All posts by Valerie MacLean

Thank you to the key workers

At 8pm tonight Gail’s husband, Colin did his bit to show his appreciation for not just our NHS but all frontline workers doing an amazing job during these unprecedented times. The Cart Mill family were all out clapping tonight as we continue to support everyone working so hard in our community.
Thank you!

Why our garden makes us smile

Everyone knows I love being outside and I’m at my happiest in the garden. Today, I thought I’d tell you why I love it so much. I want to share my favourite flowers that are in my garden right now, as well as the benefits I get from gardening.
I have a few things flowering in the garden just now that make me smile;
My camellia, I love the vibrant colours and the fact the plant was a present from my mum.

Daffodils, I love their cheery yellow heads, so bright and happy. They always make me feel that winter is finally over.

My hellebore, known as a Christmas rose but mine never flower at Christmas. I love their delicate colours and the detail in each flower.

My apple tree, it’s not quite flowering but the buds are starting to appear. I love seeing these buds as it is a sign that new life is on the way.

So why do I do it?
Gardening reduces stress.
Evidence shows gardening reduces the levels of cortisol in the body.
Gardening boosts the immune system.
Evidence shows direct contact with dirt and plants boosts the body’s immune system.
Gardening is a workout.
3 hours of moderate gardening is equivalent to a 1 hour workout in the gym.
Gardening and friendly bacteria.
Soil contains a natural antidepressant that makes us feel happier.
Gardening promotes healthy eating.
If you grow your own vegetables you are more conscious of having a healthy diet.
Gardening helps your brain.
Daily gardening keeps your brain active.

Why don’t you do some gardening? Get out, if you can, look at the plants in the garden. Plant some things – apple seeds, tomato seeds, see what will grow. If you don’t have a garden, what about looking after houseplants or window boxes? Why not share your time exploring nature with our twitter @cartmillcentre so we can see what you have been up to.

“The flower that follows the sun, does so even on a cloudy day”

Love Val ❤️ 💐 🌳 🌈

How Will Our Garden Grow?

Exciting times in the Cart Mill garden this week with the arrival of our new greenhouse. Michelle, Fiona and Val have been working to build this beautiful new addition to our outdoor space. Having somewhere to start our seedlings grow will provide so many wonderful experiences for the children at Cart Mill. Not only will it help explain the wonders of nature and life cycles, it will encourage children to care for and nurture their very own plants.
We have been eagerly waiting for our greenhouse for a few weeks and now the hard work begins. The shelves are up, the seed trays are ready. So, what will we plant first?

Has Spring Sprung?

It was positively springlike in the forest today. There were birds twittering in the trees and horses galloping in the field while the children explored in the sun. We found new trees to climb, developing our gross motor skills as well as developing resilience – “can we be brave and go higher?”
Snack was spent sitting in the sun, socialising with our friends and talking about what else we would like to do at the forest. We have been really lucky with the weather so far, long may it continue.


Bonjour les amis

Cart Mill has a new friend visiting our centre, Camembear. He is a shy but slightly mischievous bear that has come all the way from France and, along with Val and Helen, he will be teaching the children to speak a little French as well as find out about the French culture. Today we looked at French food and in particular, crêpes! The children welcomed Camembear by saying bonjour to him. We then sang a little song ‘bonjour les amis’ before making our crêpe batter with Camembear’s help. We then lit the fire and Val told Camembear that the was fire très chaud so he had to be careful! Camembear carefully turned a crêpe and we then sat round the fire and ate them with honey. Bon appétit said Camembear! The boys and girls then said au revoir to Camembear but he’ll be back very soon, French will take place in the centre every Monday and Thursday with all staff using some of the words throughout the day so parlez français beaucoup at home too! This week’s words are bonjour and au revoir.

Iceberg Ahoy

The children were exploring different textures in the water tray today. We had some gooey red jelly and bicarbonate of soda fizzy ice as well as some fluffy frozen shaving foam.

The children loved feeling the different textures. They were able to use great descriptive words. They could see the bicarbonate ‘bubble’ when it came in contact with the jelly. The ice was SO cold and the shaving foam was like ‘snow’. Then one child said “it’s a big iceberg!” We all watched the iceberg float around our jelly sea before it slowly melted.


After St Andrew’s Day we had a lot of potatoes left and we didn’t want them to go waste. The children got thinking about things we can make with potatoes and they came up with a lot of suggestions. The two favourite ones from the children (and a few members of staff) were potato scones and chips!
The children got to work peeling, washing, chopping and slicing while Val lit the fire. While one group rolled out the potato scones, another group watched the chips cook at the fire.
Tomorrow we will make another of the suggestions, soup, before using the last few potatoes to make some colourful Christmas prints.
Who knew potatoes could be so entertaining!