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Slow and steady wins the race; make the most of the spring sunshine with outdoor activities.

T'S that time of the year again.

IGreen shoots are popping out of the soil and animals are waking - it's spring.

And it's the best time to start ticking off activities from the National Trust's 50 things to do before you're 113/4 list.

If you haven't started, then now is your chance. You could discover the artist in you and paint some flowers in one of the National Trust's many beautiful gardens or smell the wild garlic.

SET UP A SNAIL RACE WHAT about number 17 on its list - set up a snail race? You can find snails in most gardens, parks or green spaces, hiding under leafy green plants or in trees.

Snails like the cool and wet, so you won't often find them in the sunshine, so if you can remember that when you race them then they'll be happier.

MARK OUT THE TRACK SNAILS move super slowly, so don't make your track too long or you'll have to watch for hours while they race.

You can either mark a circular track out in chalk, or you could use sticks in a circle. One about 60cm in diameter is probably about right.

The easiest way to start your race is to draw a circle and put all your snails in the middle of the circle, then as they glide away, the first one to reach the edge of the circle is the winner.

You could also set up a track with lanes - though the snails won't know that they're supposed to stay in their lanes, so it might end up less like a race and more like a mess!

If you're having trouble telling your racing snails apart then you could put small stickers on their shells, but remember to take them off after the race. A snail's shell is its home and helps protect it from harm.

LOOK AFTER YOUR SNAILS JUST like top athletes have their favourite conditions for a race, snails do too! So, keep the track wet, don't leave the snails racing in full sun light. In fact, a snail race is best done in wet weather, but you might not enjoy that as much. Once the race has been run/crawled then please pop your snail racers back where you found them so they can go home and tell their family how they've done!

And, of course, wash your hands - common sense once you've handled anything that lives outdoors, but you might especially want to do it after seeing snail trails everywhere!

BUILD A DEN BUILDING a den using natural woodland materials is one of the coolest activities on the 50 things to do before you're 113/4 challenge list.

You will need branches; twigs; leaves. Mud and your hands to create your own outdoor temporary home.

Mud is also a great building material so don't be afraid to slap it on your den walls. Choose a dry flat spot for solid foundations and, if you lean sticks against a tree, like a wig-wam, then you don't have to do as much building.

Plus, if you're going to be out there building a den, you might even tick off some of the other challenges from 50 things to do, like hunting for bugs or holding a scary beast, as they're often to be found near trees, or in woodland.

GO ON A FORAGE FOR WILD GARLIC TAKE yourself on a walk during the springtime and you won't fail to notice the fragrant smell of wild garlic as you stroll through woods.

If you're walking through a patch of countryside where wild garlic grows your nose will alert you. The garlicky scent is hard to miss, says the National Trust Wild garlic grows across the UK from late winter until the end of spring. The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked and taste milder than shop-bought garlic. But be alert: wild garlic does look similar to lily of the valley, which is poisonous. The key difference between the two plants is that wild garlic always smells - yes, you guessed it - of garlic - but if you're in any doubt about which plant you've found, do not eat it.

| The National Trust will help you learn how and where to do all these things with tips on its website: nationaltrust.org.uk
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:May 13, 2017
Words:718
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