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Flower Power...

I’ve just experienced the most amazing day with Saskia Marjoram. Such a deliciously fitting surname for a lady who’s spent the majority of her life around flowers & herbs.

I have been learning all about the powers of flowers and have to admit - I’m hooked!

So for those cynics out there, do you remember the scene in Notting Hill where Hugh Grant is fixed up with a blind date - the fruitarian girl with the bunches? The one who believed that “Cooking is cruel and apples picked from a tree have been murdered.” (Takes veganism to a whole new level) well, you cynics might just want to stick to reading Roddy’s cycle posts... because... well... flowers have memories.

But for all you soft open hearted ladies (& gents!) out there, isn’t that just absolutely fabulous! excuse the pun but I am sitting here amidst the wonderful delights of ‘Hub @ No.3’ a most atmospheric venue oozing energy and wisdom set up by owner & founder Lynne Franks.

So you may question the relevance to Charente cycling in this post but it’s all about the connection with yoga really.

Before I embarked on my aerial teacher training, I researched relevant books I thought may help with my studies. I came across a suitable one covering everything I needed and more, with an interesting section dedicated to incorporating essential oils into a yoga practice. Since I already use them in my mat yoga - especially for personalised 1:2:1 teachings - I just had to purchase this book. I now regard it as my aerial bible.

However, after a recent 1:2:1 aerial yoga session with Anabel, I noticed a hint of patchouli oil lingering on the silk and figured, at this rate I would have to chuck my silks in the wash after every single lesson - bit of a pain...

It was during a recent chat with my lovely friend Dena explaining I was still in search of a suitable venue for Aerial yoga, that she thought she’d spotted beams "upstairs at this ‘Hub place in Wincanton."

She’d recently visited to suss out the space for the interior design workshops she teaches, and thought it may be a suitable set up for aerial classes.

That was a good enough excuse for me to shoot over there.

Sadly the hopeful space is “just set out for workshops really,” the friendly and very talented textile artist with pastel pink hair informed me - normally full of tables and chairs and used on a regular basis.

Shame, still as I managed to lose myself within the charm of this little shop filled with an eclectic mix of wonderful, colourful and interesting items for sale,

I spotted something that enticed me over. Little bottles the colour of that deep cobalt blue you find in stained glass church windows, with tall, elegant silver lids were beckoning me to pick them up and discover the contents inside...

Flower essences! Water based potions with potential healing properties and subtlety scented aromas...Yep, instantly hooked! This could be perfect for my aerial yoga... I immediately signed up for the forthcoming course...

So the day came and the course started with like minded eager learners sat at a table surrounding a small centre piece of humble snowdrops. Displayed individually, their white pure heads gently spilled over a clutch of delicate ceramic walls supporting their necks.

I anticipated information about the various ‘personalities’ of the beautiful flowers we were yet to discover, but for now we focused on the snowdrops and ‘what we could see in them’, ‘what atmosphere they gave out to us’, that kind of thing. In turn we had to express what we thought. The word I chose was ‘calming’. In my head, I wondered if they’d been placed to create a calming atmosphere, you know like to ‘break the ice’ when you first meet a group of strangers. After all they are the first of flowers to break through the snows of a biting cold Winter reminding us Spring is on the way.

Saskia’s word was ‘melt’, it was fascinating to learn that snowdrops actually have their own in-built anti-freeze. I found myself in silent reverie for a moment visualising a layer of snow gracefully melting away beneath the plants porcelain tepals (though I think Saskia was referring to the tepals themselves.)

As she offered us drop of Dandelion essence to pop under our tongues, she told us of her intriguing background and how she stumbled into working at Highgrove estate as a gardener before becoming florist to the Prince of Wales. From an early age however, her intuitive sense and passion for flowers seemed to have stemmed (sorry) right from her heart. I could connect with a lot of what she was saying...

One of my favourite dwelling places I’m inclined to escape to, where I can find absolute sense of peace in my solitude is in the woods. When I was small, some of my best-loved books were the ‘I spy’. editions, especially the 'I spy trees' and 'wild flowers.'

As a child within the woods I was free to climb trees and indulge in the delights of making mud pies - worms of course being the primary ingredient. In my magical sanctuary my best friends were fairy’s, elves, pixies and gnomes. Amongst the strong, wise trees I found instant gratification exploring the wondrous delights of nature’s hidden treasures. Treasures of which were rich in abundance bearing deep beauty throughout the seasonal transitions.

From the magical lilac-blue haze in a darkened wood carpeted by bluebells in April,

to the sight of a hundred thousand miniature bouquets bursting blooms full of tiny white flowers giving their gift of heady garlic aromas in May.

I relished in losing myself amidst the earthy scent of age old oak trees or musty moss covered stones. My treasure chest rewards would be as simple a task as lifting a random stone to find spectacular creatures scurry away in disturbed surprise, some with a zillion tiny legs it seemed! Others with slimy coats slowly sliding away, leaving white lacey veils trailing ickiness behind, as they slimed on in search of another stone. This was by far, the purest, most precious gold I could ever wish to cherish...

Some years later, my boyfriend and I happened to be wandering deeper into our local woods when we came across something quite incredible ~ a giant sleeping figure of a man...

Who had created this spectacular sculpture? I never learnt at the time, but it turned out to be a local artist Ben Wilson. He later made a name for himself when painting tiny intricate scenes on used pieces of chewing gum that had been spat out and squashed on the pavements of Muswell Hill. He became known as the 'The Chewing Gum Man', and if you happen to be in London, walking across the Millennium bridge, see if you can spy his tiny works of art.

Sorry, got a little sidetracked there.... so back to the course and It was fascinating learning from Saskia’s rich knowledge and depth of experience. Oh, and for all you tree huggers out there, have you ever actually stopped to consider the fact that trees may not want to be hugged?

I do confess to being an occasional tree stroker and hugger.