Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds (22-29 October 2017)

 

This Week's Thrifty Finds via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

 

richard scarry, pumpkin

Happy Halloween!

Well we had a great half term holiday and I really enjoyed being off work and spending time with the children. We had a very low key – and inexpensive – week:

  1. Every month I put aside some funds for ‘Days Out’. I used some of this to buy tickets for Westonbirt Arboretum, the national arboretum which is located about 40 mins from home. Autumn is the best time to visit this huge collection of 15,000 trees. The Japanese Maples, in particular, are stunning. Needless to say, though, this is also the busiest – and priciest – time of year to visit. We arrived early on Tuesday morning and really enjoyed walking the paths, playing in the trees and walking across the amazing Treetop Walkway. But just as we sat down for our picnic, the heavens opened! In the end, we retreated to our car and ended up going home earlier than planned 😦

 

 

2. While we didn’t get to do any den building at Westonbirt, the following day we took a walk around our own (free) Millennium Wood in the village. Here the girls spent ages making their own dens, while I enjoyed strolling around the small woodland.

 

3. I also used the half term holidays as a good excuse to sort through the children’s clothes. I had a few bags of winter clothing stored in the loft. We sifted through these bags and also went through their drawers and wardrobe to see what needed to be donated, or put away until next summer. In the end I had a huge bag of clothing which I gave away on Facebook.

4. Being the run up to Halloween, we also sorted through our big bag of Halloween costumes and decorations. Many of the costumes were given to use by friends and some of the decorations are years old, including our favourite spider webs made from materials bought at the local scrapstore.

5. We also carved our pumpkin – but I was determined to ‘save’ as much of this as I could. So I toasted the pumpkin seeds and made spicy soup.

Have you been pumpkin carving? Do you have any plans to make use of the leftovers?

 

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Autumn walks and ‘Forest Bathing’

On Sunday we went for a family walk. It was a very foggy day (living on a hill 545 feet/166 metres above sea level this isn’t unusual). 1st November was also All Saints’ Day in the Christian Calendar, Samhain in the Pagan year and the Mexican Day of the Dead. In short, it was the day when many cultures believe the boundary between the living and the dead is at its thinnest, and the spirits can pass over into our world.

There was certainly an eery feeling as we crossed the village churchyard, shrouded in fog:

All Saints' Day walk

We made our way past the field where the village bonfire is being built, ready to be lit on Thursday. At the top of the pile you can just make out the ghostly model spitfire:

All Saints' Day walk: village bonfire being built

Our Millennium wood was – unsuprisingly – created in 2000. When we moved to our village in 2002 I remember it just being a collection of saplings. Now, 13 years later it has come into its own as a small woodland, perfect for exploring, playing in and building dens.

Millennium Wood: walk on All Saints' Day

After the walk I felt really invigorated. I also enjoyed playing with the girls, photographing the woodland and just spending time being still and listening. Later that day I happened, by chance, to come across the Japanese concept of Shinrin-Yoku, or ‘Forest Bathing’.

This is the theory that by spending time amid the trees your body and mind benefits. Studies have shown that being in the natural environment can:

  • reduce stress levels
  • reduce blood pressure
  • boost your immune system
  • increase energy levels
  • aid your body in recovering from illness or surgery
  • improve your mood

It is now common practice in Japan for people to spend time in the woods, participating in Shinrin-Yoku. Being under forest canopy, spending time just listening, breathing and noticing (rather than strenuous exercise) for about 4 hours is the recommended practice.

A few weeks ago we travelled to Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire, home to 15,000 specimens of trees, plants and bushes. We like to visit at least once a year but the Autumn is the most spectacular time to visit. Having learned about Shinrin-Yoku made me think about our walk there and how much better we all felt as a family after the visit.

While our village woodland is on a small scale, compared to arboretums like Westonbirt, I would like to explore Shinrin-Yoku further on a local scale. As I recently wrote here I do not have regular access to a car, but being in the countryside there are trees all around. I think I will try ‘Forest Bathing’ at home.