Random Ramblings

Random Ramblings: Personal observations on a wide variety of subjects. Photographs of creatures and things that are taken on seeing the unusual as well as everyday things.

In weed

I can’t remember whether August is the same every year but this year there is an explosion of weeds. Many are tiny but some have managed to achieve quite a height and are beginning to suffocate even the most sturdy of perennials. To try and combat the problem I decided that I would begin pulling out a few at a time. I remembered that I had a ‘wild cowslip’ plant that had made its home in my little herb patch .. but where was it now? The sage has bushed out and begun to encroach on the chives. The mint decided to gambol all over the place with a few sprouts here and yet more sprouts there. The parsley looked very pleased with itself as its leaves curled in every direction. Some Montbretia leaves had curled gracefully pointing at the sage. I decided to tug at a few of these leaves to give the sage and chives a little more light which then led me to see a rather sad looking cowslip in need of a very long sip of water. What I also discovered under the leaves was a beautiful yellow spotted frog – it gave me such a shock and it must have been in shock itself for it stood there whilst I raced back for the camera.

Yellow spotted frog

Yellow Spotted Frog – Rana temporaria … 6–9 cm

Country Quips:

    • It is only when we appreciate how good life is, that we really see beauty in unexpected places.

Hovering about

Hover-flies always remind me of my childhood. From as early as aged three, I would wander (with permission) around my next-door neighbour’s garden; where I was first introduced to Tulips, Red-hot pokers and Michaelmas daisies as well as the Tit family … from the pretty little Blue-tit, the constant calling Coal-tit to the wonderful strength of the Great-tit. The Michaelmas daisies formed a hedge around the neighbour’s garden and it was always alive with little pretty darting flies of various sizes and colours which were called Hover-flies. Despite their bright colouring and almost wasp-like or bee-like appearance they are harmless and very useful pollinators.

Hover-fly - Episyrphus balteatus

Hover-fly - Episyrphus balteatus ... in flight around the fuchsias

Hover-fly - Episyrphus balteatus ... in flight

Hover-fly - Episyrphus balteatus grows between 10 - 15 mm

Hover-fly - Episyrphus balteatus pollinating Genii fuchsia

Hover-fly - Episyrphus balteatus

Country Quips:

    • True beauty is often hidden from closed minds.

Buzz hub

Before the break in the weather, I was checking out the back border bank looking for spaces for a few new plants when I heard a distant noise. A fairly high-pitched hum, a cross between a dentist’s drill and a small helicopter droned in the distance. There appeared to be nothing in the sky so I took little notice and continued looking for a good space for some Penstamen flowers that had just been purchased. Suddenly, something large shot past my face and with it the sound of the drill. It headed downwards and landed in a half coconut that I had partly filled with raisins for the blackbirds. At first, I thought it must be some foreign insect because of its size .. some 30 mm. It was yellow with brown stripes and at it’s neck the brown turned into more of a brown claret. It’s mouth was placed on one of the raisins and it appeared to be sucking at the fruit which had expanded with an over-night shower. Then in a second it had buzzed up and away over the fence. Within a moment or two it arrived back with one of its comrades. Unlike other striped insects that seem to be attracted to people and fly around them, these acted as though I was completely invisible. They sucked at the raisins and I rushed into the house for the camera. I managed to take a couple of pictures of them and then set about trying to identify them in an insect book. They were listed as hornets, the largest member of the wasp family and the only one with brown stripes.

Hornet - approx 30 mm - yellow and brown sriped

Hornet, Vespa crabro – 30 mm

Country Quips:

    • It is the fear of pain that often saves us from falling off the edge of cliffs.

Miracle powder–bicarbonate of soda

Every year man discovers amazing things, invents complex answers to problems and yet forgets things that have been discovered by his forebears within the blink of an eye. This is probably the greatest mistake that we make as a species. We are the only species on the planet that regularly sweeps aside wondrous knowledge and throws it deep into a dusty abyss. Much of what has been learnt over time, may not have even been recorded in a book but told by word-of-mouth then lost completely forever.

The oldest form of any antiseptic known to man is in the form of various salts. Bicarbonate of soda, also called by a variety of other names from simple bicarbonate, sodium bicarbonate and baking soda being the main variations is one of these salt based antiseptics, which is also an active fungicide. It should be part of everyone’s basic hygiene to include bicarbonate of soda into their daily routines.

Purchase good quality, food grade, bicarbonate and then it may be used wherever and whenever it is needed.

The first time I was really introduced to bicarbonate of soda as an antiseptic was with an eye infection. This was most probably caused by transference of germs from a keyboard, a shopping trolley, or simply a door handle to an eyelid which then became both sore and itchy and spread around the lids and the lashes of both eyes. For the next month, morning, noon and night I had to bathe my eyelids and eyelashes with one teaspoonful of bicarbonate of soda stirred into boiled water then allowed to cool. After this, I began looking into medical and household uses for this forgotten ‘miracle powder.’

Here are just a few of the uses of bicarbonate of soda:

It may be used as a mouthwash to get rid of bad breath either caused through bacteria build-up in the mouth or spicy, aromatic foods. It can be made into a paste and used to clean stains off teeth. The powder may be dissolved into a little warm water and gargled to cure a sore throat. It is a quick first aid item that can be gently applied to mouths to ease symptoms of thrush whilst waiting to see a medical practitioner. It may be used as a simple exfoliator, a skin softener, a gentle hair conditioner. Items of personal use such as toothbrushes and hair combs may be soaked in a solution of it to clean them. A pinch of it may be stirred into a half-tumbler of water just before bedtime to help give a soothing night’s sleep. It reduces acid attack and is often preferable to alleviate heartburn and indigestion than traditional tablets and medicines. A tiny spot placed into the centre of the tongue will often calm down coughing attacks. It is sometimes a useful alternative medication for alleviating rashes. Over the centuries bicarbonate has been applied to both insect stings and bites for almost immediate relief. It kills off parasites and destroys their eggs. The powder may be sprinkled and used as a dry insecticide or a small amount added to water and lightly sprayed over plants. This list is almost endless and it is therefore always worth bearing in mind that it could be worth trying when all else fails.

Please do remember that it is a salt so always follow guidelines on the packet to make sure that too much isn’t consumed over a twenty-four hour period.

Bicarbonate of soda, sodium bicarbonate, baking soda, bicarbonate .. powder 2011

Sodium bicarbonate powder


Country Quips:

    • We are all much wiser than we are led to believe, sadly we rarely know when to use our wisdom.