Permaculture Gathering

Last weekend we went van camping again, this time to the All Ireland Permaculture Gathering which was hosted this year by wonderful farmers in Co Tipperary.

Wecome Gate at the Permaculture Gathering
Welcome woven into the land at the Permaculture Gathering

There was so much work done by members of the organising group before any of us arrived. Large tents  and marquees were set up for the many workshops that were going to happen over the weekend.

Toilets and hand washing facilities were organised and scrupulously managed for the entire gathering. The facilities were not only kept clean but incense was lit, fresh field flowers were placed there and safe night lights were managed at night.

Kitchen spaces both for serving, preparing salads and cooking over two large fires were build and sheltered eating spaces were arranged.

It is not necessary to be signed up member of any group to attend this event, whilst many of the attendees do know each other from Permaculture courses or from working together in previous years, others attend to learn about growing food or to learn about permaculture systems.

Attending the gathering is a great opportunity to learn something about permaculture as well as meet some really nice people, have fun camping in a family friendly environment, eat some really good veggies cooked outdoors on a fire, sing a song, learn a tune.

Beautiful Bell Tents at the Permaculture Gathering
Bell tents at the Permaculture Gathering

Although we do not currently grow food ourselves (unless you count the basil growing in a pot on the kitchen windowsill) we were welcomed warmly. We were also invited to run a workshop so we choose the subject of Off-Grid Living as a discussion topic and were delighted that so many people came along, we had a lively discussion and hope that we helped shed a little light on the subject.

Workshops were held on many different subjects, people simply decided what they wanted to discuss, to show or to teach and picked a time slot and a suitable venue from the workshop organising chart. We attended some fun workshops, I have still to finish the spoon that I started to carve at the Wooden Spoon Carving Workshop.

I picked up some wood carving tricks as I have never worked on such a small carving project before. I am accustomed to carving the wooden blades for domestic wind turbines so a spoon was a quite a difficult challenge for me and one which I relished. I learnt some good tricks for using and moving a small knife blade and had the opportunity to use a great variety of different carving knives which I really enjoyed.

Some workshops were very practical and others were lively discussions. Some titles that I remember were green building, living in a tiny house, cheese making, hugelbeds, regenerative agriculture and willow/rush weaving.

All the food was cooked on site using vegetables which were grown by the attendees so we were guaranteed that the veg was all fresh, organic and GMO free! The camp cook Sue had many able helpers throughout the weekend to help her with chopping and stirring as she oversaw the large task of feeding everyone on site. We have always asked Sue to cook for our own residential Wind Turbine Workshops and she delights in cooking for large hungry groups and absolutely loves cooking outdoors on the fire. Sue can cater for any event so if you would like to get in touch with her please leave a comment here and I will put you in contact with her. She is happy to cater for Paleo eaters too as she is familiar with no grain, no refined  or processed foods and usually eats low carb herself. Hopefully Sue will soon have a website up and running and when she does I will link it here.

Being Paleo meant that I had to take some responsibility for ensuring that I got my protein fix so I brought along some good quality Irish ham, rashers, eggs, goats cheese, cooked beetroot and tinned fish to supplement the wonderful vegetarian stews. Two nights before we were due to leave I placed two 1litre bottles of water in the freezer at the house I was visiting in for the week. When we were packing for our trip I wrapped each of the frozen water bottles in 2 sheets of newspaper and then placed each one in a plastic bag so that as they defrosted they wouldn’t wet anything. The bottles were placed in my cool bag and they remained partially frozen for two days helping to keep my protein fresh and healthy. The newspaper served the dual purpose of retaining the coolth (is that really a word?) and also to prevent freezer burn on my food.

We slept in a stubble field at the Permaculture Gathering
Our accommodation for the weekend at the Permaculture Gathering

The Gathering was such good fun that we hope to attend again next year. It was great to be surrounded by people who were all interested in doing things, not just talking about doing things as is so often the case.

This was a field full of do-ers which was a delight in itself. The event was drink and drug free and was family friendly. In the evening people sat chatting after dinner, making new friends and renewing old friendships.

There was a noise curfew for the camping/kitchen field and those of us were staying up past 10pm headed up to the large marquee for music, singing, poetry and story-telling with a little dancing thrown in.

There was an outdoor fire circle for those who wanted to sit outside and because Sat evening had such a heavy downpour of rain following the afternoon thunderstorm some people were indeed happy to be outside on a dry night. Keep an eye on the Irish Permaculture website for details of next years Gathering, you will not be disappointed if you go.

Camping at the all Ireland Permaculture Gathering
The Permaculture Gathering

Procrastination, rain and a new book shop

The Sun Never Says
The Sun Never Says by

Rainy summer days seem just perfect for geeking out and spending far too much time on the computer instead of being outdoors, frolicking in the rain. I do have great rain gear and it’s not cold outside despite the low hanging greyness of the supposedly summer days so I really have no excuse for becoming a chair potato (we currently don’t own a couch).

I have however the perfect excuse for whiling away my time online as we are both working hard at re-branding our web hosting business, we will be launching a new website soon so keep your eyes peeled.

Meanwhile I have also been slaving away over a hot keyboard creating a book shop for my own personal little baby – this website. Pop over and have a peek. It’s an Amazon affiliate store so the shopping basket system is well tested and perfectly safe, your purchase order (should you be so kind as to make one) will be ferried straight over to Amazon by my very own Paleo fairies so you have no fear of anything going amiss.

Have you seen my new twitter header photo? Its a scene which I photographed some months ago on a working trip to Co Galway. The photo is taken on Inislacken Island off Roundstone, a truly beautiful place.

I have also been playing working on my Pinterest presence making some changes there. Some of my new boards will remain private until there are at least a few pictures on them so it may take some time until they are all unveiled. I’ve rearranged the pin boards into what seems like a more logical order with the Paleo recipe boards up front and then items like natural beauty, Tai Chi and architecture further down the list as they are not the prime reason that people visit Paleo Pinterest pages.

I was delighted to be invited to add pins to a Living Gluten Free board which has lots of great recipe ideas on it, some of which are paleo and of course I hope to add many more paleo recipes to the board myself so you may want to keep an eye on that one. I am not really a recipe creator myself as my cooking tends towards the very basic so although I may from time to time go crazy and add a recipe to this site I usually try to spread the love on Pinterest and Twitter by sharing other people’s great Paleo recipes.


Cold Recovery

What do you do if you have a cold and wish to avoid sugar? Most, in fact, almost all over-the-counter cold remedies contain sugar, some contain a lot of sugar. Is there any point in taking a cold-remedy that only serves to suppress your immune system?

I’ve had a winter cold for the last few days, I’ve had a similar cold every winter for the last few years and I really feel as though I am recovering much more quickly this year than usual. My cold is usually the slight sore throat, slight phlegmy cough, a few aches, a little fever and heavy on the sniffling and sneezing variety and this year is no different.

I’ve never been a fan of Lemsips Hot Drink because I always found them to be nauseatingly sweet however I often would use something like Potter’s cough remedy from the Health Food Store. Sometimes I would also take Echinacea or bee pollen throat lozenges. Generally I would also go for hot water, lemon juice and a big spoonful of honey as a soothing drink. All of these remedies, whether homemade or store bought, contain quite a bit of sugar in one form or another.

How to avoid sugary remedies

This time, because I am avoiding sugars, I had to rethink my cold strategy. I know now that sugar has a compromising effect on our immune system so I would not make an exception to my no-sugar rule and take that cough mixture or lozenge. There’s an interesting article at Mark’s Daily Apple on sugar suppressing the immune system.

I am making sure to get enough sleep, having luxurious sleep-ins in the morning as well as going to bed early. The silk under-vests have come out of the winter wardrobe, it hadn’t really been cold enough here until this week to merit wearing the thermals. I bought some ginger and also a box of Ginger and Lemon Herbal Teabags. The herbal tea is quite tasty and the addition of a few slices of freshly cut ginger adds a little bite and some soothing heat.

Because I was having some allergic rhinitis trouble before the cold came on I was already taking a supplement called Beta Glucans Immune Complex which contains vit C, zinc, beta glucans, selenium and vit D3. I usually avoid taking supplements like this as I have haemochromatosis and I don’t need the help given by vit C  to absorb iron – my body already has more than enough iron. I make an exception though when I have a cold and always take some vit C then.

I love to learn new food facts

What I didn’t know in previous years however is that the sugar I would consume in my honey drinks, cough mixture and lozenges would prevent the vit C from working effectively. In the 1970s it was discovered that white blood cells need vit C in order to gobble up viruses and bacteria. Apparently sugar gets in the way of this happening. This article here – Sugar’s Effect On You Health explains this very well.

I had been thinking that I was recovering well despite not taking the usual cold remedies – turns out that I am recovering well because I haven’t taken the usual remedies.