It’s Out For The World To See

 

The interview is now out! You can read it online on the Viva website.

http://www.vivabrighton.com/#!viva-lewes/c58g

Thanks again Alice for letting me be interviewed alongside you, I really, really, really loved it.

Hope you enjoy……..

 

 

Advertisements

Alice And I’s Interview: A Wild Taste Of Fame!

wildsaladThe sun beat down on us as we walked through the field, sun hats bobbing, hands trailing through the long grass. We stopped every now and then to point and then set off at a quicker pace towards what we’d spotted. Then we’d stop and begin to harvest, sometimes crouching down and sometimes reaching up. Our chatter floated away on the slight breeze.

The salad we were planning to make was a picture of summer colour. With thirteen different flowers of red, orange, yellow, purple, blue, pink, white and cream and five types of leafy greens, this was going to be a work of art.

We set up in the shade outside Clarabella, our vintage train carriage. We laid out three pretty china plates and three elegant silver forks. Then three glass mugs, one with a sprig of self heal, one with a floret of meadowsweet and the other with a few creeping thistle flowers.

But there was two of us, Alice and I, who was the third person?

I laid out a sheet of dirty white paper on the wooden table and then put all of my specimens out on it. Then, in my neatest, black , loopy handwriting I labeled them with all of their beautiful names.

IMG_0061

flower1

Soon our mystery guest joined us, Rebecca from the Viva Magazine. Viva is local to Brighton and Lewes. She was here to interview me and Alice.

In the interview I made sure I was bold and enthusiastic, as I wanted to make the most of this great opportunity and not ruin it by being shy.

The first thing Rebecca asked me was: what is your job? I replied that I was Alice’s student and that she taught me everything she knew about foraging and herbal medicine.

While Alice went to get the hot water for the three different teas for our journalist to try, Rebecca quizzed me on how I thought each of them tasted. I told her that meadowsweet is vanilla-y, creeping thistle has a gentle and honey like flavour so is soothing and self heal tastes green, bit like green tea.

Alice arrived with the water, smiling her usual wide smile. Rebecca liked self heal best.

Then we ventured out of the shade and into the baking heat again. We walked around the field again showing the reporter the plants growing in the wild. All the while Rebecca snapped away with her big, black, fancy camera. Photos of the sunshine, of me holding the creeping thistle tea by the creeping thistle, of the creamy meadowsweet flowers and the delicate yet prickly thistle flowers.

When we got back I read out the whole list of ingredients for the salad and together me and Alice told Rebecca a bit more about each plant, its medicinal properties, how to identify it, along other useful facts.  Rebecca scribbled it all down in her notebook, me glancing over at her trying to make sense of her shorthand.

Then, after a load more photos, we tucked in. The salad was like a rainbow of tastes, from hot and spicy nasturtiums to cooling, cucumber-y mullein flowers. The array of textures, mucilaginous to crunchy. With a drizzle of sweet, pre-prepared by Alice, blackberry vinegar, the salad was just what we all needed on a summer’s day.

IMG_0063

Overall, the interview went really well and I’m grateful to Alice for inviting me along to help out. Rebecca was friendly and keen to learn and I think she enjoyed herself. I can’t wait to read a certain article in the August issue of Viva Magazine.

IMG_0053

Foraging And Herbal Medicine Day

DSCN0690

Alice, along with her friend and fellow herbalist Lucinda, has started running a home ed foraging and herbal medicine group.  On Wednesday I went to their first one. It was great! I like identifying plants and then finding out how you can use them to help you v, it’s really really interesting.  I love hanging out with Alice, she teaches me so many helpful bits of knowledge. I’ve certainly learnt a lot from her and I learnt even more yesterday.

In the morning we went on a walk around the farm, collecting all the wild herbs and plants as we went.

Together, Alice and Lucinda explained how to work out which family a specific plant is in.  The answer is that every family has a unique code. For example the mint family code is 554:  5 united sepals, 5 united petals,  (2 up, 3 down) and 4 stamens,  (2 long, 2 short).

IMG_1879[1]IMG_1878[1]

All mints also have a square stalk, opposite leaves and a very strong smell.  If you can tick off all these factors then you should be able to determine that your chosen specimen is in the mint family.  Did you know that most of the herbs we cook with are in the mint family?  These include rosemary, sage, oregano, thyme and marjoram.

We gathered a fresh and colourful spring harvest of daisies (poor man’s arnica, for bumps and bruises), dandelions (every part is edible), hawthorn shoots (tender and flavoursome in salad), ground-ivy (warming), red dead nettle (good on wounds), wild garlic (pungent and spicy), cleavers (like a natural pipecleaner), nettles (good for so many edible and medicinal uses), ladies smock (my favourite and in the mustard family), elder leaves (inedible but good for bruises) and much more!

Here's everything that we foraged laid out on display

Here’s everything that we foraged laid out on display

Wild garlic

Wild garlic

Nettles

Nettles

 

 

 

A mix of edible wild flowers and leaves

A mix of edible wild flowers and leaves

In the afternoon we got busy making! We made a herbal salad with the daisies, dandelions, wild garlic flowers, young hawthorn shoots, ground-ivy and a bit of spinach (to bulk it out a bit).  We made sauerkraut with nettles and dandelions as well as cabbage. We also prepared a spring tonic, an infused vinegar, a daisy and elder leaf ointment, nettle and wild garlic pesto and dandelion fritters.

Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut

Dandelion fritters

Dandelion fritters

 

 

The little yellow pellets are beeswax, when they melt you strain the plants out and leave the liquid to set. You've got ointment!

The little yellow pellets are beeswax, when they melt you strain the plants out and leave the liquid to set. You’ve got ointment!

Ointment and fritters

Ointment and fritters

 

 

Overall, I really enjoyed my day. Thanks to Alice and Lucinda for being so willing to share what they know, which is very valuable.  Next time I’m out and about and I cut myself I’ll be delighted because I’ll know what to do: Chew up some red dead nettle and apply it!

A close up of the ground ivy flower.

A close up of the ground ivy flower.

My cleavers juice

My cleavers juice

Tiger's enjoying herself

Tiger’s enjoying herself

The fire

The fire

The salad

The salad

Blackthorn flowers: delicious!

Blackthorn flowers: delicious!

Bumps & Bruises Balm made from Elder Leaves & Daisies

Bumps & Bruises Balm
made from Elder Leaves & Daisies

Really Wild!

 

Breakfast Time

Breakfast Time

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

 

 

 

I wake to the sound of birdsong and the faint smell of wood smoke. The early morning sun shines brightly through white canvas of our bell tent. I glance at the clock, 6:30, forty five minutes to wait until I can venture out of the little tent crammed with six (well, five now) sleeping children all worn out from their previous days full of fun activities, laughter and jokes at the Really Wild Home Ed Camp. Each and every day so far has been amazing and jam packed with fun. Silently I look about me, I can see five heads on five pillows, their bodies wrapped in sleeping bags, blankets and layers of clothes, safe from the cold air. One by one the campers awake, their bed heads very noticable, I grin at them and we all start to chat. I rummage about in my clothes pile and pull out of a pocket my camp programme. We all pour over it and discuss the day’s plan. Everyone’s heading in different directions at different times, but I manage to figure it all out. Stella and I smile at each other through the confusion, us older girls are so organised, we planned it all yesterday.

 

Mornin' Spenser!!

Mornin’ Spenser!!

Evan at 7:15, day 4

Evan at 7:15am, day 4

Caedmon: some look better than others first thing in the morning!

Caedmon: some look better than others first thing in the morning!

At roughly 7:15 we all stumble out into the fresh morning air, all dressed and ready to go. It’s Thursday morning and the last day of the camp. We shovel down our muesli and Stella, Irys, Tiger and I all head off into the main meeting area ( called the village, even though it’s a fenced off section of a field with a marquee and a giant tipi in it) to gather for the animal kingdom walk. The boys, Caedmon, Spenser and Evan stay back at the fire. Steve takes us all into Grassy field and does a little talk about animal tracks, homes, food, signs, bones, fur and lastly POO! I keep watching out for my friend Benny and eventually he  joins us. We walk up the side of the field, doing a little foraging along the way. I stop with Stella, Tiger and Benny, my three best friends, for a snack of ‘bread and cheese’. In the war children were told to go out straight after breakfast and not come back until tea time. “There’s plenty of bread and cheese on the hawthorn tree”, their parents would say. What they meant by this was that the leaves are bread and the whitey yellow petals are the cheese.

We enter Little Wood and Steve walks down to the stream. All the animals come to drink here and we spot plenty of tracks in the sticky mud. A dainty deer, a slinking fox, a colourful pheasant and even maybe a lumbering badger. We creep along the edge and for some reason I feel the need to whisper it’s so peaceful and tranquil. It’s almost as if the leader of the animal kingdom has you under his spell. I wonder what sort of animal would have this real magic?

After walking a little further we discover some rabbit holes. We inspect the poo and freshly dug earth. Steve wants to show us something else, something I have seen many times before, something I have always wanted to explore, something that is a Wowo secret and a place forbidden to any of us children. It’s exciting as we walk towards it, then we see it, the gaping hole, the hole that we know if any of us fell in we would disappear. We stare down into the darkness for a while then Steve beckons to me, I go over and he starts to lower me into that deep damp abyss. I have not a trace of fear in me, only ecstatic excitement. As my feet hit the bottom I call up to Steve and the others. Now only a my head is sticking out, I look down and see that I am only standing on a narrow ledge and that the bottom is still far below me. My eyes grow accustomed to the gloom and beneath me I see a tunnel that I could easily squeeze through, that I long to explore, but Steve is already pulling me up.

The camp really was wild, we were up from 6:30am until 11:00pm running around, going from knife craft to tarpology, camp craft to stalking, tracking to search and rescue and foraging to cordage making.  We hardly saw Mum and Dad, only at breakfast, lunch and dinner and when they forced us to brush our teeth before bed. Talking of brushing I’m almost certain there’s no need for hair brushes and clean knickers on camp, but that’s another adult rule. The freedom was pretty cool, being able to decide what activities we wanted to do.  We all enjoyed ourselves loads and none of us can wait until next years Really Wild Home Ed Camp.  Meanwhile it’s lots of early nights for us!

Really Wild Photo Gallery

Where's Irys gone?

Where’s Irys gone?

Dance, dance, dance

Dance, dance, dance

Dance on Lulu

Dance on Lulu

One happy camper

One happy camper

Fun fun, yum yum

Fun fun, yum yum

Tinder bundle alight!

Tinder bundle alight!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bollywood dance!

Bollywood dance!

 

Eggy bread and Ketchup!

Eggy bread and Ketchup!

 

 

 

The campfire's roaring

The campfire’s roaring

DSCN9729

Caedmon cooking us all breakfast

 

Eating bannock cooked on the wild foods, nutrition and cooking course.

Eating bannock cooked on the wild foods, nutrition and cooking course.