Once again, I'm feeling much gratitude towards those who have recently offered their skills for free to the community and I know this appreciation is shared by the many who have found value in this project. So although I missed her session, I'd like to start by thanking Karen Benson who on Sunday led a group to sing a beautiful Tagore song at the festival in Dartington. She responded to a last minute request!
Last week, herbalist Annie Gardner ran two delightful sessions – one at her practice at Neal Yard's Remedies, when we got to taste borage and rose teas (and guess what they were), and one with her colleague Peter Neumann on their home ground at Bowden House, on a splendid sunny afternoon. It felt heavenly – and again we were treated to some unusual teas. Peter is leading another herb walk this Saturday at 3 pm in Leechwell garden – this time with Clare Shippey.
The talk on Natural Bee-keeping by 'barefoot bee-keeper' Phil Chandler was riveting. Phil shared some of his vast knowledge on these fascinating insects and on the best ways to help them thrive (using top bar hives, for a start).
Honey bees are vitally needed, Phil explained, because they are able to come out earlier in the year than most other pollinating insects, thus ensuring our fruit trees can also thrive. Of course they can also provide us with honey but Phil stressed how important it is to respect their own needs and share with care. Time flew by, questions were asked, and many of us could have listened to Phil all night! You can find lots of information on his website – www.biobees.com – where a local course will be announced once it's organised.
Felt-making with Geraldine Finnon looked great fun – for both adults and children! I looked on from another part of her delightful craft studio, the Cauldron, located within the beautiful walled garden at Bowden House, as on that day it was open to visitors for other delights. On the Creative Community Devon website you can read Geraldine's invitation to share her studio with others on a Wednesday (here).
I missed Anna Ash's last sewing skillshare of the season – but she's inviting everyone to come to the RE-FASHION show on Wednesday 3rd at the 7 Stars (with upcycled, recycled, vintage and retro wonders) and to a cabaret the next day – her work will be on show and all details are on her new website here. Anna will be offering more sewing skillshares from September – hurrah!
A small but very attentive group came to hear tales about Totnes folklore, told with relish by Chris Jenkins. Passionate about history and mythology and well versed in the local lore, he has good reasons to believe that Totnes is a very, very special place indeed. I hope Chris will share his knowledge again and more will come to appreciate it!
The session on the 'Way of Council' was led by colourful artist and activist Rooh Star, who co-founded Landmatters, where this wonderful practice has been in use since early days. Rooh explained that this had been a key factor in keeping the community together over the years. It's a simple practice of 'speaking and listening from the heart' – helping us move to a deeper, more compassionate way of communicating and being. We only had time for a little taste of the process and some participants felt out of their comfort zone, but some of us felt so inspired that we would love to create more opportunities to meet and practice the Way of Council. Watch this space (and contact email@example.com if you're interested)!
On June 15th, Neeta Bali offered another session on scrumptious Indian cooking – a feast for the palate and all our senses. Creating healthy food is Neeta's passion, and she does it with gusto, but she also enjoys cultivating 'conscious creative nourishment for the mind and soul'. She runs wonderful pop-up restaurant sessions in her home, serving genuine and very yummy but light Indian dishes, and also works as a coach (info on www.neetashealthyplate.com and www.neetabali.com).
Emma Capper has a gift for drawing – and for drawing creativity out of everyone, gently leading us into more presence and responsiveness to the miracles of nature, then making art creation a fun and liberating process. Once again I thoroughly enjoyed being guided by her, first in the woods at Dartington then 'at the drawing board' – in this occasion a kitchen table joyfully shared by the participants. Emma is offering another Expressive Arts workshop in Leechwell garden on July 25th at 11 am, by donation. Her website is on www.emmacapper.co.uk.
Big gratitude also goes to Mark Cross for a session on resetting a computer and reinstalling software on it – to get rid of all the unnecessary clutter slowing it and wearing it down – with lots of other useful information thrown in for good measure. Mark is a very skilled IT expert committed to eco-friendly computing. He has made the notes for this session available on his website: www.totnesit.com, which offers other useful tips.
The Skillshare project will slow down a little during the summer, and a team is being created to coordinate it from September. If you would like to participate and help run this popular scheme, please contact Sophia Wildman-Gurung on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07926 667108. Many thanks to all – and looking forward to more enchanting sessions!