Nature Notes, a working weekend at the Othona Community.

For my latest video diary I head over to Bradwell on Sea in Essex to spend a weekend with the Othona Community. I discovered this place a few years ago and it has become an important place in my life that always leaves me feeling restored.


The Twelve Days of Christmas



St Peter’s on the Wall, Bradwell.

Like many people I find the festive season stressful. This year, one look at the hoards of stressed out shoppers almost made me cry off the whole thing.


However, Christmas should be enjoyed, whatever your religious beliefs. For all of us in the Northern Hemisphere it is a little patch of light in the dark months. It is a time to think of those we care about and those that need caring about. It is a time to reflect and feel the turning of the year.

So this year Christmas has found me in a myriad of little ways. This is my recipe for 12 things to do over the Christmas period to rediscover your own reason for a winter celebration.

  1. Play a game with your loved ones. (I played gin with my dad…once we remembered how.)
  2. See the geese arrive. (There’s few places better than The Wash for bird spectacle at this time of year.) geese-on-the-wash
  3. Eat roast dinners with friends. (Three and counting.)
  4. Have a kiss under the mistletoe. (Accomplished…never you mind with whom.)
  5. Welcome back the light. (Waiting for the solstice for this one.)winter sunlight North Downs Way
  6. Sing Carols in a beautiful place. (Even if religion is not your thing then these are beautiful songs. I went to the simple Othona advent service at St Peter’s on the Wall in Bradwell.)
  7. Go to a holy place. (Whatever that might mean to you. I visited the underground delight of Royston Cave. A place where two ley lines cross.) wall-of-carving
  8. Give gifts without expecting anything in return. (I made my fabulous mechanic Doug happy.)
  9. Buy yourself a present. ( A new pair of binoculars.)
  10. Embrace your winter layers. (Can you beat the 11 items of clothing I once wore on a cold day?)
  11. Fall in love with winter trees. (what’s not to love?)


    by MLP

  12. Mmmm. you tell me what this should be.

The only place is Essex

Essex, home of fake tan, crazy eyelashes and X Factor contestants. A coastline blighted by industry and pylons. England’s national joke. If you think you know what Essex is all about think again. Essex is also unspoilt beauty, lonely coastlines, secret islands and a place where time and again people have been drawn to step away from the ills of modern life and try to forge a better world.




St Peter’s on the Wall, Bradwell

I spent the weekend at Othona at Bradwell on Sea on the Dengie Peninsula, working, eating and laughing alongside a great bunch of people from all over the world who had chosen to step aside from the modern world and enjoy a simpler, kinder, communal way of life for a few days.



Othona’s original accommodation used in the 1950’s


Things have got a bit more comfortable nowadays