Following Iris has always been an adventure, her paintings have inspired people throughout the world allowing us to see beyond a diagnosis. We believe ‘Different is Brilliant’ raising positive awareness for Autism. It’s all about building on strengths instead of focussing on the weaknesses and following the lead of your child – that is the precious key.Iris’s love of nature is the foundation of her development, the inspiration for her paintings and where I have found she learns best. We are now embarking on a new adventure together travelling to the Forests of the World. Each trip will be tailored to Iris’s interests and we will educate her throughout the journey. After all where better to learn about the jungle or volcanoes, eco systems and different cultures than be immersed in them. She will learn in a real way that means something to her and I will document the process inspiring others, showing them the beauty in our world that needs to be protected for future generations.
The Forests of the World Project will be in aid of WWF, the world’s leading independent conservation organisation. Their mission is to create a world where people and wildlife can thrive together. To achieve this mission, they are finding ways to help transform the future for the world’s wildlife, rivers, forests and seas.
We will discover and share the delights of the forests in California, Cambodia, Canada, Greece, Romania, Chile, New Zealand, Germany, India, Finland, China, Madagascar and hopefully others too over the coming years but our first trip last year was to Costa Rica as it is a fine example of how it can be possible to live in harmony with nature. A 4 week adventure that was inspiring, challenging, mind expanding & a joyful celebration of our beautiful planet that needs to be protected and of course how ‘Different is Brilliant’ with Iris Grace.
Costa Rica is considered to possess the highest density of biodiversity of any country worldwide. Its biodiversity can be attributed to the variety of ecosystems within the country. Tropical rainforests, deciduous forests, Atlantic and Pacific coastline, cloud forests, and mangrove forests.
This incredible country shows us how people and wildlife can thrive together, over twenty-seven percent of the country’s land has a protected status as national parks, wildlife refuges & forest preserves. The Costa Rican government is active in protecting its biodiversity, encouraging tree farming to provide some habitat for wildlife, enabling some measure of biodiversity to remain in these areas despite humans’ use of these natural resources. Jaguar ‘corridors’ have been created, protected trails which allow these big cats to pass safely from one area to another.
Ecotourism brings in 2.8 billion dollars in revenue for the country. Ecotourism is defined as “tourism directed toward exotic, often threatened, natural environments, especially to support conservation efforts and observe wildlife.” The profitable industry of ecotourism entices businesses to capitalize on natural resources by protecting and preserving them rather than consuming them.
In April 2018, we went on a 2-week road trip in Greece, visiting forests that are some of Europe’s oldest self-planted beech and oaks. We visited the incredible Meteora monasteries rising like ecclesiastical eagles’ nests, these monasteries are among the most awe-inspiring religious sites on earth.
The spectacular Vikos Gorge with its magical turquoise waters was another memorable sight and a place for exploration for Iris.
The Acropolis in Athens is a cultural icon and a symbol of the birth of Western civilization was an adventure all on one hilltop. Walking through markets playing with musicians and meeting the locals built on Iris’s confidence and we watched in delight as she overcame fears.
In the beautiful natural setting at Delphi we were challenged in ways I wasn’t expecting but gave me something in return that I will be grateful and hold close to my heart in those difficult times.
One thing is for sure travel is the ultimate educator, guide, coach and friend you could ever have.
Since the Costa Rican beaches were such a hit with Iris we took a route along the coastline to let her enjoy the freedom of the sandy beaches. She needed some downtime after discovering the epic tales of heroes.
September 2018 we took another road trip and this time it was to Slovenia
Where had an action-packed week of activities inspired by Iris. A Sourdough Workshop at Slovenj Gradec.
Visiting Lake Bled & boating on the lake.
Horse Riding through majestic scenery at the Soca River & Valley.
Carriage ride at the Lipica Stud
and visiting the magical Pedjama Castle and Postojna Caves.
Our ‘Forests of the World’ project continued with our trip to the beautiful ‘Artists Valley’ in Wales, UK. Victorian painters fell in love with this part of the world and often came here to capture its beauty and I can understand why.
It’s a serene and quiet area, carved out in the Welsh Hills by Cwm Einion, which flows down the majestic slopes and into the River Dyfi.
The valley is a wonderful spot for picnics, or splashing about in the various waterfalls and pools. A perfect setting for Iris to learn and explore.