Tag Archives: outdoor activities

Why doesn’t my spell checker like welly whanging?

Simultaneous with the volunteers yesterday, we had a group of kids for the afternoon. They did a noisy nature walk, had a welly whanging competition, a festival of shouting and made bug hotels. When all that was over, we made butter.

Thirty hyped-up kids, screw-top containers, double cream, shaking…

What, as they say, could possibly go wrong?

Apart from one kid throwing up, one turning green (we blame the jumping up and down technique of shaking for this) and one lid leaking – nothing.

You can’t count the kid that sprayed himself in the eye with the automatic air freshener because that wasn’t caused by butter-making: that was, I confess, caused by me forgetting to screw the air freshener to the wall out of the reach of kids.


Bug Hotels


Butter. I felt the need to explain that because it does look like er…not butter.

We then pass to Men in Sheds. We made more signs and welded up a bracket. We were also commissioned to build an adaptor to fit a square heater to a round tube in the grain dryer. There’s a song about that, isn’t there?

Actually, when I check the lyrics, there’s one line about that – There may be trouble ahead…

The rest of the song, with it’s moonlight and music and love and romance doesn’t really match with my experience of Men in Sheds.

Most memorable moment of the day was the one where the Man welding up the bracket turned and said “I’ve just welded it to the vice!”

It soon came off, with the help of an angle grinder, as we all tried to keep straight faces…


One bracket, welded to vice.


One angle-grinder in action.





We had a successful day today with a dozen children making biscuits before going out on  a bear hunt.

Not that we have any bears in the UK, despite plans to “rewild” the place. We just had cardboard tokens and bags of chocolate.

The tag line of the poster “What do your bears do in the woods?” would really have leant itself to a talk on compost, but I was over-ruled and they ended up with chocolate.



Quecus Community and the blustery day

It was raining at 5am, which wasn’t a good sign, and by the time I hauled myself out of bed and headed to the supermarket (sixish) we had a good sized selection of sleet.

With 32  ten-year-olds coming to the farm for a day of springtime activities this wasn’t a good omen.

That’s the penalty of double-booking yourself. With the geriatric yoga being in the centre every Thursday we try not to do much that day, but we’d accepted this one on the basis that it was spring and it was bound to be nice weather. We should have known better…

They don’t, incidentally, call it “geriatric yoga”, they call it “seated yoga”. However, it’s done by geriatrics, so I rest my case.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, the kids planted flowers around the bases of the statues, the Newark Advertiser came to take pictures and we had a thoroughly good time,


Two pupils decided to reveal they had food allergies five minutes before the start of the session, which was a bit of a downer but apart from that it all went quite well.

I’d bought eggs so we could be a bit adventurous and stick eggs on top of the pizzas but as one of the allergies was eggs I decided to give them a miss with the first group. When the second group was offered eggs only one accepted. I worry about modern children.

I know we talk of Nature Deficit Disorder but are we also breeding them to have no sense of adventure?



Drowning in paper

Great day today, if you have the soul of an accountant. I hope I don’t.

We had a couple of teachers to show round today. They are really very nice people it was a pleasure to see them. They will be reading this shortly so I’m not going to say anything else, am I? They’ve been bringing groups for a few years now so they must think we do a reasonable job. They did look a bit nonplussed when I suggested feeding the class a plate of weeds but they soon picked up when I revealed nobody has died from it. Yet.

That was the start of the paperwork – checking food allergies and risk assessment. None of this actually stops us killing a child on a visit, it just means that if we do we can escape most of the consequences by pointing out all the paperwork is in order.

Obviously the parents would be unhappy and it wouldn’t gain me any friends at the school if I sent one of their pupils home in a box. To be fair, I have never killed anyone on a visit yet, and don’t intend to: have you seen the paperwork that sort of thing generates?

I’ve now moved on to sending out booking forms and entering new bookings on the calendar. I don’t know where the time goes, but by the time it’s all checked, cross-referenced and explained that five-minute job seems to take an age.

It’s a tough choice – drowning in paperwork, ten feet from a kettle and warm. Or cold, in the middle of a field, picking up kestrel pellets from the base of the neighbours statues. According to the weather station it’s now 4 degrees Celsius outside and there’s a moderate breeze.

Those kestrel pellets can wait.

Kites, ospreys and six degrees of separation

We went to visit family at the weekend as part of the build-up to Christmas but managed to work in a bird watching exercise to tune us up for the Big Farmland Bird Count . We’ve spotted quite a few kites over the years as we visit family in Peterborough, and we generally see one or two around the Stamford stretch of the A1.

We saw seven kestrels, a buzzard and three kites. We could have done with a few more buzzards but as I said to Julia, this just shows how things change. When I was a kid it was a rare treat to see a buzzard and involved travelling a long way to see buzzards and all the way to Wales to even have a chance of seeing a kite. Of course, when you click the link and see there are now 700 kites to see in the area, it’s a bit deflating to think you only saw three.

After that we spent several days being ill with the latest bug going round. This is consequently our worse planned Christmas ever. I went out to buy the main stuff on a shopping trip a couple of days ago but didn’t quite get it finished because I started running out of steam (and because I ran out of space in the small-sized shopping trolley I had selected).

Next day I took a quick run down to Lidl to buy the bits I’d missed.

Now, I don’t want to subject you to a blog on my shopping habits because they aren’t very interesting, even to me, but there is one point of interest. For just under £25 I bought a serviceable-looking telescope, so it looks like bird watching in 2015 just took on a new dimension.

I’m resigned to the fact it won’t have top-quality optics but I suspect it will be better than our current telescope, purchased in the 1970s to watch a squacco heron at Eyebrook Reservoir. That brings back memories…


Sorry, when I woke up this morning I realised there was a distinct lack of Osprey in the post,. On looking again I also see no mention of the six degrees. I have excuses, of course, including three different versions of A Christmas Carol to watch.

I never did see an osprey when I was young, I had to wait until the kids started bird watching and I was able to engineer a holiday in Scotland.

However, having started looking up ospreys I found a link to a blog called Ken’s Diary. It’s about the Ospreys at Rutland Water. It also contains mention of Orton Longueville School, where he used to teach and where he recently went to talk about Ospreys.

That is the magic of the internet, you start by looking for ospreys and end up meeting your old history teacher.

Jobs for the Day

1) Check electricity meter readings

2) Feed Polish chickens

3) Make beadwork Christmas wreaths for keyrings

4) Make mince pies for visitors tomorrow

5) Answer interminable boring emails

6) Make lots of cups of tea (important job!)

7) Clean bird feeders and set up new seed feeder

8) Communal reading of Farmers’ Weekly

9) Set up skittle alley in barn

10) Referee cut throat game of Noughts and Crosses

11) Plan menus for meals on Wednesday and Thursday

12) Arrange for pick up of chicken that Johno is donating to one of the group

And that’s just for starters – there’s always plenty more to do. My next job, however, is making sandwiches for lunch…

Looking back

It was a crisp December day today, which was good because a wet, grey day would have taken a lot of the fun out of it. We had a change of gear today with the Christmas Event and though Santa and Elf worked in harmony we still managed to scare two children. I tried to  make one happier about the situation by taking my wig and beard off to show him there was just a normal man underneath it all but this just made things worse.

Either I have a face that scares children or, as Tim put it: “To him it just looks like you peeled your face off.”

Sometimes you just can’t win. On the other hand when you examine the picture there is definitely a touch of Dan Aykroyd and Trading Places in my eyes,

What was particularly good about the day was that we saw quite a few new people and were able to talk about the farm. That’s always good because, as we found at the conference last year, when you talk to other people you realise what progress you have made. To be honest, although I’m there most days it’s a case of not seeing the wood for the trees. This is ironic when you see what I do when I look out of the window (i’ll post a picture tomorrow).

Hopefully some of those people will be reading this, so it might be a good time to apologise for talking too much, or for discussing care farming whilst dressed as Santa.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


We made the penguins from beads – only sold one but thought they were worth a picture anyway,

Skittles and paperchains

One of the things about working on a care farm is that there is always plenty of variety.

We now have access to a set of skittles. One of the group is a regular player in the local leagues and he’s training us up for a game at the Christmas party.

I’m not sure it’s going to be a great game. I managed a complete miss, which ended up in the raised vegetable bed that formed the back of the “alley”. We’d been warned about that by the farmer’s mum so we had to cover it up quickly!

I also managed to put several balls straight between the skittles without even making one shiver. That’s one of the differences between skittles and ten pin bowling, apart from the lack of shared shoes and heating – the spacing between pins is wider than a ball.

If I say I was about average you’ll get some idea of the standard. Fortunately we do it for fun.


In the afternoon we turned our attention to making paper chains.


On Saturday they will be used to decorate Santa’s trailer. I’m not really looking forward to it, as I may have mentioned before. Small children, four hours overheating in false facial hair and a bumpy trailer ride – what could possibly go wrong?

Finally, courtesy of a £5 hat from TESCO , I have an elf to help me. I’m not sure which of us has the better deal. He gets to use his own beard but at least I’m spared the humiliation of knitted comedy ears.


You don’t always get what you want

It’s been a week for buying books and I’ve managed to buy some that weren’t quite what I was expecting.That’s the trouble with ordering from Amazon, you don’t always get what you want.

I ordered a book featuring 101 outdoor activities for kids – 101 Outdoor Activities for Kids: Ultimate Collection by T.J. Doherty. When I started to read I found that it wasn’t a book with 101 outdoor activities for kids but more of a book with 101 activities for kids that could be done outdoors. Activity Number One is – playing “Simon Says” – you don’t need to be outdoors to play that.

So although it is a well laid out book and full of good ideas it wasn’t quite the book of fire starting and den building I’d been expecting. But at £1.53 for the Kindle edition it’s still great value for money.

It’s probably proof of  what we’re already thinking – that kids don’t get outside enough. Same with adults: I can’t imagine any of my teachers needing a book on outdoor activities. When I stop and think about it I don’t know why I need it.

Box of matches, baler twine and a penknife. That’s all I need really.

And a risk assessment.

Fire, knives and nooses. What could possibly go wrong?