After several years the wildlife column in Outdoor Swimmer evolved into the Eco Pages. Extra space for wildlife and wild landscapes looked at from perspectives of wildlife you might see, consumer choices that have impact on wildlife and spaces it inhabits, topical issues for watery wildlife, and a bit of armchair travel via films, podcasts, books and other means of experiencing distant places while still at home.
The New York Times asked me to join their panel of experts for New York Times Journeys. If you want to explore spring blooming fields of flowers and more in Holland come on a tulip time journey by barge with me. You can read what I wrote about travelling around Holland looking at tulips in springtime in the article ‘Chasing Rembrandt’s tulips on two wheels‘. On the tour with the New York Times I will also be talking about and showing you plants used in foods and drinks that reflect Dutch culture and history.
Because beverages are so very ethnobotanical…. I will be one of the scientists at the ‘Beverages, bubbles and brews’ pub quiz at Chelsea Physic Garden in May, along with forensic botany expert Dr Mark Spencer, Lush catering’s head chef and garden experts from the garden. Starting with a sunset walk around the garden guests will have four courses of food, drinks and questions. Bookings are via Chelsea Physic Garden events
Just out in ‘The World Atlas of Street Food’ is a recipe for Snow fungus and pear soup, a winter drink, in a piece I wrote about Beiyuanmen in Xian a market at the end of the Silk Road that brims with flavour from ancient trade routes . I also wrote a few drinks recipes for ‘Kew’s Teas, Tonics and Tipples’.
A beautiful loch and fantastic location for filming swimming and foraging. I spent a couple of days exploring this loch by swimming and looking at its waterside plants. Its waters are tinted dark by tannin making it a super mirror for the sky. Tucked amongst trees and in the lee of the mountains it is also a little sheltered from winds. We wrapped up filming with a few foraged cocktails made with local gin. It will appear as a little segment on lochs in a series on wildlife.
I’ve been invited to the Norwich Science Festival where I will be talking about juniper and gin , and also running a workshop exploring some of the other botanicals used to make gin. Expect plants, tastes, and aromas. At the end of October when a lot of our local plants are getting ready to be outdoors in all weathers is a good time to take a look at plants captured in gin, and enjoy a little armchair travel to warmer times and farflung places.
Swim outdoors and you’ll encounter wildlife. Creatures and plants inhabiting the water are one of the most distinctive differences between swimming outdoors and swimming indoors. They can be a source of delight and sometimes a worry. I write a column for Outdoor Swimmer on wildlife for swimmers, exploring what to look out for, where to look for it and how to enjoy it. Illustrations are created by Alice Goodridge, a swimmer who also draws. After a few years this column evolved into the Eco Pages
It was fun making Cocktails at Inshriach London launch till dawn in a leafy glade in Bow. Summer heat had provided plenty of blossomy ingredients, and we had a couple of types of chillies in some cocktails too. Everything was laced with juniper picked by the banks of the Spey only a short walk across the field to the Inshriach still where it gets turned into gin.