Saturday 31 October 2009

Hallowe'en - Dusk Watch

Hallowe'en fell on my Dusk Watch walk so of course we had to dress up! Thanks to Emma and Lesley for the loan of the costume, Will, only needed to shave his head and wack some make up on :-).

Will made me a broom out of Broom, linked to witches as the tips are hallucinagenic, or they would put bat's blood on the broom being linked to flying, evil creatures of the night. Everyone had to 'earn' their treats answering nature questions, traditionally kids would have to sing, tell jokes or recite poems, no tricks at all! Hallowe'en comes from the celtic festival called Semhain marking the end of summer, the 1st November being their new year. Later, Christians called this day All Hallows day, or All Saints day, thus 31st became known as Hallows eve. This evening also marked the time when the barrier to the spirit world was weak so they wore masks to scare away evil spirits or trick them into thinking they were one of them. Jack-O-Lanterns come from an Irish Miser, too naughty for heaven and hell after playing a trick on the devil. He still walks the earth holding his lantern until judgement day. Traditionally lanterns were carved from scottish turnips (or swede in England), or spuds or beets. Really hard, so when the Irish went to America, they started to use pumpkins.

Any young ladies wanting to find out their future husband? Cut an apple in half the wrong way, so you can see the pentagram symbol, eat it in front of a mirror by candlelight and he should appear in the reflection, oh er. Failing that, sleep with the apple under your pillow and you should dream about him! Also, hazelnuts can be used. Name some nuts after some prospective applicants, place them in a burning fire and chant "If you love me pop and fly, if you hate me burn and die". They can be used to predict the future of newlyweds too, depending on the character of the nuts in the fire, crackling is ideal, bursting indicating a stormy relationship, popping in opposite directions; best go your separate ways!

We didn't see the ghost train on the old track, or any water kelpies but there were a few bats - thus proving that bats aren't evil as we all had rowan berries in our pockets!

Sunday 25 October 2009

Fungi Festival Week at Aberfoyle

We managed to get on one of the Fungi Forays with Liz Holden, loads of fun and really interesting. In the afternoon we went on another local ranger walk; strange but fun doing a walk in our local area with another ranger. Hope the young lad on the walk is feeling better after getting kicked by a passing horse - ouch! Reminded us of The New Forest where feeding the ponies eventually results in aggression and kicking, on this occassion his dog was a bit too interested and worried the horse.

Spagnhum moss can be used to drink from, hanging baskets, as a swab, a sponge, or wiping your butt, or as a nappy! It's absorbant, antisceptic and a great water filter. Fir club moss used to be 40 metres high back in the day of the dinasours, but can be used to plat as a rope in survival situations etc.

Loads of lichen again, 'old mans beard' - birds use it for nesting, a great tinder, stu thickener, or clothes dye. A sign of clean air too - sniff, aaah! Rowan berries are everywhere still, on the trees and in animal droppings, going straight through them! The pentagram 5 pointed star on the berry is a symbol for protection against evil spirits, (amongst other things) so I'll be taking one on our Hallowe'en Dusk Watch walk on 31st!

Saturday 17 October 2009

Fungi and Lichen

Jelly antler fungi, not poisonous, but rubbery and insubstantial, alongside cup lichen like little golf tees or faery cups.

On the right is a grisette, edible but not advised as many similar looking ones are poisonous. The volva at the bottom being the sign to avoid!

Thursday 15 October 2009

Cobleland's New Bug Hotel

Will's just finished building a bug hotel for Cobleland Camspite. There are still lots of vacancies for the creepy crawlies to hide and keep warm. It's also part of the treasure hunt clues on the site. We took the idea from the one near Cashel's campsite on the edge of Loch Lomond, but this one is better of course! Thanks Forestry Commission for the big logs :-).

Sunday 4 October 2009

Cabin Fungi

Excellent, there's loads of fungi to talk about on our walks at the cabin site. The one on the left is a Brown Birch Bolete, a mushroom. There's an interesting story about the other one; Fly Agaric, probably the most recognisable toadstool, regarding yellow snow and flying reindeer. Want to know more or wondering what the difference is between a toadstool and a mushroom? Then you'll have to come up and see us and go on one of our walks :-)

Art in Nature

Spot the figures, which can be seen from one of the David Marshall Lodge walks in Aberfoyle. Spooky but tasteful.