Occasionally there is a need to start a story with something other than “Once upon a time…”  and so here are a few suggestions I recently put up on facebook:

To join my free storytelling course please click the link below!

A Stormy Autumn and visit to Ireland.

News from the Deep. Caught between two storms, conflict resolution and drifting on the winds of change… that’s a little of how it has felt for me inwardly too this Autumn… so here’s a part of the story I am willing to share.

The picture above shows some Portuguese men o war washed up on my home town beach of Sidmouth, photographed the evening that Hurricane Ophelia blew on through. I liked the metaphor that the jellyfish are not one organism but a collection of organisms. Just like we are a collection of life stories and experiences playing out of the subsconsious..and that only occasionally, sometimes after stormy weather do some of the stories from deep in our past wash up on the shores our consciousness, re-minding us, and giving us a chance to see what has been influencing our present choices and actions on the everyday level.
How perfect, I thought, that my last blog post was all about mindfulness – and that current events were bringing up just how un-mindful I can be sometimes!!
Three days after Hurricane Ophelia I flew to Ireland in readiness for a keynote and workshops on Storytelling Outdoors for the Irish Forest School Association…but storm Brian was looming and threatening floods and more strong winds…I decided to visit the conference venue to make a back-up plan if we really had to be indoors. On the way I checked out a small area of exposed Limestone pavement to see all the mini trees and bushes sheltering in the eroded fissures, just as the front edge of the storm arrived and began to soak me from the waist down… and then conference organisers decided to postponed the conference for the greater good of those travelling that night and early the filling morning to the venue. I was greatly disappointed and also greatly relieved because I was stressed about doing the speech and workshops in the storm. And I was all at sea internally too. My heart ached. I needed some rest, but I still had a storytelling gig to do that night at a school in Galway.
Remembering to breathe, I looked outwardly again. I felt the weather around me and noticed clusters of red berries with five pointed star on them, silver drops of water clinging below them. With all the ups and downs of the past few months I intuitively reached for, gave thanks for, and nibbled some Hawthorne berries to have as medicine… I figured hawthorns growing in this environment were going to have strong heart medicine! (did you know that Hawthorne is associated with the heart and is said to help bring blood pressure into balance?). I got back into the hire car and put the heater and de-mister on full. Aren’t cars amazing clusters of technology and include shelter, mobility, warmth? The gig in Galway went well.
So I had a free day in Ireland to contemplate some of the big stories going on in my personal life that were coming to the surface and bringing with them strong emotions. I was also enjoying listening to an Audio book I was finding extreemly useful ( Getting to Yes with yourself by William Ury http://www.williamury.com/books/getting-to-yes-with-yourself/). Storm Brian was not as bad as expected and I was safe to go outside, travel to Spittal on the coast near Galway and then back east to Wicklow later in the day. In the hills behind Spittal, the granite was scoured by ancient Glaciers. Again, I found myself in a place of exposed bedrock. Raw. Old boulders littered and dumped. New windmills.

As the rain clouds of Brian cleared I sat in the sun, thoroughly enjoying the warmth of its intermittent rays, and asked for help to make decisions based on inner important values, to help happiness return while not necessarily being attached on particular outcomes, because on some level my happy, playful otter or dolphin was dying under the weight of some of the things going on in my world.

I found it striking that when I returned to Devon, the seas were red and grey misty like an image of a dolphin slaughter somewhere in N Europe I had seen in the news while waiting at the airport. While spending time in the woods and talking with a dear friend by a big old ash tree I realised that a current painful dilemma was actually a mirror of painful childhood traumas which revolved around decisions, people and home, and that this was probably a big reason for the lack of joy at some levels of my life.

I knew I had to go to seek the wisdom, insight and process skills of a therapist and work on myself before making any more big decisions in my personal life. I realised this would probably also help me with my ability to work with disputes and conflict in my working life as a forest school leader and outdoor educator. The following day there was great warmth in the sun and that gave me hope in my heart, that I too could go inwards, like the spirit of the land and arise, healed or re-integrated and hopefully more conscious, in due course. The therapist messaged to say she had space and we could start next week…

The cycles of the seasons mean that now, with Samhain, the spirit of the land is returning to rest underground and the old year is coming to a close…. and thus in some ways the new cycle of the year beginning in readiness for the spirit of the land returning at Imbolc. It’s a great time to let go of the year, be grateful for all that happened this year, for the ancestors to be acknowledged too, and maybe seek the wisdom of elders in the long winter nights, dive into the stories and shadows of our past and re-emerge, or evolve with greater understanding and wisdom ourselves, part of the cycles of the seasons.

The Storytelling for Outdoor Learning course is very successful!

This spring, as many of you will already know, I launched an online course to help forest school leaders, teachers, parents and educators become better storytellers and ultimately to help thousands of people connect with nature through story related activities outdoors. It’s been so successful with many participants saying how it is just what they needed and giving them confidence and a huge amount of activities and inspiration.
Syncronistically, I noticed, the Cycles and Seasons theme is the theme of the story I am currently working with on the Storytelling for outdoor learning course I am creating! For more info on that see here: http://www.storytellingforoutdoorlearing.com  In each season of the year and our lives we have gifts and fears and that the best way to be part of the cycles of life is to remember to let go of our fears, be generous with our gifts,  and to breathe and relax when troubles arise to allow the cycles of the feelings come and go and help us evolve.

A favourite book

One of my favourite books about the metaphor of trees and nature through the changing seasons, and they can relate to the personal therapeutic journey is by Ian Siddons Heginworth… Environmental Art Therapy and the Tree of Life available on Amazon – it’s a month by month journey into the souls journey with loads of stories  relating to myths, legends and trees and environmental arty things to do in nature …do check it out! https://www.amazon.co.uk/Environmental-arts-therapy-Tree-life/dp/095638630X

A Lesson in Language

I also had a shift in language while in Ireland. One of my favourite storytelling tips I picked was to do with words. A fiend told me that in translation “I am sorry” in English in Gaelic is “Sorriness is upon me”. The same goes for happiness and other emotions… I thought I need to use that more in my stories and in my own way of speaking. Maybe you might find it useful too?
May beauty be upon you and coyness with you this winter season,
With love and gratitude for life,
PS. If you want to sign up now for The Year Course with a 20% off discount, valid until end of November 2017, type in down2earth at the checkout. Click here: https://storytelling-for-outdoor-learning.thinkific.com/courses/theyearcourse or click the button below!

Imagine you were sitting under a tree, with the trunk to your back. Soft shade around you. There is a stream in front of you, and you notice orange flowers and the long green curves of leaves.

There is a puff of a light breeze and you can see foliage moving around you, the bright orange flower nodding and waving gently. As you shift your awareness into a soft gaze you can see more of the whole picture, the movement of the air as it touches the plants and then feel it on your skin and entering your nostrils. You sense you are part of the landscape, the world around you sustains you. You allow the thoughts to come and go, like the puffs of wind. You can hear a bird sing or call from the tree above. “Check! Check!” You notice a feeling of excitement. Not wanting to disturb the bird you start turning your head and ears softy towards the sound for a moment, the bird remains hidden in the canopy, calls again and flies off. A glimpse of the undulating flight and your mind says “Aha! Woodpecker!”.

A couple of breaths in help you centre yourself and once again, senses awake, you return to the awareness of breath, the changing feelings inside and the world outside. You remember your being here, now, is enough. You can accept that nature is, and so am I. Sensations, thoughts and emotions come and go like the birds, clouds, wind. I am like a tree. I have a place in the world. I have many gifts. I am enough. Scientists could tell me that my brainwaves are beginning to drop into the more relaxed and aware Alpha state. Many emotions and events come and go and yet I can remain upright, connected and share my breath with the world…


Mindfulness is a very simple and effective way of training the attention to be present to the here and now. Nature is constantly in the here and now. Practicing mindfulness in nature can be very effective way to:

  1. Increase general health and wellbeing
  2. Reduce stress and anxiety,
  3. Help with unwanted habits,
  4. Develop a deep appreciative relationship with nature and self,
  5. Remember the innocence and playful genius of the inquisitive and inventive child mind
  6. Increase creativity and productiveness
  7. Help with relationship issues,
  8. As well as simply do less and use less global resources!!

Nature connection

Nature connection in its many aspects and core routines, which include simple nature based games like hide and seek and blindfold challenges, ” sit spot”naturalist activity, “forest bathing”, traditional crafts, tracking, understanding bird language, wandering, mapping, journaling and even photography…. all these activities call us to our senses, to be present, to observe, to awareness.

Games in Nature

Blindfold games and other sensory awareness games help children engage all of their senses so when they are asked to sit in stillness they can!


A sufi proverb is “If in doubt, go for a walk”. The simple process of going of a walk in nature can help the mind flow through it’s circular, stressful or depressive thoughts, to drop into a rhythm and allow new thoughts to arrive. Nature can help us be called to attention to the present, and for the whole of our beings to shift or a view bring a new perspective.

Art in Nature

Doing temporary art in nature is another fantastic way to bring mindfulness and awareness into a simple activity…flow states can be reached simply and quickly. A flow state is a kind of moving mindfulness meditation where the brain settles into a different  and with trained mentoring and artful questioning many layers of meaning and can be discovered and light shed on the less illuminated parts of the mind.

Hanging out

Amazingly, in my work in schools I have noticed how a simple hammock can bring a great sense of peace and alter the brain fun actioning of autistic spectrum children. Hammock therapy! Hammocks are also a great place to relax and meditate and gaze at the forest. Research in Japan has shown that ten minutes of being in a forest brings significant reduction in cortisol levels in the blood. I imagine ten minutes in a hammock in lovely trees may work in the same way!

Stillness in your field

Mindfulness in Nature can thus bring many benefits to individuals and groups… though fun and centering practices that are simple and have been part of the human evolutionary story for thousands of years. Mindfulness can help us away from the frantic and stressful pace of life return to the source of our existence, and having found a way to become centred and relaxed at any time, you can literally stand out in your field! With thanks to our breath, the trees and all of creation.




11. May 2017 · Write a comment · Categories: Blog

At last!

My new resource is available! There is a free month ‘appetiser’ course here


Or there is the paid year course here With a special introductory offer 20% off!

What is is?

It’s a drip fed, month by month, year long storytelling training course with videos, storyboards, audio files, tips and tricks, activity ideas, curriculum links and more. Priced at less than £3 (or one posh coffee!) per week – it’s amazingly good value.

You can pay Yearly or Monthly – both buttons are at the bottom of the page!

This course gives you the tools and the confidence to tell a great story that engages all the listeners & then gives you activities and ideas to transform your outdoor learning delivery.

“Do you know what? This is INSPIRATIONAL! I love the story, the background information, the ideas. It’s a fabulous resource. It’s also very supportive recognizing that it’s not always easy to tell a story.” Sara Collins

Get 20% off with this code valid until the 25th May! 2week20 Click the image below to visit the course website.

11. May 2017 · Write a comment · Categories: Blog

There’s a swell of excitement and anticipation for Outdoor Classroom Day on Thursday next week!



Outdoor Classroom Day is a day to celebrate and inspire outdoor learning and play. On Thursday 18 May 2017, thousands of schools around the world will take lessons outside and prioritise playtime.

Why? Outdoor learning improves children’s health, engages them with learning and leads to a greater connection with nature. Play not only teaches critical life skills such as resilience, teamwork and creativity, but is central to children’s enjoyment of childhood.

It’s easy to get involved and there is something everyone can do!

If you’re a teacher and new to outdoor learning, why not use Outdoor Classroom Day to try it out? Or, if you’re an outdoor learning pro, use the day to celebrate what you’re doing already and inspire other teachers around the world to join in.

If you’re a parent, talk to your child’s school about the importance of outdoor learning and play. Ask them how they will get involved and offer to help out on the day if they need a bit of extra support.

If you work for an organisation that cares about children, nature, education or the environment, speak to us about how you can get involved. Are you an NGO that could lead the campaign in your country? We’d love to hear from you.

There are lots of resources, including advice, guidance and lesson plans, to help get you started. Sign up below to take part and help us build a movement that gets children outdoors to learn and play every day!


And remember, If you haven’t joined already there is a free storytelling for outdoor learning course I have created here:

Food, Fire and Bird Language: Three courses in May nr Sidmouth

Book Now get £20 off the day course prices! or all three for £90

HI,, just wanting to let you know I am running three courses in May at the lovely Bulstone Springs Farm, nr Sidmouth, East Devon.

19th Wild-food forage and cook up on the 19th May 6-9pm £30 More info herehttp://www.wholeland.org.uk/foraging-course/)


20th Wildfire! Learn fire by friction using the bow drill and the hand-drill 10-4pm £65 now £45 More info here (http://www.wholeland.org.uk/firebyfriction/)


21st Understanding Bird language course 9.30-4.00pm £65 now £45 More info here (http://www.wholeland.org.uk/birdlanguagecourse/)

Watch the video here:

Bird Language at Bulstone Springs from chris holland on Vimeo.

Come on all three for £130 Hang out round the fire into the night… wake up early for the amazing dawn chorus!

You can camp over at the farm for £5 a night…it’s a great place for hammocks too

And just in case you didn’t know I am offering a FREE STORYTELLING for outdoor learning course – click the picture to join up!



World Storytelling Day 2017

Today is almost vernal equinox…time for World Storytelling Day

This year I am launching a storytelling for outdoor learning course in May, but for today…

Here is one I prepared earlier!

grandpa and the two lions from chris holland on Vimeo.

I have also created a free storytelling for outdoor learning course… and there is another free story there!  Follow this link: 




grandpa and the two lions from chris holland on Vimeo.

Free Storytelling Course! It’s an appetiser for my latest online resource.

I have created a free storytelling for outdoor learning course here: http://storytellingforoutdoorlearning.com

It’s the appetiser for a year course that is launching in May…click the picture or link above to find out more!

 Waterside Ape


Monkeying around at the coast…five finger shoes available from http://www.primallifestyle.com

The two 45 minute programmes have me persuaded. There is a part where he talks about the small bones in the ears that close up if we spend too much time in cold water. This “Surfer’s Ear” is something I am aware of… and I always wear a hood when I am surfing in the winter because of this. Supposedly there is fossil evidence for these Ear Exostoses too…at a time when our ape ancestors seemed to be getting a big boost on the brain size front… possibly from eating alot more fish…

However other scientists such as Prof Alice Roberts who presented the Incredible Human Journey on BBC2 infer that Sir David Attenborough was putting forward an implausible theory based on the lack of evidence. Is Sir David “Monkeying” around I wonder.
At least the radio show wasn’t broadcast on April 1st… so of now I am going to give it some credence. What do you think?

Three courses in May

I am running three courses in May at the lovely Bulstone Springs Farm, nr Sidmouth, East Devon.

19th Wild-food forage and cook up on the 19th May 6-9pm £30 More info herehttp://www.wholeland.org.uk/foraging-course/)

20th Wildfire! Learn fire by friction using the bow drill and the hand-drill 10-4pm £65 More info here (http://www.wholeland.org.uk/firebyfriction/)

21st Understanding Bird language course 9.30-4.00pm £65 More info here (http://www.wholeland.org.uk/birdlanguagecourse/)

Come on all three for £130 Hang out round the fire into the night… wake up early for the amazing dawn chorus!

You can camp over at the farm for £5 a night…it’s a great place for hammocks too

Wild Food

Plant of the moment: Buck’s Horn (Staghorn) plantain – Plantago coronopus. This is one of my favourite seaside edibles. It can grow to quite some size in sheltered sites. I love it for it’s geometry and it’s salty, crunchy delicacy equally. It’s also fairly easy to identify.

On a visit to Charmouth recently I picked a little salad to finely shred and go with some bacon…it was a mixture of see beet, buck’s horn plantain and black mustard (for the wasabi like kick).

Favourite wildfood recipe: Robin’s Seabeet Chowder

Try this lovely recipe from the amazing Eat Weeds site. if you can get to the coast and find some seabeet: If not substitute with beetroot greens, kale, or spinach.

Sea Beet Chowder (Well Maybe)

Top Tip!

Remember to climb trees at this time of year too as you get a much better view!… and some blatant advertising for my favourite shoes… most excellent for tree climbing they are too. (http://www.primallifestyle.com)

In winter you can wear wooly socks from injinji.com inside the shoes too! http://www.feetus.co.uk

fullsizerender-13In this Post:

  1. Keynote Speech  – Powerpoint file to download
  2. I grow two more arms during a Natural Musicians Workshop – photos from the workshop.
  3. Short video of dynamic natural numbers 6 times table from the workshop
  4. Funny Shoes
  5. Transforming Outdoor Learning report from Plymouth University
  6. Lovely Wandering short film (4 mins) about mountain biking coast to coast across the highlands.

Last week was a particularly dynamic one for me. Many journeys both physically and emotionally. Ups and downs, Easts and wests! What about you? I reckon there was something poignant going on in the stars…

In my world of work in the West of England I was offered more forest school work at St Leonards in Exeter and the management of the development of the forest school site there.

I then headed East to give a keynote speech on Natural Flow Learning and a Natural Musicians workshop the LOTC conference organised by the fab Louise Flavell. It was Louise’s first conference since stepping into the role as manager for Essex County Council Country Parks Team. I think she did a great job.

LOTC ESSEX Natural Cycles and Flow Learning Presentation

Here is the presentation about flow learning I delivered: If you really want the pdf or ppt, file pls email me.

Natural Musicians Workshop:

During the workshops we did the following activities (as a reminder for the participants) : Mosquito Tag, “I went and found a…..”, Name drumming circle (from I love my world), Natural Numbers times tables sculptures 1-60 and the Found Sound Round (with conductor, repeat and volume controls)


Here is a v.short video of one part of the activities, the natural numbers times tables:

I also managed to from two extra arms..i think it was a little uncomfortable:


Along with the help of the extra hands I hope to release DVD’s of many more activities from the Natural Musicians activities during 2017…sign up to my mailing list for more details of when they are available.

After the conference I travelled West to Worcester for a day of Storytelling at the wonderful RGS Springfield school. It was a whole school forest school day.

Funny Shoes!

I had many people asking me about my five finger shoes all day – they are the most comfy shoes I know and the nearest thing to bare feet – available from http://www.primallifestyle.com

vibram five fingers

vibram five fingers

Transforming Outdoor Learning report from Plymouth University

Check this out!

Transforming Outdoor Learning in Schools – Lessons from the Natural Connections Demonstration Project, has been published. Find it here, free of charge! It features teachers and pupils across the project talking about the benefits the project brought to their school, alongside practical advice on howteachers can successfully embed outdoor learning in their school.

I was involved in this project on the delivery side. Full praise to those who pulled all the research together!

Here is the link again: https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/research/oelres-net/transforming

On Wandering

Here is a gorgeous film. I love the quality of the feel of wandering, and the message of the film. Wandering is so vital to the life journey of the human soul. A chance to venture, not lost, but looking, sensing, being in the flow. A chance to meet serendipity and chance first hand, to let nature enter or to enter nature and be re-juvinated and refreshed in some deeper, subconscious way. Ok, it’s an Advert for bikes…but for me it’s the nature connection that touches, the bike is just the vehicle!

And finally, a moving piece of music played by a genius, in the Arctic organised by Greenpeace. Pls skip the ads.