I made a flower crown.

If you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment -Georgia O’Keeffe Just living is not enough said the butterfly, one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower -Hans Christian … Continue reading

First signs of spring and preparing to celebrate Imbolc

This will be my first conscious celebration of Imbolc.   As humans we intuitively follow the cycle of nature, along with our calendars. It is good to take the time to purposefully observe the changes. Im very glad to be … Continue reading

Approaching Midwinter

The light is shortening dramatically now, at 3.30 the daylight is fading and the night is drawing in.

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We are almost at Midwinter, already halfway through the darker half of the year.

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Around the time of midwinter many celebrate Yule, and or Christmas and the winter solstice

The largest part of the traditions bring a little warmth and cheer in darkness.

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Most of out traditions at this time of year are about combating the cold and dark

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Reminding ourselves of natures green that stays fresh and lives on seemingly eternal even when all else has diappeared at this time

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The decidious trees are stripped bare by harsh biting winds

revealing their core their strength

It’s strange to think that now of all times they have chosen now to be naked and vulnerable

 we know that they are conserving energy to survive

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underneath the frost roots are storing that energy, in the warmer quieter earth buried deep, ready to push forward riotously, providing a stronger than ever foundation

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I recently celebrated my birthday my 40th birthday

One of the things I chose to do was plant some trees

Bare rooted trees travel well and can be planted now, ready to miraculously unfirl their leaves in spring. If youve bnever planted a tree that looks little more than a stick at this time of year and waited to see if it really is alive in springtime, then you should do it. Magical.

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Little saplings that will grow with the challenge of each winter and celebrate each spring with a lush green and blossoms that will be fertilised by pollinators to provide fruit and nuts in summer.

Slowly return the last of their energy to the earth the nutrients in their falling leaves in the Autumn.

Another gift was a reminder of these pollinators, hand carved into an old upcycled lucky silver sixpence. If we’re lucky we will have lots of these for a long time to come.

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I have also been making my own presents to gift

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and some upcycling

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Happy Samhain!

You will all undoubtedly be aware of the commerciality of halloween, the ghoulish plastic ‘scarefest’ that will likely go on to pollute the earth in a genuinely scary way. Halloween bares little resemblance to the original ancient festival of Samhain … Continue reading

Magical Elder

As I like to forage and share recipes, it occurs to me that I have used elder,  probably more than most other. The uses seem almost limitless. I have posts to share in the mushroom berry and flower foraging sections … Continue reading

magical light and making candles

It is diwali tonight as I type this, this is one of my favourite light festivals 🙂 The festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair. It has many … Continue reading

Free flowers

‘Seasonal hand tied posy’; pick some flowers from the garden, put them in a jar on the kitchen windowsill. Instant cheer! Infintitely more environmentally friendly and definitely cheaper than buying them. I like to forage wild flowers, beautful and always … Continue reading

Head in the clouds

“She’s always got her head in the clouds!”

Whilst foraging in local woodland today I picked some wildflowers, all of them were favourites from my childhood.

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Tied with an old shoelace

I have a few spots I am lucky enough to get to within walking distance. We are in suburbia, living on a bus route, but luckily a stone throw from fields and more natural spaces, as a lot of the villages are in the small northern town of Doncaster. Traditionally  Doncaster is a very safe labour seat, though UKIP recently held their conference here, hoping to capitalise on the disquiet and dicontent. What you may not know is that Green party membership has increased by 170% here in the last year. It seems people do care about social policy afterall. I joined them after years of seemingly unconsciously voting Labour and then a few more of just not being able to anymore. People here are disturbed by Labour’s seeming unwillingness to tackle causes and issues that are traditionally theirs. The town is Ed Millibands constituency but we never see him “why wud e want t cum ere?”. I digress, although not too much, its kind of the point, sometimes we can be distracted by an irritatation, or a disappointment and it becomes the focus of a disproportionate amount of our energy or a drain of our energy, it gets us down.

Often it seems people who’ve spent decades in this town dont have many great things to say about the people who live here. We really suffer from a self esteem problem as a town. Having taught in many of the boroughs schools over the last 13 years, Ive met my fair share of adults who have been quicker than in other geographic localities, to expect a lot less than they should. Ive also, happily, met my fair share of kids of who’ve proved them wrong. I might have been one of those kids when I was younger.

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Sometimes children see things we don’t and understand more than we think. This is from fb I teach older kids. Sometimes they teach me.

I grew up in a single parent family under Margaret Thatcher’s Tory government, in social housing which had no central heating and there would be frost on the inside of my bedroom window. I often heard on the tv (when we still had one and mum could afford the license) that single parents were the scourge of society and responsible for most of what was wrong in the world. It seemed to me things had not changed since my grandmother was locked away in Ireland for falling pregnant before being married and her baby was sold never to be seen by her again. It seems to me when I heard today that our current Tories want to do away with human rights whilst vilifying the poor and vulnerable that we could quickly go back there. Before we moved to that small village we were homeless and moved into a shelter provided for those suffering from domestic violence this is why we had become a single parent family. The current Tories are closing all of these shelters. Why are we doing worse than we could in ’81? I wonder to myself. Maybe for some this kind of ‘social cleansing’ is progress. To anyone with common sense it is blatantly immoral. I am with the focus E15 mothers  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Focus-E15-Mothers/602860129757343?sk=info

It’s time to fight back against this elite extremism, with grass roots action.

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Im not sure of the specific origin of this photo but I do know that in Guatemala indigenous women are defending their homes against mining and palm oil corporations building roads and infrastructure on them, similar is likely to happen in Alberta Canada. Where next? Is she an ‘extremist’? Is anyone who would help her? or are they?

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How do we trust governments who label environmental activism as ‘extreme’ and use the label ‘extremist’ in response to a criticism or a fight back? or to justify their own extremism? Who decides what is ‘extreme’ and where will that end?

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In this town allotments and growing your own, are skills and traditions held dear and respected. How else do you survive wartimes and harsh economic conditions (miners strikes and the current austerity blows) without resilience and self-reliance? How can we trust governments which dont appreciate or encourage any self reliance? There are small everyday things I can do to be resilient and more self-reliant, I blog about them on here regularly. This is why I am here and why I am blogging to encourage others,  so we can share and communicate as sentient human beings with a moral conscience and a purpose.

Small grass roots everyday activities.

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Wood sorrel growing in a crack in the pavement. Nature is resilient. Life finds a way. Mother nature fights back.

I have become politically active where there is injustice in my life. I am lobbying the Irish government and have formed an advocacy group with others the ‘Justice for Irish mother and baby homes’ campaign we are seeking justice along with organisations such as the wonderful Adoption rights alliance, for our families who are still being denied it. I have also used media interest and social media to gain support and keep up the pressure. It can be a useful tool not just a way to waste the time.

I need a two edged approach I need to use politics as a tool wherever and if ever I can. I also need to take action in my daily life, the little things add up. It makes a difference to my life and to many, many others, as a result of my choices as a consumer, or of chosing not to buy at all if possible.

As a part of the latter I find I spend more and more time connecting with the earth and a natural way of life, which is changing everything in a great way.

Back to the beginning.

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Ladies bedstraw red clover honeysuckle and greater plantain. Some of my favourite childhood flowers I foraged whilst picking the last of the berries today

As a child it was often difficult, I didn’t know much different but I know I felt different and often felt a disconnect.

I heard people say “she always has her head in the clouds!” “she always has her nose in a book” I think they felt I didn’t like them.

Sometimes I didn’t.

I preferred to be out in the local woodland, up the cherry and apple trees in anyone’s garden that had them. I loved to climb away from it all.

I know people felt I didn’t notice, was naive, or even immune to the dirt, the glue bags in the bushes, the bin bag of discarded rubbish, or the dodgy deals behind the bus shelter because they always felt the need to point them out to me. Still do.

” you know you’re more likely to find a wild dog than a wild mushroom” ” Is tha lukin fo magic uns?”

From my forage today I can tell you I still see it all. Its just by a young age I had learned not to be too distracted by it.

I had my head in the clouds and my feet in the wildflowers and my pockets full of fruit or nuts and was where I wanted to be.

I am where I want to be.

 I can spot a dodgy deal going down before you will and I can name cloud formations.

Autumnal suspense

We have been out walking in the golden sunshine, now much lower in the afternoon sky and enjoying the space and time outdoors connecting with the woodlands and trees. On one walk we were lucky to see nuthatchers and tree creepers and were told where they like to feed in the coming winter months.

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The music of the far-away summer flutters around the Autumn seeking its former nest. ~Rabindranath Tagore, Stray Birds  

   It feels like the cusp of change the days soon becoming filled with foraging and preserving.

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Chestnuts are good in pies and risotto. They make a good preserve with rum for making chocolate truffles as gifts

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Eating apples and crab apples for jelly

I enjoy taking the time to notice little changes as they arrive and prepare myself for the coming winter months. I enjoy making the most of what nature is literally bestowing on us with gifts of apples, pears, medlars, berries, nuts and collecting the last of summer herbs before they too fade.

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 Self-seeded borage (and a tiny chamomile) from summer plants. Some of the herbs and flowers still going, roses flowered all winter last year! Life is always pushing forwards and making the most of it.

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medlar and lettuce setting seed in the garden

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Autumn reds doing well

The trees beginning to rush a display of beautiful colours which will be bursting with flaming red and oranges until they eventually become bare and bereft, storing enery and quietly waiting for spring.

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We have been foraging elderberries to make syrups and tinctures for the winter months ahead and we have started foraging mushrooms. This is a new skill I am learning so I am tentatively -and wisely, sticking to the ones I have learned with confidnce and that cannnot be mistaken for anything unpleasant, you can not identify a mushroom without first consulting a couple of books you well trust and examining a specimen closely. It is a perfect Autumn passtime, bringing me close to the earth, to the sustinence nature provides whilst also reminding to me to watch and study with great care and respect.

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edible stump puffball mushrooms

Death is literally hanging in the air along with this abundance

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Orb spider and a honey bee. Usually only the females build webs.

Yet as a flower fades, turns to seed and finally dies back, it may look death and total destruction but we know that come spring a tiny seedling will form and life carries on, in the way we expect and take too much for granted.

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If you stand still outside you can hear it… Winter’s footsteps, the sound of falling leaves. ~Animal Crossing: Wild World (Nintendo video game) written by Takayuki Ikkaku, Arisa Hosaka, and Toshihiro Kawabata

Perhaps it is the most poetic of seasons. Surely as winter comes spring will follow.

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It is the most extraordinary dance filled with energy and stillness. Perfect and miraculous balance.