Yesterday we gathered at the beautiful  Houzz 2018 pop up, at 19 Greek Street in Soho. We were greeted with coffee and a warm welcome from Lou Archell, who had organised the wonderful Sisterhood Camp event to see out the end of a very long January.

Who wouldn’t want to beat the January blues learning about flower arranging and eating delicious food in a beautiful building. I love flowers and eating and it sounded like the perfect day.

BD85CD07-7FB4-466E-B832-863AE8F88822

We sat at long tables and learned about Ikebana from the serene and talented florist, Erin Allison Clare.

021AF253-9589-4ED0-82D6-35C4FFF36378

She told us about the background to Ichiban floristy, about consideration and balance. It is important to look at all aspects of a flower as well as considering incorporating dried plants. Look at the beautiful array of flowers we had to choose from.

DSC03580[1]

We started constructing our displays, using beautiful ceramics from Rebecca Proctor, a ceramicist based in Cornwall. You use florist tape to attach a floral pin holder and then fill a vessel with water.

The pastime of viewing plants and appreciating flowers throughout the four seasons was established in Japan early on by the aristocracy. We learned that ikebana pays attention to the overall line and form of all plant material used. We were told to consider each plant and think about minimalism and asymmetry.

Ikebana also pays attention to  the sacred relationship between humans and nature with the flower arrangement usually practiced in a silent and meditative state. Luckily we were allowed to talk.

ED00BFA2-0728-4D2A-AFF2-C03C44ACA3C1

Ikebana pays attention to the overall line and form of all plant material used and emphasizes minimalism and asymmetry. Ikebana also reveres the sacred relationship between man and nature with the flower arrangement usually practiced in a silent and meditative state.

C50CA4AF-453D-4AE2-BC03-5B1A3940747E

You attach a floral frog to the base of the shallow vessel and fill it with water. Erin had brought along a couple of Hellabores plants, which were really beautiful. My inner gardener felt terrible cutting them up.

Here was my final arrangement and I was really proud of what I made.

E522C252-02F7-464F-80F8-F0F6573722DB

DSC03591[1]

Whilst Lou and her team set up the room for lunch we went off to explore the Houzz pop up and as it was so sunny outside, I went for a wander around Soho.

433C2B91-246F-41E6-AF53-7664C107F894 (1)

We came back to see the room set up for lunch and it looked rather lovely.

DSC03622[1]

 

DSC03624[1] (1)

DSC03626[1]

We sat down at long tables in the cafe for a delicious lunch cooked by chef and food writer, Claire Thomson. She had created a beautiful three course menu using fresh, seasonal ingredients. I was amazed when I saw the size of the kitchen she cooked it in, it was tiny. It was great to hear about her new book – The Art of the Larder.  It was a real treat to eat such delicious food and Clare was really lovely. You can follow her on instagram at 5oclockapron.

I took a photo of the delicious starter and pudding. Plus my customised mocktail, thanks for the addition of the lemon and camomile, it makes all the difference when you can’t drink alcohol.

What was so great about Sisterhood event was meeting interesting and friendly women, I was really lucky to chat to the warm and inspiring Erin Trezise-Wallace, as well as the talented Ariana Ruth and her fascinating mother, Fiona. It was also lovely to meet Natalie Bourne who designs beautiful homes and gave me lots of brilliant parenting advice.

It was a great day, a beautiful space, interesting people and I really enjoyed learning about a new way of flowering arranging.

Thanks Lou and Sisterhood!

DSC03617[1]

This time last week, I was just back from a magical four day retreat in Fforest camp with Sisterhood Camp Retreats.

In case you don’t know about Sisterhood, it was set up by Lou Archell of Little Green Shed. The retreats are designed to help people to embrace a slower and more gentle pace of life.

image.jpeg

I spotted the first Sisterhood retreat on Instagram two years ago and I thought it looked beautiful.

Slowing down from my frenetic pace of life really appealed, that and the fact the retreat was taking place on the Welsh Coast over summer solstice. With the opportunity to learn new skills, foraging in flower filled hedgerows and gathering around nightime fires – how could anyone resist?

It was a creative, friendly, and ever so beautiful four days. There was feasting, country walks, wild swimming and plenty of time outside.

IMG_4238

 

The beautiful and inspiring women I met

The opening ceremony of sisterhood set the tone, where we gathered around the fire to set out our intentions. Mine was to have some time for reflection but the weekend turned out to be more about the connections made. The group I found myself in for jam making was a particular highlight. These wise women made sure I was included, even though they knew so much more. Michelle, who had travelled to Sisterhood all the way from Tasmania, is a cookery writer and her books include one on making jam.

Sisterhoo women

@littlegreenshed

DSC02917

I loved laughing and talking to everyone over all the communal meals, around the fire at night and between workshops.  It was fascinating hearing about the different ways people live their lives, such as Flora Jamieson who told stories about messing around on the river as child and how she now takes her children on wild swimming adventures. It was inspiring to learn about people’s businesses set up in all four corners of the UK, including Sam’s amazing fireside banquets and Laurie from A Woodland Gathering who makes  beautiful linen dresses in Scotland.

Wild Swimming

From waking to the bird song to gathering round the open fire. It was amazing breathing in the fresh Welsh air. A big contrast to the fumes of Brixton Hill.

On Saturday we gathered together to learn all about wild swimming and strolled down to the river Tefyn where we all jumped in, remembering to carry on breathing when the cold took your breath away.

Sisterhood Camp Retreat down to the river for swimming
@sisterhoodcamp

The feeling of the cold water and the pull of the current was unlike anything I had experienced before. It did take your breath away.

Sisterhood Camp Retreat Swimming

@littlegreenshed

The beautiful Fforest camp

The setting of Sisterhood was really lovely. When we arrived at Fforest camp you take in the wooden buildings, the beautiful flower arrangements and our dome with a wood burning stove. Sian @coldatnight has thought of all the little details, from the cosy pub with comfortable seats to the beautiful Welsh blankets on our beds. I could have sat outside on our dome’s terrace all day, reading the brilliant books in our goody bags (Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and Who is the real Joan Ashby?)

Here are some of the details from Fforest that I loved.

Siterhood Camp flowers

 

image

 

image.jpeg

 

DSC02759

One final thing that will stay with me is the delicious food and beautiful styling of all the feasts.

image

Sisterhood Camp Retreat

Before the Sisterhood Camp Retreat final night feast.

Thank you for a magical experience, I can’t wait until my next Sisterhood Camp Retreat.

Laurabluebell Sisterhood Camp

image