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Age against the machine: london mayor supports the Lewisham Festival of Creative Ageing

This week it was wonderful opportunity to join the Festival of creative Ageing Creative Walk In Ladywell area, in collaboration with GCDA. Our artists goodie bag contained an A4 sketchbook journal, a graphite stick, sketch pencil, 2 polystyrene printing tiles.

Looking around the area, taking in the local sites and heard about the history. The tour began at St Mary’s Church yard which has stood on the site since Saxon times! This ancient site was central to Lewisham life including trade along the main rd of Rushey Green which contained pubs for the travellers along the way in the age of horse drawn carriages. since then and held community together. Next, past the old fire station (now a training group and hairdressers) which used to house the firefighters in flats above and still has the cobbled courtyard for their horses which pulled the carts, plus a tall tower where the hoses are believed to have been hung, out to dry after use.

Elderberries growing up by the entrance to the former coroners court

Next, around to see the coroners court! Now Overgrown and full of foliage, plus rusty gates. Looking up, we see an Elder (Sambucus nigra), in full fruit with proudly reaching towards the sunlight with rich burgundy berry clusters. This forms my inspiration for a later design. Next door is the old dilapidated Play Tower, a former nursery, which will be turned into a cinema in due course. Previously it was the first public swimming baths, as The red brick wall outside still testifies; apparently children used to grind their entrance pennies into the wall, whilst queuing outside the entrance and the pits are still visible!

Further up the road, towards ladywell on the opposite side of the railway bridge, the words SHELTER FOR 700 are painted in bold capital letters, inferring to an air raid shelter, from WWII built beneath the bridge.

Turning into Ladywell park (the ‘rec’ recreation ground as it was known when we went there in training at school).

history of this local area, a place where each of us had previously visited (in my case daily, as I went to school up the road 1986-1991) gave us each a sense of time and place, much more grounded, feeling centred and part of the ongoing history.

London Plane landscape puzzle

Following the pathway Back to St Mary’s and an exploration of The wellbeing garden. Here we mediated amongst the raised vegetable beds and chose a spot to focus on an artistic piece. Finding an old cherry tree with raised roots, I sat down and made an imprint in granite across the back of the bark. I found a leathery old leaf for a pattern to design later. I looked around the garden; it’s so pretty and peaceful.

Our next stop was at the war memorial where The invictus / Pegasus horse adorns the tall gate posts leading towards the statue. There are wreaths and special stones inlaid into the pathway dedicated to all the young lives which were lost during the wars. My father took me there as a child, more of an escape from home, on Saturdays and we used to play rolling down the raised mound flower bed.

Further on, we walked into Lewisham park, which is bordered by large private houses; previously this park was more of their land. In the centre, a large hollowed our area belied a former lake, now long gone. The ancient London Plane trees had shed their bark so I collected some to add to the collage and piece together as a landscape puzzle. A yew tree held a mass of succulent berries which we enjoyed (whilst delicately removing the poisonous black seeds). Walk over, we drew our ideas at st Mauritius house and artist Ellie demonstrated a print making demo; instantly it brought back my Memories of making roller paint prints as a girl. Those were the days! Back then, during the 1980s, our art drawer contained ink rollers (sadly, long since discarded as they were no longer regularly used.) perhaps a visit to hobby craft is now in order!

The wellbeing healing community garden at St Mary’s church, lewisham, is open to visitors.
Ellie’s leaf print demo
The Hastings map cut cherry leaf design represents the memories of many wondrous holidays, with my grandparents in the area.
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A Late Summer Herbal walk in Mountsfield park with the Quo Vadis Trust

On Thursday 12th September Was a mild day to lead a wellbeing group Herbal walk around a local park. We set off to find more edible plant species that Mountsfield park has to offer, with cloth bags and scissors. @FOMP (find out more of the history of Mountsfield park here). Francis kindly donated organically grown fresh produce from the QVT garden: a crown prince pumpkin, potatoes and a courgette.

In season, Locally sourced Wild ‘weeds’ provide an abundance of minerals, much like a mini supplement/vitamin pill instead of which, these offer small medicinal properties including calming iron, calcium and magnesium.

Walking up the south circular road was very noisy and polluted so we turned off earlier than planned into looking up, I noticed tiny black grapes hung in clusters above our heads. Paul (tallest member in the group) collected several bunches and before long we’d all savoured the sweet/sour juice and crunchy pips.

Catford grapes; a juicy snack along the route!

we met another participant at the park and stood or sat beneath the arbour in the community garden. There We studied the flame coloured nasturtium flowers (strong/hot flavour leaves and flowers) and milder calendulas. The rich vibrant colours are abundant in an array of plants and vegetables including cardoons, beans and purple sprouting broccoli. Everyone experiences the positive effects of nature on our wellbeing. (Note: The garden is open to visitors but all produce belongs to the park volunteers!)

The over 100 yr old London Plane Trees absorb carbon pollution from the roadside in their bark, which then peels off to reveal a patchwork of colours. This is another example of how plants improve our environment and well-being

Preserving these wild foods, can be easily achieved; by making sauces from hawthorn berries, drying nettles, mint and lemon balm for tea and sprinkle nettle seeds to garnish salads and soups. Plantain leaves stem blood flow and are antiseptic; these have a robust flavour for use in salad and juice. Similarly yarrow’s feathery leaves and dandelion (lion’s tooth plant) and burdock leaves for opening and flushing/cleansing the urinary tract. Nettle leaves offer an energy boost of iron; now the seeds are developed these can be harvested (carefully!) and dried out on a tray in a cloth bag and store in a jar and use as an alternative to pepper.

A juicy Crown Prince pumpkin. Save the seeds to re plant agin, in years to come.

Back at the QVT site kitchen we chose our tasks and prepared a great lunch together: a pumpkin, horseradish (donated by award winning gardener Mary from her allotment), potato, green lentil and ginger soup served with rye bread and organic sunflower spread plus salads: courgette ribbons creamy herb pesto style dressing with cashew nuts, olive oil, avocado, tomatoes (from our garden) and washed herbs from the park garnish of sliced red (pink!) cabbage, yellow rocket flowers, and living lentil sprouts for extra crunch and protein. Plus stuffed little gem lettuce leaves with avocado and tomato dressing.

For our Dessert we handmade individual chocolate, date and walnut truffles with an apple and blackberry compote (premade with cinnamon) and topped with a Catford grape! We made a refreshing fresh mint tea and tried mallow (lavatera) flowers for soothing digestion. Norman has nicknamed me as a Plant Professor!

A natural no-added sugar dessert has been shown to improve our mood and mental balance.

Wheat-free recipes for optimising well-being and reducing bloating and fatigue.

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Elderberry harvest this weekend

Homemade Natural remedies with local Wild Elderberries.

To take home
Benefits to our winter health introduction to elderberries.

Now We’re in September, autumn draws nearer has a chill in the early morning air and the nights are drawing in.

Back In May, We prepared a refreshing elderflower tonic in Tessa’s Tiny Tots, from the Tree outside in the back garden. 
An Elderberry cluster looks like bronchioles in our lungs; a system of branches. Following the ‘Doctrine of signatures’, Therefore these tiny, dark burgundy berries, support our respiratory tract against common disorders like colds and flu.
Elderberry is a rich source of vitamin C. For treatment of coughs & colds, have them to hand, ready for the winter months ahead. 
Preparation: a cluster snaps off easily and cleanly from the tree (or bush)
Prize off the tiny berries using a fork. 
Uses: as a garnish, on top of desserts. 
As a tea!
A sugar free Syrup – replace white sugar and use an alternative sweetener.

Join us at Forster Memorial Park foraging on Saturday 14th September at the funday from 11-12noon by the cafe and playground Whitefoot lane entrance.

Apple and blackberry sauce (no added sugar). For adding into yogurt, cereal or as a low sugar spread.

My neighbour kindly shares her apples which I collected and went on a blackberry harvest from the back. Fortunately together they’re sweet enough and not too sharp to turn them into a compote (spread/jam) with added spices.

Prepare the apples and remove any bruised parts or caterpillar eggs infestation. These look like small brown dots amongst the core. Take care when consuming wild apples, In case a caterpillar has hatched inside!

Ensure that the Blackberries are clean and insect free by soaking well in water and leave immersed for 15 mins. Rinse and remove any floating larvae, or insects which crawl to the surface!

Place both fruit together into a saucepan with a cup of water to cover the bottom and cook gently until the apples soften, approx 10 mins. Stir in the spices; generous pinches of cinnamon, nutmeg, freshly grated or ground ginger and a mini pinch of cloves.

When cool, add white chia seeds (preferably ground) and melted coconut oil to enable the setting process (although the latter may solidify into white particles).

The result is a delicious seasonal fruit spread (no added sugar).

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An Edible medicinal plant wildlife Garden

One of the *new* seasonal kitchen Buddy offers to supply for our clients is a half day herbal wellness workshop in learning about edible weed identification and benefits in your local area. This exciting new service is specifically aimed at educating and inspiring clients to learn how to recognise seasonal edible herbs in the wild at home in the garden and transform into a refreshing menu, using a simple step by step, natural recipe formula.

I showed our Local beekeeper Steven Turner a Tour around the garden and area, with a tray, explaining how each plant grows in a unique way. We observed lots of bees attracted to the fuchsia bush and gathered a selection of fresh leaves, flowers, petals, fruit and berries. We took them into the kitchen and after rinsing them well in water, puréed them into a delicious paste with added put lentil sprouts.

Steven spiralised half a courgette or was it a marrow, mixed them together and decorated it with colourful flower petals and buds. For drinks we made a Fresh mint tea (and shared a cool Kombucha). The menu was completed by Turkish olives, artichoke hearts and an organic calzone.

Today our collection of over 10 seasonal plants for our menu includes: forget-me-not leaf, nasturtium, rose, self heal, Melissa, mint, chickweed, basil, thyme, tomatoes, blackberries, victoria plums and a fuchsia berry!

Enjoy the taste and flavours of Summer with a herbal wild food foraging masterclass by Theresa and Efat: book your 3 hr session now.

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Catford’s wellbeing social network

Leading the way in positive support for metal health awareness is the Third Thursday Time experience coordinated by a local team of wonderfully skilled and empathetic volunteer staff. The social group takes place monthly (on the third Thursday) at Hartley Hall, part of the Holy Cross church and school and is Funded in part by the Catholic Church to provide a fun place for locals to attend and socialise on a monthly basis.

Third Thursday Time

Activities include local gardening opportunities, health and nutrition support, games, nearly-new clothes and gifts section, art & design, sewing & crafts, dancing, Zumba, yoga, positive mood cafe with wholefood snacks and treats, massage, meditation, singing and information of other local events. It provides a much needed break from the normal social scene and offers a chance to wind down, relax and meet new faces in a fun environment yet offers a peaceful place for reflection. I enjoy the socialising element, with an opportunity to take part in inter-generational activities and to share skills. Members of all ages from all walks of life and especially caring for pensioners and those with special mental or physical needs. It’s a nice space to enjoy.

Offers a positive approach to wellbeing. Minus alcohol, vaping/smoking, excessive sugary snacks – it aims to improve our connection and to create a dialogue to promote inclusion and thus prevent loneliness.

The group is Organised by Lesley Allen, Dementia Champion of the local Diamond Club (seniors multi generational events) and is open to anyone. 5.30-8.30p.m. Hartley Hall, Culverley road, Catford London SE6 2LD.

Also taking part in the Festival of Creative Ageing for seniors.


On the 16th August 2018, Theresa Webb hosted a Food and Mood Session where we learnt about healthy eating and even prepared a healthy meal together! Follow the link below for Theresa’s recipes.

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Menopause solutions: natural HRT alternatives

Recently it was reported in the news that many women were distressed about the lack of menopause drugs; Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). However there are other, more sustainable choices.

The HRT hormones in the Premarin brand medication are derived from a pregnant mare’s urine. Up and down the land, women have been told to take hormones from a female horse, orally without much distain.

Fortunately choosing a more natural alternative is viable; a link exists between the our diet and our hormones, specifically the fresher the diet of a menopausal women, the healthier her hormones. 

The Change is a part of who we are, accepting the developments and embracing a new inner power is key to experiencing more glory than gory symptoms. 

Most menopausal Chinese women don’t experience the symptoms of sweats, flushing or tiredness, so a term doesn’t exist In China, as their consumption of processed meat and dairy is lower and they have a high soya consumption than in western societies. (The oestrogenic affect in soya has prevented the common symptoms.) Similar food method may also be beneficial in the west.

A combination of Raw, living foods specifically living foods (specifically sprouted/germinated seeds) and Asian, African, Caribbean and European natural Herbal remedies has been heralded as useful and case study proven for women to reduce symptoms of the Menopause. These sprouted seeds contain high levels of antioxidants and are lower in saturated fats. Whole grain plant foods as opposed to processed animal ingredients. A vegetarian and vegan lifestyle not only contributes towards a reduction in symptoms but understanding our bodies requirements from within.

During a nutrition clinic consultation we develop natural solutions towards a dietary practice in harmony with your own lifestyle, to balance your hormones naturally through nutrient intake and understanding your activity. Provide a plan for the future weeks and months ahead.

Kitchen Buddy courses focus on how to harness the benefits of natural HRT alternatives, learn how to grow your own therapy, with us.

Our half day Foraging and natural Food session includes:

  1. Hands on plant based cookery and growing techniques in any space.
  2. Foraging (collecting medicinal plants) including wild weeds with healing properties
  3. Learning the food combination methods, to prepare and share your meal together with us. 
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Hormonal healing: Wild medicinal plant Remedies and eco Designs from street trees

Corbett WI medicinal wildflowers for the menopause Tour of Beckenham Place Park. Summer in the city; following joining the local Women’s Institute committee this time last year, I realised that I was unable to commit to the regular monthly meetings and whilst enabling the group to set up, I instead offered to teach a herbs for hormones foraging walkshop in Beckenham place park, this year. The whole area has recently undergone quite a makeover transformation with largely a great transformation of the pleasure gardens with new flowers blooming with only a few teething troubles in the swimming lake area (lifeguards need to be present, surely?!)

At 10.30am, armed with copies of the new National Park City community newspaper and map, our group met up at the delightful mansion house and I gave an introduction to the wild herb safety guidelines, then looked around at the humble plants which grew beneath the sign post by the car park. Here we found dead nettle, garlic mustard and yarrow. We began a slow paced walk around the field side on the main side of the house, finding stinging nettles which we carefully chewed and plantain (plantago major). The plantain was useful as an aid to reduce insect bite irritation.

On the left, walking downhill, were several yew trees with the odd red berry, containing their poisonous pip. Followed by a few majestic lime trees which have recently been in blossom but are now dry and forming seeds. cutting across the grass walking barefoot and we follow the path around to the sweet chestnut trees to find an Elder whose berries are just ripening from green to burgundy. This will be a huge crop waiting to support the respiratory tract with vitamin c rich juice. The white clover spreads widely across the lawns and we didn’t spot any redclover to support oestrogen balance on this day.

Thank you to Lotte for organising this activity and all those taking part on the day.

On the way home, I stopped off to speak to a neighbour whose house I’d noticed on the way into Beckenham, as it has a huge plum tree growing next door. Collecting (& eating) Fresh plums is one of the summer treats I look forward to the most, since discovering and harvesting them with my dad, at a woods we found nearby. The suns energy for the day had passed and I took off my hat. We shook the tree; more plums fell off and I gathered them all up together in my straw hat, carefully picking additional blackberries along the way. soaking them all in water is the best way to remove any unwanted wildlife; I washed them carefully removing any grubs which may have nestled into a plum setting them free into the garden. The plums taste divine; reminding us that the sun’s energy is with us, here in the northern hemisphere, now! Fast becoming one of my favourite fresh fruits; what’s not to love? It enriches us with all the goodness of the summer and sets us up for the winter months ahead with rations of vitamins C &D.

Our annual Further Green Road street party was held yesterday afternoon; for 50 residents, with music and laughter filling the air and our stall encouraging all ages ways to be creative with nature. My space involved Making rowan berry bead jewellery and sewing them together, with the expert help of the children; both boys and girls. Helping one another, each child delightfully took the needle, (though we threaded it many times!)and skillfully sewed the berries from tip to bottom through the core, onto the pieces of thread. After counting to 20 ‘beads’ the bracelets were ready and placing the garland around each child’s wrist tied it up at the end. Due to their nature, These ‘beads’ only remain fresh and colourful for a few days after picking until they dry when they can be planted into the garden, to grow their own tree!

Making Rowan berry bead jewellery
Making Rowan berry bead jewellery
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Buddhafield festival: evolution or extinction

Set in the heart of the Dorset countryside in the Blackdown hills, lies a series of fields which is host to the Buddhist community retreats and festivals throughout the year. I’m fortunate to participate in the summer festival which is a very peaceful yet celebration towards life (and death) with a focus on sustainability. The festival is managed in a structure which allows problem solving and solutions to develop naturally and is lead by a team of volunteers who organise everything from workshops to onsite recycling to the compost toilet cleaning…

I arrived to the camping field and was immediately introduced to my neighbour Tim, who offered to help in set up he is a music technician manager and through morning cups of tea rituals we felt more at ease.

Songs and music fill the air throughout the day and evening, finishing in time for sleep, to rise for yoga the following day. This is not a 24/7 music festival but it integrates them effortlessly into the broad programme.

I’d harvested a selection of wild herbs to take with me, to use in advance of any we’d find in the fields. Before leaving london I’d also offered to bring a small selection of herbs; lavatera flowers, horsetail, rose petals, self heal, hogweed, nettle leaves and seeds to supply the simply rawgeous vegan cafe run by Pete and his fabulous crew.

My herbal medicine and wild food foraging walkshops took place on Friday- through to Saturday morning in the Land and social care section (permaculture). The heatwave was broken by rainfall and instead of exploring the fields, the group of women decided to continue under cover in the main tent, from where we shared experiences. Samantha Sibanye Moyo (social entrepreneur/Morning Glory) dropped in before her own session began. The group shared Our wisdom surrounding medicinal plants to support our health and ‘guess the herb’ intro based on the new cyanotype prints, displayed as bunting inside the tent.

The evenings brought great music; my favourite performances were by:

Seize the

DJ Benjamin Crystal

Bob We sat around a campfire side sharing stories with our neighbours. Bob’s newly published first book ‘Simplify’ is now available.

Delicious vegan & raw meals are prepared continuously inc. Parma pancakes delicious savoury mushrooms (on one half) and sweet banana (on the other) I helped out to Pete’s juices and raw pizza and the buddhafield cafe crew supplied delicious hot food.

As night falls, The evenings are much cooler and I take saunas to warm up my bones, cleanse and purify from the day, followed by a cold shower and plunge in the mini pool, makes me feel like naked swimming in a private pool; refreshing.

Our next walking group was much larger and we found many species including patches of wood sorrel (tiny spear head shapes leaves with pointed downward tips). Ziv kindly assisted and with his seasonal plant wisdom magic, we munched on fresh nettles, the group collecting the seeds. I was tiring after walking so I gratefully accepted an invitation to enjoy ‘forest bathing’ with Liz and Rory in the Glade area, away from the tents. We lay beneath the trees, ate a simple but delicious lunch of fruit and bread and witnessed a birch tree tea ceremony, Made and performed by Rory with a Kelly Kettle; a fabulous addition to camping for outdoor hot water, made using a fire within the kettle (the reverse of a traditional style kettle). Birch tree leaf tea is quite pleasant with a smoked flavour similar to lapsang souchong tea. Resting beneath the branches watching the seeds on a blade of grass and 2 hrs lapsed… later I met Ian Cook, another raw-food enthusiast and discussed the healing properties of herbs at length over raw chocolate and tea.

We danced for our lives with DJ Benjamin Crystal in a sweaty mass and I finally sat down long enough to construct and weave myself a fruit basket; a tangible, object to take home from the field as a useful memento. The process of weaving willow is therapeutic and rewarding. Thanks to the great, patient team teaching all weekend.

On the last night the sauna was full; sweat poured through our pores. (Perhaps that’s the origin of the word..!) We chatted about the day’s experiences and a group of 7 started chanting, singing a song they’d just leant at singer Susie Ro’s session with approx 100 new voices. Her all powerful songs penetrate deep into the soul and We sat absorbing the lyrics and harmonies. Letting go, letting the river flow…

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National Park City secret (Lamppost) garden party

The National Park City Festival in london celebrates the news that London has been granted the award as a city which aims to enhance and increase its green spaces for the benefit of all residents. Fortunately the sun came out last weekend we held a secret garden party for ourselves at the community garden, attended by 15 local residents, 2 children and a dog, Sidney. The Founder of LNPC Paul brought us a selection of new maps to view and explained the principles behind the award. Plus many copies of the fabulous Maker newspaper (available at the Corbett community library). It explains how to nurture a love of nature which is beneficial to all ages.

The local councillors, residents, gardeners and dog enjoyed refreshments by Kitchen Buddy including coconut water, organic salads with quinoa living lentils and bean sprouts, kale & avocado, olives, potato salad with egg free mayo, roasted jackfruit and seasonal vegetables with homegrown herbs and herbal tea.

Learning about legumes; how do peas grow?! Fresh pea pod demonstrations included everyone tasting fresh peas, straight from the pods.

Involvement for the younger generation: Thanks to Peter, Emma and Sophie, the boarder is blooming with marigolds. Emma says that Sophie (aged 3 hrs) likes to visit the garden to water the marigolds in ‘Daddy’s garden’ after nurser and runs around playing airplanes on the path.

Thanks to Mary for nurturing the violas and geraniums. After a spot of clearing up the kids learnt how to use the plant rubbish bin (composter).

Joining this scheme is easy visit and shows you how to make a difference in many ways in the area in which you live.

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Wellbeing walk on the hottest day in Mountsfield Park

Today is the hottest day of the year, ever; since records began in UK, Germany and Netherlands. My friend (and local DJ & florist) Lynne and I had arranged to meet for a follow up to a group walk I lead during Hither Green week 2018. Our aim was to increase our learning through the natural environment in the park. We set out early this morning, in a vain attempt to avoid the heat of the of the day but it soon became apparent that we needed to seek extra shade. Our mutual love of flowers and foliage lead us to explore the many beautiful areas that the community garden has to offer (whilst being mindful of the notices to leave the produce).

The contrast from festival field to town life is vast. To dispel the mass, wide feelings of personal and public overwhelm, taking a ‘dip’ into a natural, ecological environment, restores our inner peace, not miles away from home. Whether staying locally through choice or avoiding flying, there are many pleasures to be found in the local landscape.

The power of nature to restore us in our right mind and the role it plays in our positive mental health and well-being reminds me of a cartoon which depicts a person forest bathing, laying on the grass, gazing upwards, who explains that he is re-charging, his ‘device’ and the power to re-charge us, is none other than the sky… in a technologically superior age, it’s ever apparent that we need to engage with this element to regain a sense of peace inside ourselves. Like the devices so often used we too need this recharge to benefit from the best that health has to offer us.

Walking barefoot: taking off our shoes and sandles to safely feel the grass/water/soil/sand beneath our feet also acts as ‘grounding’ and feels empowering.

A female blackbird hops past with a breakfast in her beak. We explore the area and our belief in being positive with nature helps us to feel happier, in our place. Despite still being in the UK, as opposed to foreign climes, the enjoyment and appreciation of an enchanting wild space surprisingly increases and enhances our morning.

We find yarrow, for salads and stem blood flow, both wide & narrow plantain. Lynne later uses the leaves to provide relief from an earlier mosquito bite, with great effect; the itching and swelling ceases. There are green elder berries with rich burgundy stems ripening on the tree, which will be ready to eat well in advance of September. When they have turned deep burgundy red, they supply us with vitamin C which boosts our immunity and supports us against colds in the winter months ahead. The Cardoons’ mauve flowers tower 7-8’ above us.

Lemon balm (Melissa) grows in thickets and soothes our senses- a perfect addition to an infusion (cup of hot water infused flowers & leaves).

Blackberries are ripening at an increasing rate side by side with beautiful urtica dioica – stinging nettles. The time for fertility has arrived and their seed heads boast a bounty of delicate protein rich seeds.

Later the female blackbird swoops past us, as if in confirmation of our discussions.

The scent of a multitude of roses from the rose garden wafts over in our direction and we both inhale, deeply, smiling at the subtlety in the heat of the day. We leave feeling more renewed, if not somewhat hotter, than when we first began.

in Mountsfield Park (for more details on this park, contact FOMP)

Today I picked yarrow, plantain, mallow

Fresh versus Dried flowers

Creating a mutual understanding with creatures; how Lynne avoided being stung:

Contact Theresa Webb for individual 1:1 seasonal wild food foraging sessions locally/in your area.