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#OutdoorPeople, adventure, Diary, snowdon, Wild, Wildtime -

Busyness. Life. Zen. Living in East London I, like many others, live what I often think of as a madly busy life. We are surrounded by the constant noise of traffic, shops, people. Competing imagery, sounds, smells, sensations.  And that's before the usual human noise of friendships, relationships, maybe children, parents, family, work colleagues and the aquantance who suddenly tells you how her life is going down the toilet. Constantly watchful. Always worrying. And often simply worrying we are worrying too much. I'll take a wild stabbing guess that this holds true - maybe with some substitutions - for most folks most places. And of course that is life in all its rich, varied messiness. But it can take concentration and effort to be calm and ordered. And especially if one of the magic pillars of our lives - family, home, work - gets damaged. Well I just saw Wild - the film about Cheryl Strayed who ran away from her life, and found herself along a three month hike.

This is a beautiful film. Quite literally beautiful as she walks through some of the most gorgeous landscapes and wild places. But also emotionally beautiful as she figuratively picks up her overloaded life and then quietly sheds it and learns to use it properly over the following three months. She had some really big issues to deal with, but on the human scale this reminds us of the power of wild. When reviewing the Hackney Wild Walks one statement from every participant was loud and clear. That simply having a walk through the park, along the canal, a few minutes to smell lavender and see the sky through the trees cleared the mind and lifted the heart. And we all reflected on how important this is on a day to day basis for all children. A few days ago I saw this photo on Facebook: IMG_7277 It made me stop and think. Is it true? Well yes, of course. Cheryl is still Cheryl even when she's walked for eight days on muesli... And I don't become a different person on top of Stac Pollaidh, or walking in the park. But the space. It just makes it easier to strip away the noise. To feel more in control. To reconnect with our spaces inside. And every time we go wild - whether for five mutes or five months - we can help bring that back into our daily lives. These are some of my favourite wild places, places I want to get back to, places I think of when my head starts spinning, places I can go to by closing my eyes. And walking out my front door. [caption id="attachment_1680" align="aligncenter" width="665"]Snowdonia Snowdonia (credit Richard Outram)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1676" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Achiltibuie, NW Highlands Achiltibuie, NW Highlands (Credit Jim Downie, Achiltibuie Appreciation Society)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1673" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Stac Pollaidh Stac Pollaidh (credit Jim Downie, Achiltibuie Appreciation Society)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1674" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Chapel Porth, Cornwall Chapel Porth, Cornwall (credit Cath Prisk)[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1677" align="aligncenter" width="640"]London Fields, Hackney London Fields, Hackney[/caption] We bring our zen with us, but sometimes we need to walk a spell to find it right here... I'd love to hear about your wild spaces. Where do you go and why? *Thanks to the Achiltibuie Appreciation Society and to Richard Outran Welsh Landscapes (both links Fb groups) from whom I borrowed the Scottish and Welsh images. And to Charlie and his friends for endlessly modelling in London Fields, my nearest bit of 'wild' if not really actually wilderness!

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#OutdoorPeople, Christmas, Diary, Exhale, newsletter, Online Shop, Shop, snowdon, sustainability -

Phew. What a  year 2014 was. I can't believe Outdoor People is now over seven months old! I must admit on stepping down from Play England back in March, and leaving the NCB in May, setting up my own company was a very scary step to take. And to try to build it as a 'social enterprise' an even scarier one. Most people don't even know what a social enterprise is, and frankly even those that do have many different definitions! Could I cope with the drastic change in income? Could my husband? Could I cope without a great team around me? Where on earth would I get stuff to sell and could I cope with not just giving stuff away??? How could I keep ensuring what I do benefits children? So anyway  after a very blustery launch in May I set out with a clear mission:

To Make the Outdoors Easy - especially for families and children
IMG_0618 And with a lot of hard work, building on existing networks and backing from friends and family, and the many fabulous customers, it does indeed seem to be working! So I want to use this first blog of 2015 to say Thank you To so many folks...
  • Everyone we've worked with over the last year:
    • The lovely people who have commissioned work from us;
    • all the wonderful customers and folks that have come to the stall;
    • the folks behind Exhale festival;
    • and most definitely the families that came camping!
Big thanks too to the great folks at the Tornado Boiler Company (the Storm Kettles), Kairaasi (the tiffins), Cake Club Clothing (the hats) and Whitby & Co (who distribute Klean Kanteen and Niteize) for being the first to back the rather weird idea of a high-end design-led outdoor gear market stall! So what next? The Board of the 'social' bit of the 'Social Enterprise has just expanded and I'll be introducing you to the new board members soon. Fingers crossed we'll have some projects to make a practical difference locally and further afield soon. Nationally I'll continue to be supporting The Wild Network as a board member, to lobby, campaign and shout about the critical importance of kids being outdoors, not just for their own sake (and the sanity of their parents/teachers/families!) but for the future of the planet... I'll also be doing what I can to support the London wide campaign to get us named 'Greater London National Park', as well as continuing to help other locally based organisations that get kids outdoors. We've just completed the first phase of Hackney Wild Walks and I'll be discussing with the new board - and the council - where to next on that. And what about the 'Shop'? IMG_6047 I'll be spending part of the next four weeks revamping the website a bit and thinking about where the 'shop' will go as the seriously 'enterprise' bit of the social enterprise. We'll be back in the Schoolyard of Broadway Market on Saturday January 17th, and folks can order online, first post out will be Monday 5th. The 'shop' has really done as well as I could have hoped - and far, far better than my mum expected!! - so what next?? Do I just consolidate and build up the stall and online? Or do I look for a concession or a shop? Or do some pop up shops? Thoughts from you as Outdoor Peeps are very welcome! So here's wishing you many fantastic Outdoors Adventures for 2015, and hoping they are good ones!
Happy New Year 2015 original
Happy Outdoors New Year 2015!

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#OutdoorPeople, Broadway Market Schoolyard, East London Design Show, Exhale, Newsletter, Online Shop -

IMG_6047Whilst I'm a firm believer that the best toys for kids include sticks, mud and cardboard boxes, I'm very happy to say that our trip to the East London Design Show was a huge success. As a social enterprise I sometimes struggle with the idea of selling stuff - but if you buy from us (and other small social enterprises) you help contribute to the growing ethical consumer trend. More news on what our profits are going towards further down. Lots of photos over on Instagram. In the meantime please note now is your LAST CHANCE before Christmas to buy online from us! All orders with us by 11am Friday 18th December will get in the post, and as a special they'll be posted first class/first class signed. This weekend we'll have the full stall at Broadway Market Schoolyard on Saturday and will be doing a pop up for last minute gifts at London Fields Sunday Market, also in the Schoolyard. You can also order online and come and pick up from London Fields on Christmas Eve evening. Breaking news... Just got some new Petromax products in - the small storm lanterns and the tiniest multifuel stove you ever saw! - and some new small Storm Kettles in lovely new packaging. And just got in the Klean Kanteen Mirror Reflect limited edition bottles. If you want one for Christmas get in there now! Just so pretty! F1Ti blank K18SSLRF-MS_CMYK_full-res Hobo Stove lantern IMG_2425In other news I got my first proper bid in as Outdoor People, looking for funding to support taking single mums and others camping next year. All sales of key camping kit - tents, stoves etc - will specifically match fund the bids I'm making for this project, so hopefully be able to tell you more soon. IMG_5771Tickets for Exhale Spain and Exhale Fairoaks Farm are selling well - why not treat yourself or your partner to a promise of a Yoga Festival as an amazing present? I'll be hiring out tents again at both - again with profits going to subsidise the first time camping trips project. I'll also be working with some amazing bushcraft and play friends for the Exhale Fairoaks Farm providing fun for kids of all ages. More on that in the New Year! Finally we held the last of this series of Hackney Wild Walks Workshops with professionals from across the borough who work with families. It's been a huge privilege, and I'm now loving hearing about (and in some cases helping) the walks the Children's Centres and others are organising themselves and the plans they have to get all the families they work with outdoors and exploring! [gallery type="slideshow" ids="1434,1449,1295,1297,1168,1154,1139,1126,1471,1472,1473,1474,1475,1476,1477,1478,1479,1480,1481,1482,1483,1484,1485,1486,1487,1488,1489,1490,1491,1492,1493,1494,1495,1496,1497,1498,1499,1500,1501,1502,1503,1504,1505,1506,1507,1508,1509,1510,1511,1512,1513,1514,1515,1516,1517,1518" orderby="rand"]

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#OutdoorPeople, BHF, cypn, HackneyWildWalks, newsletter, The Hospital Club -

Hi all Been an exciting week! Last night was the Children And Young People Now Awards and I was very honoured to be invited along. It was a great evening, honouring many amazing projects - including several fantastic play projects - and a great chance to catch up with past colleagues from across several careers! Sam Gyimah, Childcare Minister, gave the keynote speech and using the opportunity to talk about children's mental health and launch a new cross-department strategy to improve mental health services in schools.

"The very fact I’m talking here today shows that children’s mental health has a place on the political stage that hasn’t been seen before. In fact, I’m the first ever DfE minister to be appointed with specific responsibility for children and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS)."
It remains to be seen whether he or his colleagues will see the MASSIVE link between simply getting outdoors, roaming wild and playing free and good mental health. Yesterday too Outdoor People, in partnership with Hackney Council, had honourable mention at the British Heart Foundation's National Conference entitled "Promoting Physical Activity by Stealth" where we were delighted to be asked to present a poster. What do you reckon?? Wild Walks Poster BHF You can see it full size here: Wild Walks BHF Poster The other big news, as you may have seen, is we are off to the East London Design Show! For more check out the previous blog ;) And finally the online shop is neeeeearly here. It is actual online, here, but not yet linked in to the website. Hope it will be very soon! my goodness it takes a long time to upload everything... Oh one last thing, on Monday I'll be speaking at The Hospital Club's Sustainability Week as a board member of The Wild Network, discussing the links between kids being outdoors and future sustaibility. Afterwards there is a foraged dinner!! I understand there are still a few tickets, book here. Have a great weekend! And make it easy to #GetOutdoors and get yourselves so #wildtime!

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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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