A large pond would be nothing without a duck or two. Not only are they entertaining to watch but their melodic quacking always reminds me of my childhood. The most beautiful introduction to water birds are when a child is taken for the very first time to feed the ducks.
I was fascinated to learn that it was once popular to eat insects in Britain. In fact, it is still possible to purchase a small but useful book that was written by Vincent M Holt in the 1800’s. For those who like to read interesting little books, this one contains just 99 pages. It is called ‘WHY NOT EAT INSECTS?’ The ISBN number is: 0946014124 – it is still in print and readily available for purchase.
There are all sorts of recipes that are bordering, to say the very least, on the unusual – from wasp grubs fried in the comb to wireworm or woodlouse sauce – the latter two obviously not insects. The knowledge of eating safe pests has been gathered over the years from various countries spanning the globe.
The little book also mentions other things that may be considered for the pot – one being snails or slugs. These apparently have to be pulled from the garden and starved for several days. This then allows them to purge their systems of anything poisonous in case they may have eaten something that would or could prove to be dangerous to us!
As a child I would love to curl up in a ball and listen to the different sayings that older people would utter. I would wonder about who the original person was that had thought up such advice. Were they old and wise with deep set wrinkles, full of life's experiences? Did such knowledge arrive when they were still young and full of bloom? Would knowledge like this suddenly descend upon me? Here are a few of the sayings that were often used by the older members of the community whilst I was growing up:
‘One hundred pounds of your own money is worth more than a thousand of somebody else’s.’
‘A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.’
‘Spend a bit, owe a bit, save a bit.’
‘Never a lender or a borrower be.’
‘The rich will always know how to smile – but only the poor know how to laugh.’
‘If they paid a working man a worthy wage then he would never work again!!’
‘A fool and his money are easily parted.’
There are of course many more and if nothing else they certainly make a person think!
I think that we should all readily accept that we are mammals. Although, we supposedly are set apart from other mammals because we have the power of reason that may, in some ways, be our eventual undoing. We are born from the earth and whether we like it or not are connected to every other living form on the planet. Ancient man with his closeness to nature had no problem knowing and believing his closeness to other life forms. We are better educated but try to distance ourselves from this despite there being irrefutable proof through DNA that we share our origins with all other life forms. We should not need such evidence to make us respect the life on our planet … we are after all chosen as the leaders of life here on earth … it is our job to police it … to protect it …. to nurture it … to appreciate it … and most of all to love it … all of it – no matter how repugnant we may find it. All life is precious and we walk on a tightrope of existence – if man is to flourish then so must the delicate balance of all life around him. We are not gods, therefore we should never assume that we have the power over life or death without consequence - so we must choose our roads with extra caution if we want any kind of future for mankind.
The other day I came across a molehill. It was only a fairly small one which means that the soil beneath is lovely and deep. Large molehills usually grouped together are known as fortresses – these occur when the soil is fairly shallow or in areas that may have a propensity to flood. These molehills are often quite high.
Moles spend their life underground so the molehill is usually the only sight the majority of people see – but just occasionally, if you see a molehill being formed you may be lucky enough to catch sight of a little pink nose. Moles live from between one to three years. The female mole is known as a sow and the male as a boar and a small group of moles are referred to as a labour – a very apt name as they are such construction experts and extremely hard working. Their saliva has the ability to paralyze small creatures such as earthworms – this is necessary as they hold the worms between their paws and push out all of the soil and sediment in the worms guts before eating them. They will also eat fly and beetle larvae and very occasionally have been known to catch a passing mouse!
This year, global warming has become far more noticeable. All around us there are warning bells tolling out but rather than shattering peels they are leaving us visible clues. Although we are well into November everything around is whispering ‘October.’ The temperature, the winds, the rainfall, the insects … there are still wasps busily buzzing about! Hedgehogs are still out and about busily nuzzling their way on the lawns and in the borders. Pigeons are fluttering in the hedges and pecking off the ruby red berries.
As a young girl my mother would always use the following phrase when November descended onto us -
“No sun, no moon, November!”
November was always like this full of swirling mists and fogs. Everything dripping wet and damp. The damp travelled everywhere and elderly people would rub at their arms and legs to try and ease the aching as the dampness appeared to creep deep into their bones. Washing that had been hung on the line would come in wetter than when it had been hung out. People developed hacking coughs and streaming colds. Bronchitis was more of an occupation than an ailment and it tore into lungs as deadly as a surgeon’s scalpel.
…… Our Novembers have changed. Although this means that the planet is warming up at a dangerously fast rate, I would not wish for Novembers to return to what they once were ……
I saw my first shield bug only a few years ago and in some ways it reminded me of the stick and leaf insects from far off lands. I instantly became enchanted with this lovely little creature. In the Spring and early Summer the common variety is plain green occasionally having a few tiny pin spots. The bug’s wings change to an interesting brown in the Autumn. It’s appearance seems to mimic the seasons and so may be regarded as the chameleon of the insect world. It will gently ascend onto an outstretched hand and slowly walk a few steps and then just settle and stay in a still position. There is no sting or bite to worry about but do take care to treat these lovely bugs gently as their country name is ‘stink bug’ as they can exude an extremely unpleasant smell from their hind quarters if they feel threatened.
Shield bug in Autumn
There are more and more people who reach out to Fisherman’s Friend lozenges at the first signs of a cold or flu. Amazingly it is now being alleged that one of the main ingredients is also found in Tami flu … and so they are flying off the shelves all over the world as people are now sucking these tasty lozenges as an extra precaution to hopefully remain free of Swine flu symptoms.
For those who live in Great Britain they may have seen the headlines as the owners of Fisherman’s Friend – Doreen and Tony Lofthouse were savagely beaten and attacked at their home. Details on the BBC News site.
For those who like a little bit of sporting fun then perhaps you may like to visit - Fisherman’s Friend sports events here.
Well … I have my packet of Fisherman’s Friend … just in case!!!
… we will remember them.
This is a very special year as sadly we have lost the last of the Veteran soldiers that returned to British shores at the end of the Great War, The First World War, the war to end all wars, WW1.
This January, Bill Stone passed away aged 108, sadly followed by Henry Allingham aged 113. Lastly in July, at the age of 111 Harry Patch followed them.
This time and this day was set aside, all of those years ago so that we would always remember the fallen and never let such a dreadful waste ever happen again. Sadly there have been other wars and other soldiers that have been maimed and killed and so now our thoughts and prayers go out to them also.
Just two minutes silence … not a lot for the price that they have all paid, is it?
My grandfather fought in the First World War. He returned home skewered and torn with shrapnel. He would never speak of any of it – it was just too dreadful to recall.
We cannot possibly even come close to imagine the hell of it all – putting on sodden boots, soaking wet socks, wet feet … week after week after week. To be cold, wet and wanting. To watch our brothers, friends and comrades being picked off one by one with a bullet through the head, bombs. Choking on gas, eyes streaming, nostrils, mouth and lungs burning, Skin being torn from bones with barbed wire and shrapnel. On the first day of war alone – Sixty-Thousand Men died … followed every day thereafter by many more. Fighting over a few feet of mud. Those who made the decisions on all sides of the war, it is alleged never, not once said ‘sorry.’ They all had so much to say sorry for. No leader of men should send their men to fight in circumstances such as this … my grandfather’s words, which were very few were something like this … ‘it was just for a few feet of soil.’
The year after the Great War had ended, in the muddy battlefield, the landscape became a sea of red as millions of poppies pushed their way up towards the sunlight and bloomed. So many flowers that there must have been one for every fallen soldier in the war. Since then we have used the red poppy as a symbol of their memory, their heroism and our love for them – all of them whoever they were. Many were just boys. Boys that became men within hours of joining up. So wear your poppy with pride on this very special day … if you can plant a small patch of poppies in your garden for the love and respect of all of the soldiers not only for those who gave their lives all of those years ago but those who are constantly putting their lives on the line for us today.
God Bless you all … we thank you all … our thoughts are with you … we all stand with you so … please take care!
How should you measure perfection? Is it something that cannot be improved on? To me perfection is life. It is intricate in simplicity but also in detail. It makes me hold my breath in wonder. I am grateful for its vision, knowledge and experience of it. To be just here and witness it in itself is just perfection. Living here and now is … perfection.
Tillandsias fondly called Air plants are delightful and interesting plants for anyone to grow. They must not be planted into soil but instead require just a small crack in a rock or log to wedge themselves. As their ‘nickname’ suggests their prime requirement is air but like all living things they do require moisture. It is therefore essential to use a fine mister and spray around them every other day as they do need a humid environment. Although many produce flowers and therefore seeds their main reproduction route is through little shoots that appear at the base of the plant every twelve months. The Tillandsias are part of the Bromeliad family – they are the only members of this family that do not require soil to thrive.
The Tillandsias are very special little plants. They originate from both Central and South America and they have an amazing ability to not only purify the atmosphere but to regenerate it. They are therefore a very useful plant. In time they will most probably be grown in much larger numbers. Perhaps they should be given a space in every home …
Here are my little Tillandsias …
We, it appears have always had terrorists in one form or another. The Chinese gave us gunpowder and with it not only did we have great power - but like China, the British people came to know and enjoy the pleasure of seeing fireworks light up the sky with beautiful patterns and falling stars.
When I was a young child, as with most children I yearned for my own little puppy. So I was delighted when I learned that a a very common furry caterpillar was given the nick-name of puppy. Along with other children in my area I collected them and played with them and watched them walking quickly down the garden path. The caterpillar in question is called the Garden Tiger Moth caterpillar which years ago appeared to be everywhere in late Summer and early Autumn. It has been quite a few years since I last saw one of these lovely creatures but this year I found one on my garden path and it brought back some lovely memories.
November came in with a cut and a slash as the cooler winds sliced through clothing almost unexpectedly after a very balmy October. The cat’s habits changed overnight and for the last few days she has snuggled deep in her little bed sleeping for a good proportion of the time. A little older, she now has developed a rather soothing soft, melodic snore as her chest rises and falls in a steady rhythm. Sometimes her front legs shoot out and remain stiffly in position other times it’s her back legs that stray from her soft, round basket. Occasionally both front and back legs pour out at peculiar angles but still she sleeps, very deeply … In fact, it is the only place where she manages to grasp very deep sleeping periods, if she falls to sleep anywhere else in or around the house her eyes very quickly prize open at the slightest noise. Her basket, apparently offers a much safer place to reside as she rarely wakes up from her deep dreams whilst rolled up asleep, cuddled on the soft, padded bottom.
As a young child my mother would tell me the following rhymes about cats which I passed on to my own children …
Pussy cat Mole
Pussy cat Mole Jumped over a coal, And in her best petticoat Burnt a great hole.
Poor pussy is weeping She’ll have no more milk Until her best petticoat is Mended with silk.
I Love Little Pussy
I love little pussy, Her coat is so warm, And if I don't hurt her, She'll do me no harm.
So I'll not pull her tail, Nor drive her away, But pussy and I, Very gently will play.
Oh my tail and whiskers – that brings back some very happy memories!
Today is ‘All Souls’ Day.’ The nights creep in and on overcast days it can sometimes appear surprisingly bleak.
Although this afternoon became dull and slightly blustery I managed to capture a Yew tree so full of berries that it was weighing down some of the more spindly of its branches.
*Never eat a Yew berry – they are probably the most dangerous of all of the berries. Their poison kills – so if using Yew tree branches for Christmas decorations, always thoroughly wash your hands!
Today is All Saints Day, the first day of the old Celtic New Year, a day of peace and the perfect day to purchase a Peace lily. The Peace lily is the ultimate house plant. It only requires a very small amount of natural light and helps to keep optimum humidity to modern homes. This lovely plant absorbs all of the modern chemicals that float about in the air and replaces them with pure oxygen. This process goes on whether the plant is flowering or in a dormant period. It usually rests for eight weeks before coming into full bloom once again. Some people call it the ‘tear drop’ plant as it is said to cry in a happy home taking away any misery. Remember to keep the soil damp for a healthy plant.