After hour upon hour of snowflakes falling and settling with precision on every surface that they could cling to, we awoke today to a landscape of icicles. They had formed in rows creating lumpy bumpy patterns. Longer and longer they kept on growing forming icicle families, grouping themselves like football supporters along anything and everything. The pictures of the icicles have been taken from 20th December with the last one at the very bottom taken on Christmas Day, 25th December. We had cleared off as many of the icicles as we could but within a short space of time new ones began to form. It became so cold that one froze at the moment it was about to drip and the last picture in the line below shows the drip frozen in time – a magical picture!
A frozen drip still attached to a newly formed icicle – picture taken on Christmas Day
I wonder if this year will be forever known as the ‘year of the snow?’ The snow began in November followed by icy cold snaps then more snow and ice and now here we are once more and the sky has flushed its payload once again; and everywhere is snow white.
The snow covered pond!
Buried bird table in the snow white landscape
The back garden snow covered landscape taken through the back window
Table of snow
Fir trees with the local blackbird surveying his territory …
Anyone who has any knowledge about cats will know that you can never make a cat do anything it doesn’t wish to do …
… and so when the cat was presented with a present of a cat hide none of us thought at the back of our minds that she would ever enter it, jump on top of it, let alone use it!
Man has created a miracle. He has invented a drug that encourages longevity; protects against the onset and recurrence of many cancers, guards and assists against heart disease and stroke; cures aches and pains … in fact we are still finding out the wonders of one of the oldest drugs known to man Aspirin. Used since the dawn of time in its more natural form of willow leaf and bark it was eventually synthesized in the 1800’s. Several forms were tried out until in 1899 it eventually went on sale as the little white tablet that many of us have taken for varieties of complaints and ailments over the years.
It was cast aside by many in the medical world because of its blood thinning properties which in some people led to major bleeds in the stomach, gut and sometimes brain. There are a few new facts that have recently been released regarding Aspirin – firstly, there is now another drug that can be given alongside aspirin that protects the body from bleeding, secondly, only tiny doses of the drug are needed to obtain the long term benefits or protection against cancer and aid against stroke and heart disease, thirdly, taking the drug for just a few years (approximately four) will enable it to carry on its medicinal protection for over twenty years.
When taking Aspirin – it is safest taken on a full stomach after main meals with half a tumbler of cold/tepid water.
Always consult your own doctor before self-medicating on a daily basis.
Never use a dose for this purpose that is higher than 75 mg.
This drug costs less than £0.02 per day – in fact, it is just over a penny in purchase cost.
Worcestershire has shed most of its snow but as temperatures plunged to even colder depths we have been coated in a thick white hoarfrost that has tumbled over everything like strands of desiccated coconut. The sun came out for a short while this afternoon so I ran outside with my camera. Here are a few pictures that I have taken in my garden of some New Zealand Flax dried dead flowers and spiky leaves; a fir tree; a single white rose; some bamboo; garden plants in the border.
What a very strange month it is … for we have had days that have required even the most cold blooded of us to parade in blouses and t-shirts. Now we are being blasted with cannons of cold air, attacking with military precision, straight over the sea from Russia. The temperatures have plummeted so much that it has been colder than any other November day on record. Not content with teasing us with icy fingers the Russian winds have brought buckets of snow. So much snow that some places are snow bound with no electric, milk, bread and very little fresh vegetables. The weather experts advise that it will continue for some time but cannot make up their minds how long … It is December tomorrow, but we have our Winter today!
Earlier I looked out with the notion of taking a picture of the scene but all was grey and depressingly gloomy. The cold appeared to give an air of sludgy mist which made everywhere appear menacing …
So far it has been an altogether strange month. There have been parts of November that have been warm, almost balmy for the last but one month of the year. Then half-way through the month, we were hit with some ground frost that chilled deep within the bones forcing everyone to turn up the heating a ratchet or two. Suddenly like a seductive señorita, we were fanned by another reasonably mild spell. The weekend saw temperatures plunge once again and deliver more carving and cutting frosts.
This morning has brought the first real snowfall to many areas with the promise of more on the way. Higher ground has registered a good six inches and lower areas, especially in the North have as much as two inches under foot, which has fallen onto icy ground.
So far, here in Worcestershire we have escaped the downfall … though the temperature is -1°C.
Snow shovel’s at the ready … have you made yours yet?
The other night I was just taking a few scraps of food down to the bird table so that the dawn chorus would have something for their early morning breakfast when I saw a worm on the path. It appeared to extend to some eighteen inches or possibly more. It had been raining and there were still the odd drop or two coming down but I raced back into the house to grab a camera – any camera – before it slithered away between the slabs. Never had I seen a worm as long as this it must be a great, great, great grandfather worm. It was black outside so I couldn’t see where I was aiming the camera. I just put it onto flash and clicked a few times in the hope of one of the pictures being reasonably visible. All at once the worm began to slither between two of the slabs. I grabbed a torch … the worm, it seemed had attached itself to a piece of grass stem that had turned brown – so rather than a really long, long worm it was in fact an ordinary worm and certainly not the longest and oldest worm in the world.
When I was a little girl my father would often say to me “Never assume that something is as it first appears it is always wise to stop and take a second look!” He certainly proved himself right with this little creature, didn’t he?
The longest and oldest worm in the world
It takes courage to commit your thoughts to paper. The written word, after all, is a weapon of immeasurable strength in its ability to pursue both good and evil with the consequences that could only truly be compared to the devastation that a bomb or bullet could wield. It is more powerful than a bomb or bullet but is rarely given credence of its strength of power to maim, injure or change a life, a country, a person’s perception of themselves or others or indeed the way the masses act or think about any subject under the sun. Yet there are very few that put its uses to good. That know that through their strength in using this weapon they may be able to change just one thing and do some good in the world.
I recently wrote about slavery in the modern world and that there are alleged to be 27 million people who will spend their lives locked into slavery. I compelled others to add their abhorrence of the imprisonment of man and the fetters of this lifestyle in the pursuit of the empowerment of one man over another and all this entails for further generations. A chink of light appeared through a crack in the Internet … a man who some people call Russ and others call Grampy, runs two Blogs and decided to do more research which he has added in the form of a post to help the fight for freedom. Please visit the following sites – feel free to comment and if you can summon up a little courage too then a post or a tweet on the subject would add strength to the cause. Thank you to Russ for knowing how powerful the right word can be.
In the world of the free; and each land of the free …
I was horrified to recently hear that there are currently more slaves in the world than at any other time in man’s history. It is said that the number of slaves throughout the world now totals some –
comprising of men, women and children.
A new anti-slavery law has only recently been introduced into Britain. How could one man use another in this way? It is utterly sickening. I wonder how many other countries there are in the world that have yet to make this abhorrent lifestyle against the law.
I have never yet compelled other Bloggers, Members of Facebooks, and those on Twitter to write about anything but if you have a heart for your fellow man then please write about this shocking act of your fellow man. Let us STAMP OUT SLAVERY FOREVER!
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
We will remember them
Cats and dogs have their tongues, teeth, mouths and noses as their cutlery when they are trying to pick up morsels of food from their dinner plates and dishes. Pieces are scooped up often with the utmost of difficulty and very often all kinds of food items end up surrounding their dish, saucer or plate. Satellites of food nuggets surrounding a shiny sun of a plate. Many animals will try and find the escaped morsels that have deposited themselves on the floor. Others, often a little fastidious will simply walk away and leave the trail of debris for their owners to clear up!
Whilst out shopping the other day I came across a different shaped feeding bowl. It had a slightly raised back and slightly higher sides … it was also quite heavy, despite being made of plastic. In fact, it had the appearance of crock. On a whim I purchased one – it was a sort of sixth sense that came from somewhere from within and telling me that this was the answer to feeding time. To my surprise, my whim paid off … so far I have had not one spillage or stray piece of fish or nugget of meat finding its way out of the dish and onto the floor. I am so pleased that I have finally – after years of dogs and cats – discovered the ideal feeding bowl for animals that use their mouths as cutlery!! So if you may be thinking of having a pet or perhaps already have one then look out for this new style feeding bowl with a raised back and you’ll find that feeding time will be much better not only for yourself but also for your pet. I purchased mine from a local supermarket but I should imagine that this new shape should be available at any good retailers that cater for pets.
Feeding bowl with high back and raised sides - clean feeding for four-legged animals
This time of year, at least here in the UK, brings on the onset of dry and sometimes sore hands. The backs of hands become at dry as ‘pork scratchings’ or perhaps I should say parchment. It is difficult to understand why hands are so quickly affected this way as it can happen even when the skin is not exposed to outdoor weather conditions. There are thousands of good hand creams that may be purchased to counteract this problem - and for those who have endless time on their hands to keep slathering it on and rubbing it in every time they come into contact with water or before they tackle household chores then that is fine. However, for an easier and more time efficient answer to the problem the solution is to purchase a small tube of Savlon Antiseptic Cream. Just one little bead rubbed into the backs of the hands two or three times each week makes them as soft, smooth and youthful as a baby’s without any of the daily effort of standard hand creams.
Note: one of the worst culprits of permanent dry palms – is paper. People who handle paper regularly need to wear gloves for protection as paper draws the moisture out of the pores. A little saying that people would use years ago is: ‘Paper sucks the soul out of the skin.’
The clocks across Britain are turned back at 1.00 am to 12.00 am today back to Greenwich Mean Time or real time. This is the time of our forebears and our ideal body clock time. It is reported that this may well be the last time that we turn back our clocks as once more the ‘darling Southerner's’ of our land are calling for ‘Summertime’ to be made permanent.
I can honestly say that I speak from experience when I tell you that I have tried this before on several experimental attempts to ditch GMT and adopt British Summertime permanently. I can only speak for Worcestershire or middle England. The months from December through until the end of February are more than dismal on Summertime settings. Frost and darkness make mornings treacherous – both the journeys to work and school full of misadventure with drivers and pedestrians appearing to be at the very best bleary-eyed. People would say at the time – ‘it’s like working down the pits!’ Of course, this is untrue for working down a coal mine is undoubtedly far, far, worse but the fact that it was even compared to this shows just how unpopular it came to be. The further North a person lives the darker the morning remains which does not bode well for those who have to make a living outdoors. There is nothing that can be done to extend the length of light of a Winter’s day but it is selfish of those who live in the South to assume that everyone benefits if their day time’s are going to be improved.
I love turning back the clocks – I feel that my body is ready for this step back and lengthening of sleep time … I have tried Summertime and I have even experienced double-Summertime (two hours forward) but for Midlanders and Northerners alike, I can honestly say that mornings feel so much more safer and pleasant when we turn back the clocks for Wintertime!
I never thought that I would feel excitement from finding an earwig … but it has been years since spotting my last earwig and I was beginning to wonder whether they had become extinct in my area along with so many other insects. This was a splendid male. Male earwigs have round rear pincer like protrusions whereas their counterpart females have rather straight protrusions with just the faintest suggestion of a small outward curving wobble in them. This particular earwig is the common variety which grows to between 10 to 15 mm in length. There are four different species of earwig in Britain, all of them usually go into a sort of hibernation during the colder months of the year so perhaps this male was looking for somewhere to spend the Winter months … he has wiggled away during the night so I’m not sure if he found a good hiding place to take a long nap in. Although earwigs have wings that they tuck away they rarely ever use them to fly with.
Common earwig - Forficula auricularia
The earwig’s name comes from earwicga which actually means ‘ear beetle.’ It was a widely held belief that the earwig crawled into ears whilst a person slept and some people even believed that earwigs laid their eggs deep inside the ear, there were also people also believed that the earwig crawled so far into the ear that they were able to lay eggs in a sleeping person’s brain. This widely held myth is still believed by a few people to this very day.
The female earwig is, in insect terms, a loving mother as she lays her eggs some twenty to sixty and occasionally eighty and stays with them whilst they hatch. She will gather her eggs up to keep them safe and checks the eggs keeping them in a tidy group. She will move the eggs and clean them regularly this keeps the eggs from developing mould in the damp nest. The young earwigs are the same shape as their parents and the ‘loving’ earwig mother stays with her young guarding them and providing them with food until they are large enough to fend for themselves. Once her job is done and her young have matured enough to live safely on their own in the big wide world, the mother earwig finds her final resting place and dies.
The earwig is a useful garden insect as although it may be seen eating flower petals it also tucks in to aphids and other garden pests as well as eating dead and decomposing plants and animals. This helps to keep the garden tidy and clean … so be thankful if you find an earwig for they are a friend to the gardener and quite lovely garden insects.
A site that has been highly praised by patients and doctors alike is called ‘Patient UK.’ The site has been compiled by doctors and professionals and aims to answer medical questions, various patient issues and other advice with a variety of ways including videos. There are also free links to over 1300 medical journals through the site. So if you need advice here is the link: Patient UK.
Whenever we hear the word ‘malnutrition’ we almost always think of the impoverished world. The idea that malnutrition is on our doorsteps or even in our homes never crosses our minds. The fact that so many of the illnesses and complaints of today are in some way connected to the food that goes into us and our bodies ability to process this food effectively is becoming more and more apparent.
Example: Do you live a spit away from the ocean? In other words when you go for a walk near to where you live are you able to feel sea spray on your face? If the answer is no – and it will be for most of us then the next few questions are vital for normal body weight. Do you eat ocean white fish two to three times each week? Do you include seaweed in your meals once or twice each week? Do you enjoy regular portions of shellfish? Do you regularly add garlic to your meals? Do you always use sea salt in your cooking? If you are constantly answering no – then the chances are your body might be crying out for iodine. Malnutrition from this one element alone causes several major problems these include: inability or great difficulty to lose weight no matter how hard you try; gaining weight very easily which is difficult to shed; constipation; very cold hands and feet even during the hottest of weather spells; lack of energy and the desire to sit down for long periods; a general apathy to life or difficulty to get motivated.
When you add to this all of the other elements or minerals, vitamins, amino acids, and so on it is easy to see that we are all lacking or becoming malnourished with every day we draw breath and we are unlikely to ever know anything about it, other than not to feel as good as we should.
So when you next take a trip to the doctors be honest with your replies regarding your weekly intake of food. Without complete honesty to the doctor they will not be likely to ascertain whether you have an illness caused through lack of an essential nutrient or whether you may have something caused by bacteria, fungus, virus, or other varieties of causes. Never has the statement ‘you are what you eat’ been more frighteningly true. The problem is that few of us will ever really know what being 100% fit really feels like. Many will be told that they are simply greedy, idle, lazy, boring, bad tempered, violent, nasty, hypochondriacs ……. when truly the majority are most likely just suffering from malnutrition.
Take care - try to eat a little of everything … be concerned if you do not eat certain foods because you do not like them – be concerned if you are a faddy eater – be concerned if your weekly food never varies, your menus contain the same food items or you rarely try new things … all of these type of eating habits can result in malnourishment.
Seek help if you constantly feel unwell as it is not a natural way to feel.