Yesterday, day 26, we were going to join in Surrey Wildlife Trust’s Big Wildlife Count, but sadly it was cancelled, as the site was flooded after the heavy rains of the last week. So, after a busy day at Kew and a late night badger watch, it was a day for relaxing at home. And National Unplugging Day was the perfect excuse to turn off the phone, keep the TV off and hide the laptop. We were cutting off the bad news, the upset of the last few days and unwinding.
We spent most of the day in the garden, coffee in the morning, finishing reading Chris Packham’s beautiful ‘Fingers in the Sparkle Jar’, watching the bees, checking out the ladybird larvae that had all decided to simultaneously transform into ladybirds on the honeysuckle.
With the Big Wildlife Count cancelled and in homage to the end of National Insect Week, we looked out for insects in the garden, and there was quite a range of flies around, even the bluebottles are beautiful when you look at them close up. There were also plenty of hoverflies, a little spring bug and a spider hiding on the leaves of the hollyhocks. I need to get online to try to identify the others, but it was a welcome change to stop and stare without straight away reaching for my phone in the hope of discovering the ID.
I also identified wildflowers growing in the garden, from the wildflower books, creeping buttercup, which the hoverflies seem to favour; nettles, growing around the compost bin in the sunshine for butterflies to lay their eggs on; garlic mustard,;dock leaves; alkanet, whose delicate blue flowers are buzzing with bees from morning until night; field bindweed, climbing up the stems of the allium, to the seed head; great bindweed in the border; sorrel, red seeds waving among the border plants; goose grass or cleavers; creeping woodsorrel on the edge of the path and in a pot containing irises that flowered earlier in the year; hairy bittercress among the flowers; liverwort in the edge of the flowerbed next to the patio; moss at the edge of the lawn under the hydrangeas, and in the hanging baskets under the edge of plants.
One pot in a shady spot is given entirely over to moss, now shooting up its own moss flowers, and looking very pretty. I read in some of the bee information at Kew that a pot of moss in the garden will provide a drinking spot for thirsty bees, so our weed friendly garden has inadvertently provided an additional bee friendly feature too. We also have a large patch of pendulous sedge, self seeded, which we think is attractive, with its drooping seed heads, but I notice the RHS class as a garden thug! The pond is entirely encircled by plants at the moment, so I was not able to explore anything living in there.
We barbecued in the garden, eating on the lawn, watching bees at our eye height buzz from flower to flower. While the barbecue heated up I made firelighters for our upcoming camping holiday with an egg box, shredded wood that had come as packaging in a parcel and the beeswax dripped from the candles during our solstice celebrations, remelted and dripped over the wood. Food eaten, we tried one out on the barbecue grill, it burst into flame and burnt for over two minutes before burnt out, so should work as a great firelighter.
Late in the afternoon, the building clouds finally burst, so we moved inside, the wool came out and as my husband sat reading I needle felted a robin, a reminder of one of our regular garden visitors, who had been hopping around that morning, picking up seed split by the starlings from under the feeder.
It was a welcome change to not be tuned in to what was going on in the wider world, to stay cocooned in our little bubble for the day, uninterrupted by facebook posts, tweets, emails, the noisy
TV, phone left upstairs, out of reach and out of mind. I think I’m going to make switched off Sundays a monthly event, not brave enough to make it weekly just yet!
To complete our relaxing day we tried one of the suggestions on the checklist from the #30dayswild poster. Destress in the wild, walk in a quiet place, try a facemask made from crushed mint and honey. We’ve walked in quiet places during this month, and now was a good time to finish the weekend with a relaxing facemask. We have mint growing in the garden and lemon balm filling gaps, seeded from a pot plant and growing wild in the garden. Sprigs of both were picked and crushed, then mixed with wildflower honey. I brewed cups of relaxing “love” tea containing chamomile and lavender, and we smeared the mask onto our faces. I thought the honey would be horribly sticky, but it felt cool against my skin. The pieces of mint and lemon balm were fresh, but my husband found them itchy on his face and soon wiped the mask off. Maybe they would be better blended with the honey to make a smooth mask rather than pieces mixed in. Honey acts as a moisturiser, as well as having antiseptic properties, and when I wiped the mask off my face, it did feel softer. It was also relaxing, sitting chatting and laughing at each other looking like we’d been splashed with something nasty, or had some sort of plague. A lovely end to an unplugged day.