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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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Event, Forest School, Free Range Urban Kids, Hackney, Millfields, Wildtime -

If you go down to the woods today... Well in the woods in Millfields Park, Hackney on Wednesdays and Fridays what you'll find is Free Range Urban Kids - the borough's first 100% outdoor nursery for 2-5 year olds! Run on Forest School principles,  the emphasis is on fun and play, some learning through nature and lots of simple enjoyment. And being outdoors. every day. Come rain or shine. Despite the fact these children live in the heart of urban East London. Well if they can do it in Sweden, and even in Scotland, surely we can do it here in Hackney?! FRUK12 Yesterday Free Range Urban Kids ran their first 'taster' session with about 13 kids dropping in with their parents to see what it would be like to be outdoors. It couldn't have been a better first day - crisp autumn sunshine, lots of leaves and sticks to play with and parents quickly discarded as the kids just had fun. One of the founding partners, Hayley Mitchell said "It was fascinating to watch the child who arrived and refused to put waterproofs on, demanding to go home, and then by the end of the session joining in and having a great time. A true Forest School transformation." Children who are unaccustomed to getting their hands dirty tentatively - with no doubt some peeking at parents - began to enjoy the mud. Serendipitous findings of mushrooms and spiders, cue awe and wonder at what can be discovered just a short walk from their own front doors. This was very different to the usual childcare rooms, despite commitments to 50% outdoor time and 'freeflow'. This was ALL about the outdoors. FRUK5 As well as simple free play, Hayley described how the children could choose to do art, this time using the leaves around them for pictures. The session was led by Henry, an experienced teacher and forest school leader, who will also mange the volunteers who are all experienced childcare professionals currently studying the Forest School approach. There was an area with musical instruments that the children could pick up and play, and big fat brushes so they could 'paint' the trees with water. They made flags for their boundary fence out of sticks and old fabric decorated with mud and leaves. These children will know, despite the fact they will need to clear up every night, that during Free Range Urban Kids school this is their place. Snack time soup was served and hands could be washed using piping hot water from flasks kept for that purpose (flasks provided by Outdoor People :-)) At the end of the session, fed and watered, there was just time for a story - appropriately 'We Are Going on a Bear Hunt'. FRUK9 Hayley, who is undertaking her Forest School training here in Hackney, finished up by saying "It was wonderful to see the small transformations over the morning, it was truly magical". Every single one of the children that came to the taster sessions has now been signed up to come regularly, and there are a few places left across the autumn term (running up to the 19th December). Drop in sessions are £18, or £16 per session for a block of 6. e-mail info@freerangeurbankids.com. FRUK15 FRUK6 FRUK7 FRUK2

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Event, Exhale, festivals, laying diwn memories, Somersault, Wilderness, Wildtime, Womad -

Exciting news - Outdoor People has been asked to do a workshop at Somersault Festival! So if you are going, do come say hi about 12:00 on Friday! I'll be doing a fun workshop around why we became indoors people and how we can break free... Discussing issues like why children don't go out so much, what communities can do about it and giving some examples of where streets and groups have taken back control of their own spaces so kids can play out. I'm replacing the fabulous Jay Griffiths, author of Kith, so just a bit of pressure... 20140716-145128-53488279.jpg After that I'll be taking a break to go to Womad with my niece and nephew, something we've been doing as a family for 8 years now since both of them were small. As they are now 15 and 18 I suspect it will be a bit different, but I couldn't be happier that they both still want to keep up this tradition. A year or so ago I wrote a piece inspired by my niece about the importance of 'laying down memories'. That's not something that happens when you leave them watching cartoons! And then a couple of weeks later I'll be off to Wilderness festival as a trustee of a The Wild Network to present a showing of Project Wild Thing. 20140716-144656-53216155.jpg And then on August 22-25th Outdoor People will be at Exhale Yoga Festival, where we are coordinating the play and games, providing a shop and hiring out tents and swags to sleep in! Get in touch if you'd like more information - soon to be live on this site! Looking forward to meeting lots more Wild Things! So you may see a couple of new faces on the stall on Broadway Market schoolyard, do drop by and say hi to them if you are in town. Especially if you need anything to make your own festival holidays comfortable and fun! 20140716-144527-53127339.jpg Festival fun certainly is one way to make the outdoors easy.

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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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Cake, consultancy, Diary, HackneyWildWalks, Klean Kanteen, Market, Outdoor People, Storm Kettles, Wild Network, Wildtime -

It's coming up to two months since our launch on Snowdon and definitely time for a bit of reflection on the journey! First I just wanted to say a huge sticker to all of you that have stopped by the stall over the last few weeks, who have liked us on here, and on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and who have handed over email addresses and cards asking to keep in touch. Starting up a new enterprise of any description is tough, and all the hours seem so worth it when I get messages and feedback from people sharing the news articles and research I re-post, customers who are loving their new gear and colleagues in other enterprises (charitable and commercial) encouraging me that this is right. This Social Enterprise can work! We can make it easy to get outdoors! After 22 years of working in the public and charitable sectors it's been a fantastic learning experience setting up the market stall. Building up stock, figuring out how to set everything out and yep dealing with high winds and rain! But three weeks in it's making money, and is a fantastic way to connect with people. I've always loved finding lovely kit, stuff that's well engineered, that is beautiful and that serves a good purpose. The suppliers of Storm Kettles, Klean Kanteens and the Cake Ts, hats and bags are all lovely, and I hope to widen the range soon. [gallery type="rectangular" columns="9" link="none" ids="436,432,427,421,430,434,414,415,435"] Lots more photos of happy folks, along with random shots of my dog Charlie, over on Instagram: http://instagram.com/outdoorpeople_photos I've been massively helped by the lovely Vanessa on the stall next to me at Broadway Market - the Imaginative Play Store - and together we make sure there are boxes and toys for kids to play with and stuff to make dens so they can chill out in what is a very hectic market space. IMG_1988 Thanks too to the lovely folk from Stretch London who let me have the 'pop up shop' in the gorgeous yoga studio in Columbia Road for the last three weeks. There will be a juice bar there from this weekend - do check them out! Doing the market stall is in many ways like being a playworker, a facilitator, a speaker. My energy needs to be just as positive, relaxed, in the moment. It's all part of the journey. I love the many points where we are all connecting, and whether people buy things, stop to chat, sign up to get the emails or to have a cup of tea nearby, it's lovely to feel the links that will, in some small part, make it easier for everyone to get outdoors. In other news last week I was very proud to see the #HackneyWildWalks published in Hackney Today. Hackney Wild WalksI (and Charlie) really enjoyed supporting the Council's lovely Public Health team in developing these walks – finding hidden corners, beautiful gardens and fabulous playgrounds – to entice children to take their parents and friends out to explore. The locations were chosen because these are the bits of Hackney with unbelievably high rates of childhood obesity, where even on a hot sunny Saturday few children can be seen out playing, where they often rarely leave their estate. We really hope they will encourage everyone out, whether to do these or to make up their own. I'll have some printed copies of the maps free on the stall at the weekend and you can download them here: http://news.hackney.gov.uk/wild-walks/. Please do share and help make Hackney healthier. PWT poster croppedLast month I was also very proud to be made a trustee-in-waiting of The Wild Network, the folks behind the Project Wild Thing documentary. Our role now is to continue to build the network of individuals and organisations to get children connected with nature. So far there are over 7800 organisations and individuals signed up, each pledging to swap half an hour of screen time for #wildtime. Will you join? On Facebook I've been sharing a lot of articles about why my mission - making it easy to get outdoors - is so important. There is such a huge amount of data showing that

  • We have to do something about climate change. It's real. Plastic, rubbish, waste. We can all do something to reduce these. And we can ensure children are connected enough to want to reduce them too.
  • Children need risk, they need freedom, they need to play...

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