July saw us return, with a larger group of women, this time from the Angelou Centre to Harehope Quarry to experience a wild food and medicine exploratory walk with Bruce from Wild North Discovery.
Once again the weather was on our side even though we dressed prepared for rain.
Straight away steeping off the bus one woman said, with a deep breath, ‘ It’s nice to be out of the city, feel the breeze on my skin like a kiss. Lovely.’
Already our trip had fulfilled it’s brief and we were only one minute in. And as the day went on and developed, you could see each woman relax into the landscape, could see them put down their load and become present, in the moment, of amuch needed respite and reprieve through connecting with nature.
Medicinal plants that were pointed out to us included meadow sweet to aid headaches and tone used for raised temperature as it contains the same chemical as aspirin.
Wild roses were plentiful while we wandered and we learnt that not only are the petals good in salads and used to create Turkish delight. But once the wild bush has stopped flowering, come Autumn, the berries and seeds make rosehip syrup.
Rosehip syrup is rich in vitamin C vitamin including preventing and treating colds, flu, and vitamin C deficiencies.
The strawberry leaf, identified by
three leaves in one, are good in a salad also. They can also be used to make a medicine to stop diahorrea which in the past used to kill people due to dehydration, and can still be dangerous now for children if severe and continues over a long period of time.
Other medicinal plants that Bruce pointed out to us were wound wort which can be chopped up and placed into a wound to help it heal. Stinging nettle, which we cooked into a soup the last time we visited the quarry, can be used in a tea as it is anti-inflammatory and can alleviate the symptoms of hay fever.
“ I recognise some of the plants from our last visit,” one participate confided with a broad smile. “It feels good to know them and their names,” she added.
Again an aim of the project has been met as there is a kind of belonging that comes with this knowledge. Being able to situate ourselves within the landscape and remember and connect is beneficial and healing. This was reinforced when the women shared their own knowledge of plants from their home countries; Nigeria, Algeria, Iran. Such and such a plant can be found back home and can be ground into a soup, or placed on a wound. This sharing of knowing and experiences was so valuable and vital. It felt and meant that we were becoming comfortable with nature here.
“I love it here – I love nature – I need to come again. Come for a picnic and bring my family.’ We danced here, we danced into the water.
Herb Robert, with its little pink flowers can be used as an antiseptic mouth wash as well as for sore throats. Wild mint tasted like chewing gum. Cleansing on the palate we used the smaller variety, water mint in our soup the last time. This wild variety was more of a hairy leaf and can be used in a tea aiding digestion creating a overall calming effect.
And this is exactly what the whole visit had on the group. This visit was medicine for the women. It acted as self-care, a day off from our worries and concerns and issues.
Once on the minibus returning back to the city, when asked to describe the day in one word the women shouted out their joy with words such as;
Inspiring and amazing
Off the clock
Much needed escape.