Newsletters




Herbal Barge News, February 2021

Dear All,

This week the noisy wild-life of inner city Tottenham has been clamouring to show a shift in the season; the foxes are calling to each other in after dark courtship; ducks have inexplicably started hanging out on my boat roof; and I can hear a wood pecker drumming on a tree nearby.  We have reached Imbolc, the moment celebrated in the Christian calendar as Candlemas or St Brigi ...


Herbal Barge News, April 2020

Dear All,

Here we are, more than a week past the Equinox, the signs of spring – shiny vibrant green ivy leaves, daisies, elder shoots, goosegrass – all around.  And yet the word is turned upside down!

Am hoping I can offer some practical herbal suggestions as we journey through these extra-ordinary times...

Let us assume that the best outcome for most individuals or communi ...


Herbal Barge News, May 2019

May Day greetings one and all! Such a wonderful time of year for living on the river! – Our urban tow paths are bursting with spring growth, greenery and abundance! So much to smell, and eat and harvest! Ironically this time of year is known in farming terms as ‘the hungry gap’ - that moment between the end of April and the beginning of June after the winter crops have ended but ...


Herbal Barge News, December 2018

Dear All, Greetings as we draw close to the darkest moment of the year and the Winter Solstice. Have been focussing on seasonal ingredients this week – myrrh sprays, frankincense in the bruise ointments, and chest rubs – 'golden milk', tumeric latte mix – but the plant I have been really drawn to think about is Ivy. As in the Holly and the... It is only in the last couple of years, that ...


Herbal Barge News, July 2018

Dear All, I hope you are enjoying this glorious summer. It has been so hot, all the plants on the Lea are weeks early. Have harvested all the midsummer herbs from my garden – the lemonbalm, the St. john's wort and the roses which keep coming. And just hoping not to have missed the meadowsweet, the golden rod, goat's rue, mallow, and mugwort from the marshes. Herbal medicine and the NHS ...


Herbal Barge News, May 2017

Dear All, So we have moved to past the moment in the year of May Day protests and Beltane fires. It can still be a little chilly in the mornings, but leaping out of bed on my boat to put the kettle on, no longer constitutes an act of bravery! If I light the burner lately, it is as much for gently infusing an oil or cider vinegar with plant material as it is for warmth. It has been a very ...


Herbal Barge News, December 2016

Greetings from the River lea, on this very mild day in December. I am writing in haste, anticipating the seven hour journey to Kings Cross that I am just about to embark on. Strange how river time can change perspective. I need to be back in Tottenham for a meeting next week, and for a second thought I wouldn’t be able to make it due to being away – and then I remembered it would on ...


Herbal Barge News, September 2016

Dear All, So we are moving past a summer of swings and extremes into the days of Equinoxical balance. Seasonally speaking at any rate. I am hoping for a few more pleasant late September evenings because this weekend the Herbal Barge will be in Mile End for a Floating Cinema event. Expect outdoor film screenings, workshops and on-board films and discussions themed under the title ‘Swarmi ...


Herbal Barge News, May 2016

Herbal Barge News, May 2016 Greetings for Beltane and for May Day! The Herbal Barge was lifted out of the water last week, and is now raised four foot in the air on chocks in Springfield marina. There are many negatives to this situation - the cost, the work, the inconvenience - but the sublime advantage is that I can get up in the morning, walk a few feet and I am immediately in ...


Herbal Barge News, December 2015

Herbal Barge News, December 2015 Dear All, As I write, this warm, windy Solstice morning, it occurs to me that this time last year I wrote about making medicine from kitchen herbs and spices. We looked at garlic and ginger, turmeric, star anise, cinnamon, cloves - so many familiar ingredients, with powerful anti-microbial and other medicinal properties. This year that idea has taken on ...


Herbal Barge News, October 2015

Herbal Barge News, October 2015 Dear All, So we have past the Autumn Equinox, that moment in the year when darkness and daylight are in balance. There have been moments in recent days when the cold and rain damp have driven me to light my burner and shiver in anticipation of the winter ahead. And yet, each time this has happened the next day has been one of glorious tea-shirt sunshin ...


Herbal Barge News, July 2015

Herbal Barge News, July 2015 Dear All, This brief newsletter is a little out of kilter with the usual rhythm of Herbal Barge correspondence – but the St. John’s wort pictured above was taken at Hackney tree nursery yesterday, reminding us it is only just past Midsummer. And I wanted to write and inform folk about Herbal Barge events coming up. This Friday, the 10th of July we will be ...


Herbal Barge News, March 2015

Herbal Barge News, March 2015 – Spring Equinox Dear All, Greetings from chilly rainy Switzerland; I am here teaching for two weeks. We have had some beautiful sunny days – the view of the solar eclipse was great - but there is very little fresh spring plant growth yet, and more snow to come is promised. Meanwhile, weather in the Uk has been milder, if less dramatic and spring is ge ...


Herbal Barge News, February 2015

Herbal Barge News, February 2015 – Imbolc Dear All, So here we are, past midwinter, through January and already at Imbolc – the pagan festival of Brigit that marks the midway point between the shortest day and the vernal Equinox where night and day are equal. Imbolc is considered by some as the first day of Spring – and technically this may be true, but there was snow on the ground in To ...


Herbal Barge News - December 2014 – Moving towards the winter Solstice

Herbal Barge News, December 2014 – Moving towards the winter Solstice Dear All, Just when I was reflecting on the luminescently beautiful, orange calendula still flowering in my garden, wondering at the season – the solar powered charger for my laptop refused to work any more and I was reminded that we are indeed approaching midwinter. That time of year for feasting and hibernating, for ...


Herbal Barge News - September 2014

Herbal Barge News, September 2014 Dear All, The plant to catch my attention among all the autumnal berry abundance along the Lea this week, has been the fragrant Hops (humulous lupus), trailing and cascading in amongst the hedgerows. For some reason I have not been so aware of Hops in other years. It is a plant I have been slow to get to know, perhaps because it has been said Hops can ...


Herbal Barge News - August 2014

Herbal Barge News, August 2014 Apparently it has been great year for berries and butterflies. Certainly travelling back to my mooring on the river Lea in the heart of Tottenham this week, there was a general sense of bounty and abundance amongst the flora and fauna. So many electric blue damsel flies darting across the water; brown furry dragonflies larger than bats conducting breath-takin ...


Herbal Barge News - Summer Solstice 2014

Dear All, As I write this glorious Summer Solstice day, the season feel’s to be much more deep midsummer that I would associate with just towards the end of June. The Elder has long gone, nettles are going to seed, hawthorne haws are ripening, the breath-taking walls of dog roses have gone over a little and even the St John’s wort is past it’s best. Lime flowers (tillia species) are exactly ...


Herbal Barge News - Beltane 2014

Herbal Barge News, Beltane 2014 Greetings to all for Beltane and for Mayday! The fortuitous conflagration of International Workers day and Beltane goes back just 125 years to 1888. One hundred and fifty years before this in 1732, the calendar changed and ‘May Day’ was brought forward 13 days to our current May 1st. Up until this point it would have been usual for the May tree, or Hawtho ...


Herbal Barge News - Spring Equinox 2014

Herbal Barge News, Spring Equinox 2014 Dear All, So we have arrived at the Vernal Equinox - equal hours of light and dark. And from a plant perspective, Spring is very early. Along the Lea the spring cleaning herbs are up and in lush growth – nettles, chickweed, cleavers. There are white dead-nettles galore – some looking a little tatty and weary as if they haven’t quite had a chance ...


Herbal Barge News - Imbolc 2014

Herbal Barge News - Imbolc 2014 Dear All, There is a little LED light just inside the door of the boat that goes from red to orange to green as an indication of how much charge there is in my leisure batteries that are topped up from the solar panel on the roof. It is not very accurate, but in the middle of winter I watch it obsessively. Yesterday just for a second, it glowed green for ...


Herbal Barge News - Winter Solstice 2013

Herbal Barge News - Winter Solstice 2013 Dear All, After last night’s seemingly tropical thunder storms, I woke this morning to a very still river, still bathed in star light and the bright, just-past-full, moon. It had the definite feel of mid-winter. The lateness of the season, this year has continued right up until now – there is still greenery on my mooring – but my guess is, it is ...


Herbal Barge News, Samhain 2013

Herbal Barge News Samhain 2013 Dear All, Many a skeleton and ghost and witch were abroad in Tottenham last Thursday night as I made my way to the tube, on route to the AGM of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists! Perhaps it was the the Halloween celebrations, or the imminent herbal gathering, but something led me to revisit the original text of the Maleous Maleforum, the ‘witch f ...


Herbal Barge News, Autumn Equinox 2013

Herbal Barge News Autumn Equinox 2013 Dear All, Moving on past the Autumn Equinox and there is still more than enough sun on the Herbal Barge solar panel to put plenty of charge in the batteries – but I do have to admit to lighting the burner already. Have been finding compensation for that end of summer feeling in a extra-ordinary bountiful berry harvest this year. The Elderberries ( ...


Herbal Barge News, August 2013

Herbal Barge News August 2013 On the 1st of August 1892, local folk invaded Leyton marshes to protest at the fences that had been erected by the East London Waterworks Company on what had traditionally been Lammas land – ie common land that could be used for and grazing cattle and horses between the months the 1st of August and the 21st of March. That particular protest was successful, and ...


Herbal Barge News, June 2013

Herbal Barge News June 2013 I think this may be the first time I have noticed that the St John’s wort (Hypericum perferatun) may not be flowering in time for Saint Juan – St. John’s Day (24 June). The Elderflower (Sambucus nigra) on the other hand is in perfect bloom – three weeks or so later than usual – but fragrant, creamy white flowers everywhere, and this Midsummer’s Eve (as I write), ...


Herbal Barge News, May 2013

Herbal Barge News May 2013 According to the saying, ‘Ash before Oak expect a soak, Oak before Ash expect a splash’ - we are in for a rainy time to come, as Ash trees do seem to be unfurling their leaves first this year. Apparently Oak is more temperature sensitive, while Ash may respond more to light. Fortunately, the saying doesn’t have that good a track record for predicting the weather ...


Herbal Barge News, Spring Equinox 2013

Herbal Barge News, Spring Equinox 2013 We passed the moment of the Spring Equinox at about lunch time Wednesday – but am guessing lots of us are not really feeling it! It seems to have been a very, very long winter. I am teaching in Switzerland this week and for the first time ever I had to cancel a guided plant walk due to no plants being visible through the snow cover! In the UK there ...


Herbal Barge newsletter, Imbolc 2013

Herbal Barge News, Imbolc 2013 So this Sunday the 3rd of February marks the festival of Bridgid – Imbolc – midway point between the Winter Solstice (the longest day of the year) and the Vernal Equinox (one of two days when there is equal amounts of daylight and darkness). Traditionaly rituals for Imbolc (superseded by ‘Candlemas’ in the Christian calendar) included the celebratory burning o ...


Herbal Barge newsletter, Heading towards the Winter Solstice December 2012

Herbal Barge News, Heading towards the Winter Solstice December 2012 The Herbal Barge is has finally arrived in Islington to join the Floating Christmas Market. We're moored close to The Narrow Boat pub at 119 St. Peter’s Street - near the bridge - closest tube Angel Islington. Never again will I complain about the 341 bus – the journey took 8 and a half hours! We broke our way throug ...


Herbal Barge newsletter, Samhain 2012

Herbal Barge newsletter, Samhain 2012 Greetings at Samhain, the time of year marking the end of the harvesting season, the beginning of winter. In pastoral times, and in other parts, beyond Haringey - it is the moment when cattle are brought down from higher pastures. At the Herbal Barge, we are not too pre-occupied with moving livestock, but there is still plenty of seasonal winter prepar ...


Herbal Barge newsletter, Autumn Equinox 2012

Herbal Barge newsletter, Autumn Equinox 2012 Dear All, It is that time in late September when folk are thinking ‘where did the summer go?’ and here we are into the middle of Autumn already! It was a busy and eventful summer for the Herbal barge – away from the home mooring in Tottenham for over six weeks. We didn’t make it as far as Little Venice due to temporary steering problems result ...


Herbal Barge Newsletter, Summer 2012

Herbal Barge News  Lammas Greetings from the Wonderful Floating Market in Mile End Park! Such a journey to get here - At the beginning of July, Stormvogel’s engine was still sitting on top of her back deck, so that welding work could get done on the engine mounting. After some heroic mechanics, we were up and running but having missed the 3rd of July deadline to be west of the Hertford U ...


Herbal Barge Newsletter, Summer Solstice 2012

Herbal Barge news Wishing Everyone a Merry if inclement Summer Solstice! I know it feels as if summer is still to come – and surely it is – but the plants at least are remaining seasonal… I cycled passed welcome clumps of Hypericum on the towpath yesterday – fully on schedule , just about to burst into beautiful yellow flower exactly in time for the 23rd of June -St John’s day! ...


Herbal Barge Newsletter, Beltane & Mayday 2012

Greetings for Beltane and Mayday! What a rainy time! And it seems we are not to expect anything very different ‘till after the full moon on Sunday. Apparently the huge amounts of water will not make a big difference to the drought status here in the Southeast – but the plants, at least are loving it! I haven’t seen such healthy abundant nettle growth in years – still lush and green and wa ...


Herbal Barge Newsletter, Spring Equinox 2012

Herbal Barge Newsletter, Spring Equinox, 2012 Dear All, I hope you have all been enjoying the beautiful Vernal Equinox weather this week – and the signs of spring bursting out all around us! It seems hard to imagine that just a few weeks ago Stormvogel was trapped, surrounded by ice, as the River Lea above Tottenham Lock was frozen solid! Nettles I have been teaching in the Swiss alps ...


Herbal Barge Newsletter 2

Herbal Barge News  Welcome to the second Herbal Barge mailing Winter Tonics We seem to be missing out on any cold snap so far this winter – but if you are still suffering from seasonal snuffles – or just generally feeling those winter blues – I would recommend lying in a steaming Hypericum infused bath, all the while sipping delicious anti-viral elderberry tincture made from berries ha ...


Herbal Barge Newsletter 1

Herbal Barge News  Welcome to the very first mailing from the Herbal Barge website!   Stormvogel enjoyed an eventful launch this summer with community events, at Markfield Park and Robin Hood gardens; the Richard Maybe walks with the Floating Cinema; the Pirate regatta – and finally settling down to a little regular spot out side the café at Springfield. I was away teaching in Switzerla ...


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