A Wild Winter's Day
Spending the winter in a big city, it’s easy to forget that nature is still around us regardless, sometimes in the most unexpected places. Beneath the concrete, between bricks and, believe it or not, in skips on a building site in Kings Cross, London.
On a crisp, sunny winter’s day, I bundled up warm and set off for a day out in the urban wild. A collaboration between Way of Nature and Global Generation, this was a chance to reconnect with nature in a fun and informal way and see a film I’ve wanted to see for a while: Project Wild Thing. I was also intrigued to revisit Global Generation to see how they had progressed since I wrote about them for Sublime Magazine a couple of years ago.
Kept cozy by a mug of hot blackcurrant, I nosed around the Global Generation site to see what was new. Apart from the main building, it was hardly recognisable, skip gardens looking lush despite the cold and new structures all over the place. Clearly things are going from strength to strength in their world.
Way of Nature has a vision to encourage us to reconnect and get inspired by nature through retreats and experiences. Their work and that of Global Generation complement each other perfectly, an impeccable partnership you might say.
As I meandered, the crowd slowly but surely swelled, an eclectic mix of all ages and backgrounds, feasting on flapjacks and nursing steaming mugs. It was time to start.
Split into six groups at random, workshops covered a wide array of subjects such as fine-tuning into our senses to be more aware of nature around us, making seed bombs (yup, and throwing them!), exploring the story of the evolution of earth, exercises based on Qi Gong cultivating energy and awareness and learning how to cook over an open fire.
I was in a group exploring Qi Gong exercises such as wide angle seeing (broadening our perspective by expanding our narrow narrative) and filtering sounds, focusing in on just one at a time (harder than you think!). By coincidence nearly a third of my group were either from Switzerland or had spent considerable time there. We all expressed missing the open spaces and vast vistas.
It was then time to return to childhood with an exploratory treasure walk. Clue by clue we ambled through the urban jungle, searching for the perfect pebble, foraging for a fulfilling leaf and taking a moment to stop and stare at the sky. It might sound a little bit out there, but in reality it was a lot of fun! The highlight was being led around a playground, blindfolded, truly experiencing the different sensations without expectation or preconceived ideas. If only living life like that would come easier to us as humans!
At the end destination we were greeted with popcorn and drinks in preparation for our own special secret cinema. You might have heard of the film Project Wild Thing, but if not it’s really worth checking out. With a humorous yet sensitive touch it charts the journey of film maker David Bond as he realizes how out of touch with nature his children are and how cutting a contrast this is to his own childhood.
He appoints himself as Managing Director of Nature and sets out to promote it as a brand with the help of leading experts in the field. I especially loved a sequence where he goes to the Isle of Eigg, a place I would absolutely love to visit! The overall result is inspiring, moving and funny.
I loved spending most of the day outside, despite the cold, and I came home energized and tired, all at the same time. Note to self: Drag myself away from the computer and get out there to explore. Even in an urban landscape there is so much to see!
If you want to find out more about the work of Way of Nature and Global Generation, follow the links to their websites. Way of Nature have a number of retreats coming up this spring, including a one day Wilderness Spa in Epping Forest.