Roaming solidarity

The things they’d never had – collection of short stories!!
I’ve just put together a collection of the stories that I wrote between January and December 2012. Some of them need a bit of work and some of them I’m happy to leave them be and move on to the next stories. I thought you might be the kind of reader I want; the kind of reader who reads for the connection to be gained to oneself in the reading and writing of stories, the kind of reader who attends to their own pleasure without judgement. Get in touch if you want to read the stories and I’ll send you a copy.
I’ve called the collection The things they’d never had,  to honour the pleasure of invention and creation to be had in writing short stories, these stories are all ‘things I’ve never had.’, or certainly never had quite the way they are written in the story. … I feel like my journey with short stories is just beginning and I hope to dedicate more time to writing them next year. I have a lot to learn around getting to the essence of the story, in a couple of stories I’m still not quite sure what the point is or what this story means to me, dare I confess to you without fear of putting you off reading them?  I wonder if you can guess which ones.
Finally. I’d just like to send some loving energy to Andrew Morrish who is recovering from a heart attack and bypass operation in Melbourne, Australia. Andrew is an improvisation teacher I’ve known for 4 years and who nurtures creativity in wonderful ways. He has a brilliant three-pronged mantra which I use all the time when I write, you can use it too for whichever creative pursuit you are engaged in.
I’m a ****ing great (writer)
People love me when I (write)
I’m not arrogant.
Festive love to you all

Street Food


World food with wild food


Street Food is a series of recipes inspired by the wild plants that grow abundantly in London as well as by the people who live here, and the culinary traditions they have brought with them from all over the planet.

Street Food is wild food, found literally on the urban streets, although always collected in safe spaces – parks, commons, away from roads, away from dog walked areas, not on old industrial sites – and Street Food also refers to the urban culture of eating food on the go, on the streets, without cutlery, with your hands, surrounded by passersby, prepared by people from around the world who are cooking to make a living. Street Food fills you up and nourishes you on a busy day. The culture of Street Food contributes to the atmosphere, safety and conviviality of the urban centres.  In this book, the vision of the urban includes the green spaces. We’ve moved from the tarmac streets into the parks and recreation grounds, into places where we can actually pick some wild food and cook it up, there and then, in the open air. With large groups of people we’ve experimented with each other’s cooking traditions and with the new-old ingredients of nettle, chickweed, plantain, dandelion, shepherd’s purse, thistle, elder, blackberry, dock, bittercress, rose petal, hawthorn, goosegrass, hogweed, fennel.

Street Food is a project developed by the organisation Invisible Food. For us, Invisible Food refers to everything that sustains us that isn’t ordinarily visible or easy to define. The ‘food’ has a literal and practical interpretation; the ‘food’ is the wild foods such as nettle, or elderflower that we can harvest and learn how to use. There is also a deeper, more soulful interpretation of Invisible ‘food’ as that which sustains us emotionally and spiritually, that which creates a strong community, friendship and support, a connection with the earth, and a commitment to social justice.  The project of monthly gathering plants and preparing a feast has become an accessible ritual, enticing to all regardless of cultural and religious background.

Throughout the project we have cooked dumplings, stews, pickles, fermented vegetables, and breads, dishes which are common around the world, each with a slightly different seasoning and spice mix. Many dishes have been adapted and taken root in cultures far away from where they originated, as people have moved and been moved around the globe. We explore the Vietnamese Bánh Mì, which is a product of the French introducing bread and paté to Vietnam in the colonial period. There are also wild food versions of dishes which are a symbol of diversity themselves, for example the Venezuelan Christmas dish, Hallaca, is a coming together of European, Indigenous and African traditions.  There are many ingredients in the recipes that follow that aren’t wild, they may need to be bought in a shop. There are many spices I’ve included that aren’t grown in this country. This isn’t a venture in trying to sustain only with wild food. The other ingredients are included, as while the main premise is how to cook wild plants in exciting ways, it’s also about how to prepare food that connects you, to a wise community of people with diverse backgrounds who happen to be living in the same place, at the same time, breathing with the same plants, sharing the same resources.

What we eat is one way to directly connect to the life forces of the planet. The more we engage with the processes of food harvesting and preparation, the more power we add to the energy we put into our mouths to nourish us.  We can take in various ways from nature. We can collect seeds, leaves, berries. We can dig up roots. It can be helpful to adopt an intention for the wild food we gather. For example, “This is the seed (or leaf, flower, root) that I have gathered with my own hands, and with it I prepare a dish that connects me to the abundance that this earth provides me with so effortlessly, so I may live and thrive.”  This intention is a very powerful thing as there is something in having an intention which acts as a safeguard against overtaking. While there are some glorious built-in safeguards in nature to ensure equal distribution, for example holly berries are toxic to humans but not to birds, we humans have to learn how take consciously, to take only what we need, to learn how much is enough, to leave what other creatures need more than us. This connection with knowing our true needs counters the tendency to being mechanical in our interactions with nature. And this is not just relevant at the harvesting stage. I try to look after seeds once I’ve collected them, to put them in a suitable bag in a suitable container, to shake them regularly, to check on them and look out for signs that they might need some other form of care. This intention that we nurture our actions with comes from the knowledge that once taking becomes mechanical, abuse and exploitation can easily occur, mining great big gash holes in the earth’s surface, cutting down the rainforest, cutting out our own lung.

There is a popular expression of large cities being inspiring places where people from many cultures live. London is a great example of this. Most Londoners enjoy being part of the diversity of this city, sometimes even those who have experienced racism along with it. What every Londoner will also experience in some form, are the shockwaves sent through society as a whole from the unseen dimensions of social systems that generate conflict, anger, bitterness, self-hate, destruction of the environment, physical abuse and violent communication. It seems a relevant issue to tackle for a project like Invisible Food – it’s the other side of that which feeds us –  which we tackle by bringing people together and creating a space to experience feelings of belonging and connection that transcends nation, race and class. These feelings of belonging will build stronger community networks in London and other cities.  I hope this book will be part of a process that strengthens and connects.

It’s been around 6-9 months since I first decided to run this event at this moment of Harvest time. 6-9 months of holding in my being, the possibility of working with S and R, my desire for connection around the cultures of South Asia, my desire for rooting this within the wild plants of South London.  And I spent the 2 weeks prior to the event intensively planning and checking in with Ramya, our playworker, about how we would hold the space for children. I met N and her family at the Lambeth Country Show at the Incredible Edible stall and we discovered a shared interest and excitement around the Bangladeshi street food dish, Fuska. N knew how to do it. She was up for coming to the Street Food event and cooking it for us. We connected a couple of times during the week to check what she would need and to check the recipe that I would share with participants in the spirit of learning and dissemination, of making a dish ‘visible’, in the spirit of “Eat it and try to cook it at home. Feel inspired to do something different. Feel a shift in your habits. Eat something you don’t normally eat. Nourish your body in a different way. See how it makes you feel. Identify where the nourishing happens, is it the combination of flavours? Is it the smell? Is it the newness? Is it the surprise?”


Similarly, S and I connected in a slightly different way.  We had a couple of talks on skype to check in, about our lives in general and specifically, around food. We set ourselves each 5 minutes to talk about South Asian food. I shared first my intention behind doing this workshop, which was to create an enjoyable space for connection across cultural barriers that sometimes we get stuck behind. My intention was for connection, for community, for inclusion where there is a history of exclusion, my intention was for contribution, for allowing a space for contribution. My intention was for fun.

We were inspired to cook biryani, with S leading on this. She’d never cooked it before. She’d seen her mother cook it as a child and shared with me how biryani is a dish fit for the queens and kings, it’s an honour to prepare and eat. It takes hours to prepare. We would do a one pot version, camping style, outdoors, in the park.

I felt inspired by the connection with S and N, the flow, the ease with which we were connecting and agreeing to create something together. With R, who’d agreed to come and cook pakora, it had been a similar experience. I felt very connected and humbled by the flow of these women agreeing to come along.


I spoke to S on Friday. We had an amazing connection. She wasn’t feeling very well and we spoke about not overriding the  body’s needs. She was silent for a long while as she connected to her deepest needs. I witnessed her self-connection in silence. She said she really needed rest. She said she was worried about letting me down. She asked how this was for me.  I said I was really happy that she was connected to her needs for rest. I said I was really inspired by the transparency of our conversation. I said I was sad we wouldn’t connect and do this project together. But most of all, I felt nourished by the strength of our connection, that we were processing this together. I felt included in her decision. I felt I was supporting her to connect to her needs. I felt supported in dealing with my sadness that she wouldn’t be participating in the event. I’m connecting to the power of this connection as I write and can feel it inside my body.


Then later on Friday, N got in touch. Her daughter was ill, she wouldn’t be able to come on Saturday. I felt a numbness of disappointment that I recognise as a recurring emotion in my life. I took a while to connect with myself around this feeling. It was only the following day, before I set about packing my things for the event, that I spoke to someone in my support network and I realised some things about this work and what I’m trying to do in Invisible Food. Somehow this shed light on the Street Food project and it may be that this is the missing ingredient as I go about structuring the book of monthly recipes.

This is what it is.  I connected to a need for safety in this work connecting to people across cultures. I feel anxious about the precariousness of the connections I have with people from different cultures.  I want to feel a greater sense of security and trust in my relationships with people with different cultural backgrounds. Community is so fragmented in London, people tend to connect and deeply connect with people from the same cultural and class background. Everytime I struggle to reach out to someone, to make a connection with a family at my son’s school who we want to play with for example, or on an Invisible Food activity, everytime I feel a fear, a pain that there are so many barriers between us, so much history of being separate, I have so much fear that we won’t connect, I’m afraid of hearing a no, it’s scary stepping out and saying I want to connect with you.


I’m connecting to a need to make this process more visible. To write about the struggle to create more community across cultural and class boundaries in London. I’m wondering how it will be to make visible all the work of connecting that I do, that is always invisible and there is sometimes nothing to show for it, as in the case of S and N not being able to come, there wasn’t the outcome of having their presence at the event.

On Saturday, at the event, as we began I talked about how S and N couldn’t be there as they were listening to their needs for rest and for the well being of family and I celebrated this self-connection, while also being sad that we couldn’t enjoy their presence. I guess this was one way of making visible this energy of reaching out and connecting that had been taking place over the previous two weeks and I guess that writing this now is another way. It’s a way of honouring in me, this desire for community, for inclusion, for connection, and to acknowledge that this work isn’t always visible and isn’t very often valued or celebrated.

I’m wondering where this lands in you, reading this now.

Today we looked at yarrow, goosegrass/cleavers, ladies bedstraw, nettle and then we drank nettle tea and spent some time with the nettles before writing and discussing. Next meditation Monday 23rd April 10am – 11.30am for the Taurus new moon. Get in touch if you’re interested.


I look at you

and I drink you

Crinkled, curled, pursed lips of leaves

Green spear

Light shining on

Light shining

A spear, a sword

Rushing into my bloodstream

Absorbing, being absorbed

The slant of another stem

An energetic pathway

beside this decaying log

so full of life

Next to green alkanet

So surreptitious, so full-bodied but bedraggled

A fighter, a warrior, to succeed, to grow, to fight on through

The little nettles, sparkling in the sun, droplets

There are 4 of us humans, inside, internal with the plants

We are strangers yet so connected as we connect through the plants

Through the plants, we sit by the plants

The sun sits on us all

Fire, fire plants

Fight my fire plant

Show me how to push on up and grow despite everything

I sip of earth.

And then we talked about love

One said, “It’s like it’s saying I might be all fiery on the outside but there’s an intelligent love on the inside”

Two said “There’s a deep connection to the earth through the nettle”

Three said “Love needs a lot of attentiveness”

Four  said, “It’s so hard to love”.

Through the plants, we sit by the plants

The sun sits on us all

Fire, fire plants

Fight my fire plant

Show me how to push on up and grow despite everything

I sip of earth.

Yarrow is a herb. The above ground parts are used to make medicine.
Yarrow is used for fever, common cold, hay fever, absence of menstruation, dysentery, diarrhea, loss of appetite, gastrointestinal (GI) tract discomfort, and to induce sweating.
Some people chew the fresh leaves to relieve toothache.
Yarrow is applied to the skin to stop bleeding from hemorrhoids; for wounds; and as a sitz bath for painful, lower pelvic, cramp-like conditions in women.
In combination with other herbs, yarrow is used for bloating, intestinal gas (flatulence), mild gastrointestinal (GI) cramping, and other GI complaints.
In foods, the young leaves and flowers of yarrow are used in salads.
In manufacturing, yarrow is also used as a cosmetic cleanser and in snuff. Yarrow oil is used in shampoos.

How does it work?

Yarrow contains many chemicals that might affect blood pressure and possibly have anti-inflammatory effects.

Yarrow seems to be safe for most adults. In some people, yarrow might cause drowsiness and increase urination when taken by mouth. When it comes in contact with the skin, yarrow might cause skin irritation.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Don’t take yarrow by mouth if you are pregnant. It is believed to affect the menstrual cycle and might cause a miscarriage.
It’s also best to avoid yarrow if you are breast-feeding. Not enough is known about its safety during nursing.
Allergy to ragweed and related plants: Yarrow may cause an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to the Asteraceae/Compositae family. Members of this family include ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies, and many others. If you have allergies, be sure to check with your healthcare provider before taking yarrow.
Surgery: Yarrow might slow bloodclotting so there is a concern that it might increase bleeding during and after surgery. Stop taking yarrow at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Wild herb meditations

Learn to identify wild spring herbs and flowers, spend some time in nature, go for a walk, be outdoors in warm company, meet some local people and bring all your knowledge, memories and curiosity. The session will include wild herb tea tasting.

This walk will enable you to see your natural environment in a different way, recognising potential food sources in the green spaces around you.

In order to welcome some silence and stillness into each session, we will look in depth at one plant, its properties and uses, we will spend some time contemplating the plant and journaling and/or drawing it. No prior experience required, just a willingness to spend some moments in silence as part of an otherwise social experience.

About Invisible Food

Invisible Food is an innovative, holistic project. We innovate with the wild plants that grow in London and toss them together with the culinary skills of residents who have settled here from all over the world. We create recipes made with unusual and yet common plants on everyone’s doorstep.

The project works on many levels, we are about environmental education and there is also a deeper, more soulful and humanistic interpretation of Invisible ‘food’ as that which sustains us emotionally and spiritually, that which creates a strong community, friendship and support, a connection with the earth, and a commitment to social justice.  It is an introduction to an accessible ritual, open to all regardless of cultural and religious background. We approach our task of bringing people together with common sense and love of collaboration and by opening a space for creative expression.

The project is led by Ceri Buckmaster, a socially-engaged writer and artist. Her work explores how learning new skills can respond to current economic, spiritual and environmental crises. It brings to the fore conversations, relationships and informal networks of learning that are often accorded low status, undervalued or invisible in society.

Here’s the open letter from Alliance of Community Trainers, my training collective, about issues of nonviolence and tactics. Please spread it around widely. To comment or endorse, go to and its also on my blog,, love Starhawk

From the Alliance of Community Trainers, ACT

 The Occupy movement has had enormous successes in the short time since September when activists took over a square near Wall Street. It has attracted hundreds of thousands of active participants, spawned occupations in cities and towns all over North America, changed the national dialogue and garnered enormous public support. It’s even, on occasion, gotten good press! Now we are wrestling with the question that arises again and again in movements for social justice—how to struggle. Do we embrace nonviolence, or a ‘diversity of tactics?’ If we are a nonviolent movement, how do we define nonviolence? Is breaking a window violent? We write as a trainers’ collective with decades of experience, from the anti-Vietnam protests of the sixties through the strictly nonviolent antinuclear blockades of the seventies, in feminist, environmental and anti-intervention movements and the global justice mobilizations of the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. We embrace many labels, including feminist, anti-racist, eco-feminist and anarchist. We have many times stood shoulder to shoulder with black blocs in the face of the riot cops, and we’ve been tear-gassed, stun-gunned, pepper sprayed, clubbed, and arrested, While we’ve participated in many actions organized with a diversity of tactics, we do not believe that framework is workable for the Occupy Movement. Setting aside questions of morality or definitions of ‘violence’ and ‘nonviolence’ – for no two people define ‘violence’ in the same way – we ask the question: What framework can we organize in that will build on our strengths, allow us to grow, embrace a wide diversity of participants, and make a powerful impact on the world? ‘Diversity of tactics’ becomes an easy way to avoid wrestling with questions of strategy and accountability. It lets us off the hook from doing the hard work of debating our positions and coming to agreements about how we want to act together. It becomes a code for ‘anything goes,’ and makes it impossible for our movements to hold anyone accountable for their actions. The Occupy movement includes people from a broad diversity of backgrounds, life experiences and political philosophies. Some of us want to reform the system and some of us want to tear it down and replace it with something better. Our one great point of agreement is our call for transparency and accountability. We stand against the corrupt institutions that broker power behind closed doors. We call to account the financial manipulators that have bilked billions out of the poor and the middle classes. Just as we call for accountability and transparency, we ourselves must be accountable and transparent. Some tactics are incompatible with those goals, even if in other situations they might be useful, honorable or appropriate. We can’t be transparent behind masks. We can’t be accountable for actions we run away from. We can’t maintain the security culture necessary for planning and carrying out attacks on property and also maintain the openness that can continue to invite in a true diversity of new people. We can’t make alliances with groups from impacted communities, such as immigrants, if we can’t make agreements about what tactics we will employ in any given action. The framework that might best serve the Occupy movement is one of strategic nonviolent direct action. Within that framework, Occupy groups would make clear agreements about which tactics to use for a given action. This frame is strategic—it makes no moral judgments about whether or not violence is ever appropriate, it does not demand we commit ourselves to a lifetime of Gandhian pacifism, but it says, ‘This is how we agree to act together at this time.’ It is active, not passive. It seeks to create a dilemma for the opposition, and to dramatize the difference between our values and theirs. Strategic nonviolent direct action has powerful advantages: We make agreements about what types of action we will take, and hold one another accountable for keeping them. Making agreements is empowering. If I know what to expect in an action, I can make a choice about whether or not to participate. While we can never know nor control how the police will react, we can make choices about what types of action we stand behind personally and are willing to answer for. We don’t place unwilling people in the position of being held responsible for acts they did not commit and do not support. In the process of coming to agreements, we listen to each other’s differing viewpoints. We don’t avoid disagreements within our group, but learn to debate freely, passionately, and respectfully. We organize openly, without fear, because we stand behind our actions. We may break laws in service to the higher laws of conscience. We don’t seek punishment nor admit the right of the system to punish us, but we face the potential consequences for our actions with courage and pride. Because we organize openly, we can invite new people into our movement and it can continue to grow. As soon as we institute a security culture in the midst of a mass movement, the movement begins to close in upon itself and to shrink. Holding to a framework of nonviolent direct action does not make us ‘safe.’ We can’t control what the police do and they need no direct provocation to attack us. But it does let us make clear decisions about what kinds of actions we put ourselves at risk for. Nonviolent direct action creates dilemmas for the opposition, and clearly dramatizes the difference between the corrupt values of the system and the values we stand for. Their institutions enshrine greed while we give away food, offer shelter, treat each person with generosity. They silence dissent while we value every voice. They employ violence to maintain their system while we counter it with the sheer courage of our presence. Lack of agreements privileges the young over the old, the loud voices over the soft, the fast over the slow, the able-bodied over those with disabilities, the citizen over the immigrant, white folks over people of color, those who can do damage and flee the scene over those who are left to face the consequences. Lack of agreements and lack of accountability leaves us wide open to provocateurs and agents. Not everyone who wears a mask or breaks a window is a provocateur. Many people clearly believe that property damage is a strong way to challenge the system. And masks have an honorable history from the anti-fascist movement in Germany and the Zapatista movement in Mexico, who said “We wear our masks to be seen.” But a mask and a lack of clear expectations create a perfect opening for those who do not have the best interests of the movement at heart, for agents and provocateurs who can never be held to account. As well, the fear of provocateurs itself sows suspicion and undercuts our ability to openly organize and grow. A framework of strategic nonviolent direct action makes it easy to reject provocation. We know what we’ve agreed to—and anyone urging other courses of action can be reminded of those agreements or rejected. We hold one another accountable not by force or control, ours or the systems, but by the power of our united opinion and our willingness to stand behind, speak for, and act to defend our agreements. A framework of strategic nonviolent direct action agreements allows us to continue to invite in new people, and to let them make clear choices about what kinds of tactics and actions they are asked to support. There’s plenty of room in this struggle for a diversity of movements and a diversity of organizing and actions. Some may choose strict Gandhian nonviolence, others may choose fight-back resistance. But for the Occupy movement, strategic nonviolent direct action is a framework that will allow us to grow in diversity and power.

From the Alliance of Community Trainers, ACT Starhawk Lisa Fithian Lauren Ross (or Juniper)

Rosehips can be made into a tincture right now

On Thursday 13th October, I gave a walking talk in the green spaces around the Garden Museum (the area in front of the museum and Lambeth High Street Recreation Space). All participants introduced themselves by stating their name and a plant that is calling to them at the moment or this year on some level, be that aesthetically, or functionally or intuitively.  We wandered around the spaces looking at the plants listed below. In the Recreation Space we collectively made a tincture with rosehips.

Invisible Food is a project that has been running for over 3 years and trains people to look at their surroundings in different ways, to appreciate the natural environment for its nutritional potential & potential for health and wellbeing.

ABOUT  TAKING: We can take in various ways from nature. We can collect seeds, we can collect leaves and berries. We can dig up roots. We can cut stems to take a cutting.

ABOUT NOT OVERTAKING: In London and indeed everywhere, we have to be very conscious about what we take. We have to take consciously, to not over-take, to not take more than we need, to not take what other creatures need more than us. There are some glorious built-in safeguards in nature to ensure equal distribution, in that some berries are toxic to some species but not to others, so some species’ food supplies are protected. For example, holly berries are toxic to humans – so we can’t eat them – but the birds can eat them throughout the winter without any harm.

ABOUT NOT BEING MECHANICAL WHEN WE TAKE:I’m interested in exploring how not to be mechanical about our interactions with nature. For example, don’t be mechanical about seed collecting. LOOK AFTER the seeds once you’ve collected them. Don’t stuff them in a drawer to go mouldy because you haven’t put them in a suitable paper bag and shaken them regularly. It’s the time and the love you put into them that make a difference. I have a teacher who says to me Always thank the plant. See how that feels.  This is interesting to explore because once the taking becomes mechanical, abuse and exploitation can easily occur. Mining great big gash holes in the earth’s surface, cutting down the rainforest, cutting out our own lung.

ABOUT NOT JUST WORKING WITH PLANTS ON A COGNITIVE LEVEL: It’s really important to not just learn about the plants on a cognitive level. Don’t just read about them, learn about their properties and uses and try to ‘gain knowledge about them’. Develop your intuition with them. Be open to the plants. Try to listen. Be still with the plants. See what comes through.

ABOUT NATURE’S GENEROSITY: Finally, it’s stunningly clear when you think about it but nature really wants to work with us. Nature is so generous in all her leaves, fruits, roots, woods, and nature wants us to take. It’s our gift to nature that we take it with us, in our mobile state. It’s nature’s gift to us that it can root us.

Holly – from midsummer to midwinter when the days grow shorter, the god of the earth and the underworld reclaim the sun. The tree that symbolises this is the holly. Even in the depths of winter we are reminded that life begins again. This is why traditionally we bring evergreen into the house as a reminder of the growing season. Not edible but an important winter plant for decoration, both outdoors where it grows and to bring inside.

Chickweed – soothes inflamed tissue and absorbs impurities from the skin. Eczema. Digestive and lung problems

Sow thistle – young leaves

Dandelion root – allows liver to break down toxins, leaf –  potassium, magnesium, calcium, B vitamins, Vit A. Eat the whole plants, fritter the flowers, caper the buds

Thistle – young stems, peeled and eaten raw, young shoots as greens

Red dead nettle – use flowers as colour contrast in green salad. Use leaves as you would stinging nettle

Cleavers – High in Vit C, calcium, iron.  astringent and diuretic (so good tonic). Can be used by herbalists for tonsillitis, throat infections, cystitis, eczema. Dry seeds substitute for coffee

Nipplewort – young leaves and shoots, best before plant comes into flower

Hawthorn – for the blood, regulating high & low blood pressure, relieves stress, insomnia,all problems of the heart.

Oregon grape – make jelly, root used by herbalists as anti inflammatory, anti bacterial, alternative to Goldenseal

Nettles – stabilise blood sugar, good for kidney cells, soothes the lungs and bronchial tissues, Vitamin K (amongst many other vitamins) prevents bleeding and stimulates breast milk

Black nightshade – collect young pre-flowering plants as greens, avoiding risk of gathering plants with green berries.

Yarrow – good cold remedy reduces fever, Stop bleeding. Aids digestion, anti-inflammatory

Daisy – Vit C, good for coughs and colds. Daisy leaf sandwich Mr Funny

Horseradish – chop up young leaves finely in mashed potato, dig up root to make sauce

Mallow – huge amounts of protein, more than nettle. Anti inflammatory

Rosehips  – cordial. Extremely high in Vit C. Rose petal jelly

The blackberries were so gorgeous in Ruskin Park that we started the walk there this month. We made Blackberry ice cream in an ice cream ball maker and ate it a few metres from the extensive brambles that run alongside the railway line from Denmark Hill to Victoria.

Blackberrying in Ruskin Park

The ice cream ball maker makes ice cream which varies a lot upon outside temperature, shaking frequency, the mix of ingredients, the ice used. We spread out around the pond and passed the ball to each other for around 15 mins to  shake up the mixture. It was extremely tasty, blackberry being the best fruit I’ve tried in it so far. You need 600ml / 1 pint double cream, about 25g / 1oz caster sugar, around 100g / 4oz fruit. Mash up the washed fruit and the sugar, then add the cream. Pack the ice cubes into the container, add rock salt to the gaps around the cubes, this is to ‘enhance the freezing ability’ as it says on the box of the ice cream maker, although doesn’t that seem to contradict the salting of the roads in icy weather. Can someone please enlighten? (Arnaud sent in the answer, see REPLY below)

Mashing the blackberriesRolling the ice cream ball maker around the pond... for 20 minutes ....Scooping out the ice creamAn excellent picnic

We tried mallow / ewedu stew made by John who'd followed the recipe in the London Salad. Delicious!


Plants in Ruskin Park wild life area we looked at:


Ribwort plantain

Wild lettuce

Greater Burdock

Water mint

en route to Max Roach


Sow thistle

Common Lime

In Max Roach


Common Mallow

Bristly ox-tongue

Cat’s Ear

Shepherd’s Purse

Then the plant that was difficult to identify exactly, seemingly fat hen at the back and possibly goosefoot at the front. Here are all possibles

Fat Hen


Good King Henry


Plantain cream for bites and stings

4 tbsp fresh chopped plantain leaves
150 ml boiling water
2 tbsp olive oil or sunflower oil
2 tbsp almond oil
1 tsp beeswax
2 tsp emulsifying wax
2 tsp glycerine
1 tsp vitamin C powder

  1. Wash and chop the plantain leaves. Divide into two – put one half in a bowl and the other half in a pan. Cover the plantain in the bowl with the water and leave to infuse for 10 minutes.
  2. In the pan, add the olive (or sunflower) and almond oils to the plantain and heat gently to simmering point. Don’t allow to boil – if it starts boiling, take off the heat immediately. Once at simmering point, remove from the heat and leave for 10 minutes to cool.
  3. Drain the infusion, taking out the plantain leaves. Set the liquid to one side.
  4. Drain the infused oil into another pan, extracting the plantain leaves. Heat the oil again. Add the beeswax and emulsifying wax and melt, stirring – you are aiming for a foamy consistency.
  5. Add 16 tbsp infused water to the pan and whisk to achieve a consistency like salad dressing. Add the glycerine and vitamin C powder.
  6. Pour into sterilized glass pots and seal.

USE: Apply to affected area as often as needed.

STORAGE: Keeps for 3 months in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

 Ash key pickle

One thing to make sure is that you pick your Ash Keys when they are very young, and the small seed within the ‘wing’ has barely developed. You can see the seed if you hold the Ash Key up to the sunlight.


  • 2 cups of Ash Keys without stalks
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 8 peppercorns
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • water

Suggested Instructions

  1. Wash your Ash Keys, then place in a pan covered with cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Strain off the water and return to the pan with some fresh water, then bring back to boil and simmer a further 5 minutes.
  3. Drain off the water again, allow to ‘dry’ slightly and then pack into warm dry jars, but allow an inch of space from the top of the jar.
  4. Put the spices, salt and sugar into a bowl and add the vinegar.
  5. Put the bowl into a saucepan (cover it), add some water (not to the bowl but just into the pan) and bring slowly to the boil.  Allow to gently boil for about 5 minutes, then remove the bowl and let it sit for about 4 hours or until it is cold.
  6. Strain the liquid through a muslin or sieve into a jug and pour over the Ash Keys filling the jars right to the brim.
  7. Screw on the tops
  8. Store for 3 months and let the pickle ‘mature’.

Wild herb Jamaican Patties

How to Make: Caribbean Patty Crust (butter version)

The classic Caribbean patty crust is yellow to orange in colour and this colouring is either derived from the oil used to make the patties or from turmeric or annatto seeds.


280g flour
1/2 tsp salt
200g butter (I used goat butter)
240ml cold water
1 tsp ground turmeric or 1/2 tsp Jamaican curry powder or 1/2 tsp ground annatto seeds
120ml milk for brushing (I used coconut oil)

Caribbean Patty Crust Preparation:


Sift together the flour, turmeric (or colouring) and salt into a bowl. Cube the butter then add to the flour mix and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine meal. Add just enough water to bind the mixture as a firm dough. Turn onto a lightly-floured surface and knead for a few minutes, or until elastic.

Roll the dough out to about 3mm thick then cut into rounds about 15cm in diameter (use a plate as a template). Traditionally these are filled with a whole range of meat or vegetable-based fillings, are folded into half-moon shapes, sealed, glazed with milk then baked in an oven pre-heated to 220°C for about 20 minutes, or until golden.

If you want a crumblier pastry then when you roll the pastry out, melt some lard, brush this on top of the pastry, fold over then roll out again. Repeat this process of rolling, brushing, folding and rolling 4 times in all. This way you will get a layered pastry that will puff up and become crumbly during baking.

And here’s the chickweed pesto recipe.

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