30 Days of Delightful Poetic Musings

30 days cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written over 30 consecutive days in April 2013 for National Poetry Writing Month, local author XYZ has produced an enchanting series of ponderings on space and time composed whilst walking through the marshes.

The poetry in this compilation reflects the euphoria of witnessing the natural exuberance of the first stirrings of spring. What makes it unique is the way it weaves into these sensations a mystical contemplation of the scientific fact underlying each beautiful sighting.

Some of the poems trace their imaginings back from familiar marsh sightings – swans on the river Lea, night trains through Walthamstow Marshes, common garden birds, honey bees and majestic comorants. An example is this favourite of mine which is an evocative reflection on witnessing a comorant emerge from our polluted river:

Comorant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other poems are more abstract in nature, exploring the mysteries of time, black holes and mind bending aspects of cosmology.

Poems such as Kepler 62-F and Higgs Boson artfully express some personal grief that lurks beneath each contemplation of the rational world, just like the bird underneath the water.

Each poem has been originally illustrated via digital manipulation of vintage paper ephemera to delightful effect. Whilst absorbing yourself in the depth and beauty of the imagery in this pocket book of poetry, you can also expand your scientific knowledge through the comprehensive notes that accompany the text and explain the concepts behind each poem.

This compilation will stimulate the mind and senses of any marsh lover who is enraptured by the inner workings of nature that we see all around us, particularly those who muse over the scientific wonder of the everyday.

30 Days is available from our website Shop page, priced £10.

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Edible Plant of the Day

After the success of our Edible Plant Identification walk on Sunday 1st June, we thought we would share with you some of the highlights of what we found and some tips for recipes.

Remember that it’s crucial with any foraging that you are 100% confident that the plant you are picking is safe for consumption. Do not pick any plant you are unsure about.

So our Edible Plant of the Day today is…Meadowsweet

Meadowsweet is just coming into abundant bloom all over the remaining non-mown section of Walthamstow Marshes. This priceless medicinal plant, the original source for aspirin and a good remedy for headaches when taken as tea, can also be added to homemade wines, beers, vinegars, jams and custards. It received its name from being used to flavour to meade.

Meadowsweet vinegar is easy to make and makes a pleasing gift to save for Christmas time. To make meadowsweet vinegar, simply steep the flowers and leaves of the plant in vinegar for a couple of days; put in a dark place, removing occasionally to shake. If insufficiently strong for your liking after two days, remove the original plant material, and repeat the process using fresh supplies of meadowsweet and the vinegar that the first batch was steeped in.

Meadowsweet

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Edible Plant of the Day

After the success of our Edible Plant Identification walk on Sunday 1st June, we thought we would share with you some of the highlights of what we found and some tips for recipes.

Remember that it’s crucial with any foraging that you are 100% confident that the plant you are picking is safe for consumption. Do not pick any plant you are unsure about.

So our Edible Plant of the Day today is…Dog Rose

Dog rose

Dog rose

There is an array of pretty pink dog roses and white field roses all over the marshes right now to appreciate, and forage if you wish to. Remember when picking roses to pick the petals only, that way you leave the pollen for the bees! Rose petals are used in many Middle Eastern and Indian cuisines to make sweet, floral preserves and vibrant garnishes.

You can make rose petal jam, candied rose petals, rose cupcakes and even rose petal custard!

However, my personal favourite is rose-infused honey which as well as being delicious, looks great and makes a fabulous gift. The bonus is that it’s easy to make too!

How to Make Rose Petal-Infused Honey

What You Need

Ingredients

Basic formula: Use about 1-2 tablespoons of dried petals per 1 cup (8 ounces) of honey.

Honey: A light, mild flavored honey generally works best. (If you can find a local source of honey, all the better as this helps support your local bees and beekeepers.)

Petals: You can use just the petals or use them in combination with other herbs. Rosemary, sage, thyme, mint, lemon balm, lavender, chamomile and pine needles all make lovely infused honeys. You can also use spices like vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks, and star anise. Herbs should be dry; see instructions below.

Equipment
Clean, dry jars and lids (half-pint and pint mason jars work well)
Chopstick, wooden spoon handle, or other stirrer (avoid metal, which can scratch jars)
Clean cloth for wiping jar rims
Strainer

Instructions

1. Prepare petals: The buds or petals should be dry and if you are combining with herbs, may be in the form of whole sprigs or separated leaves. Chopped herbs may infuse more quickly, but they may also be harder to strain out. (To dry fresh herbs, use an air or oven drying method, dehydrator, ormicrowave.)

2. Combine herbs and honey: Place petals in the bottom of a jar and fill the jar almost to the top with honey. Using a chopstick or other implement, stir to coat the herbs with honey. Top off with more honey to fill the jar. Wipe the jar rim with a clean cloth and cover tightly.

Tip: Label the jar with the contents and date so you don’t forget!

3. Infuse: Let the petals infuse for at least 5 days. If the petals float to the top, turn the jar over a few times to keep them well coated. For a more intense flavor, infuse for another week or longer.

4. Strain: Strain the honey into a clean jar. Depending on the volume of honey and petals and the size of the strainer, you may need to do this in stages. (Tip: Use the leftover petals to make a tisane.)

5. Store: Store the honey in a tightly covered jar in a cool, dry place. It will last indefinitely.

Recipe reproduced from http://www.thekitchn.com

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Edible Plant of the Day

After the success of our Edible Plant Identification walk on Sunday 1st June, we thought we would share with you some of the highlights of what we found and some tips for recipes.

Remember that it’s crucial with any foraging that you are 100% confident that the plant you are picking is safe for consumption. Do not pick any plant you are unsure about.

So our Edible Plant of the Day today is…

Bladder senna

You can use the leaves in a tea as a laxative.

1/4 teaspoon senna leaves

8 ounces of boiled water

Leave for about 10 minutes

Bladder Senna is not as strong as Senna
Bladder senna

Bladder senna

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Edible Plant of the Day

After the success of our Edible Plant Identification walk on Sunday 1st June, we thought we would share with you some of the highlights of what we found and some tips for recipes.

Remember that it’s crucial with any foraging that you are 100% confident that the plant you are picking is safe for consumption. Do not pick any plant you are unsure about.

So our Edible Plant of the Day today is…Elderflower which is in plentiful abundance all over the marshes right now.

elderflower

The elder tree in the past was known as ‘the poor man’s pharmacy’ due to its abundance and renowned medicinal properties. Whilst the leaves,bark and stems are poisonous and should not be eaten, both the flowers which appear in early summer and the berries, which appear in early autumn, are full of goodness. Today you can buy expensive and delicious elderflower drinks, but did you know that you can make your own?

So here is a tried and tested internet recipe for Elderflower Cordial which we recommend:

You may want to start off checking out: Top Tips for Making Elderflower Cordial

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Steeping of flowers: 48 hours

Total Time: 48 hours, 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1k /2 ¼ lbs sugar
  • 1.5 litres / 6 cups boiling water
  • 4 medium lemons, washed
  • 30 large Elderflower heads, shake to remove any insects
  • 55g / 2 oz citric acid (available from a chemist)

Preparation:

  • Place the sugar into a large saucepan/stockpot or a large Pyrex bowl. Pour the boiling water over and stir until all the sugar has dissolved and leave to cool.
  • Grate the rind of the lemons with a fine grater, add to the sugar water.
  • Slice the lemons into thick slices and add to the water. Add the citric acid and stir, then finally add the flower heads to the water and stir again.
  • Cover with a clean cloth and leave to steep for 48 hours.
  • Strain through clean fine muslin cloth into a clean bowl.
  • Using a funnel, fill sterilized bottles (see note below). Seal and store in a cool, dark place (not the refrigerator) for a few weeks or freeze in plastic bottles to keep for longer (see note below).

The cordial is delicious diluted with still or fizzy water or used as a flavouring in ice creams, fruit fools and many, many other recipes using Elderflower Cordial. 

Once a bottle is opened store in the refrigerator.

Note To sterilize the bottles , rinse in the dishwasher, or place in a medium hot oven (300°F/150°C) until the bottles are warmed through but not red-hot.

If you want your Elderflower Cordial to last longer than a few weeks you will need to preserve the cordial by sterilising in a water bath. Not as difficult as it sounds and you can see the method in Top Tips for Making Elderflower Cordial

 

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A Vote to Save Our Marshes!

As election time approaches, it is useful to know which political parties and individual candidates intend to safeguard our marshes if elected this May. Save Lea Marshes has approached a number of electoral candidates in Hackney and Waltham Forest, requesting that they sign the following green pledge to protect our vital local green spaces, including the marshes:

“IF ELECTED I PLEDGE TO PROTECT GREEN SPACES IN WALTHAM FOREST/HACKNEY. I WILL WORK TO PROMOTE BIODIVERSITY, TO ERADICATE THE USE OF PESTICIDES WITHIN THE BOROUGH AND ENSURE THAT ALL RESIDENTS HAVE ACCESS TO WILD GREEN SPACES CLOSE TO HOME. 

Green spaces are not a luxury, affordable only during the good times, but fundamental to our individual and collective health and well being. Our environment IS our community.”

So far, the electoral candidates for the Green Party in both Hackney and Waltham Forest, the Trade Union Socialist Coalition in Waltham Forest and the Liberal Democrats in Hackney have all fully signed up to this pledge. There are 19 Green Party candidates in Waltham Forest who you can find here, the list of TUSC candidates is here and Green candidates for Hackney is here

The Green Party manifesto for Hackney includes a commitment to oppose “the development of damaging new buildings and large scale events on Hackney Marshes” Furthermore, they pledge to “ensure that council contractors are not allowed to spray with glyphosate, which is used indiscriminately at present and is bad for people’s health” and also recruit a full time biodiversity officer for the borough.

In Waltham Forest, the manifesto for the Liberal Democrats includes the following crucial commitment:

“We will use our open spaces to provide more wild areas and encourage biodiversity and keep Leyton Marshes & Wanstead Flats free from further development.”

The Liberal Democrat manifesto in Hackney describes how the present council “rides roughshod over local people’s wishes. The recent council plans to take new green space on Hackney Marshes to construct a car park for a cricket pavilion is just one example” and includes the following commitments to our green spaces:

“We will rebalance the use of Hackney’s parks and Hackney Marshes in particular away from large and noisy commercial concerts and towards fewer, smaller community events.”

“We will appoint a biodiversity officer to make sure that the council pursues a sustainable and consistent and “listening” environmental agenda across Hackney.”

All of the commitments relating to the environment in their manifesto can be read here

In Hackney, there will also be mayoral election for the position of directly elected mayor. Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate Simon de Deney has signed up to our green pledge. Independent candidate Mustafa Korel has signed up to our green pledge and all the specific commitments we recommend to preserve areas under threat from the present administration, including North Marsh, East Marsh, Mabley Green as well as adopting our practical measures to improve the dreadfully polluted the River Lea. You can read the list of these commitments in full here

Green mayoral candidate Mischa Borris has signed our green pledge, endorses all the environmental commitments made in the Green Party manifesto and has just published a vital statement supporting our campaign against the construction of an unnecessary 68 space car park on Hackney Marshes.

All candidates are free to get in touch with us, sign up to our green pledge and work with us on drafting appropriate manifesto commitments to safeguard our marshes and local green spaces. We will publish the details of who signs up to what on this page!

 

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Our Objection to LVRPA’s Proposed New Moorings Path on Site of Importance for Nature Conservation on Leyton Marsh

Dear Shaun Dawson

Leyton Marsh riverbank moorings.

We are writing to protest at the Authority’s damage to the Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation and the threat to public access on the riverside adjacent to Leyton Marsh, in connection with the recent renting by the Authority of de facto residential moorings.

A much-valued area of natural habitat is being turned into an area whose primary purpose is to provide access and amenity for the live-aboard vessels that have recently been persuaded to sign mooring agreements with the Authority in order to generate revenue.

The Authority proposes to excavate 132 square metres of existing habitat along the stretch of moorings, and replace it with a constructed path “for use by vessel owners”. This has already involved the mowing down of all standing vegetation which it appears will be routine if the path is built and the area ‘managed’ as an adjunct to the moorings. The reasons for our objection include:

  • The loss of wildlife habitat through mowing and cutting back of vegetation cover, and the installation of sterile path material designed to prevent plant growth.
  • The new path and clearance of the area for moorings use will harm the character of a formerly wild and natural area of the Park. It is contrary to Policy DM13 which requires character and biodiversity value to be preserved or enhanced.
  • It will offer no genuine benefit to regular marshes users, and the existing informal path has always been perfectly adequate as an enjoyable alternative to the adjacent Sandy Lane.
  • There is a real risk that the soil to be excavated is contaminated due to proximity to a historically polluted watercourse and the known contamination of the main body of Leyton Marsh.
  • Construction impacts are likely to be severe particularly if excavated spoil is dumped indiscrimately onto the adjacent vegetation as has been threatened in the planning application.

We also take exception to misleading claims made in support of the scheme in your recent planning application and correspondence with Cllr Ian Rathbone.

  • It is not the case that “There was a trail of trodden down undergrowth along the river bank where the vessel owners had created a ‘path'” . It is the original Lea towpath and has always been regularly walked by marshes users since long before boats began continuous mooring there.
  • The project will not “significantly reduce the impact of vessel owners on the habitat along the river bank”. The damage caused by the path and its construction, and the impact of intensive vegetation cutting, will far exceed any minor impacts of vessel owners’ activities.
  • The application form in section 13 wrongly claims that designated sites, important habitats or other biodiversity features within or adjacent to the development site will not be affected. This is untrue as the site lies within the M071 Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation and its habitat value will undoubtedly be reduced.
  • The photographs of the site show it immediately after the vegetation had been razed by contractors with strimmers, so does not illustrate the previous landscape character or “existing muddy riverside path” as claimed.
  • We strongly object to the repeated use of the term “tidying up” to describe this loss of SMINC habitat and character.
  • The vessels were not “illegally moored” prior to signing agreements and paying rent to the Authority. The owners were not committing any criminal or actionable civil offence. However, the Authority is acting unlawfully in establishing and charging for what are in reality residential moorings and outside its statutory powers.
  • We are also very disappointed that yet again a project has been launched secretively without the wider public being informed via any of the channels available (noticeboards, User Forum/Management Workshop, email list), nor apparently has it been presented at any Authority meeting. This is in spite of repeated assurances that communication and public engagement is important and would be improved.

You cannot be unaware that building of additional footpaths and loss of habitat on the marshes has long been a sensitive issue, as has the process of creeping annexation and enclosure of open land for revenue raising purposes, and the associated sharp practices the Authority is prepared to engage in regarding planning approval.

We are unable to trust any assurances that the area of moorings will not eventually be enclosed for use only by moorings residents, as is the case at the existing Springfield Marina moorings.

We welcome people living on boats alongside the marshes as they have done up till now. But we firmly oppose the Authority changing the nature and usage of the riverbank by stealth to facilitate unlawfully raising income from the boat residents, and would urge you to cancel any further works.

Yours sincerely

Save Lea Marshes Group

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