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The Plight of our Feathery Friends

We fill the skies with news of dramatic shifts within the UK’s bird population

The Ethics of Cosmetics

Clear your skin as well as your conscience! Open your eyes to the world of cruelty & chemical free beauty products

Easy Steps to Summer Skin

Medicinal chef, Dale Pinnock, shares nutritional tips & recipes for a glowing complexion

plus, eco news, holistic health, travel, spirituality & much more...

Issue No. 17 Summer 2013

The Weekend for Your Soul

GLASGOW 5–6 October, 2013 The Scottish Exhibition Centre

Spend the weekend listening to some of the most inspiring authors of today --- an unforgettable experience!

LONDON 12–13 October, 2013 The Logan Hall


An incredible line-up of Hay House authors not to be missed – we hope you can join us for this informative, inspiring and invigorating weekend! Early booking recommended. *Glasgow only **London only

Purchase tickets at or call 020 3675 2460

Pg 16 Dale Pinnock’s skin boost juice

The Coach House 2 Upper York Street Bristol BS2 8QN 07767 112 964

Magazine Coordinator/Editor: Sharon Henshall Sub-Editor: Rebecca Day Production Editor: Sharon Henshall Cover Image: Heather Murphy Artworkers: Heather Murphy & Becky Cooke


FEATURES 4 The Ethics of Cosmetics

Clear your skin as well as your conscience! Rebecca Day opens our eyes to the world of natural, cruelty-free beauty products.

10 Parvati Valley

Tucked in the Portuguese hills, a peaceful valley full of wild flowers and natural wisdom captured the heart of Sharon Henshall.

12 Roses got my Heart Singing

Karen Lawton’s life-long love of roses is beautifully shared in this fragrant accolade. No part of this magazine can be reproduced without consent. All rights reserved. No responsibility will be accepted for errors or omissions, or comments made by writers or interviewees. ISSN 2041-0786 © Inspired Times

Inspired Times’ yoga expert, Lila Conway, tells us all about her Teacher Training Course held high in the Indian Himalayas.

16 Easy Steps to Summer Skin

Medicinal chef, Dale Pinnock, offers nutrition tips and recipes for a glowing complexion.

24 Our Feathery Friends’ Plight

Kara Lewis spreads her wings and heads countrywide, learning about shifts within the UK’s diverse bird populations.

21 Communities

Editor, Sharon Henshall welcomes you to our summer edition of Inspired Times.

8 Spirituality

Interview with Leon Stuparich – Director of Road to Peace – an insightful film following the Dalai Lama on his visit to the UK.

Bristol yoga teacher deepens her practice by surrendering to spinal limits, and the story behind an inspiring project which has built the world’s first ever eco cargo ship.

18 Inspiring Getaways

From Monte Maravilhas, tucked in Portugal’s hiker paradise of Alentejo, to meditation trips on a canal boat in the UK’s stunning Northern waterways.

20 Creativity

MindFood and the Grassmarket Community Project both offer amazing opportunities to those in need. Mike Bromley highlights their positive work.

22 Exciting Events 2013

13 Have Your Say

Advertising: Sharon Henshall

REGULARS 2 Welcome

Contributors: Sharon Henshall/Rebecca Day Dale Pinnock/Karen Lawton Sarah Griffiths/Kara Lewis Emma Henderson/Louise Baker Mike Bromley/Jen Elliott Heather Murphy/Gavin Allwright Laura Ann Murphy

14 Learn to Teach Yoga

Heather Murphy explains her connection with Fine Art, highlights the Hunterian Museum’s challenging content and uncovers some unusual mechanical creatures.

The festival season is in full swing – check out the summertime line up! Learn more about WOMAD as well as the fabulous events to put in your autumn diary... Vegfest London, I CAN DO IT! and the Schumacher Experience.

Get some great eco gift ideas for the summertime season...

26 Green Goodies Guide

27 Eco-news

Jen Elliott keeps us up-to-date with the latest eco-news and gets us all abuzz with the ‘Bee Saving Kit’ received when making a donation to Friends of the Earth.

28 Inspiring Individuals

Sarah Griffiths focusses on Jane Goodall and her lifetime of work with chimpanzees and raising awareness of the importance of protecting their habitat.

inspired times issue 17 summer 2013



spreading the spirit of inspired times Living our truth can take courage. I’m constantly touched by the number of people I know, and meet, who are stepping in tune with their inner rhythms, or at least moving down that path wearing their ‘L plates’; feeling their way with a sense of trust for what the future holds. Over the past four years Inspired Times seems to have taken me on my own journey of self discovery. As much as I’ve put in on a personal level, I’ve received back – mostly in unexpected ways. It’s not been an easy path but there’s something about a challenge that peals back our layers and draws people together, in a way that enriches the soul. A year ago I made the financial decision to make Inspired Times an online publication. I received so many emails expressing sadness at this shift, but everyone remained supportive as they understood it hadn’t been easy as an Independent Publisher, to keep Inspired Times in circulation for those first three years. My hope was to print each summer issue – to keep a presence in the real world during nature’s season of sunshine (we can hope!). I’m happy to announce that a limited number of this issue are for sale online and so please do order yours if you’d like to receive one of the printed copies. We’d love for this to work!

This issue sees our artworker, Heather Murphy, step into the limelight and become the ‘front cover artist’ for the coming year. Her medium will be collage and we totally love her magical bird! This image is particularly apt due to Kara Lewis seeking out bird experts – shedding light on shifts within populations for her ‘Plight of our Feathered Friends’ article. In ‘The Ethics of Cosmetics’ Rebecca Day faces up to the issues of mainstream make-up and champions those producing cruelty and chemical free beauty products. Her revelations have caused a make-up revolution within our team and we’re keen for it to spread much further than our four walls. Talking of skin, Medicinal Chef, Dale Pinnock, has kindly shared nutritional facts and tasty recipes for a glowing complexion this summer. Plenty more fabulous articles fill our summertime pages – we hope they inspire, uplift and inform. Enjoy!

Sharon Henshall

(Magazine Coordinator/Editor)

Dale Pinnock

Karen Lawton

Through taking a scientific approach to what we eat, Dale Pinnock shows us that certain food types can help us recover in times of ill health. With an in-depth knowledge of the fields of nutrition and phytonutrients, and a previous career as a wholefoods chef, Dale works directly with GPs, specialists and academics in the healthcare field. Looking at food logically he dispels any notions of a change in diet being the sole healer for illness. Instead, he looks at the steps we can take in our day-to-day lives to prevent future ailments, and which foods we should be eating alongside certain medicines.

The Inspired Times team first met Karen Lawton and her ‘Witch Sitsta’ Fiona at Croissant Neuf Festival in 2009. They had an intriguing set up; an Airstream trailor complete with a herb garden. They were running ‘The Witch Workshops’ showing how to make various exotic potions from a variety of British and European plants, most of which they gather themselves.

Dale’s mission is to be vocal and passionate about what works and why, and to give a clear and honest picture for those who need it the most. Through diet and lifestyle, he


believes people have more control over their health than they might be led to believe.

‘wild green yoga addict and HedgeWitch’. Along with Fiona, she roams this wonderful land gathering food and medicine from the fields and hedgerows, teaching their craft to all those inspired to learn more. Through Sensory Herbcraft Apprenticeships they pass on their knowledge to show that most of what we need is provided around us – often growing in walking distance from our homes.

Karen describes herself as a Author of the new best seller The Medicinal Chef, as well as The Clear Skin Cookbook, and Medicinal Cookery, Dale regularly appears on radio and national television sharing his knowledge. In this issue of Inspired Times he gives nutritional advice and recipes for a glowing complexion.

Karen and Fiona founded Sensory Solutions and have loved seeing it blossom. Full details of their apprenticeships, future events and herbal remedies can be found online. In this issue Karen gives us an insight into the wonderful world of roses – their history, healing properties and floral magic.

inspired times issue 17 summer 2013

transformative and small-group learning

Complexity and Collaboration 15 - 19 July - With Prof. Eve Mitleton-Kelly Transform and empower your workplace with 10 principles of complexity theory.

Radical Ecopsychology 22 July - 2 August - With Andy Fisher and Joel Kovel Explore a new psychology for our ecological age.

The Economics of Happiness 22 - 26 July - With Helena Norberg Hodge Explore the beneďŹ ts of localisation and how to make it happen from policy to grass-roots.

Schumacher Experience 28 Oct - 2 Nov Come to experience life at the College and sample from our in-house teaching on deep ecology, holistic science and economics for transition. Plus John and Nancy Todd, Colin Tudge, Vandana Shiva, Mark Boyle, Fergus Drennan Polly Higgins and Charles Eisentein.

Tel: +44 (0)1803 865934

Clear your skin as well as your conscience! Rebecca Day discards her mainstream make-up bag and opens our eyes to the world of natural, cruelty-free beauty products.


he history of make-up spans back thousands and thousands of years. Ancient Egyptians used cosmetics to embellish their looks through the use of oils and eyeliners. They were slightly mystified by the discovery that this makeup also prevented bacterial infection due to a mild toxic content. These ‘magical’ qualities gave the products an allure which Egyptian women couldn’t resist. Cosmetics then spread across to Rome and Greece, where they became a privilege of only the ruling classes. Financially unfortunate types viewed the products as unnecessary and extravagant. The reputation of beauty products declined further during Europe’s Middle Ages when wearing make-up was even classed as a sin by the church. It wasn’t until the Victorian era that cosmetics made a re-emergence. The 19th century was about ‘ladies’ presenting themselves as beautiful through the utilisation of make-up and elaborate clothing. Industrialisation brought about advancements in technology, medicine and chemistry, enabling a great change in the formation of their cosmetics. With the 20th century came photography, film and rapid communication which paved the way for the modern cosmetic industry many of us know today. Not only have advances in technology allowed for cosmetics to be mass produced using a concoction of chemicals, but it has also allowed large cosmetic companies to promote their brand through the utilisation of media platforms. We are constantly surrounded by images of women in the media with flawless skin; they have no bags under their eyes, no spots lacing their chins and no blemishes on their cheeks. It could be said that the beauty industry profits from this image of the ‘ideal’ face by suggesting that using their advertised products achieves the same air-brushed complexion! However, toxic ingredients existing in these High Street brands often go unnoticed – women are more likely to discuss the coverage of a product rather than how beneficial it is for our skin, the environment and animals.

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The beauty industry is one of the fastest growing industries globally. Whilst researching statistics about women in the UK who wear make-up, it became evident that cosmetics play a large role in many of our daily lives. We wear make-up for a variety of reasons: to look younger, to feel more confident and to hide blemishes. In a poll conducted in 2011 by High Street chain, Superdrug, it revealed that a third of women wear make-up every time they leave their homes. According to a more recent study carried out for the Vitality Show, two thirds of women were ‘too scared’ to go to work without wearing make-up. Whilst this reveals women’s reliance on makeup, just how many are aware of what their cosmetics contain and the ethical credentials of global brands?

cruelty-free & vegan

The good news is that testing cosmetic products on animals has been banned throughout Europe since 2004. Testing cosmetic ingredients was banned in 2009. However, only until recently, it was still legal to sell products which had been tested on animals elsewhere in the world. “The EU sales ban on all animal-tested cosmetics, introduced this year, reflects the public’s conviction that vanity cannot come before animals’ lives,” confirms Ben Williamson, the spokesperson for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). However, animals are still used for testing across the globe for sales elsewhere, having chemicals dripped into their eyes and rubbed into their skin. China’s policy on make-up products still needs to be tackled. Before new products can go on sale in China, they must be submitted for testing to the Chinese authorities, which normally involves a range of animal tests. “Thanks to a generous grant from PETA US, scientists in China are now being trained in the use of nonanimal test methods and working with officials to have these methods adopted,” says Ben. “China is currently in the process of implementing its first-ever non-animal methods for testing cosmetic ingredients.” Although testing products on animals has been banned in the EU, animal by-products can still be found in products sold on the High Street. “The list of excretions and body parts that go

into some beauty products is enough to make anyone’s skin crawl,” discloses Ben. “From cow’s urine and sheep placenta, to lanolin squeezed from slaughtered sheep carcass... even beaver genitals. People are unwittingly paying high prices to rub bee vomit onto their skin or wash their hair with gel made from boiled-down horse hooves.” Other animal and insect products which can be found in cosmetics on the High Street include shark liver oil (squalene); crushed beetle (carmine), often used in bright lipstick and fish scales (guanine), found in nail varnishes and shampoo to give the product a shimmery look. ‘Natural’ make-up brushes may be made from animal hair – such as goats and squirrels – because the bristles give good coverage. “With greater education and awareness of the cruelty associated with animal experiments, consumers around the world will increasingly demand crueltyfree products,” states Ben. Cruelty Free International were instrumental in achieving this year’s European ban on animal-tested cosmetics and toiletries. Around 500 cosmetic companies worldwide are now certified under Cruelty Free International’s ‘Leaping Bunny’ certification, including The Body Shop and Marks & Spencer. Michelle Thew, Cruelty Free International’s Chief Executive, explains that until Cruelty Free International achieves a global ban, the logo will continue to be the only guarantee that animals are not used for testing. Certified companies must monitor their supply chain and open their companies to a regular audit programme. Any company which fails its audit is required to rectify any issues or it will lose its certification. It is estimated that around 15,000 cosmetic ingredients have already been proven safe to use. Michelle confirms that every day more companies are saying no to animal testing, and are continuing to produce safe and effective products. By sticking to the many combinations of existing ingredients, companies are able to produce

products that have already been established as safe for human use and better for animals who no longer have to suffer. However, although the products are stamped with the Leaping Bunny, it may not necessarily mean that the product is vegan, as some cosmetics will inevitably contain animal-derived ingredients. “While many companies that adopt a no-animal testing policy do also produce vegan products,

the two claims need to be assessed separately,” says Michelle. “Similarly, just because a product is described as ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ it does not necessarily mean the product was not tested on animals.” Cruelty Free International highlights companies offering vegan or vegetarian products as part of their range. By searching on, consumers can find a full list of Leaping Bunny certified companies, and check which companies produce vegan or vegetarian products too.

chemical-free & organic

Not only is it essential to choose products which are cruelty-free and vegan, but it is also vital to purchase cosmetics which are free from harmful chemicals. According to a variety of sources, it takes around 26 seconds for the skin to absorb any product. Ian Taylor from Green People suggests that up to 60% of some ingredients used in cosmetics may be absorbed through the skin and enter the bloodstream. “Substances absorbed in this way bypass the liver where detoxification takes place and instead can be circulated around the body where they may interact with living cells,” explains Ian. “By avoiding potentially toxic ingredients in make-up the risks from this exposure are considerably reduced.” There are many undesirable ingredients in cosmetics that consumers need to avoid. Parabens are a type of preservative, which many mainstream cosmetic companies use to prevent the growth of microbes. Putting this ingredient into their makeup, companies can guarantee that their products will sustain a long shelf-life. However, research carried out by the University of Reading and the University Hospital of South Manchester which focussed on 40 women being treated for breast cancer, revealed that parabens were present in 99% of breast cancer tissues. Whilst we may not be certain that parabens are a cause of cancer, it’s certainly alarming that this research revealed the ingredient to have such a presence in the human body. Parabens have caused such an alarm that there is even talk of banning the ingredient in products throughout Europe. Others include mineral oil, a by-product of petroleum, which is used in anything that is in liquid form as a filler to make products cheaper. Disposing of petroleum is very expensive, so oil companies sell it cheaply on to cosmetic companies. It can also go by names such as paraffin or petroleum jelly and is found in a majority of UK cosmetic brands. The ingredient gives skin a smooth texture and also has a long shelf-life – any cosmetic company’s dream! So, what are the dangers of mineral oil? When placed on the skin, it can have a very similar effect to wrapping your body in cling film – it blocks pores, consequently trapping bacteria and doesn’t allow the skin to breath. Skin becomes dehydrated through its incapability to absorb moisture – something which is essential for keeping the skin looking young and fresh. Mineral oils can therefore be labelled as one of the culprits for skin ageing, along with too much sun exposure. Phthalates, commonly used to soften plastic and to provide the scent in air fresheners and detergents, has also shown up in a range of cosmetics and nail polishes. It’s main purpose is to hold the scent and colour of make-up products. Extensive research has revealed that it disrupts hormones, and can be particularly harmful if used by pregnant women. Formaldehyde, an ingredient also used in nail varnishes and other skin care products, is understood to trigger allergic skin reactions. Furthermore, bismuth

inspired times   issue 17  summer 2013      5

oxychloride – a by-product of refined tin, lead and copper – is known to commonly cause skin irritation. It would appear that mainstream cosmetic companies often select ingredients based on business rather than principles – increasing profits come before people’s health. But there are a number of companies which ensure their cosmetics are not only safe for our skin, but kind to the environment and our little furry friends too. Green People is one of the most prominent companies committed to offering consumers ‘natural, organic and highly effective’ products. With all cosmetics registered by the Vegan Society, they also believe that it’s a ‘fundamental right’ to know exactly what their products contain. “Being ethical affects everything you do as a company,” declares Ian. “This includes making sure you don’t source ingredients and products from countries or companies that have human rights issues. It also means sourcing ingredients that are sustainably produced and which do not cause harm to the environment or users of the products.” The Ethical Company Organisation have awarded Ethical Accreditation to the Green People Company – the first cosmetics company to achieve this award. “Some companies produce products with minimal levels of organic ingredients and claim that their finished products are organic,” he clarifies. “We think this is misleading, therefore our products contain the highest possible level of organic ingredients.” All of Green People’s make-up is independently certified organic either by EcoCert or by Organic Food Federation under their Non-Food Certification Company scheme. “This gives customers the confidence that these products are genuinely organic,” he adds.

because we’re worth it...

Berith Sandgren-Clarke, an image specialist and Arbonne International independent consultant, became involved in the beauty industry because of her love for people. “I’m passionate about helping women in particular,” she enthuses. “I enjoy making them feel more confident about themselves.” Having worked as an image consultant for around 11 years, Berith has developed a profound knowledge about skincare. “Women are good at going on diets and eating well. However, if they are using facial products which block the cells, their skin will react badly. They often don’t realise that what they apply to their skin is harmful.”

6      inspired times   issue 17  summer 2013

When purchasing products, Berith reminds us of the importance of looking at the item’s shelf-life. “Because parabens are carcinogenic and used as a preservative, when purchasing we must check how long the item will stay fresh – if it’s less than 12 months it normally means it’s paraben-free.” Although mascara can last up to six months, Berith suggests that it should not be used for any longer than three. “The water, or oil, in our mascara attracts a lot of germs and bacteria which live in our eyelashes,” she says, and recommends we go for smaller packaging when shopping. The products which Berith works with are all based on pure, botanical ingredients, putting consumers’ safety at the heart of their cosmetics. Their make-up is free from animal by-products, and toxic chemicals. Containing vitamins B, C and E, Arbonne products are classed as ‘cosmeceuticals’. “If you don’t take the make-up off, it actually does the skin good,” clarifies Berith. “The make-up contains enough goodness, through the use of botanical technology, to help the skin rejuvenate itself.” For years, Jameela Kosar – the founder of Bohemian Chic Minerals – struggled to find make-up that didn’t react badly with her skin. “It seemed everything I put on my face made me break out in some kind of rash, whether it was using make-up or skin care products,” she recalls. “Eye shadows made my eyes puffy; it looked like I had eczema. My face even started flaking – it was horrible!” With a beauty qualification, wearing and experimenting with make-up was an essential part of Jameela’s life. Walking through Uxbridge one day, she was approached by a woman selling mineral cosmetics. Not long after receiving a make-over, and loving the coverage it gave, the itching and redness soon returned. There were a few ingredients in the products which just didn’t work for Jameela’s skin – the products which contained bismuth oxychloride, talc or kaolin (a natural clay which can cause skin dehydration) reacted the worse with her skin. Her alarming outbreaks from these cosmetics made her search for less harmful alternatives. Two years ago, Jameela founded Bohemian Chic Minerals, a company whose products are ‘100% pure, natural and beautiful, and also suitable for vegans’. “It took a while to find the right formula,” she discloses. “The process took so long; it wasn’t easy and was sometimes very boring, but it had to be done.” The main ingredients in her products are mica, iron dioxide and titanium dioxide, which works well as a non-inflammatory. ‘CI’ numbers – colour additives – in her products are created through an oxidation process, allowing items such as foundation to match with different skin tones. I asked what makes a powder bad for the skin. “It all depends how it is formulated: to create powders, ingredients are grounded down to nano particles which become absorbed into the pores,” explains Jameela. “Because these powders are too fine, they block up the skin, not allowing our faces to breath – we therefore feed our skin with lots of unhealthy chemicals.” Having noticed a great improvement in her skin since using her own products, she stands firm by her ethos that the less harmful ingredients in a product, the better. Most of us know that processed food is unhealthy and we would prefer to fill our bodies with natural, nourishing ingredients. The same should apply for our skin. Whether its cosmetics, or general skincare, choosing certified products will ensure our conscience and complexion remain equally clear.

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spiritua y t i l a u t i r i p s lity a u t i r i sp t u i r i p y s y t t i l i a l u t i r i a p u s ality spirit a spiritu


u t i r i p ity s



Road to Peace... First-time Director, Leon Stuperich, answers some questions about his recent release, Road to Peace. Leon was granted unprecedented access to the Dalai Lama during a visit to the UK, and thus a very insightful documentary into his life and work was born.


How did it materialise that you could have access to the Dalai Lama for this film?


Road to Peace is the first film I have directed. We were speaking with the Dalai Lama’s representatives in London about another film and what emerged was an invitation for me to put in a proposal to document the Dalai Lama’s visit to the UK in the following year. Of course I jumped at the chance and quickly knew that what I wanted to portray was the nature of Dalai Lama, and his message that inspires hundreds of millions of people around the world.

Q. When did this happen? A. Filming began in 2008 with the wonderful support of the

Tibet Society in London. It took a further four years of editing, finding archive material etc, to finish the film. The real task was to ensure the film captured the true spirit of the man himself; the human side of the Dalai Lama. Not just the political side that is so often represented in the media, but the humanitarian and spiritual leader that attracts crowds of thousands of people to hear him speak. We are delighted with the final result and to see so many people deeply moved from watching the film.

Q. Tell us a little about the journey from filming to completion. A. When making a film about a person, the only way to truly tell the message is to understand it on a deep, personal level. So making a film about the Dalai Lama was a

fascinating and deeply profound process. Not only to honour his message of Peace, Compassion and Universal Love, but also to represent the Dalai Lama in his true light. The film was screened dozens of times with test audiences and this was a crucial part of the creative process. It is the only way to know if the film is connecting with the heart of an audience. The film is an experience rather than just a movie. When we hold screenings we like to emphasise this with Buddhist chanting, live music and dialogue.


What struck you most about the Dalai Lama whilst in his presence?


We were very lucky to have incredible intimate behindthe-scenes access to the Dalai Lama. The most remarkable thing to notice is how humble he is, whilst at the same time extremely self-confident. When he meets people, regardless of their status, he greats everybody in the same manner. Whether it’s the Prime Minister or someone in a crowd on the street. But when he talks to you he pays you full attention, and for those few moments it feels as if there is nobody else but you and him. His gentle but powerful warmth and kindness exudes from him and he really does seem to mean what he says when he describes himself as a ‘simple Buddhist Monk’.

Q. How did the experience impact you personally? A. Every time I watch the film I understand a little bit more about the Dalai Lama and his message. The remarkable

“When he talks to you he pays you full attention, and for those few moments it feels as if there is nobody else but you and him.” 8

inspired times  issue 17  summer 2013

ality spiritu a


uality s p i r i t u


a l ity sp s p i r i t u a l ity spiritua irituality lity spirit



s p ir it u a lity

Inspiring Books Awakening the Laughing Buddha Within by Joe Hoare & the Barefoot Doctor

thing is that it’s not so much about his words, but the way he is in himself – it’s how he is with the people he meets that is the most inspiring. So, he sets an example of how we can be more peaceful and compassionate in our lives, and he embodies the message he shares. I have absorbed a lot of the wisdom that he shared with us, and many of his sayings have become mantras for my own life. For me, the real impact comes from learning to be – to behave, in a more compassionate way.

Q. What do you feel is the message of this film? A. Change starts within. Not just personal change, but

if we want to change the world for the better then we must change ourselves first. As Gandhi famously said, “be the change you wish to see in the world”. If you become more peaceful, then the world has already changed. But what we DO, is the most important factor. The Dalai Lama’s message is a call to action, to get up and solve the problems we face in the world. So education is just as important as developing inner values.

Q. How can our readers get to watch Road to Peace? A. We are currently doing the rounds at the film festivals,

recently winning the Audience Award for Best Feature Documentary at the Albuquerque Film and Media Experience (AFME) in New Mexico. We are also hosting screening events around the country and you can buy the DVD from our website.

For more information and to watch the trailer, visit:

This book has been described as a story, a manual and a guide to help you awaken your own Laughing Buddha within. Joe Hoare has been running courses in Laughter Yoga and NLS (Natural Laughter Skills) for over 30 years, whilst the Barefoot Doctor is a master of the Taoist martial arts and a doctor of Chinese medicine. Through his own personal experiences and journey of self-development, Joe Hoare presents insights relating to laughter, known to Eastern philosophy for thousands of years. Within each section the Barefoot Doctor bestows practical exercises drawn from the ancient Taoist system of wellbeing – supporting you on your own ‘Laughing Buddha’ path. Celebrate the power of laughter as a key to the deep reserves of creativity and contentment within us all. This is a collaboration not to be missed!

Manuscript Found in Accra by Paulo Coelho

Written in a similar style to Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet with a ‘question/answer’ structure, this book has received mixed reviews. The narrator claims to be transcribing a manuscript written in 1099 on the eve of the Crusaders’ invasion of Jerusalem. It recounts the dialogue of a mysterious Greek man who counsels a group of men and women about their most pressing questions on beauty, love, courage and so forth. Wisdom jumps from the pages, but rather than read it cover to cover, maybe just dip in when the mood catches you.

inspired times  issue 17  summer 2013


parvati val Sharon Henshall recently spent time in Monte Sahaja, Portugal, with Mooji and his Sangha. She found herself regularly drawn to a small valley within its undulating lands. Being immersed in nature’s gentle beauty created inner space and a deeper clarity.


unlight soaked my tilted face as I sat crosslegged on a wooden bench tucked within Parvati Valley – no, not in the Indian Himalayas, but within the peaceful hills of Portugal. My heart felt deeply touched by this magical spot which, only a year prior, had been hidden by brambles. Today it brimmed with new life, some of which had been lovingly planted and some of which were simply nature’s gifts; now breathing freely since the uprooting of those thorny bushes. It was springtime and I was volunteering at Monte Sahaja, home to Mooji, a master of the advaita tradition, and to a warm and wonderful community. This was my final morning of what had unfolded as an incredibly profound nine-day experience.

a call for silence The Sangha, which is the Sanskrit word for community of Truth, are working together to create contemplative areas on the land, with the intention to host retreats in the future, and Parvati Valley is one such nook. Last September I’d attended a silent retreat with Mooji at the nearby eco-resort Zmar. It had fired up a yearning to spend some time immersed within his wisdom, and gratefully offer whatever I could for all I’d understood in his presence. I arrived with no preconceived ideas of what I would find here, unsure of how I could help, and clueless on whether I would feel inclined to put pen to paper. However Parvati Valley soon enveloped me in her sweet embrace – from the first time I was steered up her steep banks on a land tour, I had known instantly that this particular place of beauty would be special for me.

10      inspired times  issue 17  summer 2013

daily unfoldings Mooji’s presence and guidance created a strong loving energy, unlike any I’d experienced before. Following a warm welcome from each and every member of the community, my days were spent with a mix of activities; I varnished a table, planted bulbs, fertilised new trees, weeded, raked, cooked and cleaned. Working outdoors and away from my computer was a welcome change from Bristol life and I witnessed so many of my thoughts, judgements and outdated habits fall away. A stillness within the Monte Sahaja community allowed space to reconnect with my true inner nature. I found pleasure from each task, but whenever there was a spare moment, I beelined for one particular place to offer up my help... Parvati Valley. The kiss of torrential rain which fell for three months over winter, bestowed springtime with a green lushness and an abundance of colour. Grass soon grew tall and clusters of wildflowers danced in the breeze. A strimmer was organised to ‘draw back the curtains’ within Parvati Valley, unveiling an array of plants and blooms which had been planted over the year. As I raked the soft fallen grass away it felt as though I was also shedding my own overgrown sense of self. Each stroke revealed a deeper clarity and space that had seemingly become lost amidst a jungle of thoughts. Something kept calling me back and Parvati Valley became my regular early morning stop off before breakfast. Wandering down from my camping spot in the ‘Upper Himalayas’ my feet seemed to walk me directly there. I quite liked handing my decision making

lley to my tootsies! Each visit would uncover something new, with its array of shelters, a pond and even a swing to entice me to sit for a while. I would close my eyes and listen. A melting pot of buzzing, bird song and general wildlife chatter filled the air. Two green speckled frogs once caught me by surprise when they leapt into the pond for their early morning swim. On one particular day I planted some rather dowdy brown bulbs, unsure of whether they would ever push through the soil to show the world what secrets were held inside. If not this year, maybe next... maybe never; it all now pointed to a deeper understanding. Sinking into such natural surrounds seems to remove the dirt from our eyes – far from the bustling city lifestyles which often blow smoke rings into our minds. Most of us have experienced those moments which occur when gazing at stunning views – something falls away to leave us in a state of stillness and peace. Nature unquestionably reminds us of our natural state... where ‘nothing’ reigns supreme over ‘something’. A thoughtless state – not because thoughts don’t appear, they just don’t rule. It’s as if at these moments, the universe waves its wand and banishes what cannot be taken with us to the grave. Which, of course, is everything. Or, as Mooji puts it: “If you want to go all the way, throw all away”.

judgement to my vast mix of emotions, they simply came and went without any struggle or suffering; sadness and happiness, anger and peace, shyness and openness – nothing needed to be suppressed or held onto. For me, the sweet energy of Parvati Valley represented that of Monte Sahaja and Mooji; everything naturally unfolding in a true way which was neither ego-driven or forced. Whether I was chopping vegetables, brushing varnish onto an old wooden table, pulling weeds, sharing moments with the community, listening to Mooji’s wisdom or even feeding the neighbouring farmer’s pigs – an awareness of a natural state and love remained strong. Although easier to remember when sun-kissed and surrounded by wildflowers, Parvati Valley reminded me that wherever we are, whatever is happening, whatever actions occupy our time, each moment holds the possibility of pure peace. And just as I trusted my feet to take me to Parvati Valley, I trust that even within my busy inner-city existence, freedom can be experienced without moving an inch.

For details about future retreats with Mooji, visit

harmonious chaos So, as I sat in Parvati Valley on my final morning, everything fell away. Not in the sense of no longer caring about anything or anyone – in fact, upon recognition that everything is transient, a deeper love and gratitude for all that comes my way bubbled up. And rather than the thoughts themselves disappearing, it was my attachment which dissolved – to judgements, concepts, preconceived ideas... and the rest. As I absorbed the scene of harmonious chaos, everything felt so simple; multitudes of plants and wildlife simply resided together, without discrimination. Similarly, if I didn’t attach any

inspired times   issue 17  summer 2013      11

roses got my heart singing Karen Lawton shares her life-long love of roses. She sings fragrant praises of this quintessentially English bloom and all of its magic.


t is the height of summer and in between rain showers the balmy scent of the rose is calling to me like never before.

I have had a connection with the beautiful rose from a young age – my grandmother, a keen gardener, specially prized her rose garden. My first concoctions were crushing smooth, pale peach petals for rosewater potions. I remember feeling slightly cheated as the petals browned and lost their beauty over time. Roses have a long and colourful history. They have been symbols of love, beauty, war, and politics. This year I seem to be reconnecting with her on a very deep level, hardly a plant I pass without needing to go have a chat, sniff and stroke. I have been amazed at the sheer diversity of roses growing in my little village alone. In nature, the genus Rosa has some 150 species spread throughout the Northern Hemisphere, and then there are all the hybrids created for our gardens. Apparently there are over 30,000 varieties, leading to the most complicated family tree of any known flower species. Garden cultivation of roses began some 5,000 years ago, in Asia. She truly is an ancient ancestor, with fossil evidence aging her at 35 million years old. Included in her vast botanical family called the Rosacea family are hawthorns, apples, plums, raspberries and ‘ladies mantle’ to name a few, most having astringent cooling qualities as medicines.

The rose is a rose, And was always a rose. But now the theory goes That the apple’s a rose, And the pear is, and so’s The plum, I suppose. The dear only knows What will next prove a rose. You, of course, are a rose-But were always a rose. by Robert Frost 1874-1963


There has been one particular rambling rose with pinky, peach petals that has been attracting me; she sits on the corner of a valley on our walk to and from school. So enticing is her magic, we have been late a few times. She has been teaching us the joy of being soft, delicate and approachable, with clearly marketed boundaries... over step them and you’ll get a sharp reprimand!

Once ready, we strain out the petals and are left with a powerful, brilliant, ‘Rose Petal’ tincture. We have long used her sexy, deep red fruits, the rosehips to make syrups packed with valuable nourishment in the form of vitamins & minerals. It tastes delicious. The content of ascorbic acid/ vitamin C in hips is 10 times more than in blackcurrant, 50 times more than in lemon and 100 times more than in apples.

Rosa Heartspetal we have named her, and in spirit she is the elderly midwife, who has seen and birthed so much with generosity and kindness, never taking any nonsense, full of gifts of nurture and infinite knowledge. Her delicate petals, perfectly heart shaped as in our native Dog Rose (Rosa Canina), provides real heart support, cools anxieties and steadies the nerves. We make a tincture out of the petals; roses are under the

There have been plenty of studies documenting how the hips have given numerous folk relief from arthritis. We use tinctures and powders for this, and also heart conditions, very effectively. One of our favourite remedies are our ‘Drops of Love’ made from rose tincture, rosehip syrup and peppermint tincture mixed together. These beautifully cooling and centring drops gently nourish and support the nervous and digestive systems.

domain of Venus so we do this on a Friday (ruled by Venus) around the full moon. This ensures all the energies of the plant are up in the ariel parts. So we harvest the petals on a dry bright day, filling a jar to the brim with the petals, asking or setting intentions for what the medicine can gift us. Covering the petals with good quality vodka, we then leave it in a cool place for a lunar cycle to brew.

inspired times  issue 17  summer 2013

Peppermint helps to clear a fuzzy head and calm digestion, thus aiding the free-flow of all mental processes. The word ‘mint’ derives from the Latin for ‘thought’. Rose has an amazing history as a symbol of mystical or divine love. It is used here for its uplifting, calming properties. The binding nature of the tannins found in rose gives the potential for containment of nervous energy and erratic patterns. And, finally, the delicious, nourishing rosehip syrup is made from the Wild Dog rose. Its vastly nutritious makeup provides a wonderfully nurturing support system for the whole body, mind and spirit.

Karen Lawton creates herbal potions with ‘Witch Sista’ Fiona. They now teach their craft via Sensory Herbcraft Apprenticeships.

have your


If there is anything you’d like to tell us about; thoughts on life, fun events, hobbies etc., please email us:

I surrender... and it’s about time

I have spent 20 years fighting with my spine. Osteopaths, massages, tai chi, Alexander technique, physiotherapy and many well-learned individuals offering advice, such as: “You don’t have a bad back, you’re using it wrong”. This assumption that my back was structurally sound spurred me on to improve myself, my posture, strength and learning to relax. A good thing too, as this brought me to yoga, and then to India to train as a yoga teacher – one with a very unusual perspective of truly knowing how difficult inflexibility can be. I have felt all the frustrations, compared myself with others in class, felt like I was failing, and wondered if I was simply making a fool of myself. Recently I found out I do in fact have a bad back. My stomach sank when I saw the black and white, back-lit image at the chiropractor’s. My spine. Messed. Up. I was most likely born with this defect. Huh! I knew something was wrong! The searing pain I experienced while growing through puberty is now explained – my spine wouldn’t budge as I grew. I’ve always had a stubborn streak. Stubborn to the bone! So I wallowed for a few hours. I felt like a fraudulent teacher, denied the poses many others take for granted. But then it hit me: all these years of struggling – I haven’t been doing anything wrong! I tell my students to accept where they’re at, and now, at last, I truly can too. Finally I can remove myself from the exception I’ve imposed on myself. I accept we are all different, even me, I can stop comparing myself to others and to my own expectations. Finally I can accept my limitations. I surrender... and it’s about time.

Laura Ann Murphy, Bristol

sail cargo, sail eco...

During my years spent travelling through Africa and Asia, I also volunteered and involved myself with Fair Trade organisations. Gradually, I became aware of the imbalances and transport problems which faced small producers and their communities. It wasn’t until I moved to Japan and started a family that I searched for a project that could tackle some of those problems head on. Whilst in Tokyo I met Pat Utley, the Director of Greenheart – a newly formed project which aimed to resolve these complex issues. I was keen to know how we could close the circle of Fair Trade; to pick up goods close to farms or factory gates, and deliver them directly – without CO2 – to the dinner plate. Greenheart had an answer; this not-for-profit organisation designs and builds zero-emissions sail and solar powered ships for the developing world. The vision is to have thousands of these vessels in the hands of coastal communities, cooperatively owned, a crew of local sailors and the returns benefiting the local people. One challenge was keeping to the founding principles – simple operation, appropriate level technology, low cost and low environmental impact. After a few years of volunteering in the concept stage, things started to get more serious in 2009. Designs were firmed up and the project management became more professional. Things were developing well... until March 2011. Japan was hit by the tsunami and the Fukushima disaster. My wife and I had spent a couple of years building a natural house and small organic farm, but sadly lost those at this time. The Greenheart team chose to divert their energies to tsunami relief operations throughout the year. On a personal level, seeing the vulnerability of coastal communities really brought home the importance of reliable ships – the need to have other energy solutions for the future. Once focused back on Greenheart, we redoubled our efforts. I went full time as the Commercial Director and sponsors came on board. We have now started the build on the first ship in Bangladesh and are selling ‘shares’ for our maiden voyage. People can transport goods or join us as working crew on this first 2-year round the world voyage. I hope you will be able to join us. Gavin Allwright, Miyagi, Japan

“How wonderful that no one need wait a single moment to improve the world.” Anne Frank inspired times issue 17 summer 2013


Yoga Teacher Training Inspired Times’ yogini, Lila Conway, will hold a Teacher Training Course high in the Indian Himalayas this October. We pose some questions to delve deeper into just what yoga students can expect. Tell us a little about your yogic journey. I began practicing yoga at home in the 90s, my first yoga teacher was the New Book of Yoga by Sivananda. The real love affair began around 14 years ago when I went to a Sivananda Yoga class in Thailand… it felt very familiar to me and sparked an intense yearning to learn more. I immediately went on to India to further my studies and this naturally led to me completing my Yoga Teacher Training in 2001. I spent the following 8 years living as a volunteer within the Sivananda ashrams in India and Canada, totally immersing in a rigorous ashram schedule and yogic lifestyle. Although it was difficult at times, it was a life changing and completely transformational experience which I will always be grateful for. My duties were vast and varied from training yoga teachers to being the senior Swami’s personal secretary. I returned to the UK in 2008 and established Yoga Prema School of Yoga in Bristol.

accommodation is simple and the ashram offers either single rooms or shared twin rooms with attached bathroom. The grounds are spacious, very green and the beauty of it is that the ashram overlooks the river Ganges. As we are a little higher than road level it is very peaceful and quiet in the ashram, which is of course necessary due to the nature of the course. To join this course, what level of yoga is required? We don’t expect students to be at an advanced level but at least to have some prior experience of yoga. The curriculum is rigorous and wonderfully intense so people really do need to understand it is not a yoga holiday, but a intensive month to really explore and immerse deeply into the teachings on all levels. The course is also open to sincere students who may not necessarily be interested in teaching yoga but who would like to take their practice to the next level

psychological and spiritual aspects of yoga into daily life. The training focuses not only on traditional hatha yoga and the physical postures but we also explore yoga’s ancient sacred texts and five-thousand-year-old traditions, as well as the benefits that develop with a steady practice and the spiritual power that is set free when energy flows throughout the heart, body and mind. Who will teach the philosophy of yoga, alongside you, on this course? We are very blessed to have Swami Guruprasad from Kerala, India, sharing his expert knowledge in the field of Yogic philosophy, Vedanta and also the Bhagavad Gita.

Why have you picked this particular location in India for the course?

Can students set up their own yoga classes straight after this course?

Rishikesh is known as the yoga capital of the world. For many years saints and sages have chosen Rishikesh as a place to do their spiritual practice. For example, Swami Sivananda, Swami Vivekananda and Swami Rama, practiced, studied and shared teachings here. Rishikesh shot to fame in the 60s when The Beatles visited their Guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram in Rishikesh. Even to this day, current enlightened Masters such as Prem Baba and Mooji are giving discourses to hundreds of spiritual aspirants in Rishikesh. The location itself is situated right on the banks of the river Ganges and at the foothills of the Himalayas. It is a pilgrimage/sacred area and it is believed that practicing yoga and meditation here will lead to enlightenment.

Yes, all graduates of the course are encouraged to start teaching as soon as possible. As a registered School of Yoga with Yoga Alliance, graduates are automatically eligible to register as a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT). Our certificate is internationally recognised and can be used to obtain Yoga Teaching Insurance. We endeavour to support students after the course and encourage their continued study with us.

What is the accommodation like? Yoga Niketan Ashram is a yoga ashram with a traditional feel. The


. What can students expect when attending this course?

What makes a good yoga teacher? Our courses are based upon the traditional Gurukulam system of learning, whereby the students and teachers live together in an ashram environment, to immerse in the daily study, practice and teachings of yoga. The 200 hour training programme includes an in-depth experience and understanding four paths of yoga – Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Raja Yoga and Jnana Yoga. It provides a blueprint for incorporating the physical,

inspired times issue 17 summer 2013

To teach yoga we need to share what we have understood through our own practice and study and share from the heart. A yoga teacher is not a preacher but a practitioner who has a passion for this beautiful science and a sincerity to share its wisdom for the benefit of others. We endeavour to train excellent yoga teachers and provide the skills to help each person confidently teach yoga.

Sensory Herbcra Apprenticeship Come and Reconnect with your local Plants This initial one-year Apprenticeship is designed to introduce you to the Ancient, Magic and Practical art that is Herbal Medicine. You will learn to communicate with the plant world and create beautiful remedies, using all of your senses, for the treatment of yourself, your friends and your family. Come on this journey to be guided through the elements represented in each season and follow the path through the riches of the plant world: URRWVOHDYHVÀRZHUVVHHGV This one-year course is made up of 4 residential, fully-catered weekend seminars. There will also be the option of additional trips and apprentice days. You will compile your own Herbal Materia medica of the plants covered on the course. This involves detailed observations through drawings, photos, pressing parts and making notes to create your beautiful book. Investment: £1300. Location: YHA Lea Valley Village, Hertfordshire EN8 9AJ. |

Fiona 07830 195 745 |Karen 0786 508 1927

Karen and Fiona write for JUNO and have many years experience teaching and practicing with plants. Check out their articles in this addition.

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Living Ayurveda

Excellence in Ayurveda training Ayurveda Academy • Ayurvedic Massage Therapy ¡ certificate ¡ 14/18 October • Ayurveda / Yoga for Birth Educators ¡ certificate ¡ 5/6/26/27 October, 8/9 November • Ayurvedic Lifestyle and Diet ¡ diploma 6-mth, 150-hrs, 4-modules, start date September Don’t just take our word for it, read what our students say! ‘Dear [Tri-Dosha], you are an inspiration and a true wonder. This course has been pivotal for me, both personally and professionally and I need to say a huge thank you.’ Love and Light, Sue ‘[Tri-Dosha] what can I say? Fantastic, amazing, wonderful, enlightening, fulfilling. This course is one of my absolute top rated, I enjoyed every aspect. Thank you so very, very much.’ Best wishes, Amanda

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easy steps to sum W

e all want clear glowing skin through the summer months. Whilst good skin care is of vital importance, many of us overlook the importance of what we eat and the impact it has on our appearance. There are a few dietary strategies we can implement to start looking fabulous fast.

fat soluble antioxidants We have all heard a million times that antioxidants are good for the skin. But often all antioxidants are clubbed together and we assume that they all benefit us in the same way. To benefit the skin, we need ones that are fat soluble as these will, by their very nature, diffuse out into the skin where they can protect it from damage and reduce inflammation. Go for foods that are naturally orange, red or yellow in colour to provide these.

face fats One of the most important groups of nutrients for skin health are essential fatty acids, such as omega 3. These help to plump out the skin and help it to retain

moisture. But most importantly they help to drastically improve any inflammatory issue on the skin. Problems like acne, eczema, and psoriasis for example all have inflammation at their core – this is what causes the redness. Omega 3 fatty acids provide the body with the building blocks it needs to create its own in-built anti-inflammatory compounds, which reduce redness and swelling in such conditions. Oily fish, nuts, seeds all provide these.

magic minerals Minerals are often the forgotten and unsung nutritional heroes, and are vital for skin health. Sulphur found in onions and eggs help tighten the bonds between skin cells, giving a smoother skin. Zinc in shellfish and pumpkin seeds help to even out oil production and fight infection. Selenium in brazil nuts helps skin cells breakdown by products of free radical activity.

Carrot, apple, beetroot & celery juice This deeply coloured juice is incredibly potent. I know it may seem weird to a lot of you to drink vegetable juices with fruit juices, but I assure you, it is really tasty. The sweetness of the apple really comes through and takes your mind off the fact that there are veggies in there.

Benefits Carrots


Carrots are a very dense source of beta carotene. This is of course the plant form of vitamin A, and the most powerful of the carotenoids – the fat soluble antioxidants. Just to give you an idea as to how well these compounds accumulate in the subcutaneous layer of the skin, there is actually a condition called hypercarotenemia. This is where the skin of people who eat a lot of carrots, will actually turn orange due to the sheer level of carotenoids that have accumulated in the skin. That’s proof!  

Simply run all ingredients through a juicer... and that’s it!

Apples have a high vitamin C content, and also contain a powerful chemical called ellagic

Ingredients 1 large carrot 1 large apple 1 small raw beetroot 2 sticks of celery


inspired times issue 17 summer 2013


mer skin

Dale Pinnock, also known as the Medicinal Chef, shares top tips & tasty recipes sure to have your skin glowing this summer...

Spicy black bean & Jerusalem artichoke soup This is quite a filling soup, and a great digestive tonic!


1 red onion - finely chopped 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped 1 stick of celery - finely chopped 3 Jerusalem artichokes 400g can of black beans - drained


Add the onion, garlic, and celery to a pan with a little olive oil, and sauté until the onion softens. At this point, add the Jerusalem artichokes, and the black beans, and add enough vegetable stock to just cover the ingredients. Simmer until the Jerusalem artichokes soften. Blend until smooth.


Black beans Black beans are definitely unsung heroes in the world of pulses. They are bursting to the hilt with nutrients and phytochemicals. Firstly, they are rich sources of the B vitamins, which help to support almost every aspect of skin physiology. They are also incredibly rich in zinc, which helps regulate oil production in the skin, and also support immunity which can help in managing infected skin lesions. However, black beans really come into their own when we look at their phytochemistry. The black pigment on their outer layer is actually made up of a complex of different anthocyanins. These are the same colour pigments that are found in red grapes, blueberries, acai berries etc. They include compounds such as delphinidin, petunidin, and malvidin. These compounds deliver some notable anti-inflammatory activity so can be

a useful part of managing any inflammatory skin lesion. Black beans also have a very high level of non soluble fibre. This is true of all beans and pulses, but the insoluble fibre in black beans is rather unique. This is because gut bacteria can easily ferment it down to create a substance called butyric acid. This magic compound has an almost rejuvenative effect on the gut wall, so can massively enhance elimination, plus the absorption of some nutrients. These two things combined will help to improve overall nutritional status, which can only aid the skin in functioning better as an organ.  

Jerusalem Artichokes These wonderful and unusual vegetables are another digestive dynamo. They contain special types of sugar, called fructo oligosaccharides and inulin, that work as a food source for the good bacteria in the gut. When gut flora feed on these vital sugars, they start to reproduce, further enhancing the strength of the good gut flora. This will then improve elimination and nutrient absorption.

acid. This has well documented antioxidant properties and is believed by some to be an effective liver stimulant, helping in the detoxification process. The jury is still out on that one though.  

Beetroot Beetroot on the other hand does have a very powerful effect upon liver function. The deep purple colour pigment, so characteristic in beetroot, actually influences phase 2 detoxification in the liver, which can help to keep things on the inside clean. There are also a huge amount of fat soluble antioxidants in here.  

Celery Celery is a very rich source of so many

minerals, including potassium, sodium and magnesium. These minerals help to keep the body hydrated. There is nothing worse for the overall appearance of the skin than dehydration. The minerals in celery make it a very hydrating juice. However, there is a dichotomy here. Celery also has a mild diuretic activity, meaning it increases urinary output. It has the ability to make the kidneys work a little harder, without overdoing it to the point where someone would get dehydrated.

Dale Pinnock is the author of a number of books - The Clear Skin Cookbook, Medicinal Cookery and his latest release, The Medicinal Chef. He has also made regular appearances on both radio and television.

inspired times issue 17 summer 2013


inspiring getaways taste a slice of Portuguese peace... Nestled out of sight in the Alentejo region of Portugal, Sharon Henshall settles into a cosy caravan, soaking up the sweet stillness of Monte Maravilhas... a perfect getaway for some tranquility.

During my recent visit to Portugal, I put aside a few days to spend at Monte Maravilhas, a holiday haven located in the sleepy region of Alentejo. Rustic charm reigns strong within this Portuguese pocket which is renowned for breathtaking hiking, a tranquil vibe and tasty local produce. Much less touristy than its Algarve neighbour, Alentejo has remained one of the country’s quieter provinces. Prem Zijtveld, a lovely lady from the Netherlands, first stumbled across this region back in the 80s. “The rhythm of life, the relaxed atmosphere, the space and the unspoilt nature reminds me of my beloved India,” says Prem, who, during her world travels, had spent time in an Indian ashram. In 1997, as her vision of Monte Maravilhas unfolded, she was drawn to buy some land. Maravilhas was finally ready for its first guests in 2001 – much hard work and love went into creating the peaceful getaway which I experienced this spring. Three houses now stand within the 21 acres of land, as well as two caravans and a number of tent spaces. Each and every budget of a peace-seeker can be met! I instantly felt settled within my caravan; simple living suits me and this dinky space offered everything I needed... a comfy bed, a place to sit to read and write, adequate cupboard space, views of the hills and an outdoor space to relax in. The communal kitchen and shower block sat just a stone’s throw away, with an outdoor space for alfresco mealtimes and chatting with fellow campers. Each house is self-contained and Prem kindly offered to give me a guided tour. High ceilings, spacious living areas, cosy bedrooms, homefrom-home kitchens and private outdoor terraces create wonderful holiday escapes for families, friends and couples alike. Each casa (house) has a Portuguese name: Casa Amarela is the largest house with three bedrooms and is suitable for up to six people, Casa Mimosa and Casa Azul can both fit up to four each with two bedrooms. Maravilhas also hosts several activity holidays throughout the year including hiking, painting, yoga, Portuguese language learning, meditation and massage weeks. “Our activity weeks are good for people who want to be in a meditative environment, to relax, de-stress, be in nature and enjoy healthy meals,” says Prem. For me, the deal breaker was definitely the salt-water swimming pool. Sadly, it was too chilly during my springtime visit to dive

in, but when temperatures up their game (May-September), all residents can congregate here to take the plunge. Sun loungers and the grass terrace made perfect ‘lolling about’ accomplices, following a morning’s hike. Several walking routes spread out over the neighbourhood – Prem has set aside a file holding the routes and instructions for those interested. Meander across hills, pass eucalyptus and cork trees, weave through meadows and farmland; all year round these panoramic routes entice outdoor enthusiasts ‘in the know’. Alentejo boasts fabulous local cheeses and wines – ideal for picnics – whilst orange and olive trees dot the landscape, proud of their heavy loads. Locals are bestowed with a generous spirit, content to lead simple lives, sourcing their own food and entertainment – community living at their heart. Whitewashed houses with splatterings of vivid blue nestle within the local village. Strolling at an ‘I’m on holiday pace’ along a winding road led me there in a mere 20 minutes. Odemira is the closest old town, just 30km west; beaches are approximately an hour’s drive away. The Atlantic coast offers rugged coastline, sandy coves and charming seaside villages. Swimming also takes place in a nearby large lake where many locals take a dip on a steamy hot day. Relaxing onsite is easy to do. Tara, the resident dog, offers great inspiration as she is the queen of chilling and can usually be found in the shade near the communal kitchen. A short stroll leads you up to a neighbouring mill which sits high on a hill overlooking Maravilhas. I ventured here a few times and sat myself amongst some poppies, surveying the pretty view ahead. Tree-filled hills adorned the landscape, wildflowers swayed in the breeze and bells jangled in the distance – no doubt secured to a herd of goats, sheep or cows being led home by their shepherd. I could see why Prem fell in love with this idyllic spot. Creating further space for group activities is on the agenda, but ultimately it is the location’s peaceful nature that makes it such a find. “Monte Maravilhas offers a place to relax, enjoy listening to birds singing and the wind moving through the trees,” says Prem. “It is difficult to describe the sound of silence and the smell of flowers and herbs – you are welcome to come and experience it yourself!”

For further information, visit 18      inspired times issue 17 summer 2013

meditate on water... Sunrise meditation, wholesome homemade food and symphonic tunes of nature all harmonise upon Spirited Away, a traditional 69ft narrow boat. Meandering the canals of Stratford and Warwick, tootle along on a Float by Boat tour – – diluting your stresses afloat the gentle tug of the Northern waterways. All aboard! Captaining the deck, owners Tor and Kev have immersed their ethical and eco-conscious souls, turning unwelcomed office job visions into one outdoors. “In the modern world of highly-stressed jobs, lots of digital stimulation, separation from the natural world and so on, projects such as these are vital to help people make time to relax, rejuvenate and reconnect,� confirms Tor. Steering Float by Boat from dream to reality, the slow paced essence of the canal trickles through the voyages they have created. Their personal joy of countryside peace is also shared on these ventures. Melt into the holistic vibes as Tor and Kev lead their daily meditation, and therapeutically connect with the waters beneath. With a combined practice of over 20 years, their

candlelit sessions will bathe you in the meditative state that the Mindfulness Breathing and Loving Kindness practice gives. Burrow up with a book, roast by the fire or chinwag with fellow shipmates in the communal living area of Spirited Away. Encompassing two snug cabins, thrifty efforts have been made to make these areas cosy and homely. Wafts of homebrewed vegetarian grub filters through the walls and fuels your bodies for further boat life activity. Wellies on, join Kev on deck to muck in with narrow boat duties, opening locks and steering controls. Step onto terra firma when moored for an afternoon stroll, admiring the wildlife blossoming on the banks with a mindset to ‘take only photographs, leave only footprints’. Summertime adventures – Mooching Moorhen, Strolling Squirrel, Mallards Mosey – are just a few of the imaginatively named upcoming tours offering spiritual nourishment. Keeping ‘Narrow boats, wide eyes, open minds‌’ as your ethos, you can even adapt your own itinerary on a personalised trip! Currently in its first season, Float by Boat will continue to flourish. Working her green fingers, Tor hopes to create a roof top garden and plans to run conservation breaks in conjunction with wildlife charities. Why not be spirited away this summer?


)&3& FNBJM

BET!JOTQJSFEUJNFTNBHB[JOFDPN Sensory Herbcra Apprenticeship Come and Reconnect with your local Plants This initial one-year Apprenticeship is designed to introduce you to the Ancient, Magic and Practical art that is Herbal Medicine. You will learn to communicate with the plant world and create beautiful remedies, using all of your senses, for the treatment of yourself, your friends and your family. Come on this journey to be guided through the elements represented in each season and follow the path through the riches of the plant world: URRWVOHDYHVÀRZHUVVHHGV This one-year course is made up of 4 residential, fully-catered weekend seminars. There will also be the option of additional trips and apprentice days. You will compile your own Herbal Materia medica of the plants covered on the course. This involves detailed observations through drawings, photos, pressing parts and making notes to create your beautiful book. Investment: £1300. Location: YHA Lea Valley Village, Hertfordshire EN8 9AJ. |

Fiona 07830 195 745 |Karen 0786 508 1927

Karen and Fiona write for JUNO and have many years experience teaching and practicing with plants. Check out their articles in this addition.

by Heather Murphy

a fine line...

the strange and curious

There are countless forms of creative expression, but my favourite has always been drawing. I love the immediacy of simply using pencil and paper to create an image, or transfer an idea, and I find drawing, over any other process, can give an incredible control over mark making. This is not to say that drawing has to be confined to pencil and paper – there are many fascinating types of works and techniques that constitute drawing in a much wider sense – however my own personal interests have always veered towards incredibly intricate and laborious drawing processes. Considering my patience is somewhat limited in other aspects of my life, I have often wondered why I seem to have such a great deal when it comes to creating these detailed works, which can sometimes take months to complete.

For those who have a particular love of the odd things in life, London offers a wealth of activities. My fascination with museums and an inclination towards anything strange and curious have led me to disclose one of my favorite places to visit in London – the Hunterian Museum.

For me, getting lost in such an immersive and repetitive task bares similarities to the repetition of a mantra, and I find the process of drawing with such intense focus can be almost meditative. Completing these works is not always a purely pleasant experience, and I feel they undoubtedly have an obsessional quality. However, frustrating as the process sometimes is, there is always a satisfaction in it and a compulsion to work through these feelings of frustration in order to create something of interest. Perhaps my love of the human touch within artwork could be considered old fashioned, I don’t really care. Having spent four years studying fine art, and being taught to thoroughly question and criticize my creative decisions, I feel it is important to understand our creative choices, and ultimately not to change them for the wrong reasons. I am most drawn to works that I recognise as a labour of love; an investment of great time and effort – sometimes for no reason other than for the love of creating.


inspired times issue 17 summer 2013

Located at Lincoln’s Inn Fields, just down the road from Holloway tube station, the Hunterian Museum is situated inside the Royal College of Surgeons, and houses the original collection of the physician and anatomist John Hunter. Originally used for medical teaching and anatomical analysis, these collections may not be for the faint-hearted; displays consist of a variety of prepared bodies, or body parts, of over 500 different species. Athough some of the elements on display are undoubtedly disturbing to some, I feel this museum gives an incredible opportunity to witness natural history from a perspective which you are unlikely to have seen before. The museum is an amazing insight into the intricacies of nature, and makes a fantastic place to practice drawing. Specimens on display provide amazingly complex and interesting studies for life drawings. They also have a sad kind of beauty that I find fascinating, and always hope to capture somehow. The challenging nature of the Hunterian Museum’s contents is one of the reasons I find the museum so fascinating. It offers a change from the mundane, every day perspectives from which we see ourselves and the world. What better activity than one which can shock us out of our normal way of thinking, opening our eyes to something new?

auto waste In the depths of his cavernous workshop an artist can be found, with an almost alchemical talent for turning automotive waste into animated machines. For many years, artist Lyle Rowell has been creating increasingly ambitious projects, in the realms of sculpture and kinetic art, to be released into the world. The latest creation to emerge from the Doghead workshop is a 1.5 tonne walking, fire breathing rhinoceros called Dizzy. Completed in summer 2011, Dizzy made his first appearance onto the festival circuit, following in the giant steps of his older brother Lrry1, a fire breathing dinosaur descendent. These creations are unique not only in character, but in the sheer level of skill involved in their construction. Lyle’s passion and dedication are evident and translate into every aspect of his work. So, tune into for the dog’s b@%%@ks in sculptural oddities and animated machines...

communities by Mike Bromley

the fruits of horticultural therapy

Wrestling with his own mental health issues as a young adult, Ciaran first took an interest in the benefits of horticultural therapy through escaping his urban habitat to go for runs in the local park. The idea for MindFood developed whilst on a course called ‘Be the Change’, in Tuscany. The purpose of this course was to allow people from around the globe to brainstorm their community project ideas. “I had spoken to people who had benefited from horticultural therapy,” says Ciaran, “but I wanted to do something a little bit different. I wanted to focus not just

on the growing, but on the whole process of getting food from plot to plate.” At the heart of MindFood’s ethos is its willingness to provide relief and a therapeutic work environment for those who have been negatively affected by a chaotic urban upbringing. Its location is key – Old Amersham Farm, an Area of Natural Beauty (AONB). At just 30 minutes away from London, many participants can easily commute. “It seems logical that being out in the countryside would be beneficial for people’s wellbeing,” he confirms. “It’s only been the past 200 years or so that have seen humans migrating to urban areas.”

Participants are referred to MindFood by various local charities and the positive impact of MindFood is clear. One member from west London commented that she will remember the day she spent on Old Amersham Farm for the rest of her life. Volunteers from the local community are always required for the project to be effective. “We grow a wide range of produce, so it’s a great place for everybody to learn the skills required for growing their own food, whilst at the same time being a huge help to others,” states Ciaran, with obvious passion for his project.

Starting the venture was an enormous challenge for Ciaran, but it was helped into fruition by co-founder Alex Jemwa, who grew up with a farming background. New Zealander, Bobb Burton runs the growing programme and has been growing organic vegetables for many years, whilst many others also play a vital role in the running of the project.

MindFood hopes to prove the effectiveness of the project in improving mental wellbeing and skills this year, so that it can be recognised by the NHS and local authorities as being as effective as many clinical forms of treatment. Through replicating such farms around the country, hopefully more people will recognise the value of working with Mother Nature - the most powerful healer around.

confidence grows at Grassmarket Whether you are disengaged, suffering, and in need of support, or happy, healthy and wanting to offer care for others, the 250 members making up the Grassmarket Community Project – – in Edinburgh, are treated as equals. All members involved work together and maintain a strong sense of personal value. This is the project’s key aim – to assure all members inevitably leave Grassmarket with a new lease of confidence in their own abilities. “One of the biggest issues facing many of our members is that they have lost grip on their own sense of selfworth,” confirms Emma Galloway, Chief Executive of Grassmarket. “And if you are feeling useless, it is far more likely that you will fail.” A sense of inclusion underpins the project’s ethos. It is a small community, self-funded through business methods. For example, old church pews are transformed through weekly workshops into beautiful pieces of

bespoke furniture, and then sold. Money from sales helps to sustain the project. “This also helps our members – they earn a huge sense of value when they see their creation in the arms of someone who loves it so much,” states Emma. Although Grassmarket was only officially recognised as a charity in 2010, it has roots in two other organisations: Greyfriars Kirk and the Grassmarket Mission, which has been working with the poor since the 1800s. The former began working with the underprivileged with their Christian outreach, and the church hall is now the building in which they are based. From the 70s to the 90s, a soup kitchen operated in here. The homeless benefiting from the service were eventually encouraged to help make the soup. This created the foundations upon which the Grassmarket project could then be built. Catering is a popular option for members, and a communal meal is enjoyed each

Courtesy of Dapple Photography

Despite our modern-day drive to live and work in urban locations, there seems to be an intrinsic desire for humans to be connected with nature. And this is exactly why Ciaran Biggins, co-founder of MindFood – – began his quest to help and heal through the organic process of growing and farming food. After a day of teamwork, members are rewarded by the welcome confidence boost of, quite literally, seeing the fruits of their labour.

day. Other sessions include Music for All, Grassroots Art, creative writing, IT and herb gardening. Majoring on seasonable, local produce, Grassmarket buys organic where possible. Three out of five meals a week are vegetarian – ensuring a minimal carbon footprint – this is a healthier, cheaper, and more sustainable way to provide food for everyone involved. “The project gives me confidence in my own ability to get things done,” says one long-term member. The Grassmarket Community project is constantly expanding, and will shortly take place in a building three times bigger – so even more will benefit! The whole team ensures everyone leaves with an increased sense of self-worth and better equipped for their future.

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festivals & events by Emma Henderson & Mike Bromley


Larmer Tree, 17th – 21st July, Wilts/Dorset Border Buddhafield, 17th – 21st July, near Taunton, Somerset Woodfest, 19th – 21st July, Keighley Starry Skies, 24th – 28th July, Welsh Border Quest, 25th – 28th July, Newton Abbot, Devon Secret Garden Party, 25th – 28th July, East Anglia WOMAD, 25th – 28th July, Wiltshire Cornwall Circus Camp, 31st July – 4th Aug, Cornwall


Camp Bestival, 1st – 4th Aug, Dorset Gaunts Gathering, 8th – 11th Aug, Gaunts House, Dorset Croissant Neuf, 8th – 11th Aug, nr Usk, Wales One World (UK), 12th – 18th Aug, Reading Green Man Festival, 15th – 18th Aug, Wales

Sunrise Off-Grid, 15th – 18th Aug, Somerset Shambala Festival, 22nd – 25th Aug, North Hants


Bestival, 5th – 8th Sept, Robin Hill Country Park, Isle of Wight Festival Number 6, 13th – 15th Sept, Portmeirion, North Wales Festival of Life, 14th Sept, Conway Hall, London


VegFestUK London 5th – 6th Oct, Kensington Olympia, London, I Can Do It!, 5th – 6th Oct, The Clyde Auditorium, Glasgow I Can Do It!, 12th – 13th Oct, The Logan Hall, London The Yoga Show, 25th – 27th Oct, London

Put some uplifting events in your 2013 diary... 25th – 28th July: WOMAD... you’d be MAD to miss it! If you are on a quest to find cultural enrichment this summer, the World of Music, Art and Dance (WOMAD) festival brings all the colours, sights and sounds of the world to you. For a weekend of participatory workshops, international delicacies and aural enchantments from artists across the globe, WOMAD is the key to an elevating weekend in Wiltshire. This year’s huge line-up embraces the likes of the daring and unique Rokia Traoré, one of Africa’s most sensitive songwriters, as she reflects on a troubled continent through her music. Appealing to a range of fans – from avid blues lovers to those lending a keen ear to contemporary rock – she is a must-see. Babylon Circus, the horde of skanking oddities from France, offer something a little different – adding some jazz, swing and rap to conventional ska. Prepare to be overloaded with a complex and buoyant performance! And the USA’s Arrested Development help disprove hiphop’s violent image by standing proudly for peace, spirituality and the solving of problems.

The festival’s aim is to inform, excite and raise people’s awareness of how vibrant, diverse, and positive a multicultural environment is. Family-friendly news reports that under 14s are granted free entry, so pitch up for the weekend with your tots and teens in tow. Workshops for children encourage colourful expression, whether that’s learning how to beatbox, making a mark with graffiti, or chilling out in the tepee story tent. Children will find no shortage of stimulation, or opportunities to meet other cultured buddies. And other international treats are also in abundance: from the Global Market with its cultural wares, to Taste the World, which sees the musicians cook national dishes whilst being interviewed by a host. What better time to ask your burning questions about food, culture, music and art? You can forget about learning a foreign tongue as music is a universal language that has been bringing people together for centuries. And nowhere is this more apparent than at WOMAD. Find details at

28th October – 2nd November: The Schumacher Experience... unmissable! ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world,’ are often cited as some of the most notable words uttered by Mahatma Gandhi. At the age of 18, Satish Kumar joined the Gandhian movement with a vision of a renewed, peaceful India. And in his 20s he embarked on an 8,000 mile pilgrimage carrying no money, from India to America, delivering ‘peace tea’ to the leaders of the world’s four nuclear powers. Exciting news for those he’s inspired is that he will have a strong presence at the ‘Schumacher Experience’ held at the Schumacher College starting at the end of October. 22      inspired times  issue 17  summer  2013

The seven-day experience is an immersive pursuit of mindfulness, and a new way of thinking to support and encourage a green, sustainable lifestyle. Course facilitator’s Richenda MacGregor and Rebeh Skye Furze will guide you through the week whilst Satish and other members of the College faculty will join you each morning for conversation, and then activities, field trips, free time and fireside stories for the rest of the day and evening. Active listening to outstanding talks,

5th – 6th October: VegFestUK London... one tasty weekend! Still reeling from the massive success of this year’s Brighton and Bristol’s VegFestUK, this veggie and vegan event will soon be back with a bite... this time revelling in the bright lights of London town! Expect it to be bigger, better and ‘veggier’ than ever. Back in March, the Brighton VegFestUK returned for its fifth consecutive year. Along with the usual ‘vegtastic’ products – speed dating, a vegan bodybuilders strength contest, workshops and live music also lit up the seaside town. Bristol’s May shindig celebrated great products, music and beautiful sunshine for its 10th birthday. Falling during National Vegetarian Week, the amphitheatre was packed out with 140 inviting stalls including food, body-care and fashion. In true Bristol style, a variety of music flowed throughout the day from chilled out reggae to upbeat DJs. Come evening – and veggies still know how to party – headlining acts were swing band Caravan Palace and alternative rockers Happy Mondays! So, with those two cracking events pumping up the excitement, get ready for the first ever VegFestUK London! Turning Kensington Olympia green over the weekend of 5-6th October, expect a plethora of athletes, campaigners, comedians, chefs and nutritionists throwing themselves into passionate talks, workshops and shows about veggie lifestyle. Elite marathon runner Fiona

Oakes, vegan strongman Patrik Baboumian and exEverton footballer Neil Robinson will be talking about their plant-based diets as interest in this lifestyle soars in the wake of the horsemeat scandal. Comedians Dave Spikey, Andrew O’Neill, Jamie Kilstein and Lucy Porter will no doubt make a few digs at the dubious production of meat. 160 stalls bursting over two floors will brim with tasters and special offers; try some hemp products, delicious dairy and soya free milk alternatives, natural snack bars and organic food boxes. Check out advice on holistic ways of slimming or learn about renewable energy and ethical design. Special guest chefs, such as Chad Sarno, will ensure everyone leaves with a few fantastic plantbased food recipes tucked up their sleeve. Passion is at the heart of VegFestUK with Vegfam the charity of choice which ‘feeds the hungry without exploiting animals’; proceeds from the Tombola go directly to this charity. Each day is healthily rounded off with musical entertainment from the likes of Macka B, The Phoenix Rose and De Fuego. So, whether you’re a vegan, veggie or even carnivore... head into the capital where VegFestUK London is guaranteed to tick your extralarge veg box this autumn.

5th – 6th October + 12th – 14th October: I Can Do It!... nourish the soul! ‘Expand your mind, nourish your soul, energize your spirit and reconnect with your true self’… all easily done under one roof with the help of influential speakers at the I Can Do It! conference. Stress no more, this is an event to sooth and relieve any anxiety you may hold and enhance your journey to self contentment and happiness. Hay House, the world’s leading ‘Mind, Body, Spirit’ publishing house, is putting on the annual ‘I Can Do It!’ event, set up by industry renowned Louise Hay, at two locations this October. The first takes place in Glasgow from the 5th-6th October and the second is in London from the 12th-13th October. At each venue, the best in the MBS world will come together to enlighten and uplift in the form of 12 awe-inspiring speakers. Dr David Hamilton, will be discussing how loving yourself is a major part of the road to happiness whilst Neale Donald Walsch, who has published over 12 books – with Conversations with God

and group participation, will ensure you return home with renewed zest and knowledge. The rich and fertile college grounds alone will aid in spiritual growth. Two charismatic entrepreneurs, who took their influences from east and west, founded the Dartington Hall Estate in the 1920s. Their vision was based on progressive forms of education in art and agriculture. And the college courses are seeded in an ecological and holistic outlook. A library, kitchen, meditation room and idyllic gardens to spread

being on the New York Bestseller list – will also be spreading his wisdom via his motivational speech on what really matters in life. New for this year, and their first time in the UK are Don Miguel and Don Jose Ruiz – acclaimed authors and healers, who also happen to be father and son! I Can Do It! is home to a host of dynamic speakers to entertain and educate about a range of enlightening topics. The inspirational authors will also be signing books, so you can take home a special memento of the day. With so much wisdom available over this holistic weekend, you are guaranteed to be blown away by the experience. Ultimately, the title says it all... you Can Do It! For further information, visit

your roots and reflect, will mean you can take a brief respite for personal time and freedom. And the food, which is prepared by a team of vegetarian chefs, is worth the trip alone. Whether you are brimming with personal questions, yearning to alter your worldview and realign your path, wanting to learn about Gaia Theory, Complexity and social enterprise, or simply wishing to take a break eating healthy food and relaxing in good company – the Schumacher Experience will awaken and nourish you. For further details visit inspired times  issue 17  summer  2013      23

the plight of our Kara Lewis spreads her wings and heads countrywide, learning about shifts within the UK’s diverse bird population and their causes. Human Beings, as well as Mother Nature, are hugely impacting their existence.

since 1955, the collared dove species now has around one million pairs fluttering around the country – a 333% increase since 1970. Bitterns, corncrakes and night jars – previously on the first list of priority species outlined in the 1995 Biodiversity Action Plan – have dramatically recovered thanks to a number of conservation efforts put in place. Richard feels that highlighting these increases is important, as often the media portrays a bleak picture – one where bird decline is the only story.

the impact of farming


magine summers without the sounds of cuckoos, spring nights devoid of turtle doves, and the vanishing of farmland birds from our beautiful British countryside. Since 1977, the UK’s wild bird population has fallen by 13.7%. Dramatic changes have occurred within our eco-system over the past 40 years, leading to fluctuations in our feathered friends. This ongoing transition has resulted in some bird species declining to the point of near extinction, whilst others have increased dramatically. Everything from modern day agricultural practice to changes in weather has contributed to this shift and one thing is for certain, human activity is also very much to blame.

changing habitats

According to bird expert, Richard Bland, the more humans we have on the planet, the fewer other species can exist. “The habitat is changing because of what humans are doing, because the climate is changing and also due to the way species interact with each other,” explains Richard. Supporting this are some shocking statistics revealed in the 2012 report, ‘The State of the UK’s Birds’. Willow tits have decreased by 60% over the last 15 years, the population of house sparrows has declined by 20 million since 1966 but remain one of Britain’s commonest birds, and two of the UK’s seaducks – velvet scoter and long-tailed ducks – are threatened with extinction. At a glance, these statistics paint a dismal picture for the future of the UK’s birds. However, along with these losses, have also come some gains. Nesting in the UK Normal 24      inspired times  issue 17  summer 2013

Availability of foods essential for survival is one of the key components that has influenced a reduction in species. Modern developments in farmland management, as well as their practices and policies, have had adverse effects on biodiversity in the countryside. Intensification of agriculture techniques linked to boosting productivity has led to less mixed farming, less crop rotation and greater use of pesticides. Plummeting to half of their 1970 figures, farmland bird populations have suffered particularly large losses. A nationwide spreading of pesticides over huge areas – from farms to golf courses, parks to home gardens – has also had widespread implications on their habitat. The depletion of insects has instigated a decline of many insect-eating species such as the starling, spotted flycatcher and nightingale – the song of the latter would be sorely missed as it is often described as one of the most beautiful sounds in nature! Weather has had an enormous effect on bird populations too. The past two summers – witnessing record rainfall and chilling temperatures – have placed additional pressure on blue tits. These colourful garden visitors normally have a single brood each year, which produces 10-12 young. In recent years, people with nesting boxes have reported a 50% failure rate in blue tit reproduction. “It only requires a couple of cold, rainy days in mid to late May, when parent birds can’t get out for food, that the young die of starvation,” says Richard. “It doesn’t take much to get them down, but equally their capacity to bounce back is enormous.” He feels optimistic that the overall bird population is relatively stable and notes that more positive trends become apparent when individual species are examined. The large number of winter migrants from the high arctic have done well, and are dependent on our estuaries for survival. Also, whilst pintail and redshank have declined in places such as the West Country and, Ribble Estuary, avocets and black-tailed godwits have notably increased in estuaries of the east.

feathery friends! Headline migrants decline

On the whole, generalist species, such as magpies, have had better luck adapting to changing environments than specialist species, such as migrants, who struggle to adapt to changing climates and landscapes. “If you want to survive, be a magpie!” says Richard. “You eat anything, you’re highly intelligent, handsome, and everybody hates you for it!” Sadly, not all species have such good fortune. Long-distance migrant birds, which spend on average four months of the year in the UK and the rest migrating or in Africa, have severely declined over the last half a century. In response to this, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) – – has launched an initiative titled ‘Birds Without Borders’ to improve our knowledge on the issues affecting migrant birds, in order to aid conservation efforts. “Many of the UK’s migrant species have declined at an alarming rate over the past 40 years,” explains Richard James from the RSPB. “Cuckoos have declined by 62%, spotted flycatchers by 88% and turtle doves by a staggering 93%.” Turtle doves are suffering one of the most significant declines of any species. One contributory factor is thought to be the lack of weed seeds on farmland, which they primarily feed on during breeding season. However, there are also concerns about factors such as hunting and habitat loss affecting them on their migration and overwintering sites too. Accordingly, the RSPB is working with farmers and landowners to identify the best ways to aid

in conservation efforts during breeding season to avert a future extinction. They also work with partners in Europe and Africa, as well as here in the UK, to help track further problems. “Each migrant species has its own place in the UK’s ecosystem and therefore the loss of these species could have an impact on the environment they live in” says Richard. “For example, species such as swallows, swifts and martins have an important role in controlling the number of airborne insects such as mosquitoes and midges.”

wild gardens

In order to secure our eco-system’s survival for the foreseeable future, adjustments to modern day lifestyles need to be made. On a grassroots level, individuals can take action within their own gardens. Regardless of plot size, gardeners can encourage birds into their back yard. “Feeding birds all year round is an important way of making up for the lack of natural food in our countryside,” says Jenny Steel, a professional wildlife gardener who encourages us to plant wisely, with birds in mind. “Plants that attract lots of insects will encourage robins, wrens and other species that rely on this type of food both for themselves and their chicks. Dense shrubs with berries will feed some bird species in the winter, and a prickly shrub could also make a protected nest spot for a blackbird or thrush.” Her website – – brims with tips for creating a colourful and wildlife-friendly outdoor space. Beyond providing a natural habitat for our feathered friends, Jenny highlights how attracting birds to our gardens has a positive impact on our own lives. “Having lots of birds to watch in the garden promotes a tremendous feeling of well-being, as well as being a positive interest or hobby that we can participate in at any age,” she enthuses. In addition, audio experts argue that birdsong relaxes people physically and provide cognitive stimulation, whilst other studies prove it makes traffic sounds more tolerable, aids concentration and helps people feel less hemmed in. Diversity in our UK bird population is worth fighting for! Where would we be without the melody of a dawn chorus – nature’s very own sweet-sounding alarm clock – filling our skies?

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green goodies Kettle Watering Can – £9.00

Brighten up your garden or add a splash of colour to your kitchen with one of these psychedelic cans made from recycled plastic. Some are used in West Africa to wash feet before entering a mosque, so come stamped with a star and a crescent moon. Plant up your flowers, sprout your herbs or even freshen your feet!

Flower Pot Jigsaw – £12.00

Ignite your little one’s brain in their early stages of childhood, with a fun way to learn colours, numbers, sequences, fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Piecing together the 10 wooden parts of the puzzle will bring great joy as it flourishes into a bright, summertime flower. Comes with organic cotton bag, both eco-friendly and recyclable!

Letting in the Wild Edges – £14.95

Opening the doors to nature helps unlock a wild inner wisdom. Glennie Kindred teaches us how to grow, and forage for, native medicinal plants in her beautiful new book, whilst helping to regenerate the natural world around us. Follow Glennie on a journey through the seasons, whilst benefiting ourselves, and the Earth we inhabit.

Woven Bucket Bag – £17.41

Fruitful in both senses of the word, recycled juice cartons swerve the landfill sites of the Philippines to be creatively hand woven into this gorgeous accessory. The bright, colourful bucket bag suits ferrying food to picnics, towels to the beach, or magazines to the park. We will forgive you for swinging it cheerily as you walk down the street!

The Sun Jar – £19.99

As dusk falls and alfresco dining calls, recreate the warm, ambient glow of the blazing sun by catching its solar properties in a purpose built ‘Sun Jar’. Simply perch it upon a sunny windowsill and allow it to bathe in the daily rays, the absorption of which powers the LED technology within, cleverly results in a portable light source.

Shimmer Me Beautiful Gift Set – £41.00

If you are looking for a natural glow that will let your skin breathe and flourish then try Bohemian Chic Minerals range of chemical-free makeup; no preservatives, artificial colours, talc or mineral oils – a pure, vegan suitable product. This collection of body and face shimmers, come in a warming mix; snowflake, superstar and pixie dust.

*P&P have not been include but may apply to some products. 26      inspired times  issue 17  summer  2013

bee aware...


by Jen Elliott

fat plant One man’s waste is another man’s renewable electricity! Congealed fat masses or ‘fatbergs’ occupying London’s sewers – formed from kitchens and restaurants – will feed green utility company 2OC’s combined heat and intelligent power plant (CHiP). Thus killing two environmental issues with one strategic stone; removal of fatbergs and a renewable power source for a critical service. 2OC recently landed the £200m contract with Thames Water and its new fat-fuelled power plant will generate renewable power for Beckton Sewage Treatment Works in East London. The CHiP plant will generate 130 Gigawatt hours (GWh) of energy – 75 GWh will be bought by Thames Water to run Beckton, which serves 3.5 million people while the rest will be sold to the National Grid. The plant should be operational by April 2015.

chasing ice This June saw the release of the striking documentary film, Chasing Ice, on DVD and Blu-ray, which vividly portrays the alarming impact of climate change upon our glaciers. We follow James Balog, a National Geographic photographer, who was inspired to take matters into his own hands after he encountered a retreating glacier that left him stunned. He travelled with his team to Iceland, Greenland, Alaska and Canada, setting up 25 cameras that would film a daylight hour every day over the next 5 years. Chasing Ice is the result of this expedition, a film that undeniably captures our changing landscapes, exposing the truth with the calving of a glacier the size of Manhattan. Barog forces us to open our eyes to the detrimental effect man has and continues to have upon the environment.

online cabin porn As Henry Thoreau once said: “What we call wildness is a civilization other than our own” – and that’s the curious allure of tumblelog website, Cabin Porn – Users submit interior and exterior images of their simple cabin structures in idyllic, vast timeless surroundings around the world. Most are designed by architects; from woodland log cabins tucked within the thicket to renovated upturned boatsheds. These cabins embody simplicity and an escape from our complex existence.

Over 90 of our beloved crops; including peaches, plums, pears, almonds, eggplant, blueberries, strawberries, watermelon, mustard, coconuts and onions are pollinated by bees... that’s one tasty line-up! Saving farmers a mighty £1.8 billion a year, these essential and industrious insects pollinate one third of what we eat. Dwindling numbers of bees is a widely known fact and various factors have been suggested as the reasons why – pesticides, changing climate, genetically modified crops and loss of habitats. The demise of our native bees could be a national disaster. Experts say that crops would fail in huge quantities and animals would be left without the foods they rely on. Global action is needed, not just here in the UK. Losses have also been reported in other countries, including France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece, USA, Brazil and Argentina. If bees continue disappearing at this rate, it is estimated that by 2035 there could be no honeybees left in the USA. Evidence of the decline is overwhelming: in the UK around one fifth of honeybee hives were lost in the winter of 2008/09, compared to normal yearly losses of 5-10%. In southwest China pear trees are now pollinated by hand following the heavy use of pesticides during the 1980s. Three bumblebee species are already extinct in the UK and a quarter of British bees are logged in the Red Data Book of threatened species. Friends of the Earth (FOE) are campaigning for the bees; you can even sign a petition online at, calling for a bee action plan from David Cameron. Make a donation to help fund research, educate the public and rally more bee savers across the country. Those donating will receive a Bee Saver Kit, complete with British wildflower seeds and a garden planner – enabling you to grow a bee utopia and join the crusade to save these vital creatures. Browse through the FOE online shop which sells home and garden products; every order supports the bee cause. Help further by only purchasing local British honey to support our bees and their beekeepers. Growing nectar rich flowers in the country and especially in the city will help bees find the food they need. Do your bit and help spread the buzz!

“Live simply so that others may simply live” Mohandas K. Gandhi

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inspiring individuals Sarah Griffiths highlights the amazing work of primatologist, Dr Jane Goodall. She has spent decades studying chimpanzees in Tanzania, tirelessly raising awareness and educating people on the importance of protecting them and their natural habitat. Often welcoming her audience by realistically mimicking the sound of a chimpanzee greeting the day, Dr Jane Goodall is an extraordinary individual. With your eyes closed, her rather unusual introduction may create a sense of feeling that you’re stood among the hills of Tanzania’s Gombe National Park at sunrise. No doubt this is her wish –­ to connect those attending her talks with the primates she so loves and if anyone is qualified to perform this impersonation, it’s Jane. Renowned for her pioneering research on chimpanzee behaviour, she is a globally respected primatologist, conservationist, Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute – – and UN Messenger of Peace. Inspired by the story of Tarzan, and a chimpanzee stuffed toy given to her by her father as a child, Jane dreamt of studying animals in the wild from a young age. “Everybody laughed at me, because back then, girls certainly didn’t do that sort of thing,” Jane admitted during an interview with Cambridge University back in 2011. Finally, during her twenties, her big break arrived. Working as an assistant in a London film studio, she received an invitation to visit her friend’s family farm in Kenya. Seizing the opportunity, she dropped everything and returned to her home town of Bournemouth to prepare for her trip. Pouring energy into research at the Natural History Museum and saving up her waitress wages allowed Jane to pursue her passage across the sea. In Kenya she forged an important connection with anthropologist and palaeontologist, Louis S B Leaky. Impressed by her passion and knowledge, Louis travelled with Jane to Tanzania and encouraged her to begin the study of chimpanzees in the wild – her childhood dream had finally come true! On the shores of Lake Tanganyika – what is today Gombe National Park – persistence and patience were needed to get the chimps to accept her presence among them. Slowly, she began to make some amazing discoveries. At the point where money was running out, and she was concerned that she would miss something groundbreaking, a situation caught her attention. She saw the seminal development of chimps using and making tools – the news of which brought in the National Geographic. Jane also observed that chimpanzees were not vegetarian as previously believed, and she began to witness that chimps had minds, emotions and distinct personalities. Her work gained notoriety when National Geographic travelled to Gombe to film her. The light Jane had shed on chimp behaviour raised the question of what exactly it meant to be ‘human’ and altered the way in which we viewed our ancestors – waves, not ripples were being made in the pools of scientific research. Jane’s success continued; with no prior degree, she was accepted into Cambridge University to study for a doctorate in ethology and to carry on her studies within Gombe. In a world which was back then very male-dominated, she said: “It’s never


inspired times  issue 17  summer 2013

been any barrier to me, being a woman. I was not trying to compete... I was out there doing my own thing”. The Gombe Research Centre went from strength to strength and out of this, Jane founded the Institute for Wildlife Research, Education and Conservation. Beginning in 1977, its mission has remained the same: to empower individuals to make a positive difference to all living things. Deforestation of precious chimpanzee habitats in the 1980s motivated Jane to shift her focus onto conservation. On a flight over Gombe and its surrounding communities in 1994, she witnessed some harsh realities. “The land was losing its fertility, the soil eroded... that led to our TACARE program,” said Jane. TACARE (pronounced ‘take care’), focuses on ‘improving the lives of villagers around the park in a holistic way’ and this includes helping them grow more food, providing better education for their children and better health facilities. Since launched, the programme has been replicated in over 32 African villages – all of which have dedicated conservation areas. Upon arrival, most of the inhabitants would pose the question: ‘Why didn’t you come before?’. Roots & Shoots – – sprouted from a discussion in 1991 between Jane and 12 local teenagers on her back porch in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. It resulted in an education programme for young people which has now expanded globally. Members work in a variety of settings, to educate groups on how they can make a positive difference. Once able to identify problems in their community, students can then take action. Just this month, Roots & Shoots group in Austin, Texas, collected old t-shirts and spent a day transforming them into reusable shopping bags. With Jane at the helm of the organisation, its ethos mirrors her own – ‘we CAN change the world’. Roots & Shoots aims to do just that. Today, at the age of 79, Jane travels on average 300 days per year; her agenda is to educate about the threats imposed on wildlife, the environment, and what we must do to prevent them. No doubt an exhausting schedule, but one that Jane follows with passion and purpose. If Jane’s story has one main message, it would be that when it comes to our planet and the effect we, as humans, have on it, there are no absolutions. On the Jane Goodall Institute’s website, Jane states: “Every individual counts. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference”. This message is as profound as the evidence which demonstrates that we must heed it – 100 years ago there were over 1 million chimpanzees in the wild in Africa, today there are just 200,000. In response to the possibility that chimpanzees may some day become extinct in the wild, Jane replies with calm determination... “We must not let it happen”.

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Inspired Times Issue 17  

Summer Issue: eco & holistic lifestyles

Inspired Times Issue 17  

Summer Issue: eco & holistic lifestyles