New year’s resolutions?

SatelliteAs the sun shone on Sunday, a herd of runners pounded past me on the Heath.  Mens sana in corpore sano, a healthy mind in a healthy body is promoted to the top of the agenda in the new year.  If a luxury boot camp (here are Lonely planet’s top picks) is a step too far, then there are plenty of ways available to reboot and reinvigorate mind, body and soul closer to home.

Don’t fall into the trap of signing up to annual gym membership, the National Trust’s website has plenty of advice for the outdoor gym, (see picture).  There are tips to get you started, videos and a 31 day plan.  Not only is the outdoor gym free, but you’re more than likely to get a healthy glow from vitamin D,  work harder on uneven natural surfaces, and burn 20percent more calories as a result. 

blog-nettle-teaHealthy body on the outside generally follows a healthy body on the inside, so have a look at the Eden Project’s list of ‘Seven foods to help fight those January blues’.  Drink nettle tea (pictured), which is surprisingly refreshing, if slightly grassy, and eat all the colours of a rainbow.  If you need a little inspiration on how to prepare your super foods, or enliven your diet, try a raw food course at Nama Foods.  At the end of the month they are running a fermentation workshop, not beer but sparkling drinks for all the family.

Detoxing is more than a physiological process, it is also a mental one.  Detoxification is letting go of the old, and releasing what no longer serves you, whether clutter in your home or patterns of behaviour.  Clearing away the old stories to make way for the new.

What will be the your inspiration?  A new skill? All around the country the National Trust runs a wide range of courses and workshops from hedge laying and drystone walling, to photography and painting. Check the events pages at your local museum or craft centre.  In London, the Victoria and Albert Museum run a varied mix of workshops, or try Kew Gardens for a one day course to grow orchids successfully at home and bring a bit of tropical colour indoors.

Lamp_image_2_jpg_130x86_crop_q85You could refresh a room at home.  Elizabeth Cake, author of ‘Make Your Own Lampshades’, runs workshops to make lampshades (the next is with the How to Academy on 4th February). A screen print made at a workshop with the Print Club London to frame your new year’s manifesto?  Take it further and hand print your own wallpaper at the Papered Parlour later this month. Or learn about furniture restoration, reupholstery or repainting, with Goodlife Centre.  There is even an Introduction to Rag Rugs, if your toes feel a bit chilly when you hop out of bed in the morning!

Picture credits: National Trust, Eden Project, Victoria and Albert Museum website

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Decorex highlights

PETDecorex International was the long tail of my London Design excursions.  A design show that is definitely established, decidedly high-end, and distinctly for the trade, I was curious to see what it offered for carefully curated.  The ‘feature’ entrance, designed by Kit Kemp, was worthy of the superlatives.  ‘Beautiful’, ‘stunning’ and ‘luxurious’ can be overworked in the Decorex environment, but they are were fitting adjectives for the the display inspired by the Silk Route.  I loved the hanging pendants from PET Lamp.  The clue is in the name, as the lamps are made from recycled plastic bottles and woven using traditional artisanal techniques in Colombia.

Once into the fray,  I was spoilt for choice. I went to admire the new designs on the stand of Fine Cell Work, the social enterprise that trains prisoners in paid, skilled, creative needlework to foster hope, discipline and self esteem, where a needlepoint demonstration was underway.   Another organisation with a strong ethical purpose is GoodWeave who are working to end child labour in the carpet industry and boost educational opportunities for children in weaving communities in India, Nepal and Afghanistan.  Their website has a directory to find rugs ethically produced by GoodWeave approved producers.

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Then onto textile companies, and the riot of colour of at Timorous Beasties (seen here on their Omni Splatt cushion, £144), was in glorious contrast to the cool, clean botanical prints at Ivo Prints.  Ivo Prints have been producing textiles and wall coverings under license to The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew at their small factory in west London since early 2011.

FABRICSThe Kew Collection also includes  home accesories, cushions, bags and other gifts and a share of proceeds supports Kew’s conservation work .  The collection is closely connected to its subject matter, with evidence of the seeds in the weaving as a reminder of the natural and plant based origins of the cloth.  Only water-based, non toxic pigment colours are used to print the collection.

Water-based paints and pigments feature highly at Little Greene.  Little Greene Dyeworks started in 1773 making dye solutions to the cotton trade.  Today, all their products are still manufactured in the UK, with a determination to produce high-quality paints and papers that are environmentally-friendly.  They use only natural, organic and safe-synthetic pigments.   Oil-base paints use vegetable oils, making them child-friendly.  And a contribution for every paint and wallpaper sale goes to English Heritage, with whom they have collaborated to develop a range of authentic historical paint colours.  I particularly liked their sculpture, pictured below, which reminds me of the children’s song, “we’ve got the whole world in our hands”.

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Elsewhere, I was drawn to the tactile display of woollen fabrics on the Moon stand.  Established in 1837 in Leeds, Abraham Moon & Sons Ltd, remains the only vertical mill left in Britain.  From fleeces to final dispatch, they control the entire manufacturing process with dyeing, blending, carding, spinning, weaving and finishing processes all taking place on one site.  Their Natural Wool collection makes extensive use of un-dyed wools.  As well as furnishing fabrics, Moon also produces throws and fashion accessories including cushions, baby blankets and scarves under their Bronte by Moon label.   N.B. Abraham Moon fabrics are used to upholster the Moonshine footstool from Galvin Brothers – see my Tent London post.  Gorgeous!

Other highlights were the reclaimed antique tiles from Bert and May.  Bert and May are also able to make reproductions of any tile in their antique collection or your own design or specification to complete a project.  Their new showroom is opening next month.   Finally, and relax, in the folding rocking chair made from sustainable steam-bent beech by Wawa.  It folds to 15cm wide, and weighs only 5kg.  Perfect for confined spaces!!

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Incredible Edibles

Of the 13,500 plant species that are edible, most of us get the bulk of our carbohydrate from a handful of cereals and tubers, such as potatoes and wheat.   This summer’s IncrEdibles exhibition at Kew Gardens in south-west London, which is on until 1st September, aims to playfully educate, inspire and introduce you to a wider variety of edible plants.

The parterre beds in front of the Palm House have been transformed into a vegetable medley including aubergine, chillies, celeriac, celery, kohl rabi, aubergines, leeks, sweetcorn, bell pepper, beetroot, fennel as well as a few runner beans, tomatoes, kale and chard.  The result is worthy of permanent display.

The Tutti Frutti boating experience opposite is much a more exuberant riot of sound, scent and colour, and a highlight for any one over the age of 3 years!  Our own Alice lingered long over the Rose Garden’s super-size tea party where a variety of edible plants are growing out of plates, cups, teapots, dishes, jugs and platters decorated with riddles and beautiful botanical designs.  It was an altogether truly scrumptious day out!

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