Good luck Sarah!







We  have a celebrity in our midst in the Wighton yoga group!  

Local artist, Sarah Caswell, has been chosen to take part in BBC2’s Show me the Monet and one of her vibrant flower paintings  is currently up for grabs at the Mall Gallery in London.

A selection of Sarah’s work is always on show in her studio at Walsingham Barns but this year she is a hot ticket in London too –  at the Society of Botanical Artists later this month and then back by popular demand at the Chelsea Flower Show in May.


Easter on the Allotment

forced rhubarb shoots

Forced rhubarb shoots – out from under wraps

At this time of year, growing your own can seem all hard work (digging, weeding and sowing) with very little to show for it. So I was gleeful to have spent Easter with an abundance of tasty produce to use while cooking for family and friends.

The forced rhubarb is so sweet and tender it needs little accompaniment, but with a basket of unforced Timperly Early to use as well, I decided on a spring version of classic Eton Mess for a good friday lunch with friends; and to my mind the sharpness of poached rhubarb is the perfect foil for light sticky meringue and whipped cream.

basket of timperly early

Timperly Early – perfect for rhubarb mess

For the first year ever, we have been harvesting purple sprouting broccoli and other brassicas – previously the plants were left shredded by pigeons and rabbits well before christmas. This year – Fort Knox! As a result we have been feasting on cavolo nero, green cauliflower and scorzerona since November. The sprouting broccoli was a later developer – so late, I nearly pulled it up to make way for a sowing of spring peas. But it’s been a real winner. The more you pick, the more it grows and delicious lightly steamed in salads, in stir frys or made into a tart with hot smoked salmon from the Cley smokehouse.

pigeons keep out!

Another great discovery this year has been that vegetables can be eaten in so many forms. Take radishes. We grew these in the summer and they went to seed before we had the chance to pick them. Within weeks they had grown into tall delicate plants bearing bucket loads of succulent spicy pods – a cross between radishes and sugar snap peas.

And so this winter, as we let some of the cavolo nero and cauliflowers go to seed (after all there is a limit to how many cauliflowers you can eat in the two week period when they are all ready to pick), we found ourselves trying the sprouted heads – delicious!

Added to this we have had armfuls of salad in the form of fennel, sorrel,parsley, lambs lettuce and land cress – all mainly self seeded so very little effort involved.

Finally – the last of the winter squashes. We tend to grow mostly Crown Prince. They look and taste fantastic, fruit prolifically and can be stored for around 6 months. As a result I am a sucker for new recipes. So on Easter Sunday a spicy pumpkin cake for desert – moist, creamy…and with a handful of black pepper thrown in, quite a kick too…

Spiced Pumpkin Cake

pumpkin cake with pepppercorns

50 g raisins soaked in 100ml of licor (I used rum, but galiano or cointreu would do as well)
450-600g pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cubed and stewed in 150 g butter (or mix of butter and olive oil) til soft. The greater the proportion of pumpkin, the more cheesecake like in consistency the end result will be. I like to use lots!
Pinch salt,
150 g sugar,
50g almonds chopped,
grated zest of lemon,
1 tbsp coursely ground black pepper.
50 g plain flour – or ground almonds/polenta if you want wheat free.
1 heaped tsp baking powder
2 eggs
icing sugar
8 inch tin, 180 degrees

Beat softened pumpkin ’til smooth and add all dry ingredients including raisins in licor.

Then add egg yolks, followed by whipped whites which should be folded in.

Bake for 1-1.5 hours. It is ready when scewer comes out clean.

When cool, dust with icing sugar.

Farewell to the Geffrye

My six week stint with the Asian Women’s Group at the Geffrye came to an end this week – it’s been such a great experience I’m sorry to be saying goodbye. Not only has the group been the most enthusiastic and fun I have every had to teach but I have discovered so many new things along the way.

– early morning cycle ride along the Regent’s Canal towpath with its colourful canal boats, funky apartments and watery reflections;

– quirky shops like jewellery gallery @ Work and contemporary furniture maker, Unto This Last on Brick Lane;

– utility homewares at Labour and Wait on Redchurch Street;

– master of the the new wave paper cut Rob Ryan on Columbia Road;

– Vietnamese food in the many wonderful cafes along Kingsland Road;

– morning coffee overlooking the gardens at the Geffrye Museum as they spring into life with tulips, daffodils and an abundance of green.

Hopefully the farewell is more of an au revoir: Julie and her group so enjoyed the yoga sessions that they have asked for more! Something I hope to be able to pursue later in the year if not before.

Yoga in the hut

Yoga classes in Wighton village hut will start again on Monday evening. This is a mixed ability class so open to all levels. Students are welcome to drop in to individual sessions, but for those looking to develop their yoga practice, each five week series of classes has an underlying theme running through it. So in this series, we will be looking at the principles of yin/yang and the harmony of opposites and experiencing our yoga asana and pranayama practice with this in mind.

The classes run from 5.15-6.45 pm in Wighton village hut, Buddells Lane, Wighton, Norfolk and cost £30 for the five week series or £7.50 drop in.

The sound of mangoes at the Geffrye, plus an outing…

Now over half way though my series of classes at the Geffrye . This week I introduced some voicework – using simple sounds as a way of finding the “natural” voice as well as releasing tension in the throat and upper chest.  I often find that students are uncomfortable with this to begin with, but once again the Geffrye women amazed me with their unbounded enthusiasm and complete lack of self consciousness; at one point descending into peals of laughter when it transpired that my  “trying to be sensitive to a muslim audience” alternative to the  “om” sound  meant that we ended up chanting about mangoes (which is apparently what “aam” means in Bengali…)

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New Shoots…

Took our first tentative steps onto the allotment this week and despite the chaos of winter, were excited to see signs of spring, with colourful shoots of rhubarb, chard and cardoons sprouting  amongst the weeds. Thus encouraged, we began the considerable task of preparing the ground for sowing. First to go in were the broad beans – all heavily netted to protect the tasty shoots from hungry rabbits and birds.  Next up will be a batch of purple asparagus which should arrive before the end of the month.

We are still novice allotmenteers having taken over our patch of previously neglected ground in a nearby field 18 months ago.  Before that we bought all our veg from shops and markets.  But oh my goodness it tastes so much better freshly plucked!  And all the better too for not being chemically cleansed and encased in plastic.  So despite the hard work it is definitely worth it!

Inspirational Sounds

Working with my new group at the Geffrye has focused my mind on the power of sound to create mood, encourage inner silence and to convey abstract ideas like the meditative state of mind without relying on words. So I will definitely be adding these sounds to my yoga playlist. The first by the amazing Keith Jarrett. The second and third more traditional Gurdjieff sounds.

Keith Jarrett – reading from sacred books
Gurdjieff 1
Gurdjieff 2

Yoga with the Asian Women’s Group at the Geffrye

Phew! Just  managed to cycle back from the Geffrye Museum this lunchtime before the heavens opened and so avoid getting drenched.

So, my first class with Julie Begum and her enthusiastic group of Asian women!  The  group was set up as part of the Geffrye’s community programme and for the past three years they have been meeting each Wednesday to share learning and other activities in the splendid setting of the Museum and its gardens.

The yoga sessions were to be something of an experiment – for me and for them – as I had never before taught such a large group who were a) new to yoga and b) not all english speakers.  Continue reading

Yoga for all at the Geffrye

The Geffrye Museum in Hoxton is one of London’s hidden gems and most definitely on my top ten list of places to visit.  So I’m really excited to have been asked to run a 6 week yoga programme at the Museum, specifically designed for the Asian Women’s Group.  The group, like most I teach, is of mixed age and ability but with a high proportion suffering from bad posture and associated lower back problems. So I decided to put together a programme specifically to tackle this.  The idea being that at the end of the course the women would understand the difference between good and bad posture and could self correct; and would also  have the confidence to practice a series of postures designed to alleviate lower back pain once the classes came to an end.

Beautiful La Gomera

In December I spent a week at the idyllic retreat of La Argayall on La Gomera with upbeat yoga guru David Sye.  La Argayall means “Place of Light” and it is truly the most calming and restorative place imaginable.  Set on the beach, amidst a tropical garden of mango, papaya and other luscious plants it is the ultimate in total chill experience. We stayed in one of the simple but atospheric wooden huts dotted amongst the trees, lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves and the singing frogs (well they take a bit of getting used to I must admit…). Continue reading