Celebrating the simple joy of 30 Days Wild

Celebrating the simple joy of 30 Days Wild

Green pledges, duckling rescues, flower printing, wild baking – this is just the start of Kath Simpson’s wonderful 30 Days Wild family challenge. Find out what else the family got up to, and the impact that 30 Days Wild has had on them.

It’s no secret that those who take part in 30 Days Wild feel happier and healthier, and not just during the challenge. In a study conducted by The Wildlife Trusts and the University of Derby, the feel-good factor could still be felt two months after the challenge was over.

If you’ve ever taken part in 30 Days Wild, this will come as little surprise. Taking the time to connect with nature every single day, even if only for a few minutes, can have a powerful effect on our wellbeing and how connected we feel to the natural world around us.

One of our favourite parts of 30 Days Wild is seeing what you are all getting up to as part of the challenge, from reducing plastic waste to painting a watercolour of your favourite local wild place. This year, the wild adventures of Kath Simpson, her sons and partner caught our eye, so we caught up with Kath at the end of the challenge to find out how a month of nature connection has impacted her family.

A young woman and her three sons having a picnic on a grassy hillside overlooking an estuary

Kath’s 30 Days Wild checklist

1.    Enjoy Big Wild Breakfast overlooking the estuary.
2.    Pick and prepare daisies to make daisy balm.
3.    Make fairy bracelets and woodland wizard staffs.
4.    Go birdwatching at Foulshaw Moss.
5.    Watch the waterfall at Stock Ghyll Force.
6.    Make leaf bugs from leaves and petals from the garden.
7.    Make leaf and petal frames for family photos.
8.    Take a riverside walk and climb a tree.
9.    Read environmental books in the garden at bedtime.
10.    Make cress caterpillars.
11.    Make lemon balm, nettle and rosemary soap using ingredients from in and around the garden.
12.    Forage elderflower and dandelions for shortbread.
13.    Make beeswax wraps.
14.    Make leaf rubbings with leaves gathered on the way home from school.
15.    Go litter picking – and save a duckling!

Three small metal pots full of daisy balm and topped with a daisy flower-head

Kath’s 30 Days Wild checklist

16.    Make elderflower Turkish delight.
17.    Go bug hunting with bug spotting pots.
18.    Make daisy balm.
19.    Forage for ingredients for pineappleweed liqueur.
20.    Do a wildlife quiz with grandma and grandad.
21.    Look for wood eyes.
22.    Make your name out of sticks.
23.    Create nature mandalas.
24.    Make elderflower and lemon ice pops.
25.    Make leaf faces.
26.    Play with Go Find It cards in the park.
27.    Make froggy corner bookmarks.
28.    Make hand-made wildflower seed paper.
29.    Make wild rose fudge.
30.    Make flower prints.

“I first heard about 30 Days Wild when I was browsing Facebook,” says Kath. “I saw someone discussing it in a foraging page I’m on, then I saw an advert to send off for the pack and thought it sounded like a wonderful idea. I joined the 30 Days Wild Facebook group to see what it was like and instantly loved it.”

Two children in nightgowns reading an environmental book outdoors

This sense of community isn’t the only thing we’ve found draws people to 30 Days Wild. It’s also the chance to share the experience with loved ones – discovering the magic of nature together, when everything about the modern world tries to convince us otherwise. In England, 1 in 4 people now experience a mental health problem each year, our poorer communities are 10 times less likely to live in the greenest areas (and therefore have little access to vital green space), and 75 per cent of UK children now spend less time outside than prison inmates. This was why it was so heartening to see Kath completely immersing her three boys in 30 Days Wild.

“My partner and I are always keen to involve the children with connecting to nature. I thought that engaging in the challenge would be great for us as a family, and it was also lovely to involve some family and friends in the activities each day.

“I think the boys would agree that we feel much more connected to nature after 30 Days Wild. We were out in all weathers and at different times every day to complete our activities. The boys have learned to identify things that they couldn’t do previously, and I think we have all just got a little bit better at ‘noticing’ things when we are out and about.”

Every day, the children were excited to find out what we would be doing. I think they all loved doing the outdoor challenges and they really enjoyed learning new skills.

A disconnection from nature is one of the biggest threats to our planet. After all, how can you expect people to want to protect what they don’t love, or even know exists? Simple acts like identifying a beetle, buying a reusable water bottle or walking barefoot on the grass bring you that bit closer to nature, and it’s these easy activities that lie at the heart of 30 Days Wild, ready to spark a dormant love of wildlife. Kath used the fact that nature is in need as the basis of her family’s challenge:

“I tried to come up with things that constantly made them think about the environment and we have made changes in the home that will remain in place forever. We read books about things like plastic pollution and made a green pledge on the last night to litter pick in our local area at least once a month. During the course of the challenge, we managed to rescue a duckling and our rescued tadpoles started to grow legs, so the boys have definitely considered their role in helping wildlife more seriously.”

We always love seeing people get a little experimental during 30 Days Wild; getting in touch with nature in new and different ways. Kath caught our eye with her creative cooking with wild ingredients.

“I always enjoy cooking with the boys and particularly like getting them to try foraged ingredients,” Kath says. “Making elderflower Turkish delight (recipe at the end of this post) was one of our favourite 30 Days Wild activities, but I also really enjoyed making daisy balm with the boys. They were flabbergasted that we could make something like that from a few simple ingredients and my eldest son, Noah, was so pleased that it really worked on a nasty bruise on his leg.”

It’s little surprise that such an all-encompassing exploration of the natural world brought Kath, her partner and her sons closer together as a family. And they aren’t stopping at 30 Days Wild!

I think the biggest ‘takeaway’ from doing 30 Days Wild is that it absolutely shouldn’t end after 30 days.
A child holding up a piece of paper that says 'My green pledge...'

“Monty, my middle son, wanted to do a challenge every day throughout the summer so I am going to try and do as much as we can. We have made eco-friendly swaps and are reducing our plastic; the boys will continue to forage with me and bake. I have an idea to create a kind of ongoing daily collage over the summer which will hopefully combine nature and art.

“I think the biggest ‘takeaway’ from doing 30 Days Wild is that it absolutely shouldn’t end after 30 days. On the last evening, we sat around the firepit outside, toasting marshmallows and writing down some of our favourite memories from the month. We put them, with our green pledges, and some of the artwork we have created into a 2021 memory jar so that we can look back on them next year.”

And as for 30 Days Wild 2022?

“We’ll definitely be taking part again,” says Kath. “The boys wouldn’t have it any other way!”

Cubes of elderflower Turkish delight on brown paper decorated with elderflowers

Kath’s elderflower Turkish delight: Ingredients

- 20g leaf gelatin (or vegetarian alternative).
- 25 elderflower heads (always try to pick in the sunshine and give a little shake to encourage anything in them to wander off. If you wash thoroughly, you will lose some of the wonderful flavour).
- 700g granulated sugar
- 400ml water
- 130g cornflour
- 30g icing sugar
- Juice of 2 lemons

Kath’s elderflower Turkish delight: Method

  1. Start by soaking the gelatin in a little bit of water to soften it, or preparing your vegetarian alternative.
  2. Remove the flowers by using a fork to gently strip them away from the stem (remove as much stalk and stem as possible as this is poisonous – so be thorough!).
  3. Wrap the flowers in a muslin cloth and tie this with a string long enough to dangle over the side of a pan.
  4. Put the sugar, lemon juice and 300ml of water into a large pan. Heat until the sugar has dissolved and then leave to cool.
  5. Mix 100g of the cornflour with the rest of the water and stir in the cooled sugar syrup mixture. After this, put it back onto the heat, squeeze out the gelatine and stir it gently into the mixture until dissolved.
  6. Bring the pan to a slow boil and then simmer for 10 minutes, stirring continuously.
  7. Next, add the muslin bag containing the elderflowers and stir it into the mix for another 15 – 20 minutes on a low heat. Carefully use a spoon to squeeze the bag from time to time – take a moment to breathe in the wonderful elderflower smell.
  8. At this point, the mixture will be quite thick and gluey. Leave it to cool for around 10 minutes and then carefully squeeze as much flavour out of the muslin bag as possible. Then, remove the bag.
  9. Line a baking tray suitable for traybakes with baking parchment. Dust this with half of a mix of the remaining cornflour and the icing sugar.
  10. Give the elderflower mixture a good mix and then pour into the lined tray. Leave it to set and then leave it in the fridge for two – three hours.
  11. Once you have cut it into cubes, dust it with the remaining half of the icing sugar and cornflour mixture.