Posts Tagged ‘knowledge of the past’

The quintessential eccentricity of the British is never more marvellously illustrated than in what happens on May Day

Now that spring has sprung, my thoughts are turning to May Day, and those traditions that herald the first official Day of summer, with Celebrations that take place up and down Britian. These can be described as varied, interesting, but in all honesty, eccentric is probably the most accurate description. These celebrations are steeped in tradition, rituals that connect us to the past, but their essence is a celebration, a giving thanks for what we often take for granted, giving us a precious gift of future tradition to be continued. The weather is not always perfect though, just as Sean and Mary Kate expereinced after their initial stroll.

Tea with Mary Kate - Always take an umbrella at the start of summer time

One of the oldest surviving May Day customs happens in Padstow, believed to be a ancient fertility rite marking the coming of Summer

Last year, we were lucky enough to witness first hand the Obby Oz! This gorgeous little Cornish fishing village is decorated with bunting, greenery and beautiful flowers swathed over the buildings. The joy of the occasion is infectious, the drums beating, the chorus being sung, and what seems like the whole village following the Oz throughout the streets.

May Day Celebrations - The Padstow May Pole

Welsh May Day traditions

It would be remiss of me not to mention the Welsh May Day tradition of Carlon Mai. To quote Hilaire Wood’s excellent article;

“The celebrations always began the evening before, May Eve being one of the ysprydnos or ‘spirit nights’ when all sorts of spirits and supernatural forces were abroad, and divination— usually with the aim of discovering who one’s sweetheart would be—was carried out.”A picnic is the perfect May Day event to celebrate the start of summer

Although meant to be the start of summer, the weather can be unpredictable, the wonderful thing is that this just makes it all the better, a sort of triumph over adversity, the weather verses mere mortals. The fresh air, sense of freedom and adventure, takes you outside the everyday, even if you are just sitting at the bottom of your garden, or in a near by park.

May Day Picnic Celebration - Afternoon Tea time treat

The essence of a picnic is that it feels like an outdoors treat!

May Day Picnics are about carrying armfuls of chairs and blankets to your favourite spot, it’s afternoon tea outdoors. The ritual of setting up camp -I’ll be taking one of my favourite Welsh blankets to keep me warm. And of course, picnic baskets filled to the brim with all good things, favourite food to savour. I love eating outdoors, because somehow food just tastes so much better! Flasks filled with boiling hot water to make tea – and it goes without saying that you’ll be taking your tea pot and tea leaves. Sipping one slow sip at a time is such bliss.

May Day is restful, revitalising, allowing a magical connection with the start of summer.

The start of summer is fleeting but fabulous. You start to anticipate warmth of the sun, feel the breeze, stare into space while pretending to look at the vista.  Tea with Mary Kate urges you to celebrate the start of summer, and have a marvellous May Day, where generations continue to nurture some very special May Day traditions. Create your own Picnic, rain or shine!

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Delicate snowdrops herald the start of spring

Spring feels finally like it has finally sprung after what has been a long and hard winter. The snowdrops are braving their beautiful heads into the brighter and brighter sun. I love the spring, the light after the dark, everything is fresh and green, full of hope & possibility. It also could be the time to create something rather special – your very own beautiful and productive kitchen garden.

Spring has sprung

Although much has been written on the practicality of growing your own, the reality of a kitchen garden can be overwhelming. I believe this is why many would love the idea of a beautiful kitchen garden but very few act. So here are a few useful pointers to guide your way, with more to follow as the season progresses. Of course, this creation takes time and patience but March and April is the time  to take action!

Environmentally friendly Pots for nurturing your seedlings

Growing seeds has a few simple but critical requirements. Warmth and water of course but essential is sufficient light to ensure the first shoots are not etiolated (all pale, yellow and elongated).  Get that first stage right and the rest is pretty much plain sailing. I love these gorgeous wooden paper pot makers from Cox & Cox, a creative, practical, beautiful, and totally environmentally friendly way of potting up your new and precious seedlings.

Beautiful and practical paper pot maker

Inspiration for growing your very own fresh edible favourite vegetables

Salad is another easy and great crop to grow.  Last year, I used my beautiful Victorian cloche from Crocus, an inspiring gardeners web site. This allowed me to start crops early in the season and effectively monitor the slug situation, as I’m a total organic aficionado. Once you have  had the joy of stepping outside and cutting your lettuce that is minutes later served on your plate, you’ll never be able to taste another leaf without reference to that freshness. Yes, you are utterly spoilt after that experience but the economics of doing it this way are also pretty compelling. All that’s needed is a small area, even a window box, and you can have fresh salad all summer for next to nothing.  You’ll be able to buy seed from many garden centers but my choice this year is from the excellent Sarah Raven with her wonderful vegetable seed collections, and really great practical advise on what to do.

Growing your own can be both wonderfully aesthetic as well as producing a fresh crop of gorgeous vegetables

Beautiful and practical Victorian Cloche

Connecting to the knowledge of the past – your own Kitchen Garden is your own small haven of tranquility

I remember being asked to sign for my allotment in which I planned and created my kitchen garden. When the book was produced, it looked really rather scruffy. The pages were creased and a bit worn, the front of the book a little threadbare. I then  put my signature at the bottom of a long list for plot 14, and noticed that the first signature was dated 14th May 1895. After that, I revised my opinion of the book – it had been kept and cherished in that village parish for over a 100 years. It was wonderful to be part of that.

I confess that it took quire a bit of work to clear the site. I decided that raised beds would be the way forward for optimum production and minimal management. Start small, with a few simple crops. Keep your enthusiasm going by imagining  just stepping outside your door to your very own favourite fruit and vegetables, into a kitchen garden of your own. It’s actually quite like being on holiday, a day out, with a flask of hot water to make tea and a picnic basket full of wholesome goodies to keep you going while you are digging and planting. My advice is to grow what you love to eat, as you’ll have plenty of it from even a little plot.

My wonderful kitchen garden

Growing your own food allows you to witness the time and skill that it takes to produce it.

My wish for this blog is that you are inspired to start your own kitchen garden, even on a small scale. Feeling the earth in your hands and looking out for the weather takes you beyond yourself to ensure your latest plantings will survive. Nurturing a garden connects you to the world in a way that is unique and inspiring. The fresh air, the physical enterprise, and community, especially of the allotment, are wonderfully connecting and healing. Give yourself the time to watch things grow. The slower pace of the garden takes you with it and you are the better for it.

Sean and Mary Kate debate whether it is potatoes or roses

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Here I am, tea in hand, sitting by the fire, contemplating the very appealing prospect of a Neals’ Yard Orange & Geranium bath, a truly therapeutic, not to mention gorgeous smelling experience. Neal’s Yard Remedies is a quintessentially British Institution. Pioniers in natural therapies when most were focused on the chemical & synthetic, its vision was to bring the apothecary back to life – I love the fact that Neal’s Yard wanted to connect with the knowledge of the past – & it is really resonating now more then ever.

Scottish & recycable

Neal’s Yard focus is on health & happiness & way’s of improving our well being.

I have been a huge fan since its inception & went to extraordinary lengths to stock up on its products when I lived away from old Blighty a few years ago. Their rose cream is one of their many award winners & has truly healing properties.

Healing with a gorgeous smell - Rose cream

Other favourites include white tea toning eye gel, frankinscence hydrading night cream as well as a fabulous range of shampoos. I guarantee that the smell alone will send you rushing back for more.

Eco headquarters with an obsession for improving health naturally, and a passion for the environment

I would love to visit the eco-headquarters and physic garden in Gillingham, Dorset where they design, test and make all their own products. Neal’s Yard admit to being obsessed with discovering and delivering natural ways to improve health & also believe passionately that the environment is of vital importance, & support and promote organic farming and the use of certified organic ingredients in their products.

Of course, they also sell tea! Very healthy, therapeutic tea!

Lemon Balm & Rose tea is one of my favourites.

Healing Tea from Neal's Yard

Neal’s Yard also say no, it’s a clever way of promoting their ethos & I for one will continue to seek out their creative range of healing products.

NO ANIMAL TESTING – unnecessary and cruel
NO GMO INGREDIENTS – not enough is known about the long-term implications
NO PARABENS – linked to oestrogen overproduction and breast cancer
NO NANO PARTICLES – not enough is known about their long-term implications
NO SYNTHETIC FRAGRANCES – often associated with allergic reactions
NO SYNTHETIC COLOURS – often associated with allergic reactions
NO SILICONES – coat the skin, impeding its natural function
NO MINERAL OILS – derived from petroleum, have a tendency to block the skin
NO PHTHALATES – reported to have toxic impact on human and animal life
NO EDTA – doesn’t readily biodegrade
NO PROPYLENE GLYCOL – derived from petroleum
NO CARBOMER – derived from petroleum
NO DEA – associated with known carcinogens

Say NO to being contaminated without consent


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