Tree hugging
Tales

Trees – ‘we give one another life’

I watched this short film The Trees Movie today. It’s a crowd-funding film created by tree enthusiasts around the globe. They are keen to tell the world that, places we once called home, will soon be uninhabitable.

They say there is a simple solution. That, by planting more trees, this global climate crisis can be reversed.

Apparently, if 1.2 trillion new trees are planted by the year 2030 (only 9 years away), they will help to suck up nearly 830 billion tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide that is currently swirling around the atmosphere and that is damaging us and the planet.

In short, trees help US by purifying the air and giving the oxygen we need to survive. In return, we can help THEM by caring for them, helping them to grow, protecting them, and extending their life.

The movie creators are seeking anyone who has a phone, camera, voice and story and wants to tell their own timeless tale of trees. Your story could be woven together with hundreds of fellow tree lovers and enthusiasts from around the world.

I’m going to submit my own tree hugging experience.

Don’t miss the opportunity to send a love letter to the silent giants that control our fate.

Sarah x

Standard
the olive tree
Greece, Tales

The Olive Tree

the olive tree
The olive trees of Leonidio

The Olive Tree, η Ελιά, is one of my favourite trees.

I love the way the trunks of Olive trees are so strong, hardy and characterful and their branches and leaves so delicate. And the fruits so powerful and versatile.

I firmly believe that the Olive Tree has magical powers. It produces amazing and delicious fruits that fall in abundance at the end of each year and are enjoyed by so many worldwide. And its virgin oil so healthy and loaded with powerful antioxidants.

Why else does the olive tree exude such magic?

  • olives and their oil have strong anti-inflammatory properties
  • olive oil has antibacterial properties
  • nutrients from olive oil can help strengthen and soften hair
  • whenever I use Ouli’s Ointment as a skin softener, lip salve, or on cuts and grazes, it instantly soothes, heals, and hydrates
  • their strength is in their longevity, some can survive for around 2000 years, or longer
  • the olive tree branch is a sign of peace
  • the olive tree is protected by law. Why? Many old olive trees can die if uprooted and transported.
  • it’s one of the most beloved and sacred trees in the world
  • you are never far away from a beautiful olive tree in Greece

My favourite olive trees in Greece

olive tree olive oil
Mary’s very own olive oil

These have to be in and amongst the olive groves around Leonidio in the Peloponnese where my (now deceased) cousin, Mary, had a little house. She had many olive trees in her garden. Every olive harvest she would gather the olives with help from local pickers and turn them into her very own olive oil. Delicious!

Leonidio is a small town nestled underneath imposing mountainsides. It is well known for its very fertile landscape. I love shopping in the little streets here, especially in the local fruit and veg shops – they are abundant with local produce.

Are there any olive trees to visit in the UK?

Yes! There’s one very near to me on the Sussex coast at the little sensory Garden in Lancing. This is a tiny community garden just off the seafront. It’s dedicated to a mixture of plants, flowers, shrubs and garden art that inspire the senses and create a peaceful haven in which to relax, sit and meditate amongst olive tree, bamboo, apple tree, lavender and so much more

And, last September, I visited the Urban Jungle near Beccles in Suffolk. Dedicated to exotic and unusual plants, the Urban Jungle nurseries have a spectacular range of olive trees.

In amongst the olive trees at Urban Jungle
In amongst the olive trees at Urban Jungle, Suffolk

Finally, the ‘must visit’ olive tree of all time

This has to be one of the oldest and most impressive olive trees in the world – the Ελιά Βουβών. It sits amongst the olive groves of Vouves in Crete and it’s estimated that it could be 4000 years old. There’s an Olive Tree museum located nearby where you can learn about the tradition of olive cultivation in Greece, from ancient times and traditional tools to modern day cultivation and production.

I’ll be there as soon as I can.

Standard
Tales

Tree hugging and Trees

The beauty of trees

Tree hugging is one of my passions. In 2018, I hugged a different tree every day of the year. Needless to say, I learnt a lot about trees in the process.

I have also learnt that there are some key organisations in the UK that support the love and care of trees, and that promote the importance of trees to our health and well-being, and to the future of the planet. These are:

10 reasons why I love tree hugging?

  • I am giving thanks to the tree for giving us the air that we breathe
  • Hugging trees increases levels of the happy hormone serotonin
  • Trees are a source of energy. Not only do they provide oxygen and shade, they provide shelter and habitats for animals
  • Some trees give their fruit and wood to help ensure our survival
  • Trees bear wisdom. They shed their leaves in winter and yet they remain standing tall knowing that they will return to full splendour again in the spring
  • Trees have an excellent grounding energy, they give out the energy vibe of safety, security and stability
  • I have learnt to get to know the different varieties of tree
  • Hugging trees encourages me to get out into nature regularly
  • I have explored new areas of parkland and forests
  • I appreciate the importance of saving trees to save our planet

What were my top tree hugs in 2018?

  1. The Cedar Tree of Lebanon. The Cedar Tree has a symbol of power and longevity. My father’s ashes are buried underneath this tree. I love the way the Cedar tree has a mind of it’s own, the way that its branches span out horizontally in all directions and provide such a warm and welcoming feel. And wow…what a magnificent tree trunk.
Hugging a Cedar Tree
  1. The Silver Birch. I love the white bark of these striking trees, there’s no mistaking them. Their trunks are elegant and slim and their branches are elegant too. The leaves, light and delicate, twinkle and dance. I would say that, if trees were in a fashion show, the Silver Birch would definitely be up there on the cat walk.
Hugging a Silver Birch

Maple Trees. I frequently pass through this glorious avenue of Maple Trees at Beach Tree Gardens in Worthing. An uncomplicated tree, the Maple looks magnificent whatever the season, with leaves that change to magnificent colours. Even in the winter when the maple is waiting for its fresh spring bloom, this tree never loses it’s charm.

Hugging a Maple Tree
Hugging a Maple Tree

Plant a tree, save the planet

Trees are in the news a lot these days. We all know the stark facts on climate change and how we need to act NOW to prevent irreversible damage to the earth.

Planting trees can drastically help to capture huge amounts of damaging carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. In fact, research shows that planting billions of trees across the world is one of the biggest and cheapest ways of taking CO2 out of the atmosphere.

So, how about it? When was the last time that YOU planted a tree? You can contact any of the organisations above to find out more about how to help preserve, and plant more trees.

Standard
Tales, travels

No. 1 place to visit post-lockdown

No. 1 place to visit - somewhere with trees
Beech Trees

No 1. place to visit is somewhere with lots of trees.

Why? So many reasons. I love trees. Without them, the human race wouldn’t survive – trees take in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and, in the process of making wood, they emit oxygen…vital for our existence. I’m always thanking trees, hugging them too.

No. 1 place to visit - somewhere with trees
Hugging a Pine Tree

Second, trees are sanctuaries. Sanctuaries for calm, peace, nature, wildlife, thought, de-stressing, happiness, beauty.

Third, being in a forest is good for the soul, it’s impossible to be unhappy in a forest. It’s the simple things that take over, like listening to branches whistle in the wind, noticing how the mind starts to unclutter, feeling the crunch underfoot as you walk, and breathing in the fresh forest air.

So…where are the No. 1 place to visit local forests and woods where Dolly and I can travel to for the day? Here’s my list so far:

Just think of all the No. 1 places to visit of wonderful forest spaces, untouched after months of being human-free during the virus-crisis months, that will be ready to explore, abundant with nature, and full of bird song.

I can’t wait…

No. 1 place to visit - somewhere with trees
Tree Hugging at Buriton, Hampshire

Standard
Tales, travels

No. 2 place to visit post-lockdown

No. 2 place to visit – the Mawddach Estuary, North Wales

Victorian artist and writer John Ruskin had a home in Barmouth, North Wales during the nineteenth century and was inspired by the Mawddach Estuary’s isolation and beauty. He said ‘there is no better walk than from Barmouth to Dolgellau other than from Dolgellau to Barmouth’.

I love this part of the world. I first came here when I was 6 weeks old, a babe in arms. Just as my mother’s parents had brought her, and her parents before her. In fact my maternal grandfather was half Welsh and lived along the North Wales coast at Aberdovey.

The slopes of Cadair Idris
Family time on the slopes of Cadair Idris, 1960

I can’t wait to introduce this part of North Wales to Dolly the VW Caddy Camper. With its mountain peaks, forest-lined green valleys, long sandy beaches, and isolated roads, the Mawddach Estuary landscape brings back so many wonderful childhood (and adult) memories for me. And what better way to re-visit than in a home-on-wheels. I’ve walked the Mawddach Trail many a time. It follows the disused course of the old railway line along the south bank of the river from Dolgellau to Morfa Mawddach. With the river on one side and the craggy slopes of majestic Cadair Idris on the other, as the landscape widens to the mouth of the estuary at Barmouth Bridge the views back upstream are stunning.

Barmouth Bridge at the mouth of the Mawddach Estuary

I’ve found two idyllic campsites with views overlooking the Mawddach estuary that will be perfect for me and Dolly. The Bwlchgwyn Farm campsite and The Craig Wen campsite (featured in the Cool Camping guide).

No. 2 place to visit – why? Hidden beauty.

No. 2 place to visit - North Wales
View from the George III pub of the Old Toll Bridge & slopes of Cadair Idris beyond

Just as the estuary begins to widen, there’s the 17th century George Inn. A favourite stop off way back when my grandparents used to bring me and my brother down to the estuary to swim. It’s still a popular pub/dining stop off today for walkers, bathers, families, and visitors who can relax with a drink taking in views of the estuary and watch the cars as they rumble across the old toll bridge

There’s so much hidden beauty in this part of the UK. I will leave you with a pic of what I think conjures up this favourite part of the world for me…mountain peaks, rolling green hills, dry stone walls, farm animals roaming free, and low misty clouds that are often quick to burst open for sunny blue skies behind.

No. 2 place to visit - North Wales
The Green Valleys of North Wales

Standard
Tales, travels

No. 3 place to visit post-lockdown

Bridge Villa riverside campsite Wallingford, Oxfordshire

No. 3 place to visit Bridge Villa campsite

No. 3 place to visit is Bridge Villa campsite at Wallingford, Oxfordshire. The site is shaped a bit like a horse-shoe, with lots of lovely leafy pitches up at the top end away from the entrance, but still lots of trees to park-up under at the entrance end (nearer to the facilities).

Even in the height of summer, when the site is full with the buzz of families and I hear the early-evening hum of chatter and outdoor cooking, the site doesn’t feel over-crowded.

No. 3 place to visit – riverside walks, riverside pubs, and great restaurants are only 5 mins walk away

Bridge Villa campsite is located in a picturesque spot beside the River Thames and close to the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  Close by there are unspoilt river-meadows, a part-medieval bridge into Wallingford town, and glorious riverside Thames Path walking ways.

Who knows when these wonderful eateries will be open again, but when they do, here are the ones to try.

Just over the river is The Boat House pub with a riverside terrace. I’ve enjoyed many an early evening drink here gazing up at the tall riverside trees and watching the boats glide by.  So many other pubs in Wallingford to choose from – The Coachmakers Arms (also near the river), the Old Post Office, and The Coach and Horses.

No. 3 place to visit
View from The Boat House pub at Wallingford riverside

So many brill places to eat in Wallingford too.  I haven’t tried them all (yet).  My favourites are The Wallingford Tandoori (just over the bridge),  Delhi Brasserie, and Pizza Express (Pizza Express were running a prize promotion for a few months last year and I won quite a few delicious dishes).

Always a friendly welcome

The team at Bridge Villa are always accommodating and helpful.  I can ring last minute and there always seems to be a small space for me and Dolly.  I was late arriving one evening and they telephoned to check that I would be arriving ok and to assure me of my space.

Bridge Villa facilities are top class

I’ve left this one til last as it’s the most important for me.  Clean, warm, well-maintained, and well cared for toilet and shower blocks at campsites mean the world to me.  And Bridge Villa goes right to the top of the class for this.  And guess what?  There’s underfloor heating throughout!

Even in the height of summer when the campsite was full, the Ladies shower and toilet block was clean and fresh.  And the showers…well…what can I say.  Powerful hot water that gushes out for as long as is needed.  And handy mops to wipe shower floors after use that everyone seems to use.

And two clean and tidy wash cubicles with their own lights.

Perfect.

Bridge villa campsite – one of the best

So there you have it.  A quick review of one of my favourite UK campsites.  Just a few other need to knows about the site:

  • Internet – yes
  • Shop – yes
  • Disabled facilities – yes
  • Washing-up room – yes
  • Washing machines – yes
  • Drinking water points and refuse collection points throughout the site – yes

Looking forward to visiting again once the virus lockdown has eased.

Thank you Bridge Villa!

Love Sarah and Dolly

Standard
Tales

Embracing change

Hugging trees
Embracing change

Change. Transform. Refresh. Re-focus. 

I’ve said goodbye to my web content writing offering.  It’s time to move on, change, and re-focus.

To embrace the unfolding adventures of the next stage of my life, to enjoy being a Granny, to have more adventures in Dolly the Caddy Camper, to move more and sit less.

My 5 top freelance achievements:

  1. Working on some amazing projects with www.bluesail.com.  And being part of a team that helped tourism officers in London to focus on their tourism offerings, that wrote useful ‘How To’ guides for tourism & marketing officers, and that created, launched, wrote, and edited the North East Tourism Toolkit website for North East tourism businesses.
  2. Connecting and working with wonderful colleagues and clients. Amanda Shepherd and her team at Blue Sail, all of my ex-colleagues at VisitBrighton, the team at nVisage, Adam and Laurie at Press Choice, Govind at Freedom Holidays, Dan at Davanco Leisure, and many more.
  3. Working alongside wonderful content writers – Christina at Brittle Star, Lauren Smith at The Original Wordsmith, Jamie Scott at Just Add Words, and freelance writer Dan Tester.
  4. Being advised by Dawn at Migrate Media and Adam at Giganaut who have guided and developed my online presence from day one with a website that has consistently  ranked Page 1 for search term web content writer
  5. Being flexible with where I worked.  In 14 years I moved from Sussex to Staffordshire and back down to Sussex.  My desk space has varied from.. being in a cupboard, overlooking a snowy courtyard, round the corner from an 11th century ruined castle, close to a warming open-fire, in libraries,  in a little village in Oxfordshire, and in a basement in Hove.

My 3 freelance side-lines:

  1. I trained to become a NIA Blue Belt Teacher and taught 2 NIA classes a week.  Oh what wonderful people I met and danced with.
  2. I combined freelance with part-time work.  Working at a beautiful dance space, Deda, in Derby. Working at Structural Engineers Hemsley Orrell Partnership in Hove,  And working at the NHS in Lancing and Sussex.
  3. I project managed the launch of an online family tree, and helping my now deceased cousin, James Gibbs, to sell and find homes for his beautiful fish paintings.

My top 2 freelance lessons:

  1. Learning to develop a ‘never give up’ attitude.  I kept going with projects at the most difficult of times.  To make ends meet and alongside my web content writing,  I’ve done cold-calling, database research, deadline-driven transcription work, and on-street surveys.  And I’ve learnt how to do my own online tax returns.
  2. Learning that freelance working is both free-ing and tie-ing.  Free-ing in that I can work when and where I want, tie-ing in that if I don’t do the work I don’t get paid. My time and energy has ultimately been tied to projects.

Change:

  • encourages us to go out of our comfort zones
  • teaches us to be flexible
  • reveals our strengths
  • encourages us to be more compassionate
  • breaks up routines
  • offers opportunities
  • encourages us to re-invent ourselves and reminds us of our passions

My new beginnings:

I’m letting go of the web content writing, and I’m inviting in time for:

  • being a Granny
  • adventuring in Dolly the Caddy Camper
  • being creative
  • finding new ways of ‘moving’
  • spending time with family
  • hugging more trees
  • helping our precious green spaces

Thank you to everyone who has been part of my freelance journey since 2006, what an amazing journey it’s been.

Change made it happen.

Sarah x

Standard
Tales, travels

Don’t be a tourist, be a traveller

Don't be a tourist, be a traveller
Don’t be a tourist, be a traveller

I saw this ‘Don’t be a tourist, be a traveller’ sign in a shop window on my recent visit to Thessaloniki, Greece.

And it got me thinking.  Is there really a difference between tourists and travellers?  I suppose we’ve all been tourists at times and we’ve all been travellers.  And some of us seek out travelling and some of us seek out sticking to the tourist hotspots (which we do as travellers too). Most of us  share the desire to visit and explore amazing locations, and however we do this is our choice, there is no right or wrong.

For me, to be a traveller is:

  • To arrive at a new destination and just……breathe
  • To know a little about the history and culture of where I’m visiting
  • To ask myself ‘how does this place make me feel?’
  • To take time to watch the locals as they go about their daily lives – what are they wearing, how do they move, how do they look?
  • To pick and choose where I want to go and which tourist spots ‘say’ something to me
  • To wander down a side street or two and see what’s round the corner
  • To take time to watch the locals as they go about their daily lives
  • To seek out the shops that have been there for years
  • To try some local dishes
  • To hop on a local bus.
  • To sit in a park and watch the world go by
  • To leave with memories of, and feelings for, a place

An authentic traveller

Having said in my previous post that I’m taking a sabbatical from my web content writing work, I now find that I’ve been asked to write travel articles for a long-term client.

He used the word ‘authentic’ travel articles.  And it made me smile.   I said in my last post that I’m on a journey to find my authentic writing voice.  And now I find that I might be able to combine both – authentic writing with authentic experiences.

And perhaps that’s what being a traveller is all about.  That it’s an authentic experience more than an organised experience.

What does being a traveller mean to you?

Standard