Do you ever feel like nature is a secret that you are discovering? This week I feel like I have discovered a lot of nature secrets. You probably already know this, but earlier this year South Lanarkshire Council designated 16 new Local Nature Reserves across the county, and on Tuesday I got to visit one of them. Although I've been before, the Westburn site this week was looking lovelier than ever. It's easy to miss, sandwiched between houses and an industrial estate, a low key entrance, nothing at all to indicate what lies beyond. It's one of the places we included in our urban park wander with Go Jauntly, just to try and draw a bit of attention to it, and I'm so glad we did. After the rain of the last few weeks, it was lush and green in the sunshine, a riot of yellow flag irises around the pond area, watermint in abundance. I tucked a wee sprig into my rucksack, and spent the journey home wondering about the delightful smell that seemed to be following me. I made it into a pot of tea when I got home. The icing on the cake however was the chap in the photo. Suddenly out of nowhere, a deer appeared. I think he was as surprised to see us as we were to see him. We stood and watched for several minutes. My next appointment was just up the road in the industrial estate. I was visiting the community garden at the Clydesmill Fire Station; here the raised beds are covered with canes and netting in an attempt to stop the deer eating the produce, and there was some discussion about how to stop the birds pecking holes in the polytunnel. Mainly however it's another oasis of calm amongst urban life - until the sirens go off. Healthy n Happy are currently running sessions at the garden, and the Cambuslang Apiary Project have bees on the site too, so you can get involved.
Then to East Kilbride for some storytelling. In my head, I knew where we were holding the session, a wee garden just off the car park at Calderglen Country Park. Panicking a bit when I arrived and realised I wasn't exactly sure where to go, then I found it, hiding behind the parking for buses, another surprise, a field of buttercups. We gathered round picnic benches by the pond to hear Allison tell stories of both East Kilbride and of nature. The birds and the buttercups providing a perfect launching off point to hear how the little wren became the king of the birds and why the Latin name for buttercup (ranunculus) also means little frog. We took a wee wander and witnessed common blue and large red damselflies by the pond, and marvelled at the fact that the names of some insects are so obvious (yes, the blue ones are blue and common and the large red are, you guessed it, large and red); we cursed because today the watermint was out of reach and on discovering a giant bee learned how to identify a tree bumblebee. They have large Trump-like orange bouffant hair, and tree and Trump are easy to remember. (Thanks Kerry!) I'm grateful to Healthy and Active in East Kilbride for hosting the event and to everyone who came. They've got plenty more activities to help you get outdoors coming up, including next Tuesday afternoon, back at Calderglen; a mindfulness session with author and speaker Martin Stepek, founder of Ten for Zen - you can find out more and book here.