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Beckenham Place Park Art Exhibition

I’m thrilled to share that 3 of my recent garden plant paintings were selected and are on show in the online exhibition this month. I began sketching and painting flowers as a challenge during Lent and discovered that my neighbour, Deborah Masters, is the local artist and one of the curators. As a first time exhibitor, it’s wonderful to join.

Her encouragement earlier on in the year during a quieter time gave me a boost and you’ll find my work at the end (alphabetical by artist). Discover the stories behind these works. All are available to purchase if you’d like to buy something to add to your collection. The show takes place on Sunday 19th July.

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Open Gardens preparations

Spring is … springing; the first signs of snowdrop, Crocus, tête-à-tête (mini daffs), hyacinths, tulips and the bluebells are all over the place! The beauty of floral colours surrounds us in life, as in art. Part way along the back garden path, The sweet scent of my grandparent’s Daphne O Wharbarton (delicate pink flowers), stops me in my tracks and forces me to inhale deeply, more so than usual on an urban street near to the main South Circular.

It is within these realms which holds the Annual Hither Green Festival Open Gardens weekend Sunday 24th May 2020. Entries are now open if you’d like to display your area within the SE6 general boundary. Spring bank rd community garden, near the station, have begun digging out a new pond to attract additional wildlife and our Verdant Lane Lamppost Garden has received funds to go towards practical redevelopment.

Until then, we will enjoy the delicate patterns in dainty spring bulb forms. For the first time this week, on closer inspection, I observed the subtle, green waves on the snowdrop’s white petals. Inspirational Spring!

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year; wreath making & Festive floristry!

I just adore the seasonal foliage at this time of year; Evergreen leaves, seed heads, pine cones, berries and even feathers are making a show this Christmas. Fortunately I’ve collected a wide array of such seasonal such treasures, especially for such a purpose as this.

my table decoration and wreath class is held at Love Gift Vegan Cafe, on Sunday 15th December for 3 hrs. Drop in during the afternoon to create a decoration to delight your loved ones from a mixture a natural foliage, along with a glass or two of festive fruit punch and whichever Caribbean dish takes your liking from the extensive made onsite, freshly prepared menu.

tickets £30.00 or £15.00 concs. (Please ask in advance if you require a reduced fee)

Theresa Webb
Theresa Webb.
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One World Choir London Christmas Concert

What will you be doing on the evening of Thursday 12th December?! If the answer is trying to avoid the election results for 5 minutes, then you’ll love to attend One World Choir’s Christmas Concert at the Baptist Church, in Kings Cross. A compilation of traditional Christmas songs plus a beautiful blend of chants from around the globe eg. African traditional songs celebrating mother Earth, sacred landscapes with a feminine touch.

With over 50 singers of all ages, performing acapella with Choir leader Helen Yeoman whose mixed choirs recently performed at locations across London during the Extinction Rebellion events in October. I learnt about the performance at an X R event in Trafalgar Square one night and went along to the next rehearsal.

An evening packed full of joyful and uplifting songs; what could the world need other than unity?! Tickets from £5.00-£8.00 http://facebook.com/oneworldlondon and http://helenyeomans.co.uk

The One World Choir is accepting new members from the New Year 2020.

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Vegan Organic Network at the largest meat-free show in Europe: VegFestUK

A couple of years ago, I received a very positive response to my first Kitchen Buddy at VegFest UK Raw Nutrition for Health talk, which I delivered to an audience of over 100 at Olympia Grand Hall, London. One of the highlights of last weekend (infact 26th October) was visiting the show again as a volunteer on behalf of the Vegan Organic Network.

On our Veganic Gardening stall we discuss ‘stock-free’ (non animal fertiliser eg. horse manure) and Permaculture gardening techniques, provide visitors with educational materials for seasonal recipes to read and purchase, welcome new subscribers to the Growing Green membership and an opportunity to attend an enjoyable seminar series with experienced VON presenters including Jon Dale and Tony Martin.

VON supports new first time gardeners and growers and on the day ran a competition for an eco pod – a new design portable raised vegetable bed, which resembles a small moveable polytunnel, on legs (with wheels).

Situated up on the third floor, our space was a calm oasis amongst the hubbub of the other fast food areas. For more details on Veganic Growing and gardening in a sustainable fashion contact VON https://veganorganic.net/

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XR In London

At the XR Demonstration, completely by accident last Wednesday night.

Heading towards Charing Cross to get a train back home and my eyes were drawn down towards the Mall, where bright colourful banners lined Trafalgar Square. I couldn’t go home without an investigation. I immediately realised that it showcased a very developed XR demo with the hearse surrounded by police, a DJ booth, music pumping out of speakers and food tents to nourish the masses. More like a festival than any Criminal activity. I searched for a familiar face in the crowds and was met by Kenny, who showed me around the other occupied sites. It’s unlike the general media reports: music boomed out from speakers with several DJs and I heard that Orbital had played there the previous night. Spontaneous Public dancing, in the street and square itself went on for hours. I placed my bag down for kenny to guard and was invited to join a fish group dance which involved becoming like a school; a collective, of human /fish moving as one, dancing and twirling together.

These sites of protesters were peacefully put together including many pensioners forming a blockade by St James Park, others along Whitehall and a full camp outside Westminster abbey area. There We witnessed several arrests, observers wearing orange hi vis vests (to record the legal rights) and heard reports of police brutality (breaking bones). To my right, a man in his sleeping bag was physically removed; carried along the road by 4 other officers. We had spoken to a WPC (who is on time and a half) who remarked that she really just wanted to get back home to her children. Sadly the entire london wide Met forces has been enlisted to patrol the camps meanwhile the gang lords on Hackney were dealing in knife crime, where the police presence is more needed.

Walking back up towards the square I felt like stretching out so we stopped for a yoga session and to dance on the raised blockades to techno music. Back at the square I learnt that kenny had formed part of a Choir singing earth chants and lines like: “We’ve got all the chocolate; the chocolate we need, to help the world, Hallelujah! We’ve got all the chocolate, all the chocolate we need, blessed be” we chanted.

We shared a meal picnic snack style at the outdoor dining area towards the back steps of oatcakes, mange tout, nibbles and chocolate, snug from the wind, sharing our ideas on Conscious Plant based foods for the future. #PowerToThePeople.

By Nelson’s column, dancing in the crowd; the DJ tells us that the food tent is so full the crew needs more volunteers; could some the crowd go to assist? In that moment I felt a minor dilemma – I asked myself- should I offer my time, to do this, to serve..?! (having come from a 10 hr shift myself…) did they mean me? In that moment, the crowd parted, like waves and approx 20 or so youngsters filled off, in the direction of the food tent, to join the service team. Volunteering support without a question; teamwork. Following that moment of movement, my eyes fell upon another bystander, who turned out to be … a French chef, interested in learning about vegan nutrition and menus… we smiled softly and a few days later, I found out who the lead chef was, our kitchen supervisor from Buddhafield festival retreats; who we’d be catering alongside in the kitchen at Buddhafield in the City (26th Oct). #smallworld scenario.

All of which only leaves me to conclude that ‘these protestors’ have more in common with Buddhist Monks, than ‘anarchist’ punks. #peaceful #positive #protestors

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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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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:

Mobiusloop.co.uk

Seize the day.org

DJ Benjamin Crystal ecstaticshamanic.co.uk

Bob Hillary.com 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 nationalparkcity.london and makelifebetter.nationalparkcity.london shows you how to make a difference in many ways in the area in which you live.

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Awakening the Eco spirit in Bournemouth

Bournemouth is fast becoming a place to be; choc a block of families and youths enjoying the sunny days. What did I do? Here are the highlights: ate lots of amazing vegan food:

For breakfast/lunch & dinner, head to The Coast deli for The best Chocolate orange polenta cake and blueberry loaf with a whole host of delicious roast vegetable salads, shakes and olives smothered in thyme.

After breakfast I sat in the picturesque gardens listening to a slide guitarist singing old New Orleans blues and jazz and the odd Bob Dylan song. Later, a group of Extinction rebellion peaceful protesters started designing proactive plant based facts onto the concourse pathway. The group employed artistic activism engaging passers by in conversation regarding the connection with meat eating and environmental awareness. The impact of rearing livestock versus agricultural farming and enjoying a plant based lifestyle. Before long the pathway was creatively covered in colourful chalk designs and slogans. A young pair of identically dressed sisters added their own illuminating comments to the colourful display.

From here we made our way up to The Mad Cucumber cafe; the most reliable restaurant for a fabulous array of choices and a fridge laden with fresh cakes. Their menu is akin to any London fare in that they offer many international choices of cuisine inc burgers burritos and much more. I love the specialty teas on offer, the community library section, and arty plant displays too.

Walking Down the road is the Twelve Eatery, a new stylish plant based restaurant with a fresh new menu to try on my next visit.

Try The ‘Pause’ Cat Cafe; for I the best coconut milk hot chocolate (& name! ) this is actually nicer than imagined as it’s a cat rescue centre with a completely sectioned off kitchen/cafe area. The staff are lead by a volunteer team who are cat lovers and learning to serve customers who come from the busy high street.

For dinner we tried the pizza express shared a gluten free pizza without arancini (rice balls with broad beans and mint) (which opens late).

Heading out from the big wheel, Up on the track towards the west cliff is a weekly Vintage car show, where owners share their historic motors; teaching me the difference between British and American design (American pick up trucks and Cadillacs can seat up to 4 people in the front seat; UK saloon just 2 at a squeeze.) The interiors gleam with wooden dashboards, metallic handles, window frames and wing mirrors; upholstery in unusual shades of grey/green/ beige designs, is immaculate and almost as good as new. They are simply Sublime, works of art.

Meeting the owners is as exciting and I’m reduced to promise a return trip.

Theresa Webb