Wild Garden Sundials and a day at the shops

It’s been a busy week, Monday I was at Glasgow Fort a behemoth of an outdoor shopping centre…sounds like an odd gig for me and I could explain at length, but it comes down to 3 things:
 1. The staff are lovely, a couple of the staff are hilarious (customer remark ‘you’re not a disney princess, where’s the Disney princess?’, Me to charming but slightly terrifying looking 6ft 4″ cockney possibly security gentleman whose name I should know by now ‘is the Disney princess on today (with raised eyebrow/back to customer)’  Him: ‘No, I’m the big bad wolf…I’ve eaten them all’ Me: (soto voce) ‘excellent, you are this morning’s hero’. 
They’re funny, they’re helpful (they carry seats around for you in the rain).
Annee the manager is lovely, efficient and friendly.
2. Whatsmore the staff have eavesdropped on my stories and enjoy them, and they once bought me cakes (need I say more!).
3. To be fair mostly I like storytelling there because if you’re passionate about storytelling, there is a huge value to taking stories and good storytelling to as many and as diverse a range of places as possible.
I also got to hold a Bengali Eagle owl for a bit…he was very lovely!
Tuesday saw me back in Aberdeen telling stories, reading poems and (very) occasionally breaking into song at two care homes as part of the Living Voices project, an exciting interesting day that taught me a lot and seemed to go down well with the participants, I got to spend a lovely lunchtime with this stunning view of the bridge of Dee…but it was a long day and saw me away from my girls and their dad for 12 hours, which then needs re-balancing.
Wednesday I was back at The Fort.
A four year old girl said I was ‘better than a disney princess’ this is a high accolade in the face of Frozen, her brother (5) added ‘and funnier’…this made my day!
Thursday we went down to see some of the amazing ladies whose children I fine honed my skills on when I first started out and told stories at the Hidden Garden’s in Glasgow’s Tramway’s, today we were socialising, well that and Louise Cairns my musical collaborator were trying to catch ourselves on film for a publicity pic that we’ve never found the time to do!
It was sunny, we had a laugh, I shared ‘new baby sleepless nights notes’ and felt saner.
So all in all it’s been a good but busy week, but busy and today I needed to have a day off…
It was sunny the April showers earlier in the week had indeed brought forth the flowers and plenty of time for more to bloom by May.
We headed to the garden…rugs, cushions, notebook, there was trip to the village shop for ice cream and chalk to draw on the garden wall.
But mostly we pottered..
The older one made a fairy pond in an old baby bath…sparkling beads and shells garnered from the beach last week at the bottom, water, then flowers and leaves floating on top, the baby spent a long time watching.
Then we embarked on a wild garden sundial…
It’s easily done…here’s how:
1. Get a compass…the wonders of the smartphone means this can be a lesson in scouting or as simple as tapping the app.
2. Set something to north, this will be 12 o’clock…we drew on an old slate with felt tips then decorated it with finished hyacinth flowers.
3. Of course now you know where 3, 6 and 9 go….at east, south and west….we chose natural objects that told stories of association with the directions, so pine cones became 1 and 2: north east and north, north east, as my daughter said pine trees are for Winter and for northern land forest stories, in the East at 3 o’clock were shells gathered on an east coast beach. South saw herbs…southern ones that have travelled: lavender rosemary and sage scattered with yellow petals for the sun. Other leaves became the mid points picked from those parts of the garden, west became lichen from a wood in that direction.

 4. Then it was as simple as popping a stick in the middle, choosing one that cast a shadow in the right place.
 It worked!      < —–This is quarter to a seashell…
You could easily make it a real wild learning moment, use a traditional compass, or use the position as the sun to determine the points.
But our aims were dominated by my daughters artistic sensibility, it was the creating and the look that was defining our game today.
I quite fancy making a big one out of rocks and a branch in a bigger space, it might be fun with a school group to tie in with a story…I’m going to have a think.
I’m sure I’ve seen a stunning ‘sundial’ bed  created out of flowers that open at different times, which would make an amazing story…
Hmmmm I think next week might need to be a research and writing week…
                                                                  Maybe in the garden!

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