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Season 1, Episode 3:
Outdoor Learning and Play 

Guest: Juliet Robertson
Outdoor Learning Consultant


Marina Robb

Hosted by: Marina Robb

Juliet Robertson 

Juliet Robertson is a leading Outdoor Learning consultant, author of 2 popular books, who is living with a terminal illness.

Before becoming a consultant, Juliet was a head teacher at three schools. Her other experience draws on a degree in environmental science, as an archaeologist, conservation, outdoor education and years in mainstream teaching, including as a Head teacher.

In this episode, Juliet:

  • Talks frankly and tenderly about her terminal illness.
  • Brings all her experience to this conversation, sharing the potential of outdoor learning and outdoor play.
  • Emphasises that you don’t need a qualification to take learning outside and the preciousness of play.
  • Challenges the cultural assumption that real learning only happens indoors.
  • Reiterates that the outdoors is not a ‘subject’, rather an essential place of learning any area of the curriculum.

Music by Geoff Robb: www.geoffrobb.com


Her well-loved blog, Creative Star, www.creativestarlearning.co.uk is a must-visit resource full of excellent outdoor learning tips.

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(transcribed by AI so there maybe some small errors!)

Marina Robb: Juliet, welcome to wild minds. Thank you so much for joining me for this conversation that we're going to have. I just love to start with some gratitude, as you know, and I am basically incredibly grateful with for all the things that you've given to the education sector in particular, around outdoor learning, I have used so many of your resources over the year. So I just want to say thank you for that. How about you?

Juliet Robertson: 
Thank you, Marina, at my gratitude is most definitely around, just being delighted to be alive and delighted to be reasonably well. For those people listening who don't know I have a terminal prognosis with acute myeloid leukaemia. And one never knows literally from one day to the next how one is going to be. But so far, I have been very fortunate to be well.

Marina Robb: 
Well, the fact that you've just come straight in and shared that with me and with other listeners, it really shows, for me, the kind of person you are that you, you know, you have the courage to just just to come straight out and share that. So, well, let's go there. I didn't know we were gonna go there straight away. But actually, I would like, because we are. Because this is a like, say a kind of a spontaneous conversation. How has how has, knowing that you have limited time left in your life? How is that shaping? The decisions that you're making? And the things that you're prioritising? How, how is that for you?

At this point up?

Juliet Robertson: 
Well, I think I'm a very fortunate person in the term, I've got very good levels of disassociation. So whilst approximatively, I'm, I know this is happening to me. I don't feel it on a day to day basis. So that's, that's a positive. I have spent a lot of my life rushing around being as busy as possible. So I'm actually very happy just to be quietly at home. And in my home town, just going for daily walks, and taking it relatively easy tying up bits and pieces. This suits me very well. So I guess I don't mind a little bit.

Marina Robb: 
And what are the things that have really? Or are there things that have been really sharpened by by this experience that you've been through? I mean, what have you found that you have valued more than you could have imagined?

Juliet Robertson: 
I think some of the things I'm really grateful for is that, from an early age, in my life, I've had to deal with a lot of difficult situations. And so when I was faced with a cancer diagnosis, it didn't affect me maybe in the way that it does with so many. So I was reading this literature that says, I expect you will be feeling angry, or in denial or frustrated, or, and I didn't feel any of these things, I felt perfectly calm. Because I've always accepted that when you are born, and you have the privilege of living. And particularly for me a life well lived, there is always going to be the deal is that you die at the end. And when that is we all know we have no control over or very little unless we choose to take our own lives. And so I felt very strongly that this is just part of the course for my life and wasn't I lucky that I've lived such a rich and fulfilling life. But having setbacks in your life, I think can set you up if used well for other big setback. So that's happen.

Marina Robb: 
So I'd like to ask you a little bit about your journey. I mean, I understand that you became a teacher and then a head teacher. So you had

I guess a role to influence how your school was run? Well, that's an it that's a question in itself. Does a head teacher have a role to influence what is done in the school and for you? How did you bring your values? The things that I suppose they might have changed over time as well. But how did you bring that into your teaching? Practice? What were the ways you felt you could do that? And what were the challenges?

Juliet Robertson: 
Well, I think, to start with as a, as a head teacher, you do have more influence than as a standard primary teacher. In some ways, your hands are tied, I mean, your budget is your budget. And unless you go out and grant seek, and to grant seek, you've got to have enormous amounts of time to do that. And then you've also got to allocate time to the management of those funds. So it's a bit of a mixed bag there. In terms of values, so prior to going into teaching, I did a degree in environmental science, I worked with children outside, I was an archaeologist and a countryside Ranger, I did voluntary work with the conservation projects, sorry, the conservation volunteers. So I was bringing to my education practice, a large background in outdoor education of one sort or another. And that was urban as well as rural. So that was one of the key things because when things got tough, I escaped outside with my class. And when in my third year of teaching, I had a particularly challenging class, instead of waiting to the summer term to do so weekly woodland visits, I moved that straight into September. And the difference that made was noticeable that was in 1994. And then by 1995, I was working back in North America, this time doing an exchange, an exchange to an Outdoor Education Centre. So always with me, the benefits of being outside have always been there. And I think on top of that, I come from a family that's always valued the arts and creativity. And I think the two combined maker, enrich what the outdoors is all about. So it's not just about knowing about your species, it's about being creative in that in any space, and in any time that you're actually there. And I think I hope that that's something I brought with me to get my headship as well as my classroom practice. Yeah.

Marina Robb:
So is there a link for you, between wellness, being well as a person, and having access to creative experiences or environmental, you know, outdoor experiences is Do you feel there's a real link between, I suppose, health and the outdoors?

Juliet Robertson: Yes, so. So, I mean, that the health connections to the outdoors are extremely well documented. I mean, there is no doubt that being outside particularly in nature, reduces stress levels, there is no doubt that being outside particularly in nature, tends to make us more physically active. And there's a multitude of other benefits to I think the link with creativities, some people do see, and that's around the affordances of the environment, isn't it and how we perceive the environment and how therefore we can be in that way in creative ways. And I think nature enables that, you know, and you will have been to many presentations, where somebody stands up and says, This deck, and we all share ideas about how we could use this deck, or what an object looks like to us. And we've all got 101 different ideas. I think the link between creativity and wellness is a bit less defined, but it's certainly coming through so whilst I have been unwell you probably noticed that my blog didn't have many updates. And that's not because I couldn't do it I could have done but your focus and energy just goes on surviving each day. And people say Oh, but you could keep a journal or blog about that. Well, to be honest, it's very much part of the same you wake up you have breakfast, somebody comes and takes you bloods you're you're feeling six you either throw up or you don't you walk around your room to stop throwing up. That there's a mundane se to it or but really Leave isn't worth going into. And lots of people talk about all the side effects of chemo when going through chemo. But the real thing for me is the healing that comes once you've been through chemotherapy, you're out the other side, and how do you PC life together again, and that's where creativity and the outdoors makes a huge difference. Because to get outside, and to feel the what the weather on your cheeks and on your body that you haven't been able to experience inside is huge. And also, I found that creativity. So at the moment, I'm doing a lot of work felting projects, but also, I ended up writing poetry as a way of expressing and processing what had happened to me, rather than going for the traditional blog posts. So yeah, there are connections all over the place.

Marina Robb: 
So there's collections for every stage and moment of life, it sounds like it can really help us to process things. It certainly does. For me that if I if I try and think my way into things and out of things, I can get quite lost, you know. But actually, if I can make something and or go on a walk or smell something or touch something, then it kind of helps so much. So what I can't get my head around is that, like you said, there's so much research and information that links the benefits of health with the natural world. I think I think we know that children need to move. We know that if we're stressed, we can't learn and all these things. So what do you think is going on then in our education system? How is it that we can have so many people so many documents, I mean, you've you've been key in writing some incredibly, I'm sure collaborating to write some incredibly important documents around the importance of outdoor play in education. We have children and adults, all of us are struggling in some ways with stress. So why why what's going on in our education that start with education, that we're not actually shifting it enough to include these things that help us to be well, and help us to learn? What do you think's going on?

Juliet Robertson: 
Well, I think I think there's two things. First of all, there is a growing shift with app without a doubt there is and to give you an idea in 1992. And I applied for teaching jobs. And they asked any questions. And I always would smile and say Yes, tell me about the opportunities for outdoor learning and outdoor education. And I will just get this blank stare in a stutter back. And almost What do you mean by this? And oh, we you know, do a residential or Oh, that such and such classes have got a pond and do pond dipping? Whereas these days, I think there's a much greater understanding even if there isn't an activity towards it. I think in the early years, there has been a tipping point. So these days, it's not do you do free flow between the indoor and outdoor space? It's, it's not why do you do that? It's why don't you there is that and that is a significant shift. There is much more of a shift towards getting children outside and into nature. Now some do that through the forest school route. Others do it through other approaches, or through their own bat. I mean, you don't need to be qualified to take children to a woodland Do you or onto a beach, you've just got to be sufficiently competent and to follow the health and safety requirements and common sense of the local authority and school in which you work. So there is a shift and that shift will continue. It's not a it's not a trendy thing. It's an essential part of learning for sustainability. And we'll have to do more and not less of it. So there's there's that to begin with. In terms of health and education. What we have to understand is that it is still common within education. There is an underlying cultural assumption that real learning happens in doors. And the only way to counteract that is to absolutely persistently challenge it and challenge it with great examples of great learning and play that are happening outside and to document it to evidence it and to meet, meet the education sector, where it's coming from. And the way to do that is to speak the land language of education, and to talk in a way that those who have the power can understand. So that's always my advice, you know, that, you know, don't speak the language of the outdoor speak the language of education. And some very powerful phrases are to just smile, as you see children sitting inside and say, Yeah, it's interesting, isn't it? The Swedes talk about sitting as the new smoking, and just smile, and let that sink in. And then that way, we can start to change, not just attitudes, but hearts as well as mines. And this is it, you've got to change hearts as well as mines over all of this.

Marina Robb: 
What does that mean change hearts as well as mines. What do you think? What does that mean?

Juliet Robertson: 
Well, so you can be presented with a fact, like, you know, your dopamine levels improve, and your cortisol levels decrease within half an hour of going outside. Now, that's I'm just pulling off the cuff cuff. Don't quote me on that. But you can present that and cognitively, okay, so we know children are less stressed outside. But if I don't have the belief, if I don't have the motivation to work outside, it doesn't matter how many of those facts are presented to me, I have to have the belief and the motivation. So really, when it comes to change within education, there are two questions every educator has to answer. Can I do it? And is it worth it? And that has to happen, the individual educator has to believe that, culturally that organisation does, because we all know of examples of below now door teacher where she's the one, or he's the one doing great stuff, and everyone looks on and nods and goes, yeah, she's great. But that's not for me. And they're treated almost like a specialist, like a music specialist. Wrong. We need everybody out there. And then there's finally there's the structural setups, you know, so that could be the red tape around actually getting outside, it could be things like lack of clothing, it could be all those sorts of day to day practical things that actually just stop that belief and motivation from happening. And that's why you can have a wonderful person who's really committed, but if the organisation or socially and the practicalities of that aren't in place, then it's much, much harder for that individual, no matter how committed to actually be able to do what he or she wants to do within their teaching.

Marina Robb: 
There's some advice - there's always something about the personal and then the structural. So they're saying, Yeah, you know, like you said, Do we feel it's important, or we've motivated? And then actually, how is the structure supporting us to do that? Because I think about that in wellness and illness as well that we often think that will, let's say, or we're not well, and sometimes it's, it's it is us, within us. And sometimes it's a combination of the lives we're living in the structures of poverty, of not being able to access or not being trained as a teacher or not being, you know, supportive is that, you know, and I think that lends itself to having a more Kinder understanding of the complexity sometimes of these things, but not not to see it, that we can't do it. And it makes me think, because I always, if I think, well, I need some ideas, I'll often go to your blog, creative star, and I will, you know, like, actually, you know, you're saying you're getting into felting and from our last conversation, I'm absolutely ordering will and I'm going to learn how to felt I've never done it before, you know, and I know that I can go to your blog to get some more information. And I know there's lots of information I've also been doing this as you know, for about 30 years and there can be a lot of information. And you've written wonderful books that really help actually use the language as you said of education. And yet last week, I'm in the woods and I just an A with a group of teachers and I really, really felt they were struggling, they were still you know, there's such a struggle with well, being overwhelmed. I think that stress factor feeling that it's so much responsibility, but but also just feeling a lack of confidence and basic things lack of confidence, and they always say time, lack of confidence of time and I've heard you over the years is presenting so many practical and top tips. And I wonder if any come to mind now. Knowing that, yeah, knowing how important this period of life is for children, you know?

Juliet Robertson: 
Yeah, so I think I think there's two things to unpack here. The first one is, what if I'm not a teacher? How do you how to change the system from outwith as well as within? And then the other one is, how do you? How do you when you're working with schools, manage all those feelings and what is actually happening with teachers in their current context? So my advice always, is, when, when a teacher, first of all, there's nothing that a teacher says, that is new, or a great big shock. But teachers, like everybody are very different, very broad sectors, and it's finding the key that works for that teacher. So a lot of the time, it's really helpful when a teacher makes a negative statement, like, Oh, we don't have enough time, don't jump in with a solution, say to them, Tell me more. Okay, so that you understand exactly where they are coming from. And the chances are, it will be something like, Well, I've just got so many other things like music to do, or if there's language or you don't understand the behaviour of my children in my class, I don't have time to get them acclimatised to being outside. And so you can start going, okay, so this teacher doesn't understand maybe that outdoors isn't a subject. And that's where I think it's tough if you have Forest School, and you have a forest school slot, because suddenly you've labelled the outdoors as a subject. And therefore you do have to make time for it. If you go down the line that any element of the curriculum can be taught outside, or that any particular outdoor activity covers many areas of the curriculum, then suddenly it can be fitted in. So for example, you can say, well, music can work really well outside. But I would always advise teachers to start with an area that they feel comfortable in. So if they feel comfortable teaching maths, then looking at a few things that can be taught outside to do with maths can be really, really good. If it's, if it's that forest school as part of what you do, or you say, you're committed to, I don't know, outdoor adventurous activities every Wednesday afternoon, because your teacher, your head, teachers decided to do an adventurous school or something like that, pull apart, well, what elements of the curriculum are being covered. And there's always a huge number around, particularly health and well being. So I think, I think that's the thing, tell me more, and find out what it is that they are doing. And the second thing is you never do things that a teacher can do. So in other words, you, you may model things, but my deal always when I've worked with schools is I will not go in and work with a class for six weeks, providing six lessons outside, while the teacher looks on and support because that teacher will be very grateful for that. But they can sit back, relax, and basically not learn. Whereas it's much better to say right, I'm going to go in, I'm going to model this, then we're going to have a chat about it after school, then the next week, you are going to start undertaking elements of this you might offer an activity, and you do it with support and then as the week's go on, and it can be done in as short as three sessions. But finally, that teacher is doing an outdoor lesson or running a session in the woods indepently with you supporting them. And then you come and visit halfway through the session sort of thing so that they're actually leading it without you there at all. And then eventually you turn up at the end of the session, check in how things go. But our job from out with the school is to empower those within. And I've had two people say to me, but that doesn't leave me with a job. Believe me with the 10s of 1000s of schools that we have in this country, you will always be in a job as an outdoor professional. You will never not be needed, but we have to move away from what I call the scavenger scavenger hunt syndrome into specialisms ultimately. So I would give something like pond dipping is much more of a specialism. If you do don't have a pond on site. So it could be that as a teacher, I might only cover a pond dipping once every three years. So why would I need to know that in an in depth way. And that's where having a range or having an outdoor professional can support me with a pond dipping session. But really scavenger hunts, I think I can manage them outside myself as a teacher. So it's knowing absolutely what where we need a specialist and where we don't need a specialist. And we shouldn't in the outdoor sector, assume that teachers need specialists.

Marina Robb: 
Absolutely. The one thing I learned from you is this phrase of backlinking, which I really enjoyed, because I think and please correct me if I'm wrong that you have you are described as a outdoor play consultant. And, yeah, so immediately what what I think about is, okay, outdoor play an outdoor learning. So there's, what's the difference? And then, if we're seeing children play, what is this backlinking thing that you're you describe, because I've sat with that a lot of night, and I apply it, but I think it's such a useful idea, these, how these things linked together?

Juliet Robertson: 
Yeah, I think these are really good questions for everybody to ask themselves. So I follow the definitions that she used within Scotland, and the to found within Curriculum for Excellence, and its predecessor taking learning outdoors. And that is really, ultimately, outdoor learning is any learning that takes place outdoors, an outdoor play is any play that takes place outdoors. Now that is very, very broad, and it covers a huge multitude, if we and you need to be absolutely clear what that means to you. So if, when I talk about play, for me, it is the child having the freedom to choose what they do, how they do it, to whom they do it. And ideally, even with where but that width where might be that place might be the school grounds, it might be a woodland, so there may be a boundary to that. But nevertheless, you know, it could be that you give children a choice with it, you know, it can be up a tree, it can be digging, and things like that. It's not providing activities that we move around in an organised way to. And it's certainly not playful learning or play based learning. Because to me, these all need unpicking, and I don't think we probably have time for that. But if we take free play, that is where the children have choice, and they're left to play, a really useful thing to do is to look at what they are doing. And if you have a group of 30 children outside, you won't be able to focus on what 30 children are doing outside. But you can take the Anna Ephgrave approach of saying, right, this week, I'm looking at three children. Okay, and same, those children really matter. What spread up to WhatsApp made up to one WhatsApp number up to and those are the ones that during the half an hour, I will spend that bit more time and concentrated effort just tapping in what are they doing making notes and things like that. And then I can start to piece together what their interests are. And I can backlink or I might be taking photos. And then later on in the classroom, I might look and talk about some of the things I noticed and that I share with the children. And what were they up to and what what did they enjoy out of it. I tend not to use the L word they're learning. If it's a play session, and it's a play session, don't bring in the learning to it do not bastardise Play stop sorry, better probably no problem. And don't and don't don't first. You know, what, what, what our understanding of plays and don't spoil your play play is is is precious. And that could be that you just allocate play to play times, but make sure that there's a long enough time for them to play. So again, there's there's a lot in there to one pick. But I think we have to be absolutely clear over what free play is and what really matters. And then we've also got to be very careful about our interactions. Because it's knowing when to h. It's not that we don't ever interact, but it's knowing when is timely and when isn't. And it's a natural thing. You know, if you never interact actually, that's not natural. That's just weird. Like why somebody who's overtaking the children's play. That's wrong, too. And I'm sorry if you think about in real life, would you ever say to a child out with an education framework? Oh, that's a very good example of creativity or problem solving, or cooperation. Oh for goodness sake really, do we have to use these words? Do we have to bring this to children's attention all the time? I don't think so I'm much more interested in when you say problem solving Exactly. What do you mean by that? When you say creativity? Exactly. What do you mean by that? We've got to get much better at articulating the specifics. Estimation has no meaning. What do you mean by estimation? Tell me more? You know, so always that question, tell me more is very useful. Sorry, I've gone on a real rant there.

Marina Robb: 
Not at all. I like your passion for all of this. And then would you then see a teacher who's actually supportive of this play in the outdoors across the ages? Would you see them? Their job then is to notice perhaps like you say, Take three children every now and again. And then their job is to see how that meets a structural curriculum. Is that what you mean by that?

Juliet Robertson: 
If you take, say, you see, Fred and Ahmed, building a den together, what is it they're doing? So you again, you say den building, but what do you mean? Well, actually, they're learning to use that they're tying knots, or they're using Velcro, there may be measuring the distance between two trees to set up the den. So certainly, it could be that they are discussing how they do this. So that's where certainly we've identified that within den building, they are problem solving. But precisely the skills that they are learning is that they can spin ideas off each other, they are learning about non standard units of measurement, they're learning the practical skill of knots, or tying things together, that sort of thing. So certainly, you can start to articulate. And I think I think that's really quite useful to do. And then you can start seeing if Fred and Ahmed are using string to tie up pieces of material to make a dent, and they don't get their knots, then that's a possible time to intervene and say, Look, I see you're struggling here. Would you Would it help if I showed you or not at all to to make it easier? And they might say no thanks. Or they might say Go on? And then that's your teachable moments within that? You know, but that's knowing that that's a good and timely thing to offer.

Marina Robb: 
So I often think in, in my mind about what is what's a realistic approach, then, within education, in a way we may be talking about the things that future because you've said, you know, remember, 1992? Remember how it was and I do remember, it was you know, it was quite alternative, any of any of these things, it wasn't mainstream and a lot happening, that has shifted. So how could it be five years, 10 years down the line? But I'm also thinking about an approach that's quite inclusive and not polarised as well, because what I'm hearing is, there are times for direction, and there are times for non direction. And and I often think I feel like a resistance to get stuck into one way or another way. You know, and I'm really, you know, and you've really been part of my journey in thinking about the things and the conversations we've had about, about that we perhaps if we leave the names of, I don't know, outdoor learning, Forest School, nature, education, forest, kindergarten, all these things? Is it possible? Can you envisage a future where children and teachers feel that we can respond more and move between these different things? Can you see that? Do you think that's good practice to have a bit of a bit of direct when to have direction when not to have direction? You know? Do you understand what I mean? I don't know if that's a clear question.

Juliet Robertson: 
Yes, I think there's some very muddled thinking, when you are working outside with children. And so your children are learning how to light a fire, there will be an element of direct instruction in that. It may be in a play based context, it may be child initiated, but you as an adult or another child, or somebody else will be showing somebody else what to do that is direct instruction, let's not pull away from it. So I think all this thing between, oh, you know, all players bad or players bad or direct instruction is bad, or it's good or whatever nonsense. What we want is balance. We want variety. We want an ebb and flow and a rhythm to the day. That is that looks after our own well being as well as that of the children. And that doesn't mean to say we're dropping standards, I would say in many ways we're raising the bar. Okay, what we want is the best education possible. And when we start picking apart what that really means. It has to be about what does the future hold for our children, so we're going to have to have everything and just underpinned by sustainability. See, but also, in terms of wellness, there is a bit there's something here around professional love. It's about relationships. It's about relationships with place, as well as people, and then an understanding how pedagogy is influenced by placing people and that they're inextricable. So and at the moment, I would argue that mainstream education is not underpinned by place. And that place and this is very controversial, will include from time to time digital places. Yeah, there's so for example, Minecraft can be a yes sample of a digital place of learning. So,

Marina Robb: 
That's another thing you see your always welcome. Exactly. You're in it, I feel you are an inclusive thinker. I don't know if that's a term where you won't throw out the technology, you'll say, actually, this has a place as does this have a place and and I and I really appreciate that. Because I guess it's part of what I also believe, because I believe we're different, and we're individuals and what works for us, what works for me will be different to what works for you. And if I love animal learning from a digital space, well, that's, that's great, isn't it? An insane thing, but not to be, but also to remember, we're in a body on a planet. And that's also very, very important. And I wonder, I wonder about our home this earth. And, you know, for me, I've always felt that the outdoors and the natural world is, is a is a place that is for me has been, you know, it's helped me because I, I've often found humans a bit tricky. So nature has more than or natural spaces, whether that's a little park or sitting by a tree or looking at the blossom. I mean, that's always a lovely thing to look at Blossom, it's the place, the natural spaces and places have given me something more than learning. There's a there's a heart. I mean, I'm feeling it in my heart, this emotion of home and earth. And yeah, what does that what do you feel about that? And I guess I wonder about the spiritual in that, because that's what is spiritual? And you know, you started this podcast, really saying that, you know, you're not going to live for a lot of time. It makes me sad. So I'm going to say that. And, yeah, what's that? Like? Knowing that maybe? Yeah.

Juliet Robertson: 
I think it goes back to the deal about being born is that you will die. And in our culture, we value longevity of life. And we don't have to, and our memories are woven into the lives of others. And what we want is to say, what what is good, what is a good death and what is good grieving? Yeah. I think that's and that's part of my thrust over the last few months and be the months ahead is, is that spiritual aspect so I'm, I'm doing things that I find very, very hard to do at time. So I have found a natural boundary or plot because being outside matters to me a sustainable approach even to death matters to me. It means I've had to compromise on things like what gets written on my stone because I only have a 30 centimetre stone, and I wanted my date of birth and I wanted the words go play and I can't have go play because there isn't enough space. Certain things like that, but a silly things but matter. My sisters are coming up to visit we are going to see that burial site. I have seen it before. It's one of the hardest things I've had to do. But it's within a couple of 100 metres of a incumbent stone circle. It's at the back of the hill to where in for rural areas. So I can look over into Raleigh now and know that I'll be buried at the other side. So there's there's it almost in a ley line. So there's stuff like that that I feel is important. So yeah, so there is something about the finiteness of all of this and the spirituality. But we look around us and without that death, there is there is no life. And without my death, there is no further life. And I don't mean that in a spiritual sense of the afterlife, I mean, actually here on this planet, we have to die, we have to die, to let new life happen. And that new life is the plants and the animals and things like that. But it's also that birth of new ideas in the same place, and the continuity of time. So I, you know, there's this part of me that gets quite sort of, just, it's the natural order of things. And if I can make my final months, a place where I can help flee, have as good a death as possible, and enable people to have as good a grief as possible, then that can help. So that's really the felting project, because I want my family and as much as many friends as possible to have a piece of felt from me that they can sit on outside as a reminder to sit down and enjoy the space and the place where they're at. You know, and yes, that felt seat will wear out. But it can be decomposed, it can be Reese burn into something else, the birds might come and take bits for their nests, that sort of thing. And that's, that's the order of things. You know. So we've just got to, we've, we've got, we've got to face this, you know, and it's not, it's not a bad thing. I've had 55 years of an amazing life, not necessarily an easy life, but an amazing life. Do I need another 2030 years? If it was an option? I would say yes. But it's not the be all and end all to me, because I made a promise to myself. When I was very young that out, I would make the most of the time on my own. I'm not going to say each day because I think in terms of life in general, we have down days, and we have up days, and I think to make the most of every day, it's actually putting quite a lot of pressure on ourselves, isn't it?

Marina Robb: 
I'm incredibly moved, as you know, it doesn't take me much to have tears. You know, because because I think as a child, you know, I actually did think a lot about death. You know, I remember being scared about death, I remember about being frightened of losing people that I loved. And it has shaped my life. Some people have said to me, it's weird that, you know, eight, you were thinking about this or, but I think a lot of us, a lot of children do wonder and do feel it in our hearts when we feel love, don't we? And I think I remember you saying about something around the value of love? And or I don't know if what you said, Now I have to kind of remember it. But the importance of loving action. Does that Does that ring a bell? You saying something to me recently about that?

Juliet Robertson: 
I might have done. I do think our actions, one of the values, to me that is important is is love. And I think if you've had an ally for where love has been withheld, or bad things have happened to you, one of the best ways you can get over that is just by pouring love into the world. Not so much that you're depleted. But if everything is undertaken with, with loving, intense, then certainly that that can be very restorative on a personal as well as professional level. And I think this is it. I mean, I my older sister committed suicide when I was just 19 years old, and she was 20 and the grief that rips you apart from that sort of death. So when I talk about a good and a bad death, I think I think suicides can be very bad deaths for many people who were left behind. And you you end up going well. Let's stop those conditions from ever happening again if we can possibly help it. And certainly things for me like knowing that 94% It's something like that of people who think about committing suicide, or who try and fail six months later are glad they didn't. So in other words, if you know somebody who's suicidal, you can be there for them. You can hold their hands, you can do your Mental Health First Aid training. And you can really work to make sure that they get through because they will. Most of them, almost all of them be grateful that they have survived that deep, deep depression and utter common sense and logic of death and taking your own life. Cat, you can move on from that. And simultaneously, a few years later, I saw one of the best deaths ever. And that was an uncle of mine who died from AIDS. And he was so positive people had a chance to say the word that they wanted, he was so generous in his death. He was so organised. So he, you know, had made sure that things have been wrapped up for his family, and things like that. And I always remember thinking, that's what I want, I want my death to be a good day. I am privileged because I so far, I'm getting that opportunity. The scary thing for me, funnily enough, isn't dying, it's it's a pain, before I die, I'm a bit of a pain with the idea of having to wait a couple of hours before I get morphine, or the term not sleepy enough. And things like that, very selfishly, are the things that bother me, rather than the act of dying itself, because the act of dying, for most people is peaceful. And once you're gone, you're gone. And therefore, in a sense, the onus for the dying is to give others the gift of living, and the gift of good grieving, that's my purpose. That's my job as, as one of many things before I die, you know, how do I do that? Good question.

Marina Robb: I'm just really left with this idea of a tapestry. And I know, there are many old stories about the idea of a grandmother weaving a tapestry of our lives, and that these threads are threads of all our feelings and our emotions and experiences and how they weave together and I and it's happening all the time. This this fabric is being made and, and I just get a really strong feeling that that you in my life and so many people's lives have just all these colourful threads that have been woven into this blanket. And you know, absolutely I will cherish that felt seats that I'm going to have to sit on. And and metaphorically the fabric, I think maybe in that way we go. And like you said, we things change, but we are also very much part of the fabric of life. And and then what happens next? Well, like we've had this conversation before, well, we neither of us know. So Julia, thank you so much for giving me this very special time and yet I will I will be in contact. And yeah, much love to you and your family. And thank you so much.

Juliet Robertson: Oh, thank you. And if it's any reassurance, I keep promising my son that I will not go gently into the lap tonight to quote Dylan Thomas. So I plan to be here and make the most of my time left. And yes, and everybody, nobody, whatever their job, whatever their role, whoever they are, should ever under Miss estimate the impact they have on people around them friends, family, those they love, and things like that. You are you are infinite, you are irreplaceable. Everybody is and that's great, you know? And, you know, yeah, that I suppose that includes me too. But you know, we all have value and yeah, it's a it's a funny thing, isn't it when you are facing death so closely. I say I'm like I'm on a beach. Other people can come and go from the beach of wellness, but I'm stuck here. And the only way I can leave is to go out into the sea.