A nature school for teenagers.

This year has been full of really inspiring and positive things. I am currently 9mths away from completing a Masters in Education. This experience and course has been incredibly tough but as I have said before I have never felt so ALIVE!

Teaching through nature and natural spaces is something I have always wanted to do, but something I have been naturally doing my whole life. Attending forest school leadership training, Wilderness First Aid training and Coillte compass training this year, as well as holding down the MA and teaching in several schools (Geography and Science) has been a real juggling act. The opportunity to run a regular forest school was something I had always planned to do, and when the chance was present I jumped straight in.

Teenagers are so much fun, and to be honest, I fear they do not have the same level of natural interaction and constructive, non sporty “play time” outside than children of younger ages. This is why I just love to get them outside and have some fun. At the forest school last week, we spent almost 20 minutes rolling down a grassy embankment! This week the students spent over an hour constructing a trapeze swing and learned all about Calisthenics. One keen bird watcher heard a Woodpecker and lots of other birds and was able to teach the other students of her discoveries.

We have a very small group and we take start the session off really slowly with a few planned activities but the learning happens always by the interest of the students, and at their pace and involvement. It is inspiring for me as a teacher to have the interaction of students who allow me put into practice experiential, place based and relevant learning. I am able to pass on life skills and study skills in a very holistic way. My experience as a dyslexic student is invaluable to me now as an educator. I am able to teach mindfulness in a way that teenagers can enjoy and experience the benefits, without me even telling them that this is good for your mental health!

Anytime we light a fire we practice a mound fire and follow the Leave No Trace Ireland principles. We also only light a fire when on private grounds and permission has been granted. Below are two pictures of different types of fires, a Swedish Log fire and the mound fire. A mount fire is the best and most practical type of fire to set, it does not destroy the underlying ground, grass or damage tree roots or vegetation.

Simple palm drills are made using the holly tree and drill bits. Students love the responsibility of using tools and the task of creating something together to decorate the base camp area. Also when teenagers are around be sure and have a sure supply of food. We made baked bananas with chocolate buttons, s’mores and the staple hot ribena drink.

For me, I look forward to the two hour break away from my studies, the time spent outdoors is good for my head too.

I haven’t been here in a while!

I haven’t been here in a while, this is true. I have missed the interaction and the way in which I could get thoughts on paper and express myself through my blog. In truth, I have sourced another way of expressing myself – Teaching. I am nearly half way through a Masters in Education. I could not be happier. I have found a skill that suits all of my positives and challenges all of my negatives. I have been pushing myself out of my comfort zone and constantly testing myself – and I have never felt so ALIVE!

Education should never stop, and I can honestly say if you want to feel alive get testing yourself. Your brain will thank you.

What I am currently reading, for those interested:

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An inspiring read. Will review shortly!

Seasons change and so do we!


When we stand back to look at ourselves, our lives and the path we have carved it is quite easy to become complacent. Everyone is different, we all have special talents and different ways to look at things. Even the way we live, as similar human beings is completely different.

One big thing, I have learned and helps me to refocus and embrace change is that the seasons change and so do we! Our lives our outlook, the direction we take our lives is constantly evolving. Nothing stays the same. This for me is a great thing, and a wonderful way to take things in our stride and keep moving onwards and upwards.

There is always room for growth and change, just as it is in nature is truly a positive experience. All we have to do is look for the positive and get the help or assistance needed to make a change if it is needed. Growth is the best thing to come from change.

Bawk Bawk – CHICKENS!!

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I could not leave this monumental event in my life pass me by without a blog post. Proudly introducing Augusta, Demellza (I’m partial to Poledark), Molly and Polly. They are fabulous hybrids and settling in so well. Sending lots of thanks to the fab family who run FarmFowl in Wicklow, Ireland. We had a lovely experience buying the very lovely chicken coop and the hen’s from you all and your help was greatly appreciated.

For years and years I have been wishing and hoping for chickens, I grew up with hens and they evoke such lovely memories, and those delicious eggs! My husband needed a LOT of convincing, and he has come around at last. I appreciate that everyone in the household needs to be on the same page, as it is a team effort. The chickens are POL’s or point of lay. They will start to lay over the next week or so. Each chicken will lay one lovely egg per day and will continue to do so for up to 4 years! We are an egg loving family and it makes sense to have organic, free range eggs on demand.

My mini chicken farmer has taken to the job really well! It is so great to see a 5 year old full of self discipline and confidence that she can do the jobs needed to keep the chickens in tip top shape. I can’t wait to see the look on Eabha’s face when the eggs arrive!

So I am learning about chicken care and I love it. I have found some great tips and would welcome any advice from any other chicken keepers out there. Any questions please ask and I will gladly share anything I know!

Interesting fact: Did you know chickens are related to the T-Rex!! Read more here.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

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We are all on a journey in life, sometimes it is bumpy sometimes smooth but it has a destination! So what we all do with the precious time our journey takes is SO important. We have no idea how long our journey will take so enjoying each and every moment, not just the big moments, is key. The reason why it is KEY is because all these little moments make up the journey!!!!

You can probably tell that I have unlocked some home truths. I haven’t been blogging in a while either. I have instead been securing some exciting career moves that is my focus to become a secondary school teacher. I only just confirmed my place to do a masters in education and also a forest school leaders course, all starting in March 2015! I can honestly say the last two years have not been the most enjoyable for me. I was a little bit lost, unfocused. The things I was focused on were not giving me anything back to maintain positivity. A big shift was needed and a little realisation that there is no point going through life not enjoying all the amazing positives already present. This my friends is a complete waste of time and using the journey metaphor for our life it is a complete waste of energy, energy that can take you anywhere.

Leading me onto the title of this blog Wild by Cheryl Strayed, I just finished it last night and I was so sad for the journey to be over. It was more that just a book for me, it came into my life at just the right time. At 26 years of age, Cheryl walked – by her self – 1100 miles along a trail known as the Pacific Crest Trail!!!!! Cheryl showed me that it is OK to have a shit year but it is how you get your ass in gear and move on through those times, that is the empowerment. She is an AMAZING lady and a worthy Queen of the Pacific Crest Trial.

I have also attacked my house removing anything, and I mean anything that I have held onto for too long, that doesn’t have any need or just needs to go. Yes all because of my new best friend Cheryl, who carried all she needed on her back for her entire journey. Inspired me to really crank my becoming minimalist approach to my life and the life of my daughter – my husband already takes this approach so he is always the one to ask why do we have so much stuff!! Clearing the clutter really does free up space practically in your home but also it frees up your mind and your time. Time to plan my hike somewhere, anywhere to relish my new found enthusiasm for LIFE.

It has been a while!!

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It has been a while since my blog has occupied that space in my brain that it used to burst out of. I put it down to a little bit of life take over….you know that thing that happens when you are to busy making plans!! First day at school for Eabha, weddings/holiday in magical Italy, starting a new job etc. and now it is nearly Christmas!!

Since my last blog post back in September, I have given myself all the time needed to figure out the direction of my future. I have struggled to figure out where my talents lie and how I can best use them, how I can stay true to myself and my beliefs as well as bring home the bacon. It is a difficult one but I think I have figured it out. I am currently enrolling in two different courses that I am excited about and will fill my new year with education and focus.

I had a hope that some of my other ventures would succeed but sometimes behind every cloud is a silver lining and failures give way to new beginnings. My mind can also take a break for the constant thinking and my body can take a rest from the waisted drain on my energy levels. I do know that my new path will open new doors and some of my ideas will grow organically without that constant energy drain.

So for now to coincide with my new beginnings I am getting rid of the old and yes buying some things new, the picture above was taken during a recent shopping trip. You can check out my go to website to help with clutter – Becoming Minimalist and see for yourself the power of a good clear out.

It is nearly a new year and I am gearing up to hit the ground running (as well as relaxing) and keep all my balls juggling in 2015!!!

Home-made Blackberry Jam Recipe

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This is my mothers recipe for Blackberry Jam – use it wisely and enjoy the results!!

Pick the fruits of autumn, aka blackberries. I usually rope in the whole family or some willing and able children. Blackberries like sunshine to produce the ripest berries so go for wide open places where brambles grow freely. If you haven’t a clue where to look just ask someone from the area where is good to go blackberry picking, they might send you on a wild goose chase if they are avid pickers to save all those yummy berries for themselves!! 

You will need:

  • Cooking apples for the all important Pectin – pectin is naturally found in apples and is used to thicken the jam
  • Sugar – you can buy sugar especially for jam making (has pectin added) but it is a lot more expensive than regular sugar and all you need is an apple!
  • A deep pot – important as there will be a lot of bubbles and it will get hot so a deep pot like a pressure cooker pot is perfect
  • Potato masher to break down the fruit
  • Clean jam jars or jars that contained sweet stuff rather than savory stuff (can have an after smell) Make sure these have been sterilised or run them through a hot dishwasher cycle. You can pop them in your deep pot with boiling water to sterilise them – prevents your jam spoiling when stored.
  • And of course as many Blackberries as you can pick for FREE!!! 

The simple steps:

  1. Wash your berries well as they can contain some bugs and creepy crawlies
  2. Weigh your berries and weigh out the exact same amount of sugar
  3. Peel and core apples – I usually guesstimate the amount of apples needed eg 1kg of berries will need a cooking apple the size of a large fist ( don’t worry about how many apples they all break down anyway and adds to the flavour)
  4. Put the berries and apples into the pot and simmer on a medium heat, stirring and allowing them to break down. Use a potato masher to give them a good mashing.
  5. Add the sugar and turn up the heat to full
  6. Once the mixture has come to full boil, time it from this point for exactly 15minutes, stir often and keep safe as the jam is similar to molten lava! – once the time is up turn off the heat and leave to cool before putting it into jars.