Woadworks ~ using Nature to bring well-being AND beauty.

Woadworks ~ using Nature to bring well being AND beauty.

People who know me well know I have had a lifelong passion for all things herbal. I’ve studied informally both the medicinal and cosmetic
properties of herbs and my study shelves are heavily skewed towards
herbals. I bought my first herbal when I was about 12, having messed about boiling up stuff like nettles to make hair rinses and suchlike, and I’ve planted and left behind a good number of gardens.

Though I do make my own products from time to time, what has completely eluded me has been a shampoo that ticks all the boxes. I suffer from a sensitive scalp that flares up at nothing and becomes sore and itchy and then flakes everywhere to such an extent I can’t wear black. I’ve spent a small fortune over the years trying every product on the market with limited success. I found one bar that helped my scalp but made my hair itself dull and lank. My hair is my crowning glory, my one physical beauty and I am vain when it comes to my hair.

I came across Woadworks via Twitter and after an initial chat with
Sandie, the creator, I was delighted to receive a sample of the
hair-bath made with nettles, neem and tea tree oil for tetchy scalps.
Not to put too fine a point on it, this worked so well, I bought a
full sized bottle and a second bottle of a rather wonderful
honey-scented hair-bath, filled with such joys as chamomile,
safflower and you guessed it, honey as a second one to use when my scalp isn’t playing up. Not only do the hair-baths get your hair
clean, they leave it soft and shiny and well conditioned without the
need to use a separate conditioner, something I usually need by the
gallon. Mine is the kind of hair that breaks brushes….

The added advantage of the hair-baths is that your hair seems to stay cleaner for longer; often shampoos seem to strip the scalp of oils and the poor old scalp works every harder to compensate.

I’ve still got to try and work my way through the other products in the Woadworks stable, but going on what I have already tried, I can
expect sheer loveliness to come. All the products are made with love
and expertise and most of the ingredients are either wild-crafted or
organic. They are also created with great understanding of nature and of symbiosis. They’re also not expensive, certainly compared with other premium products but if you are used to buying your haircare products from the own brand Boots or supermarket ranges, they may seem pricey. Believe me when I say they far exceed even the premium products I have already tried, including Neal’s Yard, L’Occitane and many others. You get what you pay for, really.

Sandie is always very helpful and can advise on what product may suit your skin/hair best so if in doubt, email and ask.

(note: this review is not an advertisement but a sharing of a set of
products that I have personally found to have helped me. I hope they might help you or at least give you some enjoyment!)

Rakes in the Grass ~ Hidden Triggers for Emotional Meltdowns

Rakes in the Grass ~ Hidden Triggers for Emotional Meltdowns.


I used to think that the kind of accident you see usually in cartoons
where someone steps on a rake and it springs up and hits them in the face were pure fantasy. I mean, surely no one could ever be that
stupid as to leave a rake lying around in the grass, just waiting to
be trodden upon?


By the time I’d had a garden of my own I discovered quite how easy it is to be smacked in the face or back of the head by your own gardening tools. If you’re busy trying to get through various tasks, and something happens to distract you ( a splinter, the phone, a bee, you name it), it’s all too easy to leave a rake where it falls and not
remember till you see stars and little tweeting birds round your
head. No matter how careful you are, one day it happens and then it
makes you realise that no one has immunity to the occasional accident that might have been avoided.

The same goes for those hidden triggers that are those tiny stones
falling onto a path that make people look up and go, “What is that
rumbling sound?” before half a mountain lands on them. It is
possible that with the aid of a crystal ball, you might have foreseen
this avalanche before it hit you but basically never venturing into
the mountains at all is the only way to be sure of being completely
safe. Of course I am speaking metaphorically here, just in case you
are wondering.

I should have seen the signs that I was becoming ever more fraught and taken a different route through the mountains, but I didn’t.
Sometimes the only way through is to just keep on going and that’s
what I did. But I forgot about the rakes in the grass.

A rake is a hidden something or other that we don’t see coming and yet, was there all along because in all probability we were the ones who left it there. (Not always, but that’s for another time). They are
almost always trivial in themselves but devastating as triggers for
deeper issues. I tend to think of myself as one step away from chaos
at the best of times but I also try not to think about it at all when
I feel I have no choice but to soldier on. That’s the time when I
need to watch out for the rakes most.

My personal rakes in the grass are as follows:

Criticism of something I can’t do anything about. An example of this is how I look. If someone chooses to have a pop at me for being overweight, then if the rock-slide is already poised to crash, that might be enough to shift the final few pebbles and bring down tonnes of rock. Another example is if someone criticises me for simply being me; I have my character flaws and despite all the work I have done to round off my rough edges, I remain imperfect. This is the most frustrating rake as when I am not fragile, I can just smile and let it go; when I am not, it triggers a near suicidal frame of mind.

Unfairness and injustice. Not just personal, but global. ‘Nuff said

Getting something wrong I should have got right. I hate this with a passion, because it just brings home how feeble my efforts are. Pointing it out is just going to make it worse than ever.

Pathos: something that is inherently sad or tragic, whether real or in
fiction or music, is just going to start the rocks shifting
inexorably downwards.

Pain: either sudden or chronic, doesn’t matter which, weakens my resolve to keep things buttoned down and under control.

Hormones: these chemical messengers sometimes pass on mixed or confusing messages and basically tell us lies. I have a very bad reaction to adrenaline in particular, that is both physical and emotional, which is responsible for the panic attacks and free floating anxiety.

Calling me stupid. This last one goes ludicrously deep. I hate anyone calling me stupid. Really hate it. I have no doubts when I am up that I have a high level of intelligence but when I am low, I seek
evidence and proof of it and when I see (in the light of the
depressive moods) how little I have to show for that supposed
intelligence, the slightest indication that someone else thinks me
stupid is almost inevitably going to trigger a meltdown. I feel that
I am constantly pulling a con trick on the world and the sudden
realisation that someone has twigged to my real state of IQ makes me desperate to eliminate myself from the scene ASAP.   


Now if you have ever been hit in the face with a real rake, the reaction of those around you is usually hysterical laughter, because it’s just so, well, cartoonish. How you feel may vary. Shock and pain are the first reactions, but what is going on around you changes how you can deal with those. If people are laughing, there may be a sudden surge in anger, because they are not seeing your pain. The same goes for the metaphorical rake in the face. If you are anything like me, you just want to run away and hide, because I don’t want anyone seeing the torrent of tears and explosion of rage that’s going to occur in milliseconds. 

I got a rake in the face on Monday, and there are still little birds
tweeting round my head now and I’m buried in a massive heap of fallen rock. The rake, the trigger, was something trivial and pretty
unimpressive, but the avalanche was quite spectacular. It’s going to
take a while to dig myself out and get back to normal. It’s times
like these a shovel would be some use but you’re left only with a
rake, and that’s no good, so you just drop it back into the long

For next time…… 


The Sea-gull’s Tale ~ knowing when or if to intervene

The Sea-gull’s Tale ~ knowing when or if to intervene.

The place where I live is rich in wildlife, but where I work that
wildlife is mainly confined to a slice of nature that most people
would prefer to ignore or destroy. Rats, foxes, pigeons, the
occasional rabbit and most of all sea-gulls scurry, flap or scuttle
their way around the school, and the seagulls seem to take great
sport in splatting on cars or people.

I have great admiration for all of these loathed creatures because they survive on the fringes of our lives and in some cases, share space with us. 

The gulls are getting to be very bold and aggressive, as the students
often leave food lying around and the resulting mêlée
is loud and often violent.

Right now, the juvenile gulls are in the process of fledging and fending for themselves. This is not a kindly process. The parents will often drive their young away, with rather shocking attacks. Gulls are
omnivores, devouring the dead of their own and other species.

I witnessed such an attack from my classroom the other week, where twoadults mercilessly stabbed their beaks at a youngster, ripping feathers from his head. I don’t know if the chick was theirs or not, but they wanted nothing to do with it and I feared they would kill it.

On Saturday morning, I saw it again, and intervened to prevent the
adults killing it. The bird shot me a look and scuttled away, and the
adults took to the sky circling like vultures. Returning that
evening, the coach scattered dozens of gulls, including young ones
still in their brown plumage; the ground was thick with them and the
air full of the raucous cries.

Today my boss came to find me in the staffroom, summoning me to the front because there was a sick bird. Don’t ask how I’ve ended up being the Florence Nightinggale of the animal world in the eyes of the people I work with, but it would seem that I am the one who gets called if there’s something needing to be done with a living being other than a human.

Outside, among the throngs of students (who reminded me of the gulls at that point) I was directed to a corner where a juvenile gull huddled. It was the same young gull, a wound on the side of his head. I called him closer so I could see the extent of his injuries. He came to a foot or two away and let me look before scuttling away. The wound was healing, as far as I could see. But short of somehow grabbing him and subjecting him to first aid, I could do no more. The RSPCA would do nothing as a gull is a common bird and considered vermin by many. I couldn’t catch the bird and just kill him; he had a chance of making it if he stayed away from his own kind till he grew stronger.

I stood for a minute or two, eye to eye with this wary bird and felt
sadness that I had no power to help. I gave my verdict that there was nothing to be done and the bird would probably be fine, and the kids seemed reassured by this, but I felt I had somehow failed.

You see, that one bird is special. I identified with it, poor persecuted
bastard, driven from the nest and fending for himself in a cruel and
uncaring world. I felt protective and yet totally helpless. It came
when I spoke to it, showing both intelligence and curiosity and some
basic trust. 

There are times when you can help in a situation and there are times when any help you may give will create a worse situation, and right now, I simply do not know if I am doing the right thing in doing nothing.

I need to trust not only that my own life is unfolding as it must, but
also that the same can be said for those around me, whether they are friends, family, colleagues, strangers or even just scruffy, beat-up
juvenile seagulls. And that means learning when intervention is a
good idea and when it is not, because getting involved in something
that I am not supposed to be part of subverts not just my life but
that of others.

And yet, my instinct is that when compassion is evoked, then intervention is both right but also inevitable.