I'll admit to feeling a bit of a slump this September. It hit me really hard. The end of a fabulous summer and amazing holidays. I struggled with the back-to-school scenario, Ruby moving up another year, her last year in her current school. The sense of time rushing on and passing me by. The sudden change in the weather and the days shortening. However, Autumn has always been my favourite time of the year and now that October has kicked in, I can feel my spirits start to lift again with the promise of spectacular colours, afternoons spent kicking through crispy leaves, gathering shiny conkers, the smell of woodsmoke and bonfires, hearty casseroles and wooly mittens on the horizon.
I'm not alone, recent research by the Forestry Commission shows that 96% of people point to beautiful autumn colours improving their mood. In order to make the most of this stunning time of the year, they have developed a series of 'Colour Me Happy' autumn trails to delight the senses. Children and families can search for and hide acorns like squirrels, listen to the crunchy leaves underfoot and forage for juicy blackberries. The trail will give your wellbeing a boost before the winter months.
Rachel Giles, Learning Manager, explains:
“Autumn is such a special time of the year, and the forest creates a wealth of opportunities to explore with all our senses – from tasting juicy blackberries, to smelling the damp earth, and enjoying the amazing array of colours of the trees. We hope that this trail will really get people excited about being in the forest this autumn, and that they will also learn something about the trees and wildlife that they find during their visit.”
There is also the chance to be part of our wonderful woodland weave. Hang your piece of forest art within the canvas to help us create a vibrant community artwork and share the growing masterpiece with us on Facebook using #ColourMeHappy.
We headed to the forest this weekend to soak up some fresh air, and I popped a few craft materials in my bag. Collecting up autumn treasures such as acorns, pine cones, beautiful coloured leaves, delicate ferns and soft feathers, we set about making a dream catcher. All you need is a hoop - you can use a wooden embroidery hoop, or make one from wire - some string or yarn and some beads and collected treasure to decorate.
Dream-catchers originate in Native America and are hung above the bed to filter out bad dreams. Ruby's delighted with hers and plans to hang it in her bunk in the camper van.
Next, I set her the task of finding some tiny treasure. She hunted down teeny pine cones, delicate feathers, small pieces of fern and miniature coloured leaves to make fairy jars. I brought along a packed of little glass jars (I bought mine from The Works and cost £1 for a packet of 6) and some packets of glitter. We filled the jars with fairy treasure and a sprinkle of magic dust. She's made some for her friends as good luck charms, and we think they're just delightful.
If you want more ideas such as making your own blackberry art, leaf bookmark, mini woodland weave or autumn colouring sheets, download the free activity pack from the Forestry Commission.
Disclosure: We are Forestry Commission bloggers and receive an annual pass, we were also sent a pack of craft materials for this activity.