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!




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.

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:






May’s Woodland Wander – Trees!

This is truly my favourite time of year in the woods -nothing quite beats that lush Spring green for me!   So, with the weather as promised – a beautiful day at last!  – what a great opportunity to finally get out in the woods and play!  And catch the last of the bluebells.  A small group of us met and wandered off to play games of “123 where are you?” under the fresh green canopy.

lush green canopy of Spring
twisted and fused hornbeam trunks

Next, we wandered a bit further to play a game of “meet a tree” – one of my favourite games where, in pairs, one partner is blindfolded and guided by the other to a tree, where they feel the bark, shapes and textures of the trunk, then have to find it again when led back to the starting point and un-blindfolded!

Leading on from this game, we began a discussion about trees – are they all the same?  what’s different about them?  Then using leaf i-dials (thank you Woodland Trust’s www.naturedetectives.org.uk/) we tried to identify the trees in Queen’s Wood.  Queen’s Wood is mainly Hornbeam, Oak and Beech, with Cherries, Birch, Hazel, Ash, Rowan, Sycamore, Horse Chestnut, Field Maple, and many more, and an understorey of Holly, Hawthorn and Elder.  We found a few of these and made leaf prints on cloth and bark rubbings with twig frames.

By the way, sorry about the quality of the photos – my phone camera isn’t very good!

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Woodland Wanders – May 13th

This month’s Woodland Wander will take place this weekend (Sunday 13th May, 10.30-12.30) – weather permitting! If the rain is torrential, check here for updates…
Anything less than torrential and we’ll be out there – there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing!
The trees are well in leaf by now, so the forest will be transformed and we will explore our changed surroundings and learn a thing or two about trees and their uses in fun activities and games.
Brave the weather and come along!

Nettles season

Inspired through nettles. We have been harvesting nettles and cooking with it two of our best recipes so far:

Nettle Pesto:

  • Fresh Nettles – 1 cup (liquid measuring cup)
  • Walnuts – 1/2 cup
  • Garlic – 2 cloves chopped/or wild garlic leaves
  • Olive Oil – 4 tablespoons
  • Parmesan Cheese – 2 tablespoons grated

How to make it:

Harvest the top part of the nettle (approx. two leaves down from top) .

In a food processor, first crush the walnuts, then add the garlic and basil. Blend it for a few seconds, then add the oil and the cheese, blend for some more time till everything comes together. Remove and store it in the refrigerator. Use it as a spread on bread, or on pizza and in your pasta.

Nettle Soup:

1 lb potatoes

½ lb young nettles

1 medium sized onion

2 oz butter

1½ pts chicken or vegetable stock

sea salt & black pepper

4 tablespoons sour cream

Cook the peeled, chopped potatoes for 10 mins in salted water. Drain.

Wash & chop coarsely the nettles (Only pick the new, young tops,using gloves!)

Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the finely chopped onion until its lightly cooked and add the nettles and stew gently for a few minutes. Add the potatoes and heated stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes or until tender.

When all is soft, cool slightly & purée in a blender, adding seasoning and the sour cream.

Bon appetit !