Thursday, 31 July 2008
A colourful, flower rich meadow near Loch Levern in Perth, Scotland has become home to rare and threatened species of bumblebee, according to the RSPB, who joined forces with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust this month to create the world's first bumblebee sanctuary. Located at Vane Farm nature reserve, the hay meadow interspersed with wild flowers, is open to the public and is already attracting many species of bumblebee as well as butterflies, hoverflies and other insects. Swallows and skylarks are also benefiting from the increased insect population. The rare Blaeberry Bumblebee is a visitor, lured down from the nearby hills and it is hoped that the critically endangered Great Yellow Bumblebee might also be persuaded to return. Loss of bumblebees could have a devastating effect on our whole ecosystem so it is vital that we protect and create habitats for them, both on a large scale and also in our back gardens. Check out this marvellous invertebrate five star pad from the Wildlife Trusts.
Jez likes real ale, and has the beard to prove it, so when he discovered this fruity little number grown on the biggest smallholding in the world (alledgedly), he was very excited. Laverstoke Real Ale is brewed in North Hampshire on the 2,500 acre biodynamic site run by ex-formula one champion, Jody Scheckter. He started the farm in order to create the healthiest and best tasting food for himself, his family and customers and says, "my goal was to be self sustaining in food - now I can be self-sustaining in organic ale as well!" If this flavourful brew is anything to go by his produce is indeed very tasty and I for one am pleased to see such a dramatic career change. The ale is available from Waitrose from this week, priced at £1.99 a bottle.
Wednesday, 30 July 2008
My bundle of post this morning contained a beautifully wrapped parcel of delicate rosy treats for yours truly from the lovely Kate Logan. Channelling my favourite scent, rose, this selection of goodies is sure to teach my skin a thing or two about softness and dewiness (oh, please!). Her products bear a label that reads Handmade with Love and Kate uses plants from her garden to create some of her products. I am saving all this loveliness for after a yoga workout with Shiva Rea and a bath this evening - a rose skin tonic to kick off with that will restore everything to its natural balance, followed by calm facial oil with evening primrose, chamomile and lavender or perhaps the rose otto healing balm, which restores natural radiance. Hurrah!
Tuesday, 29 July 2008
There's a new edition of The Green Parent out now - its our green homes special with lots of juicy information about natural paints, recycled furniture and gorgeous eco homes. There is a feature on low impact holiday ideas like Plan It Earth family eco holidays and the Eco Warriors Week at Monkton Wyld from 24-29th August. And a wonderful piece on holding a baby naming ceremony, a craft feature on how to make your own bag and an article on growing your own gifts. We have two exciting new columns this issue, one about spiritual parenting exploring what our children have to teach us and a brilliant smallholder's diary all about life on the farm with a menagerie of animals and small children. Of course, there's lots more including a competition to win a week's holiday at the fabulous Little Comfort Farm in Devon. And tucked inside every issue is Green Kids magazine, all about local food, with a brilliant game designed by Jez and yummy recipes from mother of six and cookery guru Fi Bird at Stirrin Stuff. Pick up a copy at your local store or buy one here for next day delivery!
I spoke with the PR people at Woodland Trust this morning to find out more about the 850 acre forest planned in Hertfordshire. They are very excited about the land at Sandridge, nr St. Albans which could be used to create the largest native forest in England with around 500,000 trees planted by schoolchildren and the general public. We have lost half our ancient woodland since the 1930s and today just 5% of land in England is native woodland. Apparently it takes just 12 years to turn bare earth into a flourishing wood habitat, providing homes for badgers, hares, dormice, frogs, toads and barn owls, as well as oxygen for us lot!
Saturday, 26 July 2008
Well, we got back from Camp Bestival on Monday and I haven't yet posted my thoughts on this new child friendly festival. And my opinion, it did what it said on the tin with bells on - the kids field was really well equipped and thought out. A large area in the centre contained circus equipment for children (and their hapless parents) to try out, including a mini tightrope. There was a special tent for breastfeeding mums and babes, a dressing up tent, a craft tent and a Big Top for theatre and nightly storytelling sessions. Oh and a bug museum, which I didn't see but Jez and eldest daughter say was very intriguing. The sun shone, Chuck Berry made his first festival experience ever (don't quote me on that one) and we discovered a little slice of paradise in the form of Restival - a chill out area, complete with Hemp Cafe, hammock garden and yurts full of cushions, blankets and board games. We played late night scrabble, and fairies, carrying platters of biscuits, kept checking to see if we were okay or if there was anything we needed. The food was really good and varied with loads of choice for veggies and vegans, plus lots of local fare on offer, good amount of recycling facilities and compost loos provided free by some lovely folk. We had so much fun that I got back and immediately started planning our next festival experience. Am thinking One Love, and maybe Small World or Tribal Earth. Of course, we have a magazine to put together first!
We said goodbye to an excellent Assistant Editor this week as Amy Schofield left us to concentrate on a career in journalism. It was very sad to see her go as her skilled writing and wicked sense of humour will be sorely missed. I know that her great journalistic talent will take her far and am excited for her what the future holds.
Friday, 18 July 2008
Tomorrow is British Cherry Day and it's time for us to Save the British Cherry! In the last 50 years we have lost 90% of our orchards and we import around 95% of the cherries we eat in this country. But with rising oil prices and threats of global food shortages we need to work on becoming self-sufficient in temperate foods. So check out the range of events happening around the country tomorrow. Maybe pop into Borough Market, London to sample some cherry cheese or beer made with the sweet summer fruit. Or take a trip to Brogdale in Faversham, Kent, home of the National Fruit Collections, to enjoy their Cherry and Strawberry Delights festival.
Anyway, I'm off to a festival so best get my whistle polished and dust off the crazy felt hat. See you next week....
This morning at 8 o clock the moon reached the fullest point of its cycle. This moon is known as the Blessing or Wort Moon. Wort is an old Anglo Saxon name meaning herb (hence motherwort, ragwort, st. john's wort etc), so this is a good time to gather herbs to use in cooking or for rituals. Herbs gathered and dried at this time retain their strength and magical powers. I like to make herbs a central part of my cooking in the summer months and find myself wanting to eat really fresh greens and herbs (along with the occasional chocolate brownie!). To honour the wort moon I like to make strawberry and mint cordial with tiny wild strawberries, handfuls of mint and some honey or agave syrup to sweeten. I whizz in a blender and then add water for a refreshing drink. Tabbouleh with heaps of mint, basil, parsley and fennel is also tempting. I use bulghur wheat and add hot water, lemon juice and olive oil along with the chopped herbs, more herbs than bulghur if possible.
The full moon signifies a time of ripening, of abundance and completeness and I like to keep this in mind around the full moon, and really sink into experiences, drink the breath, indulge in life! Enjoy!!
Tuesday, 15 July 2008
Bit sad that I am going to miss this workshop on Natural Nutrition for Children, starting at 6pm, at Cornerstone Community Centre in Hove, which I planned to attend on Friday. It will be held by Kirsten Chick, a nutritionist who has trained with Barbara Wren at the College of Natural Nutrition. Kirsten has her own recipe site as well with some fine ideas for family meals, full of health giving foods. I am hoping to do a course in Natural Nutrition starting in September, as I find Barbara's teaching highly intuitive. Events that might be of interest are the series of seminars on child health entitled "Are we really offering the best care to our children" taking place in Bristol on 26th July, London on 30th August and Glasgow on 27th Sept.
The Green Parent are off to Camp Bestival this weekend to check out the promises of 'fun for all the family' and a 'super Kids Area filled with magic moments'. I love the sound of the Mad Hatter's Tea Party and the dressing up area. There are yoga classes for all ages and a brilliantly named Breastival Baby Temple. I hope to spend some time in the Pamper Yurt and to visit the Children's massage and treatment tent for craniosacral and more. Apparently there's a garden stocked with games, puzzles, hammocks and inspirational books, where fairies serve platters of fruit, which just about sounds like my idea of heaven. I fancy hiring one of the gorgeous tipis, laden with cushions and other soft items but cost, and realisation that slumming it is more authentic, puts me off. Public transport is easy - train to Wool, then a shuttle bus to Lulworth Castle. Camp Bestival are also encouraging lift sharing having worked out that 90% of a festival's carbon footprint is comprised of punters travelling to and from the site. Apparently they saved 32 tonnes of CO2 from sister festival Bestival, on the Isle of Wight last year. Hope to see and experience lots of weird and very marvellous things...
Ooh, just wanted to let you know about The Summer Sling Show, taking place on 27th July at Conway Hall (Holborn tube) from 10am. The UK's only babywearing expo promises hundreds of slings and carriers to try before you buy, a fashion show, salsa dance class, organic wholefoods café and lots more. Sounds like lots of fun and kids go free!
Hello, Just a quick update because I haven't posted since Friday. We spent the weekend alternately cycling round our neck of the woods with the tag-alongs, loafing about and gardening. Saturday had a big bonfire in the place where we live so all the neighbours got together for a BBQ, red wine and songs round the fire, while the kids climbed trees and snaffled leftover chocolate cake. Yesterday we went to Kew to enjoy the year-long Festival of Trees. There is a tree-top walkway that takes you through the upmost branches of horse chestnuts, an English woodland habitat exhibition and a chance to listen to trees! We explored a different area of the gardens and headed for the bamboo garden and the lake to start with. The girls had a guide book each, filled with fascinating facts and things to spot. I usually avoid these prescriptive activities when we visit places but it was really interesting to discover how the guide book opened up a whole new experience and view of the gardens for them. Maybe, I'll be less dismissive of 'educational' activities in the future! Our family railcard makes trips to London really manageable. And we got home in time for me to go to a wonderful crystal workshop with some friends. It was held by the owner of my favourite crystal store (I know, it's not like they are two-a-penny!) in a tiny village on the Sussex Downs. We did some meditations, including a protection one with amethyst and one that evokes guardian angel spirit using blue lace agate. It was held outside as the sun was setting, the energies held by a ring of amethyst. Quite magical. Well, there's lots to be done at work today but will post more later.
Friday, 11 July 2008
Well my lungs feel like baseballs and I am swaggering about like a cowboy but just had an exhilarating ride over to a friend's house with the tag-alongs attached. When we got back youngest daughter hopped off the tandem bit of the bike, picked up her own bike and cycled off to see our neighbours. I lay at the bottom of the stairs hyperventilating. Oh to have the energy and spriteliness of my offspring. Still, one cup of tea in, am now looking forward to a ride tomorrow. If I can walk - he, he.
Tomorrow afternoon from 2pm, Marlborough School in Herts will host their second eco fair, encouraging pupils and visitors to learn how to live a more eco friendly life. The fair will be split into zones including self, kitchen, travel and school and visitors can get stuck into an organic barbeque or enjoy fresh fruit smoothies from the bar. Janey Lee Grace will be giving a presentation on imperfectly natural green living and Mystic Muck will be testing recycling knowledge.
Thursday, 10 July 2008
A friend has leant me the Parent Effectiveness Training Book by Thomas Gordon, a Nobel peace prize nominee. Apparently it is a similar approach to Non-Violent Communication, which I am passionate about as a communication process and actually as a way of living. I have done quite a few courses in NVC and it is always heartening to see the effect that this form of communication has on family relationships. We are very much in each other's pockets as a home educating family but mostly we rub along very well together. My children have taught me SO much, I couldn't even begin to list the things I have learnt, but boundless love and patience and the ability to wait without fear or anxiety have to be some of the most important. Anyway, am going to start the book tonight, along with all the other stuff I am reading at the moment (never get a chance to read fiction any longer), which includes Designing and Maintaining your Edible Landscape Naturally, Toasters don't roast chickens, How can I stop climate change, There are no bad children, Hungry City and Setting up a Small School. There are a few other foodie books that I am rereading like Elaine Bruce's Living Foods Programme and Felicity Lawrence's Not on the Label. Hmmm, have a sort of information addiction at the moment, I think.
Had to post quickly on this gorgeous recycled electric guitar. Conventional guitars are usually made from endangered hardwoods but designer Simon Lee wanted to create an ethical model for Cyclotron guitars. This made to order model is made in a choice of six different finishes including yoghurt pots, vending machine coffee cups or sparkly crushed CDs. How rock and roll is that? It's available from Ethical Superstore for £850.
Yummy cereal company, Dorset Cereals won a gold medal at this year's Hampton Court Flower Show with their Edible Playground. The garden, which will now be transported to Holy Trinity School in Weymouth, Dorset, is brimming with colourful and tasty plants from Pink Passion chard to blueberries, strawberries, sweetcorn, Welsh onions, Corsican mint and much more. A windmill powers a weepy hose watering system, and a wormery and compost bin deal with all the kitchen and green waste. An outdoor classroom area features a green roof and a rainwater collection system. Designer, Nick Williams-Ellis has loads of ideas for creating your own edible playground. Sounds delicious!
The Government's Food Matters report released earlier this week highlights evidence that a vegetarian/vegan diet is healthier for our bodies and better for the planet too according to The Vegetarian Society. It draws on the fact that livestock farming is responsible for greenhouse gas emissions. News is welcomed by the Vegetarian Society but Chief Executive Annette Pinner says the next step is making consumer aware of the correlation between increased greenhouse gases and the meat industry. She says, "We now need to ensure that meat and dairy reduction are part of a co-ordinated strategy to reduce our carbon emissions, individually and globally." However, elsewhere in the report the World Bank recommends that meat production increase by 80% by 2030 to feeding a growing global population. Food wastage issues were also raised, the average family throws away one third of the food bought, costing £420 a year, and we grow only half the food that we eat in this country. I wonder whether it is possible to move from this current black and white, and frankly dull, thinking concerning statistics and projections to the utopian vision shared by so many greenies and permaculturalists of a fun, real and very involved method of localised food production?
Hello, Had a meeting this morning with the lovely folk who put together all our juicy advertising in the magazine. There was good news all round - lots of reader response to ads in the magazine - I guess because as a nation we are becoming more and more aware of the importance of choosing ethical products and services. It feels really good to be able to pull this all together in one place and am really pleased to hear that our readers are using it as a directory of all things green. Also improved distribution for The Green Parent which means that it is available all over the place, so should be really easy for people to find a copy - yay!
This afternoon was spent pootling around on bikes, researching articles and hanging out with friends. Hey, I just treated us to a couple of tag-alongs for family bike experiences. We have hired these from a brilliant bike shop in Forest Row before and I have been trying to get some on ebay for ages but to no avail, so bit the bullet and shelved the BUY Nothing New plans and just bought some. Going to test ride them tomorrow evening - can't wait. There are so many lovely off-road cycle routes round here and a little PYO farm which is just within cycling distance. Ooo, am very excited!
Tuesday, 8 July 2008
Just to say that the chickens escaped again yesterday (recurring theme?) and ransacked months of hard work in the carrot and onion bed. They are very wily creatures though as they quickly win me round again, standing in a row with their heads cocked on one side, one beady eye upturned, gently clucking. We are now trying to find a solution to growing veggies and keeping chickens in the same garden. Any suggestions welcome!
It's my eldest daughter's birthday today and also the anniversary of my becoming a mother - hurrah! So I bought myself a copy of Robert Hart's Forest Garden from the second hand bookstore (as it was winking at me - I have wanted this for absolutely ages). We went out for a cheeky lunch at Bills Produce Store after a lengthy swimming session. Feel funny about taking the girls to a body of water infused with so many chemicals and inviting them to submerge themselves, and even now, hours later, I have a weird raspy throat sort of thing - caused by ingesting chlorine I think. But they are such water babies and love going swimming every week with their equally aquaphillic (?) Dad. Some lovely swimming fanatic out there is compiling a list of chlorine free pools. Have just taken a vegan choc cake out of the oven - it's a v quick and easy recipe that I found that is sweetened with dates. I'm going to ice it with some nut butter, raw cacao powder and agave syrup mixed together. On birthdays, the birthday person gets a throne to sit in at the table decorated all over with flowers and ribbons and they get to choose what they want to eat all day. I have had a request for pizza for tea, so have made some dough and am just waiting for it to rise. This isn't very work orientated I'm afraid as my head is in a completely different zone right now - ah well, going to go and finish off what I have started!
Friday, 4 July 2008
So, I finally made some sun tea with mint and melissa from my herb patch and it is mild and delicious. Basically I picked a big bunch of herbs and placed them in a covered jug of water - about 2 pints. I left it in the sun all day (well, 'til now) and just had a glass. I am leaving the rest for later - hopefully it'll be stronger. The chickens have escaped again and are roaming around. They have earthed up some of the veggie beds but as it's hot and their work is already well under way I have just let them get on with it - lazy? moi?
We like this new organic toy company - just launched. Created by Natalie Southgate in response to her family's allergy problems - she wanted her children to have something safe and toxin-free to cuddle up with at night and The Organic Toy Company was born. They have a lovely selection of organic toys for babies and toddlers - we particularly like this colourful butterfly, complete with crysalis, made from organic cotton and stuffed with organic wool which has natural dust mite repellant properties.
I watched Leonardo DiCaprio's movie The 11th Hour last night and went to sleep feeling fairly overwhelmed by the monumental task we have on our hands to try and put things right. From what I understand, we have to make a complete change in the way that we live, and we need to make it now. And yet, how to mobilise a global society when the powers-that-be are hell-bent on greater power and increasing consumption? I am not sure and the 50 or so eminent scientists and climate change experts featured on the film didn't really seem to have concrete answers either. Suggestions were made about re-discovering our connection to the natural world and environmental activist, David Suzuki claims that it all comes down to love. Hurrah! I hope that this is where The Green Parent comes in - providing positive and inspiring information on making green lifestyle choices. But I know that its got to be bigger and more widespread than this. Am thinking about ways in which we can start to turn the tide and will revisit this in later posts. And BTW, am still hugely positive about what is happening in small pockets around the world, at grassroots level - there are so many people out there who really do care and have a vision for a beautiful future in which nature and man can live in harmony. Just need some radical politicians to carry this vision to the wider society.
Wednesday, 2 July 2008
Both the New Moon (2:02 3/7/08) and the Sun are in Cancer right now, meaning that this week is a time of heightened emotions. It is a good time to look deep within and to honour our own feelings without judgement. It would also be timely to focus on really nurturing the self.
Cancer has two sides (like all astrological signs), on one hand emotional security and the other emotional insecurity, self love versus inadequacy.
A person who is emotionally secure does not NEED anything from other people. In a relationship, when a secure person offers out love, it is either reciprocated, offering a beautiful bonding opportunity or rejected, and when it is rejected the love just flows back to self, causing no harm or ill feelings. Love comes from self and returns there.
However, for someone whose sense of self-worth is lacking, love is experienced as a need. Another person's love maybe needed to confirm self-worth and yet, external sources of love are temporary and out of our control, leading to more insecurity.
Self-love is key to security and starts with self-acceptance. Accept yourself exactly as you are. If there are things that you would like to change, acknowledge that and move slowly and compassionately towards making those changes. Taking time to nurture the self is an important Cancer theme. Time to nurture our bodies, indulge in health giving treats and generally take care of ourselves. The first sign of self-worth is realising that your feelings count.
If you feel a sense of tension or of being blocked around expressing your feelings try practices such as yoga and meditation to release blocks. Singing or dance could also help to free up your mind and body. Another aspect of Cancer is the home environment - you could work with the lunar energy, helping yourself to feel more centred and secure, by giving your home a thorough sort out. Above all, relish the feminine, nurturing, healing energy that surrounds us right now.
Tuesday, 1 July 2008
A bill is to be presented to Commons to offer legal protection to mothers of babies under six months, breastfeeding in public. We believe that breastfeeding in public places should be protected by law for ALL children. Veronica Robinson, editor of The Mother magazine has petitioned Downing Street and if you would like to add your name to the list you can do so here. So many of us have added our name to this petition now - there are over 4,600 signatories at last count.
Well, I finished the report on How Green Parents Can Save Money last night and guess what? I worked out that in your baby's first year you can save £3000! And I have only focussed on those areas that are relevant to parents with new babies so haven't taken into account the money that could be saved by holidaying in the UK, making your own clothes or buying secondhand, managing an allotment etc. So theoretically as a green family you could save even more. I will upload the whole report onto the website in the next week or so.
Today in the office we have been torn between the gorgeous outdoors and the exciting prospect of planning the next edition of the magazine.