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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.

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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

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Soothing Solstice tea: Linden blossom harvest

Today We’re Celebrating the Summer Solstice; our longest day in the Northern hemisphere and instead of visiting a ‘sacred’ site in the West Country I went on a hunt for Linden Blossom, flowers from the common Lime tree (Tilea). These flowers possess such a gorgeous scent which wafts around on the breeze in order for you to identify its location. Often street trees are primed and cut for us to walk beneath, however this makes harvesting harder so fortunately there are a several local trees with branches almost reaching down to the ground, which makes collection easier. This is the best time of year, blossoms are blooming out however they open in succession, some trees are still in bud and not yet out. This enables foragers to safely collect little and often from these parts; to enjoy the lower branches and leave the rest for the bees.

The blossoms make excellent tea infusion for a relaxing afternoon or evening. A Combination with mint and lemon balm is my favourite. They are best fresh however dry easily and smell great again when used at a later date.

Making our own local fresh remedies is empowering and rewarding.

Theresa Webb