Mamma's School

Adventures In Nature's Playground

Enjoying the Outdoors In Sweden – Get Out There!

Sweden is a truly beautiful country, and exploring the outdoors in Sweden is made so easy for people, yet it remains unspoilt, wild, and rugged.  One of the main reasons we moved here, was to be part of the way Swede’s experience their outdoors and nature, even through their daily routine.  Throughout my blog I am passionate about the need for outdoors and nature, it being important for so many reasons, for both us humans and nature.  You can read about this in the following places:

http://mammasschool.co.uk/outdoor-adventures/nature-therapy-seeking-calm-solitude/

http://mammasschool.co.uk/parenting/outdoor-play-children-natures-sanity/

http://mammasschool.co.uk/parenting/healing-nature-relying-beach-work-magic/

Here in Sweden, access is so easy that there are really no excuses not to be out there exploring and enjoying the great Swedish outdoors.  There are many ways outdoor exploring is made easy for everyone to do:

Allemansrätten

Here in Sweden, there is this fantastic ideal called “allemansrätten”. This is the right of public access to roam freely almost anywhere in the countryside.  However, there are a few responsibilities that come with this; you take care of nature and wildlife, respect landowners and others enjoying the countryside, respect the land and leave no trace that you have been there, don’t disturb and don’t destroy.  It is a very rare concept, allowing you to enjoy the Swedish outdoors in its full glory.  We have taken advantage of this through lots of hiking, and even taking the children for a wild camping experience.

 

Good Trails and Facilities

When we first moved here, I picked up this fantastic guide from our local tourist office.  It was completely free as well!  What I wasn’t anticipating was it to be crammed full of hiking routes.  Inside are around 50 detailed walking areas, showing trails, toilets (of the non flushing variety), fire pits to cook on, and lots of other good information.  It has been a bible for us when we’ve been exploring our local area and getting to know it.  Generally when you arrive at your destination’s car park, you have also got a map of the area, showing the same facilities.  This has been invaluable to helping us explore with young children. The provision of cooking areas in nature encourages you to be able to enjoy the outdoors even more and learn new skills, whilst enabling you do it responsibly….fire pits and toilets are helping to protect the environment from our impact.  We have enjoyed using the cooking areas a lot. The children are learning basic bush craft skills now, and how to use those skills responsibly too.  At least once a week they are cooked for on an open fire in the great outdoors in Sweden, whether it is sun, rain, or snow, and they love it….maybe less so when the food is a little (OK, sometimes, a lot) blackened!

 

Part of Daily Life

Being outdoors in Sweden is part of daily life here.  Which is good for us as we need the outdoors too.  My three children are often found in the woods next to the school with their class, doing their learning in nature.  Fritids (the after school care) takes them off into the woods, or to play parks, or even sledging in the winter.  I am often on the receiving end of a strop when I go to collect them (the twins go one at a time every other day to learn more Swedish) because they do not want to come home!  There is a steady stream of people power-walking, running, or cycling, past our house all day, every day.  The outdoors is a very important part of living in Sweden….and weather is no excuse either.  Just make sure you are wearing the right clothing, or provide the right clothing for your children at school (and lots of it…they will get wet and dirty!).

9 Ways To Enjoy The Great Swedish Outdoors

  1. Grill on the beach with friends on a summer’s day out
  2. Hike – use one of the many hiking trails around
  3. Use archipelago boats to explore an archipelago in the summer months
  4. Grill at the sledging slope with friends on a winter’s day out
  5. Take your bikes out for a long bike ride
  6. Have a sunrise or sunset picnic…we do this a lot 🙂
  7. Go wild berry picking in the woods – they are delicious!
  8. Try “wild” camping
  9. Try mushroom foraging – but make sure you know what is safe and what isn’t!

Our Instagram tells the story of our adventures in pictures, so if you like looking at photos of beautiful Sweden, head over and take a look.  Finally I want to leave you with one last thought that you need to remember when you are enjoying the outdoors; “take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints” – Chief Seattle

Enjoying the outdoors in sweden - get exploring!, Sweden, outdoors, exploring, exploring Sweden, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

I have had a similar article published by the Newbieguide.se and it can be found by clicking on the following link http://www.thenewbieguide.se/great-swedish-outdoors-get-exploring/    🙂

Inspiration Wednesday – Our Children……..

Inspiration Wednesday - Our Children, Quote about Children, Motivation children, inspiration children, quotes, www.mammasschool.co.uk

Friluftsbyxor By RevolutionRace – Take An Adventure

I have been very lucky to have been sent a pair of RevolutionRace women’s Friluftsbyxor GPx pants.  So who are RevolutionRace and what are Friluftsbyxor?  RevolutionRace design urban outdoor clothing for ladies and men.  It is a Swedish company.  Their goal is to produce clothing that fits well, and can survive adventures in the wilderness (there is a lot of that here!), as well as be suitable for travelling around in the towns.  They “use durable lightweight materials in our outdoor garments to withstand all weather conditions.  The more you wear them, the better they get”.  Well that sounded like a little challenge to me, to put them through their paces 🙂  Frilufts translates from Swedish as “free air”, but means “outdoors”.  And friluftsliv here (outdoor activities) is a very important concept.  It means getting out into nature and connecting with it, and enjoying the great outdoors….we do this in our “fritid”….free time.  So, you can see how the concept of these friluftsbyxor fit into our lifestyle extremely well already.  I could put them through their paces in our normal everyday life.

What Are Friluftsbyxor GPx?

These are defined by RevolutionRace as a multi functional hybrid stretch trouser (the black parts of this pair are stretchy).  They are reinforced in places for extra protection and life (knees, backside, and lower legs).  They are made to be suitable for a broad range of outdoor activities, and the reinforced parts are also wind and water resistant.  The stretchy parts add both a further level of comfort and manoeuvrability, as well as some ventilation.

I decided there was no time like the present (she thought having just opened the packet!), quickly changed, and put them on for our adventure for that afternoon.  This involved climbing trees, hiking a little, and making a fire pit supper.  So how did I get on?

Pros of the Friluftsbyxor GPx Pants:

  1. They fitted so well!!  I have a huge issue with trousers (my behind is on the larger side, compared to a very tiny waist, so usually to be able to pull trousers up, I have to have a baggy saggy waist on them).  These trousers have the simple concept of a substantial elasticated rear part to the waist. So for people like me they fit everywhere…..well nearly, but you’ll find out about that further along.
  2. The colours are so funky.  A lot of outdoor clothing can be dull and dreary looking, but these come in a selection of colours that are guaranteed to brighten up your day, and leave you feeling fantastic, although you’ve dressed to spend the day in the freezing muddy Swedish wilderness 🙂  The men’s colour selection is just as great too.
  3. They were so comfortable to wear.  I was climbing in and out of a large tree, running over rough terrain after the children, and getting up and down lighting a fire and cooking on it.  I could move so freely in them.  The damp parts from kneeling on the ground also dried quite fast, and the biting Swedish winter sea breeze wasn’t allowed to turn my legs to ice blocks, despite not wearing my usual over trousers.
  4. There are lots of pockets…I love this.  Once we are out in the great outdoors doing something like lighting a fire and cooking, we seem to always need everything all of the time.  I was shovelling things into the pockets as I was using them for quick easy access at a later moment.  They were very handy and practical pockets.
  5. The adjustable Velcro, teamed up with the elastic around the ankles, made for a cosy snug fit over the boots I was wearing.  This was good as then they didn’t ride up exposing skin to the elements.  I can also see this being fantastic in the other three seasons as a tick defence mechanism!
  6. I wasn’t worried that the trousers wouldn’t be able to cope with all the scrabbling around as they have reinforced stitching.

Whilst I was happy they performed well in those dryer, if not a little damp conditions, I also know I can wax or treat them (as stated by the company), for a higher level of protection from the elements.

Cons of the Friluftsbyxor GPx Pants:

It wouldn’t be a balanced review if I left out any bad points, however, I did struggle to find any!

  1. The length was too long for me….however, at 158cm this is a very common problem for me, and was offset by the adjustable ankles.  I could tighten them up around my boots and my trousers weren’t trailing like they usually do.
  2. They do fade….now this is actually part of the garments marketing, but I know some people may not like that.  The garment is made to fade with washing for a “perfect authentic worn look”.

I would definitely recommend these trousers as part of your outdoor lifestyle.  They are so versatile, comfortable, and hard wearing.  I know a Dadda who is coveting them……but maybe in the male version and not purple camo!!!!  Do you think these would compliment your outdoor lifestyle?  Comment below and let me know your thoughts, and don’t forget to share to let others know!

Friluftsbyxor, revolutionrace, revolution race, outdoor clothing, outdoor trousers, hiking trousers, hiking, adventure, outdoors, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

*We were sent the clothing from RevolutionRace for free, to put through their paces and test, in exchange for writing the review.  All opinions are honest and my own*

Campfire Toffee Apples – A Bonfire Treat

We do not have Bonfire Night over here in Sweden, but that didn’t stop us getting into the spirit of things making these scrummy campfire toffee apples!  They were a huge hit with my trio and I couldn’t resist either.  All my recipes can be prepared at the campfire, but we are now hitting minus temperatures outdoors, so I’m doing the prep at home to make life a little easier on the cold fingers!

Ingredients:

An apple per person

Soft toffees (ours were coated in chocolate too for an extra treat)

Cinnamon

Tin foil (for the fire)

 

Method:

With a corer, remove the core from the centre of each apple.

Then slice the apple in half.  This leaves each half with a lovely trench in the middle.

Place your toffees into the trench.

Sprinkle some cinnamon over each half.

Put the 2 halves of the toffee apples back together again, and wrap in tin foil.

Now you are ready to cook your toffee apples.  Place them onto the fire for 10-15 mins.  Once the apples are lovely and soft/squishy to touch, they are ready.  Tuck in and enjoy your campfire toffee apples.

outdoor cooking, campfire food, toffee apples, campfire toffee apples, bushcraft food, www.mammasschool.co.uk

Sticky Mud and Belly Laughs

Inspiration Wednesday – Let Children Take A Risk

Inspiration wednesday-let children take a risk, risk taking, managing risk, risks, outdoor play, nature play, quote, inspirational quote, motivational quote, quotes, www.mammasschool.co.uk

15 Reasons Why Nature Play is Good For Children

Nature play is the best way of helping our children to develop well physically, emotionally, and socially.  It’s got all bases covered!  I’ve come up with a few reasons as to why nature play is good for our children, and I hope by the end, you’ll be be grabbing your wellies and heading out into the great outdoors together 🙂

1. Nature has a very calming quality.  It is known to decrease stress, and increase happiness.  It is food for our minds.  This is because it doesn’t place any demands on us, but it is still engaging.  It is a must for our mental health and well being.

2. The natural exposure to light increases our vitamin D levels, which in turn improves our health.  It’s vitally important here in Sweden, in winter, that play outdoors in nature continues as the light times of the day are so short!  This means, at school, they are outdoors in almost any weather 🙂

3.  Nature play is full of “loose parts”.  These are things the children can play with that have no predetermined role.  This allows children’s imaginations and creativity to be used and called upon.  They can build, role play, make art, or use things as writing tools.  There are no predefined limits.  They also don’t become bored so fast, as with toys that have a predetermined role.

4.  Children’s strength and muscle tone are improved as they lift, shift, climb, and move about in nature.

5.  Nature play allows children to get dirty and “hands on” with nature.  Research has shown that this exposure to dirt helps increase their immunity (there is more to come on this in a future blog post).

6.  They are allowed to explore and investigate the environment, which leads to stimulation, awareness, and independence.

7.  Playing outdoors in nature increases the physical effort used, therefore promoting a healthier way of living and physically fitter children.

8.  They will use a wide range of skills, utilising both large and small motor skills – good for development again.

9.  Immersing the children in nature in such a positive way, helps nuture a love of nature.

10.  Being in nature so much, and developing a bond with it is also good for nature.  They will grow up wanting to protect it, respect it, and nurture it more having been immersed in it.  This in turn will help to conserve it more.

11.  Being outdoors in nature helps teach the children to enjoy the simple things in life, and to live in the present moment.  It does this whilst also instilling a sense of awe and adventure.

12.  Nature play naturally lends itself to more risk taking due to the environment the children are in.  We are in danger of raising a risk averse generation, and this will have further consequences when they are older.  By taking risks, they are learning to manage and control risks, and learn about risk management.  Otherwise they will not take risks and then will be unable to manage risks, or control them.  Their development suffers when they are not allowed to take risks as children need it, crave it, and are natural risk takers.

13.  Playing outdoors in nature increases communication skills and negotiating skills.  They are able to work together better, enhancing these skills which are another important part of their development.

14.  This environment also helps their problem solving skills more, due to the diversity of obstacles and options.

15.  Nature play is much healthier for our children, making them happier, which in turn, naturally leads to happier parents too 🙂

Nature play benefits, outdoor play, nature, children, www.mammasschool.co.uk

3 Little Buttons

Strawberry Cake – Traditional Swedish Midsummer Treat

So, what do you need to make your delicious strawberry cake?

Ingredients:

2 round,plain, sponge cakes.

1 egg yolk.

1 tablespoon icing sugar.

vanilla extract 1 teaspoon.

400ml whipping cream.

Punnet of strawberries.

Then the next step is assembling the strawberry cake:

Instructions:

First of all, find a recipe for 2 round sponge cakes, and make those.  Let them cool.

Slice up half your strawberries thinly, leaving enough whole ones to cover the top of the cake.

Whisk the egg yolk and the icing sugar together.  Then add the vanilla extract.

Whip 150mls of the cream and then fold it into the egg and sugar mix.

Spread the cream mixture over the first sponge cake (bottom layer).

Then lay the chopped strawberries over the top of the cream, covering the cake.

Place the second cake on the top.

Whip 250mls of the cream and then spread all over the top of the cake and around the sides.

Place the remaining whole strawberries onto the top, and there you have a very tasty Swedish strawberry cake 🙂

Swedish strawberry cake, midsummer cake, swedish midsummer cake, strawberry cake, summer cake, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

 

 

Sticky Mud and Belly Laughs

Inspiration Wednesday – Get Children Outdoors

Inspiration wednesday - Get children outdoors, Motivational quotes, Inspirational quotes, inspire, quote, motivate, www.mammasschool.co.uk

Midsummer in Sweden – Party with Family and Friends

Midsummer in Sweden, Swedish Midsummer, Midsommar, Midsummer Party, Midsummer, www.mammasschool.co.uk

Summer seems so far away now, but as I was on a bit of a blogging break at the time, I still have some catching up to do.  Midsummer here is so lovely that I wanted to share it with you 🙂 Midsummer in Sweden comes quickly after the schools finish in mid June, kick-starting the summer holidays with a festive feel.  Everything in nature has suddenly burst into a riot of colour, very fast after the long winter, and the sun doesn’t set in parts of the country.  It is truly a time to celebrate, and celebrate in style.  Although, having chatted to our new friends around our island, it isn’t uncommon to be serving your midsummer meal courses between random rain showers, and indeed it doesn’t seem it would be a true midsummer’s without them, but you MUST still eat outdoors, or else you aren’t really doing it properly!

So, what does a midsummer celebration consist of?  Firstly, towns are deserted and everything is shut….this is a serious business…and everyone heads off into the countryside to party.  So, we embraced our new culture and got immersed in this festival.  We put our best outfits on and headed off to watch a pole being raised (similar to a Maypole in the UK) in a large open space with hundreds of people turning up with their picnics (with of course lots of coffee), to watch the dancing, and to take part too.  Oh, and don’t forget to put a garland of flowers in your hair.

After the dancing, there is some serious eating to be done.  A typical Midsummer menu consists of varying types of pickled herring, boiled potatoes, dill, sour cream, and chives.  This is often followed by some cooked meat or fish, and for dessert there is the famous strawberry cake.  We took the framework of a typical meal and tampered with it slightly!  We had a buffet style lunch going on 🙂 The pickled herring was there, but there was also smoked gammon, shrimps, smoked salmon, warm bread rolls, fresh dill, meatballs, pickled gherkins, boiled eggs, and potato salad.  We then followed this up with a very tasty strawberry cake.  I had followed a Swedish recipe, and I’m now hooked!  I’m not a great fan of creamy cakes like this, but the midsummer one had me re-evaluating my opinions!  It was so tasty and you can find out how to make this delicious strawberry cake .  This was all washed down with beer, wine, aquavit (a very strong spirit with a rather large kick to it!), and home made elderflower cordial for the little people.  Our little gathering would have been rather quiet compared to the Swedes’, who as they drink up enjoy singing songs, and the racier the better…but we don’t know any…..yet!

After your meal, it is time for more dancing…..I think we just laid down and felt a little sick!  The dancing continues on late into the night, and on the way home there is an old folklore, that if girls and women collect 7 different types of flowers and sleep with them under their pillows, that night their future husband will appear to them in their dreams 🙂  I really enjoyed this celebration, and I am looking forward to next year’s knowing a little more what to expect (for instance we shall have a picnic at the Maypole).

 

 

Rhubarb Muffins – A Pink Treat!

These rhubarb muffins are delicious (especially warm), moist, and to the delight of my little lady, they have a pink tinge.  My baking recipes are very simple and vague, but this is deliberate and makes life very easy 🙂  We didn’t have to go far to forage for our rhubarb as we have an abundance in our garden, and after already making rhubarb wine, the rhubarb muffins was a great way for the children to enjoy this garden produce too.

The Ingredients:

300g rhubarb (once leaves and ends are removed), chopped up.

1/2 mug butter.

1 mug sugar.

2 eggs.

1 teaspoon vanilla essence.

2 cups of flour.

1 teaspoon baking powder.

1 teaspoon baking soda.

Method:

Clean and chop the rhubarb up.  Place in a pan, submerging 2/3 of the rhubarb in water.

Bring to the boil, then simmer (stirring occasionally) until all the rhubarb is soft (stewed).

Cream the butter and the sugar.

Beat in the eggs.

Add the rhubarb and vanilla essence.

Mix the flour, baking soda, and baking powder together, and then gradually mix into the wet ingredients.

Spoon into muffin cases 3/4 full.

Cook at 190 degrees for 15-20 mins.

Remove the rhubarb muffins from the oven and allow to cool.  If you can eat these slightly warm they are scrummy, but taste good cooled too 🙂

Rhubarb muffins, pink cakes, rhubarb, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

 

 

Sticky Mud and Belly Laughs

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