Award beginnings

About a month ago I finally went along to a John Muir leadership training course, something that has been on my list of MUST-DOS for a long time!

I loved it and had a LOT of fun! 

The whole weekend, from start to finish was so inspiring, learning new techniques and to be surrounded by people who are living in the world of outdoor working. I learnt so much, had other things reaffirmed within myself and admired others confidence and existing knowledge. 

I saw that we were all on our own path but this was a point where our paths crossed and we were able to share our learning and what was meaningful to us about this work.

While I was there, I resolved to start my own John Muir award, so the morning after getting back from the course I sat down to write my long awaited JMA proposal and submitted it by the end of the day.

Now, because I already have specific wild places that I go to regularly, both in the city and in the Highlands I decided to focus on getting to know these places a little deeper.

The Discovery award, the first level of award is 4 days minimum, so I chose to delve into exploring these spaces over the course of the next 5 months.- through the days, weeks and seasons- looking at the closer details, spending even more time in these spaces, noticing, recording and creating.

These places are both places from my #patchofpeace project. 

The first of these spaces is the grass and wooded area along the cycle path near my home in Edinburgh and the other is the croft and woodland of my childhood home which I still have the incredible privilege of visiting regularly.  

I'm feeling so excited to finally focus my attention on these 2 green spaces in this way and eager to see what new ideas and opportunities come from this, both personally and professionally.

A perfect way to kick start my award...

I officially begun my award by inviting local people to volunteer for a Community Clean-up session on the 3rd May. Myself and my friend Sheila had the idea a month or so before and seemed a perfect way to kick start my award. We decided to focus on a short section of the Hawthornvale cycle path. 

It was a grey morning, with wind and rain aplenty, perfect weather for breaking out our head to toe waterproofs. Happily, despite this we had some very kind and lovely people come along to help us with our mission.  5 friends and neighbours turned up as planned at 11am. We put on our 'I'm supporting Clean Up Scotland' tabbards and gloves and got to work straight away while we waited for the council to deliver the litter pickers.

In the end we covered a short section at the beginning of the path and up near Lindsay road, where the rubbish was most concentrated. especially around the basketball court that is used frequently.

We busily picked and gathered and rummaged in the undergrowth, while unfortunately spending a lot of time dodging dog dirt and not being able to get to all of the rubbish. After 2 hours we had 11 bags of landfill rubbish and 9 bags of recycling ready and waiting for the council to come and collect and dispose of properly. Not a bad result!

Explorations begin

A week after our community clear up I went on an adventure up north briefly to my parents home and went exploring in the woods, as I'm always drawn to do . This time I was on a mission to begin specifically noticing what was around me, what I already knew about the place and noting it all down in my sketchbook.

I only had a short time, so I spent a while removing old bulging and burst tree guards from the trees that were planted before I was born, and set about pulling them into a pile at the edge of the woods. Along the way I noted down some of the plant species I recognised and could name without referring to a guidebook.

Species in the woods

Lesser celandine/sycamore/beech/birch/oak/hazel/primrose/Scottish bluebell/wild strawberry/ common dog violet/marsh spurge (I think!) /wood sorrel/ wood anemone bracken and loads of different mosses and lichens. 

The cycle path and woodland sit side by side 

When I got back to Edinburgh, I went out for my usual walk along the cycle path, cutting in through the woodland edges.  Similarly to the time in the Highlands, I spent time wandering and noting the species I saw there, again just referring to what I could recognise without pouring over a guide (that comes next!)

There was so much variety just in this quick trip!

some species on hawthornvale path 26.5.15.jpg

Sycamore/Cherry/Ivy- various/Holly/Cleavers (aka sticky willy)/ Ferns/ Grasses/ Dandelion/ Daisy/ Blackbird/Carder bee/ Dog rose/ Wild rose/ Ash/ Rowan/ Lime- with red spikes on some leaves- something to investigate/ Dead Nettle/ Bramble/ Beech/ Hawthorne/ Dock/ Buttercup/ Bluebell(Spanish)/ 3 cornered leek/ birch/ Japanese Knotweed!! YIKES! / Pigeon/ Willow/Daffodils/ Yellow poppy/Forget-me-not/ Magpie/Thistle/ Broom/ Robin/ Jack-by-the-hedge/ Elm – I had a little munch on some seeds 

It was fascinating to begin noticing the difference between the two places. I'm interested to know more about how each space developed over the years and how they are cared for/or not.

until the next wander

with warmth and wonder

Jaimie x