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©Ianthe Butt 2012

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©Ianthe Butt 2012

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©Ianthe Butt 2012

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All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players…

©Ianthe Butt 2012

 

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I maintain that if a thunderstorm hadn’t arrived at the precise time I  started firemaking I would have created an inferno.

Maybe.

 Clive Cobie, our bushcraft instructor made it look painfully easy:

rubbing a piece of wood (spindle) against a bow with a taut cord while resting it in a hollowed out groove on a flat piece of wood (fire board) to create friction.
Within minutes Clive had made a small pile of

gLoWiNg charcoal dust,

which he used to ignite a dry ball of grass and twigs.

Vigorously burning it billowed smoke into the ever-darkening sky. The heavens opened when it was my turn to start twizzling the stick,
so on Clive’s advice I used a bushcraft helping hand 
and placed a piece of King Alfred’s cake,
a black ball-shaped fungus found on dead ash tree branches, next to my fire board.
Once alight the cake burns slowly and acts like a coal, giving you time to allow your tinder to catch fire. Moving the bow backwards and forwards was harder work than it looked, and with my spindle slipping in the rain and aching arm muscles, it was after much perseverance and a little light cursing, that I managed to light the cake. It emitted a feeble glow, before a couple of dejected  puffs before being extinguished by the plip-plopping rain.

If anybody asks, however, I am a grade A fire maker.

It’s early morning in leafy Shadow Woods, somewhere (“the middle of nowhere” according to the taxi driver) a few miles from Billingshurst, West Sussex and my  firemaking attempt signified the end of a three- hour woodlands skills taster course.

Clive describes himself  as a fLiBbErTiGiBbErT and is a friendly chatterbox who knows everything there is to know about the Weald Downland woodlands.

The course packed with information to equip the woodland novice with useful bushcraft skills: making string from knotted nettle stems, finding edible plants for sustenance and basic survival tools.

Shadow Woods is not just a great destination for would-be explorers.

Its large Barn Meadow is home to a cluster of five yUrTs:

large Mongolian  tents with wooden frames.

Insects flit and buzz through hawthorn thickets

& roe deer roam the wooded areas.

Pom Oliver, the owner of Woodland Yurting, an ex-Antarctic explorer who effervesces positivity, says the idea came about when she was off exploring:

during the blisteringly cold nights she missed having a snug and comfortable bed to sleep on.

I can’t say I would have connected West Sussex with yurts and snug before, but after unlatching the door and taking in pretty tea light stands, hang-up wardrobe, wicker sofa and throwing myself onto the comfy double bed it began to make sense…

Staring at the wooden beams on the ceiling, cocooned under the duvet and staring up into the yurt’s central circular roof skylight

I felt rather like the dormouse in Alice in Wonderland  in a rather large teapot.

Looking up into this eye -in -the -sky it was as though someone had opened the lid to peer into
my very own cosy wonderteapot.
As well as providing all cooking utensils, a cool box and firebowl, there’s eco-friendly washing up liquid to clean pots&pans.
 
Showers are solar-powered
and taken al-fresco in wooden stalls come evening time once the water has warmed.
Compost loos are luxe and clean, and labelled recycling bags are provided in the yurt for you to separate all your rubbish.

This plush campsite receives a huge thumbs-up for being an eco-friendly haven with friendly staff.

Perfect for couples and families to unwind in and take a step closer to becoming Ray Mears.

©Ianthe Butt 2012

– words and photos

This article is an edited version of a piece written for Daisy Green magazine.

Visit the Woodland Yurting website for more information.Disclosure: press trip

 

 

 

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The last few weeks

have seen a multitude of giant eggs

popping up in the streets

of London.

Each intricately designed and created by artists

from around the globe,

the eggs have been pEpPeRed across the city,

and seen 

Londoners hunting HiGh and low across the capital

on this art installation-meets- Easter Egg hunt adventure created by Fabergé…

Nowfor a final hurrah before the eggs are auctioned off for charity you no longer have to search for them.

Till the end of Monday 9th April (tomorrow!)  they have been gathered together in Covent Garden Piazza for The Grand Eggstavaganza…

Please note, the title was Faberge’s choice not mine,  I’ve received enough ‘eggsciting’ Easter press releases in the last few weeks to near on make me crack.
Wander, hunt,
enjoy and marvel at these beautiful pieces while you can.


Pick a favourite, it’s tough to choose just one..

Pictured are a few which I felt summed up British quirkiness and fun,

and others which were just so downright beautiful I couldn’t help but

include them…


Pop down and take a look for yourself,

 

and if you see one you like bid for it here.

Proceeds go to Elephant Family & Action for Children.

©Ianthe Butt 2012

words/photos

Read more and view all the eggs at The Big Egg Hunt Website.

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Who is Lisa Hannigan?

I found myself asking when offered a last minute ticket. The PR spiel described her as ‘the next Adele, and ‘one to watch in 2012.’

When you receive circa 200 emails daily which  wAx LyRiCaL about the next big product/star/band, you take  descriptions with a pInCh of SaLt (read: bowlful).

A quick Google  tells me Hannigan is  behind that haunting female voice on many of Damien Rice‘s tracks including the album O, which I love and 9 Crimes, the standout song on 9.

I’m sold.

Turns out Rice and Hannigan parted ways  in 2007, with Rice stating that their professional relationship had ‘run its creative course’ and it later emerging the two had been RoMaNtIcALLy involved and that was in fact the relationship which had broken down.

Fingers are pointed at both parties,some pieces stating Rice sacked her half an hour before  a gig in Munich others saying she walked out.

Luckily for Hannigan the number of  articles praising her vocals eclipse those about her personal life.

With a Mercury nomination for  2008’s Sea Sew, and a recent performance on Jay Leno under her belt, Hannigan is touring in wake of the release of this October’s Passenger, her second solo effort.

“I’m quite glad they’ve gone”

she says, after a couple of songs when the front row photographers are ushered away

“they had quite a gynacological view from there.”

In a bright red dress, her awkward but energetic dance movements and nervous energy jar curiously with the voice which tangles its way from her mouth.

JoLtEd FeEt-StAmPiNg contrasts with soft, lilting melodies, 

violent-hair tossing versus songbird warbling, which has more than a twang of Joanna Newsom to it.

In under two hours she manages to plays EIGHT (I think but couldn’t swear by it) different instruments.

Accordion, banjo, even (a somewhat token) glockenspiel and thoroughly seduces the audience with her singing.  

Firmly under the thumb, they are stunned into silence when songs command it, and spontaneously break into applause at points when they can’t contain their appreciation.

She is talented without arrogance, she has a qUiRkY-girlish air about her which is innocent and endearing.

Past the rolling folky Jewel-like notes and  hints of Kate Nash what strikes me is how much of a wordsmith Hannigan is: fun words like kettle,stumble and balloon roll off her tongue with an infectious childish enthusiasm.

She compares a relationship to a Venn Diagram. 

That’s not to say that her music is flippant.  Although some tracks are lighthearted – the night ended with a bizarre rendition of  a song of which the main refrain was…

‘Safe travels, don’t die’,

and the crowd were practically on their feet chanting  during I Don’t Know – but many are haunting with her saccharine voice  coating sharp words, poignantly delivered…

” When the time comes, and rights have been read, I think of you often but for once I meant what I said.”

Who is Lisa Hannigan?

I’ll tell you:  A folksy, awkward bundle of energy, full of suprises.

Her music will make you… crack a smile, send you into a soporific daze, maybe even make you cry.

Adele – absolutely not. One to watch? Definitely…

©Ianthe Butt 2011

photo/Helena Lee

photo/Helena Lee

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Ianthe, blogging about HAM I hear you cry?

Those of you that know me might think this is bizarre.

Given that I’ve been vegetarian since I was five.
 
Carnivorous friends,despite your best efforts wafting crispy bacon fumes my way on hungover mornings I’ve not turned just yet.

Meat still does nothing for me, nada, sorry…

But pigs on skis 

bunnies bouncing on trampolines

and horses gardening…

This kind of HAM – the hottest new lifestyle brand to hit exclusive Kingly Court

in Carnaby – is more up my street than a haunch of meat any day of the week.

                

Designer Jo Robinson’s first collection of

chic bone china mugs, tea towels, aprons, photogram prints and foil blocked cards all

adorned with  farmyard animals having a whale of a time

.can’t fail to make you smile

100% British suppliers are used to craft these high quality and quirky handmade (HAM-made?!)

items and happily they don’t come with an extortionate price tag.

Perfect for sipping a cup of  tea in the city, while dreaming of a weekend in the countryside.

HAM- AZING

Visit the HAM pop up store and have a chat with the lovely Jo

at 1.11 Kingly Court, Carnaby Street from 14th Jul – 14th August

or order online here.

 

© Ianthe Butt 2011

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