Some of you may be aware of the #30dayswild challenge run by the UK Wildlife Trust throughout June. Some of you may have seen the gorgeous magazine-worthy blog and Instagram posts recording the “Random Acts of Wildness” that over 49,000 people, including me, have signed up to commit… here’s ours.
So, we’re home educating. We are so lucky to have the freedom to fully engage in activities like this that are inspirational and motivational and educational and also share these new experiences with others through Twitter hashtags…
No, let’s be honest, who the fuck are these people? With their toddlers who don’t stamp on bugs, and their expensive digital cameras that take perfect macro shots of rare moths on clean child fingers, and, and where can I get adopted by one of those families?
- Resident mother-in-law: one of the first things she ever said to me when I met her over 20 years ago was “nature is dirty and stays outside” as she passive-aggressively hoovered me into a corner…
- Husband: product of “nature is dirty” upbringing yet trying very hard to cope with / embrace that he married someone whose upbringing was accidental facsimile of “The Good Life”, generally just grateful to feel like I’m not annoyed with him…
- Daughter: screams at bugs, no longer a toddler but still stamps on bugs if accidentally gets that close to bugs, when I say screams at bugs I mean “rips a hole in the fabric of space/time and makes birds drop dead from the sky” screams not cute girly squeals, skeptical of nature although loves being dirty, evidence of the tragedy of getting 50% of her genes other than from me…
So I’ve not instagrammed or blogged about our #30dayswild yet, we are really shit at it.
I don’t know why I even signed up for it. Like I need to find more ways to feel depressed.
(NB: there’s a lot less artistic licence in the diary below than you might assume):
Day 1 – Thursday: went to the garden centre to buy some seeds (still in their packets as of today nearly 2 weeks later), bought some very unnatural shubunkins for our wildlife pond plus a couple of swan mussels to act as natural filters, chucked all in pond never to be seen again, went indoors to watch TV.
Day 2 – Friday: forgot all about it.
Day 3 – Saturday: woke up to find that daughter had been bitten so so so amazingly many times by a gang of mosquitos during the night, she looked like an exclusive fleshy souvenir dot-to-dot puzzle for Silence of The Lambs film fans. Decided not a day to celebrate nature much.
Day 4 – Sunday: removed a tick from the dog. Did lots of gagging and heaving as ticks are not my kind of nature and almost render me unconscious. Brought on flashback of our old vet who used to remove ticks and then unwrap a sterile hypodermic needle and spear them through their bulgy blood-filled bodies and then just silently stare at them for ages whilst I pretended to study the dog-eared poster of the inside of a dogs ear (OMG see what I did there) for what felt like forever. Wine o’clock.
Day 5 – Monday: forgot all about it.
Day 6 – Tuesday: daughter collected various herbs and weeds from the garden and made a range of scented water “potions” using a pestle and mortar including a suspicious concoction called “dog beer” which the dogs lapped up furiously and then followed her around for the rest of the day like crazed junkies.
Day 7 – Wednesday: almost forgot to feed the rabbits and do the evening litter tray refresh, ran out quickly in the dark, trod on a frog. Watched shadowy outline of frog slowly hop-limping off under the shed. Cried a little.
Day 8 – Thursday: tried to eat my dinner calmly whilst husband kept leaping up and attempting to murder a bluebottle with his beloved pound shop electrified fly swatter tennis bat thingy, marvelled at how loud the successful “thunk fizz” noise was, counted the impressive number of ricochets off walls and windows, and tried to eat the rest of my dinner calmly again wondering where the frazzled fly had landed and if daughter would discover it before the dogs ate it and how loud that scream would be.
Day 9 – Friday: forgot all about it.
Day 10 – Saturday: went for a dog walk on local (Kenley) disused airfield to do mindful nature appreciation, remembered camera, but instead got all conspiracy theory about some new MOD signs…
… which at best are a waste of money. It’s a big circle of grass dissected by some broken-surfaced old runways forming a cross. It is of important historical significance but probably not that high up on our national security agenda, unless the bloke with the kite was actually a spy and the birds are in cahoots plotting something.
Day 11 – Sunday: actually managed to get family consensus to go to Box Hill (Surrey) for lovely nature-y walk, remembered camera again too. En route, I was hit by sudden paralysingly painful unexpected attack of IBS; swearing and sweating profusely, I plugged the National Trust visitors’ centre post code into the sat nav. Sat nav took us to a dead end lane several hundred metres away from and below visitors’ centre at the top of the steep hill… trying to be my normal optimist self, I decided it would be fine.
So then followed a very slow precarious walk up the ridiculously steep hill, clenching teeth, clenching anus and clenching toes as I had planned gentle LEVEL walk around the hill’s summit not fricking mountaineering so I was wearing old Birkenstocks and my feet were slipping straight out of them. Sweating like a bastard, groaning and whimpering, frightening all the nice middle-class children with rare moths balanced on their clean fingers whilst their Mummies took arty high resolution photos of them for their blogs.
Used toilet. We’ll leave that there. Did planned gentle walk, felt somewhat restored and elated. Family’s lame attempts at nature spotting (“sheep!”, “BUG!”) briefly elevated by watching a buzzard across the valley hovering and diving. All felt nice.
But then there was the sheer plummet back to the car. SO steep that neither the Birkenstocks nor daughter’s “crainers” (Crocs with soles like trainers, mutant wonders) could stop us slipping repeatedly on our backsides, nor even bare feet.
Elation fading. Husband in emotional turmoil, smugly glad that he’d worn sensible walking boots but crapping himself that the two women in his life might turn on him at any moment and then daughter took particularly nasty tumble and winded herself a little and really bashed her tailbone.
What did I do?
It occurred to me that her “trying to hold it together and not cry as there’s people about” face looked quite beautiful and wistful and so I surreptitiously took a photo of her and Instagram-filtered it and plastered it all over my social media accounts with an inspirational quote about childhood. Yes, I really did:
Yes, I am that much of a fraudulent desperado wanker. You could not hate me any more than I hate myself. Actually, bite me. Sorry not sorry, we all know I’d do it again.
Day 12 – Monday: after yesterday? Fuck off.
Day 13 – Tuesday: Took a photo of two damselflies shagging on my disco ball that is languishing dusty on the floor in the corner of my kitchen
AS A METAPHOR FOR MY DULL GREY MUNDANE EMPTY SUBURBAN LIFE OMG… (apologies, did I say that out loud?), put Instagram filters on it, wrote attempt at cool snarky caption, hashtagged with pretty much everything except #30dayswild, and then spent too much time over the rest of the day refreshing my social media accounts to see if anyone liked it.
Day 13 – Wednesday: ‘Maple’ and ‘Spruce’ the runty pet tadpoles that were still as small as the day they hatched from their spawn – and seemed to have missed the memo to turn into frogs – were discovered dead, reason unknown, and flushed down the toilet whilst Mummy performed a teary-eyed gagging and heaving version of “I Did It My Way” (the classic funeral song) as although I loves nature, I struggle with dead things…
Future plans, today and onwards:
Some other filthy bluebottle laid a load of eggs on the cat food (possibly the equivalent of laying flowers for his deceased buddy) so I’ve scraped all of that into the food waste recycling bin. I’m nervously excitedly looking forward to the eye-wateringly pirate-level cussing in a few days time when mother-in-law discovers the lovely warm, fertile maggot farm that I’ve created.
Inevitably I will crumble under the constant whining and begging and go dipping in the pond for new “It’s alright Mama, we can just get two more out and call them Maple and Spruce too and that will be OK” stunt tadpoles and then daughter will realise that the purchase of shubunkins was rather mistimed from our perspective, not theirs, and the “all you can eat buffet” of tadpoles in the pond is now pretty much over.
Other than that… hell knows, watch this space.