Winter walk

I am spending Christmas and New Year break in my home country, Poland. Taking a rest from busy London life, I enjoy reading, cooking and sleeping of course. My mum cooks me a vegetarian soup every day for lunch and I usually make some evening meal.

We had a bit of snow over Christmas period then it all went black and grey again. But today I woke up to the completely new white world and felt like a little kid staring in wonder outside. Everything was covered with soft white load and snow just kept on falling. I quickly snapped away few photos from my room.

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By the time, I did go outside, it was more rain than snow. Me and my niece headed to the park full of trees, with a wide cobblestone path. There is also a museum to commemorate the war prisoners which perished in the local labour camp.

There was a lonely figure ahead of us so we decided to follow…

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We enjoyed the walk in this monochromatic world. I could spot some greenish blackberry bush leaves, but was completely satisfied with black and white for now. We even got to see an impressive spin on the snow done by someone driving matching, of course white Golf. We caught a glimpse of him again, disappearing in the distance.

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Nature walk by Thames

I feel so lucky to live just 10 minutes walk to river Thames in South West London. I try to go for a stroll every weekend to escape hustle and bustle of the city. There is a path along the south of the river, usually very busy at weekends with people walking, running or cycling. Very beautiful, heading west,full of chestnut trees, elderberry bushes and lots of greenery. This time I cross the bridge and head north the river towards Fulham Palace and its grounds. It is quiet there, especially now when the garden and allotments are ready for winter.

The ginkgo tree had bright yellow leaves last week but none left yesterday. Only beautiful tree silhouettes growing tall in the blue skies.

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The blue skies made Thames looking blue and shiny as usually it is just grey and dark. The tide was very low and some people went down the ladder for a walk along very muddy “beach”.

IMG_4256 IMG_4261 Crossing the bridge, I always stop and look to the west. There are rowing clubs on the southern bank of Thames and park on the northern. I love the vastness of the river here and how gently it turns right.

Here is the peek-a-boo of the All Saints Church tower surrounded by beautiful cypresses. The church itself was featured in a movie The Omen and I really like its stonework.

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IMG_4278 It was very quiet and empty at the Palace Wall garden, apart from busy squirrels scratching tree bark and eating remaining green bits.

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IMG_4170  And these pretty orange berries popped out from all the greens and browns. I did a small research online and it looks like Jack-In-The-Pulpit plant and its wand of bright red berries. What an amazing name! But I might be wrong…Would have to go back there and have a closer look.

And it turned out I was wrong…

I shared my post on Twitter and got a reply from @FulhamPalace saying that red berried plant is Iris foetidissima.  Stinking iris. I love irises and what an unfortunate name! Or called roast-beef plant. Apparently it smells unpleasantly meaty when crushed. It has got pale yellow-purple flowers in summer and vibrant orange seed wands in winter. Would have to go back in spring to check on flowers and have a sniff too! I think it looks beautiful between browns and greens like little gems.

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Not only flowers, but I also love leaves, big and veiny or delicate and feathery. I found their structure fascinating.

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Who would have thought it is half December?

Nature walks, British weather and vitamin D

It was a surprisingly sunny day after yesterday evening drenched in rain. Bonfire fireworks, of course, was wet. But today was dry, full of colour and light. I was sitting by the computer, job applying and nervously glancing through the window. I didn’t want to miss the sun and a natural shot of vitamin D. Latest research has proved that people living in UK may have low vitamin D level. 20 minutes daily of sun exposure has been recommended, you can also pop a pill if the sunlight is a bit sparse. I am suspecting so called British humour and irony has been a side effect of vitamin D (read: sunshine) deficiency. It may also cause winter depression and winter blues. Short days in autumn don’t provide enough daylight and we could actually feel sad and low, with no energy. It could be not enough sun, just simple as that. Ah, at the end of the day, we are children of the nature. Scientists come up with the term SAD, the Seasonal Affective Disorder. Come on, you just feel sad and miserable cause there is not enough sunshine to keep you going. You want to hibernate and sleep like some wise animals do instead of facing wind, rain and harsh conditions.

No, no it’s not all that bad. Winters are really mild here over in London, at least it can rain and blow severe gales. Forget blissful whiteness and quietness of majestic snow.

Since moving to London 6 years ago, I mostly have lived down the River Thames, in South West London. Now, only 10 minutes to the river. What a better place for walks or cycling. Prefer walking during weekends. The walking Thames Path is highly congested by runners of both sexes, holding hands couples, families with kids, dogs and buggies, occasionally a briskly walking an elderly person with a walking stick. That obviously makes cycling a bit awkward and almost dangerous. You actually can’t cycle directly on a path running just by the river, there are red signs with the crossed bike. I should have taken a picture of it. Some people cycle anyway, but not so much on Sunday afternoon, at the busiest time, sort of after lunch. I said to myself, whatever the weather I shall go on a walk, alone or in a company of a friend. But today, was just myself. I felt a bit lonely and SAD, but nature and the blue sky always bring a relief to my troubled soul. I never tend to walk leisurely, instead I just picture my path before setting out and always stick to it. Well, mostly.         IMG_3989

So, we start with blue of the river and sky. Now, River Thames is never blue, rather brown or grey. All depends on the sky, today it was a beautiful blue harmony of elements.

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The mood has changed after wandering into woods full of greens, yellows and                  browns. Holy reminds about coming up Christmas season.

 IMG_4002           IMG_3994    Looking inside that tree felt almost too intimate…                             IMG_4016  

I picked some of the autumn berries: hawthorne, snowberry – isn’t a cool name?         IMG_4004     IMG_4009               

There were an etheric white sails on the river, joined by a rowing youth and a                      nearby boat of the commanding coach. Kids seemed to be tired…    IMG_4020     IMG_4022                                           

Last look at the pier. River take turns into the West. Sun is slowly setting and the light        is changing. Next time I should go out around this time and catch a glimpse of a                sunset.

Nature walks

Here we are, autumn in full swing. Just had Halloween and All Saints Day, now Bonfire Night coming up, and then we are on our way to Christmas. Was just talking to my niece and we are hoping it will snow.

During October half term, I went to a countryside in Hampshire with work.  It was my last visit over there, just one night, so I felt relaxed, decided to enjoy it. Nice house, space around it, quiet. Was waken up by the birds in a field, probably pheasants. Now I regret not taking pictures of sun rising and the frost in the fields.

The weather was warm and balmy for the end of October. First day after breakfast, took a walk down the drive. Beautiful autumn light, still lots of colour around, sheep grazing the grass.

Countryside in Adbury park

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Next morning we took a hike up the gentle hill. Place is called Downs, though. Was unexpectedly windy, but still very sunny and mild. Oh, green rolling hills of England, this tune came straight to my mind.

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Being at home, I particularly enjoyed sitting in a conservatory, very warm in there. And obviously, gorgeous geraniums could not get unnoticed.

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Grow your own drugs by James Wong

I love reading about natural therapies, herbs, DIY beauty so I am always looking for some good inspirational books. I regularly read Natural Health magazine, here in UK, which is full of interesting articles about natural therapies and organic beauty. I am also slowly building up my own personal library at home as well as on my Kindle app. My make-up bag and bathroom cupboard have had their makeover as well and I ma trying to stick to the rule that less is more.

Today I want to share with you one of my favourite books titled “Grow your own drugs” by James Wong. He is an ethnobotanist, journalist and TV presenter in UK, a great advocate for gardening and nature.

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He grew up in Malaysia, then came over to study Ethnobotany in UK. In the book he recalls a picture of his grandma grounding some herbs in a pestle and mortar. And me too, I remember my grandma collecting and drying herbs, like St. John’s wort. Those small bunches were hanging up in our kitchen. Ah, happy days! And also, I remember myself collecting wild flowers like poppies, cornflowers and daisies for some special ceremonies in a church.

Back to the book, “Grow your own drugs” had its own documentary series on BBC and I enjoyed watching it. What I love about those books are beautiful illustrations and photos, real pleasure to look at them. There is lots of practical info about foraging, growing, harvesting, and then storing the plants. Then we off to making remedies to help with digestion, different kinds of aches, skincare and haircare. You will find recipes for glycerin soaps, bath bombs, deodorants, lip balms and many more. He also shares the knowledge about the 100 top plants and most of their useful and beneficial properties.

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For fans of social media, James Wong is on Twitter @Botanygeek.

Chamomile inspired face mask

I have been waiting to write about this beautiful yet humble herb. I love chamomile! The smell so herbal yet a bit flowery. It helps me when my stomach is upset or when I just want to ease my mind. I remember myself as a little girl going to the fields and trying to find these sort of daisy looking flowers. I wasn’t always successful and often mixed them with other similar looking plants.

Chamomile is famous for its soothing and calming properties so works well for all irritations, acne, it is popular in treating eczema. Chamomile is an excellent not only to skin but the whole body and mind too! It works as a mild sedative, relaxes muscles and will bring a good sleep. I love this a bit bitter taste of chamomile tea. I just know it’s pure power of nature. Why don’t we restore all that powerful knowledge about herbs and plants and use it for our good? It has been used by people since the beginning of our civilization and it is still here. Unfortunately, modern life puts us away from the nature and all natural remedies.

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I felt like my skin needs a bit of nourishment so decided to use an egg and and chamomile as I have been out in the sun and wind for the past few days. So to start, I use pestle and mortar to crush chamomile flowers. You can even use chamomile tea bags instead. Just open them and pop the content out. Add chamomile flowers to an egg yolk, add squeeze of lemon, a bit of honey and mix it all. As it gets a bit runny, I add some clay to thicken the mask, the best would be yellow one to keep the colour synchronization!  When ready, apply to your face, neck and decollete. Once removing it, the chamomile particles will act as a gentle scrub and will leave your face smooth and bright.

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As Full Moon is approaching ( 3rd of July in UK ), it is a good time to moisturize, nourish, make masks, do massages. Start today and you will see the results!

Beat a spot with tea tree oil!

Every of us suffers sometimes from sudden spots and unwanted surprises on our skin. As I teenager, I had quite serious acne and living with it and treating it was quite a challenge, but that’s a part of growing up. I tried different creams, gels but became completely satisfied when discovered tea tree oil. As a big fan of aromatherapy and oils, that was a bit of breakthrough and I just went for it. Tea tree oil, extracted from the leaves, native to Australia is famous for its anti-bacterial, anti-fungal anti-septic and healing  properties. I read that native Aborigines used crushed leaves  for cuts, burns and infections. It is very helpful in battling dandruff and perfect for treating all nail fungal infections.

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So I treat the spots with the power of nature! As tea tree oil is strong on its own, remember to dilute it with some carrier oil, like jojoba or almond oil. Then apply it to the spot with a cotton bus and repeat throughout the day and before going to bed. It will simply dry out so don’t be tempted to scratch it before!

Beat a spot with tea tree oil!

Every of us suffers sometimes from sudden spots and unwanted surprises on our skin. As I teenager, I had quite serious acne and living with it and treating it was quite a challenge, but that’s a part of growing up. I tried different creams, gels but became completely satisfied when discovered tea tree oil. As a big fan of aromatherapy and oils, that was a bit of breakthrough and I just went for it. Tea tree oil, extracted from the leaves, native to Australia is famous for its anti-bacterial, anti-fungal anti-septic and healing  properties. I read that native Aborigines used crushed leaves  for cuts, burns and infections. It is very helpful in battling dandruff and perfect for treating all nail fungal infections.

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So I treat the spots with the power of nature! As tea tree oil is strong on its own, remember to dilute it with some carrier oil, like jojoba or almond oil. Then apply it to the spot with a cotton bus and repeat throughout the day and before going to bed. It will simply dry out so don’t be tempted to scratch it before!