From locally sourced food to hand made crafts, The National Trust is hosting an array of Christmas markets up and down the UK.

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Arlington Court and the National Trust Carriage Museum, Devon

Victorian Christmas fair with Wind in the Willows, 4-5 December 11am – 3pm

Old-fashioned festive fun, with special guests Toady, Moley, Ratty and Badger and Father Christmas too. The house will be decorated for Christmas, plus there’ll be a brass ensemble, Shetland pony rides (weather permitting), craft tent and food court.

Special ‘Pay what you think it was worth’ event.

Booking is not required for this event. For more information please call 01271 850296.


Attingham Park, Shropshire

Frost fair, 4-5 December 10am – 4pm

Avoid the crowded shopping centres this year and make Christmas shopping an enjoyable experience at Attingham with high quality local craft and food stalls in the historic setting of Attingham’s house and grounds.

Normal admission charges apply but there are no additional event charges

Booking is not required for this event. For more information please call 01743 708123.


Erddig, Wrexham

Christmas Market and Father Christmas’s winter wonderland, 4-5, 11-12 & 18-19 December 10am – 5pm

Enjoy a traditional Christmas market with food and drink, plus live music creating a wonderful Christmas shopping experience. Wander around and find those special and unusual Christmas presents. Browse over thirty stalls picturesque wooden chalets and stalls offering hand crafted gifts. Father Christmas will also be in his Winter Wonderland- complete with his toy workshop.

Free entry to the market, plus adult £2 and child £4 to enter the Winter Wonderland. For more information please call 01978 355314.

Ham House and Garden, Surrey

Ham House Christmas fair, 4-5, 11-12 & 18-19 December 11am – 5pm

A unique opportunity to find exciting and original Christmas gift ideas from the National Trust and from local artisans and traders.

Adult £3.50, child £2.35 and family £9.25 (2 adults + 2 children).

National Trust Members go free.

Booking is not required for this event. For more information please call 020 8940 1950.


Osterley Park and House, Middlesex

Christmas craft fair, 4-5, 11-12 & 18-19 December 12pm – 3.30pm

A chance to purchase some unique Christmas gifts made by local artists and crafts people.

Free admission.

Booking is not required for this event. For more information please call 020 8232 5050.


Rufford Old Hall, Lancashire

Victorian Christmas fair, 4-5 December 11am – 4pm

Kick start your festive mood with our seasonal two day fair. Browse the market offering traditional Christmas gifts, visit Father Christmas, take part in a magic show and listen to Tarleton and District Brass Band performing in front of the Great Hall.

National Trust tea room and shop will also be open.

£2.50 per car, £0.75 per pedestrian.

Booking is not required for this event. For more information please call 01704 823812.

Rowallane Garden, Co. Down

Yuletide market, 11-12 December 2010 12-5pm

The original Christmas Market with craft stalls and food to suit all the family. Mulled wine, Christmas trees, wreaths and floral art to decorate your home will be just some of the things you can buy so come along and soak up the festive atmosphere.

Adult £5.50, child £2.70 and family £13.70.

National Trust members go free.

Booking is not required for this event. For more information please call 028 9751 0131.

Wimpole Home Farm, Cambridgeshire

Farmers market, 11 December 11am – 3pm

Held the second Saturday of month in the Stableyard at Wimpole, they’ll be fresh local produce available to buy direct from the producers: cheese, free range chicken, wild game, eggs and chutneys.  National Trust shop, Garden Shop, toyshop and Farm shop will also be open.

Normal admission charges apply but there are no additional event charges.

Booking is not required for this event. For more information please call 01223 206000.

Gibside, Tyne and Wear

Christmas farmers market, 18 December 10am – 3pm

Why not source your Christmas dinner from tasty local, seasonal produce or make your own festive food hampers for loved ones? Come for bustling stalls, as well as roasted chestnuts and mulled wine.

Free entry. For more information please call 01207 541820.

Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire

Food fair, 18-19 December 11am – 5pm

Join us as we transform Clumber’s Stableyard into a market place, with a variety of tempting produce for you to try and buy, fresh from a selection of local producers.

Normal admission charges apply but there are no additional event charges.

Booking is not required for this event. For more information please call 01909 544917.

Image courtest of NTPL, David Levenson.

Ever since the announcement of the expectancy of Prince William, there have been bets, odds, news, headlines, and fountains of fame. Can we tempt the Royals to go green?

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With the engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton being announced, and then the date being set on the 28th of April at Westminster Abbey – we wonder what else would they need to make their day perfect?

How about the dream dress? The beautiful decorations? And the honeymoon? Everything about their Royal wedding has to be unique – and why not even Green?

Westminster Abbey: History, an internationally recognised Tourist attraction, and the named Venue of the beautiful Bride and Groom to be. Founded in 920, Westminster Abbey has been the well known home to all Royal events such as; Weddings, Coronations and Funerals. Alongside the astonishing oldest-cultivated garden in the UK, College Gardens- it’s a fantastic reason to bring the stunning, scenic, floral design indoors, for delightful decorations.

When decorating the venue, why not have the venue tip -to-toe in divine scents and sights? With perhaps Kenyan Esperance pink/yellow roses, pink Lisianthus with lavender, Dracaeana Sandriana and China grass as small centre pieces behind the podium, which are also Fairtrade. Then have the benches decorated in White lilies, spanning the room elegantly but not stealing too much focus from the newlyweds. To follow on, they could then finally have bouquets of Eden Romantic spray roses, Lolita Lempicka roses and Lookalike roses hand-tied with lavender spaced accordingly around where the guests will arrive. All this at no cost to the environment, what better message could the couple possibly give out to the millions of viewers watching their wedding on the National Holiday.

The bride walking graciously down the aisle is set to be watched by a staggering audience world-wide and when you’re watched by millions you need the perfect dress. An elegant, pristine, classic white, sophisticated yet glamorous gown- fit for any up-and-coming queen. Who says this has to be so predictable with designers? Why not go for something that has been passed through the Royal family through generations? Or perhaps something brand new made with extra-ordinary eco-friendly taste? It could be something very much out of this world, without ever having to leave.

As well as first appearances, no one wants to be seen in terrible transport in arrival to the wedding, so what would those at the top of the table need to truly “arrive-in-style”? Not the cliché Limousine. Not the Cliché Bentley classic, that every eager Groom-to-be proposes. The answer: None other than the elegant, courageous chariot and crystal-clustered carriage, fit for any royal, at any financial cost, at no physical harm to the environment. No harm to the horses either, as they are well looked after in the money-department, I’m sure the animals will be luxuriously pampered amongst their stalls and hay-bales. What could be better?

Also, with their venue set as the Westminster Abbey, why not have their Honeymoon somewhere equally historic and not too far away? Why not stay in the UK and have a beautiful romantic getaway overlooking beautiful Mountain tops, hill and lakeside views, as well as experiencing the true taste of nature in one of the United Kingdom’s untouched and unique National Parks’: Snowdonia. And what do you know? It’s only up the country from Will’s Dad, Prince Charles! Magnificently marvellous for the bride-to-be and the next-in-line heir to the throne on their “Big Day”, no excess travelling through Plane journeys, no excess stress about visas’, and no excess damage to the O-Zone layer!

So there you have it, plans fit well for the heir to the throne and his young bride without dampening any Expensive taste they may have. It can be possible to do Fairtrade and Eco-friendly weddings without them looking “distasteful”- if anything; they really put a stamp of originality on anyone’s wedding. With beautiful natural scenes of nature, and ethically made items surrounding you, your partner, your families and your friends, it helps to give off a vibe like no-other, and really accentuates the beauty of a Wedding Ceremony. Let’s see the Royals go green.

It has been a top year for the UK’s green festivals, with many scooping awards at the Festival Awards 2010.

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‘A Greener Festival Award’ was awarded to The Croissant Neuf Summer Party – and rightly so! The festival champions renewable energy and sustainability as well as oozing green ethics. All electricity to generate the sound you hear is powered by the sun and wind, and this recognition is welcomed.

Croissant Neuf rotates around numerous summer festivals, including the winner of ‘Best Small Festival’ Kendal Calling. Kendal is nestled away in the stunning Lake District, and was one of Hello Eco Living’s top eco festivals of 2010.

Ben Robinson said on behalf of the festival and fellow co-director Andy Smith…

“Everyone in the Kendal Calling team is ecstatic that Kendal Calling has been voted Best Small Festival in the UK! Huge thanks to the team for all their passionate hard work, and to all the revelers that give the festival its electric and unique atmosphere, that’s seen it gain a national award. Thanks again you wonderful folks and see you in the fields in 2011.”

Moving up the size ranks, ‘Best Medium Festival’ went to Green Man for their efforts in bringing a fabulous festival fit for the eco conscious.

Fiona Stewart, festival director said; “We are delighted to win this award, there are a lot of lovely people who work very hard to make Green Man happen and this is a testament to them. But most importantly it’s thanks to the people who come to the festival, and who voted.”

Look out for our guide to the top green festivals of 2011 coming soon – you can sign up for our free e-newsletter to be the first to find out!

A thriving garden starts with good soil. Here we tell you about the key things you must know in order to grow things fruitfully year after year.

What is soil?

While soil comes in many shapes and colours, it is normally made from 25% water, 25% air, 45% minerals (clay, sand, silt) and 5% organic matter.  The size and proportions of the minerals is what will give soil its different qualities.  Sandy soils drain well, are easy to dig, and warm up fast in spring, while clay soils are good at holding plant nutrients. Bacteria, insects, worms and roots all help to improve the quality and structure of the soil. A PH of 6-6.5 is by and large good for most vegetables and plants, you’d need a PH tester and then add lime if it is too acid or lots of organic matter if it’s too alkali.

Caring for the soil

Yes you need to weed, however in order to improve the soil there are many things you will need to do. Adding organic matter, such as compost, bark chippings, leaves and plant remains will dramatically improve the soil’s quality. Remember you need it to be damp but never water logged, so if it’s too clay based you can add some sand also. Double digging, which is digging to a depth of two spades, is probably the fastest way to improve soil structure as it allows you to add organic matter deep down, but make sure to mix it in well. Try not to walk over wet soil too much as this can compact it, also appreciate a good frost as this can break up the soil for you – effort free.

Mulching, covering the soil with organic matter such as compost, manure, straw or leaf mould has numerous benefits. It encourages worms, provides insulation, reduces the evaporation of water, reduces weeds, and prevents the surface being eroded and compacted by rain. You may find your soil becomes depleted of various important elements such as nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium if you are growing veg. While there are many organic fertilizers, such as calcified sea weed, fish blood/bone, Comfrey is a fast growing herb that contains lots of the above and can simply be dug into the soil or turned into a liquid by steeping it in water. Stinging nettles are also great to make a liquid fertilizer with – leave them in water for around 3 to 4 weeks – it should be so strong that you can dilute with water when using 1 part nettle to 8 parts water.

While there are many more things you can do and higher levels of sophistication to reach, doing these basics should give you good results for most vegetables and plants.  Depending on your climate, soil type and what you grow will obviously depend on when you will do various jobs in the garden.  However, you probably want to add organic fertilizer every 2-3 years, double digging it at least once a year normally early spring or late autumn, add your home made compost once a year and add mulches when necessary for a great garden soil.

Good luck and let me know how you get on, or if you have any questions or suggestions leave a comment at the bottom of this article, however you should find the soil can improve year on year with these simple tips.

Christmas is a time of joy, laughter and happiness with family and friends coming together to celebrate together. Now and again some of our Christmas habits can inflict mayhem on the environment with tons of extra rubbish, increased energy usage from lights and the millions of un-recycled trees.  Let’s look to go green this Christmas!

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Buy an organic turkey – 10 million turkeys are eaten every year! Wouldn’t it be nicer if yours didn’t taste mass produced? If you buy a free range organic turkey, not only will it taste better but you are supporting local farmers too. If you buy all your Christmas food locally it will be chemical free, there will be a reduction in food miles and CO2 emissions and a reduced dependence on oil. Buying locally also boosts rural jobs!

Christmas trees – surprisingly there is a big debate surrounding Christmas trees after Christmas. Research shows that real trees are in fact the better option. Real trees biodegrade and grow every year using natural resources whereas artificial ones use toxic materials and petrochemicals in its plastics. They also take a lot of energy to produce and travel from the Far East – perhaps the artificial trees aren’t so green after all!

Decorate your home with natural and recyclable materials;

*Use sprigs and branches with berries such as Holly, fir tree and pinecones to create a wreath
*Use old jars to create lanterns
*Use low energy LED fairy lights as they use a fraction of energy compared to the standard lights
*Use old decorations – don’t re-buy every year. You can also make your own decorations!
*Use hand cut wooden letters to spell out ‘love,’ ‘joy,’ and ‘peace’

Dispose of your Christmas tree properly – 6 million trees were brought last year creating 9000 tonnes of rubbish. Garden centres amongst other green places have disposal systems in place.

Recycle – Over the Christmas period we all use an extra 750 million bottles and over 500 million drinks cans. To reduce this high volume, buy larger bottles to save on packaging, but either way, make sure it all makes its way to the recycling bins!

FACT: We will create 3 million tonnes of rubbish the Christmas in Britain – that’s equivalent to 400,000 double decker buses. Over half of this can be recycled.

Here are a few other ideas to help you on your way to eco-friendly Christmas…

*Set yourself a challenge – how empty can you keep your bin? Buy long lasting items instead of disposable ones
*Pass unwanted presents onto charity shops – someone will want them
*Buy recycled wrapping paper and use string or ribbon or wool for wrapping gifts. Use shoe boxes to give larger presents

Have an eco-friendly Christmas and go green!

Eco food lovers and gastronomic connoisseurs rejoice, as the Brown horse Inn delights on all fronts.

Being filled with timeless character and a marvellously relaxed ambience the Brown Horse Inn is the ideal place to slow down and get in touch with wholesome living. With Worsworth inspired surroundings it’s as pleasing to be indoors or out and would suit both active and relaxing travellers alike.

As we approached along the winding roads, just beating the autumn dusk, the rust coloured scene appeared like an after party of summer. The cool grey slate of the Inn silhouetted the kaleidoscopic and colourful backdrop in the way only a place with nothing to prove could. We’d heard of the quality of this place and were eager to test the promising rumours. At reception we received a relaxed, ‘nothing is a problem’, and informal attitude that permeated throughout our stay encouraging plenty of stress relief.

“England is on in the bar” referring to the rugby match against New Zealand and so naturally we made our way through to the small bar where we drank good ale made in the micro brewery in the next room (how sensible). Wooden tables, filled with locals, walkers and foodies enjoyed the match or read the Saturday paper and the ale flowed. Around 6 we went back to our room to freshen up ahead of dinner at 8. The room was much to Laura’s delight, tasteful French country chic. It seemed this place manages to get the balance of luxury and country living with laser accuracy.

And so we ventured down to the already busy restaurant ready for a wholesome organic dinner. For starters I chose a pheasant, bacon, wild mushroom and lentil dish with good bread and Laura took tempura battered prawns, with sweet chilli dip. For mains I took a wonderfully succulent sirloin steak, Laura had a Lamb Shank, we finished the meal with some ice-cream. The wine list was great and had a good selection including a lovely Pinot Noir, although were tempted by an Argentinean malbec. Our waitress was lovely and advised us that all the meat and most of the veg came from the Inn’s Estate or within a three mile radius and the wonderful ice-cream from just down the road in Windermere.

In the morning we ate a fantastic full English breakfast and sat outside wrapped up warm with a coffee on a table just next to our room. It was warm even though the fields were dusted with frost, and the sun was out. Then we wandered up along a farm road up to the top of a hill for a great view of the valley, I imagine myself going back for a cycle trip as it must the perfect location. The owner showed us the micro brewery and advised that the water comes from a spring up on the hill. He also kindly showed us to the pigs as there were around 20 new born piglets running around their mother (much to Laura’s piglet obsessed delight!)

The Brown Horse Inn proves it’s possible to maintain excellent standards while not only locally sourcing food but actually producing almost everything. It is a self sufficient, high quality and great value Inn which is always busy. We will most definitely be going back.

If ethical clothing is right up your street, then you’ve came to the right place. We’ve teamed up with our friends at Rapanui clothing to offer you the chance of winning a goody bag with £100.

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The bag includes: an organic t-shirt, organic socks, locally sourced fair trade chocolate and other little treats!


To enter:

All you have to do is tell us why you love ethical clothing, by leaving a comment at the bottom of this article – make sure you’re signed up as a member of hello eco living so that we have your email address and can let you know that you’ve won!  Closing date is Christmas eve 2010.

After an intense judging session across the word, the global GREEN AWARDS™ 2010 has announced the shortlist of the most creative and sustainable communications campaigns across 16 categories. Winners will be announced at the gala Awards ceremony on 2nd December 2010 at the Natural History Museum, London.


Judging was based on the criteria of creativity, innovation and effectiveness of the communication campaign and media vehicles employed. The shortlisted work is the judges pick for the best global campaigns communicating sustainability.

This year, the Awards succeeded in the endeavour to be global as entries poured in from every part of the world. The range of issues covered and quality of work found much appreciation within the judging panel and provided many avenues for debate and discussion. Shortlisted entries move beyond the UK, and include entries from USA, Romania, India, China, Greece, Sweden, UAE, South Korea and South Africa.

The global aspect of the Awards made it both an interesting and challenging task for the judges. While the entries presented the judges with a global panorama of sustainability communications, they also had to understand diverse cultures in judging entries. Furthermore, they also had to take into account audience votes for the ‘Best Green Mobile Apps and Technologies’ category, a first for the GREEN AWARDS. Public voting was enabled through the Green Awards mobile website, which enabled viewers to experience and vote for their favourite ‘green’ mobile apps.

Commenting on the judging benchmarks, Guy Hayward, CEO, JWT said: “First and foremost green marketing should start with effective marketing. The complexities of ethical messaging are a challenge, but a challenge that so many companies have risen to. For many brands green is no longer just an extra tick in the good causes box, it forms the very core of their marketing which can only be a good thing.”

The global GREEN AWARDS™ 2010 winners will be announced at a gala ceremony at the Natural History Museum in South Kensington, London. The event will be held on 2nd December 2010, hosted by green entrepreneur Jo Wood and designer Wayne Hemingway MBE.

For further details and to view shortlisted work, visit

Let’s play a word association game. If I say ‘climate change’ what’s the first thing that pops into your head? Carbon Dioxide? Global Emissions? Palm oil?

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Feel free to nod your head for all but the last option which, unless you were being clever and figured the game had some relation to the article’s title, probably wasn’t the phrase you thought of. When we think of climate change we tend to think of the overarching umbrella terms mentioned above but there are a plethora of smaller but no less important issues which contribute to the overall problem that face those trying to save the environment. The production of palm oil therefore, whilst not being ingrained into the public consciousness, is a devastating problem facing the environment.

So what is palm oil? That seems like a sensible place to start when assessing its effects. A straight forward dictionary definition is this; “Palm oil is an edible plant oil derived from the fruit of palm trees”. In a little more depth, palm oil is made when the fruit of the ‘oil palm’ tree is turned into a pulp and then, obviously, into oil. The main producers of palm oil are Indonesia and Malaysia, the former surpassing the latter in 2006 where it produced 20.9 million tons of oil as opposed to Malaysia’s 17.7 million tons. At present Indonesia has 6 million hectors of palm oil plantation which is set to rise to 10 million by 2015. That, is an awful lot of oil.

But where does this ‘awful lot of oil’ go? According to Greenpeace 70% goes towards food products ranging from chocolate to chips as simply another form of fat. What worries environmentalists however is the role that palm oil is playing in the increased production of biofuels. At first glance this might seem odd, surely biofuels are a good thing, a way of ending our reliance on our ever dwindling supply of oil? And indeed that is why biofuels seem so attractive to governments; it’s a relatively easy way of reducing their carbon emissions, meeting UN and EU targets. This demand for biofuel has therefore increased demand for palm oil which in turn, and here’s the catch, has increased the demand for unthinkable levels of deforestation.

It’s desperately ironic that these attempts to help the environment ensure that forests and peatlands are destroyed, releasing what amounts to 4% of our carbon emissions every year.  Yet as the demand for biofuels builds so does the demand for palm oil which means more forests are destroyed, more peatlands drained and burned and much more carbon dioxide released. It’s no coincidence that the world’s largest supplier of palm oil has the world’s largest rate of deforestation and the world’s third largest rate of greenhouse emissions.

So what’s being done about it? Big commercial users of palm oil such as Unilever, Cadbury’s, Nestlé and Tesco as well as some of the world’s largest traders in palm oil have set up the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to establish clear and ethical standards for its production. But 9 years since the creation of the RSPO an ethical solution still hasn’t been found and the companies are still relying on unethical and harmful methods with one member actually converting legally protected forest into a plantation for oil.

Something needs to be done. Governments all around the world need to realise the devastating effects of deforestation and impose, at the very least, a moratorium on the building of new palm oil plantations so that we actually have a chance to devise sustainable solutions to a monumental problem.

Let’s play a word association game. When I say ‘climate change’ what’s the first thing that pops into your head? Palm Oil? Good.