Naturopath Debbie Walker recently suggested Rosehip tea as a seasonal immune booster. By chance I'd just been given a box of the stuff the same day, from a Spanish street market. Here's Debbie's guide to making a rosehip tea from those found in UK hedge rows:
Fifty years ago today a book was published that would change the way the world thinks about itself. Rachel Carson was an incredible woman who had been working her whole life on compiling research and connecting the dots on man's effect on our environment. She voiced the opinion in her book Silent Spring that the natural world was changing and that the things mankind was doing to it had to change.
Reportedly we all eat too much salt in our diets, largely because it is the hidden ingredient that preserves and adds flavour to many foods - including so called 'healthy' foods such as beans, cereals and soups. If you like to add salt to foods Himalayan rock salt (pink) or Celtic sea salt (from the atlantic coast) is said to be healthier as it is less processed and therefore has more of the original minerals in it. Ensure it sourced from a reputable supplier. For more health information, see naturopath Debbie Walker.
The Paralympics Closing Ceremony intertwined pagan and multi-faith symbolism in an attempt to convey the spiritual aspect of gathering together throughout the ages. The Festival of Flame conveyed an inspiring message of hope, unity and inclusion that was a powerful indicator of changing times in 2012.Unusually, the ceremony's opening speech included original text by The British Druid Order. It was delivered by Rory Mackenzie, a former army medic who lost a leg in Iraq. It read:
One of the most effective ways to avoid catching a cold I've found: half a lemon squeezed into a glass of luke warm water each morning. As well as being an effective cleaner for kitchen taps, lemon juice apparently helps wipe out germs on the back of the throat so colds can't take hold. The lemon 'alkalises' any excess acid in the body digestive system. Take with a zinc capsule for added resilience and drink the lemon water through a straw if you want to protect your teeth enamel.
I made some delicious summer blackberry and wild pear jam this weekend from fruit picked from hedges near a family-managed farm in Sussex. Here's the recipe below:
How to make Blackberry Jam
1 kilogram fruit
500 grams demamera sugar
4 lemons and 2 oranges
square of muslin fabric (optional)
To sterilise your jam jars use boiling water then leave them to dry for a short while in a very low oven.
Carefully wash blackberries and other fruit. Weigh and put into jam pan and leave on very low heat to simmer until juices run (about 30 minutes) while stirring occasionally.
Squeeze in the juice of the lemons and oranges into pan for a natural preservative. Optional: put lemon and orange peel with cinnamon in a bag of muslin and simmer with the fruit for extra flavour, squeezing juice out when bag removed.
Add sugar and raise the heat until bubbling (combined effect of sugar and heat creates pectin which helps the jam set like jelly). Turn off the heat and leave to stand. As it cools the surface of jam should go slightly firm and wrinkle when touched. If it's still too runny, return to heat for 5 minutes before testing again.
Leave to cool for a while before pouring into jam jars. Seal lid and turn jam jars upside down to create vacuum. Once completely cool, label and store in a cool, dry place until needed for breakfast or presents.
Why spend pounds on a bottle of chemicals when you can get rid of limescale and clean your toilet with.... erm, malt vinegar? Yes, it REALLY works (- as well as being cheap and harmless to the environment).
The only downside is the powerful smell, but I'm happy to report this goes after a few rinses of water.
Designer Suzanne Lee shares her experiments in growing a kombucha-based material that can be made like tea and can be used like fabric or vegetable leather to make clothing. The process is fascinating, the results are beautiful (though there's still one minor drawback ...) and the potential is simply stunning.
Regent's Park Rose Garden is a beautiful fragrant haven in the middle of the City of London. The best time to visit is July when roses are in full bloom. In August the petals begin to fall... For more information see Regents Park, London.
In March a documentary moved me so deeply it changed my life. Despite coming from a family of vegetarians, I have happily eaten meat for 35 years. However this particular film altered my awareness to such an extent I am now vegan. EARTHLINGS is a powerful and informative documentary about society’s treatment of animals, narrated by Joaquin Phoenix with soundtrack by Moby. This multi-award winning film by Nation Earth is a must-see for anyone who cares about animals or wishes to make the world a better place.
TED Prize winner Jamie Oliver shares shares some powerful stories from his anti-obesity project in Huntington, West Virginia, US, and makes the case for an all-out assault on the ignorance of food in developed countries such as the United States and UK.
I made some decorations for my winter solstice Yule celebrations. The base of the wreath was from coat hanger wire and I collected the leaves and berries from my recent visit to the country. I also decked the kitchen and living room with mistletoe bought from my local market. A nice touch, inexpensive, and fun to both collect the materials and put together.
Anybody can have a spiritual experience when spending a few days alone with just a tent and nature. Yet what particularly inspired me was a need to overcome a fear of being alone in an isolated location through the night.
On the first night there were sounds like aeroplanes coming in to land and lots of flashing lights. I felt like I had unwittingly wandered into a scene from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, but then realised it was a massive electrical storm coming over the valley. Over the next 5 hours (until 4am) branches fell off nearby trees and the resident horses of the adjoining fields ran up and down excitedly in the dark. Had to keep switching my torch to make sure the tent wasn't about to get trampled. This along with the lack of food (water only diet) contributed to a rather trance-like state the following day. I had always wanted to spend a night camping all alone and dared myself to do it, but by second night I was too tired to be scared of the shadowy gloom. By third morning I was almost too weak to stand so lurched back to base at 8am for a cup fo tea and some coconut macaroons.
A great book on how to create your own Vision Quest is Denise Linn's Vision Quest (Ballantine, February 1998).
Was it an eagle or a buzzard? It was very large and kept swooping me as I stood still in the field. It had young nearby so was on the defensive. As it swooped past me I felt wind on my cheeks and there was a whooshing sound.
Woodland path leading back to base. My love affair with trees continues...
The size of Hampstead Heath makes it possible to sit under a tree and feel that you are in rural country side. It is possible to get lost in acres of common land stuffed with ancient trees, brooks and quiet glens with no sight or sound of the urban sprawl that surrounds it.
Hampstead Heath's 790 acres has a number of distinct historical and mystical areas, including "Boudicca's Mound", an enigmatic raised circle of trees where, according to urban legend, Queen Boudicca (Boadicea) was buried after she and 10,000 Iceni warriors were defeated at Battle Bridge. It is unclear where this slightly outrageous myth (and name) stems from as drawings and paintings of the area apparently show no mound (other than a 17th century windmill.) Others speculate that the mound is on an intersection of psychic energy, much like a ley line junction. Therefore people gather here quietly on special pagan days, burning sage and watching the movements of the sun from these sun. Whatever your feeling, the heath should be treated with respect. It has secrets to share if you have ears keen enough to listen.
I escaped London for some nature healing at Barden Lake in Haysden Country Park, Tonbridge, Kent today. I was surprised by the cold beauty of it all. I lived in Tonbridge many years ago (1991) and would have loved to have known about this nature reserve then. These photographs look like they have been retouched but the sun really was that bright (- I have not used Photoshop!)
A place of pilgrimage to many from across the world, southern Ireland is awash with pre-Christian archeological sites (stone circles, burial mounds, ancient fortresses) and early Christian memorials (abbeys, monestaries, churches, grave architecture).
Relics to the power of the Celtic Tiger were in evidence during our visit and we were surprised how much Polish culture (shops, bars and restaurants) had been absorbed into the Gaelic towns and villages. (Apparently Ireland's recent problems are leading many Poles to now return to their homeland.)
I met a wonderful sensitive called Sylvia Shirley during my visit and we shared an afternoon discussing our appreciation of faeries.
I spent the days leading up to Winter Solstice 2007 at beautiful Findhorn, Scotland. An eery and magical landscape, very Scandinavian, full moons, snow and frost. A very special experience.... A world away from London.