Monday, 8 May 2017

30 Touches of Nature

The month of June is fast approaching and it's a great time to get outdoors and enjoy nature - it's good for your health and wellbeing.  Why not take up the 30DaysWild challenge?  Here Norfolk Widlife Trust's Head of People and Wildlife, David North explains how going wild in June can make you feel good.

'One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.'  (William Shakespeare)

 There is much talk today of the benefits of ‘mindfulness’ as a way of coping with the seemingly ever-increasing stresses and strains of modern life. But ‘wildfulness’, simply spending time in nature, can also bring great rewards.

Bar-tailed godwits by David North
I was lucky enough over the recent Bank Holiday weekend to spend time walking on the Norfolk coast beneath the wild, eroding cliffs of Mundesley. It was a windy day, windy enough to blow your troubles away, and as the waves crashed against seaweed-encrusted, wooden groins masses of bubbly sea foam was flying into the air then bouncing along the beach in foaming masses. In my book, time spent walking along our wonderful Norfolk coast, with its diverse wild landscapes of sand, sea, shingle, mud and marsh, is never wasted.  A walk along the shore is a great place to gain a sense of perspective, to see things both literally and metaphorically in a new light.  And as with any walk in wild places there are always surprises: on this walk winging their way through the flying foam came a small flock of bar-tailed godwits.  They rested briefly on the beach, just long enough to see some were in full ‘red’ breeding plumage and others, perhaps non-breeders or younger birds, still winter grey. With them flew one, extremely smart, black and white spangled, grey plover. What a delight. Today Mundesley beach, next stop, perhaps the Arctic circle! 

Spending quiet time in nature, sitting or walking, listening and looking, without rushing or getting distracted by thoughts of jobs I need to do, not only helps me see details in the landscape and natural world that I would otherwise miss, it also helps me make sense of my life.  How often do we simply give ourselves time to ‘tune-in’ to the sounds, smells and textures of nature around us? But at least for me this time is vital: vital to health, happiness and sanity.

Perhaps you need an excuse to simply spend a few moments outside allowing yourself to connect to nature around you?  Well the good news is the Wildlife Trusts are offering the perfect excuse.  It’s free, like the wild world around us, and it’s called 30 Days Wild.

The aim is to get as many people as possible to do one small thing – one Random Act of Wildness – which could be as simple as going outside on a clear night and spending a couple of minutes star gazing, find a wild space in a lunchtime and sitting quietly for five minutes tuning in to the living things around us that we share this world with, or getting up early and listening to bird song, really listening so that all your attention is attuned to what you are hearing. It’s happening in June but if you visit the website now, we will send you a pack (by email or post) full of ideas for Random Acts of Wildness to try out in June.  These small actions – walking for a minute barefoot though grass on a dewy morning, taking time to touch the rough bark of a tree, following a bee or butterfly for a minute and observing its life – may sound trivial, but give it 30 days and I suspect you will be surprised at the power that spending time connecting to nature has to change the way you feel.  It should of course come with a health and happiness warning. After 30 days you may well have formed a lifetime habit!

Explore the boundaries between land, sea, sky, earth and nature. In doing so you may begin to discover your own connection to the timeless cycles of nature which in reality, without or without our conscious awareness, we are all participants in.  Is that wildness inside us or outside? Are we part of nature or separate from it?

If ‘one touch of nature makes the whole world kin’ just think what 30 touches can do for you!   To join in visit  You are never too old or too young to enjoy the nature around you and if you are a family and would like to interest your children in wildlife then taking part in 30DaysWild is a great way to start. 

Do you want some help in reconnecting with nature?
The Wildlife Trusts have a saying, ‘All our lives are better when they are a little bit wild’ and have developed hundreds of ‘Random Acts of Wildness’ which are easy and free to do and can help you engage with nature wherever you are. For details visit 30 Days Wild.

The Wildlife Trusts believe that people are part of nature; everything we value ultimately comes from it and everything we do has an impact on it. We believe that each year, there should be more wildlife and more wild places, and people should become closer to nature.