I'm writing this having just returned from my darkest walk of the year so far. It is an incredibly still day, however all the dogs we met seemed weirdly agitated. The sky is now tinged with pink as the sun rises. The world is almost on the turn, ready to tilt back towards the sun, the light will soon be returning. The solstice is on Monday and I can't wait. At Newgrange in Ireland the neolithic passage tomb is aligned to dawn on the winter solstice - when (if!) the sun rises a shaft of light enters through a roof box and illuminates an inner passage and chamber. This year, due to COVID restrictions, there will be no members of the public allowed into the chamber, and the solstice sunrise is going to be live-streamed and you can watch it here on the solstice itself and on the 20th and the 22nd from 8.45am. Hopefully on at least one of the three days there will be a beam of sunlight to illuminate the chamber. At Stonehenge in Wiltshire the outer ring of sarsen stones is oriented to the solstice sunset. Again, due to COVID, we're going to be able to watch the sunset via the wonders of social media - the livestream starts at 15.16pm. You can find out more about Stonehenge and its alignment here.
Once the solstice is over, Christmas is upon us and I am pleased to introduce Get Outdoors Lanarkshire 12 Days of Nature! Every day from Christmas Day until the 5th January we'll be bringing you a short nature prompt on our website and on social media, encouraging you to get outside and connect with nature over the festive period. You can download our leaflet and poster on the 12 Days tab on our website or you can follow along each day. We'd love to hear how you get on.
Once January arrives we'll be having regular online events to help keep up the nature connection, but in the meantime I'd like to alert you to some events that our partner organisations are running. First up on the 5th January is the Gardeners Den with Clydesdale Community Initiatives. The topic for January is Forest Gardening - a way of developing sustainable food production based on woodland ecosystems. Join CCI as they host forest gardener Alan Carter. You can find out more and book to attend here.
This year blue Monday, known as the most miserable day of the year falls on the 18th January. But you can cast off those January blues with Castlebank Park Horticultural Centre and their "Not So Blue Monday" event. Join them to hear about all the blue you can find in the natural world - more details and booking here.
The last weekend in January is the RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch. In the week running up to that we'll be hosting David Anderson from the RSPB Baron's Haugh Reserve in Motherwell to talk to us about bird watching and what we might hope to see in our gardens this year. Check out the video he made for our Nature Advent(ure) here. More information coming soon.
Until then, wishing you all a restful and peaceful time. Keep on getting outside, and I hope you enjoy the 12 Days of Nature.