Date posted: 18/07/2017 | Posted by: Jeannie Richardson
The gravel crunched as we walked along the lane towards Folly Farm. We were welcomed by a view of golden and luscious green fields, as far as the eye could see. As we turn our heads, the softest, freshest breeze ran across our faces, something that we all agreed we don’t see and feel every day in Bristol, the city where we live and work. To be greeted with 250 acres of natural beauty and an unspoiled 18th century farm, was a break from our usual surroundings.
We carried on walking towards the Wellbeing Garden, to meet our hosts for the day ‘Mhairi’ and ‘Jason’. As we approach the garden, Jason was making a fire to heat water on a stove for hot drinks and breakfast. No electricity, but the smell of burning wood and use of natural resources was obvious.
We gather in a circle and sit on handmade wooden benches with canopies soaking up the sun, watching butterflies flutter around us and sip a brew, “oh what a relaxing start” you might say? Indeed, a different start to the day, not the same old routine.
As we drink our morning cuppa’ Mhairi teaches us about the 5 steps to better wellbeing. These are to connect, be active, take notice, keep learning, and give back. To our surprise we realise that there are so many ways we can do these actions. Actions which can be done for free through nature and our day to day lives.
The first main activity of the day was to create Bug Hotels. There were two methods to try. These were activities which drew out people’s skills and team work. One method was drilling holes into logs. The use of a drill was an achievement for some. The Bug Hotels were a lovely example of giving back to nature and doing all the steps to better wellbeing.
The second activity was a long trek through the nature reserve and woods. The walk enabled us to learn and observe the natural habitats around us. We observed badger holes, and learned that the holes were called ‘Setts’, we searched for the perfect branch to carve and use to toast our marshmallows after the walk. We even had a surprise appearances from wild deer, prancing through the trees.
After the energising walk we headed back to the Wellbeing Garden to relax, and toast marshmallows. A moment together again to connect, reflect on what we saw on the walk and learn how to toast the perfect marshmallow. You have to get down on one knee and do the ‘marshmallow stance’.
It is thanks to the Avon Wildlife Trust that we were able to take part in the Wellbeing Through Nature project, funded by the Big Lottery Fund. The idea behind this project is to deliver structured courses for people experiencing mental ill health and long term health condition, as well as individuals with learning disabilities and those with autism. The Trust gives people access to quality natural environments and promotes five main ways to wellbeing.