Conkers 2022

It’s October, time for conkers !!

My favourite time of year. 

2022 looks like it is going to be a good year for conkers as well as other tree seed collecting. 

It feels like I am reconnecting with old  friends as I travel around the New Forest visiting the  horse chestnut trees I collect conkers from. 

Asking them how they have been over the last year?

How did they cope through the summer, was it good for them?

Are they ready for winter? 

Is there anything they need?

The last question is always answered with please ask the  rest of the humans to stop killing those of  us who share this home with them. 

If you have never been to talk to the trees I urge you to go, have the conversation, and then check in with  yourself, what part you can play in halting the destruction. What is your positive action going to be?

Your action could be to swap even just some of your washing powder or liquid to one that not only does no harm, but actually puts more back into our biosphere. 

October is the month to collect conkers, to give them a wash if they are dirty, and then chop them up, smaller the better. Then it is time to dry them so you can store them all year. For a  family you will need to do around 5 kilos of fresh conkers. How much will last you till next October is down to how many washes you do. 

I will post the link to where to find my instructions on how to make the liquid from them to add to your washing machine in the comments.

If you for any reason are not able to collect and dry your own conkers you can support our regenerative work by purchasing some of our washkers. 

https://watercressqueen.company.site/products/Washkers-conkers-for-washing-your-clothes-p421141597

What calls me to do this every year? I certainly started because we had no income or money and needed to be able to reduce our costs to the absolute minimum if we were going to keep our house. 

I also wanted to live in a way that connected me as much as possible to our natural world, to be as green and as eco friendly as I could be. It seemed as though you needed money to do that, it was out of my reach. 

Now I know that if we look at the  beautiful resources we are gifted by our home ( biosphere) there are many changes we can make that can save us money, save us from harming our world and help us put more back than we take. 

So every year we will collect enough conkers for ourselves, and enough for those who can’t collect conkers but wish to use washkers. We will always make sure we never take more than ⅓ from a tree, we will thank the tree, and continue to commit to growing a minimum of 30 trees a year.

First conkers of 2022 collected 1st October.

The Waterside Clothes Swaps launch.

Clothes swaps – at last!!! 

Been on my list to get going in my area for so long and now they are here!

I love clothes swaps, with a passion. Let’s face it, we all love new clothes, but our planet doesn’t, so clothes swaps are the answer. 

They are also the answer to many other issues we face in our modern society.  So what part do they play in regenerative culture?

On 29th January a team of people came together in the waterside, New Forest UK for the launch of Waterside Clothes swaps.  Under my guidance as the only member of the team who had been to a clothes swap before, and with the help of Natalie Haigh, who is a passionate crafter and bag maker, we wanted to test the water and see who would come. 

The hall was quite small, to keep the costs down for the first one, we then got sponsorship from the waterside women – a local community group to help cover the costs of running the first one.

The volunteers numbered around 15, and everyone got stuck in to help make the day run perfectly! The Waterside Party Kit hire came along, although Katie who runs it spent more time helping out than promoting her party kit, but it becomes addictive seeing what clothes are coming through the door!

So how do we run the clothes swaps? 

During the week before we collect clothes from the community, so some presorting can take place and for those who can’t make it on the day, but wish to contribute. 

In the morning of the event we take clothing donations, we get as many of the clothes on rails as we can, so it has a shopping feel to the swap. 

Once we are open, it is free to come in – all our welcome – and then everything is free, regardless of whether you have anything to swap.  A team of volunteers sort clothes as they come in, and help people find their way round the different sections. A changing room is available, so much fun can be had trying things on!

Teas, coffee, and cakes were also free, and the Waterside Food Project brought along supermarket surplus bread, cakes and flowers, all again free. 

How many things do you go to where it is totally free? 

We did have a donation pot out, a give what you feel approach, and we ended up with just over £200!  I think people really loved the clothes swap. They are asking for the next one. 

So back to regenerative culture.  If we wish to really ‘save the planet’ to ensure this beautiful world of ours, for there to be a place for us within it, we have to dramatically change the way we do things, the way we demand things, and value everything and everyone. 

What does that have to do with clothes? Everything, there are enough pieces of clothing produced each year for each person to have 14 new items – or 100 billion items. Each one involving fossil fuels in the manufacture, even natural fibres, have far more connection to the fossil fuel industries than is commonly recognized. Of course all of these items of clothing are not evenly distributed around the world, with many never ever seeing a brand new piece of clothing with others seeing far more than their fair share. 

We often see talk of food poverty, but very rarely is clothing poverty talked about, but both go hand in hand. The drivers behind social media and fast fashion also can have very serious effects on our mental health. 

If we can change the way we view clothing, and understand its impact on our world and all the lives that inhabit our biosphere we can all win. 

There are far too many issues for me to cover in this blog post, and really I wanted to start by celebrating the success of our first Waterside Clothes swap. Please do some research if you feel you would like to understand more about the impact of textiles. 

And if that feels too much for you, then at least try to make your next purchases from a charity shop, or search out your local clothes swap – and if there are none, MAKE IT HAPPEN in your area!

Genius Cleaning cloths

A little bit of zero waste genius.

When I had my first son 18 years ago I was very determined to use cloth nappies, which I did, along with cloth wipes.  Of course I did the same for my second son. 

The reusable wipes were the thing that really inspired me, cloth wipes can be for anything not just cute little faces!

But super soft baby wipes are not very good for cleaning the dishes – just not abrasive enough for stuck on burnt food. So I had a think…….

Using what I have is a principle I stick to as much as possible, and my first cleaning cloths were made from towelling and fleece, and as I did not have an overlocker I had to sew and turn and then sew again. They were bulky and not easy to make and of course fleece is a shedder of micro fibres, I would not dream of using fleece now for anything. 

I needed to think again, so using what I had I turned to t-shirt material, bingo! They work on any surface – soft side for polishing and rough side for scrubbing.  At this point I was just making them for our own use and for friends and family. 

Not long after I had my second son I was able to afford an overlocker and that changed everything !

The cloths became super quick to make and so they could be made and sold in bulk. I then got involved in clothes swaps, and was able to source huge quantities of old t-shirts that no one was going to wear any more, towels sourced from charity shops that were overwhelmed with them and we were in business. 

Genius Cleaning Cloths

Everyone who was given some would utter ‘oh that’s genius’  hence the name – Genius Cleaning Cloths.  And when a school cleaner ordered enough to keep a whole school clean to save on using the planet’s resources as well as the school budget, production increased yet again. 

So apart from being made from upcycled materials what else makes these genius cleaning cloths?

Did I mention that I still have some of the ones I made around 15 years ago? Did I mention they can be washed over and over again – even on hot washes if needed. Or that they can go in your home composting when you finally finish with them? 

We don’t use labels or any other unnecessary packaging and they are completely plastic free!

And they are not perfectly rectangular, we don’t have seconds, working to make the best use of the materials if they need to be a bit shorter, or if I sew a little wonky down one edge we still love them, they still do a perfectly good job. 

Rethinking the need for perfection

We sell them in packs of 10 for £6, to reduce shipping impact they can be ordered in sets of 3 or 6 packs of ten.  

If you would like to try some for yourself you can order via this link https://watercressqueen.company.site/products/Genius-Cleaning-Cloths-in-packs-of-10-p421105244

Any questions please do email me . 


If your local zero waste store would like to be a stockist drop me a email, most zero waste stores who stock them sell them singularly, or you can sell them in packs of ten.

Even the super clean and fussy mother in law would use them when she was still with us.

Ecobrick Settee & Coffee Table

After what seems like forever we have at last been able to build and install a project built here in the UK following the principles of plastic sequestration as laid out in the guidelines produced by the Global Ecobrick Alliance. 

I would like to introduce to you the Ecobrick Settee and coffee table Four Acres academy in Bristol. 

Encon construction Ltd have built a new Waste and Recycling centre in Bristol.  As part of the community benefits that run alongside the build they have been working with Four Acres Academy in Bristol. 

They have run lots of educational workshops for the children and one of those was to create an ecobrick project. 

I was asked to run one of the Global Ecobrick Alliances (GEA) starter workshops for the children, and to build a settee and coffee table following the guidelines of the GEA plastic sequestration principles. 

And here it is!

358 ecobricks all logged and authenticated on gobrik.com with a combined weight of 180.09 kgs put to use in the school. It is in the area of the school that the foodbank works from, combining messaging to the children of good healthy food and taking care of the plastic that they have no control of coming into their hands. 

The equivalent amount of AES sequestered plastic was purchased, and a certificate produced via the plastic offsetting system on gobrik.com

Follow the link to see how easy it is for you to offset your plastic usage that you cannot avoid to support ecobrick projects around the world and in the UK who are taking care of the plastic in their communities https://www.gobrik.com/#offset/

The settee and coffee table was designed and built by Robert Green who at 18 is the UK’s master ecobrick module maker having been trained By Russell Maier from the GEA and has now made over 150 modules. If you would like to book him to teach you how to build modules with your ecobricks, or Ecobricks UK to lead workshops – either starter workshops or ecobrick Trainer courses get in touch. UKecobricks@gmail.com

AES plastic offsetting is available from gobrik.com

Plastic Transition

Plastic transition, what exactly is that? 

We are living in the plastic age, this stuff that has brought so many advances, our health care, for example, wouldn’t be the same today without plastic. But as we all know it has also brought so much harm to our world. Plastic transition is about finding ways to reduce our dependence  on plastic, to relearn how to use natural materials, and to look after the plastic that comes into our hands so it does not do any more harm. 

Not an easy job, but being part of the Global Ecobrick Alliance, connecting us to communities who are also on the transitioning path, we can learn, teach and share, and most importantly work towards finding answers. 

The next stage of this work here in the UK is to build upon the earth and ecobrick builds that have started to happen. Having somewhere to create earth buildings that sequester plastic/COand are useful to us is an important part of our work, and will allow people to learn how to make plastic they can’t avoid to be useful within their homes and communities. 

To do that we need somewhere to act as a demonstration model of the hows.  

And that is what this series of posts are about.  

Sharing our working ethos, so you can understand the why, to inspire you to be part of that journey. 

This picture is the ninth page of our working ethos, plastic transition  – you can read the rest on our website ( the open source development of the website is part of bringing community to work together ) www.newforestaquaponics.com 

We also have a survey which we would love to get your opinions on how much support we will have for a democratic  (one member one vote) share offer to be part of our regenerative farm community. 

Please do fill in the survey – it is really important we can show we have the support to get to the next stage. follow the link or use the QR code

https://forms.gle/otCaze6JDjL3LzmG6

Washkers the most environmentally way to wash your clothes

Buy Washkers on our store https://store68776081.company.site/products/

Washkers – prepared conkers for you to wash your clothes with

Using conkers or horse chestnuts is a free way for you to make sure your washing chemical free and will do no harm to our world.

I have used them for four years now, and every year I get to have lots of conversations with people helping them start this journey.

The one thing I found was that even when people really loved using them, preparing enough to last a family from session to session was quite hard for many.

Pressures of modern life, working, parenting, or not having anywhere close to collect conkers, and for many not having the physical ability to chop and dry was the biggest barrier to having enough for a whole year.

So WASHKERS was born.

I will always provide the instructions and help people prepare their own, but for those that can’t I hope that by offering washkers for sale I can help them on the journey of regenerative modern living.

Here is my post on how to make your own – and how the journey started

https://thewatercressqueen.wordpress.com/2021/07/12/conkers-for-clothes-washing/

When someone buys washkers from me, they are directly supporting a UK based, non profit that works towards putting more back than it takes from the biosphere.

Every year we plant a minimum of 30 horse chestnut trees, more if we can plus other spices of trees.

Our packaging is upcycled 100% cotton material so it can be composted when you have finished using it – although they make great produce bags, or storage bags. You can even post back to us to refill if you wish, all before it heads to the compost pile.

So what are you waiting for ? why not try some today, see if you like them before conkers session gets here – October – and then you can either make your own or keep supporting New Forest Aquaponics cic with our regenerative work supporting our local community.

Until I work out how to add a shopping cart please could you use this link to purchase the washkers.

https://donorbox.org/washkers-natural-clothes-washing-with-conkers

Please note to reduce our impact, as we have to travel by car to visit a post office we post all orders once a week.

Happy washing 🙂

Introducing Waterside EcoHub

23 January 2020| Community

Pictures from Fawley church conservation group

**January 2020 felt like the right time to bring my skills in helping people live a greener lifestyle to the place I call home.  I live in the New Forest, a very beautiful place that is being crushed by the sheer number of visitors who come to enjoy the beauty, bringing air pollution and litter, as well as the economic benefits to the area, as well as big commercial developments. The side of the forest I live in is referred to as the Waterside, this tends to include the villages that are situated between the edge of the New Forest and Southampton waters. The main road is the A326 and often referred to as the UK’s longest cul de sac, and at the end of it is the sea!  

I knew I wasn’t the only one to care locally about what was happening to our beautiful biosphere, time to get everyone talking to each other and to bring the things I wanted access too into the waterside area for everyone to benefit from.

14th January saw our first meeting where I explained some of my ideas, and we talked way past the time as it seemed there was so much to talk about  In our second meeting the discussion took more of what personal actions we can take in our own lives. It became apparent that this will be an important part of what the hub will do, and I really hope that individuals will bring the solutions and changes that have worked for them to share with others. We started with the most biosphere friendly way to wash your hair, if baths or showers were better, what is the best diet to follow when thinking of our personal impact ( a huge and complicated subject) , community gardening, and how we heat our homes, and that was just the start!

I had been sent a message by someone who wasn’t able to come along to ask our collective thoughts about the impact the possible roadworks along the A326 will have, if it will involve cutting down the trees along the road, when we know we need more trees? And would it serve the area well to have a network of cycle paths in the area?

Collectively we came to the conclusion that as far as the A326 is concerned we didn’t know enough about the plans and what we did know seemed to indicate that the parts of the road that get clogged quickly with traffic will end up with more traffic so will clog up quicker and cause more pollution……….

As for a cycle path network, yes this would be amazing, especially in the forest towns and villages. The first place we would like to see a path would be down to Lepe beach, not only would this cut car journeys to the beach and so pollution, but would make it safe on a busy country road for walkers and cyclists alike and open up access for locals who don’t drive or can’t afford the car parking.

We also had the really lovely gentleman who looks after Fawley church conservation area, he has been doing an amazing job creating a home for wildlife, we are connecting him with local scout groups and our local home ed group so he can share his knowledge and the youth can help him with some of the more physical jobs in return.  The pictures below are from his display board he brought along to show us. 

***If you live in the waterside area and you would like to join us please do, we are meeting every Tuesday in Blackfield and we have a Facebook group and a group on the  nextdoor app. 

There are plans for the group to run clothes swaps, litter picks, jumble trails, local food events, community gardening and more. We would welcome your help and support and to hear your ideas.

And if you don’t live in the waterside area is there a group like this in your area? Can you connect with others and make a difference to your local community?  It doesn’t have to be huge, it can start by inviting a few friends round one evening to share ideas and see where it takes you.  Just remember now is the time to act, be the change you want to see 

Love and light to you all – go do the stuff…….. 

** This was written January 2020 – we ran weekly meetings till March 2020….and of course you know what happened then!

***We are hoping to get monthly meetings going again soon, if you can find us a venue or suggest a place to meet please let me know. there is a page and a group on FB or you can get in touch through this page.