The Den children have been getting to grips with the rhythms and routines in our busy room, as well as to the wonderful outdoor space in the Paddock we share on Forest School.
Over these past few weeks, both new faces and those who have progressed from the Burrow, have been put through their paces exploring the tunnels, pathways, nooks, hideyholes, natural resources and trees, to connect them with a deep understanding of the immediate world around them. As we slowly emerge into Autumn, of particular interest has been the hedgerows burgeoning with produce. We've made the most of the blackberries growing in abundance but also the raspberries and apples from our Conservation Orchard. As the colder winds and drizzle begin to whip across the Nursery we've begun to explore fire as a matter of course, through discussion when we talk about our Forest School rules but also physically building and lighting them.
Now, we all like a brew. Whether coffee or tea, it's an English tradition that will be with us for generations to come. From your 'Assams' to your 'Rooibos', to your 'Lady Grey' and 'Chai' the variety is endless. To make the best use of the produce waiting to be plundered by little hands as well as the use of fires this week, we made some fruit tea. Simply washed hedgerow fruits, a smidgen of honey and boiling water straight from the Kelly Kettle. Simple, warming and delicious.
After exploring the Forest School rules, the children led the way to the fruit. We talked through the hazards of walking across and stretching through the brambles and stinging nettles in pursuit of tasty morsels waiting to be harvested. We also looked at whether the fruits were ripe or not. How could we tell? What did we have to look for? And the same course was taken with the Apple trees:
Trees were gently shaken or climbed to procure the sweet apples down to the ground. We ventured into the literal raspberry 'jungle' of tall laden raspberry stems that gently bent with fruits. During the fruit picking, we also got to see the other creatures that also wanted to have a nibble on juicy red gems on a quick bug safari.
Once fully loaded with fruit for the tea, it was back to the cabin to build and light the fire in our Kelly Kettle to boil our water. The children were a part of the whole process, fluffing tinder, snapping kindling to size, lighting the fire with a fire steel, and learning how to safely feed wooden sticks into the top of the kettle. After boiling, the hot water was poured over the chopped fruit with a little honey and then left to cool till it was just a little too hot still - it was important for us to show the children how to deal with a drink that's still a little hot to sample, blowing on it to cool the surface, stirring with a spoon or by spooning out some of the semi-cooked apple chunks and the soft raspberries. Delicious!
I have to say the results were marvellous. The tangy tea was hot, fruity and sweet, as well as a beautiful shade of dark crimson red. Even the children who weren't too keen on fruit in the first place had a try because they were involved in the process. Enjoyed most was the softened fruit which was chomped whilst the tea cooled. The tea warmed hands, tummies and hearts, fuelling some extra brilliant play afterwards. Lovely stuff and a very enjoyable week!
Thanks for reading as always, and feel free to share this blog with anyone who might be interested. Perhaps you would like to share your favourite hedgerow recipes in a comment below? We're always looking for new inspiration!
Enjoy the week ahead.
Red Fox 🐾