Giraffe Manor: Guests get up close with Rothschild giraffes at conservation-supporting boutique hotel- Life & Soul Magazine

There’s few boutique hotels in the world that can lay claim to visitors rubbing shoulders with giraffes over the breakfast table other than Kenya’s Giraffe Manor.

Giraffe Manor, set in 12 acres of private land within 140 acres of indigenous forest in the Langata suburb of Nairobi, is a wonderful and delightful vacation for anyone who has an affinity with the graceful and elegant mammals that are giraffes, namely the Rothschild species.

The boutique hotel, which is situated at one end of land used as a sanctuary by the Africa Fund for Endangered Wildlife for this rare species of giraffe, is often visited by a herd of Rothschild giraffes morning and evening, who sometimes poke their long necks into the windows of the dining room in the hope of a treat, before retreating to their forest sanctuary.

The giraffes are nurtured within the 140 acres of the estate, until they are ready to be reintroduced into the wilds of safer National Parks and game reserves wherever possible.

The Rothschild giraffe is one of the most endangered species of giraffe with under 2000 estimated to be left in the wild in 2016. One of the tallest giraffes, the Rothschild giraffe can grow to 19 feet in height and weigh about 2,500 pounds, with the males weighing more than the females by several hundred pounds.

Giraffe Manor, an English-style country mansion, has been supporting the conservation of the Rothschild giraffe since the 1970s when the then owners Jock and Betty Leslie-Melville first adopted an orphaned Rothschild giraffe, Daisy.

Now owned by The Safari Collection, Giraffe Manor has become a world-renowned boutique hotel, with 12 rooms offering guests old country house charm. Managed like a family home, dinner is served at a long table in the dining room, and after drinks served by the fire on the terrace overlooking the rolling lawns.

The Safari Collection supports several initiatives that protect local wildlife, including the Mara Cheetah Project, and operate sustainable practices throughout its portfolio of hotels aimed at reduce its  energy, water and materials and emissions.

A popular place to stay in Kenya, mainly because of its resident four-legged friends, Giraffe Manor recommends booking 1-2 years in advance prior to travel.

Images Credit: Giraffe Manor

Giraffe Manor

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyles including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com

Meltdown: Exhibition emphasises the changing global climate and the importance of glaciers- Life & Soul Magazine

A series of artworks emphasising the changing global climate and the importance of glaciers is currently on display at London’s Horniman Museum.

The temporary exhibition, entitled Meltdown, aims to emphasise the importance of glaciers in a scientific, illustrative and dramatic way. The show features work from every relevant continent, leading the viewer on a journey in three chapters – The Importance of Glaciers, Current Issues and Meltdown Consequences.

Among the works include artist Peter Funch’s use of vintage postcards as a model for his images of American glaciers to capture the effects of glacial recession; Norfolk + Thymann’s images of part of the Rhône glacier covered in geo-thermal cloth to limit melting; Richard Mosse’s photograph of the ice cave under the Vatnajökull glacier in Iceland; and Noémie Goudal’s large-scale photographic installation mirroring the shifting glacial landscape, printed on biodegradable paper.

The exhibition – organised by climate change charity, Project Pressure – is on until 12 January.

Project Pressure, since 2008, has been commissioning world-renowned artists to conduct expeditions to document changes to the world’s vanishing glaciers, the consequences for billions of people, and efforts made to limit melting.

Meltdown

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyles including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com

Designer Maurizio Montalti develops mycelium-based material and products as a solution to plastic problem

Italian designer Maurizio Montalti poses for a picture in front of everyday objects he created, a chair, vases and even slippers, based on mycelium, the white and film-forming part of mushrooms, at the Micropia Museum displaying the invisible world of micro-organisms in Amsterdam on May 2, 2017. What is nicer after a long day than sinking your feet into comfortable slippers? But one Italian designer is hoping to show that shoes made from mushrooms can be just as cosy. / AFP PHOTO / Sophie MIGNON

Amsterdam-based designer Maurizio Montalti – who has created pieces of furniture from a fungus-based material – is proving that mycelium can be used to replace plastic and other materials that are tough to recycle.

By combining mycelium, the “root structure of fungus”, with agricultural waste such as wheat, rapeseed and flax, Maurizio Montalti has created a new material, which he has used in the design of chairs, lampshades, waterproof vases, and slippers.

The designer – whose studio Officina Corpuscoli houses a lab where scientists work alongside designers to grow new materials from living microbes – believes that products made from mycelium-based materials are a solution to the plastic problem.

Maurizio Montalti cites his main source of inspiration as “the fascination for the micro-scale, together with a holistic vision of the world as a macro-organism animated by symbiotic relationships”.

The Italian designer and his team at the Officina Corpuscoli lab have been researching mycelium-based materials for nearly a decade.

In 2015 the studio embarked upon an industrial venture, aiming to standardise and scale-up mycelium technology and the subsequent range of naturally grown products. Alongside industrial partners, Maurizio Montalti founded technology platform and company, MOGU.

MOGU is the first company to offer commercial mycelium-based products on the market, suitable for interior design applications and as an alternative to traditional synthetic materials, such as petroleum-based plastics.

MOGU say: “Today, our relationship with the ecosystem is more than ever compromised, due to human activity and particularly to the irresponsible manufacturing processes we constantly run.

“At MOGU, we thrive to employ only residues as raw input materials, setting new value for unexploited resources through the skillful action of fungal mycelium.”

Image Credit: Sophie Mignon/AFP

Officina Corpuscoli and MOGU

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyles including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com

Unicorn Wisdom: What unicorns can teach us- Life & Soul Magazine

Unicorns are one of the most loved mystical and magickal beings, with both children and adults drawn to their gentle nature, youthful take on life, playfulness, potent magickal and healing abilities, and spiritual wisdom.

These beautiful and graceful beings are often depicted as horse-like beings with a magickal horn that elevates from their third-eye area, in between the eyes. Beautiful they most certainly are, but if you were to meditate or to dream of unicorns you will not be surprised to learn that they are not exclusively white, as they are often depicted.

As a race of magickal beings, unicorns are as different as every other unique being – a myriad of shades, colours, sizes and often with dominant features such as zebra-like stripes. Their energy is pure and their light is a brilliant white light, which if you look up close is infact a spectrum of all colours.

Unique beings they are and unicorns teach us to honour our individuality. No two beings are the same, and unicorns help those who struggle with this truth or try to “fit in” with others to find their way in their exploration of getting to know themself, while also showing them how they can bring their individuality in to a group setting without losing themself so to speak.

Harmony is a quality that is associated with unicorns. As natural peacekeepers, unicorns are diplomatic, serene, adaptable beings who bring a whole lot of love, joy and peace wherever they go and to whomever they come into contact with.

Dwellers of the forests, unicorns have potent healing capabilities and are naturally knowledgeable about plant life. Those with unicorn energy often find themselves working with plants as herbalists, naturopaths, gardeners, chefs or mixologists.

Those with unicorn energy are also drawn to the healing arts and coupled with their infinitely creative abilities, you will often find them in the entertainments and creative industries – music, comedy, drama and writing just some of the avenues in which they channel their healing abilities to heal the masses. They just as easily heal with the music they create, the words they write, the jokes that they tell, than they do with the herbs they use in a magickal potion to heal.

Effervescent and enlightening, unicorns are naturally charming and a delight to be around. They make play time fun for children and encourage everyone to freely explore their imagination and creativity.

For those who take themselves seriously, those with unicorn energy will no doubt get them to lighten up rather swiftly. They encourage joy, laughter and fun. For adults who need to get back in touch with their inner child, unicorns can provide assistance. They help to illuminate blocks and obstacles to accessing one’s own creative powers and potential, and to explore new opportunities in life.

With their magickal horns, unicorns are natural visionaries and see the truth in everything. Those who seek clarity would do well to seek the wisdom of a unicorn, as they cut through illusions and encourage one to see the bigger picture.

While unicorns teach one to see the beauty in all life, their ability to see through everyone and everything is exceptional and impeccable, which is another reason why they make such fantastic companions for children as they serve as both protectors and guardians.

Eternally youthful, unicorns mature but they never “age”, which is why people of all ages find them endearing and seek their wisdom. They are naturals with children and the young, who are drawn to their energy like a magnet.

Those with unicorn energy make good parents, as they are able to relate to their children throughout their various life stages as if they were the same age and without embarassing their children, even the most surly of teenagers.

Given the high frequency at which unicorns vibrate at, those with a similar frequency will be drawn to them. Those with unicorn energy tend to be popular and while their intentions are not to draw attention to themselves, their presence always attracts attention as they “light up” a space and a gathering in so many positive ways.

Unicorns are very humble beings and while they easily make friends and can be sociable, as spiritual beings they spend quality time on their own nurturing their spirituality, the source of their sustenance.

For those on a spiritual journey who are attuned to unicorns, will find their path enlightening and illuminating with much adventure, as well as opportunities for play and to have fun. They will also likely find themselves at home in the forest, where meditation is likely to come most easily within the natural habitat of unicorns.

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyles including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com

Hotel Taselotzin: All female-run Mexico-based hotel "with an indigenous heart" empowering Nahua women- Life & Soul Magazine

Hotel Taselotzin, located in the Sierra Norte mountain range of Puebla in Mexico, is a sustainable hotel run by indigenous Nahua women.

Taselotzin, which in Nahuatl means “small plant or shoot”, started life as a hotel “with an indigenous heart” in 1995 as a result of the collective effort of the female-led organisation Masehual Siunamej Mosenyolchiacuani (“Indigenous women who support one another”).

Masehual Siunamej Mosenyolchiacuani was originally set up in 1985 to empower women within the community whilst protecting their indigenous heritage and traditions. Created and managed by more than 100 Nahua women of the region, many of whom are crafts people, the aim of the collective was to help indigenous women sell their crafts at fair prices and to improve their quality of life by creating jobs so to limit the number of community members needing to emigrate.

By 1987, the women’s collective realised that it was not enough to obtain income, and so on the advice of a student from the Autonomous Metropolitan University (UAM), who told the indigenous women that their embroidery could turn profitable beyond their home community of Cuetzalan, the idea of a community-owned hotel arose.

Cuetzalan, nestled in the northern mountains of Puebla, is a small village rich in indigenous history and heritage that is known for its coffee plantations, greenery, cobblestone streets, waterfalls, and caves.

More than 80% of the town’s inhabitants are of Náhuatl origin and live under customs of ancestral community management. These customs are based on conservation and respect towards nature, which have helped prevent the arrival of mining businesses into the area. The remote village has also become popular with conscious travellers looking to experience indigenous customs and traditions.

Hotel Taselotzin – which came about to provide work, preserve culture and halt migrations to big cities and other countries – is preserving the region’s indigenous way of life. Located a 10-minute walk from the city centre of Cuetzalan, Hotel Taselotzin offers basic accomodation decorated simply with Nahua symbols in the 14 bedrooms, a restaurant serving native dishes, traditonal crafts and herbal remedies sold at the hotel, and spa services which include a temazcal sweat lodge and massages.

Rufina Edith Villa, the Nahuatl leader who manages Hotel Taselotzin, said: “In a council meeting we considered this dream [Hotel Taselotzin]. What we wanted was to have our own resources, and not depend on any institution.”

More than 100 indigenous families benefit from the profits of the hotel, which enables indigenous women to be empowered. All profits are distributed among the community members, depending on their participation, during the annual meetings. The crafts are sold under a fair-trade policy and these profits are invested into a fund established to encourage continual product development. In addition, the hotel has its own microcredit system, which is accessible to all members in case of need.

The women say that each room at Hotel Taselotzin and each space is embedded in the pacha mama, the mystical earth mother. The spirit of the pacha mama is said to sip into the rooms, blessing the mountains and Cuetzalan.

Sustainability is a natural part of everything the women’s collective do at Hotel Taselotzin. The hotel participates in composting, and the women also support and partcipate in the conservation of green spaces.

Rufina Edith Villa added: “This place is rooted in nature and our hotel is like a plant, if we do not take care of it, it can wither. It is up to us.”

Hotel Taselotzin does not currently have its own website but rooms can be booked via Booking.com and other online travel companies

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyles including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com

Exhibition Review: Eco-Visionaries: Confronting a planet in a state of emergency, Royal Academy of Arts, London

It’s a fact: “we are facing an ecological emergency”. The likes of young environmental guardians Greta Thunberg, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Artemisa Xakriaba and their peers have voiced these facts for the world to take note and take action. Eco-Visionaries: Confronting a planet in a state of emergency, an exhibition that is currently on at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, on the other hand takes those facts and visualises them to encourage people to take note and to take action.

Tackling issues from climate change to food shortage, species extinction and resource depletion, Eco-Visionaries brings together artists, designers and architects from around the world who accept and acknowledge the hard facts, and are reconsidering the relationship between humans and nature.

Each visionary offers their alternative visions on how the future may look, encouraging visitors to rethink their own lives, make changes, and most importantly, to reconnect with nature. Recognising that without a connection to nature people are unlikely to take action, the exhibition invites the audience “to interact with the environment in a more respectful way, putting nature and other species’ needs before our own”.

While discussions about climate change more recently have focused on “future generations”, Eco-Visionaries serves to remind viewers that the planet is experiencing environmental changes right here, right now – as the exhibition’s introduction draws light on: “we are no longer discussing an environmental catastrophe that might impact future generations, but a catastrophe that will now drastically affect our own”.

Mother Nature waits for “no man”, so to speak, and that is what one of Eco Visionaries’s highlights, win >< win seeks to address – the mortality of humans and their demise as a dominant species. The 2017 installation win >< win, by the art collective Rimini Protokoll, which as entertaining and engaging as it is, highlights a few “home truths”: that humans are the most endangered species on this planet and so too face extinction.

Using jellyfish, one of the few species in the world to actually benefit from the effects of global warming, as a focal point, viewers sit in a small auditorium wearing headphones before the lights dim and a screen ahead unveils a mirror. The male voice poses questions to the viewers about their age and mortality, as they look at themselves through the mirror, asking them to respond with gestures such as pointing and putting up their hands. The mirror soon fades away and the audience then becomes witness to a tank of live jellyfish.

The audio, which is akin to listening to an insightful radio documentary about global warming, explains how jellyfish, who are carnivores, are rapidly multiplying due to warmer seas and a scarcity of endangered sea turtles that prey on them. Seeing such creatures up close begs viewers to ask questions about non-native species to this planet, and the volume of unwelcome critters and things that live on this planet that seek to destroy the natural ecosystems.

At some point during the 16-minute interactive installation, viewers can then see through the tank and it becomes apparent that other viewers are sitting in a similar auditorium directly opposite. On the other side of the tank, they too are experiencing win >< win, although at a different time sequence. As the audio poses further questions of the mortality of the viewers in the second auditorium, win >< win serves as reminder of the vulnerabities of the human species and that they are not top of the food chain.

The Eco-Visionaries exhibition also displays artwork from familiar names such as artist and climate activist, Olafur Eliasson. In The Ice Melting Series, Olafur Eliasson highlights shrinking polar ice caps, getting visitors to examine how the choices and actions of humans anywhere in the world impacts the rest of the world no matter how far away a land may be from them geographically.

As visitors enter the exhibition, they are invited to view a plastic globe which spins in a tank surrounded by small green particles, indicative of plastics, which is in fact having an impact on the rotations of the planet and attempting to slow it down. The installation, entitled Domestic Catastrophe Nº3: La Planėte Laboratoire, is by the Paris-based design collective HeHe.

On closer inspection of the HeHe exhibit, the particles sit on the globe like microfibre clothing creates bobbles on clothes and just sits on the garments. When you see it in the context of the globe, it appears like a dead weight. If someone has not questioned the impact of microfibres in the context of the bigger picture before, this exhibit most certainly does that.

Madrid In The Air, a film especially commissioned for the exhibition, monitors the skyline of Madrid over a 24-hour period. The film, by London-based architect and researcher Nerea Calvillo, literally brings to light the veil of pollutants in the air seen in various illuminous colours. Another film, The Breast Milk of the Volcano, sees research studio Unknown Fields present findings from an expedition to Bolivia and the Atacama Desert, source of over half the world’s reserves of lithium, questioning the sustainability of the lithium-based batteries that power most electronic devices today.

In The Substitute, artist Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg enables visitors to come face-to-face with a life-size digital reproduction of a northern white rhinoceros, the last male of the subspecies of which died in 2018. Drawing upon rare zoological archival footage as well as experimental data from AI company DeepMind, viewers are reminded of animal species that face extinction.

Eco-Visionaries excells at presenting the hard facts in a way that gets people to really think about the environment and to examine the impact of their choices on the planet. It also encourages them to make changes in their own lives and to take action.

What we are witnessing now on this planet is what happens when inaction occurs, and while taking no action is an action in-and-of itself, what Eco-Visisonaries reminds visitors is that inaction comes at a price. Eco-Visionaries also suggests that for those willing to play an active role in the survival of the planet and its healing, there is “the need to relearn how to survive without further damage to the planet and coexisting with more empathy towards other living beings”.

Eco-Visionaries relays all of these messages not in an aggressive, worthy nor righteous manner, but in a most impactful way – one that is likely to serve as a visual reminder for those who have visited the exhibition as they makes choices in their daily lives, and so making for consciously-aware, environmentally-aware choices that serve a greater good for the planet and its native species.

Image Credits: © Royal Academy of Arts, London/David Parry

Eco-Visionaries: Confronting a planet in a state of emergency is on at the Royal Academy of Arts from now until 23 February 2020

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyles including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com

Totomoxtle: Mexican designer creates biomaterial from heirloom corn for use in homewares- Rosa Medea

Mexican designer Fernando Laposse has created a new veneer material made with husks of heirloom Mexican corn, in an effort to help preserve ancestral varieties of corn.

Known as Totomoxtle, the material is made from colorful husks of the traditional corn varieities grown in Mexico, which are naturally colourful.

Totomoxtle is used to make furniture such as lamps, vases and decorative wall panels. The parts – corn husk residues – that can not be used in the production of the veneer material is then composted to re-fertilise the soils in which the maize grows.

Totomoxtle focuses on regenerating traditional agricultural practices in Mexico, and creating a new craft that generates income for impoverished farmers and promotes the preservation of biodiversity for future food security.

The number of native varieties of Mexican corn is currently in decline, due to international trade agreements, aggressive use of herbicides and pesticides, and the influx of highly modified foreign seeds with its standardised features, such as bright yellow corn. Additionally, the majority of the corn harvested worldwide is used to feed cattle or transformed into secondary products that range from sweeteners for processed foods to bioplastics, therefore nutritional quality is not a priority.

Product and material designer Fernando Laposse has teamed up with the indigenous community of Tonahuixtla, a small village of Mixtec farmers and herders in the state of Puebla. The arrival of industrial agriculture to the area and the lack of employment opportunities have seen mass migration, the erosion of the land and the loss of native seeds in recent times.

Since 2016 and with the support of CIMMYT, the world’s largest corn seed bank, the farmers and herders have been slowly reintroducing native seeds in the village and returning to traditional agriculture. The husks collected from the harvest are now transformed by a group of local women into the veneer material, Totomoxtle, thus creating much needed local employment.

Fernando Laposse says: “At the moment the only hope for saving the heirloom species of maize lies with the indigenous people. They continue to plant them out of tradition rather than financial gain.

“[They are aiming to highlight] the importance of preserving the ancestral corn seeds, not only because of their nutritional properties, but because they might hold the solutions for the climate challenges that lie ahead as many of these varieties have been bred for centuries in incredibly hot and dry conditions.”

Fernando Laposse

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyles including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com

Flora Forager: Depicting nature, wildlife and magickal beings with artworks made from foraged finds- Life & Soul Magazine

The Pacific North West with its wildflower woodlands, mossy waterfalls, and grey sand provides botanical artist, Bridget Beth Collins with her natural art materials – everything from wildflowers, leaves, mosses, and seeds.

Otherwise known as Flora Forager, the Seattle-based artist creates delightful foraged artworks of nature, wildlife, actresses including Audrey Hepburn, famous characters like Harry Potter, and magickal beings including a dragon and a unicorn from her foraged finds.

With a strong attention to detail florally, as it were, Bridget Beth Collins gives the gift of nature with the very gifts it provides her while out foraging. She says: “I forage almost all of my creations from foliage and flowers plucked from our sidewalks, meadows, and woods in our neighborhood. I have a small garden in the city, and my mother has a big rambling secret garden filled with old english roses in the sea town of Edmonds where I grew up.”

“Flora Forager is a product of my love affair with glittering nature, and my own artistic skills honed over the years. Creation and Creator combined,” the artist adds.

If you are looking for a Christmas gift to give the nature lover(s) in your life, check out Flora Forager’s books.

Image Credits: Flora Forager

Flora Forager

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyles including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com

Sustainable Stays: Arctic Bath, Sweden- Life & Soul Magazine

A new floating hotel and spa in the Arctic that floats in warm weather and freezes into the ice when temperatures cool is set to open in the heart of Swedish Lapland in January 2020.

Built on the water, Arctic Bath is located on the Lule River near the small village of Harads in Swedish Lapland, around 31miles south of the Arctic Circle. Situated under the northern lights in winter, and the midnight sun during the summer months, Arctic Bath is a unique hotel and spa experience that welcomes guests to immerse themselves in the elements while leaving a minimal environmental footprint behind.

Constructed using sustainable materials – wood, stone, leather and luxurious textiles – and with very little impact on the environment, Arctic Bath hotel and spa is the latest environmentally-friendly venture from the team behind the nearby Treehotel.

AnnKathrin Lundqvist, partner at the Arctic Bath, said: “We have a strong environmental focus. We’ve chosen so many materials that are locally produced.”

The hotel itself is comprised of six detached floating “cabins” and six additional cabins on land which are connected via floating walkways. The flotilla of floating cabins offer Scandi-chic interiors with double bed, shower room, underfloor heating and an exterior wooden deck, ideal for spotting the Northern Lights during the winter months or reaping the sunshine of the midnight sun over the summer months.

There are also six more elevated cabins built on the tree-lined shore, which are positioned on stilts above the ground so the cabins don’t disturb the natural growth below.

Central to the Arctic Bath complex is the Arctic Bath itself, a spa area which is inspired by “the timber floating era which recalls how felled trees were transported downriver for processing”.

The circular-shaped timber framed Arctic Bath, which is centred around an open-air plunge pool, also houses one spa treatment room, four saunas, a hot bath, outdoor and indoor showers, and two dressing rooms. The open centre of the bath invites guests to sunbathe, ice bathe or sit back to view the Northern Lights or star-filled skies.

A dip in the bath itself is consistent with the Arctic tradition of a cold-water plunge with the water maintained at 39 degrees Fahrenheit and combines well with the warmth of a sauna and spa. A special technique has been developed to keep the centre of the bath open during wintertime, adding to the atmospheric setting.

The circular building, which is accessed by a walkway, is also home to the wellness centre offering treatments including hot stone massage and unique therapies such as bespoke crystal healing. Designed by architects Bertil Harström and Johan Kaupp, native birch trees were used to surround the lodge and a tool used to dislodge log jams as inspiration for the shape of the cabins.

An on-site restaurant will be run by a Belgian and an indigenous Sámi chef with a menu described as Sámi fusion, including foraged ingredients and reindeer.

The Arctic Bath will also host several activities for visitors including hikes and paddleboarding during the summer months, and in the winter, northern lights expeditions, and cross-country skiing.

Arctic Bath

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyles including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com

Slow Cabins: Off-grid cabins pop-up in secret Belgium countryside locations to help guests connect with nature

Sustainable cabins in secret locations, otherwise known as Slow Cabins, are popping up outside the city of Belgium in a bid to help people connect with nature.

Each cabin, built using eco-friendly materials with wooden interiors, is off-grid and self-sufficient through the use of solar panels, a filtered rainwater system and ecological dry-toilet. There are cabins of two kinds to suit individuals, couples and families.

The nature-based locations of the Slow Cabins are only revealed to guests after they’ve booked a cabin. Slow Cabins are mobile and frequently rotate locations, making for new sights and experiences for those looking to book a second trip.

The interiors of the Slow Cabins are natural and minimalist with its raw-look wooden floors and walls, and wooden furniture. Insulated glass windows frame views of surrounding fields and woodland, and there’s a wood-burning stove to cosy up in front of – and a small deck. The double beds consist of eco-textiles layered on a natural latex mattress, with large windows for gazing out into the surroundings.

The insulated cabins are kept toasty in the winter with wood-burning stoves, while the kitchen contains a pair of cooking plates alongside a sink, small fridge and a food preparation area. In the bathroom you’ll find a shower, wash basin and eco-friendly dry toilet. A fireplace and ceramic BBQ offer warmth and cooking options outside.

A stay also comes with a basket of locally-sourced produce and spring water.

The Slow Cabins experience is as much about making guests aware of their environmental impact. Slow Cabins say: “Each of our cabins comes equipped with a smart display that shares your energy and water use with you. By actively seeing your energy usage throughout your stay you become aware of your impact on the environment and what a positive and ecological footprint might look like.”

The Time For Two couple’s retreat costs from €175 per night, while the Time For Family cabin, which sleeps 3-5 people, costs from €185 per night.

Slow Cabins is expanding its off-the-grid concept across Europe and looking for partners.

Slow Cabins

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyles including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com

Wisdom of the Warrior Miyamoto Musashi- Rosa Medea

The wisdom of a warrior is a good starting point for anyone who has chosen to work on themselves, and follow the path of their true self. The legendary Miyamoto Musashi, heralded as Japan’s greatest swordsman and samurai warrior, was also a celebrated writer and artist too, penning key writings on Japanese samurai tactics and philosophy – Go Rin No Sho (The Book of Five Rings), and Dokkōdō (The Way of Walking Alone). 

Born in the Japanese province of Mimasaka in 1584, Miyamoto Musashi trained himself in the art of sword fighting at an early age and at the age of 13, he went on to win his first duel – one of many. He invented the Ni-Ten Ichi Ryu style of fighting with two swords, which is the most instantly recognisable visual features of the samurai.

Dokkōdō, a short text outlining self-discipline, was written the week before Miyamoto Musashi died in 1645 of natural causes. Consisting of 21 precepts, it expresses a way of living that is aligned with one’s self or true self.

Here is the 21 precepts of Dokkōdō:

  1. Accept everything just the way it is.
  2. Do not seek pleasure for its own sake.
  3. Do not, under any circumstances, depend on a partial feeling.
  4. Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world.
  5. Be detached from desire your whole life long.
  6. Do not regret what you have done.
  7. Never be jealous.
  8. Never let yourself be saddened by a separation.
  9. Resentment and complaint are appropriate neither for oneself or others.
  10. Do not let yourself be guided by the feeling of lust or love.
  11. In all things have no preferences.
  12. Be indifferent to where you live.
  13. Do not pursue the taste of good food.
  14. Do not hold on to possessions you no longer need.
  15. Do not act following customary beliefs.
  16. Do not collect weapons or practice with weapons beyond what is useful.
  17. Do not fear death.
  18.  Do not seek to possess either goods or fiefs for your old age.
  19. Respect Buddha and the gods without counting on their help.
  20. You may abandon your own body but you must preserve your honour.
  21. Never stray from the Way.

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyles including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com

Blake McFarland: Artist turns recycled tyres into marvellous, life-sized animal sculptures- Life & Soul Magazine

Tyres are finding new life as life-sized sculptures of animals courtesy of Blake McFarland’s visions.

The former baseball player and mixed-materials artist has created an animal kingdom of artworks which include a cougar that stands around 4 ft tall and 7 ft long; a tiger made from 4,000 shreds of Goodyear tyres; and pandas created using black and white recycled tyres.

Each sculpture uses strategically placed tyres which are woven and secured. The grooves in the tyres give a muscle-like definition to the animal sculpture, while the different treads and widths of the tyre material also provide texture to emulate the animals’ fur. An average sculpture uses around 100-400 tyres and takes up to a month to complete.

Blake McFarland’s most recent work and one of his finest is of a lion’s head, which makes use of hundreds of pieces of basketball leather to achieve the big cat’s mane.

The San Jose-born artist loves being able to be eco-friendly by using mostly recycled materials to make his distinctive art. Working with different materials including recycled ethernet cables and wires as well as tyres means that Blake McFarland gets to explore creative ways of using everyday items that would otherwise go to landfill.

Blake McFarland began his art career painting ocean scenery and landscaped with acrylics. While he was a pro ball player for the Blue Jays, he would paint during the off-season. And it was in 2012, that he found the medium that he was truly meant to master and work with.

In an interview with The Hardball Times, Blake McFarland said: “In 2012 during the off-season, my wife [Jessica] and I were in St. Louis and we drove by this playground where there were a bunch of tractor tires stacked up in a dragon-snake-serpent design. It sparked my interest. Tyres were not being used anywhere – you see them on the side of the road all over the place – and maybe it’s something to work with. From there, I had to teach myself that entire thing, too, which took some time.”

The former baseball player retired from the game last year following a shoulder injury, and is now a full-time artist.

Images Source: Blake McFarland Facebook page

Blake McFarland Sculptures

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyles including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com