EVENT and DO May Day
Saturday is Beltane, or May Day. Formal celebrations may be cancelled this year – we will again miss our local Jack-in-the-Green parade (it’s virtual again this year) very much – but this is a festival perfect for celebrating at home. Step into your garden, or visit a green space near you and watch the sun rise. Legend has it that if you wash your faces in the morning dew, you’ll all have flawless complexions for the whole year (find out more here). Dress up for the occasion, we will take any excuse to sport a floral crown, and you’ll find ten dreamy ways to make them here. Alternatively, try making ribbon wands or a Wicker Man-like floral antler headband.
Traditionally, fires were lit at Beltane; if your garden is big and distant enough from neighbours to have your own, that would be fun, or you could scale things down and use candles. Alternatively, try creating something as a family, decorating your house or windows with greenery and flowers, looking for faeries, or going camping in your back garden – explore more of our ideas here.
Fancy a darker celebration? Walpurgis Night is celebrated across northern Europe on the night of April 30 (Friday) and the day of May 1. In Germanic folklore, this was Hexennacht (Witches’ Night), the time when the magical women gathered on the Brocken, the highest peak in the Harz mountains. Consequently, fires are lit to ward off evil spirits.
Traditions vary across Europe; in Bavaria, teenagers play pranks, in Thueringen, girls dress up as witches, while in parts of Finland, people run screaming through the streets drinking and wearing masks. They also eat Walpurgis Doughnut Holes, find an easy recipe here. Many places make straw scarecrows to toss on the bonfires, thought to be soaked in the bad luck and grumpiness from the year gone.
You’ll discover more about the festival here, including a colourful and fascinating video. Why not hold your own celebration with bonfires, a straw figure and general witchiness? The decision to gather in your own coven or to attempt to ward off the broomstick bashers is entirely yours!
EVENT City Nature Challenge
Running across the world for four days from Friday, the City Nature Challenge is an international race to discover and record as much wildlife as possible – a wild mini safari across your neighbourhood. Founded in the USA, the event is global, with events both online and across the UK – find your nearest participating city here. Take part in organised hunts, or download an app to join in independently. There’s a multi-aged education toolkit, perfect for home ed, here.
EVENT and LEARN International Dawn Chorus Day
Rise, shine, and open up your ears – this Sunday is International Dawn Chorus Day! This year, of course, there are no organised events, but this is a celebration tailor-made to enjoy as a family. Make it an adventure, and get up while it’s still dark, sit and enjoy it in your garden, head to a park or green space near you, or simply open your window. The first birds start to sing about an hour before sunrise. If you can’t get out to listen to the glorious chorus in real life, listen in to a Soundcamp broadcast, which tracks sunrise west to east, bringing together microphones from windows, rooftops, gardens, forests and sites across the world. Alternatively, BBC Radio 4 have an archive of more twittery aural deliciousness here.
DO and LEARN Egg Case Hunt
You’ll find dried mermaids’ purses on the shoreline of many beaches; they’re the egg cases of sharks and skates. They’re a tough, leathery capsule that protects the embryo as it develops inside. Each species has a differently shaped case. The Great Eggcase Hunt began in 2003, and helps indicate species presence and diversity. Join in to help the team at the Shark Trust to discover more about egg laying species in our waters. Find out more about the hunt here and how to identify your egg case here - you need to rehydrate it first!
EVENT National Gardening Week
It’s National Gardening Week – a time to share your love of growing plants. This year, the RHS is urging you to get your dose of ‘Vitamin G’ – green – and improve your sense of personal wellbeing. They suggest five easy ways to get your shot…
*Take a mindful moment in your garden or local green space: pause for a minute to appreciate the new green leaves, listen for birdsong or enjoy the scents of spring blooms to refresh your mind and senses.
*Bring the outside in: if you’re working from home, add a green, leafy houseplant to your desk or near your work area – studies show this can reduce stress, increase productivity and attention span and improve reaction speed!
*Pep up your plate: have a go at growing some quick herbs, salad leaves, or microgreens on a windowsill, which can be ready to harvest in just a few weeks to add a burst of green goodness and home-grown flavour to your meals.
Plant up a container to make you smile: choose a combination of colourful or scented flowers, tactile grasses and lush foliage to create a cheerful spring display to greet you whenever you leave or return home.
*Green up your everyday: think about how you can connect with nature in your day-to-day activities – could you walk or cycle through the park on the way to the shops, have lunch al fresco or do a workout in the garden?
*Or why not make your outside space a haven for wildlife? Find top tips from the RHS, including how to make a mini container pond, here.
What we’ve been reading this week:
Discover the power of pottering
“Sometimes, the thing that we need to do most for our mental health is, well, as little as possible. It’s about completing simple tasks that make us feel productive and in control – things that are low-pressure, that we can do without expending too much of our mental or physical energy.” Read more here
Found something inspirational to read that you’d like to share? Want to share your lockdown creations with us? Have an idea for things to do? We’d love to hear from you. Email Kate