4: Orienteering

BaseCamp Adventure 4: Orienteering

Project BaseCamp, for us, is all about finding a balance between work and play (or family adventure time as we call it); looking for opportunities to get outside and enjoy the outdoors. This week we wanted to look for an activity to try in our local area, and one that Amy and Ella could invite a friend each along to enjoy.

So, we headed out from the BaseCamp with maps, walkie-talkies and some food and an abundance of enthusiasm, to a local park that had a permanent orienteering course. NB visit a local orienteering club website to access a selection of courses to try and print off the course maps.
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To give our orienteering activity a bit of a fun but competitive element we split into three teams: two teams of two kids (the girls and a friend they’d invited) and an old fogie team (me and Kerry). The challenge was to complete the full course of 33 checkpoints and aim to be the first team back. OK – I know what you’re thinking: how can two parents clearly past their athletic best compete against four keen and energetic youngsters? Well, we knew the kids could map read (they are Ordnance Survey #GetOutside Champions after all), but we also knew they’d spend some (maybe much) of their time gossiping and catching up – and that this would slow them down. Whereas, Kerry and I would not be distracted by idle chit-chat (I am a bloke after all and blokes do that) and this would give us the edge we needed!
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Of course, the outcome of our orienteering performances isn’t important, but what is… is the fact we all finished with smiles on our faces and colour in our cheeks. We’d had a few hours fun running, laughing, enjoying and appreciating the outdoors and each others’ company – we got to see some wildlife too (rutting deer, squirrels, geese and even a close encounter with a heron).

Ever stuck for an idea of something to do in your local area, then look for an orienteering course to try and as well as the checkpoints you’ll hopefully find, you’ll certainly find a family-friendly outdoor activity that will put a smile on your face and make you feel good!

Thanks to Nottinghamshire Orienteering Club for helping us find an appropriate course this weekend.

For more information about Nottinghamshire courses, visit: http://www.noc-uk.org/
For more information about Swift's Basecemap, visit: swiftbasecamp.co.uk

3: Park Run

BaseCamp Adventure 3: Park Run

This family adventure required a bit of an early start (for a Saturday morning), but it was well worth the effort!

On a cold Winter’s morning, it’s quite tempting to stay beneath the duvet where it’s warm and comfortable, isn’t it? Having said that, sometimes it’s even tempting to stay indoors and not venture outside at all.

That was how we all felt this morning when the alarm went off to awake us in time to get dressed, washed and off to a local Park Run. We were warm and snug at BaseCamp, and the thought of getting up and heading outside FOR A RUN was not one that filled us with excitement.
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But the good thing about having a challenge like our Base Camp 25 Adventures Challenge, is that it gives you a goal to aim for and an incentive to get up and get outside. And we set ourselves this challenge exactly for that reason to get outdoors and active together as a family (knowing that we will actually all enjoy the activities and be glad we did them – admittedly, sometimes in a type 2 fun kind of way).

Park Run is a great initiative that organises free, weekly, 5km timed runs around the world. They are open to everyone, free, and are safe and easy to take part in. Starting 2004, Park Run has grown from strength to strength, and every time we have taken part in one of them we have always felt welcome and supported. It doesn’t matter what your age, size or running ability, Park Run is for every one.

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After our initial reluctance to get up this morning, our Park Run turned out to be a great start to the day: we ran and chatted to strangers, got lots of support from the volunteers and marshals, and came away red-faced, a little tired but very satisfied and fulfilled.

Remember, Park Run is not about being the fastest runner, it’s about just being there and taking part.

Find your local Park Run and get your weekend off to a great start!

For more information about Park Run, visit: http://www.parkrun.com/
For more information about Swift's Basecemap, visit: swiftbasecamp.co.uk

2. Door to door navigation

BaseCamp Adventure 2: Navigate door to door

We wanted to keep this adventure local and cheap – we also liked the idea of a a ‘car fee’ day – so we headed out from BaseCamp to explore the local area via one of the routes suggested on the OS Maps app. The idea was to get from door to door and in between walk at least 7 or 8 miles than enabled us to take in part of the local area that we hadn’t been to before.

As Ordnance Survey #GetOutside Champions we love to get outdoors – and encourage others to also do so – we love any kind of outdoor adventure, particularly if it’s a bit strenuous and we get to enjoy it together as a family. It’s a bonus if it requires navigating using a map and compass (doesn’t that just make it feel more exciting).

So, we headed out, ‘tucksack’ filled with stove, food to cook and hot drinks; oh, I didn’t mention the fact we also wanted to eat out, and I mean ‘out’… in the outdoors.

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When we found a suitable spot for lunch, Amy got the stove out and rustled up some tasty Quorn and Mozzarella veggie burgers, before serving up warming hot chocolate.

I love the fact the girls are happy to ‘rough it’ a bit… able to cook some food on the go and cope with making do with less than perfect scenarios – like cooking burgers while in the squatting position 🙂

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Four hours or so of walking, chatting, stroking various dogs we met and enjoying food cooked at a convenient tree trunk later we returned red cheeked and with clear heads.

It’s amazing how good for the mind and soul a simple family ramble can be after a grotty week: it’s true, sometimes the simple things are the best (and they often don’t cost very much either).

Oh, and we also managed to pick up some single-use plastic beverage items for our ongoing ‘Clear Plastic UK Campaign‘.

So, all-in-all, a productive and fulfilling day’s adventuring!

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For information about Ordnance Survey's mapping app, visit: https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/shop/os-maps-mobile.html
For more information about Swift's Basecamp, visit: https://www.swiftbasecamp.co.uk/

Weekend Adventure with friends

Last weekend, we escaped the city and headed into the Derbyshire Dales for some much needed countryside and fresh air. This is what we do at the weekend – seek out places to go to explore, whether it’s on foot, wheels or water. We love being outside in all weather, sharing time together. But this weekend had an added twist; the girls each brought a friend along. They chatted on the way in the van and played games to fill the time. There was a different buzz of atmosphere.girls-on-stepping-stones

Before long, we arrived in Dovedale car park ready for a walk along the river Dove and up Thorpe Cloud. This was the first ‘hill-walking’ that their friends had done and it was the perfect day for it; blue sky and warm Autumn sunshine that cut through the chill of the November temperatures.

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Thorpe Cloud is a small hill in the Derbyshire Dales that, on a clear day, provides gorgeous panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. It doesn’t take long to get to the top but we stopped every so often to take in the views and snap some photos to remember the day by. Amy and Ella, who first climbed the hill when they were toddlers, were great ‘mountain guides’; they both encouraged their friends along the way, checking on them regularly.girls-with-friends-on-thorpe-cloud

Before long, we reached the top and took the obligatory photo to celebrate, and then began the walk down. You’d think the fun of the stepping stones, or the view from the top was enough of a reward but we topped it off with an ice-cream – after all it’s never too cold for an ice-cream! The girls stood around licking their ice-creams, with a healthy glow on the faces and one of the girls’ friends remarked how proud she felt on climbing her first hill! Let’s hope this has given them a taste for more and that they will be joining us more family weekend adventure in the future.


The Nottingham Post Environmental Awards

The Nottingham Post Environmental Awards

On the 20th October there was an environmental award ceremony run by the Nottingham Post and sponsored by The Wildlife Trust.  There were ten different categories and the two finalists for each category were invited to the award ceremony. We are very proud to have been selected as finalists for the Education and Environment award, sponsored by Cemex, and went to the ceremony pleased with being made finalists and excited about the possibility of winning.

We are proud to announce that we won our category! This is a big step forward in our campaign and having won this award means so much to us. The other worthy finalists were Asquith Primary School, who have made their school grounds more eco-friendly by putting in flower beds and planting lots of vegetables and flowers in the school grounds.

This award ceremony celebrated what people are doing to protect the environment and it was a pleasure to be invited. There many fascinating ideas that were put forward at the award and we have come away surprised at what the people of Nottingham are doing to protect the environment.

Our campaign, ClearPlastic_UK is trying to tackle single-use plastic beverage items but in particular plastic bottles because of their negative effect on the environment. Find out more at: www.dotrythisathome.com/category/clear-plastic/

We are going to launch our own website for ClearPlastic_UK soon.

1. Go Below

BaseCamp Adventure 1: Go Below

We stood in the depths of the Welsh Slate mines with seven others and our two guides staring at the chink of light above us – the exit back on to the Welsh mountainside where we had started our caving adventure a few hours earlier – disappointed at the thought of having to return after an exhilarating underground adventure.

Caving is something we have tried only once before as a family – a short taste in the Peak District about 5 years ago. This time we ventured into northern Wales and experienced a wonderful blend of history and adventure with Go Below. This really was an ed-venture – a mixture of education and adventure – and a chance to create exciting memories together as a family in the outdoors.

We love doing adventures as a family, getting outside, exploring and pushing our comfort zones – it is very rewarding. It is a healthy past time and brings you closer together as a family.

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Amy’s thoughts:
The last head torch, belonging to our instructor, flickered off, plunging us into darkness. I heard gasps and uneasy laughs around me as we looked around, trying to see the cave wall, or even the person next to us.
“Wave your hand in front of your face,” our instructor said, and I did so. “Can you see it?”
A chorus of ‘no’s. I could imagine him grinning.
“Then we’re in pitch black. People talk about it being pitch black at night, but you often have the stars, the moon, a kind of light source enabling you to see something. But it’s only when it’s this dark – so dark that you can’t even see you hand in front of your face – that it’s pitch black. There’s no light managing to get this far under the ground.”
He turned his torch back on, dazzling me. “Come on, let’s go.”

That’s what I loved about Go Below – the blend of adventure and history. I’m pretty mad about both of these things, so I loved the zip wire over the lagoon, the traverse and abseil into a cavern and the raft across water 60ft deep, but I also enjoyed just as much the history side of the adventure. Passing rotting mine carts, being shown crumbling shoes left in the mines for good luck and never collected, the demonstration of how dark it would have been without the lights we rely so much on. That made it just as good an experience, for me, as the adventure.

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Ella’s thoughts:

My favourite part of our Go Below adventure was when we turned a corner and through the darkness saw a beautiful underground lake. A dinghy was sat waiting and, after putting on life jackets on, we boarded the boat and were handed an oar. As we paddled the short journey across the lake, our guide told us how the water below us was 60 feet deep. Lumps of jagged slate were sticking out from the ceiling. The water, when illuminated by our head torches, was a lovely aqua marine; it was beautiful!

 
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I also enjoyed the challenging traverse on slippery rock, 20 metres off the ground. Even though we were told the best footholds and were securely clipped onto a rope, it still felt exhilarating!
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When you looked down you could see huge blocks of slate below and smaller slices, discarded by the miners. After the traverse we abseiled down from a ledge into a vast open cavern. It was then you could see the size of the boulders. Most of them were bigger than me!

Near the end of the trip we climbed a waterfall – this was a wet climb and I’m glad we were wearing waterproof trousers. Some poor people in our group weren’t so they got wet!

The last part of the trip involved walking up an incredible underground river before climbing a ladder and emerging out of a trapdoor at ground level again. There was much more to this jam-packed caving trip, but these were just my favourite bits.

Trip organised by AXA Insurance as part of their Live Boldly campaign.
http://www.axa.co.uk/insurance/personal/liveboldly/

Time in the Outdoors – a great topic for a Health & Wellbeing festival

Talking at festivals

Recently we’ve been touring the country talking at various festivals about our story, the life changes that we’ve made and what is important to us: family time and getting outdoors. The last three festivals that we’ve talked at have been a literary festival, an outdoor / adventure festival and, most recently, a health and well being festival. Each festival had a different agenda, audience and outcome but each proved to be a valuable platform to talk about and share ideas for spending time with your family in the Great Outdoors.

Why the Great Outdoors is good for you

The natural world has long been associated with health; it can have a positive impact on us both physically and mentally. The problem is that we live in a modern world that increasingly pulls away from nature and time in the outdoors. Science tells us that spending time in the outdoors helps both our bodies and our brains – getting outside makes us happier – but so many of us struggle to balance our work with other aspects of our life, so many children spend less and less time outdoors.

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In fact, RSPB research in 2013 found that only 1 out of 5 children have a connection with nature. It highlights that being connected with nature has a positive impact on education, physical health, emotional well being, personal and social skills and helps towards becoming responsible citizens. This is reiterated by Richard Louv (author of Last Child in the Woods) who said,”the human costs of alienation from nature, among them: diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, and higher rates of emotional and physical illnesses.”
UNICEF happiness report has identified British children as some of the unhappiest amongst the world’s richest nations and the IKEA play report in 2015 identified that British parents and children “feel that they do not have enough time to play together, with stress, mobile technology and work getting in the way of family time.” They surveyed over 1,000 British children to find out what would make them happier and help bring children and their parents together. Getting outside together was second on the list (after parents coming home from work earlier).We understand the need to spend time in the outdoors from a personal level and through continued reading of research, as above. It is also a topic that we highlight in the talks that we give around the country, whether they are at literary festivals or adventure festivals. It seemed particularly apt at our last venue:

Pennine Lancashire Health and Wellbeing Celebration

This well-organised, professional, and well-executed conference on September 29th, aimed to highlight good practice and innovation that has taken place in the area over recent years, as well as offering the chance to hear about exciting developments happening right now. A mixture of health and social care professionals, service users and members of the public spent time mingled amongst the impressive surroundings of Blackburn cathedral, promoting ideas and services with each other, and sharing stories. We were invited to share our story and promote the health benefits of the Great Outdoors.

The girls also had their own slot and talked about the health issues associated with single-use plastic.
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Their water table providing further information about the issue was set up throughout the day and had a regular flow of visitors.
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We felt honoured to be asked to be part of the day; we benefited from the opportunity to hear other fascinating talks throughout the day and were impressed by the event overall and its organisers.

Photo credits: timbradleyphotography.com

The Water Table – education and interaction

No, it’s not a table selling bottled water! It’s quite the opposite…

The Water Table is our table on which we’re displaying information on the issues surrounding single-use petroleum plastic, alternatives to plastic and facts about our campaign, as well as games and interactive activities to help engage the younger generation. We’re touring the UK with our Water Table, visiting festivals and events and educating the public on why plastic is bad for the environment.
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The Water Table covers all different aspects of plastic, from pollution to alternatives, such as:

‘What killed Alby?’ – We cut open my sister’s albatross teddy and inserted inside a bag of plastic items (such as bottle tops and lighters). This is to represent the thousands of albatross chicks that die every year from being – accidentally – fed plastic by their parents, and consequently starve with a full stomach.
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‘The Recycling Red Herring’ – This section of our water table is dedicated to the myths and twisted truths surrounding recycling. We have a sheet that displays the amount of recycled plastic contained in each bottled water manufacturer’s bottles, which is generally 0%, and also a fact page about recycling.
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The Micro Trio – Here, we have information about micro-plastics, micro-beads and micro-fibres. These minute ocean polluters are not widely known about, but millions are entering the oceans and waterways every year. We have a small section of the Water Table displaying information on microplastics, and have a ‘Guess the amount of microplastics in the jar’ competition, as well as pictures showing their effects on even the smallest ocean creatures – plankton.

We also have a examples of clothing made from fully natural materials, such as cotton and bamboo. Natural microfibres biodegrade, so clothing such as BAM clothing (which is an example of bamboo clothing) are better for the environment than garments made from polyester (plastic).

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The Non Plastic Alternatives – We have examples of a few of the non-plastic water alternatives on display on the Water Table, so that once people have learnt why we should refuse plastic, they know how to.
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Big 4 Plastic Items’ Alternatives – On the Water Table, we have reusable alternatives to the ‘Big 4’ plastic polluters (plastic bags, lids, straws and bottles), so that people can see for themselves the cheap – and more environmentally friendly – options for them to purchase instead of single-use plastic. These include Onya Bags, Keep Cup and Water To Go.
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Videos loaded onto an iPad highlighting aspects of plastic pollution, including:

> The seduction of plastic
> 2 Minute Beach Clean
> Turtle with a straw stuck up its nose ( upsetting)
> 6 Reasons not to buy plastic bottled water
> Plastic bottles are killing our seabirds

A Deadly 100,000 book showing plastic’s effect on the oceans.

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Games and activities – We really wanted to make the Water Table resonate with the younger generation, and so we have a range of games to help engage kids, such as a bottle top sliding game (to help kids understand that most bottle tops are put to landfill or littered), a microscope with different materials to look at close up, and a bottle showing how much oil is used to make a plastic bottle.
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We also have a ‘2 Minute Micro Beach Clean’ game, based on the original 2 Minute Beach Clean.
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The reactions we’ve got from people visiting the table are just what we hoped. Many people are really shocked by what we tell (and show) them, especially when it comes to the ‘recycling red herring’ (see the above bullet list). It’s widely thought that a recycled bottle will be made into a new bottle, but this, like most things the bottle manufacturers tell us, is a bit misleading. Most bottles are down cycled into other items, such as fleeces and carpets (which have their own environmental issues), so only a very small percentage of new plastic bottles contain recycled plastic. We have in word from most bottled water manufacturers that they use no recycled plastic, and that is one of the most powerful things for most people.

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Overall, though, we’ve had a really positive response to our Water Table. We’ve had lots more signatures to add to our petition, had interest in the non-plastic and reusable alternatives to bottled water and had plenty of support from people of all ages. So far we’ve visited three festivals:

The Good Life Experience Festival

The (National Trust) South West Outdoor Festival


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Also in the pipeline, we’ve got Yestival in October and hopefully more festivals in the future to add to the list.

And to finish, one lady who was particularly interested in the Water Table and what we’re doing said a comment that perfectly sums up our campaign:

 “So when we don’t see any plastic bottles in the supermarkets, we’ll know who to thank.”

Amy.

Main Header Image Credit - Tim Bradley Photography

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4 Family Festivals to Get You Outside this Autumn

Festival Season is over… (or is it?)

So, the festival season is coming to an end, right? Wrong! There’s a bunch of post-summer festivals left to attend before the dark nights set in and we all officially get the winter blues. Some of these festivals are perfect for families to attend.

We love attending festivals together as a family; the kids love the range of activities on offer and the freedom, and we love the atmosphere of festivals – the feel good, feel happy – be happy vibe that permeates everywhere, and even infiltrates even the queues to the toilets.

Seriously!

On a serious note, outdoor festivals play an important role in, well, getting people outdoors! We are unashamedly advocates of the outdoors and all that comes with being outside, whatever the weather.  And let’s be honest… we all need to spend more time in the outdoors, don’t we?  … for our own wellbeing and happiness.

And when it comes to the younger  – screen addicted generation, the issue of getting outdoors takes on a new dimension.

“Kids really need to get out more!

Too many kids are not encouraged to balance their screen time with green time, and the result is a generation disconnected with nature and more worryingly, not appreciating or valuing the natural world.

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So, for this reason, festivals have a valuable role. Beyond the music and the sideshows, festivals get us outside – camping often – enjoying the fresh air, the sun and often the mud: festivals bring us together as people and, importantly, reconnect us with nature (albeit momentarily).

This is what takes us to festivals, and motivates us to go beyond just attending but to take the scary step to stand up and contribute, often to talk about the outdoors, and family adventure, or run bushcrafty-type activities.

4 of the best family festivals

Here are 5 festivals we will be visiting  (and contributing towards) this Autumn; we’d love to see you at one or all of them.

Gladfest

The three-day festival, set in the grounds of the William Gladstone library, Britain’s finest residential library and only Prime Ministerial library welcomes and celebrates a mixture of authors and their work. The programme includes a wide selection of literary talks but also a fantastic selection of Roald Dahl-inspired activities (it is his 100th birthday after all!) in the new Young People’s Tent.
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We’ll be there talking about how families can make more time for adventures in the outdoors and sharing lots of ideas for families to take away and try. We’ll also be running a a fun bush craft workshop on mini raft making which involves learning some knots and lashings. The completed hazel rafts can be taken home and sailed in the garden pond or even in the bath! Amy and Ella will be demonstrating some simple steps for drawing animals in their very own drawing workshop for children.

Date: 2nd & 3rd September
Location: Church Lane, Hawarden, CH5 3DF
Website: Gladfest - https://www.gladstoneslibrary.org/events/events-courses-list/gladfest

The Good Life Experience

Make a space in your calendar for this fantastic family-friendly event. Now in its third year, the festival is growing year on year as word spreads about the wonderful mixture of music, books, food and the great outdoors. Set in the village of Hawarden and the grounds of William Gladstone’s residence, this festival is not only located in the outdoors but celebrates everything about it. Talks, workshops, demonstrations, camp fire chats, fairground rides, stalls…the list goes on.
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With our ‘Ordnance Survey #GetOutside Champions‘ hats on (wooly ones if it’s chilly) we’ll be running a beginner’s map reading workshop that concludes with a fun treasure trail challenge around the festival site. Prizes (provided by Ordnance Survey) will be given out to those that complete the trail.

The girls are also being interviewed on stage about their Clear Plastic_UK campaign, raising awareness of the negative impact single-use plastic has on our environment and their hopes to convince supermarkets to offer alternatives to plastic bottles on the shelves. An interactive ‘Water Table’ with information and hands-on demonstrations about the issues associated with single-use plastic will be on display throughout the weekend.

Date:  16th - 18th September
Location: Hawarden Estate, Chester Road, Hawarden, Flintshire, CH5 3FB
Website: https://www.thegoodlifeexperience.co.uk/

South West Outdoor Festival (National Trust)

The National Trust is hosting a new outdoor festival in Devon with sporting events, outdoor activities, inspirational speakers, workshops, music and films. Heddon Valley is the perfect location for this festival since there’s places for coastal and river swimming, trails for cycling and running and dramatic woodland and scenery to explore.
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We hope it be trying out a few of the outdoor activities as well as offering our own contributions: a family talk on getting out on adventures as a family and a couple of bushcraft workshops involving making mini-rafts and cordage (bracelets) from natural materials.

Date: 23rd-25th September
Location: Heddon Valley,Parracombe, Barnstaple, Devon, EX31 4PY
Website: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/days-out/regionsouthwest/south-west-outdoor-festival

YEStival

We were lucky enough to attend the first ever Yestival last year and are very pleased to be returning for what looks like an equally inspiring, entertaining and thought-provoking weekend of awesome talks, workshops and discussions by and with some amazing people. The festival is built on adventurer Dave Cornthwaite’s Say Yes More philosophy; he along with other adventurers and people that have life-changing decisions will be sharing a field with other campers during an Autumn campout
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This year the girls are involved in helping the festival to become the first Plastic-clever festival; there will be no single-use plastic bottles, cups or cutlery. They will be promoting this and their Clear Plastic UK campaign in an opening-night talk as well as through their ‘Water Table’ throughout the weekend. We, but particularly the girls, will be involved in Dream Camp, a magical corner for youngsters, giving talks, leading workshops and interviews as well as playing games!

Date: 21st-23rd October
Location: Chichester College, Brinsbury Campus, North Heath, Pulborough RH20 1DL
Website: http://sayyesmore.com/yestival/

And should you not be able to make any of these events…

We’ll be giving two talks entitled “Screw work (and school); it’s time for family EdVenture” in association with Ellis Brigham.  During these talks we will offer insights and advice to others based on our experiences (and mistakes), and whilst doing so cover some of the following themes:

  • How to focus more on the 5 to 9, not the 9 to 5 and enjoy more fulfilment
  • Why kids really need to get out more
  • Why disposable time is the most valuable of commodities (so spend it wisely)
  • If you live for the weekends, then you at least should make them worth living for
  • How to have mini BIG adventures and reach new heights (often literally)

Come and join us, ask questions, and find out how a brave decision to live differently has opened lots of doors and presented exciting opportunities that they never could have expected.

1.  Ellis Brigham Store, Castlefield
14th September
7pm – 8:30pm
2. Racks Bar & Grill
21st September
7:30pm – 9:00pm

Here’s the link if you want more information.

Image credit: Good Life Experience image by xantheberkeley


The Gladstone Rock

Walking back to 1892

How an 83 year old Prime Minister could have walked up here, I thought as we reached the Gladstone Rock, was incredible. Whilst the walking up the Watkin Path hadn’t been steep or hard underfoot, it still surprised me that an elderly politician had managed to climb a quarter of the way up Snowdon – to open a path. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why the rock he spoke from is now named after the legendary William Gladstone.

The Watkin Path, named after its creator Edward Watkin (a friend of Gladstone’s), was the first designated footpath in Britain. At the time of its construction, there was no path to the actual summit of Snowdon, only a path just over a quarter of the way up to a quarry. Over 2000 people gathered on the side of Snowdon in 1892 to witness Gladstone opening the Watkin Path. From on top of an impressive 12ft boulder, the Prime Minister delivered a speech on Justice for Wales, not to mention sung some ‘Cymric hymns’ himself. A plaque fitted to the front of the boulder commemorates what was sure to have been a memorable occasion, announcing that indeed William Gladstone had stood upon the rock.

Today, the Gladstone Rock is still alongside the Watkin Path, and it’s almost impossible to resist clambering on top and delivering your own address to the imaginary masses. Which, of course, is what my sister and I did, proudly posing as important people and shouting our own speeches on various topics, into the wind. Although we very clearly didn’t resemble William Gladstone to any passers-by, it was still a fun way to imagine what happened on that historic moment in 1892.


A visit to Beddgelert

 The story of Beddgelert

As the dog let out a dying howl, a baby cried. Prince Llywelyn of Wales knew he had done the wrong thing.

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This story made me cry. It is a famous Welsh legend that had an immense impact on me. I cried…a lot, when I read the story, but also when I went to visit the grave. We visited Beddgelert after learning the tale. The grave of the dog is under a tree beside the river in the village of Beddgelert. I picked some flowers and put them on the grave, and dropped a penny on the grave for good luck.

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This is my interpretation of the story:

Gelert was a hunting dog – the favourite and most loyal dog of Prince Llywelyn of Wales. The prince had recently had a baby, the heir to the throne. When the prince went out hunting he left Gelert behind, to protect the heir. Gelert lay patiently beside the baby all day until he sensed danger approaching; a wolf had discovered the house and snuck inside. The wolf lunged at the baby but Gelert jumped in front to protect it. They fought until the wolf died. Gelert, hurt from the battle, had blood on his mouth. The walls were splattered too.

When the prince arrived at the house, Gelert ran to greet him, happy to see his master, pleased with how he had protected the baby. Llywelyn was confused, seeing the blood on Gelert’s mouth. He ran into his house and looked his baby. He was nowhere to be seen. Prince Llywelyn was furious at Gelert. He unsheathed his sword and plunged it into the dog’s heart. Gelert whimpered and let out a dying howl just as a baby cried. Prince Llywelyn of Wales knew he had done the wrong thing. He searched again and found the baby lying next to a dead wolf, slain by Gelert himself. Gelert hadn’t killed the baby. He had saved the young child and Llywelyn killed him, assuming the brave but innocent dog had done wrong. Prince Llywelyn felt distraught. It was said that he never smiled again.

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The moral of this story is to never jump to conclusions; expect the best, not the worst.

Ella


Why we should refuse…

It’s lunch time. We go into a supermarket, grab a sandwich, maybe a snack, and a plastic bottle of water. We then drink the water and throw the bottle into the bin. All around the UK, about 25 million people do this – and it’s affecting the planet. Here’s a few reasons how:
When we recycle a plastic bottle, we rightly expect it will be made into another bottle which might well be displayed on a shop shelf sometime in the near future. Sadly, though, this isn’t the case. Contrary to popular belief, bottles that are recycled are actually down cycled, which basically means they are made into something of less worth than they were before. And that is only the bottles that are recycled – a maximum of 20% of the billions we consume every year.
The rest of these bottles make their way into landfill or, worse, into the environment – littering the planet forever.
The reason plastic bottles have such a catastrophic effect when they litter the environment, particuarly waterways and the ocean, is because they never biodegrade. Plastic bottles are man-made, with substances such as oil used in their manufacture, which means that they can never return to their original form naturally. These bottles can stay in the same form as when we bought them for up to 500 years, and even then they only break down into bite-size snacks for fish, which mistake the plastic fragments for food. The harmful toxins contained in the plastic work their way up the food chain, and eventually end up in us – chemicals that mix up women’s hormones and can even cause cancer!
So we, literally, manufactured this problem – and now it’s up to US to fix it.