Show the Love & Beyond.

St Peter’s churchyard was decorated with green Show the Love, handmade hearts in February 2021. Trees along the paths and the railings were decorated by local people and groups. This was a community effort to join in with the Climate Coalitions call to #Showthelove for our world.

2021 is a very important year for the future of our planet with the UN Climate Summit COP 26 taking place in Glasgow in November.  We need the UK to ensure that the Climate Summit is successful and sets us on the path to a safe climate for all. Underpinning all of this is the imperative that global economic recovery is sustainable and doesn’t prevent us from limiting warming to no more than 1.5C.

Because of this the Climate Coalition are encouraging communities to have a Great Big Green Week in September as a call for action on climate change. Here are some of their ideas, ‘From local park clean ups and planting sessions, to concerts and community group stalls, you can plan events to suit your community. For guidance on how you can organise an event or green week, visit greatbiggreenweek.com

Already plans are being discussed in Belper and ideas being thought of. The date of the week is from September 18th – September 26th. Still hopefully plenty of time to plan. 

I have recently read Rob Hopkins book, From What Is to What If (Unleashing the power of imagination to create the future we want). It is full of inspiring stories of communities working together to improve their lives, the places where they live and helping to look after the planet. Rob emphasises how important it is to start by imagining the future you would like and then work out ways of helping that future happen.

We can all do something however small and lots of small things do make a difference. We can also join in collective movements to make sure our Government and local authorities know that we think the issue of Climate Change and the Climate Crisis must be taken seriously.

In the last two years I have changed my gardening habits and have tried to think of ways to garden to help wildlife. In the garden we can make a difference and some of what we need to do actually saves time and money. Last year we only mowed our lawn twice and in between allowed the grass to grow along with the daisies, dandelions and clover. One of the things that really bothers me is how many front gardens are paved over for cars. This could be mitigated with a few pots of suitable bushes and flowers to make a difference for bees and insects .

Another easy thing households can do is to stop using any sort of pesticide as this is harmful to all insects and other creatures who eat the insects. Last year I made my first wildlife pond in an old washing up bowl and then enjoyed seeing it regularly used by birds and frogs. A small effort can give a lot of enjoyment. This year I have gone a little larger by digging a bigger hole and using a liner. On one afternoon I watched starlings, blackbirds and sparrows taking turns to bath. One really important thing we can all do is to be untidy. When we do any pruning I now leave piles of branches under bushes and have seen wrens hopping about looking for bugs to eat.

More advice on gardening for wildlife can be found here, RSPB website and on the Wildlife Trusts website. Watching the birds, frogs, squirrels, bees and insects has given us so much pleasure during the last year of on and off lockdowns.

Trees of St Peter’s Belper


In the previous twelve months St Peter’s Church like other Belper churches has had to change the way it meets and serves the community. At times the building has had to remain completely closed. At the time of writing this, the church can open for two hours a day for private prayer and have a limited service on Sunday mornings. Most of the different church denominations in Belper have moved their services onto the internet with many now having their own Youtube channels. St Peter’s Parish Belper.

St Peter’s Church Belper

During this time St Peter’s has used its grounds and its trees as a way of bringing pleasure to many who walk through the churchyard on their journey around the town. This has included photographs showing the beauty of the natural world at Harvest Time starting in September 2020.

An Advent Calendar gradually appeared in December 2020, in the days leading up to Christmas. Trees were decorated by individuals and community groups with the organisation being coordinated by Belper Woollen Woods. As well as the items used to illustrate the Advent story, bible readings were also attached to the trees.

Trees were decorated in many different ways with people using wool to knit and crochet, copies of paintings by local artists, needle felted pieces, embroidered fabric, painted MDF and wood. A fantastic stable was constructed by Mark and Josh Gregory and this was gradually filled with the main characters from the Christmas story.

From an original painting by Fi Marks

In the month of January 2021 the trees were decked out with jokes, useful information and inspirational quotes.

In February 2021 the trees were decorated by people from the Belper community with Green Hearts. This was as a response to the Climate Coalitions ‘Show the Love’ (#showthelove) campaign, which is about using our voices to celebrate all the things we don’t want to lose, as a result of climate change.

There were so many fantastic hearts made by people of all ages, I decided to make a film about it and even in this it has not been possible to show every heart.

The season of Lent began on February 17th 2021 and prayer flags beautifully written by local school children were strung between some of the trees along the path.

There are plans ahead for an Easter display, and then from April 17th a POET-TREE trail organised as part of Belper Fringe by local poet Carol Brewer. More information can be found on the fringe website.

May 15th – 23rd, will see the trees dressed as part of 2021 Woollen Woods, as this year the woods come to town with trees decorated in both the Memorial Gardens, St Peter’s Churchyard, houses along Long Row and some shop windows.

St Peter’s church is happy to receive ideas from Belper people, please contact the church office for more information. office@stpetersparishbelper.org.uk

#showthelove 2021

This year it feels more important than ever to take climate change seriously. The UK should have hosted the UN Climate Change Conference last November which had to be cancelled because of Coronavirus. It is now hoped that the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, (also known as COP26), will be held in Glasgow, Scotland, from 1 to 12 November 2021 under the presidency of the United Kingdom.

Logo designed for last years event by India Day.

In 2015 there was a very important meeting in Paris and an agreement was signed by 196 countries. It is often mentioned on the news as the Paris Agreement, its goal was to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels. Even this level of warming will make significant changes to our world so it feels that it is really important to make changes ourselves but also to do what we can to persuade those in power to reconsider their actions.

A vigil was held in Belper in 2015 which also included some craft activism making hearts to wear. A report can be read at NAILED Belper’s Independent News. Anyone wishing to make their own heart this year can buy a kit with everything they need from the Craftivist Collective. A-Heart-For-Your-Sleeve-kit

During 2020 many people discovered how important the natural world was to their mental health. I have written a previous blog about how it interesting it was in the first lockdown, to almost be forced to walk the same fields each week and see the progression of flowers, insects and fruits in the fields and hedgerows. We do need to take action to protect the natural world. https://www.anneclarkhandmade.co.uk/wildflowers-during-lockdown/

Herb Robert, a beautiful tiny wildflower found nearly everywhere.

The Climate Coalition, the UK’s largest group of people dedicated to taking action on climate change, ask that green hearts are made in February each year . This is what they say, ‘Green hearts are powerful, When you make and share your green heart, you help send a powerful message to decision-makers: that people from every corner of the UK want to see urgent action to protect the people, places and life we love from the worst impacts of climate change.’

Large Green Heart made to tie around a tree.

Last year we had a Show the Love event inside St Peter’s Church Belper, https://www.anneclarkhandmade.co.uk/showthelove/

This year the plan is to tie green hearts around the trees in the churchyard. When you make and display your green heart, you show others in your community that you care about climate change and are hopeful that we can protect what we love from its impacts by taking urgent action. Obviously because of the latest lockdown we cannot meet in groups to make these but we can still take action. As the Climate Coalition say, THE TIME IS NOW.

I have recently used an old cotton reel to make my own small banner.

Making Winter by Emma Mitchell

I love books particularly books about the natural world. In the last few years there have been so many fantastic new books published, I am constantly tempted to buy another. I thought I would write about some that I have read, learnt from and enjoyed. The first is Making Winter, (A Creative Guide for Surviving the Winter Months) written and illustrated by Emma Mitchell.

Emma is a naturalist, author and workshop leader. She often writes about how contact with the natural world can improve mental health. In 2020 this has been such an important message helping many of us cope while not being able to take part in our usual activities. Emma has appeared on BBC TV in Countryfile and Springwatch speaking about the healing effect of nature. 

The book is full of beautiful photography, lovely illustrations and contains instructions for making many different projects. She includes different methods for making jewellery, how to use water colours, keep a nature diary, make comforting food and drink, many nature inspired crafts and several crochet patterns.

A collection of things from a walk along the Cromford Canal

I just love this book both for the overal look of it and for the clear instructions. I have tried many of Emma’s ideas and they have all turned out well. The first idea I tried was on page 15, Preserving Autumn Leaves. This Autumn the colour of the trees has been amazing and I was eager to see if I could preserve the leaves and their colours. Emma explains how this can be done using a mixture of water and glycerine and this worked really well for me.

I usually prefer knitting to crocheting but used a pattern from this book to make a Crochet Lace Necklace and was very pleased with the result. Emma has more crochet patterns and instructions on her website silverpebble.net

In 2015 Emma had a pattern published in Mollie Makes magazine for making a semicircle winter garland. I made this and was once again very pleased with the end result. I love the shape of flowers like Cow Parsley and Common Hogweed and I think my garland looks a little like these.

I have tried several of the recipes from the book including Blackberry and Almond Streusel Cake, Plum, Orange and Ginger Blondies and Apple and Caramel Chelsea Buns. I love using berries foraged from hedgerows and this year has been an amazing year for hawthorn, rose hips and blackberries.

I plan to make many more of the creations from Emma’s book and would recommend it as a beautiful present to give someone. This book was published in 2017 and since then she has published another book in 2019, The Wild Remedy, (How Nature Mends Us) written as a nature diary. Once again a most beautiful book in which Emma shares how taking walks in the countryside near her home has helped her with ongoing depression which is particularly difficult for her during the winter months.

Emma does however occasionally travel further from her home in Cambridgeshire and in the chapter for the month of June she visits Rose End Meadows in Cromford Derbyshire. The meadow is not the easiest place to find but well worth the effort. Here is what Derbyshire Wildlife Trust has to say about the area, “The meadows are a set of 16 small, hilly fields which can be accessed from Cromford Hill. Derbyshire Wildlife Trust purchased the land in 1987 and have been managing it ever since. The views across this part of the county are spectacular but the real gems are two-fold – the incredible mix of wild flowers from spring right through to summer, and the knowledge that you are strolling through a landscape that has predominantly remained unchanged for over a century; a genuine agricultural and wildlife time capsule.

I feel so lucky to live in Derbyshire such a beautiful county however small patches of nature can be found and enjoyed even in most of our cities. It is good for our health, both physical and mental to spend time outdoors.

Nature during Lockdown

Lockdown because of the Coronavirus started in the UK in the middle of March 2020. This has been a very strange time for all of us and has affected people in so many different ways. At the start we were asked by the government to basically stay at home, if that was possible and only leave the house for one hour a day for some outside exercise. Obviously the possibility of this varied because of our different circumstances. I have been very lucky to have time to learn new skills, more time to garden and observe wildlife. I realise that for many life became more stressful and do hope that the natural world has helped them cope.

Some of the immediate effects were better air quality, less noise and those who went outside started to notice the wildlife and wild plants near to their homes. As someone who has always loved the natural world it has been most interesting to continuously walk the same fields and really notice the progression of flowering plants in the fields and hedgerows. I have written about this in a previous blog Wildflowers during Lockdown. I am more aware of all the small creatures we share the world with and now watch continuously for a slight movement that means I am not alone.

Wildlife Gardening

There are definite advantages to gardening for wildlife. When I decided I no longer wanted an immaculate garden but a garden that would attract as much wildlife as possible the first thing I did was stop the war on weeds. 

I used to start my gardening year by spending a couple of weeks crawling under bushes trying to dig up weeds. I now leave most of them and although many of the flowers are small they are still beautiful. One of the first weeds/flowers I noticed was Hairy Bittercress. This plant has tiny white flowers and is edible, tasting like cress it works well as part of a salad or in a sandwich.  http://thegoodliferevival.com/blog/hairy-bittercress

Hairy Bittercress tastes good in a sandwich.

The second plant/weed that I have plenty of is Wood Avens. These like damp shady conditions and there are many areas in my garden that it loves. The flowers are small and yellow, the seed heads are attractive and can stick to your clothes. It is another edible plant. https://www.wildfooduk.com/edible-wild-plants/wood-avens/ 

Wood Avens also known as Herb Bennet

Both of the previous plants have added themselves to my garden and so has this next beautiful yellow flower. I still do not know what it is but it grows happily in the garden and I like the look of it.

Unknown yellow flower, seeds itself all over the garden.

In the last two years I have been adding wildflowers to the borders, some grow well while others seem to disappear without a trace. Rose Campions and Betony were the first to give plenty of flowers.

This year 2020, I have added Cowslips, Oxeye Daisies, Comfrey and Borage. A large clump of Common Ragwort has also appeared.

We have allowed our small amount of lawn to grow for several weeks and by mid July only cut it twice. This has allowed clover, buttercups and some meadow grasses to appear. The bees and hover flies have been very happy.

I wanted to add a pond to the garden. Our garden is heavy clay, difficult to dig in the winter because of its stickiness and in Summer like concrete.  I started digging in March and then lockdown happened. Having no pond liner I used an old washing up bowl, surrounded it with rocks and added a couple of water plants. I placed rocks inside the bowl to enable birds to drink safely and was very pleased to notice blackbirds and robins using it regularly . Early in June I noticed a frog had moved in and now in July I have seen two frogs and several froglets.

We have a bird table, bird feeders, piles of rocks and logs and some messy corners. All Winter we were visited each day by a pair of Bullfinches and now have regular visits from families of Long Tailed Tits and Blue Tits. A Wood pigeon has nested in a hawthorn tree just beside the patio in what looks like a very precarious structure.  Our favourite resident however has to be the one legged Robin. 

Here is a list of other birds seen, Nuthatches, Jay, House Sparrows, Long Tailed Tits, Blue Tits, Coal Tits, Goldfinches, Greenfinches, Hedge Sparrows, Starlings, Blackbirds, Bullfinches, Chaffinches, Wren, Song Thrushes and Wood Pigeons. Other garden visitors include a hedgehog, a family of squirrels and several frogs. Butterflies include Speckled Wood, Large White, Gatekeeper, Orange-tip, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell  and Common Blue. Last summer we also saw Peacocks and Painted Ladies. I have noticed the caterpillars of Mullein moths on the Buddleia and a Dragonfly in the front garden. A useful site for identifying butterflies  https://butterfly-conservation.org/butterflies/identify-a-butterfly

Having spent more time than usual pottering around the garden I have become aware of different bee species.  Firstly I noticed Tree Bumblebees which were first seen in the UK in 2001. I have also observed something that I have never seen before, Bumblebee’s mating. The action was happening on a gravel area. Then to my surprise the queen starting to try to fly off, she bumped up and down along a path and then managed to get airborne with the male still attached to her.  

I have grown Nasturtiums in pots and found them a most interesting addition to the garden. We have eaten their leaves and flowers in salads, the bees have enjoyed their nectar and I am saving the seeds to pickle when I have enough of them to fill a jar.

Lastly here are some books I have read and recommend.

Homemade Beauty Products.

I have been interested in making my own beauty products for a number of years. It is one way of knowing exactly what you are putting on to your skin and is definitely cheaper than shop bought items. This period of lockdown has given me the time and opportunity to have a go.

I have been using shampoo bars to wash my hair for over a year and several weeks into lockdown I was nearly at the end of my last bar. I have never made soap before and had no idea how difficult it would be, so searched the internet for the simplest recipe I could find. This is the recipe for the one I chose to make. Check this hair shampoo link for information. I had to buy a couple of items and alter the recipe a little but it made 2 large bars and I really like the way my hair feels.

Two finished bars of soap.

The items I bought online were a glycerin soap base and a pot of shea butter. I already had olive oil and coconut oil in my kitchen cupboard. I left out the orange and seasalt completely as I didn’t have either of them. I used some essential oils I already had first checking that they would be okay for my hair and skin. The oils I had were rose, geranium and bergamot. As I didn’t have any soap moulds I used some old soap dishes which worked really well. 

I started running out of skin moisturiser a few weeks after lockdown started so again looked for the simplest recipe I could find using the shea butter I had bought for the shampoo bars. I found a recipe and then altered it slightly. My final moisturiser was made by melting 40 gms of the shea butter in a pyrex bowl placed on top of a saucepan partially filled with water over a medium heat.

Once the shea butter was melted I took it off the heat and added 25 gms of carrier oil. I used jojoba oil as I already had some of this but you could also use sweet almond oil, grapeseed oil, or avocado oil. I had some vitamin E capsuals so split a couple of these and added the contents as well and a few drops of the essential oils I already had. I let the mixture cool and then put into the fridge for a couple of hours. Once it had become thick and creamy I gave a stir and then put into a sterilised tin ready for use. I have read that a calendula infused oil would also be good for this recipe. I am growing calendulas in the garden so this is an idea to try in the future.

Homemade face cream ready for use.
Calendula flower

I also wanted to make a body scrub and the first one I tried was 50 gms coconut oil, mixed with 50 gms brown sugar and a couple of teaspoons of vanilla essence. I found it best to rub over dry skin and then wash off. It smells delicious. A word of warning however, be careful that it doesn’t make a bath or shower slippy. You could also add sea salt instead of sugar. 

Brown sugar and coconut oil body scrub

One item I tried to make but unfortunately it failed was a rosewater skin toner. Mine did not smell very much like a rose. Here is a recipe which looks good to make rosewater. It is not the one I used so I will try again. I love the smell of roses and they are meant to be really good for your skin.

#showthelove Event Belper

Belper’s first ‘Show the Love’, Eco Event took place on Saturday February 15th in St Peter’s Church. It was a very wet and windy weekend but this did not deter people from attending which was fantastic. The idea was to have a variety of organisations for the public to talk to about the issues of our changing climate and how we can each take a few steps towards living more sustainably.We are not all going to agree on all the issues but it is important to have conversations and then decide what we feel is our personal next step forward. Maybe the biggest thing we can do is consume less and consequently waste less, working towards saving both money and our planet.
Last Saturday we were challenged by India to consider eating Edible Insects and if this was not something you could do, what about your Pets? The Guardian newspaper published an article which said that 25% of the impact of meat production comes from the pet food industry. Is it time we changed what we feed our cats and dogs? India had a selection of Edible Insects from Crunchy Critters at Ilkeston and had baked some chocolate brownies made with cricket flour.George with his Belper Beats Plastic stand had hints and tips for reducing plastic but also asked people to sign his petition. The petition hopes to persuade Amber Valley Borough Council to give better information on items that can be put in our household recycling bins. George is concerned that many people may be contaminating their recycling unintentionally  causing lorry loads to end up in landfill. He also wants the council to take food waste and turn this into compost.Marisha and Andy had information and examples of things that can now be recycled through their small business Hidden Potential Recycling.Sue from Sue’s Sustainables had lots of help and advice on changes we can make to live more sustainably. She also started the food waste initiative, Sharing not Wasting and of course runs Belper’s first almost plastic free shop.

Charlotte continued to promote the Refill Belper, scheme and sell reusable water bottles. She has worked hard to persuade cafes and other businesses to fill the publics reusable bottles so that less single use plastic bottles are bought and then very quickly end up in the bin.There were stands with information about local initiatives and volunteering opportunities. These included Belper Parks Wood Volunteers, St Peter’s Community Garden, Belper Permaculture Network, The Woodland Trust and Derbyshire Wildlife Trust. We we’re encouraged to consider how we manage our own gardens and consider leaving areas to grow wild for insects, birds and small mammals. There were free wooden blue hearts and fabric blue hearts, plus packets of free seeds. The idea of the blue heart is to show that an area is being left and why, hopefully to encourage more wild areas in the town.Noah gave away Show the Love badges, made and designed by India. He also encouraged people to give donations for some Eco booklets written by four young people and the money raised was given to The Woodland Trust.Derby Greenpeace had information on electric cars among other things and we were very lucky to have two parked at the front of the church. The Derwent Valley Trust had a map of their proposed Cycleway along the valley thus making cycling a safer and more enjoyable option.Transition Belper had a very informative stand detailing their many projects in the town. Through them households can get help and advice about their energy use. They also promoted Belper Goes Green which this year will happen on the last weekend in May 2020.Its important that we help to educate young people about the effects of climate change and they need knowledge about what their personal carbon footprint is. These are issues that will effect them all but we need to be careful not to frighten.  One way of doing this is through story books such as ‘Carbon Monster’. Katherine Wheatley author of this book helped to run a children’s activity and gave us the exciting news that her second book will be published in April this year.There was an opportunity for anyone of any age to print a design of their choice with Jane a member of Derby Extinction RebellionKim and Heather had lots of information and examples of sustainable fabrics such as wool, linen and flax. Heather had examples of yarn she had spun from banana skins and mint tops and Kim had examples of how she uses sustainable fibres in her work.There was a cafe area and plenty of time for people to chat.The conversations about caring for our environment will continue in Belper and hopefully we will all work together as a community who cares.

Show the Love

Every February since 2015 the Climate Coalition have encouraged people from all walks of life to join in one of the biggest climate movements yet to Show the Love for our earth. This is what they say on their website,

‘Join us in 2020 to start new climate conversations, and in making and sharing green hearts to #ShowTheLove for all the things you want to protect from climate change. It has never been more important to make your voice heard to the people who have the power to make a world of difference.’

https://www.theclimatecoalition.org/show-the-love

In February, Belper will be holding a series of events and courses related to climate change. These are:-

Our Carbon Footprint: 1st of February at Strutts 9.30-12.30. 

Transition Belper and Belper Town Council are presenting a free course to be held at Strutts, Derby Road on the 1st of February from 9.30am – 12.30pm. The course, Our Carbon Footprint: Understanding and Managing the Impact, will be presented by Caroline Harmon of Marches Energy Agency. This is an opportunity to find out more about the threats we face from climate change, and what we can do about them. The course is free, but you will need to reserve your place through eventbrite.  Transition Belper     Belper Town CouncilShow the Love Event at St Peter’s Church – 15th of February 16.00-18.00

This is a drop in event suitable for everyone who would like more information on groups that are already active in the Belper Area. Come along to find out more about how each one of us can make a difference. We will have free Blue Hearts and Wild Flower seeds to re-wild parts of your gardens, information on the new Belper Community Orchard, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, The Woodland Trust and the Derwent Valley Cycleway. There will be a chance for the brave to sample edible insects and talk to kids from the Nature Savers Group. Ideas on living more sustainably, cutting down on single use plastic, local recycling initiatives, find out more about Extinction Rebellion and possibly print your own T-Shirt. Katherine Wheatley author of the book, Carbon Monster will lead some craft activities and have some books for sale. There will be refreshments of tea/coffee/squash, homemade cakes and biscuits. St Peter’s Church, Belper.

Zero Carbon Training at Fleet Arts – 22nd and 23rd of February 9.30-16.00

The course aims to further knowledge and deepen understanding of the climate crisis and inspire the change we now need, with examples of carbon neutral projects. It will include a combination of education, discussion, participation and fun! (Play the Carbon City Zero game). It will take many of us pulling in the same direction to enable change, and each of our actions can contribute to making a zero carbon future happen. http://fleet-arts.org

Climate Change is an issue that it is difficult to ignore as it is regularly  in the news showing us some of the devastating effects of Global Warming. I feel  it is important that we try to understand what is happening and then work with others to make a difference. There are things that we as individuals can do  but it is also an issue where communities can work together to make a difference. We need to be careful not to get bogged down in despair but look at all the amazing things going on worldwide and work with others to make a difference. There is hope and many amazing people rising up to lead campaigns.

Greta Thunberg https://www.facebook.com/gretathunbergsweden/ a young person who has inspired many to take the issues of Climate Emergency more seriously.

Amy and Ella Meek, young people leading a campaign against single use plastic. http://www.kidsagainstplastic.co.uk

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have announced a global prize to tackle climate issues, pledging “a decade of action to repair the Earth”. https://earthshotprize.org

David Attenborough who tirelessly campaigns  so that we can better understand what is going on. Sir David’s facts-on-climate-change

There have been many inspiring and worrying films in the last few years including TOMORROW and A PLASTIC OCEAN both shown in Belper. There is a new film 2040  by Damon Gameau is an upbeat documentary predicting our best selves saving the planet which we hope to show later in the year. 2040 Trailer

Fashion Revolution Week

Belper’s first Fashion Revolution event took place during Fashion Revolution Week 2019. The action happened in St Peter’s Church on Friday April 26th,  it was very well supported by people from Belper and beyond.The idea for the Fashion Revolution movement came from Carry Somers after the tragedy of the Rana Plaza disaster. On 24 April 2013, a factory building in Bangladesh collapsed killing 1,134 people and injuring 2500 more. Carry (who has a Fair Trade shop in Ashbourne) felt this was a tipping point and something needed to be done. She phoned Orsola de Castro, founder of up-cycling fashion label ‘From Somewhere‘. Orsola immediately said, ‘Yes we have got to do this.” The first fashion Revolution Day took place in 2014. Fashion Revolution Day has now become Fashion Revolution Week and this year took place from April 22 – 28. Continue reading Fashion Revolution Week