Elderberry Syrup

I have always been a great fan of elderflower, mainly in cordial but recently tasted it in cakes. But this time of year it’s the berries on the Elder that are in such abundance.  Along with blackberries Hampstead Heath produced shed loads of elderberries this year. I have never really done anything with the Elderberries before. Out walking the dog yesterday the elderberries were so heavy they were making the branches dip under the weight. I had been out gathering other wild fruits such as Damsons, Plums, Sloe, Rosehips and Apples in the countryside a few days before so I was in full on foraging mode. I couldn’t resist and decided to harvest some. They glistened in the sun, some still green looking like peppercorns. Something about harvesting from the hedgerows makes me feel very human. To be doing something I know that my ancestors did for thousands of years before me. That I am participating in the very same act is somehow reassuring. I got myself a good sized carrier bag full and took them home.


So a little bit of research and an Elderberry syrup it was then.

I washed and de-stalked the berries which took a little concentration but I listened to a programme about the party political conferences and the in fighting of UKIP so that made it a lot more enjoyable but I still managed to miss some stalks. I boiled them for about half an hour mashed them with my spud masher and then drained them. I put the liquid back on the heat and added a few slices of fresh ginger and a few pieces of cinnamon sticks and reduced the liquid. I tasted it at this stage and really thought it wasn’t going to work it tasted earthy and watery. I carried on reducing it until it was about half the amount of water. Then as it was cooling stirred in some raw honey.  I use local honey ( from having allergies in the family) which is a bit expensive but worth it. This one I use is from Regents park.



The colour in the pan was out of this world was even thinking I bet this was used at some point as a dye. I tasted it again and it was gorgeous. I tried it on anyone that passed by and they all loved it. I bottled what was left and I’ll be off to get some more at the weekend. For a tonic against colds or a slurp on some ice cream I must say I am chuffed.

Thank you Hampstead Heath for providing such a lovely harvest

Hampstead Mum

Wales V Israel Game and being followed by the domestic extremism unit.


On the 5th of September Wales met Israel in the European cup qualifiers in Cardiff. I had been invited up the day before to help in a skill sharing Know your Rights workshop with the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign whom had organised a rally through Cardiff in solidarity the Palestinians. A lovely bunch of pacifists who spend their lives campaigning for the rights and freedoms of the Palestinians people.

The following day I observed the march and ended up in a park listening to the speeches and enjoying the sunshine when a friend asked me if I wanted to go and see the game. My friend being a full on footy fan and I too enjoyed the whole experience of football so snapped up the chance to go. As I left the park a friend asked me if I had a flag and I said it would be rude not to and stuffed the Palestinian flag with Bristol Anarchists written in biro along the bottom went in my pocket.  We lined up and shared some banter, the lines fed through the gates with searches taking place and alcohol being thrown away.

We all got searched and took to our seats, The game kicked off and the noise of the stadium erupted. I watched the game for a while before I realised that their was not one Palestinian flag in the stadium. I had just assumed that people would be showing solidarity through flags during the game. I realised at that point I still had a Palestinian flag in my pocket, it went through my mind that it was just me, one flag and a stadium full of fans, a stand of solidarity had to be made. I had the only Palestinian Flag in the whole of the stadium. It was not a matter of if but how and when. I thought about doing a streak across the pitch with the flag maintaining my dignity I must add that was just a fleeting thought lol. So I just took the flag out and the flag got waved like flags get waved, the response was a little unexpected.

Before we knew  it we were surrounded by aggressive stewards and police officers telling us we had to leave the stadium. I said that I wouldn’t wave the flag again now that they had drawn my attention to the fact that it was not allowed, they were having none of it. We were physically removed and once inside the stadium a police officer asked; ” Can I take your details please”  me: “No” and she asked again ” Can I take your details please”  me: “No” Then she said ” Well you’ll have to give them to me when I take you to the station” Me ” Now on what grounds would you be taking me down to the police station? ” “Racial intimidation of the visiting team supporters”  This argument lasted for a while as my friend got man handled out of the stadium. The officer still trying to get my details another officer whispered in her ear and the note book closed and the argument ended and I too was escorted off the stadium grounds. Fuck they were so pissed off. But at no point entering the stadium had I been told that I couldn’t wave a Palestinian flag.

When we left the stadium we realised that we were not alone. Behind us were 2 Domestic Extremist officers as we walked they walked to. We decided to have a chat with them and ask them if this is what they had been reduced to following people that had been thrown out of football games. They told us they were just doing their jobs. We told them they were wasting their time. They walked a while, we stopped occasionally, they saw us far enough away from the station, we went to the pub.


So here’s a question why is a country that isn’t in Europe be playing the European cup? But the fact that Israel is allowed to compete in any football international tournament is beyond me whilst illegally occupying territory in the West bank and Gaza, accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity, detention of minors without trial, I could go on. Lots of people say football and politics should be kept apart. So lets keep politics out of this and keep it just on the subject of football.

The Palestinian football team was recognised by Fifa in 1998. They haven’t yet qualified for the World cup but as recently as September 8th played United Arab Emirates in the 2018 FIFA world cup Qualifiers. They first qualified for the Asian cup in 2014 and at the finals in Australia where eliminated in the group stage. They have also played in the Olympics and received the FIFA development award. But Israel has hindered the progress of the Palestinian football team all the way.  In April 2006, Israeli missiles destroyed the stadium in Gaza. Israeli authorities admitted that the stadium was specifically targeted – a war crime. Teenage footballers have been shot, one lad 11 times in the legs by Israeli forces as they returned from training. Members of the National team have been detained, one for a total of 3 years and others have had travel documents denied and travel restrictions making any training impossible.


So why is Israel not banned ? UEFA has the ability to ban Israel so why haven’t they? These are crimes against Palestinian footballers an established and recognised team. I mean they have banned teams before. They banned teams from the UK after the Heysal stadium tragedy in 1985. So why not ?

At the very least suspension of the Israeli Football Association (IFA) from UEFA and FIFA until Israel respects the human rights of Palestinians and observers international law.

  • Exclusion of the IFA from hosting any Euro 2020 tournaments
  • Replacement of Israel as host of the UEFA 2015 Women’s U19  tournament.
  • Boycott by UK teams and players of any tournaments planned in Israel and of any matches with Israeli teams
  • Direct support of Palestinian football teams

In the current refugee crisis lots of football stadiums have displayed banners welcoming refugees the same can not be said for Israel were are a large banner was on display in  Tel-aviv with the words Refugees Not Welcome yet they take offence at my little Palestinian flag. COuiIpVXAAAf6nb

I have since found out the UEFA fines clubs that allow the Palestinian flag to be flown and to be seen as a provocative political symbol with large fines being dished out. What can you say to that? Apartheid

Solidarity with Palestine

The Hampstead mum




London Fashion Week again

As London Fashion week kicks off tomorrow the tabloids are full of glam and high end fashion. An industry that spends 99% of the time trying to make people feel inadequate, An industry that plays to the low self esteem of the public and 1% of the time telling us how they can make us look like the model on the cat walk and therefore worth something. An industry the uses size zero models and has the ability and power to change that trend but chooses not to, to the detriment of the health of those models.


And hopefully we are all aware of the cost of fashion, the appalling factory conditions, long hours and low wages ,the beatings and the health effects. But that is only part of the story there is our own clothing footprint. Whilst researching some facts for this years Fashion week action I came across some food for thought.
Here is 10 interesting facts that we ourselves need to consider.
1 – The average Briton owns £4,000 worth of clothes
2 – 30% of the clothes in our wardrobes haven’t been worn in the last year.
3 – We spend an average of £1,700 on clothes every year, and £130 on washing them.
4 – 350,000 tonnes of clothing goes into landfill in Britain every year.
5 – Those clothes would be worth £140 million if sold on rather than binned.
6 – Half of the population admits to throwing clothes in the bin.
7 – Two thirds of us wear second hand clothes.
8 – 57% of shoppers say they consider durability and quality of the clothes they buy, while only 21% say they consider fashion trends.
9 – Producing and washing clothes makes up 5% of Britain’s carbon and water footprint.
10 – The carbon footprint of a British household’s clothing for the year is equivalent to driving 6,000 miles in a car.
Lets sort out our own wardrobes,  we need to stop unwittingly contributing to the footprint, adding to the problem. Think about the water used to produce the resources needed to make our clothes as well as the water used to wash our clothes, think about the chemicals used in the production of our clothes as well the chemicals we use to wash them………
We can reduce our own individual footprint, we can buy better clothes that last longer, we can upcycle and do clothes swaps, we can hang it up instead of on the floordrobe so we can wear it again before having to wash it. We can go back to the washing line. We can do so many things we can do our bit.


 The Hampstead Mum


Occupy Action takes to the tubes to oppose the Arms Fair #stopDSEI


Getting up before sunrise on a rainy morning is never appealing but this is a matter of life and death.  No rest for the wicked I hear say well I must have been well wicked, but not as wicked as the UK government and their continuing sales of weapons to countries guilty of human rights abuses, crimes against children, countries with child soldiers and the poisoning of our lands.  As London once again is host the DSEI arms fair at the ExCel centre again we took to the tubes to do some advertising for them as many people are not even aware that this is taking place.


So at 5.45 this morning we gathered discussed out strategy and were given our bundles and we set off across the tube system of London. No tube adverts were removed, no need to there were plenty of gaps to fill and fill them we did, On lookers watched and when seeing the adverts smiles and nodded. In and out the tubes crossing over platforms. The Jubilee Line specifically did well as it takes the dealers direct to the ExCel.


Over 100 subverts were placed this morning and every morning whilst this dealing of death and destruction is going on in our city. We demand an end to the Arms fair where the illegal dealings and the selling of torture equipment go unpunished. Yet our government wines and dines these tyrants and despots and sometimes they have tea with the queen.

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A message to the War mongers and Arms dealers. Stop selling weapons, stop buying weapons, stop making weapons, JUST STOP !!! The only arms we need are the ones to hold each other, hug each other and help each other.


The Hampstead Mum


Dismaland, Strike Magazine, SPG, Arms Fair and me


Today started early as I was invited to join the SPG and Dismaland crew. The main objective was to inform the public of what was going on in London today. The Arms dealers where in town 30,000 of them and we wanted to let people know what that exactly meant.


On the first day of the DSEI Arms Fair we see David Cameron visiting a refugee camp .Cameron claims to care, but in the last five years alone, the UK has sold arms to 19 of the 23 countries that the UN lists for grave violations against children.

61 countries have been invited by the UK government to the arms fair in London.

14 of these have authoritarian regimes; 6 are at war and 4 are identified by the UK government as having wide-ranging human rights concerns.

So we it was decided to do some advertising for them. One thing you can be sure of is you won’t see the Arms Fair advertising itself or the death and destruction it creates.


Having met up with the activists the instructions were given out with “military” precision. Where, how and what to. We all went off in our different directions with the sole purpose of subvertising the city. With over 300 posters by guerrilla artists from Banksy’s Dismaland & Strike Magazine in hand activists set off across the capital.


The bus stops were chosen for their location and the amount of passing traffic that would actually get to read it.  The weather didn’t work in our favour but as the high vis jackets were donned the rain was the last thing on our minds. It was all about the delivery.

From this to this

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Refugees welcome

Wishing for a peaceful world

The Hampstead mum