My First Guiding!

The inspiring setting of Roseisle Forest

Last week I made my debut as a wildlife guide! As part of the Moray Walking and Outdoor Festival I hosted a woodland writing workshop in my local patch in Moray. My own writing is always enhanced when I incorporate all my senses so during the workshop I encouraged the participants to pick up on sounds, smells and textures as well as sights.

For three hours we roamed through the forest, which on that sunny morning was full of birdsong and the last few coconutty whiffs of gorse flowers. I think the highlight for all of us was spotting a wood ant nest right beside the path. On closer inspection, we saw an individual ant carrying a feather three times its size!

Kim, Suzy and Elizabeth reflecting on the forest walk
Liz checking her notes – it was lovely to hand write for a change!

I loved sharing my patch with new people and hearing some really beautiful writing. I was particularly pleased that two of the ladies, Suzy and Elizabeth, became completely immersed in their own conversation. Suzy has since spoken about the workshop and her chat with Elizabeth on her podcast.

Photo: Diane Smith

As this was my first guiding experience I was nervous about how it would go but I received some fantastic feedback. “I enjoyed your walk and workshop very much,” Elizabeth told me. “It was so good to slow down, listen to birdsong and look at trees and flowers. It was a memorable few hours.”

Elizabeth’s friend Martina also said that she felt absolutely no pressure when it came to the writing task, which I was delighted to hear. She described the new pine sprigs as “chandeliers”, and when she pointed them out to us it made complete sense! I think it’s far better for a writer to describe something they say in a way that’s unique to them, rather than a technical term that not everyone would know. When I see pine branches that look like this again I’ll think of Martina!

Martina and the “chandeliers”

I was thrilled that the workshop went so well. I shall be running similar events in the next festival, taking place in September. As a writer who spends a lot of time working alone, it was a refreshing change to wander with like-minded women and share work and perspectives. What a rewarding morning!

Calm After the Storm

The past few months have been fairly hectic. University assignments have ranged from writing an article and designing its magazine layout, a 3500 word report discussing a client project and an exhibition designed from scratch.

There was a week or so once these were all submitted, then lectures started again. The blessing (or curse, as far as I’m concerned) of third year is we only have lectures on one day, leaving the rest of the week disconcertingly empty. This has made my need to stay busy ever greater, so this week we chose the driest day to go for a hill walk in the Lakes. I’m ashamed to say I haven’t taken my camera out for a long time, so it was time to dust it off.

The wildlife highlight came before we’d even left Grasmere. Zahrah’s keen eyes spotted a red squirrel hopping around not far from the road – obviously this one was accustomed to the comings and goings of Grasmere’s inhabitants. While Kerr and Conor fussed over the map, Zahrah and I watched the squirrel forage at the foot of a tree. Inevitably, I didn’t have my telephoto lens so I just enjoyed the view. Once the boys had figured out our route, we set off into the hills, blowing off the cobwebs that had gathered from being cooped up working.