Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Forest Tots are in search of a volunteer.....
This Summer, with numbers on the increase again, Forest Tots are looking for a keen, 'weather proof' volunteer to help out with the general running of the sessions.

Hen and Rachel are finding it increasingly difficult to juggle caring for their own increasingly adventurous toddlers AND keep up with the duties of running the group. In order to keep th...eir kids safe they need to have more time to watch them! In adition to this hen is going to be taking 'maternity leave' in June/July, which will leave poor Rachel very very busy!

 So we are looking for a volunteer (or 2) to help set up and pack away, to welcome new families into the garden, to make the tea and coffee at snack time and play with the Tots in the stream.

We are looking for an 'all weather' kind of person, because we meet whatever the weather and are entirely outdoors. We are looking for somebody who loves being with little kids (under 5 years old) and who is confident enough to meet and greet new families coming to the group for the first time. We would want them to start ASAP, but they will NEED to be in place by the start of June.

 Forest Tots runs from 12:30 till 2:30 every Friday, and we meet in Parkend in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. The volunteer will need to get themself to Parkend by 12pm in order to help set up the session and we are normally finished and offsite by 2.45pm.

Please share this post everywhere you can think of to help us find this special person! Application by E-mail to please.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Start of the Summer term.

The start of the Summer term (or the coming of the Spring weather, which ever comes first) always comes as a bit of a shock to the regular Forest Tots crew. For months on end it is just us and the stream and the mud. Quiet. Still. Safe even, in that familiar, same as always, sort of way.
And then the start of the Great British Summer arrives.....

....And suddenly the group changes dynamic. New families and old faces not seen for many (cold wet) months emerge into the woods. It's good, it's what we are here for. We started the group to get people out, and they come in their hordes (so long as the weather is OK!). But it is also manic, faster, busier than those quiet still months of winter.

But that slightly crazier than normal feeling is more that offset by the joy of seeing new children discover and explore the woods. I was heartened and encouraged today to see so many very tiny toddlers fall into the stream....and cope - they just got themselves back up and carried on! The new faces at the mud kitchen making magic medicines and mud pies. New toddlers exploring the peeping holes in the roundhouse. Yes, despite that slightly dizzying feeling of the summer invasion....this is what we are here for!

During the build of the roundhouse we had to remove some overhanging branches. This one we saved as it makes the most perfect natural water pipe! 

This 4 year old walked down to the stream to collect water to clean her feet. Then once they were clean walked down their barefoot to collect that she could start all over again!

Taking it in turns to balance around the roundhouse

My biggest hope is that at least some of the new faces become regular-all-year-even-in-the-cold-and-wet kind of friends!

But first of to the start of the Summer!

Saturday, 6 April 2013

A post full of smiles.

Oh me oh My! I think the smiles on the faces of the small folk say everything I might want to say, yet so much more eloquently than I could ever manage. So today the photos can do the talking!

And here come the kids.....



Thursday, 4 April 2013

Our Roundhouse.

Oooh you lot are so impatient ;) But due to popular demand I have made the time to show you how the roundhouse is being build now, and save the finished photos for, well, when it's finished! The course has been spread over 10 days. These first photos were taken on day 2, when the roundhouse had already been paced and marked out on the ground and the frames were well underway.
Laying out the foundation ring.

Building the frames.

One of the Henge frames being built.

By the end of day 5 the frame was up and it was time to get the roof poles laid out, shaped and erected. Suddenly, by the end of the day we could clearly 'see' the roundhouse for the first time.

Planning the roof structure

Team Briefing.

UP! It took a long time to get the roof timbers 'right'

Early morning, day eight. The roof structure is finished and the walls are starting to rise. Lots of time is now being spend mixing mud!

Day 9, and the time is beginning to look a bit tight! By the end of the day the roof is 'nearly' finished, and the walls are about half done! The opening ceremony is delayed by half a day to give the team a bit more leeway!

One of the washing machine door 'peep holes'.

Wall art made with coloured glass bottles. 

 The roof spiral from the inside.

 Is it a mushroom or a gnome house?

I love the way that, from the top of the site, the building just grows out of the woodland floor.
And the details....
The roundhouse build is being directed by Tony Wrench. He charges for his time, and he is running the build as a course with paying participants - we eventually recruited seventeen willing builders. The fees they have paid to come on the course has paid for Tony's time, with some money left over for materials.
Much of the wood and stone has come from around the Forest Tots site. We have found many of the other materials from Free-cycle and recycling from the local tip. The windows were donated by an ex Forest Tots family. Our hosts at the outdoor education centre have ended up buying the roof poles, the nails/screws/fixing straps, waterproof membrane for the roof and the clay and straw needed for the Cobb. So all told.....probably under £500, which was covered by the remaining money from the participants course fees.
Which is awesome....this build has been completely paid for by the participants, whom were charged £140 for the 10 days course. I think everybody feels like they have got a good deal!
It is an incredibly beautiful building. I know it sounds corny....but it really has grown out of the ground, emerging beautifully and organically. It is rooted into the earth. I love it!