Harrogate Conference, 20 September: Northern Wilderness Revisited: Going Wild

Jo, Heather and I made the trip to Harrogate for the conference and we’re delighted that we did.

It was a one day event and had some really interesting speakers.   Our patron, Jo Moseley, whose passions are paddle boarding, wild swimming, sustainability (including litter picking)  and adventuring brought us up to date with what she has been up to since she last spoke to us all.    She’s spent a lot of time in the Lake District researching for her forthcoming book.  

Our second speaker, Helen Neave from Make It Wild, talked to us about the science supporting the benefits of being in nature.   Among other things, we learned about Forest Bathing.  Apparently two hours of mindful exploration in a forest could reduce blood pressure, lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and improve concentration and memory.  How lucky that we have Rushmere Park.

Our final speaker was Lucy Richardson who demonstrated how floristry can be so much more sustainable by throwing out the oasis etc. and using other, greener, methods of fixing stems and foraging for greenery.  I won one of her beautiful arrangements, but couldn’t take it as it would have been tricky on the train coming home.  Such a shame

Some of us then went on a tour of the Valley Gardens. We were too busy listening to our tour leader to practise forest bathing but we were outside in nature.

Of course, it’s never just about the conference.   We talked to delegates from all over the country, several of whom we knew from previous events, and made new contacts.  On the evening before the conference, 10 of us had dinner together.

Some of us stayed on after the conference.  We had a great time on Thursday, in sunny weather, exploring Harrogate.   We retuned to the Valley Gardens, visited the art gallery and the site of the original spa pump room which was knocked down in the 1950s.   It’s now a car park!   We spent the afternoon in wonderful Knaresborough.   We enjoyed the castle ruins, where we looked down to the river, the gorge and the railway viaduct.   The town is full of tromp l’oeil paintings so we had a lovely time there following the trail of the wall art which included Blind Jack, Old Mother Shipton, Elvis Presley, Shakespeare and Charlie Chaplin.

We’re now looking forward to next year’s face-to-face conference in Sheffield.