, and it’s fantastic to cook on an open woodland fire!

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When CAMHS comes together with CLR for woodland days, we certainly don’t do things by half. And when it comes to food, we like to also use what nature provides us. This time there was Nettle Pakoras on the menu. The boys helped pick the nettles from around the wood while the gram flour, which is made out of chickpeas (also known in India as Chana Dahl… I did my research on that one) was being made into a light batter mix.  Mix it all together with some onion and garlic then voila… you’ve got Nettle Pakoras, and they were delicious!

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This photo makes me smile due to the contrast of between being in the woods yet still using everyday pots and pans that you’d find in a normal kitchen. The end result of the Nettle Pakoras! Judging by people’s faces, they seemed to go down really well with the group! I find it very interesting and fascinating when we make foodie items out of the plants etc found in the wood. It just shows that food necessarily doesn’t have to come out of a packet from a supermarket! The more natural the better and you can’t get any more natural than directly from the woodland!

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Everyone needs a bit of space now and then. A chance to get away from it all, to take some minutes out to relax! One of my favourite parts in Powdermill Woods was this little hut, what I like to call ‘The Den’. It’s a nice space to sit in, in moderate darkness and a cool temperature just to get away from everything.

The day was over all too soon. It was great to spend the day with CLR again! Muddy trainers and wellie boots in tow, it was time to say goodbye to everyone but it wasn’t too sad as we’ll all being seeing each other again soon as at the end of May, CAMHS will be joining forces with CLR once again to do an overnight camp in Powdermill Woods. This’ll be a first for us CAMHS lot but we’re all looking forward to it greatly!

I believe this photograph sums up the mood at the end of the day!

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Bonny and Lindsay outside ‘The Den’

Until next month…

Adios.

Emma, Circle of Life Rediscovery Participant

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