Autumn all around

Today was a lovely Autumn day with crunchy leaves carpeting the ground. On arrival, we immediately noticed the site improvements that had been made to the amphitheatre and steps.



We made a veggie chilli for lunch in the barn as it was a bit nippy outside.



Although it was cold, the sun was shining brightly making the Autumn colours really stand out.





After lunch we started to make lip balms for the shop and tied some sage to dry out.




Five go to Apple Day!


It was a rainy start to our adventure, so on arrival we got hot drinks for the two grown-ups and some delicious chocolate chip shortbread for the teen and two boys from the smiley volunteers. The five of us huddled under a gazebo and eyed up the BBQ as a potential lunch venue.

We were invited into the cosy barn to make clay creatures with air drying clay and natural objects.

clay4After spending quite some time making creatures, we decided to visit the BBQ for lunch.lunchWe had a little explore around the site, finding the insect hotel, the scarecrow and of course, apple trees.scarecrowWe emerged from the trees to find an apple pressing station set up to process apples into apple juice.

It was great fun mashing the chopped apples and putting them through the apple press. The children helped to turn the handle and were very excited when apple juice came gushing out.

We stopped off in the roundhouse because the boys were keen to be facepainted. They chose to be angry emojis.

After facepainting, we went to the apple tasting stall next to the apple press which had a wide variety of different apples to try.

tasting2The amphitheatre by the roundhouse had a selection of musicians performing throughout the day.musicacts

In addition, there was storytelling by a very popular storyteller and plenty to keep adults and children entertained at this highly recommended annual event! We left feeling tired but very glad we made the effort to go.exit


A bit of a squash!

We started our session today harvesting figs from the fig tree and some winter squash from the raised beds. We believe this variety of squash is Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato Squash but if anyone knows for sure please let us know!

Our goal was to prepare fig and mozarella salad and roasted squash for lunch so we set about chopping the figs, squash and other ingredients needed.

Some of us collected some sycamore branches for our activity of making wooden whistles.

Lunch was enjoyed around the large outside table. Edible flowers made a colourful and tasty addition to the salad.


After lunch we were shown how to make whistles from the sycamore branches. The trickiest part was whittling a reed to fit inside the whistle very precisely.


Keyrings and suncatchers

Our second week in the Connection Centre started promptly at 11 when we checked on our drying apple slices which had become leathery and retained their shape well._MG_8828We set out all the finished packaged cards from last week so we could see the wide variety we had made.

After tea and biscuits we set to work on producing some keyrings to sell in the farm shop.

We used pressed leaves and a few flowers to make some abstract designs that we encased in clear key fobs.


_MG_8862For lunch we made delicious omelettes with a variety of fillings and plenty of fresh herbs that a group member had kindly collected from their garden. Our second activity was to make beaded suncatchers for the farm shop.

We threaded seed beads onto memory wire and used crystals or charms to dangle in the middle.

We had a lot of interest in our work from people visiting the farm and they said they were looking forward to seeing our finished products in the farm shop.

Watercolour greeting cards

Today we were based in the Connection Centre at the farm as the Boiling Wells site is being used this week and next for Summer camps. Rather than cancel our sessions we decided to run a peer-led group. We met at 11 and enjoyed tea and biscuits as we caught up and settled in to our new environment.

The activity today was making watercolour greeting cards for the farm shop. We started by wetting our watercolour paper with a water spray and sprinkling Brusho over it.

Some of the pieces of paper had embossed designs on them which acted as a resist to the highly pigmented Brusho crystals, others were left plain ready for die-cut greetings to be added later. We also had a selection of peel-off greetings and stickers to use as resists. When we were happy with each piece, we left it to dry on the sunny window sill.

For lunch, we had organised amongst ourselves that we would make cheese on toast. Everyone brought in a small amount of cheese they liked and some of us brought in tomatoes, fresh herbs and three different types of bread to make our cheese on toast more interesting.

One group member brought in lots of wind fall apples so we used the best middle parts to make dried apple rings for Christmas decorations and the rest we chopped up to freeze and use when we get back to our usual sessions at Boiling Wells in September. We had plenty of bruised and unusable bits of apple left, so after checking with Farmer Bill we went to feed them to the pigs as a special treat. This attracted a lot of local children who enjoyed helping us distribute the apple.

After the big lunch clear up, we settled back into our watercolouring. The paintings from earlier had dried so we were able to rip decorative edges using a steel rule as a guide, and start assembling some finished cards.

We used dimensional foam tape to stick our painted designs to hammered white card. Finished cards were put with envelopes into cellophane bags ready for the shop. We each chose our favourite card we had made to take home and give to someone.

Here are some of the cards we finished today:

finished6We really liked being able to see and appreciate everyone else’s designs and we all managed to make something we were really happy with. We made a tutorial for using embossing and watercolour that you can find here. Some of us will be continuing to finish off cards next week as well as make some keyrings and sun catchers for the shop. We can’t wait!

Spoon carving

Today we had a special treat as Alistair Park came to our session to teach us wood carving skills that would enable us to make a wooden spoon. Alistair used to volunteer at the farm and now teaches wood carving and creates his own wooden masterpieces. To find out more, commission a piece or book a class, take a look at his website or his blog.

Firstly, and most importantly, Alistair talked us through general safety and the specific safety issues peculiar to using wood carving tools. He showed us different types of wood and their pros and cons, the tools we would be using and the techniques required to use them safely.

There was quite a lot to take in but Alistair remained attentive and approachable throughout the whole day, offering advice, reminding us of anything we had forgotten and teaching other skills as the need arose. We set to work on our individual projects.

We were so busy and engrossed in what we were doing, we didn’t have time to prepare lunch. Luckily it was prepared for us by the three superstars below, which was lovely and greatly appreciated!IMG_20180806_123316After lunch, we got back to our spoons which were coming along very nicely. One member of the group took a sequence of photos showing the progression of his spoon throughout the day.

Towards the end of the day we got together from our scattered shady spots and admired each other’s work.IMG_20180806_153312

IMG_20180806_153343The day just wouldn’t be complete without a visit from our favourite feathered friend, so here he is nonchalantly perching under a chair, pretending he isn’t looking for cheese.IMG_20180806_144506We thoroughly enjoyed our day and look forward to completing our spoons using our new skills. Alistair recommended a book for those of us who wanted to continue wood carving and expand our repertoire and gave us lots of helpful advice about the best tools to get for a reasonable price.

To see Alistair’s account of this day on his blog please click here.

Herbs and a goodbye (for now)

Today was full of blissful scattered showers, bringing the temperature down to an almost bearable level and saving us a lot of plant watering. The sunflowers were looking particularly robust as a result.

Around the site we could see plenty of other plants that had managed to survive and even thrive in the relentless heat.

After putting some work into the herb garden, we started preparing a lunch of leeks in white sauce, gnocchi,cheese and salad.

There was a lot of preparation involved, we needed to bake the potatoes, peel them, push them through a sieve, make into a gnocchi dough then form the individual pieces to boil. This made lunch rather late but did give us time to tie and hang plenty of herbs for drying in the barn and add to our collection of calendula petals that we are using to make calendula infused oil.

Our friendly robin was slightly less friendly today, perhaps dodging the showers which were quite heavy at times, but we did manage to capture this picture of him.


Sadly, it was Sophie’s penultimate day working at the farm today. Sophie was the member of staff who originally started the group that grew into Boiling Wellness (see here), and has ensured it continued to offer a place for people with mental health difficulties despite the challenges of funding in the current economic climate. Sophie is moving out of the area but is determined to stay in touch and regularly visit us at our Monday sessions. We wish Sophie all the luck in the world for the future and look forward to spending time with her when she comes to see us.