Emma Pritchard ushers in the change of seasons with cobweb-banishing walks, health-boosting berries and some wicked wildlife
Passionate about the countryside
The fragile wings of a bumblebee, the bushy tail of a red squirrel and the delicate snout of a hedgehog are all beautifully captured in the delicate line drawings that grace the mugs, tea towels, aprons, notebooks, cards and prints of Lizzie Barker’s Creature Candy homewares.
“I wanted to create products that educate people about Britain’s declining wildlife species,” says Lizzie, who, until two years ago was a consultant ecologist specialising in bats. “I had no business experience, just a great idea and a passion for wildlife and conservation. My career was no longer fulfilling my desire to make a difference so I knew I needed to do something proactive.”
Working from a spare room in her Richmond home, and collaborating with her close friend Jo Medlicott (the artist of the team) plus independent British producers (her soaps are made in Norfolk, fabric items in Lincolnshire and prints in London), Lizzie has created an award-winning enterprise. She’s also raised more than £2,000 for conservation charities as 10% of every sale is donated to good causes such as the Bat Conservation Trust, Butterfly Conservation and British Trust for Ornithology.
“Knowing that I can make a difference to the wellbeing of our wildlife is a fantastic feeling,” she says.
This autumn, dormice and hen harriers will join the woodpeckers, moths and bats in the collection.
“I choose new species based on whether I feel their profiles need raising, and the level of conservational support they require.”
And Lizzie’s favourite? “I’m most proud of the bat design. I wanted to show them for the beautiful – and vital – creatures they are. It’s worked: the bat mugs are our bestseller by far, with funds raised going towards the National Bat Helpline, which gives the public advice on what to do with injured bats. Projects like this really do make a difference.”
A seasonal boost
It’s hard to miss the orange-red oblong berries of the wild rose, which will be decorating hedgerows like festive baubles from now through to November.
You may want to display a few branches around your home for instant cheery colour but, after the first frost, when the rosehips are sweeter, gather this nutritious forage and make myriad culinary dishes and tonics.
Scoop out the pith and seeds thoroughly then celebrate the vitamin C-rich berry at every mealtime. Add them, dried, to homemade granolas then combine with vanilla, cinnamon and yoghurt in a nourishing Swedish-style soup, or stir a syrup through vanilla ice cream to create Rosehip Ripple.
Not sure where to find rosehips? Try Box Hill, Tadworth or West Woodhay Down, near Inkpen. Always forage with respect, leaving plenty behind for local wildlife. For a guide to foraging, visit woodlandtrust.org.uk
Walk this way
Summer may be over but don’t let cooling temperatures and dimming evenings stop you from enjoying the joys of a new season. From crunchy leaf-covered pathways to rutting stags, berry-laden bushes and atmospheric morning mists, discover one of many magical routes this autumn.
Painshill Park Cobham: There’s nothing quite like the graduating displays of reds, oranges and yellows at this 158-acre 18th-century landscape garden. Visit on October 9th and raise money to help those affected by dementia. The Alzheimer’s Society Surrey Memory Walk is open to all ages and includes a 2km buggy-friendly option around the lake, or a 7km woodland challenge. Dogs allowed on leads. memorywalk.org.uk
Burnham Beeches, Burnham: Explore the contorted trees of this Site of Special Scientific Interest – featured in Harry Potter – and seek out the 800-year-old Druids Oak. Nearby is the Seven Ways Plain hillfort. cityoflondon.gov.uk
The Hurtwood, Guildford: Try the 4-mile circular walk through pine woods and heaths, up Holmbury Hill with its views over the Weald to the South Downs, and through the village of Holmbury St Mary. friendsofthehurtwood.co.uk