New yoga classes in Wighton, North Norfolk

A beautiful sunny evening last Monday for our first  yoga class in Wighton village hall;  it was fantastic to be able to do our yoga practice outside and to see so many old faces.

I am now running two classes on Monday evenings:

Improvers’ Yoga  5.15-6.45 pm

This is a mixed ability class which combines the strength and dynamism of Yang movements with some deep Yin stretches for a fully balanced hatha yoga practice. The class ends with a period of pranayama and relaxation/mindfulness meditation.

Beginners’ Yoga – starting 11th August 7-8.15pm

This class provides a general introduction to yoga and covers all the basic principles like breathing, posture, full body awareness and relaxation techniques as well as a more careful look at some simple yoga asanas.

Looking forward to a yoga filled summer…

Summer yoga in Wighton village

After a rather long break, I’m really looking forward to re-starting the yoga classes in Wighton village hall where on fine evenings we can practice our yoga outside, overlooking the cornfields. What bliss!

The first class is on Monday 21 July, 5.15-6.45 pm and the village hall is in Buddells Lane, Wighton, North Norfolk.

Can’t wait to see everyone again!

poppies and nepeta on a summer's evening

poppies and nepeta on a summer’s evening…

 

Wighton Scarecrow Festival

Wighton great train robber scarecrowsIf you come down to the village of Wighton over the Mayday bank holiday weekend you’re sure for a big surprise!

wighton scarecrows viewer crowThis sleepy North Norfolk hamlet is transformed into a surreal stage set with disconcertingly lifelike scarecrows of all shapes and sizes peeping out of gardens, riding bicycles … even taking a nap over a copy of Farmer’s Weekly. Think Wicker Man meets Bill and Ben and you get the general idea … seriously though it’s a real hoot.

wighton scarecrow festival

McGregor crow

wighton scarecrow festival

Gordon Ramsay crow

wighton scarecrow festival

zzzzz crow.

Ever since we arrived in Wighton five years ago, we have loved taking part in the festival – and that means making scarecrows. As we live in the old station house, our crows have had a railway theme – and this year, what better than the 50th anniversary of the Great Train Robbery.

Now making scarecrows worthy of the Wighton festival is not so easy as you might think  – something we discovered in our early attempts as enthusiastic newcomers to the village when driving wind and rain left our valiant crows sagging and bedraggled on the station platform.  Planning and props were surely the key.

wighton scarecrow festival

Lots of lolly!

Luckily, also to hand were the considerable creative talents of our friends Paul and Laura who arrived from London late on Friday night with  a stash of realistic and waterproof pound notes; then next morning armed with masking tape and spray paint, they quickly transformed two common or garden t-shirts into eye-catching striped apparel, befitting the most villainous of crims.

wighton scarecrow festival

Going for stripes.

wighton scarecrow festival

what a good looking fella…

ighton scarecrow festival

With these fabulous props we set about creating our characters – this time, wind and rain  proof.  As we stepped back to admire our handywork –  well we surprised ourselves by how good they looked!  Had we finally cracked it?

wighton scarecrow festival

gangster’s moll

The proof of the pudding came in the whoops of delight and applause from passengers chugging past the platform as they made their way between Wighton and Wells on the miniature steam train.

Thus emboldened (and after quaffing a glass of two of champagne to celebrate Laura’s birthday) a plan was hatched to send a picture of our marvelous crows to the BBC urging them to run with the story.  Imagine our surprise when we emerged sleepy eyed the next  morning to find it on the BBC news website!

As if this wasn’t enough excitement, mid afternoon we faced the serious task of judging the children’s scarecrow making competition – and having awarded first prize  to a most innovative one legged pirate, it was time to retire back to the garden for a  plate of fish and chips from our local chippy, the Riddle in Walsingham.

wighton scarecrow festival

sunset crows

 

A late spring on the allotment

asparagus-on-woodoptToday – a moment of pure joy!  We harvested our very first home grown asparagus from the allotment.

Asparagus needs patient tending as well as lots of of water and manure; but now in its third year we can finally start picking  – this first bunch provided a late al fresco lunch with some lightly poached eggs and rosemary bread. As any grow your own enthusiast will tell you, there is nothing to beat the taste of freshly picked produce. And the asparagus was a case in point – totally delicious.


Asparagus aside, we have been late getting started on the allotment; but some spring sunshine (as well as the prospect of the asparagus) was enough to tempt us outside for some planting.  Three years on, the task of preparing the ground is much easier.  Regular bucketloads of horse muck last season really improved the soil so it is now crumbly and soft; and covering the beds with black plastic last autumn was a really smart move as it prevented the pesky weeds from taking hold.

On our first forage we returned with armfuls of salad – rocket, mizuna and mustard greens that were sown in the autumn and overwintered in a covered cloche.  Despite evidence of rabbit attack (the cheeky rascals had actually tunneled inside the cloche!) the tasty leaves were intact – their peppery flavour plainly not to the taste of the burrowing invaders.

But then came another unexpected visitor – an adventurous lamb, escaped from its enclosure opposite the allotment, came to see what we were up to.  Doh!  how cute we thought … until we found him tucking into the new growth on our artichoke plants and trampling the freshly sown seed beds.  For now, a hasty application of  twiggy borders has held him off.  Constant vigilance it seems is required.

a visitor to the allotment…

Elsewhere in the garden, spring is only just coming into view – so the contrast of pink tulips against purple sage provides some uplifting colour in the herb garden.

tulips and purple sage

tulips and purple sage provide a splash of colour in the herb garden

Autumn on the allotment

A selection of winter squashes

A clear sunny morning was the perfect opportunity to harvest our abundant crop of winter squashes for further ripening and hardening off under cover before the first frosts appear.

It has been an odd year on the allotment.  Some of our stalwarts like purple and runner beans performed poorly, having either rotted in the sodden earth in early summer or fallen prey to the hordes of slugs and snails that appeared in the wake of all that rain.  The tomatoes too were affected by blight for the first time ever and we lost the entire crop.

summer and winter squashes clambouring skywards

By contrast the summer and winter squashes put on a  marvelous show in terms of both colour and quantity.  For summer squash, it is hard to beat courgette trombocino, which will happily climb  or scramble at ground level , producing  lots of tasty trombone shaped fruits. Firm and sweet fleshed when eaten young, or you can  harden them off and treat like a winter squash too. Alternatively enter the more fetching specimens in the best dressed vegetable competition at your local country show and be prepared for groups of giggling gawpers and a panaply of rosettes.

But it is the winter squashes that have been the most spectacular.  This year we grew five varieties.  Crown Prince is probably our favourite.  With its blue-grey skin and perfect pumpkin shape it it would take the mere flick of a wand to be transformed into a fairytale carriage.   Plus it is the most long lasting of all the squashes, keeping up until Easter of the following year if stored correctly.

turks turban

Turks Turban – our finest specimen!

A close second has to be the magnificent Turk’s Turban, with its mottled orange, cream and green skin and turban shape.  This too is a good keeper.  Top marks also go to the smaller onion shaped Red Kuri. Another firm fleshed variety,  it is particularly good blanched and baked in the oven gratin style with some crumbled feta cheese, chopped rosemary and breadcrumbs.  Since we have a good half dozen of these, friends be warned, this is  going to be a regular addition to the autumn menu!!

Small squash are perhaps  more versatile than the whoppers because they can so easily be baked whole; just cut off the top and add a smattering of butter and some seasoning to the centre before replacing the lid and baking for around 45 minutes in a moderate oven.  Burgess Vine Buttercup are the perfect shape for this and like trombocinos, will happily clambour over a trellis or arch.  So useful in garden or allotment where space is at a premium as all squashes are real land grabbers.  The Burgess Buttercup is a heritage variety and available from the Real Seed Catalogue, which is well worth checking out if you are interested in growing more interesting vegetable varieties.

The unusually shaped Thelma Saunders

Finally, Thelma Sanders; another heritage variety and new to our allotment, where it grew like crazy and produced the strangest cream coloured fruit that we christened dragon’s eggs as we spied them glistening amongst the tendrils and greenery.

 

Summer yoga workshops

I will be running the following yoga workshops in Wighton village hall over the coming weeks. The workshops need to be booked in advance so please email me if you would like to book a space.

20 August : Developing the Core

Core body strength is important not just for our yoga practice but is vital for maintaining a strong, lithe physique that can move gracefully and without strain. In this workshop we will learn how to bring awareness to core muscles and explore movements that can strengthen and tone this part of the body.
Not suitable for complete beginners.

3 September : Awakening the Spine

In this workshop we will be looking at spinal flexion and twists as a way of bringing mobility to the spine as well as flushing out toxins and refreshing the whole body.

Both workshops will take run from 5.15-6.45pm. Cost – £7.50 each.

Plus, if enough newcomers are interested I will run two beginners’ workshops on the same dates and in the same place but from 3.30-5pm. Cost £7.50 each.

20 August : Breathing

In this workshop we will look at various ways in which the breath is used in yoga, including breathing to relax the mind and body, breathing for awareness, the synchronisation of breath and movement and specific breath control and expansion techniques (pranayama).

3 September : Rooting, elongation and an introduction to the bandhas

In contrast to the breathing workshop, in this session we will focus on the physical aspects of yoga asana and the spine including how to sit, stand and move with ease and an absence of tension.

Please email me if would like further information or to book a place.