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Showing posts from 2017

Mental Health - Part 1

The space we occupy inside our head is the only place that no-one can ever reach. It is Man's most private area - it can be guessed at, but no-one, not even the most sensitive and intuitive observer or professional, can ever actually know the words, the thoughts, the emotions that pass through someone else's mind. At its best it is the space where we can be truly free, where we can think those blissful, private thoughts that no-one will ever know (unless we choose to tell them). Our imagination can run wild and we can be the most happy, successful person we might ever want to be. Yet while it can be the most positive of spaces where hopes and dreams are nurtured and examined and explored, where insights, analysis and intelligence are born and developed, it can also be the deepest, darkest of places. It can be the loneliest place in the world.

Fifteen years ago I was diagnosed with chronic depression. It had crept up on me over the years, life dealing me various blows which bi…

Still Dancing

It's past midnight and I'm sitting in my kitchen with a glass of wine and listening to some tunes wondering where the time has gone. Two of my teenage girls are out at an end of A levels exams party (aka massive messy piss-up) while the third is tucked up in bed getting some zeds before another long hard day at the Donkey Sanctuary shovelling shit (work experience...preparation for life...Lord knows, there's a lot of shit shovelling to be done). It's strange but I have an intense feeling of sadness. The social media feeds will be full and throbbing - endless photos of young people enjoying the time of their lives. It never comes without pain and heartache, but their lives are ahead of them and they're enjoying the moment. When you're nudging ever closer to the Grim Reaper, which I now undeniably am despite much head-in-the-sand stuff, there seems such a bitter-sweetness to their unbridled joy. It seems like yesterday that I was in sixth form, one of the best a…

General Election 2017

I am no politician but I do have eyes and ears and (currently) a functioning brain which compels me to write down my observations, for my own benefit if no-one else's:-


The Conservatives are now in deeper chaos than they ever were (and certainly as deep as Labour has been too); and with the naive aim to take us into 'hard Brexit' negotiations with the country more fully behind her by calling a General Election, our Prime Minister has thumped a massive own goal into the back of the net.

Meanwhile middle-class 'Remain' voters turned out in their droves to vote Labour thankful that they had been gifted this golden opportunity to undermine the government's Hard Brexit strategy, as did the Youth vote which had been slow to get out of its bed for the Referendum not believing that the EU they had grown up in could be taken away from them so easily. Equally, traditional blue-collar Labour voters who had voted Leave in the Referendum and had perhaps shifted votes over …

A Minute's Reflection on a Virgin Train

11am, Thursday 25th May, 2017
We have just had a minute’s silence on the Virgin train down to London for the victims of the Manchester bombing. I focused my mind not just on the pain of the senseless losses that innocent people have endured - none more than the loss of a child - but on the belief that the Good in the world will overcome the Evil. If collectively we all hold this as our intent in our mind’s eye we might yet achieve what currently seems impossible. While we appear to be sliding into the second era of The Dark Ages, history informs us that Enlightenment follows at some point. We usually have to reach rock bottom to be able to climb back out from the dark depths towards the light. If humanity collectively has this as its goal, its belief, then perhaps it will be achievable. It may not be in our lifetimes, but it will be in someone’s. It is currently humanity’s greatest challenge but we must believe it is possible. 
This will not be achieved by fragmentation. As a society …

The Call of the Coast

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One of the few down sides of living in the UK's oldest National Park is its distance from our island's  coastline. I grew up in Sussex, born a skimming stone's throw from the English Channel. While one could never boast this as the UK's most beautiful coastline, it nevertheless has its charms: groyns, run-down Victorian and Edwardian piers with tacky amusements, sugary pink tooth-rotting Brighton rock, seaweed and tar-stained pebbles. I hear you gasping with envy! - yet the faded grandeur of the seafront villas, the intimacy of the cobbled Lanes of Brighton, the exoticism of Brighton Pavilion, the briny air of Rottingdean with its rock pools and crabs, the imposing chalk white cliffs linking England with France (a common land sliced and separated some millennia ago) seeps into your soul and stays firmly lodged till the day you die. We all have somewhere we call 'Home' and for me it has to be Sussex. I have travelled and lived far and wide but as I walked a few…

Fruits of the Forage - A Culinary Wander Through Our Woods And Gardens

I was excited when I first read the Taster Menu on the ‘Fruits of the Forage’ Facebook page for the February Wild Food Club meal. Our experience the other Monday night at the Poacher’s Inn in Bollington, East Cheshire, did not disappoint. In fact it confirmed categorically that the humblest of ingredients, in skilful and imaginative hands, can be elevated into something truly exquisite. 
This is how it read:—
Wild Garlic & Three Cornered Leek Soup, pickled wild garlic buds and wild seed foccacia. *** Braised Pheasant & Morels (V/Braised Cauliflower & Morels) with spiced yoghurt, chickweed pakora and wild garlic naan *** Hogweed Marinated Beetroot, pickled damsons, blue cheese, pear, dandelion leaves *** Roasted Duck Breast (V/Scorched Purple Sprouting Broccoli) Kale, pickled cherries, crab apple and red cabbage, duck fat fondant potatoes *** Northern Lemon Sorbet, frozen apple, wild stone liquor *** Apple Pear Pastries, damson ice cream, damson gin sauce *** Wild Sweets & Winter Warme…