Posts tagged “formby

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two days before christmas


the day with no squirrels

There was a surprisingly nice bout of warm weather about three weeks ago, and of course that meant I would try to take full advantage of it by being outside as much as possible. Monday saw us at Otterspool, at our usual meetup with our friends. Typically, I’m so worn out after that that all I want to do is veg for the next three days, but spurred on by the warm temperatures, I hauled Ares and Raspberry on a train up to Formby, to the squirrel reserve. We’d been there once before, with Carrie and Lucy, back in April. However, during that instance, the kids spent hours playing in the sand at the picnic area and we didn’t get much further than that. I made the deliberate decision to avoid the sandy bit, as I was determined to actually take a walk through the woods and see some squirrels this time around. [Spoiler alert: we didn’t see any squirrels, but we did chance upon two rabbits hiding in the bushes, as we were leaving.]

This was the first of many tree stumps she stood on.

And the first of many blackberries she picked.

We found a den (interestingly, not far from the sand pit I was trying to avoid)! It looked so cool and Raspberry tried to turn it into a yurt, with pots to cook with.

I enlisted a tired, grumpy and clingy Ares to pick up sticks (not for a game), just so I could rest my weary arms.

Oh hey, there happened to be food in Raspberry’s backpack, ready to be cut up and cooked. Ares wanted a turn too. They fought over it and I decided that it was time to move on (as awesome as this den was, I didn’t relish the thought of spending the next few hours there, sitting on a pokey ground blanketed with pine needles and pinecones, while the kids ran around. Next time, I’ll bring a book and we can do that).

Hello, dead tree.

Inspired by Olivia’s attempt to feed the pigeons in Olivia in Venice, Raspberry tried to hold out a handful of blackberries for the birds.
Much to her disappointment, they never came.

We followed an asparagus trail (not its proper name, but we so named it because of the pictures of asparagus next to the arrows), which led us away from the pine forest into the woods. We were under the impression that we might come upon a field of asparagus, but being directionally-challenged, I feared getting lost, so we turned back. [Upon further research, I now know there are actual asparagus fields; we’ll have to go the next time around.]. Also, I liked the pine forest better, as it had a more ethereal, magical quality to it than just a plain ol’ forest.

There were quite a few tree stumps in this area, and we made a game out of trying to climb on to every one. Ares enjoyed it but as one might expect, the seven-year-old lost interest soon enough. She discovered a path lined with brambles, promptly named it “Blackberry Alley” and went to town picking and munching away. This happened to be the day Ares started picking blackberries on his own.

Ares and Raspberry stuck pinecones in the hollow of a stump.

As much as I enjoyed the day and the quietude of the woods, I did get a little freaked out by how isolated it felt. Granted, it was a weekday and there were several other people walking their dogs or hiking with their kids, but there was still an overwhelming sense of solitude that scared me in the if-we-get-lost-no-one-will-find-us-and-we’ll-never-get-home sense. It’s completely unfounded, since for the most part, we stayed on the path, but I suppose I’m just not used to being in such a vast, peaceful space alone. I was quite relieved every time we saw other people, even more so when we finally left and headed back out into the sunshine. I think the next time we go, we’ll go with our friends, just to up the fun factor, and oh, so I won’t have that unwarranted feeling of isolation too.


the day with no squirrels

There was a surprisingly nice bout of warm weather about three weeks ago, and of course that meant I would try to take full advantage of it by being outside as much as possible. Monday saw us at Otterspool, at our usual meetup with our friends. Typically, I’m so worn out after that that all I want to do is veg for the next three days, but spurred on by the warm temperatures, I hauled Ares and Raspberry on a train up to Formby, to the squirrel reserve. We’d been there once before, with Carrie and Lucy, back in April. However, during that instance, the kids spent hours playing in the sand at the picnic area and we didn’t get much further than that. I made the deliberate decision to avoid the sandy bit, as I was determined to actually take a walk through the woods and see some squirrels this time around. [Spoiler alert: we didn’t see any squirrels, but we did chance upon two rabbits hiding in the bushes, as we were leaving.]

This was the first of many tree stumps she stood on.

And the first of many blackberries she picked.

We found a den (interestingly, not far from the sand pit I was trying to avoid)! It looked so cool and Raspberry tried to turn it into a yurt, with pots to cook with.

I enlisted a tired, grumpy and clingy Ares to pick up sticks (not for a game), just so I could rest my weary arms.

Oh hey, there happened to be food in Raspberry’s backpack, ready to be cut up and cooked. Ares wanted a turn too. They fought over it and I decided that it was time to move on (as awesome as this den was, I didn’t relish the thought of spending the next few hours there, sitting on a pokey ground blanketed with pine needles and pinecones, while the kids ran around. Next time, I’ll bring a book and we can do that).

Hello, dead tree.

Inspired by Olivia’s attempt to feed the pigeons in Olivia in Venice, Raspberry tried to hold out a handful of blackberries for the birds.
Much to her disappointment, they never came.

We followed an asparagus trail (not its proper name, but we so named it because of the pictures of asparagus next to the arrows), which led us away from the pine forest into the woods. We were under the impression that we might come upon a field of asparagus, but being directionally-challenged, I feared getting lost, so we turned back. [Upon further research, I now know there are actual asparagus fields; we’ll have to go the next time around.]. Also, I liked the pine forest better, as it had a more ethereal, magical quality to it than just a plain ol’ forest.

There were quite a few tree stumps in this area, and we made a game out of trying to climb on to every one. Ares enjoyed it but as one might expect, the seven-year-old lost interest soon enough. She discovered a path lined with brambles, promptly named it “Blackberry Alley” and went to town picking and munching away. This happened to be the day Ares started picking blackberries on his own.

Ares and Raspberry stuck pinecones in the hollow of a stump.

As much as I enjoyed the day and the quietude of the woods, I did get a little freaked out by how isolated it felt. Granted, it was a weekday and there were several other people walking their dogs or hiking with their kids, but there was still an overwhelming sense of solitude that scared me in the if-we-get-lost-no-one-will-find-us-and-we’ll-never-get-home sense. It’s completely unfounded, since for the most part, we stayed on the path, but I suppose I’m just not used to being in such a vast, peaceful space alone. I was quite relieved every time we saw other people, even more so when we finally left and headed back out into the sunshine. I think the next time we go, we’ll go with our friends, just to up the fun factor, and oh, so I won’t have that unwarranted feeling of isolation too.


the day without the squirrels

After hearing about the sand dunes and the red squirrels at Formby, I wanted to make it out to there last summer but for unknown reasons, didn’t. So two weeks ago, when Lucy suggested a trip out to Formby to see the squirrels, I jumped at the chance to go so together with her and Carrie and our collective brood of seven little humans, we hopped a train out to the squirrel reserve.

The funny thing is that at the reserve, I saw all of one squirrel. Granted, I didn’t look very hard (if at all) and most of our time was spent watching the kids dig in the sand and climbing trees in the picnic area, but having never been before, I truly expected squirrels to be running rampant, to be inhabiting every tree hollow, to be perched in every branch (okay, every other branch). But alas, they must all have been on vacation or scared off by the Easter break crowd. Urban squirrels are common back home. When we lived in Ottawa, the squirrels would scamper along the window sill outside, much to our cat’s frustration. Perhaps we currently live in too urbanized an area for there to be squirrels. Beyond the odd sighting in a park on the outskirts, I can quite safely say I’ve seen nary a squirrel in the almost two-and-a-half years I’ve been here. I do miss them a little.

It was more or less a decent day, hanging out with Carrie and Lucy in the sunshine and watching the kids run free. Because we were there with the intention of walking and seeing the squirrels, none of us were prepared for sand play. The kids borrowed buckets and shovels from some others who did have the foresight to bring beach equipment. Beginning with Evie, the girls wanted to be mermaids with sand tails. I was surprised Raspberry did too, as she typically doesn’t care for mermaids. Ares had a ball crawling around and digging in the sand and of course, eating it (well, it was on a stick that he decided to chew). When the sand got boring, he discovered a log to straddle. I felt bad taking him away from that as we were leaving.

Unlike Ares, Raspberry was on edge, and cried repeatedly from the moment we arrived, about various travesties like being startled by a door shutting in her face or a broken stick or accidentally poking herself in the leg or being unable to come down from a ledge two inches above the ground. By the end of our time in Formby, I’d had it and was infinitesimally close to losing my mind. I’m almost certain there was no less than ten instances when she cried or howled. It wasn’t until later that evening when I was unpacking my backpack and finding most of her uneaten pizza, that I realized that her episodes were probably due to hunger (we’d all eaten on the train ride there and I’d thought she’d eaten more than she actually did). Talking it over with Lucas later, we were acutely reminded of the mismatch between her age, her intelligence, and her emotional regulation. We established that the next time something like this happens again, I need to be firm and we’ll be leaving whatever place we’re at, in an effort to remove the triggers. Thus far, nothing on this scale has yet occurred (thankfully!) so we haven’t had to put this into practise yet. Fingers crossed that we won’t ever have to, but I think it’s a pipe dream.

Anyway, obviously we’ll have to go back to the reserve to properly seek some squirrels out. Note to self: it’ll be during term time and it’ll be with a well-rested, properly-fed child.