The mornings are (temporarily) lighter; the evenings are darker; there's a bumper harvest of pumpkins; tomorrow is Hallowe'en and, more importantly for Celts like me, Saturday is the start of the wintery season (or Calan Gaeaf). It's the time when, traditionally, everything moves inside after months of making the most of life lived out of doors. It's packed with fun and frolics but is also a period of quiet and reflection. After all,it's good to recharge the batteries at this time of year before the excitement of the preparations for Christmas really takes hold.
Why not take a break from the commercialised chocfest to ponder on what you've achieved on your plot so far and make some plans for the future as well as indulge in some home grown merry making?
Here are our top tips for things to pack into the remainder of Half Term whether you're a parent, teacher, school helper or young flower patcher.
- Decorate the house with flickering candles, pumpkin lanterns, wreaths of leaves, and garlands of chinese gooseberries.
- Light a fire or a bonfire on your patch and gather round it for some special time with friends and neighbours.
- Make the most of all those leaves by creating some leaf art.
- Cook something delicious. Homemade soup served in a hollowed out pumpkin is good, baked potatoes cooked on the bonfire, toffee apples, marshmallows, apple cake. You get the idea? It’s warming, wholesome, seasonal and easy.
- Play games together. Apple bobbing, conkers, eating marshmallows from bits of string with your hands tied behind your back. Read or tell stories by firelight.
- Make a Christmas cake, chutney or piccalilli. Maybe even try your hand at sloe gin (prepared by anyone, strictly for adult consumption!)
- Get round to planting those daffodil or allium bulbs but if tulips are more your thing, put your feet up and wait until November is well and truly established to get those in the ground.
- Try to find a time to be reflective - which is just as important for children as adults. It’s highly revealing to hear what your children really think, when given space and a special opportunity to express themselves. One of our regular Half Term haunts is beautiful Stourhead. Sometimes they set up a ‘reflection tree’ in a little gothic cottage there near the lake. It is made from hazel prunings, small brown envelopes and bits of garden twine. Visitors can write messages to hang on the tree and leave them there for others to see. What a great idea, and so easily adapted for use at home or school.
All of these activities are easily adapted for school holiday clubs as well as home consumption or flower patch time at the start of the next half of term. We hope you get to enjoy at least some of them with your young growers.
With thanks to Sara Jones from Eco Kids for letting us use some of her photographs.