The Conscious Baby

Being a father has been the most interesting adventure in my life (almost a year!). I have observed not only the step-by-step making of a human being, but also my own development as I take on a new role in my life, a role I’ve partially lived with other children, but now can live full-time!

One thing I think a lot of us don’t realise is how sensitive and precise babies are as they develop. We think of them as a “uncivilised” and in need of education – which I don’t entirely disagree with, they need help “navigating” this complex social world – but a large part of how they are reflects how they are treated. If we treat them roughly, they will reflect that back into the world; if we treat them with gentleness and respect, more often than not, that is how they will approach the world.

Observing my daughter, I’ve learnt just how precise she can be at times and how delicate she can be with various objects. She can be a little rough with the cats, and we don’t let her handle some objects in case she breaks them or hurts herself, but she isn’t reckless or clumsy. When she is being “destructive” it can be almost scientific, experimental. She is actively making observations about how she can affect the world around her. The point is, this isn’t something she does all the time, she can be really selective and careful.

If we do not allow them the time or space to experience things on their own terms, it goes directly into the unconscious, and from there they have no choice but to accept it. We expose them to things that overwhelm them, cause them stress or otherwise harm them, and they have to learn to accept it. It is “normal” even if it shouldn’t be, even if they should be allowed to reject it.

On the other hand, if we let them have the space to observe the world on their own terms and let them interact with the world in way they can understand consciously, each action then becomes careful and deliberate. They learn not to react to the world but act within it as conscious agents, carefully choosing what they want to do with a myriad of options.

It’s a lie that babies “don’t notice anything” – they notice everything; it all gets recorded in their implicit memory, influencing how their brain develops and forming the bedrock of their personality. The trick is that if we treat babies well early on, it will become the foundation for their own approach to the world. But if we are not so careful with them, we are creating problems for ourselves later on and the “terrible twos” can unnecessarily be terrible and possibly beyond!

Eco-Art: Autumn Blend

008This is something I did for my Eco-Art course last autumn…

I went for a walk with my dogs, and whilst I did that I searched for items that could be interesting in my artwork. I picked up leaves, twigs, twigs with leaves, stones, hazelnuts, nettle tree seeds, acorns, a feather and a snail shell. Then I wondered how I might make it into a “touch art”.

My idea was to put them into a little bag I have (perhaps a bit too little for all the things I have, I’ll get a bigger one) so that the only way to interact with them is to touch them, without removing. Some of the items reflect the time of year, and it would be interesting to make this a practice for each season.

I call it “Autumn Blend”, as it is composed of items from the autumn. What does the autumn feel like? The answer’s in the bag. I’m intrigued, since the whole point is not to look at all. I know what I put inside, but I’m intrigued by how it might feel.

Senses connect us with what is happening with our environment, but touching the items in the bag made me feel that I was also connecting with my own body. Through the senses we connect with the existence of our bodies, and I feel that though I use my touch often enough, perhaps I don’t pay as close attention to it as I normally do. It made me feel closer to the power of my own finger tips.

I think it may be one of the more concrete senses, in the sense that it is a reliable way of confirming the existence of something, even more reliable than “I’ll believe it when I see it.” I touched my cat and he reminded me that touch is a way to comfort oneself or another. If we feel lost or unbalanced, touch can help counter this.


Patchy Veg Patch and Random Lettuces

How did it get there? I don't remember sowing seeds THERE!

How did it get there? I don’t remember sowing seeds THERE!

My experiment with the semi-wild veg patch hasn’t worked out as I’d hoped, but it has had some interesting results. It’s always been experimental, and I’ve been open to any result, because any result can teach me about how to develop the system in this location with its climate and soil.

I learnt the idea from a book written by a Japanese farmer (Masanobu Fukuoka’s The One-straw Revolution), which could give ideas about how to experiment, but couldn’t tell me how it worked because, well, different climate, soil, weather patterns et al mean that what works there won’t work here exactly the same way. This meant I had to start from scratch and experiment with what I had.

In the end out of all the different seeds I sowed aming the grass, not much grew. I had beans, peas, rocket, radish, spinach and garlic, including two courgette plants. Not all of these produced anything significant, so I left them to self-seed. One very surprising part were the lettuces: none of them grew up where I planted them, appearing outside the veg patch or amongst the radishes and rocket. Enough for a couple of salads when they’re  big enough.

That's a weird radish... wait, it's a lettuce!

That’s a weird radish… wait, it’s a lettuce!

In the future I can concentrate on what worked this year and improve the conditions, like not putting so much mulch on top or sowing at more suitable times of year (I was very enthusiastic at the beginning, throwing seeds down earlier than I should). Alongside this I can continue experimenting sowing new things. And who knows, maybe some of the seeds I’ve planted are just laying dormant, waiting for the right moment to surprise me!

Glorieta: A Campaign Well-Fought

In the end the Glorieta did not get enough votes. We did come in a close second though. For a while we lingered around the bottom, and the last week or so we put the pressure on, blogging, emailing, tweeting, posting on forums, going to the streets. In the last week our number went from bottom to near the top!

I want to thank all those that participated and helped out, voting and spreading the word.

Even though the Glorieta didn’t get the funding from EOCA, the project for Glorieta will still go ahead. There are still things to do!

You can still help out by donating one euro a month:

Glorieta Update

The Glorieta Stream has risen through the ranks and is now in second place, and still rising fast. Thanks to all those who have voted and spread the word. But it’s still not finished yet!

With less than a day to go it’s vital to continue voting and pass the message along. We’re so close, and it’s so possible! Please, copy and paste this message and share it with your contacts, whether by email or a social networking site. Just vote and past it on!

“Along the Glorieta stream, there are amazing landscapes and many endangered species, but it is threatened by incivility and invasive exotic species.

We need your vote to make this conservation project work.

 quick, free and anonymous

from computer, mobile and tablet

Vote and more info:

until 31st March at 12:00 midday (GMT).

Please, disseminate this message


CEN’s Teaming and Glorieta Vote

CEN association has two badges, one for the EOCA voting, another for Teaming. Teaming is very simple: you only have to give €1 per month to a worthy organisation, in this case CEN.

The second badge is for the Vote for the Conservation of the Glorieta Stream that I recently blogged about. The votes are going well, but we still need more to catch up with the other projects. If you could please vote and send this link to anyone you know (email, Facebook, blogs), that would be very much appreciated:

Or show these badges on your website/blog:



Vote for the Conservation of the Glorieta Stream

Vote for the conservation of the Glorieta stream. It’s free and only takes less than a minute:

Please, forward this message to all your contacts, including colleagues, friends, family, social networks and media. Every single vote is important!
The European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) is a not-for-profit association constituted by companies operating within the outdoor industry. As a charitable organisation directly funding specific projects, the EOCA wants to show that the European outdoor industry is committed to putting something back into the environment, and that by everyone working together a real difference can be made. Every year, a number of non-profit organisations apply for EOCA grants to implement a conservation project through volunteering in any country around the world. Our project has become a finalist and we need your vote to be selected.
The aim of our proposal is to guarantee the long term conservation of the Glorieta stream headwaters. The site is protected by the Natura 2000 Network of the Prades Mountains and protected by a land stewardship agreement with the CEN association. The deep pools, long waterfalls, and turquoise waters are admired by thousands every year, including those that come specifically to hike or canyon. The area is rich in endangered species such as the white-clawed crayfish, the red tailed barbel and the white throated dipper. The main threats are the increasing numbers of visitors, litter, graffiti and damage caused by visitors, and exotic invasive plant and animal species.
Through CEN, this project will organise:

  1. Restoration actions to counteract human impacts.
    • 3 clean up campaigns with volunteering.
    • Control the ailanthus invasion (exotic invasive tree).
    • Eradication of the red swamp crayfish (exotic) to protect the white-clawed crayfish (autochthonous and endangered) and other fauna.
  2. Regulation actions to reduce the negative effects derived from hyperfrequentation.
    • Regulation of canyoning.
    • Access restriction to vulnerable places.
  3. Awareness actions.
    • Leaflet.
    • Poster.
    • Panels.
    • Conference.
    • Workshop “the stream secret inhabitants”

Voting will start at 00.01 (GMT) on 17th March and will end at 12.00 midday (GMT) on 31st March.
Vote in English:
Information and vote in Deutsch:
For further information, please visit the EOCA website

Nominated by:


In collaboration with:


Member of:


Avencs de la Febró

Yesterday, I went with NCAT to a beautiful place in the Prades mountains that I’ve never seen before. Last week we went to scout it out, just to see where it is, and it’s a good job we did, because it’s easy to miss the entrance down into it (though the gorge itself is easy to locate).

Inside was markedly colder, and there was a point where you feel the temperature change as you descended. It’s 40m deep, and all the way through there are holes and little caves where the water has burrowed through the rock. There was a huge cave which had a circular tunnel that reconnected with the main chamber (with a huge group of people, mostly kids, I thought I’d leave it for next time).

I was surprised to find a cave at the end of the gorge when I shone my torch down what I thought has a simple hole. It turned out to be a small tunnel that led to a cave which could fit around ten or more people, standing. The big cave was full of visitors, but this one I had a moment alone, and felt at peace within the Earth. 🙂


(Nature Connected Activities in Tarragona)

Last month we walked along Playa Larga near Tarragona and had several nationalities: a Dutch couple, a Portuguese, a Greek, several Spaniards, a Venezuelan, a Scotsman, an Englishman (yours truly) and a Swiss woman (Mika) – it sounds like the beginning of a complex bar joke (but it wasn’t, lol).  It was a beautiful place with forest right next to the sea. This month we go to the Febró ravine; I’ll tell you about that.

Recently we had our first NCAT English meet up. We were asked recently if we had outings specifically for speaking English, so we obliged and created a new branch of NCAT. This group is more for people that want to practice their English in an informal setting. We do have a few exercises to learn some basics, but just something simple whilst we walk. There’s plenty of extranjeros (foreigners, like me) that want to learn Spanish, so why not an NCAT Spanish?

We also have NCAT Eco-Art; the first workshop will be the end of this month. Here we use natural materials to create works of art (mandalas, “touchscapes”, etc.), but working with ecopsychological principles by becoming aware of the natural world around us with senses little used!

Here are the links for each group:

NCAT – for excursions and activities out in nature.

NCAT English – excursions in nature, learning and practicing English.

NCAT Ecoart – artistic activities in nature, combining natural materials with ecopsychological principles.

Book of Poems

It’s been a long time in coming. A very long time in coming, but at last it’s happening!

For the last few months I’ve been looking through my poems and creating a book of poetry from them, using Blurb. I’ve written so many that I’ll be publishing several books. For the moment, all the poetry for the first book has been collected and I just need to work on the look of the book and put pictures in, then it’ll be ready for publishing. 🙂