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#OutdoorPeople, Charlie, Diary, E8, exploring, graffiti, Hackney Wild Walks, HackneyWildWalks, London Fields, Outdoor People, parks, playing, shops, streetplay, streets, urban exploring -

“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
I built my long term love of just being outdoors simply playing around the the places where I was growing up. Climbing trees, roller skating, den making, breaking into building sites... More distant adventures were had, but they were special. This blog is about the everyday adventures that start just outside your front door. And be warned this is a bit more of a personal blog - but I do include a good few references to thinkers and researchers too, to bring it back to I hope something useful if you are trying to make the case to increase walking with children or families where you live or work. We moved quite a lot through my childhood and teenage years - Yorkshire, N Wales, Liverpool, Cheshire and Baghdad*. Then post college (in London), I had eight more addresses from the Highlands of Scotland to Exeter before I was 32 and finally 'settled' here in Hackney. Moving so often, playing and exploring outdoors was an important way for me to get to know my neighborhood, to put down roots quickly, to feel safe and known, to make friends with both other children (and later adults!) and the lady that ran the corner shop (insert coffee shop!). Research from a number of sources** shows children and families are safer and feel far more 'connected' where they are outdoors in their own places more and know their neighbours. Living in relatively car free areas massively increases connectivity. Whatever, from experience I'd agree that the more time you spend meandering and really looking at your neighbourhood, the more connected and safer you feel. And that still holds however old you are. In the course of the last few months developing the Hackney Wild Walks with the good folks of Hackney's Public Health team, and taking professionals for workshops and treasure hunts around some of the secret spaces across the borough has reminded me so strongly how very, very important it is for all of us to simply walk where we live. to feel it in all its seasons. Yesterday I needed to visit a shop in Haggerston, about a mile from my flat, so instead of zipping there on my bike and decided to go in a #HackneyWildWalk headspace and see what I could find... One of my favourite pastimes in Hackney is spotting new graffiti. The world is constantly changing. It doesn't matter how often you go down a path, it is always different. That applies just as much to the built as the growing environment. That's one of the many benefits parents and educators mention about simply going outdoors - there is simply so much more to talk about! IMG_4878 Stik is a famous local graffiti artist - but this is the biggest piece of his I've seen. IMG_4883 Even walking along side streets of an inner city borough on a dull October day you can find beautiful flowers, and I was happy to spot this cornflower, one of my favourites. IMG_4885 Growing up partly in the Middle East, it makes me very happy to see trees like this so close to home! When I'm doing the walk with children these provide a great talking point too. IMG_4886 And curious signs! The British sense of humour is visible in so many tucked away spaces, always nice to see! IMG_4887 Urban walks always have a bench to sit, drink your coffee, and watch the world go by. IMG_4892 Then homeward bound... IMG_4889 There are so many trees to see, plants of all shapes and sizes, animals and birds to both see and hear.  This morning - on the way to early yoga - I think I heard a nightingale. Need to check that on my app... but not until I've smelt the earth a little longer. Playing, exploring and simply observing where we live - and chatting to folks on the way, something most people seem to welcome if done with a smile, though the dog helps! - are critical not just to our health, but to our sense of who we are in the place we live. So do try and make space for a wild walk in the next week...

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Diary, Disco Loco, Exhale, Exhale 2014, Prizes, Project Wild Thing, Raffle, The Wild Network -

Well for a few days there we thought it was definitely autumn. I rather enjoyed getting my hat and fleece out... But very glad to be sat back again in a light summer dress! As many of you know we had fun times at Exhale Festival the week before last.The six tents all got rented out and you can see a couple of the lovely testimonials on the home page. As their first outing as hire tents we were really pleased - tight when it rained, cool in the sunshine and for those with two people in the tent at least they retained the heat despite temperature drops to almost zero... IMG_3266Oh boy did that remind us all of the importance of great mats, blankets and whatever you can get hold of underneath the sleeping bags!! And of woolly hats! I did do one woodsy session, a lovely 'travel wand' activity, where we decorated sticks to represent our life journeys and hopes for the future... Some lovely stories shared and dreams gathered. One of my favourite moments was being surrounded by gongs whilst lying in a hammock - a surreal and unique experience!Outdoor People at Exhale 026 And we did lots and lots of yoga! Here's a huge, huge thanks to the organisers Stretch and Black and Light Yoga, in the shape of Carl and Charlie, both of whom brought together constant cheeriness, some wonderful yogis, musicians, masseurs and who could forget Cult, purveyors of the most delicious almond milk hot chocolate?! And thanks too from my dog Charlie who declared it the BEST HOLIDAY EVER! Here are just a few photos: [gallery type="slideshow" ids="866,868,865,867,864,863,862,860,858,855,856,853,852,857,854,851,850,849,848,847,834,846,845,870,844,843,842,841,840,839,835,836,838"] It was a huge shame that the playworkers and fantastic bushcraft hero that is Sylvan Adventures couldn't come this time as there just weren't enough children - families book their holidays a lot earlier than the child-free! But next year we are talking about a whole field of kids stuff, bushcraft, night walks and stuff to do for children of all ages! Keep your eyes peeled for more info soon... Last weekend saw us taking Outdoor People up to the fantastic Disco Loco. Tuff GirlA mystery prize winner is the lucky recipient of a £10 Outdoor People voucher, so I'm hoping they'll come to collect soon! It was a fantastic day of great sunshine, good bands and delicious food, and got to meet lots of lovely folk who shared their camping and outdoor tales. Fantastic to see such a huge commitment to recycling from many of the visitors too. PWT at The RussetI was also there promoting the wonderful Free Range Urban Kids, a community group setting up a five day a week outdoor nursery this autumn in Hackney. If you'd like to know more do come along to the FREE screening of Project Wild Thing on the 21st. Alongside a no doubt lif=vely debate, there will be nature play sessions outside. Big thanks to Play England for providing a community screening license so we can show the film for free, meaning all the proceeds from the raffle (which has, oh yes, some FANTASTIC prizes!) can go 2/3rds to Free Range Urban Kids to ensure they keep the session costs as low as possible and 1/3 to The Wild Network to help keep up the national campaigning. IMG_4679On Facebook we've all been talking about back to school... If your children are just back, do ask about what the school's policies are on play and playtime. This first few weeks are when children most need some time to just be with their peers, to renew relationships, figure out who they are after the summer break. We love hearing about the hero schools that really promote outdoor play! If on the other hand your school has cut lunch times back yet again maybe its time to protest... Finally if you work with kids in Hackney do come and join the Wild Walks Workshops! Have a great weekend Outdoor Peeps!  

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Broadway Market Schoolyard, camping, Diary, Exhale, HackneyWildWalks, Kelda, kites, Klean Kanteen, water bottles, Womad -

We are really gearing up for Exhale Festival Exhale programmenow, with the page up showcasing tents to hire and the team for play and games coming together. I'm also making long lists of the right range of products for our on-site shop - do share your favourite tips!     We're also planning our Playday2014 - are you? We've loads of gorgeous new water bottles Colourful kanteensand some kites at the stall at Broadway Market Schoolyard, so if you're passing by, come and say hello and take a look. I won't be there this week but the fantastic Kelda and Philip will be. Kelda is a very experienced Playworker so if you have any questions about how to get your kids or the neighbourhood kids a bit more wild, then she's your woman. Somersault Festival last week was great fun, and huge thanks to the folks who came and joined in the discussion. We were reflecting on why kids don't go out, and how we can bring down the barriers to kids enjoying their own communities. There will be a dedicated blog coming up, but we agreed key calls to politicians in the upcoming elections, such as:

  • better cycleways and ways for young people to move round their own community
  • making street closures like Playing Out easier and everywhere
  • making the importance of outdoor play better known
I also really enjoyed meeting Free Range Urban Kids who are planning a completely outdoor nursery! In Hackney! Do take a look at what they are doing. Right I'm off to Womad with the family where we'll be seeing how few plastic and paper cups we can avoid using... The tiffins are also useful for checking that festy facepaint! Don't forget you could check out the Hackney Wild Walks this weekend, and maybe take a kite! Have a fab weekend and make it easy Cath    

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Diary, Hackney Today, hammocks, newsletter, Shop, update -

In this week's update:

  • Outdoor People make the papers!
  • Shiny new gorgeous kit on sale!
  • Pop up shop on Saturday with intern Phoebe!
Been a very busy week, especially trying to get the website tidied up as I knew we'd be getting some press coverage. OP in the paper 2 It was great to see ourselves in the local paper, especially in the 'green' bit as we are all about the #reuse #reduce #recycle and of course #savingtheplanetonecupatatime! For those of you less familiar with the sometimes ridiculously long hashtags, I use them to join communities on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr. I went to a great seminar on communicating business the other week (thanks Ezri!) and one nugget was 'a tweet without a hashtag is lonely'. The community has certainly been growing faster since I started using them! So shiny new kit! This weekend we are premiering the Ticket To The Moon hammocks and I can tell you they are GORGEOUS! Soft and cool to the touch, they are beautifully made in Bali by a bunch of travellers who were looking for the perfect travel hammock. They've also set up a foundation in Indonesia to support education and health of communities You can check out their ethical credentials and production values here. They aren't easy to get in the UK so do let me know if you have requests! Hammock 1 We are also going to start properly selling what many think is the best festival/park/camping chair on the market - the Ergolife Stol portable chair. Designed in Sweden, it is ultra comfortable, looks good and weighs almost nothing to carry round.ergolife chair 2 Pop up shop on Saturday with intern Phoebe! So this Saturday we'll be doing not one but TWO stalls as our fantastic intern Phoebe takes a mini pop up stall to the All Nations House Car Boot Sale! She'll be specialising in gorgeous kids clothing from the Cake Clothing Company, a youth-led Hackney based enterprise, and yummy (organic, local and lovingly made) Lickalix lollies. She'll also have various outdoors related good second-hand stuff and there will be lots of other great stalls. A proportion of the profits, and all of the Lickalix income, will go to the Resident's Association to keep improving the children's 'Play Priority Area' and communal area that used to be car parking spaces. 20140711-032636-am-12396316.jpgcakey Lickalix 10358551_10152088013410443_6227274599799336306_n Do check out the website and let me know what you think. Wordpress is a funny space as it all updates live, but means we are always fresh! Make it easy to get outdoors and have a wonderful weekend Cath  

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adventure, Aside, chicken salad, Diary, HackneyWildWalks, Outdoor People, picnics, wet weather, Wildtime -

Yesterday was the day of a long planned picnic with my good friend Gabriel (aged two), his aunt and my intern Phoebe. The unexpected rain could have put a dampener on it... but no way. It was great to get to try out my super light weight tarp, and anyway we had umbrellas and waterproofs and a beautiful lunch. #nosuchthingasbadclothes!! [embed]https://www.flickr.com/photos/123528527@N07/14619708385/in/set-72157645609239051/player/width=75height=75frameborder=0allowfullscreenwebkitallowfullscreenmozallowfullscreenoallowfullscreenmsallowfullscreen/iframe There are some more photos on the Outdoor Peeps Flikr stream, with huge thanks to Gabe's mum Jess for thee permission and the lunch! And to the teachers on strike so we got this chance... We were doing the Haggerston walk from the #HackneyWildWalks set, We didn't get all the way round - when you are two years old, a couple of hours playing outside in the rain was enough and anyway we walked - and scooted - from London Fields. PJ56044_Wild Walks A3 version.indd Do please share your photos and stories about your #HackneyWildWalks or indeed your #WildWalks anywhere! Make the outdoors an adventure, there is always something to discover.  

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