Full circle.

Although we've been incorporated for over a year it took a while to set  things up . This time last year was our first events namely ELF ADVENT ADVENTURES. Yours truly gets dressed up and facilitates children and families exploring a wood looking for lost presents and candy canes  before settling in by a fire for lunch.

A year on and here we are again so what's changed? Well! Quite a lots happened since last time as explained by my Christmas wreath.

Firstly you take a flexible stem or branch - in this case a weedy sycamore sapling that's invaded a local wood. Coiled into a loop and wrapped around itself it represents the years past and future circling on and on.

Ivy is coiled round and around to hide the stem, bind it together and provide loops to stick in other decorations. We have an abundance of ivy in Birchwood - combining maintenance and forest school activities is what Fairy Forest School is all about. I like to think of these strands as being all the work over the last year building relationships, writing polices, training and so on which has enabled me to make Fairy Forest School a reality.

Centre piece is the star using lashing and clove hitching learnt over a year ago on a forest school course and the 5 points representing the forest school ethos (What is forest school?).

Prickly holly (gloves needed!) is added by threading into the ivy. I  took some growing by a path that was starting to encroach, as was the laurel. The holly with berries grow in my dad's garden who's been helping me pack up forest school sessions over the past year.

Pine cones have been collected from here and there on my journeys. The big ones from the Centre at Birchwood where I've been meeting very colleagues and business partners and friends. The shiny one was made (but left behind) by one of our regulars at Friday Forest School at Appleton. 

The yew is symbolic for me of many things. Typically its planted in graveyards and synonymous with the dead or otherworlds. Its the longest lived tree, is poisonous and endures.  Over the year I've fought to get unlawfully witheld wages from another outdoor company I worked for before going solo which (despite lots of attempts at conciliation) led to a scary day in court. I stuck to my guns and the judge awarded me wages, court costs and solicitor's fees - the other side were awarded nothing. Its been a stress I didn't need but the experience has been very interesting and I'm now in a position to advise both forest school practitioners and their employers if they find themselves in a similar position. Expect a bulletin once the dust has settled. In a sense the yew represents the death of all this conflict and stress. Its memory endures like an aged yew standing guard and will help to shape the future for others in a positive way.

Finally the flowers were added by my partner Suzie. My son Alex came up with the idea of putting the star in the middle and my other boy Robin helped to trim and collect all the bits. Its a family effort which is fitting because so much of the past year (bear  hunts, birthday parties, fairy tale walks, etc.) have been about having family time and bringing people together to enjoy the outdoors.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year - Rawdon