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Make do and me-time (…and save the world a little bit)

28 Jul
The Make Lounge

The Make Lounge

Oh, switch it off. ‘What? Never!’ I hear you cry. But recently I discovered that we all should. And frequently. As we all know, in this age of 3G, cloud-computing and Twitter feeds, it’s hard to remember to take a break from all the i-noise (she says as she types her blog).

I heard on Radio 4 the other day about a new scheme where depression sufferers are recovering through learning how to garden. The nurturing aspect of this past-time gives them great personal reward: it forces them into a new surrounding – and to switch off from their normal routine.

Ok, so I know our addiction to net noise isn’t the same as depression, but the key point is that escaping a routine can be good soul food. Too long without that break can leave us feeling frazzled, tired or wired. It’s to those of you nodding in agreement (and to those of you who just like crafty shit) that I am speaking.

Our e-escape lies, rather excitingly, in a bunch of inanimate objects, just waiting – like dirty buried truffles – to be turned into something beautiful. And by your fair hands, no less. I found total and unexpected relief, recently, in making beaded necklaces with my niece. The careful formulation of colour patterns and shapes became stupidly mesmeric and busied us for the best part of two hours, which flew by like seconds. As we beaded, the stress of my Getting Stuff Done Yesterday working day evaporated and I totally forgot that I hadn’t refreshed Twitter in more than ten minutes. (Gasp).

So, there it is. Craft is therapy. And luckily for us there are plenty of workshops  popping up to prove this point. The Papered Parlour in Clapham put on various workshops from dressmaking to printing your own wallpaper and The Make Lounge in Islington have a wonderful, broad range of classes such as creative cross stitch, making festive fascinators and ‘knockout’ knickers. If you’re down Brighton way, Sew in Brighton teach how to sew, design, mend and alter your own clothes.

If you don’t fancy taking a class, get inspiration at home from Indie Craft by Jo Waterhouse, a sweet book that showcases the work of a band of inventive handy-folk, who make everything from crocheted fried breakfasts to knitted graffiti.

Someone who truly understands this form of escapism – and gets even more out of it than just that – is John-Paul Flintoff. (Yes, a man). In the welcome note to his book, Sew Your Own, he says: ‘I never intended to go searching for the meaning of life – far less to find it in making my clothes. But one thing led to another and it gradually dawned on me that the best way to save cash, reduce emissions, and take control from ‘the system’ would be to modify a shirt, then make a pair of jeans, and eventually to harvest nettles, spin the fibres and knit myself a pair of Y-fonts.’

So, what are you waiting for? Switch off, make some ‘you time’, and save the world while you’re at it.

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Summer fun

18 Jul

EggMag’s top ideas for a splendid couple of sunny (we hope) months

FrizzanteHackney City Farm and Frizzante Cafe
This sweet little city farm keeps a few animals (pigs, goats, donkey and more) and hosts a number of sustainable living and craft-based activities like pottery, food growing, upholstery and beekeeping. Head down there for a relaxed afternoon and make sure you finish up at the cafe, Frizzante. Serving up seasonal and home-made Italian food, they also have live music on Thursday evenings. Find more info here.

Escape Routes book coverCool Camping’s Escape Routes
Our favourite campsite reviewers have created a new book, mapping out 60 wonderful cycle journeys to take around the UK. So pick a weekend, dust off that saddle and get that tent down from the loft… Buy the book here.

Thames CanoesPootle about the Thames on a canoe
Yes, you heard me right! Hiring a traditional wooden canoe and rowing about the Thames will get you acquainted with the famous river’s less built-up stretches. Try Thames Canoes, which offers three different routes of either one or two days long. Stop for pub lunches, do some bird-watching and generally enjoy being out of town. Prices start from £75 for one day.

DATES FOR THE DIARY

29-31 July: Vintage at Southbank, London
Get your retro glad-rags on for this three-day knees up brought to you by Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway. Celebrating everything vintage, from music to fashion, cinema to art and more, the festival will entertain through all decades from the 20s-80s. Last year’s Vintage at Goodwood was a huge success, so this new London venue for the festival promises to bring an interesting new angle. Head to the Queen Elizabeth Hall Foyer for free DJ sets, or buy tickets for each day, with an optional evening extra. Tickets start at around £60 per day. You’d be mad to miss this one… Click here for more info.


Apple Cart Festival7 August: The Apple Cart, Victoria Park, London
Pop down to Victoria Park for this exciting, new kind of festival. Not only will there be music from the likes of Saint Etienne, Patrick Wolf and Steve Mason of the Beta Band, but expect comedy from Tim Minchin and Marcus Brigstocke, food from Venn Street Market, an art car boot sale, a whole load of cabaret and some magic fun for the littlies. Tickets are a snip at £29.95 and can be bought here.

Capital Growth, Regent's Park17 August: Capital Growth’s ‘Growing Autumn and Winter Vegetables’ course, Regent’s Park, London
Try your hand at growing veg to feed you and yours during the winter months with this beginner/intermediate level session that explains all you need to know on what to sow, when and how. More details here.

Neverending Story25 August: Lexi Cinema & Saab present Neverending Story, Woodland Gardens Pheasantry Welcome, Bushy Park, London
One of the best kid’s films ever made? You better believe it. Re-live your childhood by starlight in this beautiful park. The organisers promise special guests, live music and other surprises along the way. Tickets cost £12.50 and are available here.

Nigel27 August: Nigel’s Eco Market, Friend’s Meeting House, Brighton
This little market, brought to us by Nigel’s Eco Store aims to show us just how easy savvy living can be. From organic food to handmade clothes, you can expect a good mix of ideas to green every aspect of your life. Keep your eye on the website for further info.

29 August: Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fashion Fair, Old Spitalfields Market, London
Vintage fans will love this market full of affordable vintage clothing, home wares and accessories on this Bank Holiday Monday. Now the largest vintage fair of its kind serving 23 cities it has been hailed by the national press as a ‘shopping phenomenon’. Find out more here.

3 September: Artisan Bread-making day, Plumpton Mill, Lewes
As part of the Brighton & Hove Food & Drink Festival, this day-long course will teach you how to make sourdough bread using the mill’s own organic wheat and rye. Also enjoy a delicious seasonal lunch included in the ticket price (£75 each). Click here for more info.