The Perfect Picnic

Can you think of anything more British than sitting in the sunshine (or clouds for that matter) and enjoying a glass of Pimms, alongside a finger sandwich and a cocktails sausage? Us Brits are known for our love of sitting on the classic striped blanket come rain or shine and our little Island offers plenty of gorgeous outdoor space to allow us to indulge the urge to picnic.


The Picnic Essentials

We thought we would make life a little easier for you by popping together a fail-safe list of essentials that will cover your picnics whatever the weather:


  • Crockery & cutlery, remember serving spoons if you’ve got salads or similar
  • Bin-bags, not just for rubbish but also to use under your blankets if the ground is still wet, or as a makeshift cagoule for when the heavens open
  • A mini first aid kit, because you can guarantee the one time you forget it, will be when the little ones take a tumble
  • Frozen bottles of water/squash so they stay cold throughout the day, top-tip, pop it between your sarnies to work as a home-made cool box
  • Pound coins for ice-cream, no, ice cream vans still don’t accept cards
  • Picnic blankets, if you don’t have one simply use towels or a throw and put your trusty bin-bags underneath
  • Kites or other games for children
  • A book or two
  • Sun cream because how many times have you been caught out thinking it’s not hot enough to burn and then walked home in your best lobster impression?
  • A little bit of honey. For warmer days it’s a good idea to pop a little bit of honey in some water and leave on a saucer away from your picnic, that way wasps will leave you alone
  • Food and lots of it because there’s always room for seconds on a picnic.


Do you have a favourite picnic spot? Why not broaden your horizons and try somewhere new, click here  for inspiration.  Or better still, join us on the 27th of May for our Big Kite Picnic at Golden Hill Country Park  Click here for more info


This FREE event is our annual fundraiser and chance for you to come together with friends and family. The day will offer kite making workshops with Shademakers (you are also welcome to bring your own). Storytelling and refreshments. Whilst this event is free, we will be fundraising to keep the Country Park beautiful. Invite friends and family to your very own Gift to Nature picnic and encourage them to bring their monies for donations. After all, there is no such thing as a free lunch!


We’re looking forward to seeing you there.

Gift to Nature Calendar Competition

Are you a novice nature photographer? Or do you just love taking photos of this gorgeous Island? We’re producing a Gift to Nature 2019 calendar & your photos could be part of it. Simply use the #G2Ncalendar to enter. If you win, not only will your photo be in our official calendar, you’ll also get a £10.00 voucher to use in our shop or against any of our events. Good luck & happy snapping.
The Small Print
For your photo to be used you need your image needs to be a minimum of 300 dpi resolution and this must be sent to before 31/07/2018. Whilst you still own the rights to your photo, by entering, you are allowing us to use your images in the calendar and in any other marketing material we feel necessary, including print and digital marketing.

Making your own Bird Feed

Sitting in your garden and watching the birds feed has got to be one of life’s great pleasures, but with the cost of birdfeed increasing, and the uncertainty as to what ‘fillers’ and preservatives might have been added, buying the food can be a costly addition to the monthly budget.

Here at Gift to Nature, we like to find a way around a problem, and we believe the solution here is to simply make your own. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a creative expert to make this one. A bit of time and some easy household ingredients will give you everything you need. Also with half-term approaching, this is another cost-effective idea to carry out with the kids (and less messy than baking) win, win.

What you need?


Seed mix (sunflower, safflower, golden millet or flax)


Dried Fruit

Grated cheese (mild cheddar or similar)


Extras ]

Yoghurt pots (or similar)




4 Simple Steps

Cute a hole in the bottom of your yoghurt pot. Put the string through the pot (allowing enough extra to tie to your tree or pole etc.)

Warm suet up to room temperature, cut it up into small pieces and put it in to the bowl. Using your hands (it gets messy!), mix with all the other ingredients. Keep squeezing and moulding the until the fat melts enough to hold the mixture all together.

Once it is holding, spoon the mixture into your yogurt pot(s) and pop them into the fridge for at least a few hours (preferably overnight).

Now all that is left to do is tie your little pots to the tree and watch the birds feed, here on the Island you can expect to see:

Blue Tit



Great Tit

Long-tailed Tit


And more…

Feel free to get in touch if you have any other questions or interesting sightings and don’t forget to recycle your pots or indeed use them again.


Ranger’s Diary

For all of those that missed our planting and pruning event, here are some of our top apple tree pruning tips:

Aim for an open goblet shaped crown – begin the job with an end in mind.

Don’t leave little stubs. When you’re making cuts make sure they’re clean and flush to the larger branch they grow from. The exception is heading back cuts (see below).

Bear in mind that horizontal branches bear more fruit than vertical branches.

If your tree has been really neglected, don’t do all the work in one season. You could do more harm than good and cause rampant regrowth. Spread the work out over 2 or 3 winters.

Remove large branches by cutting them off in sections to avoid injuring yourself.

Dwarf trees don’t need too much pruning – just a light touch.

As ever, March was a busy month for us- the weather certainly didn’t help our cause. Some days were sunny whilst others were filled with snow, sleet and rain. In spite of the good old English weather, progress has been made across many of our sites, March’s highlights:

Brading Down 

Working with J.R Fencing we installed two new kissing gates and an access gate for our vehicles on. One of the kissing gates is for disabled access from the ice cream van car park. This means there are now more points from which to access the lovely walks on the Down as well as the new picnic area which is adjacent to the ice cream van car park. Works to the car park surfaces will shortly be underway and there are now new information boards in place explaining the history, landscape and wildlife of the site. We have also been restoring benches in the area, getting them picnic ready. Finally we fitted new signage for the nature reserve and heard our first Skylark of the season, Yay.

Pig Leg Lane

We worked on our Allen Scythe (trusted piece of ranger machinery) mechanics to get it running well and took it out to cut some long grass and brambles beside one of the paths. The machine is great for cutting rough grassland and then we rake up the waste to prevent mulching over new growth beneath. This also stops nutrients returning to the soil which benefits wildflowers over vigorous grasses and nettles.

Bonchurch Landslip

Sadly an Ash Tree gave up the ghost and fell over a path in Bonchurch Landslip, we had to cut it into pieces to remove efficiently. Do drop us a line if you ever notice something similar at one of our sites. We do our best to get around as best we can, but it can be tricky to check on all 29 each week.

Pan Mill Meadows

Lots of tidying up around the path that runs down the side of the Matalan bridge and within eye shot of M&S. This is a well-used route and was overgrown with brambles and privet which during the summer grows out and has to be constantly cut. We had a good prune along there.

Hunnyhill School Presentation

We’ve been down to Hunnyhill School to chat to them about the life, history, behaviour and physical characteristics of our beloved red squirrels and why they are so important to the Island. The children were very enthusiastic and came up with some fantastic ideas of how to record and protect the squirrels.

We will be returning to the  classroom for another visit and we will be taking the class on an adventurous walk to Parkhurst Forest to the red squirrel hide.

The Wight Walks

Our little Island has long been adored for its outstanding natural beauty. From the Royal connections to the unique sub-climate in Ventnor, that allows many tropical plants to flourish and our gorgeous coast and the panoramic views, we really are very lucky indeed.

That said, with work, family or just generally busy lives, it can be all too easy to forget our beautiful surroundings. Add to the that the seemingly longer winters, shorter summers and increasingly unpredictable weather, getting outside and enjoying nature’s bounty is becoming increasingly more challenging. It’s time to take a leaf out of the tourism book and go beyond our back gardens. There has to be a reason why more than 2 million visitors continue to holiday here each year. Right?

There are countless reasons why walking and being outdoors is generally great. Bonding or romance – stepping into the tranquillity of nature allows you to focus on who you are with (or indeed yourself) without unwanted distractions. The peace and quiet of nature can help you better connect with family and friends too. On the next sunny day, why not pack a Prosecco picnic and grab lunch with a friend on Brading Down

Going for walks on Island allows you to explore your heritage. For example, did you know, at Golden Hill Country Park , the swanky new apartments used to be a military watch tower to give a 360 degree view over the Island and keep it safe. Or, are there personal connections to you and your family? Where did your parents play as children, did you swim in the sea as when you were younger? Walks are fantastic for reminiscing as well as creating new memories.

Walking is an inexpensive activity, you can also save money by picking your own fruit throughout summer and autumn. Pay a visit to our community orchard in Sandown. Apple and blackberry pie anyone?   To keep your walks interesting, plan out a route that passes a blackberry bush or one where you can see the Island’s wildlife. Parkhurst Forest  is a great place to view the infamous red squirrel population or in the Spring you’ll be hard-pushed to miss the rabbits all over the countryside but if youre lucky you might spott a water vole along the riverbank.

Next time you find yourself with a Saturday afternoon free checkout our interactive map  which can help you choose your next adventure. Or perhaps you’re bored of internet shopping on your lunch break? Plenty of our sites are still in urban areas, Pan Mill Meadows,  is a five minute walk from ASDA in Newport and it’s a peaceful spot amongst the hustle and bustle. You can sit by the river in the sunshine and eat your sarnie, rather than being cooped up indoors and listening to your colleague’s summer holiday plans.

Be sure to keep your smartphone with you to check out how many steps you’ve added into the day too, there’s nothing quite like exercise when it doesn’t feel like exercise.


The Outdoor Mindfulness Guide

Here at Gift to Nature HQ we’re always looking for ways to improve and this month we thought we would share a mindfulness technique that will get you walking in the great outdoors and enjoying all the beauty our little Island has to offer.

If you’re even a smidgen into self-care, you’ll already be au fait with mindfulness and all the wondrous health benefits related to it. For those who don’t know, put simply, mindfulness is the art of practicing a mental state that focuses awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting the feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations that pass you by. Continue reading

Prize draw: a new name for Sandown Wetland Community Orchard

Prize draw: a new name for Sandown Wetland Community Orchard

– Draw is now closed –

Tell us what you think, and win a prize worth up to £64!

With money from the Big Lottery Fund we’re starting work to enhance Sandown Community Orchard and Wetland Walk in 2018. Thanks to Big Lottery Players we will put in a boardwalk, a new gate, some new benches, a board telling the story of the site and improve the hedge. We also want to get more people to use it, so we are going to need to show people what it can offer, how they can use the free fruit. We decided it needs a new name too.

Go to the prize draw survey page

Continue reading

Come and get dirty with us!



Volunteer opportunities at the
“Mummies Caves” at Dodnor




The HLF funded Dodnor Rediscovered Project will be running volunteering opportunities to get involved in archaeological and environmental work at the Cement Kiln site and Dodnor Creek Local Nature Reserve,

Interested in Nature Conservation?

If you’d like to find out more about the practical sessions which will start in January 2018 and continue through to summer 2018 on this internationally important site please email Mark Russell at

Interested in Archaeology?

Archaeology training sessions will be held in January to April 2018 and the field work will be carried out March to August 2018. For more information and to register your interest to volunteer email:

Or call Natural Enterprise Shide Meadows Centre on 296244