The Forge

As the lockdown continues, we thought you might perhaps be in need of some inspiration for things to do while staying safe at home. Here are our Top Ten Tips so you can recreate some of the glamping fun wherever you are!

Light a campfire

We were planning to welcome all our glampers with a masterclass in fire lighting. Not only does this mean that you can get your own campfire sparked up and ready for those sausages and marshmallows, it can also entertain the kids for hours. To do this at home, make sure you outside and have the wherewithal to put out the fire quickly if you need to. Clear a space of bare earth about half a metre by half a metre away from any trees or bushes. Collect up some sticks in three sizes – matchstick, pencil and thumb width. Make a small platform of wood where you want to light your fire. Grab some cotton wool and Vaseline and put a big dollop on the cotton wool, leaving some of the wool dry. Pop the cotton wool onto the platform then use a fire steel if you have one or if not the spark from a lighter to ignite the cotton wool. Once the cotton wool is lit, place your matchstick sized sticks in a V shape over the cotton wool and then the pencil and thumb sized ones also in V on top. Now, tempting as it might be, don’t fiddle too much with the fire. Let it get going and then add a few sticks to the top. PRO TIP: Keep it small! You don’t need a massive fire to toast a marshmallow over so let the flames die out after a short while and then start the process all over again!

Make bread on a stick

Once you have mastered the fire lighting you can then progress to cooking some bread on a stick. Super simple and deliciously tasty, all you need is some self-raising flour (if you can still find some) and some milk powder. Mix two handfuls of S/R flour to one handful of milk powder with enough water to make a dough and knead if for a few minutes. If you can’t find milk powder you can just use S/R flour and milk for your dough. Then roll the dough into a sausage and wind it around the end of a stick. You could use bamboo cane for this, or a wooden broom handle if you give it a good clean first. Then squish the dough onto the stick so it sticks (ha!) and make sure it is not too thick so that it cooks evenly all the way through. Then cook over the campfire turning constantly – this takes about 20 mins. You will know when this is ready by tapping the outside of the bread and it should sound hollow. You can then carefully slide the bread off the stick, leaving a nice hollow space, the perfect size for a sausage or some leftover Easter eggs! Once you have got the hang of it, you can flavour the bread with herbs, cheese, chocolate or anything else you like really. Enjoy! PRO TIP: If you don’t want to make your own campfire you can also cook your bread over a gas hob, or even roll it into a sausage and cook in a regular frying plan.

Learn about the plants

Even in the smallest garden or park areas there will be hundreds of different plant species which you have probably walked over thousands of times without ever noticing. On a nice sunny day, take off your shoes and socks, get down on your hands and knees and start exploring the different shapes and colours of the plants beneath your feet. Grab a basket or a pot and pick a few and then see if you can use a book or the internet to identify what you have. Then try sticking the plants to paper and drawing the shapes – you could even press some between pieces of cardboard and two heavy objects so they last forever!

Tune into the tweets

Not the ones on your smartphone – but the ones in the trees. One of the silver linings of the lockdown is that with less traffic and noise from aeroplanes you can better hear the birds. And what a magnificent chorus they make too! Sit or lie down in your garden or by an open window and focus on the sounds you can hear. Focus in on one particular bird’s tweet and really listen to the rhythm, tone and modulation, blanking out any other noise. Once you can remember that one slowly start to tune in the other birds’ songs. You can then find out which birds were making which songs by referencing an app such as Warblr or download BBC Radio 4’s Tweet of the Day.

Find stories in the clouds

Another great calming activity to encourage mindfulness and meditation. Lie on your back outside or near a window and watch the clouds as they drift over. Look at the different shapes and see what they remind you of. Can you see dragons, dolphins or dinosaurs? Perhaps you could weave all your cloud characters together to make a story….

Construct a miniature shelter

You don’t need access to a large woodland or massive branches to practice your shelter building skills. You can build miniature leaf mould or lean-to shelters can be made on a miniature scale, perfect for housing insects or Lego characters! All you need to find are some Y shaped sticks as the upright, a straight pole for the ‘spine’, then lean up straight pieces as the ‘ribs’. Then you can cover it with moss or leaves or bits of grass and turf for the full effect – only in miniature!

Make a den

If you are lucky enough to own a tent, why not put it up in the garden and spend the day, or even overnight outside. If you don’t have a tent or a garden you can still create magical spaces using tables, chairs and a creative use of blankets and sheets. Throw in some cushions, torches and fairy lights if you have them, plus a healthy supply of camping snacks and voila! You have your own mini-glamping experience.

Snuggle up for some star gazing

The weather forecast is looking good this week, so why not grab a blanket, a flask of hot chocolate and head into the garden or open your windows after it has gone dark and look up. The skies may not be as dark as at The Forge, but as the moon is waning at the moment you should still be able to spot lots of constellations. There are many apps which can help you find the different patterns – we love StarWalk. Give your eyes about 20 minutes to get fully adjusted and you should be able to see lots - even if you live in a built up area.

Plant some seeds

Even without our lovely guests staying with us here at The Forge, Easter is still a very busy time for us as we prepare our veg garden for the season ahead. We’ve been digging and sowing seeds furiously this week, with each one sending up a silent prayer that our guests will be back to enjoy the fruits of our labours in our welcome hampers before the season is out. There is something so magical and hopeful about a planting a seed – it means you have something to look forward to in the future, plus something delicious and healthy to eat straight from your garden. Which is why planting anything at the moment can be a great way to stay positive. You don’t even need to have a garden – just a windowsill, a couple of plant pots and some soil. You can still find seeds in the supermarket, but you could also see if anyone in your neighbourhood is willing to do a no-contact seed swap. Nurturing your growing seedlings also helps you to focus on the healing power of nature - which just keeps on doing its thing, regardless of any human chaos going on!

Go wheelbarrow racing

And finally, if you really want to feel like you are back at The Forge, grab your old wheelbarrow and declare a competition, racing it around the garden, like our guests love to do up and down the field to our bell tents. I think we can honestly say that there have been more people in our wheelbarrows than luggage – and we love nothing better than hearing the squeals of delight as kids (and grown-ups) are hurtled around the place on a warm sunny afternoon!

We hope this has given you some ideas for things to do during the holidays and perhaps help you recreate some of the good old Forge magic until it is safe for you to come back and see us again. We’d love to hear how you get on and do please share any other great outdoor isolation activities you are enjoying at the moment. We’d love to hear from you!

Posted: 13.04.20

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