Raw Christmas Presents #1

It seems that Christmas is upon us (or rather, the media is pressing upon us to buy yet more things). I always try to choose the small company, the organic company and the ethical company whilst recognising that ‘green’ shopping is in so many ways just consumerism (often, even pricier consumerism) by a different name (and colour). That said, I’m no Christmas nay-sayer and I adore the whole sparkly season of friends, family and celebration, but each year I do make attempts to minimize and simplify the whole dazzling affair. Scents and choc might seem like cop-out gifts, but in these straitened economic times when people are cutting back on all kinds of things, I think ‘little treats’ that spark to life our most essential senses within day-to-day life shouldn’t be underestimated. Delicious smells and tastes can be transformative on dreary January and February days and if you haven’t gathered by now, I am nothing if not incessant about heightening the joys of day-to-day to life in the smallest of ways.

In many ways I find this blog difficult to keep up because a lot of what I do, I repeat, every day, every month, and every year, it’s hardly the ‘shock of the new’. I wrote in 2009 about the magical inspiration I found in the juicing and blending ideas of this company and I still regularly browse through their menu plans and descriptions of raw juices just before going to sleep for next-day inspiration. Believe me when I say that a couple of essential oil drops makes a huge difference to those seasonal green leafy, pear and apple juices! As for the chocolate suggestion, I don’t think I’m alone in experiencing that a daily square (or two) of carob confection or raw chocolate helps the green juice go down ...

With no further ado then, the question of what to buy raw (or raw-ish) foodie friends (and drop heavy hints for myself along the way) has been simplified in 2011 by the discovery of the following. I’ve been on Amy Levin’s Ooosha mailing list since the launch (she runs workshops too) and as her pictures show (above are ‘cool breeze’ and ‘tribloluminescence’) this choc is not only healthy but provides a beautiful and welcome shot of colour in this season of darkness. As for the oils, whilst essential oils are relatively easy to hunt down, organic essential oils can sometimes be limited in choice and food-grade organic essential oils even trickier to locate, yet the Brighton-based NHR has a huge selection from a (angelica) to not quite z (ylang ylang), from tiny 2.5ml bottles up to a litre and sells both online and face-to-face...

Photos © Amy Levin @ Ooosha and NHR Organic Oils


Lisette A/W 2011-12 #2

Cold 'n' foggy. Time for some more snuggly views of the lovely winter collection from Lisette...

Photographs © Lisette


Born to Run (or cutting back on ‘gear’)

The last third of the year is when I tend to kick into action, generally scurrying around trying to fulfil the year’s determinations. One of these was to read a book of fiction weekly. That particular determination receives a giant self-satisfied tick as it was achieved before the month of October is out. I’ve read novels that I’d recommend to all-and-sundry and others that I’d just as happily recommend let slip beside the wayside, but truly, the book that has had the most impact on me is the one I’ve just finished reading (from the large pile of non-fiction books that have stacked up beside the bed this year): Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run.

Like many other of the book’s readers I’ve hurried off to the web to hunt out more information on natural/barefoot/minimalist/Chi/pose/evolution running. If you think this list is a little lengthy, wait until you hit the debates on the subject ... This article will give you a brief outline and these two articles with their myriad comments to scroll through will give you some idea of the evangelical supporters and naysayers alike.

In many ways, what I’ve read mirrors the debates on the various forms of yoga and raw food lifestyles that people can commit to. My take on such things, as ever, is to be as gentle and simple as possible, with an emphasis on listening to your body ... thus I practice Scaravelli-inspired yoga and consume unpasteurised dairy from time to time despite my eventual quest to become vegan. In the same way that I think a gradual approach to eating more raw is the best way to go, I’d urge a gradual approach to using a minimalist running shoe or running barefoot. Whilst it’s tempting to think a new shoe (or lack of one) will automatically enhance your running, I think brain work should come first, essentially, tuning into what your senses are communicating rather than being hell-bent on running a specific distance at a specific time. Read up and take practical advice on your stride, posture and footfall. Remember, in the end, as the guys at Luna Sandals write, it’s all about the joy: ‘We believe that when we become more connected and in tune with our own bodies, as well as with each other, we can often regain a fundamental source of happiness, joy and good health. We believe that our bodies are not broken by design and when we trust them, our instincts, and our desires, we often find a more genuine expression of who we are’.

Raw foodies of long-time standing have valuable wisdom to impart on what works and what doesn’t and so do some of the amazing ultrarunners out there. My own trainers are in need of an update and the following are my current considerations based on the recommendations of two phenomenal ultrarunners, Tony Krupicka and Scott Jurek (the latter’s book, including vegan recipes, is my most anticipated book release for 2012, especially after viewing Jurek's raw tiramisu from Cafe Gratitude's recipe on his Twitter account) both of whom emphasise leading as simple a life as possible. As Jurek has noted, ‘I have always felt one of the beauties of running is the lack of required gear ... we require only simple clothing and shoes’. The more complex web comes from weighing up the options of UK or foreign production, natural materials versus recycled materials and of course, what your body feels best in...

New Balance should be applauded for remaining committed to producing running shoes in the UK. I like the look of the MT 10 Minibus Trail with design input from Tony Krupicka, who answers some questions here and can be seen here. Another contender is the Cascadia by Brooks with design input from Scott Jurek who should be commended for their thinking on environmental issues (see their Green Room page) from developing the world’s first biodegradable midsole (for the Trance range) to using an outsole made from sand rather than oil for the entire Trail collection (and others). Another option (for the summer only perhaps due to the cold, wet and windy UK?) is the Luna. I like that you can choose a leather-free pair with hemp laces or even bypass a pair of ready-mades in favour of making your own. Finally, I couldn’t not mention the Vibrams which seem to cause the most debate of all (if you read their company history, you can see that they are not the flash-in-the-pan company some of their detractors claim) and have used recycled materials since 1994.

Weighing up the options of running gear isn’t that much easier from an eco point of view. Although, I’m hoping that we are all in agreement that organic cotton doesn’t really work at coping with sweaty runs. Yew clothing, for example, offers recycled performance tops that are polyester (and hence oil-based) whereas Howies offers 100% merino (obviously not an option for vegans). I’m all for the natural fibre path myself and I can wholeheartedly vouch for the latter as I have a merino Howies base layer which just keeps on going. That said, and a little unpasteurised dairy aside, it’s the fabric issue (specifically wool) that I have most of my problems with in inching my way to a truly vegan way of life, but that’s an issue for another post ... baby steps ... I’m off for a run!

Photos © Howies, Luna Sandals and New Balance



The UK statistics for the decline of both domestic and commercial orchards are shocking. According to this website in 1970 MAFF (the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries) recorded 62,200 hectares of commercial orchards in the UK yet by 1997 this figure had shrunk to 22,400 hectares. That’s a 64% decline... and I’m confident the figures up to the current day don’t provide happier reading. For this reason, but also pure greed, we spend a good part of our weekends in late September and early October visiting various orchards to stock up for the winter months ...

I’m a pear rather than an apple person myself so I will definitely be trying out the raw pear icing from Golubka at some point this week ...


Yoga and Raw Inspiration

I had to giggle when I read about Raw Rob on the Funky Raw website via Steve Charter’s advert for his forthcoming permaculture course because it chimed so accurately with how I feel about the numerous raw blogs that are less about experience than sales figures ...

‘Funky Raw Rob did his 2 week raw permaculture course Ecoforest in September 2002 – it was where he first experienced the raw life, and look what’s happened to him since then! He’s taken on Funky Raw from Ecoforest co-founder Tish, creating a much loved network that presents a different face of the raw/mainly raw movement, not catered for by the commercial ‘glammed up’ world of rampant raw egos ... I know they all mean well and are lovely people really ;)’.

Apart from the ever-amazing raw recipe blog that is Golubka and the pictorial blasts of raw energy via Kate Magic Wood, I don’t really follow any other raw (or raw-ish) blogs regularly. The lovely Neeta, Suki, Poppy and Shel would appear to have given up the blogging ghost, or post almost as often as I do ;), and I love them for living their lives away from the computer screen, but I’d yet (until now) stumbled across any replacements which truly resonated with me and the way I live my life (as simply and quietly as possible). The same can be said of the majority of yoga blogs ...

Thankfully, this past summer, just when I needed a direct hit of inspiration, a slew (well, three or four) websites and blogs were discovered which hit the spot marked ‘inspiration’. I can’t believe I didn’t know about Theresa’s (of Kitchen Buddy) blog until now, which reminds me in spirit of Momo’s lovely blog, another of my favourites, just a straightforwardly simple (but beautifully so) account of daily activities, with a healthy, organic and eco emphasis. Jules Febre’s blog is about so much more than yoga, as is the closer-to-home website of Jane Kersel who writes vividly about what yoga means to her (and who has inspired me to check out the work of Hal and Sidra Stone). Add to this merry crew, the thoughtful and reflective blog by Elizabeth Rossa, the director of Shriyoga (pictured), see for example, this entry. I love the ethos and simplicity of Rossa’s NYC yoga studio run out of two home lofts (owned by students who didn’t want to give up their yoga when Shriyoga vacated their previous studio in the neighbourhood). You just show up and put your money in the box – no sales drive, no yoga hype – just practicing in a beautiful space. I think that’s what I seek (and have found) in these new-to-me blogs. As Theresa has written ‘vegan living takes time, education and practice’ and to read and connect with other people’s experiences is an inspiring part of that ever-evolving process of ‘showing up’ and leading as mindful and healthy a life as possible ...

Studio photograph © Shriyoga in New York City.


Lisette A/W 2011-12

The new autumn/winter collection is up on Lisette (available to buy via Envelope).

All images © Lisette


Holiday 2011

Holidays in September mean ... Wandering around acres and acres of charming gardens (preferably with tumbling-down outhouses, walled gardens and greenhouses). Stourton House (Flower Garden) was the clear winner for me this year. I am now a confirmed hydrangea fanatic (the garden houses over 270 varieties).

Finding the beaches and nostalgic steam trains deserted (because the kiddiwinks have gone back to school).

And, of course, frequenting the best farmers’ markets and/or farm shops in the region. Gold Hill Organic Farm hit the spot in every way (and has a fantastic scheme whereby you can help with the weeding one evening a week in exchange for a bag of organic veggies) as did the unpasteurised dairy at the farmers’ market from Wootton’s Organic Dairy.


Yoga (Poser)

This is one of my favourite passages on yoga (from Poser, p. 152): ‘People think yoga is boring. This is one of the big raps against it. And it is, if you’re not concentrating. If you fling yourself into the pose, and let your mind wander, and merely tolerate the experience, yoga is, in fact, extremely boring. But if you concentrate hard, boredom opens up and the pose becomes the most interesting thing on earth, in fact the only thing on earth. The more you practice dharana, the simpler the world gets’.


Summer = Action

Image © Journal Standard Luxe (catalogue aptly named Flow).



The recycling bin looks almost pretty at this time of year.


Greys Court

I played tennis at Greys Court in May. The house contains my dream kitchen (alas, no pictures allowed inside the house).


Broad Beans

Broad beans, freshly picked from the garden. If the idea for cotton wool didn't come from broad bean pods then where did it come from?


Green Spaces

It’s raining and everything looks green again. Collage via pictures from Life in the Slow Line (not a typo!) one of my favourite Japanese blogs .


Calendar Blues

I suspect my calendar antics might have something to do with the disappearance of May. I loved April’s image and the current month of June rocks my boat too, but May just didn’t do it for me, so I stuck with April and the month of May just drifted away...


Everyday Raw Desserts

Following on from my previous post (ahem, lecture) ...

As the temperature rises so does my raw percentage (in the most light-hearted of ways), so I thought some pictures from my most recent raw purchase might just fit the bill.

As is no doubt patently clear, I remain far more interested in eating locally than rawfully and Kenney’s recipes always seem to fit the bill for ‘local’ adaptations. For example, if you don’t want to use lemons I’ve found the juice of a sour cooking apple to work a treat (or start growing your own lemon tree). Similarly, and as I mentioned in my last post, try honey or stevia (grown from seed) mixed with rapeseed oil to make a liquid sweetener consistency similar to agave (as called for in various recipes).

Everyday Raw Desserts, following in the Kenney tradition, contains pictures which will have you drooling ... and no wheat, animal fats, refined sugar, etc. I love it!



I read a depressing Facebook exchange on local food recently – some ‘raw foodies’ seemingly worried about how local food could provide fat and sweetness to those in the UK (funny how those two elements caused the most concern!). To address those two points swiftly:

- I am still able to purchase almonds from my local farmers’ market so that’s the nut that predominates in this house at the moment (having worked our way through the chestnuts, walnuts and hazelnuts gathered before winter).

- I am experimenting with local honey or stevia (planted from seed) mixed with rapeseed oil to make a liquid sweetener consistency similar to agave (as called for in various raw recipes) and I am still ravishing the most gorgeous pears (again from the farmers’ market) kept in storage since the autumn...

The exchange reminded me of an article I’d read late last year. It made me so angry that I am just going to echo one of the commentators, ‘What a ridiculous article!’ and leave it at that, with a tiny addendum that the named ‘aubergines, chillies, fresh ginger, sweet potatoes and turmeric’ can all be grown here in England. Yes, even the turmeric!

If, as the same commentator implied, the author had done just a modicum of research she could have highlighted, for example, the work of the wonderful NamaYasai who are based in Lewes but sell in various places in East Sussex, Kent and Surrey, plus London via the train, ‘Whilst the rail fare is roughly the same as fuel + congestion charge, it saves us some time and keeps our carbon footprint down’.

It’s so easy to look away, so easy to just divert our conscious thinking from the facts in front of us on our plates. When I ate meat I didn’t want to think about what the animal I was eating had experienced to get to my plate, so I didn’t, and similarly, I think the same thing applies to imported food. That said, it’s as easy to up the local quotidian as it is to look away. It is truly amazing the ‘exotics’ you can grow in England (even without a greenhouse). These are just some of the guides you might be interested in.

In our house we try to limit our imported food purchases to as little as possible. We make full use of spices – the way I see it, they’re tiny, thus light to import and last a long time if you buy things whole rather than pre-ground (spices always taste best if you grind them yourself anyway). Spices are magical! I also have some imported cacao powder and mesquite in my cupboards but the more you eat fresh local greens the less sweet things you crave anyway (although gazing at raw dessert pictures is still a pleasurable hobby!) and they have been there for at least a couple of years now, if not longer ...

Pictures are © via these wonderful books (don't you wish all food could be labelled re. its transportation whether by boat/lorry/plane/train?) which are both fascinating reads if you feel inclined to read further on the subject.


♥♥♥ Japan ♥♥♥

Like everyone I know I have been overwhelmed by the recent natural disaster(s) in Japan. My Japanese friends and their families are all, thankfully, alive and well. Sadly, that is not the case for so many others.

Japan and its people have played a very special and inspirational part in my life. I have donated money and bought Japanese goods (I am a sucker for their sewing books) to support the relief effort and the Japanese economy. I have been moved to tears by others doing the same, for example students at the University of Sussex (where my own strong connections with the country were first formed).

All images © from the exquisite Japanese clothing company Lisette, available to purchase via Envelope.



Live Slow ... Die Whenever

I have an extra spring in my step from well, Spring, but this picture nevertheless had me chortling with identification.

Via wolfeyebrows (what a great blog name!).

© Lucas Foglia


I want ... #3

Space to think and breathe. #3 in my (very) occasional ‘I want…’ series. See #1 and #2 here and here.

Photo © Nightwood. First spied on the very lovely Renee’s blog.



I spent yesterday admiring the snowdrops (and hellebores) at Cerney House Gardens.


Planning Appeal for the Rochelle Canteen

I first experienced Margot Henderson’s cooking at the French House in Soho (which she ran with her husband Fergus Henderson of St John/Nose to Tail fame). The space was small and intimate with the food seasonal and simple but exquisitely cooked (nothing shouty-shouty about either the space or food). In short, everything I like on the rare occasions we dine out. The trend has continued at the Rochelle Canteen which Margot runs with Melanie Arnold to rave reviews.

I’ve been amazed to hear that the renewal of their catering licence has failed for reasons such as noise disturbance and anti-social behaviour. Open only for weekday lunches (for under forty heads) and accessed by ringing a buzzer, you would have no idea the place exists as the entrance is so discreet. Furthermore, they don’t sell alcohol. The operation supports community projects, provides local employment and generates income for local businesses whose services they use. The planning application isn’t simply about the lunch-time business but crucially, their wider off-site event catering. As they write on their website, without permission to continue their event catering ‘we will not be able to continue to run the canteen’. Please support their appeal against the planning decision by sending a brief letter (a sample is provided on their website with the relevant address and planning application details).

Pictures © Arnold and Henderson


Lunar Calendar #2

As an addendum to my recent post, perhaps this is the most beautiful lunar calendar ever? I particularly love that the producers have a blog where purchasers display the product in situ.

Picture (c) rendijstudio.com


Blackberry Maca Balls

Blackberry maca balls - yum. Deeply grateful that I took the time to freeze some excess fruit back in the autumn ...


Seeds AND Donations

This post was going to be as English as they come and talk about our grey and gloomy weather. I have been shamed out of that by Momo’s recent post on the Australian weather. There is no comparison. Please donate in whatever way you can, especially now that the UK news seems to be bypassing the horrific conditions faced by so many Australians in favour of mere trivialities. Momo has set up a little site for donations and Momo being Momo, everything in it is exquisitely lovely.

More giving from me too. The weather may be gloomy (the only place I want to be is nestled inside an old-fashioned train running along the coastline to make it feel ‘romantic’) but sifting through seed catalogues and garden planning lets me at least dream in colour. I highly recommend (for those seeds you haven’t saved from last year) the biodynamic offerings from Stormy Hall. They are part of the Camphill Trust community who offer ‘opportunities for people with learning disabilities, mental health problems and other special needs to live, learn and work with others of all abilities in an atmosphere of mutual care and respect’. I also highly recommend Lunar Organics in Firle, who also sell Stormy Hall seeds, and my favourite lunar gardening calendar, which personally, I prefer to what some consider the classic guide.

Seedy Sundays are also forthcoming! Brighton (or to be more accurate, Hove) is on the 6th of February and other events are listed here

Finally, if you’re as deprived of light as me, some shots of beautiful NY autumnal light via The Selby’s feature on the Eagle Street Rooftop Farm in Brooklyn…


The Bakery, London Fields, E8

I seek out the green spaces in cities. In Cambridge, before Christmas, I almost ran to Jesus Green to escape the shopping mayhem. In London last week, visiting a friend in Dalston, I walked with her across London Fields to a bakery she's fond of. I was told 'There's organic stuff, vegan stuff, sugar-free stuff ...' (and there was) but my own particular delight came from the quiet display of superfoods (organic, fairly traded) at very acceptable prices. I shall be walking across this particular urban spot of green again.

P.S. My favourite round-up of 2010 can be found here.


String Gardens

The title is self-explanatory but no words can convey my obsession with these plants and pictures.

Befriend here.

Photos © String-Gardens.