Monthly Archives: July 2013

Get the kids outside this summer holiday!

Children listless with the same old, same old? Fed up of trips to cinemas and soft-play and the local park? Whilst we bask in this glorious weather, why not think about packing up a picnic and heading out into the great outdoors for fun and adventure?

Yep, it's my kids again...

Yep, it’s my kids again…

Here are some excellent events happening around the area over the next few weeks:

1. Volunteering at Bothwell Community Garden

Come along on Wednesdays and Sundays at 2pm and show your children how they can play a vital part in keeping our garden looking lovely. They can help to water the plants or wash plant pots in the sunshine; and we have a number of books in the office to help them if they would like to go bug-hunting or flower spotting at the bee and butterfly borders, the woodland walks or the orchard. Spotting sheets are also available at the brilliant Nature Detectives site.

Bring a picnic, and enjoy basking in our sun-trap in front of the potting shed!

(Please ask children not to step on or pick any of the flowers or plants; and we ask that children are closely supervised by an adult if they wish to go down to the bog garden).

2. Nature Explorers at the David Livingstone Centre

Every Tuesday at 1.30pm. £2.00 per child, adults free. Meet at the shop. Please see my review for more information on this excellent activity.


3. Spinning A Yarn – Summer Storytelling And Picnic at The Children’s Garden

Based within the beautiful Glasgow Botanic Gardens, The Children’s Garden is a delightful, safe space for children to come and grow together. On Sunday July 28th, 12pm to 3pm. Free, though donations gratefully received

This time, storyteller Wendy Woolfson will join the children in the willow tunnel. Throw her your thoughts and she’ll weave them into stories. Bring a picnic or food to share. Come, relax, play and enjoy the sunshine and bounty of the garden.


4. Chatelherault Country Park

The park is hosting both a drop in art club on Tuesdays and a drop in activity club on Thursdays until early August. Details can be downloaded as a PDF document here.


5. Wild Woodland Adventures Children’s Festival

Saturday August 3rd, 10am to 5pm. Join the Scottish Wildlife Trust at the Falls of Clyde for a fun packed day. For costs and to book, please call 01555 665262 or contact


Other great places we have on our doorstep to explore include the stunning Bothwell Woods and Clydeside Walk to Bothwell Castle; Summerlee Museum of Scottish Industrial Life in Coatbridge; Kittochside Museum of Scottish Rural Life (the visit to the working farm is amazing) and Calderglen Country Park in East Kilbride; Greenbank Gardens NTS (just outside Clarkston); or why not take a stroll down the Glebe and find out how Bothwell’s very own new woodland at Bothwellpark is coming along?

We would love to know how you are spending your summer – drop us a line at and let us know what you and your children would recommend – if you have any photos of great days out, either at the community garden or further afield, that you’d like to see on this website do please send them in, we’d love to see them!




Review – Nature Explorers at the David Livingstone Centre

The National Trust for Scotland are running a ‘Nature Explorers’ club for children every Tuesday during the summer holidays. I had taken my little smashers (aged 4 and 7) up to the garden this lunchtime; so as the weather was looking fine, we thought we would extend our outdoor time by taking a stroll through the edge of Bothwell Woods, and over the bridge to Blantyre to check out the club.

We were greeted by Richard and Duncan who were our guides for the afternoon and we (five children and two token grown-ups, who are welcome to either accompany the group or to relax with a coffee and a book for the duration) headed down to the Explorers’ Garden for some bug hunting. Despite the weather having been so dry, making sightings of creatures such as snails, woodlice and earwigs difficult, the children spotted a great number of beasties that they could view in magnifying tubs; with Richard describing the differences between creatures such as spiders and harvestmen perfectly for his young audience to understand. We also had a very informative, child orientated talk about bumblebees and their importance to the environment as pollinating insects, and the children were given ‘spotter-sheets’ to take home so they could identify other bumblebees they see.


We moved then down to the pond, where the children hugely enjoyed pond-dipping; discovering, amongst other things, diving beetles, sticklebacks, great pond snails and tadpoles in several stages of development (if you look closely at the picture, you will see some ‘teenage’ tadpoles with the legs already formed). The children found the tadpoles particularly fascinating and, again, Richard and Duncan answered every question simply, yet informatively and enthusiastically.

All too soon the 90 minutes were up, and it was time to return our pond beasts to their homes and head home (via the toilets to wash our hands, and the ice-cream freezer to suck money out of mummy’s wallet, of course); and my boys are desperate to come along again next week. Each week will focus on different aspects of nature, so there may not be more pond dipping; but parents are welcome to ring in advance to find out what will be on the menu in forthcoming weeks.

To sum up, I am really glad I took the boys along. I would say that the 90 minutes is just the right amount of time to keep most children enthralled (my 4 year old, who does not have the best attention span, started flagging a little towards the end and just ran around the trees); I would say it is absolutely perfect for children aged between 6 and 10. Richard and Duncan were fantastic with the children, explaining everything in a really understandable and fun way which generated plenty more questions and stories from the children, which is a sure sign of great teaching, in my opinion. Mini-beasts, birds and underwater creatures all feature in the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence (my sons have studied mini-beasts both at nursery and at school) so this is an ideal opportunity to either reinforce their knowledge and interest, or introduce them to the subject in a very hands-on, hugely entertaining way. And visiting our garden, and walking to Blantyre through the woodland made it an even greater adventure!

Nature Explorers at the David Livingstone Centre, Blantyre (meet in shop)

Every Tuesday during the summer holidays, 1.00pm – 2.30pm

£2.00 per child, adult supervisors free of charge (no need to have NTS membership or pay for entry to the museum).

Tel: 0844 93 2207 or email for further information. Leaflets on this, and other events at the David Livingstone Centre are available in the foyer of Bothwell Library, or see


Every Tuesday 1.00pm – 2.30pm

A Wonderful Woodland Walk


On Saturday June 8th; members of Bothwell Community Garden and Brighter Bothwell were joined by villagers and Forestry Commission Ranger Alasdair Taylor for the ‘Wild In The Woods, Wild in the Garden’ walk in the beautiful environs of the Bothwell Woods.

We were absolutely blessed by the weather, and it was wonderful to see so many new faces, both young and young at heart, coming along to find out how to create a vital slice of woodland in their own gardens.

Captivating the children..

Captivating the children..

The walk introduced us to many of the native trees, plants and animals we live alongside; and Alasdair explained how ‘Woodland Edge’ ecosystems are hugely beneficial to wide range of creatures throughout the year; providing animals, insects and birds with sustenance and shelter.

Some of Alasdair’s tips to creating a slice of woodland in your own garden

1. Don’t cut your grass too short. If you must have a pristine lawn, do try and leave at least a small area to grow long and set seed; as grasses are vital to many small birds and provide cover and shelter for many beneficial insects.

2. Sow wildflowers into a patch of your garden, or even in a tub, to attract bees and butterflies; but ensure that the wildflower mix you use contains only those plants native to your area. This ensures that ‘rogue species’ do not start to proliferate and drown out or hybridise with local plant varieties.

3. Don’t be too strict about sweeping up and removing leaf-litter and garden detritus such as old logs. What may look like a mouldy old tree trunk to you is a vibrant ecosystem of creatures and fungi. Try and keep an area in your garden that is just for nature, and let nature do its thing.

4. Try and plant shrubs or small trees such as berberis or rowan to provide vital berries to birds during the Autumn and Winter months.

5. Insect and animal shelters; as well as ‘nesting balls’ full of twigs, hair, feathers etc and hung from trees will attract creatures to make your garden their home. Remember – if you find a nest, even if it is somewhere inconvenient for you, you MUST NOT move it. Please also note that hedges, which are vital nesting spots for many birds, must not be cut between the months of March and August to avoid scaring the birds from their nests. It is an offence, under Section 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, to intentionally take, destroy or damage a nest  whilst it is being built or in use (please remember that some wild birds have second clutches, so seeing a first fledge may not be enough), and that includes frightening birds from their eggs or distressing nestlings and fledglings.

For further advice, please contact your local RSPB or the British Trust for Ornithology.

We have received some wonderful feedback about this walk and how informative people found it; and we look forward to our next Wild In The Woods, Wild in Garden event this coming Autumn. We would like to extend our thanks to Alasdair for such a great talk, and to everyone who came along.

(I would also like to say a huge thanks to Marjory for the fantastic photos of the day which are shown here.)


This project is supported by the Forestry Commission Community Seedcorn Trust.