Friday, 20 May 2011

Marvellous magical May Half term playschemes

May sees the advent of yet another school holiday and we LOVE the school holidays, as we get to play with you in the woods!
This is what we have put on for you and I hope you will come and join us in the:

Bow and Arrow Making!
Robin of Sherwood...
This is always a special day, one that the children really love, and so do we! There is definitely something of the Robin Hood spirit running through us on a day like this!
Tuesday 31st May 2011
Only £20 for the day!

Hurdle Making and Weaving
What could be better than to learn these great skills and have fun working with each other, outdoors, all day!
Wednesday 1st June 2011
Only £20 for the day!

Never too young to build a den
 Den and Shelter Building
Doesn't everyone love a bit of den building? Don't we all need a shelter once in a while to sit in and keep us safe and warm? Now you can come and learn how to do that, and take all those skills home with you to make dens and shelters in your own back yard.
Thursday 2nd June 2011
Only £20 for the day!

All week there will be flexibility to change and follow the children's interests and what they too would like to do. We can den build, cook on the campfire, hunt for bugs and nuts, learn survival skills, weave, make bows and arrowns and play endless games of capture the flag, foxes and hounds! All our play is spontaneous and child led, which means we have lots of fun and go wherever the play takes us!

Costs are: £20 per day, per child.
Early bird drop off and Night owl pick up options are available as usual, each at £5.00 per child. 
Please contact Louise on 07775 941353 or to BOOK!!! Yeay!! Come and Play! Playschemes are for children over the age of 8.

Play Misty for me...

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

The Elderflowers are already out! Don't miss the season!

Hello all woodlanders! I thought you might all like some elderflower recipes since the elders are flowering beautifully at the moment. Traditionally, you should pick the flowers on a sunny day before midday, and preferably on midsummer's day - however, it seems that our season is a wee bit early this year, so I would get picking as soon as you can see the flowers.

Here is a cordial recipe for you - remember, if you don't like your cordial too sweet, you can add lemons and lemons and more lemons. Also - you can use Xylitol which is a natural sugar substitute, if you don't want the bad teeth and calories that sugar  give you!

This is what you will need... I am sure most of you will be able to think of great alternatives to all this paraphenalia, but it is all listed, in case you want to do it properly.

•35 fresh elder flower heads – always pick the sweet smelling ones (which tend to be a bit buttery in colour and which do not drop petals when shaken)
•2 oranges, rough sliced
•2 lemons, also rough sliced
•2oz tartaric or citric acid – we prefer citric which makes for a more lemony taste, but some of our friends like tartaric. You can buy either from a shop that sells winemaking stuff and you can get citric acid from your local chemist.
•3 pints boiling water
•3lb granulated sugar,
•1 Camden tablet per gallon of cordial (winemakers also use these, they kill the natural yeasts on the elder flowers and allow you to store the cordial for years without it going fizzy).
•Large plastic containers, big enough to hold your batch of cordial.
•Glass or food grade plastic bottles with airtight caps.
•A Siphon tube.
•J-cloths or wine filtering fabric.
•A large sieve

Here is what you do!
•Boil the water and dissolve the sugar in it. Allow it to cool properly.
•Add the orange and lemon slices to the cool sugar water.
•Stir in and make sure the tartaric or citric acid is dissolved.
•Add the elder flower heads.
•Cover it up with a lid or cloth (we like to use a 5 gallon (25 litre) home winemaking plastic barrels) and leave it for 48-72 hours.
•Strain the mixture and leave for another 48 hours.
•We then siphon it all to another container, leaving the sediment/dregs behind and then we add 1 crushed Camden tablet per gallon of cordial.
•Shake well, and then leave for 3-4 hours to settle.
•Bottle, leaving behind any more dregs.
•If you don’t want to use two large containers, then you will need to add a crushed Camden tablet at the rate of 1 per gallon (1/2 a tablet to a 4 pint milk container for example) and carefully siphon directly into that. Shake the bottle well after you have filled it and do the top up tightly. Shake it again an hour or two later to make sure the tablet has dissolved. It will then keep for ages – as in years.
Always use sterilised bottles:
•Microwave – 2-3 minutes should kill anything.
•Oven -  put glass bottles into your cold oven. Run it up to about 140C, keep it there for 10-15 minutes and then leave it to cool.
•You can also use Milton or just boiling hot water

I have to say - I have never used a camden tablet and I have never siphoned anything (other than wine...but that is for another blog!)... but these directions are good. If you have a dishwasher you can sterilise your bottles in there.

For those of you who might like to make some elderflower champagne there is a great recipe below. Do not be tempted to use more elderflower heads than stated. I did this last year, and it meant that I over yeasted it and there were not enough bubbles. Also - DON'T put it in anything but plastic bottles... the glass ones will explode!

Elderflower champagne

4 large heads of elder flowers (pick on dry sunny day, but do not wash)
juice & rind of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons white vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
1.5 lbs granulated sugar
9 pints water

1. Place all ingredients in large container
2. Stir to dissolve sugar
3. Cover with cloth & leave 24 hours
4. Strain & pour into plastic sterile screw top bottles (don't use glass bottles)
5. Screw tops on tightly & leave somewhere warmish, so fizz/alcohol can develop
6. Release gases when plastic bottles bulge/topple
7. Drink from 3 weeks onwards

Remember - you can do all sorts of things with elderflower cordial and champagne once you have made it - cakes and icecreams are the first that spring to mind and you can always decorate with a sprig of elderflower! My favourite is elderflower and lemon drizzle cake...I am seriously hoping Trish Kennedy will be reading this for inspiration on the next delightful lemon drizzle cake she will make for the woodland adventures!

Don't forget that we have the compost loo course coming up for only £40 for two days on 21st and 22nd May - there are a few places left. And, there are play schemes in May that will soon be booked up! So if you want to secure your place, make sure you email to secure your booking.