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Imbolc Activities: Nature Connection & Making Cakes for Birds

29 Jan 21

** These activities are being offered as part of a free, facilitated online workshop at 2pm on Saturday 30th January [Book Here]. There are still a few spaces left. We offer the activities here for those who can’t make it!**

Make time this weekend to celebrate the Celtic cross-quarter festival of Imbolc, which traditionally falls on the 1st of Feb. Imbolc is the festival that marks the first stirrings of Spring – celebrating new beginnings in our own life and in the natural world around us. If the ongoing lockdown is getting you down, here are some activities that invite you to pay attention to the new growth that is stirring all around us, and maybe even discover some newness stirring inside you too!

Imbolc coincides with the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, and we invite you to support the birds in your neighbourhood by making these super easy fatcakes, which take about 30 minutes from start to finish, and you’ll find most of the ingredients in your cupboard! Then you can head outside for an hour, and count the birds you see using the handy bird ID resources on the RSPB website! Taking part in the Big Garden Birdwatch helps the RSPB to gather important data to increase our understanding of the challenges faced by wildlife – and you don’t need to have a garden of your own, just access to a green space.

Nature Connection Activity

As well as sharing an hour with the birds, here’s a wee nature connection exercise to tune into the Spring. It’s an invitation to go for a mindful walk in your neighbourhood or nearby green space for around half an hour (or longer if you’d like to!), followed by some writing or drawing. You can bring a (phone) camera) and any drawing materials if you’d like to. Here we go:

  • As you leave the house, try walking slower than you usually would and feel into the sensation of your feet on the ground for at least the length of a street. See if you can find a rhythm of your steps and your breath that feels comfortable.
  • Then try to open all your senses out to the world around you: What can you see, hear, smell, feel? We sometimes talk about how ‘Spring is in the air’… What first signs of Spring can you notice around you? If it helps you, you can focus on one ‘sensory channel’ at a time, for example your ears or your nose. If you notice that you’re getting distracted with thoughts, try finding a small detail in the world around you that you’ve never paid attention to before…
  • Try greeting any sign of Spring that catches your attention – with a smile or a hello (silently or aloud!) or in any other way that feels appropriate.
  • After a while, see if you’re drawn to a particular creature – a plant, a tree or maybe a bird, that seems to be coming into Spring. Spend at least 5 minutes observing the creature with all your senses, as if you’re meeting it for the very first time! What can you see, hear, smell, feel? You can also draw if that helps you to notice all the small details. Then, imagine what this creature will be like in Spring. What will it look like, how will it bloom or behave? Finally, thank the creature for the time you spent together and, if you want, you can also make a photo of it.
  • Slowly walk back to your house, still feeling your feet on the ground and opening your senses. You can also choose to make photos of the stirrings of Spring that meet your eye.
  • Back home, you have an option to either create one or more images of the creature you encountered – using any art materials that you have at hand – or to do some writing. If you’re making an image, don’t feel like it has to be a realistic representation, the invitation is to recreate some of the details that you particularly remember, or to represent your own ‘feeling impression’ of the creature that ha stayed with you. If you want to do some writing, you’re welcome to use the instructions below.

Writing activity

This activity uses ‘freewriting‘, a method in which you just write anything that comes to mind, without lifting the pen of the page or doing any editing as you go. It helps to use a timer for this – the timings below are an invitation, you can of course choose to write for less or more time.

5 mins: Imagine you’re writing from the perspective of the creature you spent time observing. What would it say to you or anyone who encounters it at this time of the year? You can choose to use the prompts ‘I am‘ and ‘I will’ to come back to again and again, as you do free-writing.

3 mins: Read through your writing so far and underline one sentence or one word that particularly strikes you. Start free-writing again, using this as a first line and see where it takes you.

3 mins: Repeat the above instructions, underlining another sentence or word.

3 mins: Read through your last bit of writing and see if you want to ‘polish’ it in any way to finish it for now. It doesn’t have to be perfect (you’ve only spent a few minutes on it, after all!), as long as it expresses something you want to bring across.

Then, either put your writing on a nice piece of paper and put in somewhere you can see it over the next few weeks, as the Spring arrives, and/or share it with a friend (for example in a letter, email or text message).

If you use Instagram, we’d also love you to share with us your writing, image(s) and/or any photos you made during your walk. You can use the #imbolcsalisbury hashtag and tag us directly, @SalisburyCentre. We look forward to seeing how you got on!


We bury our seeds and wait,
Winter blocks the road,
Flowers are taken prisoner underground,
But then green justice tenders a spear.
– Rumi



How to make fat cakes for birds (including vegetarian option)

Source: https://www.gardenersworld.com/how-to/diy/how-to-make-fat-cakes-for-birds/







You will need:

  • 150g fat that will set

Either lard, suet or coconut oil

  • 300g dry mix

Could include…

  • Bird seed mix
  • Raisins
  • Peanuts
  • Oats
  • Grated cheese
  • Sunflower/pumpkin seeds
  • Old bread
  • Other nuts or seeds from your kitchen


  • Containers that you can put a hole in, to be used as a mould

Eg. yogurt pots or cupcake cases (if using these a cupcake tin is also helpful!)


  • Scissors
  • String
  • Saucepan
  • Mixing bowl
  • Wooden spoon




  1. Carefully make a small hole in the bottom of each yoghurt pot or cupcake case. Thread string through the hole and tie a knot on the inside. Leave enough string on the inside for the mixture to stick around it, and enough string on the outside so that you can tie the cake to a tree or your bird table. If using cupcake cases, put them into a cupcake tray:

2. Put all your dry ingredients into the bowl, and mix together.

3. Melt your fat in a saucepan over a low heat, until it has turned to liquid, but try not to get it too hot! (Stirring helps!)

4. Pour the melted fat over the dry mix, and stir to combine.

5. Spoon the mixture into the yogurt pots or cupcake cases, and leave to cool. Once cool, transfer to the fridge until set.

6. Slide/cut the cases or pots off the set fat-cakes , and hang outside!


We hope you enjoy these Spring activities, alone or with your household. Again, you’re invited to share any photos or impressions on Instagram using the #imbolcsalisbury hashtag and tag us directly, @SalisburyCentre, or email us directly at community@salisburycentre.org. We’d love to see how you’ve marked Imbolc this year, and if you check Instagram you’ll be able to see what other Salisbury Centre community members did too – weaving connections in this time of lockdown.

There are also still spaces left for our online Imbolc workshop on Saturday the 29th of January. You can book a free space here on Eventbrite, we’d love to welcome you there.


Happy Imbolc! 


By Susannah Phillipson & Olga Bloemen, Community Development Workers at the Salisbury Centre. 

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