Posts tagged - nature

Nature in the city 8: A half and half park

By half and half, I mean half old-school and half new. I may have mentioned earlier in this series that all the parks in Waltham Forest have been getting a make-over recently. This is another one that’s been updated to make it more ‘natural’ looking. This park, however, has retained much of it’s popular original equipment, which sits alongside the new stuff. This gives it the impression of being a bit ‘half and half.’ I kinda like that.

Here’s the old school:

And the new:

Also this week, we have been out looking for our shadows…

It's behind you!

It’s behind you!

And banging railings with sticks.

Never gets old.

Never gets old.

I’m linking up with Coombe Mill‘s Country Kids blog linky with this series. To find out more and/or add your own, click on the image below:

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall


A wet and windy week

The weather has been terrible lately and Mushroom and I have both had throat infections so a lot of time has been spent indoors, either here at home or at his Auntie’s house (I made it to work but Mushroom was off nursery) so when we both started to feel a little better, we made a point of getting outside!

Yesterday, we headed to Coronation Gardens and just ran around the bandstand, with Mushroom ‘making footprints,’ and laughing as the wind ‘pushed me running Mummy!’ Then the wind picked up and blew his buggy over so we decided to head home, with Mushroom commenting. ‘Thunder coming. Like Ben and Holly.’ He was right, a storm was brewing and we just missed being caught out in it!

Making footprints on the bandstand

Making footprints on the bandstand

Today we spotted a sliver of sunshine after lunch so ran out to the local park to run around and climb the climbing frame.

Climbing frame

Mushroom loves the slide and had a few goes before it started pouring with rain! I hadn’t brought his waterproofs but he seemed ok at first so I said nothing…

Wishing we'd brought the waterproofs!

Wishing we’d brought the waterproofs!

Then he complained about having wet trousers and declared that it felt ‘yucky.’ So I asked him what we should do and he said ‘Go back home,’ and sighed heavily. Then suddenly the sky cleared again and he shouted ‘Come on, let’s run!’


By the time we’d changed his trousers it was pouring down (again!) and he said he was too tired to go back out (he was, he fell asleep early today!) but I’m glad we made it out, if only for a short time. To find out who else braved the weather (and worse than rain!), check out Coombe Mill’s blog by clicking on the image below.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall


Nature in the city 6: Autumn leaves

This week we thought we’d make the most of the autumn leaves before the snow descends (it’s coming soon, apparently!) and makes them all slimy. ‘Cause it’s all about the crunch, right?

Sadly, although we did go out and kick some leaves, a lot of them were already pretty slimy from the rain…

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So I’m cheating a little this week and using photos from when the leaves were crunchy a couple of weeks back! It’s still nature in the city right? And autumn is almost over so wanted to share this before it’s too late.

So, it was a cold but sunny afternoon and we were headed to the park but Mushroom couldn’t wait that long. He saw a nice tidy pile by a tree on the corner of our street. ‘Can I Mummy…?’ I said no at first (someone had obviously gone the the trouble of sweeping them up) but he insisted ‘Kick leaves! This, leaves!’ He didn’t understand why we should wait til we got the the park. So I told him to go ahead and kick!

The look on his face was worth the guilt of messing up someone’s nice tidy pile… I hope they weren’t too upset the next day!



I’m linking up with Coombe Mill‘s Country Kids blog linky with this series. To find out more and/or add your own, click on the image below:

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall


Nature in the city 5: Pigeons and puddles

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last nature in the city post so these photos are from the past two – three weeks…. The pigeons we chased last Saturday, while waiting for a friend to pick us up from Sainsbury’s in Ilford! So right in the middle of the high street, opposite a massive shopping mall, we managed to find a little nature.

Mushroom asked why they were eating the ‘dirty bread’ and wanted to touch one. They weren’t so keen!

Chasing pigeons

Neither was he, really. When he got up a bit closer he squealed and ran back to me laughing. He couldn’t understand why some flew away and some didn’t. We had a bit of a conversation about city bird and country birds and why, although it’s a kind and generous offer, we shouldn’t give the pigeons any of his sweets…

The puddle pictures are from the week before after particularly heavy rainfall. We headed back to Coronation Gardens with our boots on for a bit of puddle jumping.

The puddles by the bandstand were so big that Mushroom asked if he could go swimming in one! I think we was making a joke (I hope so). A leaf dropped and he asked about the ‘circles’ it made in the water…

A leaf fell in

Then he was ready…. Splash!!


If enjoyed these photos you might also like something I wrote on my other blog (it’s more prose than poetry but see what you think), last month :  Pigeons and puddles.


I’m linking up with Coombe Mill‘s Country Kids blog linky with this series. To find out more and/or add your own, click on the image below:

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall


Nature in the city 4: Tigers in the rose jungle

One of our favourite local green spaces here is Coronation gardens. Named for the coronation of Edward VII, the site was bought by Leyton Council in 1897 and it opened as a ‘recreation ground in 1902. Labelled ‘a disagreeable eyesore’ by the Leytonstone Express and Independent in 1903, the Council used a £1,000 grant to transform the area into the beautiful landscaped area that it still is today.

There are plenty of things to do here including finding our way around (or chasing each other around!) a mini maze, which is just the right size for little people, running around the bandstand or drawing chalk pictures on it (the bandstand is covered so especially handy if it rains), watching squirrels collect, eat and store (mostly eat, actually) acorns, chasing pigeons and, in the autumn months, kicking leaves! I will probably blog about all of these things at some point but today’s post is about one of Mushroom’s favourite games at the moment.

After being introduced to the concept by a lovely dad we met in the park one afternoon with his son (hello Yomi and Elijah, if you’re reading!), Mushroom likes nothing more than to pretend he is in the jungle hunting tigers. We play this game in the park, on the way back from nursery and, in the supermarket (that took me by surprise. He asked to get out of the trolley, then suddenly shouted ‘tiger, run!!’ and well, ran off. Um).

Coronation Gardens has a real jungle, as far as Mushroom is concerned. He tiptoes towards the rose garden, saying ‘Shhh’ and holding a finger to his lips. He negotiates his way around perilous flowers and through thorny bushes before breaking into a run, shouting ‘Mummy, quick! Tiger wake up!’ and collapsing against me, laughing before stopping for a snack. Hunting tigers is hard work, don’t you know.


If you look really closely, you might be able to read the commentary on the bottom of this slideshow!

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I’m linking up with Coombe Mill‘s Country Kids blog linky with this series. To find out more and/or add your own, click on the image below:

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall


Nature in the city 3: A manmade ‘natural’ park

I’ve mentioned Leyton’s ‘Jubilee Park’ once or twice on this blog before. The first time was back in May, when Mushroom and I met the recycled kite maker (we’ve not seen him again since! Glad I took photos or I may have wondered whether he was real!). I mentioned him again more recently in an earlier Nature in the City post about picking blackberries.

This park used to simply be a large green space, with a tiny ‘typical’ children’s park in the corner. You know, swings, a slide etc… This year, along with several of the parks across the borough of Waltham Forest, it has been redesigned to encourage children to interact more with their natural surroundings. So, as well as a large area that remains as it was for the children to run around in, there are also ‘fallen’ trees to negotiate, wooden trampolines to jump on, ropes to help them swing across crocodile infested waters (well they are in our imagination!), rope snakes to ride on and hills of varying sizes to roll down (It’s possible that I like this even more than Mushroom does!)

Here are a few pictures of Mushroom making the most of this manmade ‘nature.’

I like this park and the others that are beginning to follow. It may be manmade, but Mushroom has always been quite cautious and before this was here, he needed a lot of encouragement to climb a tree, or roll down a big hill. The little trees and small hills here allowed him to build his confidence and he now does both without hesitation. His new found climbing confidence means I need to watch him a lot more closely these days!

What do you think? Is it a good idea to create more parks like this or should the council simply have left the space as it was before and let the children use their imaginations..? Please comment below, I’d love to hear your views, especially if you have similar parks in your area!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

I’m linking up with Coombe Mill‘s Country Kids blog linky with this series. To find out more and/or add your own, click on the image above.


Nature in the city 2: Touching tree sap

This post is part of a series in which I share how Mushroom and I make the most of the opportunities we find to interact with nature in the city. The first post in this series was all about Blackberry picking, which was an intentional nature mission of mine, being an activity I loved as a child.

This little nature adventure, however, was never meant to be! We were just popping to the corner shop to buy something and I thought I’d make a bit of a walk of it, telling Mushroom to bring his balance bike so he could practice riding as we walked the long way round (it’s only a couple of streets away).

2013-08-21 10.05.13

He rode the bike to the corner of the road and stopped. “Mummy! Fella” (feather). He handed this to me then got back on his bike. About 10 seconds later he stopped again “Flower!” He handed me a leaf. He still doesn’t quite get the difference between flowers and leaves.

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Of course I kept the feathers and the ‘flower.’

When we reached the corner he stopped and became very excited. “Mummy look Mummy look!” I looked.

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“Yes, it’s a tree.” He frowned at me. “No. High! Pretty! Sweetie?” I looked again.

“What is it Mushroom? Show me.” He practically rolled his eyes and threw his bike down at the base of the tree.

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“Up Mummy.” I lifted him up and he pointed.

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“Ah… It’s sap.”

“Sap. More?” And he started looking for sap on every tree we passed. Fascinated by it, he asked for some to take home so I broke a little off for him and he stared at it, fascinated. “Smooth. Nice.”

2013-08-21 10.45.22

So our trip to the corner shop ended up being a lovely little nature trail looking for tree sap. I have lived here with Mr B for years but it’s only through Mushroom’s eyes that I noticed this, which must have always been there. It’s amazing what we miss when we’re not looking.

I’m linking up with Coombe Mill‘s Country Kids blog linky with this series. To find out more and/or add your own, click on the image below:

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall


Nature in the city 1: Blackberry picking

This is the first in what will become a series about how Mushroom and I make the most of our green (and not so green!) spaces in the city to interact with nature. I thought I’d start with something seasonal so first up is a post about blackberry picking!

Not far from where we live, there’s a recently renovated park, imaginatively named ‘jubilee gardens’ (no, it’s not the one at the South Bank and yes, I am being a little sarcastic). It’s a lovely park that has been created with an emphasis on making the most of the natural space it occupies. Sort of. But that’s for another post. The reason I mention it here is because you can either walk to it via the main road, passing the usual bus stops and shops on the way, or you can take the back streets…

One of these back streets leads to a wide open field that houses a disused Scout hut. It’s not a route I’d take during the winter months when it’s dark and not many people are using it for safety reasons but during the summer Mushroom and I almost always go this way.

After a short walk past the hut, there is a bit of a path that leads over a river with just a little “dirty water,” (according to Mushroom) and loads of wild flowers. On the corner, just before the river, there is a massive blackberry bush.

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It’s massive. MASSIVE. It goes right round the coner and this photo really doesn’t do it justice

Mushroom and I have been passing this blackberry bush for a while and I explained to him that you can eat the little red berries but that they “are not ready yet.” I told him they would be black when they are ready. This week, I packed a tupperware container without telling him and said we were going for a walk. When we reached the bush he pointed to the bush and said “Mummy? Not ready yet.” I said “Yes, they are ready and we can eat them!” I was rewarded with a massive grin, followed by a look that clearly said “are you sure?” I picked and ate one to show him it was safe and gave him one to try. A slow smile spread across his face as the juicy fruit burst between his teeth and he showed me his berry stained gums. I the got out the container and said we would pick some to take home and he was very excited. It wasn’t long before he was covered in sticky blackberry juice!

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Mushroom eats all the ones he picks and then makes quick work of the ones I was saving!

After about 15 minutes he got fed up so we headed over the river to the park. He kept stopping along the way to pick blackberries from the smaller bushes we saw on our walk and once we reached the park I overheard him saying to another child “berries ready,” as though he was delivering world news. He kept asking for more on the way home so  I never got to make the crumble I’d planned as there wasn’t enough left! However, I’m sure we’ll go blackberry picking again before the end of this month so there’s still time.

I’m linking up with Coombe Mill‘s Country Kids blog linky with this series. To find out more and/or add your own, click on the image below:

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall


The recycled kite

Last week, Mushroom and I were playing in our recently refurbished ‘Jubilee park,’ an outdoor play area cultivated to encourage children to make use of their natural surroundings.

Jubilee park 0-7 play area

While playing on the little trampolines and running/sliding/rolling down the little man-made hills, created for this very purpose, we saw a kite flying in the near distance.

Jubilee park wooden trampoline

The man flying the kite noticed Mushroom’s interest, and deliberately lowered it, allowing Mushroom to chase it a while before bringing it down so that we could take a closer look.

Kite chasingOnce up close, we realised that the kite was made entirely out of recycled material! A recycling bin bag, some bamboo and an old sheet cut into strips. ‘Even the glue is all natural,’ he told us proudly, ‘I make it with flour and glue. This is a Jamaican kite.’ Mushroom nodded wisely. Grandma and Grandad are Jamaican, therefore Daddy is Jamaican, therefore he is Jamaican (and Nigerian, and British, but that’s for another post). I think he gets it. He recognises ‘Jamaican’ anyway. The man smiled kindly at us. ‘I’ll make you a lickle one, ‘ he promised, ‘to put in your pocket.’

I asked if he sold them and he said yes but then it started to rain and Mushroom was fussing so we headed off. As we walked away I realised something. ‘I never asked your name…’ My shout was lost on the wind, or so I thought.

Recycled Kite‘I’ll see you again!’ He shouted his promise across the field and we both nodded. We’ll see him again. When we do, we’ll find out where he sells his kites and whether he’s interested in making one for you, too!

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