Outdoor activities with a healthy dose of curiosity, brought to you by Laure Latham
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Daffodils, magnolias, snowdrops and almond blossoms–spring in London is obviously on its way. This morning, I strolled to Hyde Park after dropping off the girls at school and went for a swim in the Serpentine. Gliding on the smooth water of the lake, I watched male swans parading for the females, all wing feathers spread out in a heart shape. Some geese were followed by a string of fluffy goslings. Spring in London is a vibrant call to go outside and enjoy nature.
Let’s face it. When the first bulbs poke their blooms from underground and the temperatures are so mild that you hesitate wearing that extra winter layer, it’s time to plan some time out with the kids. Ready?
Here are some ideas to celebrate spring by going outside.
Snowdrops, daffodils and irises are some of the flowers your children will spot easily on a spring walk or hike. Sporting bright colors and scented petals, they carry with them the promise of sunny days to come. Where can you find them? Local parks and gardens, forest floors and grassy hills. Think Kew Gardens, St James’s Park, Osterley Park, Ham House or Hyde Park in London.
Further afield, the National Trust has a great list of places to see daffodils.
Not the chocolate kind, you silly, real bird eggs! By now, birds have mostly returned from their winter migrations and built a nest for the season. We have a couple of robins who disdainfully ignored the painted bird house we set out for them in our backyard and built an honest-to-robin nest in the thick roots of our wall ivy.
If you do find bird eggs, take a picture and try to identify the birds at home but by all means, don’t touch them. Great birding places in London include the London Wetland Centre and Rainham Marshes Nature Reserve.
Do you still know where you stored your picnic blanket last year? Now’s the time to dust it off and plan a day out with friends so you can enjoy a spring picnic with seasonal produce. My girls absolutely love asparagus, artichokes, peas and the very first cherries.
Everybody loves a themed picnic such as an Alice in Wonderland Unbirthday Party. If you want a countryside picnic under cherry blossoms, Brodgale Collections, the English National Fruit Collection, organizes Hanami events.
Can you tell a fruit tree without its fruits and its leaves? It’s a tricky thing for sure but you totally can with this nifty photo guide to fruit tree blossoms or help from your local plant nursery. If it’s true that cherry blossoms steal the show in Japan, I for one love the sweet scent of almond blossoms on dirt roads in the south of France. Fruit tree blossoms are not just gorgeous, they usually have a very nice scent that can create memories of its own.
It might be too chilly for a full-on swim, but your children can certainly splash about with their pants rolled up. Who doesn’t love building a rock dam or looking for off shells underwater? I know my girls wouldn’t pass up an opportunity to go barefoot.
The closest beach to London is Brighton, but if you want to escape the pebbles and boardwalk, other favorites include West Wittering, Whitstable, Botany Bay or Camber Sands.
Last but not least, you can celebrate spring by planning outdoors activities well ahead of time to avoid last-minute rushes. I hope you enjoy the season as much as I do and that longer days will inspire you to poke your head outside and breath some fresh air in the wild.