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.

Pholcus phalangioides affectionately called the daddy long-legs spider

I was so surprised to find this wonderful spider on a door post. These are lovely creatures and should be warmly welcomed into any home. They are very clean and mop up any small insects and mites that they find whilst on patrol. They prefer to walk away from any humans and so once they have seen you it may be quite a while before you are able to see them again. They are the nursery nurse of spiders as they take special care of their young – ferrying them about and feeding each youngster directly from their mouths.

Pholcus phalangioides which is affectionately called the Daddy Long-Legs spider and lives mostly in houses and cavesPholcus phalangioides affectionately called the daddy long-legs spider 

They have a way of trying to remain safe and that is to shake quite violently until they appear to be a blur.

Home of charity

The meaning of charity is simply - love. Love is to be able to give yourself without requiring any return. To give yourself unconditionally. Very few of us achieve this. Most of us yearn for some kind of reciprocation or reward. Occasionally, in our lifetime we meet individuals who do not have the badge of religion, organization or official charity to prop them up but merely act upon their own. These are exceptional people. I only know of one who totally fulfils this premise he is known in the blogging community as ‘Windy.’

Windy is building a home for a family without one. He is trying to do this all out of his own pocket. Now I do not want to copy anyone else’s post so I would ask you to hop over to Lainy’s Musings blog to read all about the help that Windy is giving to a family.

Lainy's MusingsA special thank you to Lainy for creating this post 

And a very special thanks to Windy for just being yourself.

Yo-yo snow

February, this year, is the month of the yo-yo snow pattern. It gets cold one day which leads to snowflakes that eventually settle. Sometimes this is followed by frost other days it just remains cold … the snow then eventually melts either with the aid of a little rainfall or from the warmth of a small amount of sunshine. The whole process then begins all over again. So far in the Midlands area this year it has snowed a total of 22 days!


One of the most interesting facts that I have ever learned is that all life comes from stardust. Everything that is on the Earth including the Earth itself comes from the stars. All the elements that make up life comes from the stars. To whit, all life originates from particles of stardust. We are therefore related to everything upon the Earth including the Earth itself. Our ancestors are the stars … so when you gaze up at the night sky take time to reflect and know that everything that you see is connected to you.

Kloggers star All life, including human beings are made of stardust

Melting moments

Over the last two days the snow has caused chaos on the roads. Some places accumulated over ten centimetres over a very short space of time. Thankfully today through the warmer temperatures and the sun which has been quite strong, much of the snow has quickly melted.

Snow on the garden Snow on the garden … melting away …

Oh no snow

The weather people have been talking all week about the inevitability of more snow. It appears that whenever snow appears on the East Coast of the United States then approximately ten days later it starts to fall in Great Britain. Of course, they are right … at first the flakes were so small they appeared to be almost mist like rain but as the hours wore on the flakes became larger and larger and they stared to settle. The Midlands and Wales have had the worst of it and they say it will freeze tonight.

Time to batten down the hatches, at least until morning!

Kloggers snowflake


There is an alphabet that is known by many, usually referred to as ‘the International Alphabet’ which is used by police forces, pilots, and so on and so forth. It is used so that no mistakes are made when information is passed from one person to another over radios, telephones, etc.


 International Alphabet

International alphabet

There is another alphabet which was used during the Second World War for spelling out words verbally which is different to the International alphabet.  This alphabet is as follows:

Signalling alphabet used during the Second World WarSignalling alphabet used during the Second World War 

The words in deep gold were never to be deviated from whilst the remainder could be improvised.

Most people nowadays use the top alphabet known as the International alphabet … but which one do you prefer?

Late Spring

It was announced today that it will be quite awhile before we see blooms in the garden as Spring will be delayed by a month! Although this announcement in itself sounds truly terrible, Spring has been getting earlier and earlier … so now it is falling around the same time as it did in the mid-Nineteen Fifties.

My poor, lovely cat is so fed up with all of this cold weather and whereas normally she enjoys going out on patrol – now she wavers, standing at the back door and sniffing at the air. She ventures out only when she has to do her toilet and, at times, she holds that in for longer than is desirable. No matter how much I try enticing her outside - she stubbornly refuses to jump down off the step into the garden until she is desperate. This delay may mean waking up someone in the middle of the night to let her out. Of course, it is necessary to then let her back in again.

Cat - semi awake and semi asleep My poor, lovely cat awaits the Spring with patience

Cup of tea

I have always found it interesting to listen to elderly people talk about their lives when they were younger. Many years ago I was having a cup of tea with a lovely old lady who began to tell me all about her life as a child growing up. She was born in the late 19th Century somewhere around the year 1894 and so had vivid memories of what life was like at the time. It is never the same reading a book about a particular era as it is listening to someone who has experienced it first hand. There are so many things that are never written down or printed in books.

One of the many pieces of information that she told me was about what some of the people would do to preserve their youth. That is to say to make themselves appear slightly younger. At the time, probably just as today, people would often be cast aside because of their age. However, in those days there was no help for anyone who was either unable to work or was considered too old. People did not always have the stability of a steady job – but some were rather chosen at the start of each new day to work a shift. In these situations youth and vigour often triumphed over all else. So it seemed that the practice emerged for people to save the dregs of the teapot which they would comb through their hair to help to stain any grey hairs that appeared. In that way they were able to maintain their livelihoods and get work more easily.

Teapot and cup of tea copy  Teapot and cup of tea

Bunch of daffodils

Almost since the very first moment that flowers were sold the daffodil became one of the most common to be used for this purpose. They used to be available for just a few pence a bunch but have gradually crept up in price over the last few years. At one time they were kept fresh in buckets of water … now they are sadly paper-dry bottomed! Not so long ago, a bunch would remarkably bloom for two to three weeks spreading an all pervading sweetness throughout the room – for there is nothing quite like the fragrance of the common daffodil. Indeed this soft perfume has been used as a subtle background scent in many expensive perfume. Unfortunately, today a bunch will only usually last a few days more than a bunch of tulips which are sometimes known as ‘five-day flowers.’

Bunch of daffodils 



Just 52 hours from dry seed and the Mung bean sprouts are ready to eat. When I first started sprouting my own seeds I thought that they needed to grow much longer before they could be used. There appears to be very little written about sprouting for the novice. It wasn’t until supermarkets began selling sprouted seeds that I realised that I had been waiting far too long before eating mine.

Mung beans – bean sprouts only require their little root tails as below before they are ready to begin harvesting. The alfalfa seeds are best eaten when they have both their root tails and their first two green leaf shoots. All sprouted seeds may be used in any type of meal either in their raw state or lightly cooked.

Alfalfa seeds - 52 hours from dry seed Alfalfa seeds – 52 hours from dry seed

Mung beans - 52 hours after placing into a jug and covering with water Mung beans just 52 hours from dry seed

Mung beans - 52 hours after first soaking with water - soaking time 8 hours - remainder of time growing in sprouting trayMung beans just 52 hours, sprouted and ready to eat


The speed at which seeds begin growing with just plain tap water surprises everyone … once both the root and the shoot have sprouted then the seed may be eaten either raw or cooked. Here is a picture of the alfalfa seeds placed in one of the sprouting trays yesterday and another picture of some mung beans. The beans had been soaked overnight in a small jug of water and then placed in another sprouting tray just 12 hours ago. This is just 24 hours from soaking the first lot of (alfalfa) seeds.

Alfalfa seeds - just beginning to show signs of sproutingAlfalfa seeds – just beginning to show signs of sprouting 

Mung beans that have been soaked over night and laid in the sprouting tray for 12 hours Mung beans that have been soaked over night

and laid in the sprouting tray for 12 hours

Mung beans - after 12 hours in the sprouting trayMung beans after 12 hours in the sprouting tray


After a break from sprouting, I decided to wash out my sprouting trays and begin using them once again.

Sprouting seed traysSprouting seed trays

Sprouting seed trays - sideways view Sprouting seed trays – different view

Sprouting traysSprouting trays

Sprouting trays - top view Top view

Alfalfa seedsAlfalfa seeds – soaked and laid in the top tray

So … having soaked the first lot of seeds, which are tiny alfalfa seeds that have been soaked for four hours in a little jug of water, I drained the water off. Then laid the seeds fairly evenly on top of the the first tray which has been put back onto the little sprouting tray rack and placed in a light airy place to encourage the seeds to germinate.

The seeds sprout – firstly the roots pop out followed by the green shoots – once both ends of the seed has begun to grow the seeds or the sprouts as they are now called, can be eaten. They are a useful addition to salads, sandwiches, stir fries and can even be lightly boiled or steamed as a vegetable in any meal. There are far more nutrients once a seed, pea or bean has been sprouted before they are eaten.. They also far more nutritious than when allowed to grow into a full size plant. No soil is required … just water, light and warmth. Many people add them to cakes, puddings and pies and even to bread and buns.

Seeds may be sprouted on trays like above or simply in jam jars. There is only one rule that needs to be followed – they should be placed into a little water (so that all of the seeds are covered) every twelve hours just for a few moments then the water is drained off. Seeds may then be cropped after a few short days. Virtually any seed can be used for sprouting – but if you wish to try it then don’t waste money by buying special seeds – any seed from the supermarket will do. If it is the first time you are about to try sprouting then perhaps try Mung Beans. These grow very quickly – they are the sort of bean that will turn into what are sold as bean sprouts for stir fries. No need to wait until they are that long though – half-an-inch to an inch is best to reap the seeds at their most nutritious. If using a jar then it is best to place a small square of thin cloth or muslin at the open end and either put a rubber band to keep the cloth in place or tie up with a piece of string.

The practice of growing plants by using water alone is called hydroponics.

The oldest English joke

Humour over the ages often dwells on matters concerning the human body and bodily functions. It is no surprise, therefore, to learn that even the earliest joke uses these same thoughts. Here is the oldest known English joke …

‘Of all the leaves, which leaf is the cleanest?’

‘The holly because no man will wipe his backside on it.’

Too prickly to be used!

Holly - prickly sprig of holly  Prickly holly leaf

Fungus find

I took the following picture of some fungus during the late Summer and ever since have been trying to identify it.

Tree fungusTree fungus enlarged 

Tree fungus - full picture Tree fungus

The fungus is relatively flat on the top with a slightly swollen underbelly. It has a mottled pattern on the top surface. It bears some resemblance to Perenniporia fraxinea but it is unlikely to be this variety as it is quite rare in England. It could also be Piptoporus betulinus which is lovingly called ‘Razor Strop.’ The problem I have is identifying the plant that it is actually growing on as although it is one of the most commonest of tree fungi, razor strop grows almost entirely on the trunks of birch. These particular fungi are noted as greyish brown and smooth topped … this is the correct colour but it does have a knobble or two.

Citric eczema

Eczema is the name that the medical profession give to dermatitis (rash) of the skin. It covers a wide variety of rashes that form on the surface of the skin anywhere on the body. Eczema may be triggered by either food or drink ingested or contact with any form of chemicals, vapour, dust, powder, petroleum, oil, soil, fabric, cleaning agent, in fact just about anything. One particular form of eczema that is becoming more commonplace is one that is triggered by eating citrus fruit. Oranges are particularly noted for eczema rashes re-appearing on otherwise clear areas where the rashes have once been.


Eczema cures

These are wide ranging and relief and cure differs from person to person. This means that it may take quite a while to find which type or types of medicines, ointments, emollients, creams, potions and food stuffs will aid relief. One that is not yet fully proven but is alleged to have brought amazing results is Oolong Tea. There are variations as to the quantity and length of time required when drinking Oolong Tea. The rough guide is One Litre of Oolong Tea to be drunk during the course of the day preferably three or more times per day. Some people are said to have felt the benefits from regular doses of Oolong tea within a few days, others report improvement after three weeks or slightly longer. What does appear to be apparent is that even people with chronic eczema are experiencing the benefits of this tea and allegedly many are claiming to have been totally cured by drinking it daily. The prices of Oolong Tea vary from around £0.90 to around £4.00 per packet. Packets usually comprise of 20 tea bags.

One of the most commonest creams used by eczema sufferers is Aqueous Cream. This comprises of White Soft Paraffin, Liquid Paraffin, Cetostearyl Alcohol, Sodium Lauryl Sulphate and Purified Water – most versions contain a preservative such as Phenoxyethanol. This particular cream may be used as a soap substitute by applying to areas of the body that need cleansing and washing off with water. Aqueous Cream is noted for its moisturising properties. E45 has a wide range of cream products for irritated skin. These range from their basic cream to Itch Relief, designed for eczema types that are itchy as well as Hydrocortisone Cream, which may make the skin surface frail and thin and so should by used sparingly and for only a few days at a time – probably best under medical supervision. Oilatum also has a wide range of products including shampoos. They have cream designed specifically for eczema to relieve itchy and irritating dry skin conditions to natural repair face cream. There are well known favourites such as Zinc and Caster Oil cream, Vaseline, Sudacrem, Glycerine, Lip Balm … the list goes on and on and on – there are also new ones being introduced on a regular basis. It is often best to test-out a small area of skin to see what effect a new cream has before applying it liberally.

It is wise to consult a doctor and nutritionist to see what is the current advise and help available to eczema in your area.

Orange rash

Eczema sufferers should also avoid stressful situations as stress increases the size of the area affected. Sometimes the eczema will simply disappear of its own accord often after a long period (sometimes lasting several years) of time. Most people will get one form or another of eczema in their lifetime – usually of a minor variety.

Savlon Antiseptic Cream is often beneficial for rashes around the hair-line or on the scalp as it is quite greasy and so helps to moisturize dry patchy areas quite quickly.


Last night, large snowflakes fell and we awoke to an icing sugar world. A grey mist hung low and instilled the bleakness of the morning. The snow crystals balanced themselves high and thin on the fence tops - and the birds called out loudly. By late afternoon the snow had tried to melt but once more began to harden as the frost clawed it sharply back to set hard like diamonds .The back garden displayed evidence of where the birds had trod …

Footprints of a large bird in the snowLarge bird footprints in the snow 

Large bird footprints in the snow

Footprints in the snow - large birdBird tracks