Family Time

Make your own elderflower cordial

Make your own elderflower cordial

Elderflower is a forager’s favourite pick between May and June. The trees are found throughout the UK in woods, along roadsides and among hedgerows. The heads are ripe for the picking when there are lots of tiny white flowers, which have a sweet, summery scent. The flowers are edible once cooked, but mildly toxic if eaten raw. Pick the flower heads on a dry, warm and sunny day, and give them a good shake to remove any bugs or beasties. To bottle both the taste and smell of summer, you will need a good basketful of the flower heads. This is the number one ingredient to make cordial and many other sweet treats. Lolly’s N19 Elderflower Cordial My niece Lolly is a creative genius in the kitchen. From a young age she has been making and creating and the results are delicious. Her garden in north London is a special...

Make your own elderflower cordial

Elderflower is a forager’s favourite pick between May and June. The trees are found throughout the UK in woods, along roadsides and among hedgerows. The heads are ripe for the...

Ways of practising mindful awareness with children

Ways of practising mindful awareness with children

The benefits of mindfulness for adults are well publicised and include reduced stress, improved immunity and better pain management. There is also now a growing body of evidence suggesting that mindfulness can also be beneficial for children, with studies showing that it can help them to regulate their emotions and improve their concentration and sleep. A really important part of mindfulness is learning how to appreciate what is going on in the present moment. Often we are preoccupied with thinking about the past or the future. Mindfulness teaches us to calm our minds so that we can be fully present in each moment. When our minds and bodies are calm, we are able to be in touch with the many small miracles before us, such as the pleasure of feeling our feet on the earth, or a small hand in our own. Children have a natural ability to live in...

Ways of practising mindful awareness with children

The benefits of mindfulness for adults are well publicised and include reduced stress, improved immunity and better pain management. There is also now a growing body of evidence suggesting that...

Spring mindfulness inspiration for families

Spring mindfulness inspiration for families

Mindfulness can be described as the ability to be present in the moment, without judgement. The practice has become increasingly popular over the years, with both science-based and spiritual techniques supporting stressed-out individuals to feel calmer and less anxious, and to reduce symptoms of low mood and depression. I spent many years of my adult life being anywhere but the present moment. When I became a mother, so much of my time was divided between the demands of my tiny human, alongside those of a household and a demanding job, and my brain only wanted to focus on the to-do list ahead or ruminate anxiously over the past. At 12 months postpartum, I finally received a diagnosis of postnatal depression and birth trauma (PTSD) and discovered the magic of mindfulness on my recovery journey. Without sounding too clichéd, it completely changed my life for the better. So much so that...

Spring mindfulness inspiration for families

Mindfulness can be described as the ability to be present in the moment, without judgement. The practice has become increasingly popular over the years, with both science-based and spiritual techniques...

Family festivals and adventures for the year ahead

Family festivals and adventures for the year ahead

Wood Festival Like a seasonal awakening and injection of optimism, Wood Festival is an intimate and perfectly programmed festival of music and nature that sees people gather in a glade too small to get lost in, to live, learn, and have fun, enjoying the simple, beautiful things in life for a weekend each May. The music is largely folk and Americana. Local bands rub shoulders with international acts, though no one gathers a crowd like the legend that is Nick Cope! There is a full programme of free workshops for all ages, with activities ranging from bookbinding to yoga, whittling to harmony singing. The children’s tent hosts endless performances and activities; stalls are carefully curated (no flashing tat of questionable origin that you’ll be badgered to buy); the restorative healing area is full of people who genuinely care; the food is wholesome; the bar boasts locally sourced beverages; and a...

Family festivals and adventures for the year ahead

Wood Festival Like a seasonal awakening and injection of optimism, Wood Festival is an intimate and perfectly programmed festival of music and nature that sees people gather in a glade...

Ideas for celebrating Winter Solstice

Ideas for celebrating Winter Solstice

Celebrant Lu Garner has been celebrating the winter solstice for many years. Here she shares some ideas for creating your own celebration. I don’t know about you but my daily family life is a hectic affair – and never more so than in the run up to the festive season. At the best of times it seems that life travels past so fast – children seem all grown up before my very eyes, new directions abound in my personal and work life, world events take my breath away, and literally I can be gasping for air, for the chance to make sense of it all. That is what ceremony or ritual is all about – creating a space to make meaning of the cycles of our lives, whether we are honouring a birth, a death or the turning of the year. Eight years ago I co-created a group in Derbyshire...

Ideas for celebrating Winter Solstice

Celebrant Lu Garner has been celebrating the winter solstice for many years. Here she shares some ideas for creating your own celebration. I don’t know about you but my daily...

How to make family board games festive and fun

How to make family board games festive and fun

Playing board games at Christmas is as traditional as fairy lights and stockings. We look forward with anticipation to long evenings around the table, mulled wine in hand and carols on the radio. But the reality doesn’t always match our glossy, idyllic Christmas vision. Here are some ideas to help bypass the messy explosions, arguments and tears and to help keep family board gaming positive and harmonious this festive season. Choose the right games. Not all games are created equal. You may inadvertently launch into a game that brings out the worst in your family. If the children are easily upset, look for cooperative games, where everyone plays together to try to beat the game. Avoid long periods of downtime by picking games with quick turns or simultaneous play. If conflict on the table causes conflict between players, opt instead for games where each player is working on their own...

How to make family board games festive and fun

Playing board games at Christmas is as traditional as fairy lights and stockings. We look forward with anticipation to long evenings around the table, mulled wine in hand and carols...

Reconnecting with the joy and magic of the festive season

Reconnecting with the joy and magic of the fest...

Sometimes rediscovering the true roots of a festival can help remind us why we are celebrating, readjust our priorities and reconnect with the natural forces evident at a particular time of year. Christmas has been so seized upon as the primary festival we all celebrate in such a homogenous, material way that much of the magic of the season is lost. Rather than resenting the commercial influences which put boxes of Christmas biscuits on supermarkets shelves the day the school supplies come down in September, why not develop your own family traditions, reclaim the festival, and practice celebrating the aspects which really speak to you and your family? If you can make the space and time and find the peace to cultivate the festivals of December with your family, the transition from the old year to the new can be one of restoration for your inner forces. Beginning with Advent...

Reconnecting with the joy and magic of the festive season

Sometimes rediscovering the true roots of a festival can help remind us why we are celebrating, readjust our priorities and reconnect with the natural forces evident at a particular time...

The Magic of Samhain: a journey from autumn to winter

The Magic of Samhain: a journey from autumn to ...

Samhain, from the Gaelic word meaning ‘summer’s end’, is halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. It is akin to bedtime in the cycle of day and night. In Britain, the clocks go back, and the evenings are dark. It is the turning point when autumn moves towards the cold of winter. Jack Frost visits in the night and, as the sun rises, the world is transformed by the sparkle of crystals. Once again, we wear our hats and gloves and scarves, wrapping up warm. The Forest at Samhain In the woods, the last of the autumn leaves are falling. The growing season has ended. The trees breathe out, shedding their leaves and their seeds. Death and birth nourish life. All over the land, seeds make their journeys to their new homes in the earth, with thanks to the wind, birds and animals. Only a few will survive....

The Magic of Samhain: a journey from autumn to winter

Samhain, from the Gaelic word meaning ‘summer’s end’, is halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. It is akin to bedtime in the cycle of day and night....

Simple creative ideas to celebrate the rain

Simple creative ideas to celebrate the rain

Rain Painting Let a shower of rain transform simple pictures into multicoloured masterpieces. To make Draw pictures on plain white kitchen paper, using brightly coloured water-soluble pens. Hang the pictures on a washing line and let the rain mix the colours. Experiment with different papers, inks and paints. Try drawing patterns of dots and lines. What does the rain do to them? Let the pictures dry and then press them flat if need be. Rain Stencils These rain shadows of natural materials won’t last long, so have a camera ready to take a picture before they disappear. You’ll need to prepare before it starts raining. To make Collect leaves of different shapes and sizes. Find a space on a patio or some paving, or put some sand in a tray and level the surface. Arrange leaves or other natural materials into a pattern or a picture in your chosen space....

Simple creative ideas to celebrate the rain

Rain Painting Let a shower of rain transform simple pictures into multicoloured masterpieces. To make Draw pictures on plain white kitchen paper, using brightly coloured water-soluble pens. Hang the pictures...

Outdoor Adventures: how to raise explorers in a digital age

Outdoor Adventures: how to raise explorers in a...

I remember the olden days. I suspect that many of you will, as well. The primitive times when there were only a couple of hours of children’s telly per day, with a bonus of cartoons and sugar-laden cereal on Saturday mornings. After that there was not much to do but mooch about a bit until you got under Mum’s feet and she booted you outside. And then you were off, roaming, exploring, or just hanging about. Wandering down the road to ask if your friend could come out to play, then climbing trees and riding bikes until teatime hunger drove you back inside in search of food. I look back nostalgically on those days. They certainly contributed strongly to me developing a love of the outdoors and adventure. This led, after training as a teacher, to me jumping on my bike and attempting to cycle round the world. It was...

Outdoor Adventures: how to raise explorers in a digital age

I remember the olden days. I suspect that many of you will, as well. The primitive times when there were only a couple of hours of children’s telly per day,...