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.

Black and White

Over the years it has been hard not to notice the increase in the amount of magpies there are about. Yesterday ten were boisterously strutting about on the lawn. This time of the year they have the look of a raptor about them and it is not hard to imagine a somewhat similar creature from a few million years ago making the same aggressive movements in the time of the dinosaurs.
I can remember thinking (when hearing the old rhyme about magpies that predicted how good your fortune was going to be "five for silver, six for gold") well that's impossible because you never see more than one or two at a time. They now come into the garden in flocks. There always seem to be a minimum of three or four. They also are less shy than they used to be and venture onto the bird table. Their appetite seems to be increasing and they appear to have a taste for most food stuffs.

Powdery particles of paper

Over the years toilet paper appears to be getting more and more powdery. I have tried various brands and it almost seems that the more money that I pay for this product, the more powdery it is. You may have never noticed this unpleasant feature in the brand which you are using. As it is a product that we all use each day then perhaps it is time to take a moment to ponder and investigate the matter.
If you are fortunate enough to have sunlight streaming through your bathroom/toilet window then you will, no doubt, have seen the billows of powdery dust that fly about the room. Everything gets a generous powdery dusting of the stuff including yourself. You breath it in .... is it dangerous? You wipe your skin with it - no doubt depositing the powdery residue wherever you have applied it. You may have used it to blow your nose and yes you may well have left some of the tiny particles behind.

Our space - is it safe?

There are many thoughts about how safe are the surfaces around our homes and work places. So many items are either steeped in chemicals during their manufacture or produce noxious substances whilst we innocently go about our daily business. There are also the products which we choose to buy that may contain chemicals that could be having devastating effects on our planet. The clue that, in our busy lives, we fail to see - comes in the ever lengthening list of ingredients in the packets and bottles that land up in our shopping baskets. There are a series of programmes currently being screened on Channel 4 that has been examining these issues. It is being fronted by Sarah Beeny - http://www.channel4.com/health/microsites/T/toxic/ and if you are able to view is worth a look. It would have been good if the programme showed a list of companies that produce items that are free from the chemicals and also advised where they are available and a group of people that had tested out the various items. We could have then perhaps seen an honest view on whether the chemical free alternatives really were a sensible choice for people to switch to. It would be nice - that as we are apart of the EU they could reign in the use of some of the more dangerous chemicals, many of which have been banned in other parts of the world (according to the programme). Not to mention the fact that we may be importing goods that contain the banned substance DDT.

I thought only ducks went "quack"

There are a large population of grey squirrels in the area where I live. Up until recently these small furry creatures have been quietly scurrying - swiftly making their way from one patch of green to another and then running up any nearby tree. This week, however, there have been a number of these squirrels that have been up trees and letting out a very loud quacking like sound. Perhaps more like "quark."
As it is now Autumn - it cannot be a mating call. The last squirrel that was making this unusual call was on Tuesday and it sat up in a tree, looking at a ringed dove and appeared to be calling to the dove in this very loud quacking or quarking type voice.

Rose tinted glasses don't always see

Beautiful, feminine, rustling gowns that made the most clumsiest of women glide with the beauty of a swan on a calm lake. This was the image portrayed by films and books. Along with trim waists and high heaving bosoms. There were rich velvets trimmed with fur in the winter. Fine lawn cottons piped with lace in the summer. And we, onlookers from another age were all sucked in to this illusion. This life style was soon to be changed on having a conversation with my grandmother who as a young girl had worn these very gowns that kissed the floor with every step. "You have no idea how dreadful they were." she had advised me. Then continued on what life was like on a daily basis when there was no choice but to wear them. "We had to sew ribbon on the bottoms to make them last longer as they would become ripped and frayed as we walked." She had added. She also said that every time a woman or girl stepped out their skirts would drag over everything. Whatever was on the floor would end up attached to the bottom of the hem. The edges would become caked with mud, dog excrement, spit, vomit ... whatever was on the floor would sickeningly end up on the hem. As the ribbon tore and ripped it had to be unpicked and a fresh length sewn on to extend the life of the skirt or dress. Often, washing the dresses especially on a daily basis was out of the question. Once dry the hems were brushed to relieve them of the heavy burdens of caked on dirt - this my grandmother confessed was a foul job to do. When they were washed, can you imagine how dreadful it would be. Laboriously rubbing up and down on a washboard and scrubbing at ground in dirt (no washing machines, no rubber gloves). Once they were clean, rinsed, dried and pressed - the whole process would begin all over again! The one lesson that this conversation taught me in life is that things are not always as they first appear. It pays to keep this at the back of the mind as it can often be the case that things are rarely as they first may seem to be.


The first time I encountered anyone with an allergy was at school. A young girl who was covered over every inch of her body with little tiny flesh coloured spots beneath the surface of her skin. Every day cream was applied but never did I here her complain about the inconvenience, discomfort or unfairness of her lot.
Indeed, at one time it was a rarity to have an allergy. Now it seems, not only are the variety of allergies growing so are the people who develop them. How do you know if you have an allergy? Well it seems that any symptom could mean that you have one. The obvious being a rash - the less obvious could be anything from an ache, bloating, pain, blister, general feeling of ill health to gut problems.
Doctors do not always recognize allergies immediately. In fact, it has been reported that people with coeliac disease may not be diagnosed for up to thirteen years. Coeliacs cannot digest foods containing gluten so have to exclude many grains from their diets and also many standard products can be off limits as well from various chocolate bars, cans of soups, the more obvious cakes, bread and biscuits. Some people find themselves suddenly becoming allergic to a food stuff that they have eaten every day of their lives and never had problems with before. It is probably sensible therefore to vary the diet as much as possible as it can be inconvenient and possibly upsetting if a person suddenly finds that they are unable to eat a particular item. It may also take a very long time before their particular food intolerance or allergy problem is diagnosed. There could be people who have minor food intolerance problems that are never diagnosed. For instance there are those who suffer from acid or indigestion which leaves them feeling that they have a food intolerance of almost every food item. Whereas the problem may be being caused through possible shortage of stomach acid that may merely be cured by a spoonful of honey in hot water first thing in the morning. According to health articles, a person can check to see if they are producing enough stomach acid by placing a level teaspoonful of bicarbonate of soda into half a tumbler of water. It is said that with normal acid production of the stomach, a burp is released almost instantaneously - if a person has to wait quite a while for this reaction then they may not be producing sufficient stomach acid in which case they should seek medical advice. Such advice never seems to be widely given - imagine how many gallons of stomach medicines and how many pounds of indigestion tablets are sold on a daily basis which if a person were not making enough stomach acid could possibly worsen a condition even if bringing temporary relief.

Light energy saver

Finally, a sensible law has been passed. The phasing out of standard light bulbs and introduction of the low energy light bulb throughout all homes in the United Kingdom has to be the way forward for reducing carbon emissions. We changed all of our indoor lights a while back after managing to find some smaller versions that didn't poke out of the ends of the light shades. What proved an interesting observation was that the temperature in our rooms also decreased after changing to the new bulbs. In our lounge the temperature dropped by two whole degrees. The new light bulbs are long life and should last around seven years. They are also slowly coming down in price. Will the rest of the world follow suit and change to low energy bulbs, I wonder?