My Best of British for Sainsbury’s Magazine

A few weeks ago I received an email from Sainsbury’s magazine. A rather lovely journalist – a food writing hero of mine – told me that she had selected a handful of bloggers from across the UK to write about their favourite local produce and places to eat out, that she really liked my blog and would I be happy to the blogger representing East Anglia in their July issue? I shrieked silently, double checked they had the right blog and then very cooly replied: Oh I’d love to.

I’ve always been a big fan of Sainsbury’s. My attraction started back in the 1990s around the time when they ran an iconic TV ad campaign featuring Delia Smith’s smooth and reassuring voice and lots of sharp-focused food shots that would eventually give rise to the everyday foodie. I was around ten years old at the time. It was a evocative TV ad campaign which left a imprint on my food memory banks. I can still feel the same quiet excitement as I did then when I think of this well-loved British supermarket.

Speaking of Britishness, that’s what this article is about. It’s a Best of British “Staycation” feature which includes some absolutely brilliant recommendations from some rather brilliant food bloggers in the UK. Including the inside scoop on local products such as: lemon ketchup, Kent cherries, a Welsh cheese made with whole mustard seeds “like a cheat’s Welsh rarebit”, Aberdeen rolls “dense, flakey and buttery” and a Cumbrian vodka that makes an incredible-sounding Banoffee cocktail.

So thank you Sainsbury’s for asking me to be involved. It was lots of fun and quite a difficult task just picking a handful of my favourite seasonal ingredients and places to eat out. Below is my write-up, the “Norfolk and Suffolk” page and if you’d like to read about the recommendations from the other food bloggers from around the UK, then check out the July issue available in Sainsbury’s stores from today (6th July).

You can also listen to the radio interview I did with Share Radio about the local produce featured in the article.

BEST of BRITISH

On stay cation this summer? These foodie bloggers share their favourite regional specialities and the eating out gems that you might not otherwise find…

Norfolk & Suffolk

By Leah Larwood

www.rootsandtoots.com

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Two Magpies Bakery

Stock up on beach picnic supplies or bag a table inside the bakery’s bustling coffee shop. Cakes, breads and pastries change daily. The giant cheese straws and rose, raspberry and chocolate ganache cake we devoured last summer in our rented beach hut, will forever have a place in my food memory banks.

 

Two Magpies Bakery

88 High Street, Southwold, Suffolk, IP18 6DP

01502 726 120

www.twomagpiesbakery.co.uk

 

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Wiverton Hall Café

Situated on a PYO farm overlooking marshes and out to sea, Wiveton Hall Café serves wholesome locally-inspired seasonal food and a great slice of cake. The café has a homely and playful interior and the atmosphere is always convivial. With a regularly changing menu, make sure you try the crab salad when available.

 

Wiveton Hall

1 Marsh Ln, Wiveton, Holt, Norfolk NR25 7TE

01263 740515

www.wivetonhall.co.uk

 

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The Ingham Swan

A cosy and relaxed thatched coach inn steeped in history, where the chefs have a great pedigree and the staff know your name. For the ultimate experience try the tasting menu which offers the best in modern British cooking, using the best seasonal produce from the restaurant’s nearby farm.

 

The Ingham Swan

Sea Palling Road, Ingham, Norwich, NR12 9AB

01692 581099

www.theinghamswan.co.uk

 

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Morston Hall for tea

Not only has its restaurant been a holder of a Michelin Star since 1999, in the summer the Hall also serves a scrumptious afternoon tea in the walled garden. A stunning location and Michelin-quality extra touches such as the fried potato woven quail’s eggs, gives this North Norfolk high tea the edge.

 

Morston Hall

Morston

Holt, Norfolk NR25 7AA

www.morstonhall.com

 

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Crab

We’re lucky here in Norfolk to have a pretty sustainable supply of fresh crabs. Extremely succulent pieces with rich dark meat, you can find various sizes of dressed crabs charged incrementally from £3.50. Wonderful with fresh chilli, white wine, samphire and cream in spaghetti or with buttery new potatoes, pea shoots, boiled eggs with soft middles and good homemade mayonnaise. Cromer is the capital of crab but can also be found along the coast, in farm shops and on Norwich market.

 

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Samphire

Packed with minerals, samphire or “poor man’s asparagus” is food of the gods. Not to be confused with rock samphire, eat this marsh variety on its own with lots of butter or olive oil and lemon juice, with any fish or the old Norfolk way, with black pepper and vinegar. Found in fishmongers, on Norwich Market or in North Norfolk – just follow the roadside signs leading to small sellers.

 

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Extra-Virgin Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil

One of the healthiest oils you can use, natural, low in sat fat and full of omega goodness, cold-pressed rapeseed oil has become a Norfolk speciality in recent years. Rapeseed has a high burn point making it great for many different cooking methods including baking, roasting, stir-frying and deep and shallow frying. Because it’s unrefined it’s also great in dressings and marinades. With cold-pressed rapeseed oil, what you see is what you get, exactly as it comes out of the seed. I love rapeseed oil from local producer, CRUSH based in Norfolk www.crush-foods.com

Remember, #BuyLocal. Thanks for reading folks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Truth about Reiki

I’ve been having reiki treatments since I was in my early twenties. In fact, my late godfather James was a healer and would often bring his warm hands to my bedside when I was poorly as a child.

But really, it’s been during the last seven years that I’ve really started to connect with the practice. So much so, I’ve now taken my Reiki First Degree and Second Degree, so that I can learn how to self-heal and help family and friends too.

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During pregnancy, I went to what was then called The Orange Grove Clinic in Norwich (now known as The Lanes Clinic) for my treatments with a lovely Reiki practitioner called Diana Cooper, who also happens to be a qualified nurse of ten years. These days, Diana practises independently at the Wellbeing Centre. She has a Masters Degree in Medical Sociology at the UEA, which is where she spent time focusing on the role complementary therapies could play, alongside conventional medicine, in achieving optimum health and well-being.

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She’s one pretty cool lady and I’ve had some wonderful sessions with her. If you live in Norwich, you must head to The Orange Grove folks.

But first things first, I’m getting ahead of myself. If you’ve never really encountered reiki before, you’re probably wondering what on earth I’m harping on about. So, how does it work and why do I think it’s quite possibly the best complementary treatment out there?

How Does Reiki Work? 

Reiki was developed in 1922 by Japanese Buddhist Mikao Usui and has since been adapted into various different teachings and approaches. There are different lineages but effectively reiki works in conjunction with the meridian energy lines and chakras in your body. In the East, a lot of medicine, healing and even meditations are focused on these different chakras, which represent different energy points and correspond with different emotions and ailments.

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During the session, the practitioner will place very light hand positions around the seven major chakras on your body, with the view of unblocking any energy flows. It’s a very light touch and you’re fully clothed the whole time, sometimes with a blanket over you.

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And it’s said that even if you don’t “believe in” the concept or if you reserve any doubt, then reiki will still work for you.

Like acupuncture, yoga and other once fringe practices, reiki is now viewed by many as an effective, accepted alternative practice. In mainstream America at least 1.2 million adults have tried the energy healing therapy. More than 60 U.S. hospitals have adopted reiki as part of its services, says an UCLA study, and reiki education is offered at 800 hospitals.

The Healing Touch Professional Association estimates that more than 30,000 nurses in U.S. hospitals use touch practices every year. I couldn’t find any similar statistics for the UK, although various grants have been given to certain NHS Trusts, to help cure patients with varying illnesses, and I do know that reiki is becoming more increasingly used by health care professionals in Britain. In fact, there are many national cancer charities that advocate the use of reiki.

The Benefits:

Reiki unlike many Western remedies or modern day treatments, works directly on the root of the problem and condition instead of just masking or relieving symptoms. You don’t necessarily need to have any major physical or emotional problems to benefit. Some of the ways reiki can help are as follows:

  • Increases energy levels
  • Creates deep relaxation
  • Helps the body release stress and tension
  • Clears the mind and improves focus
  • Accelerates the body’s self-healing ability
  • Aids better sleep
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Helps relieve pain
  • Assists the body in cleansing itself from toxins
  • Supports the immune system
  • Helps spiritual growth and emotional cleansing
  • Promotes creativity
  • Compliments medical treatment.

Conditions Reiki Can Treat

As mentioned before, the great thing about Reiki is that you do not have to be ill to experience the benefits. Although reiki can help you deal with pain and release emotions attached to the symptom. Some common problems reiki can help with include: headaches, asthma, flu, ulcers, back problems, anxiety, infertility, skin conditions, poor self esteem, other emotional blockages and it can help people with serious illnesses such as cancer.

When Can You Have a Reiki Treatment?

Reiki does not have to be a stand alone treatment. The great thing about reiki is that it can also be used:

  • When you are not ill but want a relaxing treatment
  • When you just want a pick me up or to boost your energy level
  • When you are on medication
  • When you have cancer or chemotherapy
  • When you are going for surgery (before, during and after)
  • When you have plaster of paris
  • When you are in hospital
  • When you are pregnant or trying to become

So What Happens During a Session?

Most commonly, reiki is offered through light, non-invasive touch with the practitioner’s hands placed and held on a series of locations on the head and front and back of the torso.

What Do You Feel?

For me, after a session, I feel as though I’ve had a relaxing massage, I’m lighter and more in the present moment. The experience of reiki is subjective, changeable, and sometimes very subtle. People often experience heat in the practitioner’s hands, but sometimes the practitioner’s hands feel refreshingly cool.

In the past I’ve felt all manner of lovely sensations during the treatment. Either way, it’s all created to make you feel in a better place and there isn’t anything to feel apprehensive or nervous about. Feeling these new sensations in the body, may feel unusual at times but it’s all perfectly natural. The energy flow you feel is all coming through you and its movement is in line with what you need as an individual. So all you need to do is lay back and relax into it.

Reiki and Pregnancy

Reiki is said to be extremely beneficial to unborn babies and I personally found reiki became a vital part of my wellbeing during pregnancy; it helped with energy levels and general relaxation – and I could sense my little girl’s appreciative kicks of approval too!

If you decide to do your Reiki One degree while you’re pregnant, then this is supposed to be a really lovely thing to do too for you and your little one. Whilst you are being “attuned” the baby receives the attunement too. After you’ve received the attunement, you are then able to give reiki directly to your baby, in your tummy and once it’s born. Once they are born, reiki can help relieve pain & fussiness, teething, childhood falls, illnesses, aids in sleeping, growing pains, colic and nasal congestion.

It’s been a beautiful experience and my unborn baby responded during sessions; It gives you an added connection knowing that you’re sending healing vibes to your little one. Every session Diana would tell me that he/she is definitely a “Reiki Baby” – she seemed to enjoy it so much when Diana’s hands were over my belly. It’s perfectly safe for babies to receive healing in this way because the reiki energy adapts to exactly what they need. It’s clever like that.

Lucid Dreaming on Holy Isle

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Length: 4 nights

Course Leader: Charlie Morley

Cost: £308 single room, £264 twin each, £232 dorm. All inclusive rate.

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If like me you’re fascinated by dreams, then this weekend trip to the Holy Isle is perfect for you. It takes place once a year, usually in the spring or summer. Spaces are limited which is why I’m posting this now so that you can keep your eyes peeled – the dates are usually released every January.

Not to be confused with the Holy Island off the Northumberland coast, Holy Isle is located in the Frith of Clyde off the west coast of central Scotland, just a short boat trip from the nearby island of Arran. Holy Isle is around 2 miles long and half a mile wide. The island is owned by Samye Ling, a Buddhist community and the island is also includes the Centre for World Peace and Health on the North of the island. The environmentally designed residential centre holds courses and retreats throughout the year and extends into the former farmhouse. It has solar water heating and reed bed sewage treatment systems.

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As you approach the island by boat you are greeted by Tibetan flags and stupas and on the other end of the island is a community of people in retreat. The rest of the island is a nature reserve with wild Eriskay ponies, Sannen goat, soay sheep and the replanting of native trees. The waters are a brilliant cobalt blue, sparkling and effervescent. The pictures here only really tell half the story, there is a special energy about the place that you can only experience first-hand.

It’s a stunning place to visit. However, this particular trip will only be of interest to you if you’re keen to explore your dreams, if you are, then do read on. But this isn’t just an ordinary dream retreat, this one teaches people how to have lucid dreams.

So what is a lucid dream exactly?

Lucid dreaming is when you are aware that you are dreaming. When this happens, you’re able to participate in your dream and have some sort of conscious involvement. Some people choose to fly above the rooftops, others use it for healing and many even use it to practise a skill such as breakdancing or yoga. Author Clare Jay even used it to help write her first novel – lucid dreaming helped her develop her characters and plot her novel – all while she was dreaming!

Lucid dreaming is basically a window into your subconscious mind, where the gold lies, and an opportunity to connect with a deeper well of resource and creativity. Think about it. We only use a small part of our conscious mind. Think of an iceberg, the top 10% floating above water is our conscious mind and the bottom part the 90%, hiding under the water is the unconscious mind. There’s so much more we can tap into, whether your motivation is to use your inner well to induce your creativity, learn how to surf or to overcome a fear such as public speaking.

Here’s something I said about lucid dreaming in Red magazine earlier this year:

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I’m not making this stuff up, it became a recognised term at the turn of the century, coined by Dutch psychiatrist and writer Frederik van Eeden. In 1988, Snyder & Gackenback conducted a survey which found that 20% of people claimed to lucid dream frequently (every month) while 50% of people had done it at least once in their lives. It’s not as rare as you might think, it’s just that most people don’t realize that there’s a name for it.

I know what you’re thinking, how do I lucid dream?

There are lots of techniques you can read up on, too many to go into here (I feel another blog post coming). I’ve been lucid dreaming on and off since I was a teenager but it was only when I met Charlie Morley, my lucid dreaming teacher, around five years ago, that I fully realized how fascinating and helpful lucid dreaming could be. And it’s safe to say, ever since I’ve attended his workshops in London, and especially since I took part in the Holy Isle retreat, my lucid dreaming life has really began to flourish. If you’re not able to make the annual Holy Isle retreat next year, then Charlie also holds regular workshops and retreats all around the globe and in the UK too.

For a list of forthcoming events go to: http://www.charliemorley.com/?page_id=464

What happens at a lucid dreaming retreat?

An incredible amount of awesomeness! Where to begin. I met some really lovely people, all very inspired by dreams, their meanings and how they can help you in your everyday life. In fact, I’m still friends with at least a handful of the people I met from this retreat. We even have our own active Facebook group three years on.

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The Holy Isle retreat lasts four days, and most importantly, four nights. During the day we stayed at the beautiful retreat centre. Dorminatries are available and private rooms too. There’s a beautiful communal lounge and dinning area in the converted farm house and a lovely spot with sofas nestled around the wood burner. The vegetarian food served, uses produce from the land and the menu each day was absolutely phenomenal, cooked by a host of dedicated and talented volunteers staying at the retreat centre. I can safely say it was some of the best vegetarian food I’ve ever eaten.

During the day, there are talks from Charlie, discussions and small group exercises (I’m not usually a big fan of this type of thing, but here it was perfect and no pressure to report back unless you wanted to, but I did, and it was cool). Charlie, who is quite possibly one of the best teachers I’ve ever encountered, has a lovely approach and is extremely engaging, insightful, entertaining and inspiring – a rare combination. Everyone who meets him instantly warms to him. I only wished he taught other things too beyond lucid dreaming, you can learn so much from someone like him.

By night, now this is the most exciting part, you have the choice whether to stay in your room and practise the lucid dreaming techniques learned during the day, or you can join the “sleep over” in the main hall – a beautiful space with wooden floor-boards and a pitched roof containing skylights, perfect dream-like surroundings for lucid dreaming, and so it goes, in ancient times sleeping under a pyramid shaped roof, boosted your chance of lucidity.

During the night, should you choose to stay in the main hall, Charlie sets several alarms at one hour intervals after 3am. The idea being, that these interruptions in sleep wake you momentarily and as you slip back into sleep again, you have a better chance of gaining lucidity in a dream. There are also special techniques you learn to put into practise just as you are dropping off.

I had some incredible dreams and a handful of lucid ones too during the retreat. And picked up some very rewarding and life-changing techniques. My dream life has become quite a fascinating place to be these last few years. It’s important to have the right attitude when aiming to lucid dream, as Lama Yeshe the founder of the centre says about life in general: “Be happy to fail, have no hopes to succeed”.

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Getting there:

I travelled by train to Glasgow and then caught a second train to Ardrossan Harbour. The train stops at the ferry terminal, which is where you catch a ferry to the Isle of Iran. A bus ride later to a different ferry from Lamlash, you catch a small boat to the Holy Isle. The journey is well worth it.

For more general travel information go to: http://www.holyisland.org/index/getting-here

Course details will be published here: http://www.holyisland.org/index/courses

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