We’re starting the Cob oven on Sunday

The regular Sunday maintenance session at the nature reserve will focus on starting the Cob oven. Working from the ground up, literally, we will be working on the foundation and starting on the walls.

All volunteers welcome! Anyone with previous cob oven building experience, or bricklaying experience, it would be great to have you join us.

11am to 2pm at the Mark Fitzpatrick Nature reserve.For more details or to register interest contact us at urbanoutdoorslondon (at) gmail.com

Here’s a photo of the cob oven at the lovely Hackney Tree Nursery and Forest Garden, inspiring!IMG_0656

Look Mum, fire and no matches!

We had a great day romping around the nature reserve today. We had an enthusiastic gaggle of kids, most of whom mastered the art of lighting a fire in a fire bowl using a fire striker. This takes determination and a bit of patience. Sometimes it takes me a few minutes to get it right! So it was great that most of the kids got there in the end. We cooked our lunch on the campfire, made some Elder bead necklaces and generally got a bit muddy and scruffy. Our home made bread was even flavoured with wild garlic leaves picked on site.

Proper fresh air fun!





Welcome Spring (we hope it’s finally here to stay)…

Welcome all to the nature reserve; human, flora, fauna!

The mosaic welcome sign is up, made from recycled tile, including the letters which are formed of tiny pieces of Victorian china that surface with every dig into the bank of the nectar garden. Sunday was our monthly workday at the reserve. I got stuck into the nectar garden, cutting back a lot of dead perennial structure, digging in seeds and sowing some more with the help of Ben and Lara. I remove some of the alkanet and buttercup but do leave some as they are important nectar forage in the coming weeks. It’s a fine balance, keeping these vigorous natives in check so we have space for other flowers too. I noticed gladly that the patch of nettles that I transplanted from the woodland have taken and are sprouting new growth under the Elder shrub.

The rest of the volunteers worked around the main bit of the site, during the tea break Jeanne spotted a brave yellow brimstone butterfly fluttering along the railway. I hope it found what it was looking for on one of the first Spring-like days in a while.

Easter Playscheme

Do you know any young forest enthusiasts who would like to join us for outdoorsy fun and adventures at Easter Holiday time?

Our Woodland playscheme will run from Monday 8th to Thursday 11th April 2013. 10am to 3pm daily, in all weathers!

Activities will include

  • a morning ramble and games on Hampstead Heath.
  • afternoon at the Mark Fitzpatrick Nature reserve
  • woodland arts and crafts
  • shelter and den building
  • making habitats for birds and insects
  • safe use of basic handtools
  • cooking on the campfire on the last day

Suitable for children ages 7-12 years. The playscheme is run by Penny, Nina and Ros – we are all fully qualified and insured Forest School practitioners. We all have enhanced CRB checks.

Costs: 4 days attendance – £110. £100 for siblings.

single days £30/day. £25 for siblings. Booking priorities will be given to 4 day bookings, single days can be booked where there is availability.

Please contact us to register your interest and to find out more details.

Air Quality workshops


Pupils at Rhyl Primary School, Camden

During 2012 we collaborated with Community by Design to deliver a series of workshops to Camden Primary schools on the theme of Air Quality. Different workshops were designed for each of the schools involved. One of the longer programmes was an animation workshop led by Nina Gebauer and animator Bunny Schendler at Fitzjohn’s Primary, Hampstead. The children produced this fantastic animated film, which you can see at Vimeo.

Today we were at City Hall to speak to representatives of 7 London Boroughs as the programme is now being rolled out across London. We had some great feedback on the work we presented.

Nectar Garden is go!

Monday was our second week of developing our Nectar Garden at Mortimer Terrace along with a small but dedicated group of local participants. We meet every Monday and in the next few weeks we will be planting and welcoming lots of pollinating insects.

Before we started the sun drenched bank had become overrun with green alkanet, creeping buttercup, burdock and bramble – all good nectar plants but not a good spread of flowering through the seasons. And the nature reserve is covered in these already, so we think we can greatly improve on the diversity in this spot.


And during the second session we’d got to grips with a lot of the weeds. We have left some plants in place; a big clump of lovage, horseradish, lavender, rosemary, yarrow, a teasel. These are the last survivors of the medicinal herb garden that was planted and looked after 10 years ago by Matti: