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A real fire on my first week – brilliant! c. Alex Paterson/Scottish Wildlife Trust

My name is Alex, and I’m one of two new Creating Natural Connections Trainees who started recently with Cumbernauld Living Landscape. My first week as a trainee has been an exciting chance to get to know the team and join in with some of the brilliant projects happening across Cumbernauld.

Dogwood – colourful in winter, but too much of a good thing is bad for all the other plants it shades out. c. Alex Paterson/Scottish Wildlife Trust

My first task of the week was to join the Nature Ninjas and help with the monumental job of clearing dogwood from the path next to Redburn School. Dogwood is a shrub that is native to the UK, however if left unchecked it can rapidly take over an area, choking out any other species.  Unfortunately, the dogwood next to Redburn School was smothering the other tree species such as willow, birch and holly. Dogwood is most easily identified by the bright red colouring to the ends of the twigs and branches.

Bannocks – delicious hot from the pan! c. Alex Paterson/Scottish Wildlife Trust

Next, I joined in with a Wild Ways Well session in Cumbernauld Glen. These sessions are a great opportunity to get outside and connect with nature and other people, helping to improve mental health and wellbeing. In this week’s session we took a walk through the woods to where we were going to be making bannocks over the fire. Bannocks are an ancient Scottish bread, and we made ours of a simple mixture of flour, water and salt. We also tried some fire cooked pizza dough, although I enjoyed the bannocks more! No Wild Ways Well session would be complete without a hot drink, so we fired up the Kelly kettle and warmed our hands with some hot chocolate. In this session the focus was our sense of taste. Next week it will be touch, so some tree hugging will be thoroughly enjoyed by all the participants.

A Kelly kettle – an ingenious way of boiling water with just a few twigs as fuel. c Alex Paterson/Scottish Wildlife Trust

If you would like to get involved with the Nature Ninjas or our Wild Ways Well sessions please get in touch with either Katie Brown katie.brown@tcv.org.uk for the Nature Ninjas or Paul p.barclay@tcv.org.uk for Wild Ways Well.

By Alex Paterson, Creating Natural Connections Trainee


Alex Paterson