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.

 


Activities at Tigh Mor

It's back to the adult bushcraft sessions at Tigh Mor every Thursday until the end of September and it was perfect weather with lovely company.

Loch Achray opposite Tigh Mor, what a lovely view this wee willow tree and Devil's bit scabious has.

The bat walk is still proving popular, especially as the daylight hours are shorter which means we can enjoy the bats and get to bed at a normal hour.  The mist rolled in over the loch which made watching the water bats all the more special as they magically appeared out of the mist to circle close to the water's edge. We even had a couple of tawny owls screeching at us on the way back :-). 


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!


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 Cobleland Campsite

Activities are getting quieter now, but still lovely to see returning families to the site.  One particular family did the Bushcraft with us and already knew lots of wild foods and bushcraft tips, hurrah!

So, can you use 'old man's beard' as a cure for baldness? Stick to using it for fire lighting I think!!

Lots of people still making the wands and wanting to learn some magick.

There were eleven wand makers, here's just three of them, from left: George, Rory and Eva, everyone chose Hazel this week.

The bat walk was fun as ever, here is Colin about to charge the moths!  It's starting to get chilly at night now but the bats were in the warmth and shelter of the forest nicely scoffing away on insects.

 


Cobleland Activities

 

Chocolate Quest

This week's Chocolate Quest theme was trees.  Young Ross was excited to find a Leprechaun house in Teapot Wood, although he said when he did find a leprechaun he would steal its gold and not share it with anyone!
The team were quite good on the questions, Adam got this one right:
What is the name of the nature spirit who resides in a tree?
A. Dryad
B. Druid...
C. Droid
I think the trees enjoyed it this week as the Willow by the playpark got 3 hugs as forfeits :-).

 

Artwork - Fatalis Sacristia

Face Painting

Ross's twin Todd designed an impressive geometric shape for his face, I couldn't resist the glitter to make it more magical and mystical.

Bushcraft

Ross and Todd's family joined us for the Bushcraft session, Janey and Adam were excellent fire starters and we all loved the delicious bilberries, mmmmm.

Magick Wands

 

 

Wands from left: Jordan's Hazel, Moira's Hazel, Chantelle's Hawthorn and Will's Hazel.

Dusk Walk

We escaped the midges on the site to explore the magic of the forest at dusk.  Jordan taught us yet another use for rush-lite, using it like a needle and thread, amazing stuff! The bats made a welcome appearance at about 10:30pm, but it still wasn't quite dark enough for the water bats.

 

 


Cobleland Activities

Loads happening this weekend as some of the kids broke up from School for their summer holidays.  Everyone learnt lots about deer on the Chocolate Quest and young Cameron was the only one to find all hidden chocolate tickets.  There were a few forfeits to be completed though for those that got the questions wrong, but Adam came up with this beauty of a poem as one of his forfeits;

"The Ranger's are nice
They give you advice
The chocolate is nice, inside"

I really enjoyed painting Eilis's face as she created her own design which had a faerytale toadstool for a nose, a lilac faery queen on one cheek and a green flower faery on the other, all topped off with a golden and ruby crown.

Eilis and her family joined us for the Bushcraft & Survival session, it was great to see them again having first met on the site last year.  Owen was already a fan of wood sorrel and finished the session with his pockets full of natural tinder! Maeve and Owen successfully started a fire with a fire steel, but little Eilis was still recovering from a broken arm so struggled a bit with that one as her arm was still in plaster.

We saw this lovely but poisonous toadstool on the way, panther cap, the same family as the faerytale toadstool fly agaric.

The Douglas Fir area and tickling river was magical in the sunlight today!

The juicy bilberries are nearly ripe - mmmm delicious! Loads of antioxidants so really good for you and there are loads of natural remedies you can use these berries for too including; sickness and diarrhoea, respiratory complaints and even haemorrhoids!

The evening finished off with a late Dusk Walk being that the days are still so long, the bats didn't start coming out until 10:30pm.  That's a lot of scoffing and gobbling up of midges to do if they have to eat a third of their body weight every night!