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I was once again home alone with the children on Saturday and because I hate tidying the house, I thought it might be nice to make the best of a sunny day and go somewhere that I don’t have to scoop into boxes at the end of the day.

We headed out to a local woods: Esme chilled out in the sling and I gave Alfie a little jute bag and asked him if he wanted to go and collect things. To his credit he went with the idea, even if he was looking a bit confused by why the crazy lady wanted to pick up bits of scenery. It was a slow start, me giving it large with the “Alfie look! A leaf!” but he got the idea pretty quick.

He chose the route, racing ahead calling “co’on mama, co’on” over his shoulder while I did my best to keep up as he darted off into the bracken. If I fell too far behind he doubled back and took my hand to walk with me and encourage me. I just about died of cutes.

We had the chance to stomp in leaves, and learn that some trees drop their leaves in autumn which is why some were crunchy and some that looked the same shape were still green and on the trees.

I wasn’t sure he’d taken that concept on board until later when he ran over to a silver birch grabbed a leaf from the floor and shouted “dow, dow, dow, BANG” which is Alfie for “mother darling, I believe the leaves tumble from the trees and land on the ground”. Except with his way there are explosions and minor bloodshed.

He discovered how different things feel, and took a special shine to “muzz” which he wanted to bring home. Anyone ever tried to collect a clump of moss from an exposed tree root? Here’s a hint, it’s easier to bring the whole damn tree home than get “muzz” off intact.

It was a hot day and we needed to stop for water a few times. I’m clearly getting better as this mothering malarkey because I actually remembered to get a bottle out of the fridge before we left. I didn’t however remember a baby friendly drinking device so Esme’s lesson for the day was entitled Tip Carefully to Avoid Waterboarding.

After an hour of frantic exploring, Alfie was done and we went home to unpack his spoils.

Originally the idea was that we were going to decorate a home-made shaker with some leaves, but I’m all about maximising the opportunities, especially when there’s still half an afternoon to fill.

So this is Esme’s new musical instrument loving made by me and Alfie. It is an old baking powder canister with a few popcorn kernels inside covered in sparkles and sticky back plastic.

She is a big fan of anything musical, and of beating things up, so an instrument that makes cool noises when shaken AND beaten mercilessly against the dog’s head is just a little bit of heaven to her.

While the baby was sitting on the floor unleashing sparkly hell, Alfie and I spent some time sticking his best finds onto some paper.

There were actually several pages but while I was out of the room for 2 seconds, he unpicked the others.

My plan was to write what each thing was underneath it, but Alfie seems very determined that we will cut the paper. Once I have worked out what he actually wants to do, we’ll mostly be doing that I suspect.

I am really glad we went to the woods and just freestyled the learnings, but it really showed me how much knowledge I am lacking in the woodland department. I think my boy deserves better than “oh look it’s … a …. tree” so I have now hit the Woodland Trust and downloaded a handy tree wheelie thing that means we can work it out together next time.

That, and we have about a thousand ideas of what to do with the leftover leaves we have kicking about at home now.

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