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Monday, 27 May 2013

Wacky Forth Races

The rain didn't put young Katy and Adam off from designing and crafting these amazing rafts to battle out a winner on 'this weeks Wacky Forth Race.

Rafts (from left) 'Mr Giggles', 'The Bubbler' and 'The Undersail'
It was a photo finish with The Undersail 'just' touching the line first - an ingenious design :-)

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Enchanted Woodland Wardrobe

At last, the ranger tent is finished and decorated ready for the special woodland themed day to celebrate National Camping and Caravanning Week with this free event.

The day kicked off with wand making, followed by a faerie tea party and dog show, then a walk to Doon Hill, a real faerie hill where we took gifts and wishes to the faeries and learned some woodland magic along the way.

Thank you to all that joined in and hoped you enjoyed it, along with the weather - it poured down the next day!

Seth as Robin Hood and his oak wand (empowered with strength)!
Wand Making
This included learning about the ancient Druid calendar and their wise and magic trees before letting the 'wand choose the wizard'. (I had previously asked the dryad or tree spirit for permission before cutting them in the first place :-)  The wands were trimmed to about the length from the wand owners elbow to finger tip then shaved and sanded (which helps to infuse the new owners energy) and finally decorated. Decoration included marking the wand with an ancient ogham symbol which was the druid's alphabet for the trees, then optional further ancient alphabets from either the witch's theban or Viking's runic alphabets. Wands could then be decorated with further goodies and optional gems, stones and waxing later when they go home.
Note to remember new wand owners - only direct good spells through your wand or the spell will backfire on you threefold! Also remember to keep the wands clean by giving them a moonbath (soaking them in the full moon energy and light every full moon - this is also a good time for wishes :-)


Mmmmm, faerie cakes!!!

Dog Show
The elven boss, Lesley and Fingal the witchy dog
Kera and Penny dressed as Poison Ivy
Bertie won the 'Waggiest Tail' - well he is a puppy!
Sophie the Spaniel won 'Best Trick' - she sat brilliantly :-)
Ellie won 'Best Dog in Nature'
Faerie Hill Walk
Doon Hill and 'The Minister's Pine' - we didn't see Reverend Robert Kirk who is said to have disappeared into the faerie realms in 1692 (actually Katie in the red is sat right on the faerie portal at the bottom of the tree where he was said to enter this realm) but was he watching us with the faerie Kee and his friends?
I told everyone a bit about the Kirk mysteries and showed them an updated version of his book 'The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Faeries' where he wrote about the secrets of the fae after being invited to by the Seelie Court of the Sidhe (pronounced shee) in an attempt to help improve understanding of the fearie races and to clear any unnecessary fears of this mysterious underworld.
Winners of the fancy dress competition, Hattie, Frankie and Adam, adding their wishes to a scots pine tree on Doon Hill.  It's traditional to write your wish on natural degradable fabric and to bring a gift for the faeries - something sparkly, sweet, or maybe do a bit of litter picking or make some natural art for them.  The story goes that you can try and see a real faerie by going around the tree backwards seven times or to be whisked away into the faerie realms forever you need to go around the bottom of the hill three times!
Robin Hood and Patrinia the Faerie have a battle of the wands.... Oak (inner strength, protection and stability) versus Hazel (healing, knowledge/wisdom, inspiration and invisibility)!
Dare I ask for a Caption Competition - Will the ranger explores his feminine faerie 'Sidhe' Entries on our Facebook page Nix in Nature to win a wee wooden prize :-)

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Inside our Bell Tent

Finally our tent is all cosy with a reclaimed wooden floor, furniture that was going to be thrown away by a local cabin site and our mango wood bargain table and chairs that have done the rounds with a few friends and family and are now back to us.  It's soooo relaxing :-) At night the solar lights around the edge make it look like it's a visiting UFO!  Tent is by Soulpad - highly recommended!

Friday, 24 May 2013

Full Moon at Tigh Mor

We had the most amazing full moon at Tigh Mor, an excellent one for wishing on :-)  The bats seemed to love it too and there was a hooting tawny owl in the surrounding forests, perfect night and the next morning as well!


Wednesday, 22 May 2013


I just love nature! I have just learned that celandine used to be known as pilewort (previously figwort as this used to be the name for piles).  Going back to the Doctrine of Signatures, if a plant looked like or resembled a body part it would cure an ailment there.  Before you all go out looking to stuff your faces with the stuff it does contain a mild toxin so medicines should be made from the dried herb or by heat extraction.

An easier method is to use bilberries though - just give them a squeeze (the berries, not the sore bits!) and rub them on the area in question.  They are not out just yet though!

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Forest Hills Gets Batty Too!

This lovely warm weather has finally invited the bats to come out to play.  We had 'loads' of soprano pipistrelle bats around the grounds of Forest Hills with a couple of common pipistrelle's and possibly a Daubenton's/water bat too.

We even had a couple of tawny owls hooting from the local farm.  At least it wasn't 'too wet to woo!'

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Wacky Forth Races Too Deep to Race!

Thanks for those that joined us at Cobleland Campsite for today's raft building.  After the torrential rain last night the river was far too deep and fast to race them, but we still had a floating test and competition for best designs etc.

The Docking (decorated with dock leaves amongst other things) won the 'Most Creative' prize.

Abby and Kate's (Team Cava) the Docking
The Adventurer won the 'Best Floater' prize.

Maisie and Lottie's (Team Adventurers) The Adventurer
Captain Buck Salty Sailor won the 'Best use of Recycled Materials' prize, incorporating even a piece of decking!

Merissa and Zoe's (Team Flowy) Captain Buck Salty Sailor

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Pyrography is Brilliant Fun

I finally had a go with my pyrography set, I can't wait to play some more :-)

Friday, 17 May 2013

Tigh Mor Gets Completely Batty

At last, the bats have come out to play!  We had a brilliant bat walk at Tigh Mor with at least two soprano pipistrelles and one common pipistrelle swooping around our heads, also a daubenton's over the water following the curve of the loch shore.

Thanks for that excellent question, 'how fast do bats fly' - keeps us on our toes!  Well, I can only find the answer as being 'up to 31mph' but I can't find species specific answers so if anyone else can it would be brilliant if you could let us know.

In the meantime, here is an excellent link from the Bat Conservation Trust about how to help these endangered creatures in your own gardens.

Below is a closer example of the 'most excellent' Daubenton's bat like the one we saw during the walk.

Bumble Bee Stone

Just finished the second painted stone at Cobleland Campsite to come in line with this year's bee conservation awareness at the site.  I managed to revive the red squirrel from two years ago with a bit of a scrub and some varnish, yay! I wonder what the third stone will be next year?

Thursday, 16 May 2013

If Ash comes before Oak.....

Oh dear, ash appears to have bud burst before oak this year....

If Ash comes before Oak, we're in for a soak
If Oak comes before Ash, we're in for a splash

Monday, 13 May 2013

Forest Hills, Aberfoyle

Thank you for such a brilliant turnout for our first 'Bats, Owls & Spooky Tales' at the lovely Forest Hills Hotel and Spa in Aberfoyle.

A chilly, windy night but at least the rain held off!  No wonder we only managed to see one bat, he obviously thought it was best to go back inside until another day and went on to tell all his friends.


Saturday, 11 May 2013

A Batty Tigh Mor

Thanks to those that joined us on our first 'Bats, Owls and Spooky Tales' at the picturesque Tigh Mor last night.  That sneaky bat came out eventually!  'The' soprano pipestrelle seemed to like flapping around a big spruce tree, but it was obviously too cold for his friends to come and join him just yet.

Looking forward to discovering more little nature gems in such a lovely area.....

Monday, 6 May 2013

'May' the rain stop?

Thank you to all those that braved the rain and joined us on the ranger activities this May bank holiday at Cobleland Campsite :-)  Unfortunately it was still a bit cold and wet to find lots of bats, just a couple in the distance. Thank you to Donald, our reluctant but successful bat volunteer who gobbled up 12 of the 13 moths. Congratulations Emily for taking such excellent evasive action!

Matthew and Ellie are now able to survive out in the woods after completing a bushcraft and woodland survival skills activity on Sunday.  Wood sorrel was a favourite as ever - we forgot to say that if you get athletes foot you can rub on the leaves as a natural remedy! Here's a link to my personal blog for a picture reminder.

Well done to all the excellent mini raft builders, most imaginative, but so sorry that Matthew and Emily's rafts, 'Griffin' and 'Jade' decided to go all the way to Edinburgh - clearly excellent builds and the rafts didn't want their sailing to end!
Ellie was our first winner of the season pictured here with her raft 'Daisy Jack'. Rafts 'Danyy' (inspired by a plane), 'Ryan's Raft' and 'Sophie' were all successful sailings and Tommy's 'The Boat' floated successfully - but Tommy didn't want to risk losing his boat to the wind :-)

Ellie's Winning Raft 'Daisy Jack'

Will at the finish line

Abigail's 'Sophie'

Daniel's 'Danyy' and 'Ryan's Boat'

Tommy's 'The Boat'