Tag Archives: mud

Mud glorious mud

The unschooling diaries: week thirteen

This week, we have finally managed to start sorting the garden out for summer.

It’s not an especially big space, and because our house is essentially built into the cliff face it’s on three different levels – and has no grass. So over the wet, windy Devon winter it really does start to look quite sorry for itself, and I start yearning for a house with a proper garden with room to run and explore.

I’ve realised, though, that there is actually an awful lot we can do with the space we have. Rather than bemoan the lack of lawn, I’ve decided instead to focus on what an interesting space it is, and its huge potential as an outdoor classroom. So, with Arthur taking the lead of course, we’ve been exploring exactly what that might look like – and having lots of messy fun in the process.

We started with some digging and pulling up of weeds in our raised beds. Arthur was very keen to get involved, and was fascinated by the bugs we came across along the way. We found snails, slugs, earthworms, a centipede, woodlice and a caterpillar – and had a good chat about each of them before getting on with our work.

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We also got the tuff spot out into the garden, creating a mud-filled paradise for Arthur’s beloved diggers, made even more fun when we added water to the equation.

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We managed to work some arts and crafts in there too. When we were in Lanzarote we’d talked about how Cesar Manrique had used volcanic ash in his paintings – Arthur had been quite intrigued by the unusual textures it created. So, inspired by the puddle that formed after some overnight rainfall, we decided to try some mud art.

We started with some puddle painting, using oil and food colouring to create colourful swirls on the water. This didn’t work brilliantly as Arthur got a bit over excited with the amount of oil he added, but it was still lots of fun!

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Especially fun was, of course, stamping in the oily puddle – and seeing how much Arthur was enjoying making footsteps on the deck I decided to give him a bit of a canvas.

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Then, after a slight diversion to make a magic potion, we got properly stuck in and covered a large sheet of paper with pva glue before pouring on the muddy concoction and mixing it up with anything else that took our fancy…

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There was more focused preparation too, with Arthur climbing inside the raised beds to get the earth ready for planting (and make some mud castles).

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It was all so much fun! And tidying up was even more so: Arthur was super keen to use the hosepipe, and I in my infinite wisdom let him. It was going great until he accidentally splashed me whilst I was holding the tuff spot, and I yelped, and he laughed, and… well, let’s just say we both got very wet!

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All in all it’s made me very excited about our little garden, and the fun and learning that is going to happen there in the weeks and months to come. There is something about being outdoors that just can’t be beat.

 



Festivals in the rain

We have been to three festivals this summer, and all of them were accompanied by a generous dose of rain. It’s been a bit of a new experience for me – somehow, in my twenty years of festivalling, I have managed to avoid anything more than a few showers. In fact generally my festival memories exist in a blissful haze of summer sun, dry grass and being a bit too warm for comfort. Clearly that was never going to last.

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I was a bit apprehensive as the weather forecast for the key weekends of this summer unfolded. I love festivals. Really I don’t think there is anywhere I would rather be than in a field with friends listening to music and drinking cider, stumbling upon weird and wonderful happenings as the days roll into nights and collapsing in a tent at the end of it all. Rain, mud and cold have absolutely no place in this vision, and I wasn’t entirely sure I was going to cope.

You know what though? It really wasn’t that bad. It was harder work for sure. And a bit less sociable. But there was something quite pleasingly symbolic about the perseverance, about the determination to have fun despite the universe’s best efforts. There was definitely a strong sense of camaraderie, and those moments where the sun peeped through the clouds or when music managed to whip damp crowds into a whirl of enthusiasm took on a whole new level of significance.

Sure, I wouldn’t have voluntarily trekked through miles of mud wearing an overexcited toddler or chased a flyaway gazebo through the campsite at four in the morning. I would rather not have covered my sparkly festival attire with waterproofs or kept said toddler entertained in the tent whilst the rain battered down outside. But actually, now that it’s over, I have a whole new range of festival memories to add to the pile.

And as for the toddler – to be honest he was in his element. What two year old wouldn’t want to splash through endless puddles, squelch in the mud and surf on rain soaked tables? In fact there’s a danger next summer, when the sun does return (are you listening, universe?), that there will be something fundamental missing from his festival experience…

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I’m sure he’ll cope though. And even if future festivals are drenched in rain rather than the sun I’ve bathed in over the years it’s good to know it won’t dampen our festival spirit.

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