Little shrub planted by couple 40 years ago now towers into the sky

With high street shops and online vendors pushing their Christmas deals on us, it’s hard to resist getting caught up in the materialistic fever of it all.

Yet the true spirit of the holidays is lighting up a village one fairy light at a time to remind people that community is heart and centre of the festivities.

If you haven’t heard of Inkberrow in Worcestershire before, you have now!

Local heroes Avril and Christopher Rowlands have single-handedly put Inkberrow on the map, with their glorious 50ft tree brightening up the skies.

[Credit: SWNS]

Time-travelling back to 1978, the couple planted their modest 6ft shrub in the front garden, before Mother Nature worked her magic and towered into the heavens.

Today, 43 years later, that lil’ garden centre purchase is now the star of the village.

Having previously been one of the darkest places in the UK, as a town without any streetlights, Avril and Christopher have transformed Inkberrow into a stunning yuletide treat.

Speaking about their seasonal spectacle, Avril revealed that 2,000 residents turned up to see the switching-on ceremony, which lit up the tree that can be seen from miles around.

[Credit: SWNS]

Avril, 75, said: “The switching on of the lights has become quite a village tradition. A lot of people in the village say that it’s the start of their Christmas.

“It’s been wonderful to see so many people enjoy the lights this year.”

She added: “We had no idea just how big it would grow. It’s absolutely huge now and towers over our house. We even get cards addressed to the tree, which is quite sweet.”

The tree has grown so big that an industrial cherry-picker is needed to help the couple decorate it with lights ahead of their annual unveiling.

[Credit: SWNS]

As society moves towards an ethos where we create less waste, who knows, we may see many more of these on front lawns in years to come.

In the meantime, while you’re waiting for last year’s re-potted pine to shoot up from the grass, you can rent one instead.

Check out how you can live the sustainable life, by clicking here: Rent A Tree.

The super herb that will banish colds and flu… and costs 60p!

No matter how many Lemsips we slurp or decongestants we squirt up our noses, fighting the common cold feels like a David and Goliath battle.

That’s why preventing yourself from getting ill in the first place will always triumph over trying to get rid of flu when it’s already here.

Sound like the stuff of magic? Not really!

All you need to do is stock up on some super sage the next time you hit the shop.

[Credit: Brittany Colette]

While the general rule of thumb is that fresh is best, you can get it dried to make it stretch further.  

This little gem from Mother Nature’s garden is a true powerhouse, high in antioxidants and known to boost brain function, lower blood sugar, and level out cholesterol.

It is also pure magic when it comes to soothing sore throats and viruses, due to its ability to tone irritated tissues, calm inflammation, and kill bacteria.

[Credit: Phillip Larking]

The humble sage is even said to be linked to benefits that can lower your risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes.

Our buddies over at Nexus, a publication dedicated to health breakthroughs, have recommended the perfect recipe to get sage into your diet pronto before you catch the winter lurgy.

Check it out below and happy slurping!

Sage Tea

Ingredients:

1 litre of water

12 fresh sage leaves

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

A pinch of cayenne pepper

[Credit: Sophie Dale]

Preparation:

1 In a teapot or saucepan, bring that water to a boil

2 Add the sage leaves and remove the teapot or saucepan from heat

3 Let steep for 15 minutes

4 Stir in the remaining ingredients

5 Pour a cup full, breathe in the aroma, and enjoy!

As it says in the Nei Ching, the oldest known medical texts, ‘to cure an illness after it arises is like forging weapons after the battle has started or digging a well after you’ve become’.

If that’s not a message to be proactive on prevention over cure, we’re not sure what is!

For the full article, click here: Sage Tea Recipe.

Powerful full moon to take over the skies on December 18

There’s nothing more humbling than looking up at night and spotting the moon, grinning back at you like a Cheshire Cat smile.

Now, you can see it in all its glory, as the last full moon of the year will take over the heavens on Saturday.

Coined the ‘Cold Moon’, it will have a distinctively high trajectory across the sky, meaning it is visible over the horizon for a longer period of time.

The spectacle is also known as the ‘Long Night Moon’, as it occurs on one of the longest nights of the year just before winter solstice.

[Credit: Kim Mackinnon]

Other quirky titles for the phenomenon include ‘Snow Moon’, ‘Winter Maker Moon’ and ‘Wolf Moon’ – the reason being that their names are generally passed down from Native American tribes who gave each month’s full moon its unique moniker based on the season.

So, be sure to look outside your window on December 18, when the moon will shine at its brightest one last time before 2021 ends.

A full moon occurs when Earth is located between the sun and the moon at exactly opposite ends, and the side of the moon facing Earth becomes fully illuminated by the sun’s light.

That’s six times brighter than when it’s a half moon! Thus, making it the second brightest object in the sky except for the sun itself.

[Credit: Benjamin Child]

There is a theory, known as the lunar effect, that full moons can influence us and that there is some correlation between moon cycles and human behaviour, such as mood, insomnia, and wellbeing.

Similarly, there is a belief that the moon cycle affects a woman’s menstrual cycle, as an average moon cycle lasts around 29 days – the same amount of time as the average period cycle.

It is also thought that the full moon can correlate to your energy as it is so powerful, and healers say we can use this energy to see what is no longer serving our intentions.

Therefore, it is common to feel highly emotional and disconnected at the peak of this phase.

Whether you believe in its richer meaning or simply want to see it light up the sky, be sure to venture outside on Saturday to marvel at Mother Nature shining bright.

A dazzling display! 100s of shooting stars to light up the sky tonight

If ever there was an excuse to put your phone down and step away from social media, tonight is the night.

An incredible dance of shooting stars is set to light up the night sky, in a mind-blowing spectacle where you could witness up to 120 per hour.

While shooting stars are typically something depicted in a Disney movie, what actually happens is down to meteors (pieces of debris) hitting the atmosphere, rubbing against air particles to create friction which heats them up, before they vaporise and streak across the sky.

[Credit: Shutterstock]

The meteors are very bright and are unusual in being multi-coloured, with shades of white, yellow, green, red, and blue. These colours are partly caused by the presence of traces of metals like sodium and calcium, the same effect that is used to make fireworks colourful.

Now, you can see them for yourself in what is coined the ‘Geminid Meteor Shower’, hurling through the night from December 13 through to December 14 until sunrise.

The beautiful display is thanks to the debris left behind by asteroid 3200 Phaethon, an active asteroid with an orbit that brings it closer to the sun than any other named asteroid. For this reason, it was named after the Greek myth of Phaëthon, son of the sun god Helios.

[Credit: Mark de Jong]

Now, when the Earth passes through the trails of dust every December, we see the Geminid meteor shower as the dust (meteoroids) burn up in the atmosphere creating shooting stars.

This phenomenon is visible all over the world, so just find a spot in your local area, ideally dark with minimum light pollution, find a large patch of open sky, and look up.

It is said the best time to view these fireballs are at the darkest hour, just before dawn. You can find out the best viewing time where you live, by clicking here: Shooting Stars.

[Credit: Ryan Jacobson]

If you happen to be at a Christmas party early next week, fear not, they are plenty of other celestial extravaganzas taking place this month.

Notably, Venus (the hottest planet in our solar system) is busy shining at its brightest while the arrival of the Full Cold Moon (last full moon of the year) swoops in on December 18.

You can also join in the Urulu activities, either in Australia or from afar, on December 21, to play your part in helping to spark global healing.

Rent a tree! Make smarter choices this Xmas with zero January waste

There is nothing more magical than seeing a Christmas tree all dressed, twinkling with fairy lights and glistening from baubles.

And there is nothing more deflating than seeing unwanted trees chucked out on pavements in January, to later be dumped on landfills.

So, how do we make the magic happen without damaging our planet?

The secret lies with renting!

[Credit: Rental Claus]

You can now hire your Xmas tree, meaning you get all the beauty of Noel while also living sustainability, safe in the knowledge your tree will be returned to the earth afterwards.

When you consider the benefits of renting, such as producing zero waste as the tree will not die in the new year and supporting local businesses, there really is no going back.

Other perks include not having to worry about how to dispose of the tree yourself, as well as enjoying your forever tree by choosing the same one over and over again each year.

Cute, right?!

[Credit: Rental Claus]

This particular quirk, coined ‘trees for life’, is honoured by Rental Claus in Cheltenham, who invite people to take the same tree home every December.

As the trees shoot up (about a foot annually), families can literally watch theirs grow over the years with their children, while it is cared for by professionals out of festive season.

With more and more of us becoming aware of our carbon footprint, there are plenty of environmentally friendly companies out there to help us on our journey.

Check out the list below to get your yuletide cheer on.

[Credit: Rental Claus]

London: Christmas on the Hill

Reading, Berkshire and Surrey: Festive Tree Hire

Gloucestershire: Cotswold Fir

Leicestershire: Love A Christmas Tree

Stroud: Rental Christmas Tree

Just as they say a puppy is not just for life, it’s for Christmas, the same goes with trees!

Eat yourself healthy: Meet the Aussie Bear Grylls changing the face of food

There is nothing tastier than the flavours of local produce working their magic on your palate and your wellbeing.

Yet the power of food goes deeper than a tasty nosh and a spruce of vitamins, with the ability to heal us too.

Now, plant wizard Jake Cassar is sharing his spellbinding expertise so you can learn the tricks of how to use Mother Nature as your medicine cabinet.

[Credit: Jake Cassar]

With a unique knowledge of Bushcraft – the practice of developing skills in order to survive and thrive in a natural environment – Jake specialises in edible and medicinal plants.

Based in Australia, Jake focuses on native plants and those introduced to Oz, which has earned him the prestigious title of ‘Bush Tucker Guru’ and seen him coined the ‘Aussie Bear Grylls’.

So, if you ever head out into the wilderness, you’ll want to brush up on Jake’s tips!

[Credit: Bear Grylls]

He has spent most of life fine-tuning his survival knowledge in what he calls ‘The University of the Bush’ and taught himself through living from the land for weeks at a time.

From learning how to make rope from tree bark, fire from sticks, and soap from leaves, Jake recognises the natural resources that surround us that can be used to create tools without relying on unsustainable and ethically questionable manufacturing giants.

On a mission to share his gifts, Jake offers an array of presentations, from walking tours to overnight Bushcraft courses, to inspire individuals or for team-building exercises.

[Credit: Jake Cassar]

He is also passionate about fighting for koalas, as this beautiful species face extinction.

Sadly, the cuddly marsupials are under severe threat largely due to clearing of their habitat for expansion of human settlement, such as agriculture, housing, mining, factories or roads.

To find out more on Jake, click here: Bushcraft.

Boost your immune system with these two simple ingredients

Whenever you feel that scratch in the back of your throat, it’s time to panic – especially in festive season, getting ill is a massive no-no.

But what happens when that tickle kicks in, can you really fight the lurgy in time for the office party or the main event itself on December 25 with family?

The answer is yes!

You can boost your immune system with two simple ingredients that you can easily chuck in your trolley or online shop from any supermarket – turmeric and honey.

[Credit: Hue12]

Turmeric, aka the god of spices, is wellness in plant form.

Known for its bright orange colour, turmeric packs such a powerful punch that it boasts properties to improve heart health, prevent against Alzheimer’s, and reduce risk of cancer.

It’s a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, which protects against from arthritis, and is even said to decrease symptoms of depression.

While many of us may be familiar with sprinkling it in powder form into a curry, there are many ways to enjoy Mother Nature’s finest.

You can toss it in with roasted veggies, add punch to your eggs, sling it in with rice, or if you’re feeling adventurous, even blend it in with a smoothie.

[Credit: Roberta Sorge]

Meanwhile, honey really is the nectar that makes hearts sing.

From naturally soothing a sore throat to helping digestive issues, this liquid gold is a vital source of antioxidants that can fight infections and heal wounds.

For a double whammy, you can even combine the two for a turmeric/honey mash-up.

Known as ‘turmeric bombs’, these health bullets are loaded with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can boost your immune system the moment you chow down.

To get the recipe, click here: Turmeric Bombs.

Do you know what’s really in the food you’re feeding your cat?

Whether you’re a plant-based enthusiast, toot the horn for gut health, or swear by farm-to-table, society is pretty woke when it comes to eating healthily these days.

Though what about applying that knowledge to your cat?

Many of us blindly head towards the pet aisle in a supermarket, chuck some cheap cans or kibble in the trolley, then poodle off for whatever else we need.

Yet the food we are feeding our kitties is barely fit for consumption and is so heavily processed it has been likened to a human eating McDonald’s every single day.

[Credit: KatKin]

There are several reasons why, that we’re not really sure where to start.

Ultimately, industry standard cat food is blasted at searing hot temperatures to keep it shelf-stable for years – that’s why you see it next to the detergents and cleaning products.

This means all of the vital nutrients are scorched out of it during the cooking process.

Secondly, before preparation even begins, the food often starts out with poor quality meat that is rejected for human consumption; consisting of beaks, feathers, hooves and eyeballs.

This is why if you look at the ingredients on a cat tin, the label will state ‘meat derivatives’, with only 4% real meat content. 4%! For carnivores?

So, what’s in the other 96%?

[Credit: KatKin]

Sadly, a large proportion of the ‘food’ is grains and starches – two ingredients cats aren’t made to digest in high amounts – and sugars.

Ah, they’re just cats, what do they know, right?! Well, no. Just as we suffer with our physical health if nutrition deficient, so do our feline friends, and they risk developing chronic disease.

Though purr-fect siblings, Brett and Nikki O’Farrell, are on a mission to rewrite the narrative.

The brother and sister dream team joined forces after discovering how badly their pets’ health was being neglected by mainstream cat food. And they decided to shake up the industry!

Now the proud founders of KatKin, they have created cat food that contains 100% meat to mimic what cats eat in the wild.

[Credit: KatKin]

Speaking about their venture, the duo said they strive to do things differently by offering premium ingredients, prepared by hand with minimal processing.

Brett and Nikki explained: “Mainstream cat food is more about filling pockets than thriving cats. That’s why we do it differently.

“Kibble still resembles the first commercial pet food recipe in 1860. And it was formulated for dogs, not cats! That’s like trying to use an industrial steam engine to check your emails. This is an industry that’s crying out for some innovation.”

They continued: “We choose fresh because we choose the health of our cats over low production costs, tailored nutrition over pet food by numbers, and natural over nasties.

“Cats look and feel their best when they eat a diet high in fresh, premium meat. So, that’s exactly what we put into KatKin. And we freeze it to keep the freshness locked in.”

[Credit: KatKin]

The KatKin crew vow that by switching to their meal plan, which is delivered to your front door, your cats will instantly have better digestion, improved energy, and shinier coats.

With a range of flavours, from Mooo! (beef) to Gobble! (turkey) to Cluck! (chicken), you can pick from eight choices for your moggy, even switching up each month if you want.

All you need to do is make sure you have enough room in your freezer to store the month’s supply.

Due to the meals being steamed and not blasted at insanely hot temperatures, 28 sachets arrive frozen before you defrost them when required for feeding time.

You can even get 25% off a starter box if you use the code: FRESHINSPO25.

To give your pet more paw-some nutrition, click here: KatKin.

Brighten your home with these amazing designs (and you’ll be saving animals too)!

Greys, whites, blacks, all safe colours that we know will blend into a home. Though what about playing around with the colour palette?

A new range of beautiful, bold, and brilliant furnishings have been released to not only brighten your home but also support animals in the process.

It’s all thanks to artist Jacha Potgieter, who is expanding his portfolio so that he can donate a percentage of profits to two conservation charities.

[Credit: Cristian Barnett]

Already a talented craftsman, who has worked across different art modalities such as painting, photography, and sculpture, he is now turning his attentions to homeware.

Speaking about his venture, Jacha said he is excited to unleash his new products in time for Christmas which include cushion covers, tablecloths, tea towels and scarves.

All of them feature the distinctive vibrant imagery also seen in his ‘Walk Through Life’ mixed media collage print collection.

[Credit: Cristian Barnett]

Jacha, who hails from South Africa and now lives in North Wales, said: “The ‘Walk Through Life’ collection is a series of autobiographical prints.

“The images I’ve used in each piece are a representation of the places I’ve travelled, people I’ve met and moments I’ve experienced throughout my life.”

He continued: “I am a keen collector of textiles, the fabrics I’ve used in the prints are ones I have spent years collecting on my travels.

“The natural world, and protecting it, is a huge part of who I am. It features heavily in this collection and will raise awareness of species under threat or risk of extinction.”

[Credit: Cristian Barnett]

This means, any product you nab from the collection will see 10% of profits split between Ape Action Africa and Orangutan Appeal UK.

Ape Action Africa do incredible work for great ape conservation in Cameroon to ensure their survival in the wild, focusing on rescuing orphaned and injured gorillas, chimp and monkeys, and giving them urgent care to nourish them back to health.

Meanwhile, Orangutan Appeal UK is dedicated to the rehabilitation and preservation of orangutans and the conservation of their rainforest habitat, working tirelessly to raise awareness of the plight of this great ape across the world.

To zhuzh up your living room, click here: Jacha Potgieter.

[Credit: Ape Action Africa]

Reinventing diets: Food from our ancestors is making a comeback

Pringles, Pop Tarts, Pepsi… all yummy, but not exactly natural.

To celebrate the food that we as humans are more genetically designed to need, a chef is taking a trip down memory lane to reintroduce our ancestral diet.

With a special focus on meats hunted by his forefathers, Sean Sherman creates delectable dishes using bison, deer species, river fish, and game birds.

[Credit: The Sioux Chef]

For the vegans out there, there are also plenty of plant-based recipes with ingredients such as mushrooms, squashes, corn ash, sunchokes, sassafras leaves, bergamot, wild rice, and berries.

Coining himself The Sioux Chef – in honour of his indigenous roots and a play on ‘sous chef’ [second-in-command in the kitchen] – Sherman hopes to reintroduce native flavours so that people can not only thrive on fresh produce but reclaim their culinary past.

Having grown up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the US state of South Dakota, he is a member of the Oglala Lakota tribe who began as a group in the 18th century.

Reflecting on his lineage, Sherman said he wanted to know what his Lakota ancestors were eating and how they were they accessing the oils, salts, fats and sugars that they needed.

[Credit: The Sioux Chef]

Chatting about his work, Sherman said: “It took me quite a few years of just researching, but it really became a passion.

“Part of our challenge to ourselves was to cut out colonial ingredients, so we stopped using dairy, wheat flour, cane sugar.”

No sugar?! Gulp!

He added: “For indigenous people who went through intense assimilation, we lost a lot of our food culture. But we’re at a point now where we can reclaim it and evolve it for the next generation.”

Sherman is a big believer that sharing culture through food can lead to healing and connection.

[Credit: The Sioux Chef]

Working his way up from a dishwasher at a local steakhouse, Sherman is now the proud owner of his own restaurant, Owamni in Minneapolis.

On the menu, you can expect to experience the true flavours of North America, featuring foods of Mni Sota Makoce, known as ‘the land where the waters reflect the clouds’.

You’ll find delicacies such as game sausage, Red Cliff lake trout and persevered rabbit.  

For a taste of history, click here: The Sioux Chef.

[Credit: The Sioux Chef]