5 unusual things to do this May Day Bank Holiday

Come rain or shine, don’t spend the May Day bank holiday catching up on boxsets or doing DIY. We’ve found five intriguing things to do over the long weekend…

Learn how to forage

Our woods, fields and hedgerows are a full-on tasting menu ready to be eaten! This one-day foraging course in Denbighshire, North Wales (plenty of others around the UK too) is run by professional foragers who will help you identify wild food including plants and fungi that you can (and can’t) eat, where to find tasty morsels in surprising places, prepping your finds and cooking up some inventive dishes. Fish and game preparation is also covered, with an alternative option for vegetarians/vegans.

When: Saturday 2nd May 2015

Cost: £60 per person

Booking/info: Visit www.originaloutdoors.co.uk/foraging-course-north-wales

Watch an archeological dig

At Birdling Gap and the Seven Sisters near Eastbourne, East Sussex, archeologists are exploring the site of the Crowlink coastguard station, established in the nineteenth century. The area was a favourite with smugglers and this dig is attempting to determine how the site was previously used. It’s a National Trust site so visitors (including dogs on leads and children) are welcome to come down for free and take a look.

When: 2-4pm 2nd, 3rd, 4th May 2015

Booking/info: No booking required but visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/whats-on/find-an-event (search for Crowlink Coastguard Cottages) for more info.

Canalway Cavalcade (c) The Inland Waterways Association
Canalway Cavalcade (c) The Inland Waterways Association

Join the Canalway Cavalcade in Little Venice

Little Venice in London will be awash with bunting and boats this bank holiday for the annual Canalway Cavalcade organised by the Inland Waterways Association. Enjoy the festival’s spectacle of pretty narrowboats along the canal, plus the real ale bar, morris dancing (it is May Day afterall!), little shops and tasty food stalls. We also love the sound of the illuminated night-time boat procession from 9.30pm to 10pm. The event is totally free.

When: 2nd – 4th May 2015

Booking/info: No booking required but visit the festival website for full details or follow on Twitter and Instagram @canalcavalcade

Improve your photography skills

This one-day workshop on Landscape and Wildlife Photography is ideal for beginners and those looking to improve their basic skills. Run by expert Mike Allen of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, the course will take you through the technical aspects of your camera, through to composition and editing. You’ll be out and about doing practical work and enjoying the beautiful Twyford water meadows.

When: 10am – 2pm, Saturday 2nd May 2015

Booking/info: Visit www.wildlifetrusts.org/events/2015/05/02/landscape-and-wildlife-photography for full course details and booking information

Visit a quirky museum

The UK is pretty good at museums! From the world famous attractions in London, to some of the smallest (and oddest) museums you’ve never heard of – think of a topic and there’s probably a museum dedicated to it somewhere on these isles! We like the Shell Museum in Glandford, North Norfolk, a genuinely intriguing and cute museum housed in a converted chapel full of curiosities and amazing artefacts. But there’s also the Pencil Museum in the Lake District, the Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle, Cornwall, and museums dedicated to prams, locks and even dog collars (thanks to this Telegraph picture gallery!).

When: Smaller museums are often run only by volunteers so have limited opening times. Always check their website for full details (and don’t forget to support them by supplementing your entry fee with a donation!).

Enjoy the long weekend!

Learn eco build skills at Rock Farm Slane, Ireland

Fancy learning to build an energy-efficient, cost-effective home? Get to grips with the traditional craft of building with straw, or see how materials such as clay and lime are used in the natural build process? This hands-on holiday at Ireland’s Rock Farm Slane will teach you how to build a thermally efficient, eco-friendly home.learning to build at Rock Farm Slane

Carina Mount Charles, co-founder of eco-tourism destination Rock Farm Slane, outlines a new innovative natural build course starting this October on the farm in the grounds of the majestic Slane Castle Estate outside Dublin, situated in one of Irelands most beautiful and historic locations – Boyne Valley, Meath Ireland.

Rock Farm Slane is running ‘hands on’ 5-day (residential/non-residential) workshops – hugely popular and open to everyone from beginners to professionals.  Led by UK straw bale construction expert Bee Rowan, the five day workshop commences on Tuesday 1 October.  Students will receive a ‘hands-on, step-by-step’ guide to achieving a thermally efficient eco-built healthy home, and includes working with clay plastering and lime for rendering. 

Participants will learn how to work, shape and build with straw and cut local timber. You don’t need existing building skills – previous courses have included architects, engineers, builders expanding their building skills as well as complete beginners. All are welcome!

Why build with straw bales?

Together with good design, straw bale buildings offer the most thermally efficient and healthy option for all climates, keeping heating and cooling needs and costs to the absolute minimum. It not only creates healthy, ‘breathable’ buildings free from toxic gases, they have a good energy performance, (surprisingly) good fire resistance, and are hugely cost effective. This low-tech, locally-sourced material is aesthetically beautiful, and building with it is fun!

Bee explaining straw bale building, Rock Farm SlaneExpertly led

Bee Rowan is one of the UK’s foremost straw bale construction experts and has been building with straw bale for over a decade.  Formerly co-director and Head of Training for pioneering straw bale building co-operative Amazonails, Bee designs and builds straw bale and natural buildings,and teaches straw bale construction in schools of architecture. Bee also runs workshops for beginners to professionals with a wonderful ability to lead fun, inclusive and inspiring sessions. Bee has taught regular mainstream contractors how to build with straw bale in the UK for social housing developments and across Europe, Mongolia and Pakistan. 

Course details and accommodationshepherd hut at Rock Farm Slane

  • Luxury accommodation includes furnished and heated yurts and a shepherd’s hut in the glorious and richly historic landscape of Slane Castle
  • Course runs from 9:30am to 5pm daily
  • 5-day residental – 530Euros per person including breakfast, lunch and refreshments
  • 5-day non-residential – 340Euros per person including lunch and refreshments
  • To book visit https://strawbalebuildingcourses2013.eventbrite.ie/
  • Further courses will be available from April 2014


For more information about Rock Farm Slane visit www.rockfarmslane.ie

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