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Fresh starts

It's been a strange time of late. Not only have we been in lockdown, we've also been getting ready to leave our home of the last five years, and strike out into pastures new. We're saying goodbye to our site at Tir na Nog and moving just along the road to a new site on the Cardross Estate. So we thought we'd share some pictures with you at the same time as giving a bit of an update about how we're planning on restarting activities.

We're absolutely delighted to be joining the team on the Cardross Estate! If you haven't visited the estate, it's very near to the Lake of Menteith and host, in recent years, to the Wild Food Festival and to Doune the Rabbit Hole. They've also got some lovely holiday accommodation! We're setting up home on a small parcel of young woodland on the west of the estate, which backs onto more mature Forestry Commission woodland. Most of our workshops and clubs will take place here, but we'll also have access to the amazing Pinetum, a totally wondrous place filled with old trees and magical spaces.

It's exciting - if a little nerve-wracking - to be packing up and moving on. But the new site gives an amazing blank canvas to think about how to improve what we do, add in new activities, and develop as the site grows.

So what are we going to do differently? Well, first of all we want to get back up and running in a way that will work with the new social distancing guidelines. So, we're re-introducing activities in a staged way, starting with our holiday club, Wee Skelfs, in July and August. Groups sizes are reduced and we'll be doing our best to make sure everyone follows the guidelines on hand washing and staying apart. We're then hoping to get workshops open in the Autumn, for those holding tickets over from our Spring programme, and for new bookings where possible. Again, we'll need to think through the logistics! And then we'll be working towards larger events, the first likely to be our rescheduled Great Scottish Spoon Hoolie, in May 2021.

As we start to deliver activities on site, we're also looking at new ways to reach out to people and engage them in the wonders of the woodland. And - unlikely as it might seem to anyone who's met Paul - we're doing stuff online! Last month, the Hoolie became the Great Scottish Virtual Spoon Hoolie and we're launching a new Skelfs Activity Pack, combining craft activities posted to your door with online videos and Zoom chats. Given the necessity of sharp things, we've not quite figured out how to make this work for our workshop programme, but we're open to suggestions! We're also keen to get out and work with local schools as they figure out the logistics of offering more outdoor learning.

Things are definitely going to be different. But a fresh start is a great opportunity and we're ready for it! A huge thanks goes out to all our customers, volunteers and supporters for sticking with us over the past few months. We wouldn't be here with you!

Now, where's the composting toilet going to go...


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