Nix's News

Morning Ramble at Forest Hills

Two lovely couples from yesterdays walk decided to join us for a longer ramble around the Loch Ard forest.  We decided to take in the two faerie hills of the area and there were fittingly lots of fungi to look at and talk about.  We took a well earned rest at Doon Hill and enjoyed some spruce tea and biscuits before leaving our gifts and wishes on leaves for the faeries.

Doon Hill is a sacred spot for the faeries where wishes are left to naturally degrade. It's said to be unlucky to take anything from a faerie hill and they do like a nice natural gift, or maybe some honey, cheese or milk, or even to help them by collecting litter along the way.

The Minister's Pine can be seen popping out of the top of Doon Hill from a distance. This is said to mark the faerie portal which the local Minister, Rev. Robert Kirk was invited to enter in order to discover and correct unfair representations of the fae.  There are many variations of the story, but most center around his mysterious disappearance in 1692, some say to the faerie realms for protection, some say this was due to publishing their secrets, although I hear that his spirit has since been released from becoming entrapped.

 

So many LBJ's ('little brown job' mushrooms), so we were unable to identify all of them, although the big one has been created by a clever local wood carver and makes this a lovely picture to photograph.

 


Morning Stroll with Forest Hills

As Arthur is in the Dolomite's, we were lucky enough to take in the beauty of his guided walks as we cover for him at Forest Hills and Tigh Mor this week. We were joined by 23 lovely strollers around a lovely circuit of Lochan Spling dotted around the edges of which was fly agaraic, the fairytale toadstool, gorgeous.

 

Here is one of the sculptures along the route, a huge dragonfly with it;s 'Alien-like' punching jaws! 


Activities at Forest Hills

Morning Ramble

We were back out with Arthur again, this time for a longer walk in readiness for covering his walks next week. Here is a cheeky chap peering through the heather and a fox 'n' cub orange flower up on the highland boundary fault line near Aberfoyle.

Fantastic views beyond the broom and across the heather to the hills behind Aberfoyle.


Activities at Forest Hills

Morning Stroll

We had a fabulous day, all starting off following Arthur from Trossachs Treks on his morning stroll so that we were ready to cover his walks there for the next two weeks while he is on holiday.  We some lovely people including a family from Deli who were kind enough to share some local plant uses, basil tea is a must apparantly!

Can you spot the third fish?

Then we met a lovely family on our Bushcraft walk, who were really refreshingly passionate, about everything really :-). They were especially interested in our Douglas fir tea and a recipe for Douglas fir chocolate pots for their new cafe 'The Black Douglas' - it's got to be done! Here is the recipe from The Forager's Kitchen by Fiona Bird.

Douglas Fir Chocolate Pots

What to forage and find:
Sprig Douglas fir, approximately 2 1/2 to 3 inches (6-8 cm) in length, washed and dried
1 1/2 cups (300ml) light (single) cream
7 oz (200g) bittersweet (dark) chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids)
1 medium (small UK) egg
2 teaspoons Douglas Fir syrup (or pine sugar)

What to do:
1. Put the Douglas fir sprig and cream into a pan and scald it over a low heat. Do not allow the cream to boil. Set aside for an hour to allow the flavor to infuse and then remove the sprig.

2. Put the chocolate into a food processor and pulse to break it into small pieces. Take care: the machine may need to be held in place.

3. Reheat the cream (do not allow it to boil). Slowly pour the hot cream into the food processor and pulse, ensuring that the chocolate doesn't overflow down the sides of the machine. If you don't chop the chocolate first,  it may do this. So slowly does it.

4. Add the egg to the hot chocolate cream, blend and then add the Douglas fir syrup or pine sugar. Pour into pots and refrigerate until set.

Bat Walk

Then the day finished off nicely on our Bat Walk, out under the magic light of another supermoon.  Here is Jonathan the bat about to reveal himself again - the moon reveals us for what we really are!


Bat Walk at Forest Hills

Here is Will (another Will) sporting the bat suit and then managing to applaud himself for being a good sport! There were not that many bats this week, maybe because this is now the bat's mating season so perhaps they were all off on their hot dates?  We did pick up some interesting sounds on the bat detectors :-)!


Activities at Forest Hills

Here are this week's lovely wands.

From left: Masie chose an interesting shaped Hawthorn wand, Harry chose Hazel and Louie's Mum chose a Hazel for him to grow into, he was giggling away in the pushchair :-).

Lots of people eager to learn about bushcraft, I think most enjoyed the Douglas Fur tea. Then despite the wind we managed to find a few bats under the Oak and Douglas Fur trees later on.  Here is Richard the bat, he didn't mind the wind, he nearly took off!

 


Activities at Forest Hills

Another busy wand session, I think the silly season has finally caught up with me though as I tried to tell the kids to 'ONLY do naughty or mischievous spells', oops!! I did correct myself, phew, we don't want the spells back-firing three-fold eh!

  

All chose hazel today, from left: Lydia, Harvey, Beatrice, Jasmine, Nate, Emma, Annabel, Connor, Morgan, Amy and Isla.

Bushcraft & Survival was a successful one for the young fire lighters and there was a lovely crowd of 30 on the bat walk, which means good news for the bats as this can only mean that people are fascinated by them like us :-). Steven the bat was great at using his hand wings to eat up all the midges during the bat and moth game, he didn't know what he was letting himself in for, although Will didn't give him much choice when it came to asking for volunteers!

 


Activities at Forest Hills

Magick Wands

I'm loving that the wand sessions are fully booked lately - more magick makers spreading good spells around :-).

Everyone chose hazel for their wands except Erin, who chose willow

From left: Inigo, Toli, Joseph, Erin, Ailsa, Connie, Grace, Amber, Francesca, Georgina, Mia and Joseph. Stella and Josephs Dad's wand wasn't pictured, sorry.

Face Painting

Erin stayed for an Ice-Queen face, then Anna had some party balloons on her arm, Evie a unicorn and Ailsa a butterfly, all very pretty.

Bushcraft & Survival

We survived on this one but alas, the rain was all a bit too much for the bats, so we had to cancel :-(.

 


Activities at Forest Hills

Bushcraft & Survival

A lovely crowd for Bushcraft today and the sunshine was back out waving hello again :-). Will was obviously feeling pesky as he tricked Alistair when he had just tucked into a juicy bit of wood sorrel later saying that it was deadly poisonous! Obviously wild foods are not to be taken lightly when it comes to identifying them, so here is a picture. The pretty droopy white flower comes out in the spring, but you can eat the green leaves all year.

Wood sorrel is also known as Lady's Sorrel due to the heart shaped leaves, or apple leaf as it tastes like zingy apple skin.  Remember not to eat too much due to the oxalic acid content which by the way can help to clear up athletes foot a treat!  Also said to have been used by Red Indians to help their horses run faster :-). It can also be used to make an old fashioned lemonade drink which is really refreshing. Wood Sorrel is a good indicator of healthy, undisturbed forests and there's lots around here :-).

See the Bushcraft and Resources pages for links to helpful books and more information. 

Bat Walk

Just three on the bat walk tonight, but it is always worthwhile and we met a lovely family from Cornwall.  Shianne especially had great fun hunting for bats...until her feet got wet!


Activities at Forest Hills

Magick Wands

This weeks mystical wands...

From left: Tyla's Willow, Romy's Silver Birch, Troy's Willow and Anna's Willow.

Face Painting

Anna and Sophie went for the same design, maybe they needed cooling off with the snowflake after all this lovely sunshine!

Bat Walk

Eleven bat hunters joined us tonight and we were lucky enough to watch a Mum leading her baby pup pip' around the grounds in the search of midges - of which there was plenty to choose from :-). They must be good to eat seen as bat's hearts can pump out the equivalent number of beats that would take us humans three hundred years to pump out! These bats can live for 16 years and their hearts can beat up to 600 beats per minute whilst hunting on the wing and just 10 bpm while in their winter torpid states - clever!