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.

Speed reading

Years ago I knew a girl who could glance at a book and know every fact in it. We would ask her questions, that to us seemed impossible to answer - but each time she managed to recall every fact precisely. Everyone said that she had a photographic memory. It would seem so for she was one of those people who seemed to get 100% in a test or occasionally 99 or 98% - certainly much more than the rest of us.

The other week there was a programme on television about speed reading and I began to wonder whether, in fact, the girl I knew somehow had mastered this technique. In speed reading it is said that knowledge is fast tracked to the short term memory where it is retained for very short periods (if you are lucky a few short weeks). It is worth testing out for fun .... the emphasis is on speed so you don't actually read the words you allow your brain to wash over the page. Apparently this is often done by placing a hand at the top of the page - opening the fingers and folding the smaller ones onto the palm of the hand. The eyes then follow the fingers as the hand is lightly moved from the top to the bottom of the page. Begin quite slowly and gently speed up - all the while keeping the eyes on the page at the point where the fingers are moving downwards.

It may well be linked to the fact that once we have attained a certain level of reading, our brains can process words without us reading them. This is an example that has done the email circuits - you may well have received a copy of this mail or one similar to it:

Olny srmat poelpe can raed tihs.

I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt! if you can raed tihs psas it on !!

Psas Ti ON !

Mulberry - dried mulberries

The other week, whilst shopping in Sainsbury's supermarket I saw some packets containing cranberries, mulberries and pumkin seeds packaged in their 'Taste the difference' range. Amazingly, they had been reduced to 10 pence per pack. Of course, I bought some - now I wished I had purchased more. I confess, until now although I had heard of mulberries - mainly in the nursery rhyme "Here we go round the mulberry bush" I had never before seen one let alone tasted one. As you can see they are small off white berries, quite knobly and beautifully sweet! I am now left wondering why the shelves aren't full of them - and why they are not used in cakes and puddings because they are delicious!

Here is the old-fashioned nursery rhyme that is sung to young children whilst they do the actions to the words and phrases.


Here we go round the mulberry bush,
The mulberry bush, the mulberry bush,
Here we go round the mulberry bush
On a cold and frosty morning.

This is the way we wash the clothes,
Wash the clothes, wash the clothes,
This is the way we wash the clothes,
On a cold and frosty morning.

This is the way we iron the clothes,
Iron the clothes, iron the clothes,
This is the way we iron the clothes,
On a cold and frosty morning.

This is the way we sweep the floor,
sweep the floor, sweep the floor,
This is the way we sweep the floor,
On a cold and frosty morning.

This is the way we mend the clothes,
Mend the clothes, mend the clothes,
This is the way we mend the clothes,
On a cold and frosty morning.

This is the way we pick up sticks,
Pick up sticks, pick up sticks,
This is the way we pick up sticks,
On a cold and frosty morning.

Here we go round the mulberry bush,
The mulberry bush, the mulberry bush,
Here we go round the mulberry bush
On a cold and frosty morning.


little note - this was a teaching rhyme and mothers, grandmothers, aunties and teachers would often add other random lines in to either show a child or to see if a child knew how to do things: wash our hands, face, dust, hoe, darn, etc.

Garden pond

Over the years we have bought all kinds of plants for the garden pond. They all look magnificent when first purchased but surprisingly the spell is usually very quickly broken. Sometimes they simply die but most of the time they appear to be eaten by either the fish or pond snails. There have also been times when they have spread like a wild weed depriving the fish of life giving sun light. The exception has been water hawthorn - a beautiful white spray of flowers at the end of a slender stem. The plant starts to flower at the end of April and continues throughout the Summer well into the Autumn. It has a few leaves that float on the water's surface and stays quite compact - the perfect plant for a garden pond.
Water Hawthorn
Goldfish under protective netting
We have placed a plastic netting over the pond to protect the fish from herons. There are many pools, brooks and streams in our area all of which seem to have herons which majestically perch either on sturdy branches or thick poles - these perceptive birds are always looking for new places and opportunities for food sources. After having a few fish go missing and 'asking the cat if she knew anything about it' we decided that it could have been a local heron. The cat, although on occasion has caught the odd mouse and brought an odd frog or two (still hopping) into the house has only looked at the fish in bemusement. I presume that is because they stay in the water! She is clearly too well fed to really be bothered with catching much and certainly wouldn't entertain any idea of eating it - she is too fussy by far to consider doing that.

Verrucas - Plantar warts

Verrucas or plantar warts have plagued people for years as being difficult to cure. They are the result of a virus known as the human papilloma virus which makes itself at home on any part of the bottom of the foot. Occasionally one may even occur between the toes but its favourite place to embed itself is often the heel. The skin here is thick and it can therefore implant itself quite deeply. Some verrucas can be painful as they usually develop a black core and a swelling often occurs around this.

There are several ways of dealing with verrucas - perhaps the most unusual I have ever heard about was disclosed on a BBC programme called 'Street Doctor.' One of the doctor's on this programme suggested the use of Duct tape. The foot should be washed and dried thoroughly before applying a small piece onto the verruca and leaving in place for a SIX days - (if the tape falls off during this period a fresh piece needs to be applied) the tape has to then be removed and the verruca soaked in warm water for five minutes then the rough skin surrounding the area has to be gently rubbed down with a pumice stone or emery board. The foot needs to be rested over night and should be allowed to have air get to it. The following day the process is then repeated for a further six days, and so on until the virus dies and the verruca goes away. On average most verrucas are cleared up within 28 days or really bad ones within two months using Duct tape. Studies are still going on to find out why! If you would like to read more then go to the Patient Uk website at: http://www.patient.co.uk

English country garden

An English country garden is a beautiful place to be. Listening to the hum of the insects and the sound of the birds, especially the blackbird as it calls out its patch of territory. Most especially it is a lovely place to meander and roam in - even if it is quite small. No English country garden could be quite complete without a beautiful red rose. Below is a rose that is just about perfect - it is a climber that is cramped with petals that smell so sweet and heady - a red, red rose ..... that smells like Turkish delight!
A red rose - sweetly fragrant and smelling of Turkish delight
Common large pansy
Wild foxglove
(these regularly change their colour - from year to year)
Red Hot Poker plant
Red hot pokers are one of my most favourite country garden plants. I first encountered them when I was one year old and was immediately drawn to them. As I became slightly older - at three and four - the name was totally tantalising. I had to touch them just to make sure!

Blog Maps

Here is a small tip that I have only just found out .......... it is important to have your visitors map at the very top of your blog or you may be losing up to two-thirds of your hits!!!

My favourite visitor map is by Clustrmap and for those who would like to add one then you can obtain one for free from: http://clustrmaps.com/

I have now finally moved my Clustrmap nearer to the top of the page - so I shall see if this tip works!

Little added note: This appears to be working. I have been asked if I know why this - apparently the higher up the blog that the map is located means that it is more likely to be loaded as one of the first items. If the map is low down then a person may have clicked onto your blog or website checked out what they are looking for and be off before the map has finished loading - that will then not count as a visit!!


When I was very young, I lived next door to a lovely lady who was a ward sister in a TB hospital. It is difficult to image now how whole hospitals were allocated to treat one disease. Tuberculosis was a killer, virtually untreatable until anti-biotics were brought in. People were actively encouraged to breath in fresh air. Whole wards of people were warmly wrapped in blankets and placed outside - it was felt that fresh air could help to heal the badly scarred lungs of the sufferer and kill off some of the germs. Before the twentieth century the disease was often called consumption. Usually people that contracted TB became very thin and weak and eventually begin to cough up blood. It was and still is an extremely infectious disease.
Note: It has long been known that fresh air has anti-bacterial and sterilisation properties - it also helps to make people, animals and items of clothing smell fresh and sweet. Enjoy fresh air - it's free!

Green garden

Although Wood Sorrel is a wild flower, I find it quite an attractive plant having a leaf similar to clover and a pretty white flower with a suggestion of a faint pink stripe. The plant above is in a medium size pot and sits outside my back door for luck.
I am not certain why, but I have always loved ferns. This particular specimen grows behind the garden pond. The leaves are currently quite young but in a month or two will be stretched out to their full limit a good few feet. There are fossilised ferns that date back over 400 million years ago, so they must be one of the most successful of plants that has ever lived on our planet. It is believed that there are currently well over 12,000 different types of ferns . . .

School dinners

From the age of five, I stayed to have school dinners. It was the accepted normal practise for children who couldn't see the school from their house. The lunch bell rang and we all formed long lines in the cloakroom and briskly washed our hands on small pieces of carbolic soap .... do you remember the smell? Then neatly (in two's) we walked at a fair pace to the school canteen. We then formed a long, long, long crocodile line and were quickly placed at tables. You may remember, just like me that it was customary to say Grace in those days so we all said the following "Thank you for the world so sweet, thank you for the food we eat, thank you for the birds that sing, thank you God for everything. Amen." Then each table of pupils would be steered in turn, to the front of the canteen where we picked up our bowls and spoons and headed towards the dinner lady (with a crisp, clean, white cotton apron and hat) and received our Hobson's choice soup of the day. We then headed back to our table (no choice where to sit) - placed our bowl on the table and waited for the table to fill up before eating our first course. In those days the crockery was made out of coloured, hard plastic. When we had finished, we took our dirty dish and spoon back and neatly stacked them at a special place by the wall. We then proceeded in the same fashion with our dinner course and lastly our pudding course. You were not allowed to leave anything on your plate - if you didn't like it that was just tough!
I remember the fact that with each course - there was no choice - if you didn't like it you still had to eat it ... I can remember, on occasion that some pupils would remain in the canteen for a good part of the afternoon stuggling to eat something that they disliked.

Blooms and blossoms have arrived!

Purple lilac
It has taken nine full years for my purple lilac bush to reach this stage and honour me with four handsome blossoms. How patient a gardener must be - but looking at the blossoms close-up and smelling the sweet unmistakable perfume ... it has been worth the wait.
Bramley apple blossom Sweeter than the flowers of may
The apple blossom rules the day -
And then the petals float away ...
To leave distant haunting perfumes
Drifting through cupboards and rooms.
I am reminded of the fairest face,
A lady that is drenched with grace.

I have now made a Twitter account

I have now made a Twitter account as this feeds my blog posts to Twitter so that people with Twitter accounts can easily follow them. Every time I do a new post - my Twitter account will automatically update. This also gives a secondary search through Google as my Twitter account will also appear as well as my blog. My Twitter page is: http://twitter.com/kloggers

The Vampire

My father had a saying and sometimes, when appropriate, a thoughtful look would fall upon his face and he would say this little saying to me. I can remember asking where the saying came from - he always said he couldn't remember. So I never knew whether it was a song. rhyme or a saying that had been passed down from parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, distant relatives or friends.

Then - yesterday, out of the blue - I found the saying. It was the first few lines from a poem by Rudyard Kipling and it is called The Vampire.

The Vampire

A fool there was and he made his prayer
(Even as you and I!)
To a rag and a bone and a hank of hair
(We called her the woman who did not care),
But the fool he called her his lady fair
(Even as you and I!)

Oh the years we waste and the tears we waste
And the work of our head and hand,
Belong to the woman who did not know
(And now we know that she never could know)
And did not understand.

A fool there was and his goods he spent
(Even as you and I!)
Honour and faith and a sure intent
But a fool must follow his natural bent
(And it wasn't the least what the lady meant),
(Even as you and I!)

Oh the toil we lost and the spoil we lost
And the excellent things we planned,
Belong to the woman who didn't know why
(And now we know she never knew why)
And did not understand.

The fool we stripped to his foolish hide
(Even as you and I!)
Which she might have seen when she threw him aside ---
(But it isn't on record the lady tried)
So some of him lived but the most of him died ---
(Even as you and I!)

And it isn't the shame and it isn't the blame
That stings like a white hot brand.
It's coming to know that she never knew why
(Seeing at last she could never know why)
And never could understand.

Action - apiary

It has often been said - that one day insects will rule the world. They are surely the most industrious of creatures. If you ever watch them they are nearly always busy - either building something, carrying something, pushing something or flying from flower to flower pollinating our world. There is a magic about their activity - they work together for the benefit of all. This seems to be something that man has long since forgotten how to do. If you ever have the time - take a brief moment and and watch the insects.

Last year I discovered 'the leaf cutter bee' - I had never seen one before until it began to build a nest in my little insect house. This year, to my surprise - the bees have returned!

After purchasing my insect house, it had remained empty for so long, I thought that it had been a total waste of money then, in the spring of last year, my interest was aroused when I noticed one or two of the bamboo canes that make up the top half of it apparently filled with mud. At this time, I never found out what small creature had sealed up these canes - but now, at last, I know.

Just over three weeks ago the beautiful bees returned - four of them - and started buzzing up to the holes, briefly touching them then flying off. This carried on for at least a week and then they began to clean out the holes with a type of sawing action of their small but apparently powerful jaws. Debris was shifted out at a fast rate leaving the canes looking neat and relatively clean. Then they started flying to and from the holes very carefully choosing specific ones. Lastly the holes have been sealed with what looks like a type of clay or mud. Although I saw the canes blocked with mud last year I watch as they began to chew circles in my rose leaves and fuchsia plants, etc so I never placed the sealed canes with bee action - I thought that the holes sealed with mud must have been done by a different insect - but now I know this appears to be the first phase of the leaf cutter bee nursery!

Blood blisters - mouth

There are all kinds of food intolerances and food allergies about but one that you may encounter at some time during your life is - wheat intolerance that sometimes leads to blood blisters in the mouth. Once the blisters arrive they have a tendency to enlarge and fill with blood which then extends the blister still further. They can occur anywhere on the soft tissue of the mouth even the uvula (the dangly piece of skin at the back of the throat).
Best advice if you do suffer with such blood blisters - firstly see a doctor; secondly read the labels on everything you buy and try not eating wheat for a few weeks (this includes sauces, ready-made meals, many sweets and so on). This may, if you're lucky, be sufficient to cure the problem - if not then possibly wheat might have to be excluded from your diet for a much longer period of time. Point to remember: many food items do not list wheat as an ingredient (including some chocolate bars, liquorice and confectionery) - it is wise to consider looking for wheat free products. 

 Since writing this post, additional posts have been added that include further information:



Sizzling Sunday

The frogs were quite active today - jumping in and out of the pond and foraging in the undergrowth. By early evening I counted 23 of varying sizes in the pond. The ones pictured below are the usual brood that line the pond but recently we have had some new visitors. There is a splendid healthy looking specimen, which as yet I have not managed to capture on camera. He or she is much darker almost a blue-slate to black in colour ...
Today was lovely and warm with a soft breeze. The cat made herself a little nest in the middle of a patch of Montbretia which made a cozy cool bed for an afternoon nap!

Scorching Saturday

The cat was desperately seeking shade today as the temperatures soared. So late afternoon or early evening I decided to bath her. This served two purposes it helped to cool her down and relieved her of many loose hairs as she is currently moulting. She patiently stood very still whilst being covered in shampoo bubbles and remained equally still as it was gently showered off her. Then when I wrapped her up in a towel and began to rub her dry she began to purr.
Perfect end to the day. :)

Wonderful weather - merry May

Golden poppy
Golden poppies come in a variety of shades from pale yellow to deep orange. I first obtained the poppy seeds for these plants whilst on holiday in Scotland. There were so many growing wild on the roadside verges and around the various lochs that I thought I would pick one seed head to take back with me. The seed head was green and nowhere near ready to release the small package of seeds it contained. Several months later it eventually broke open and tiny brown-black seeds poured out. I sprinkled them in the borders but only had a small hope that they would grow. They did, however, and after two to three years I found that I there were not just yellow flowers but clumps of gold, pale orange and a deeper orange. Whenever I look at them - I think of Loch Ness ..... did I see the beast? Well to be honest it's a very large still loch and when you look across - shielding your eyes and squinting at each lick of the water it would be difficult to say whether what you were seeing was a 'monster,' a seal, a drifting log ..... who can say. I did see something - but on such a stretch of water that is not difficult. :)
Garden Bluebell
I was given my bluebell bulbs many years ago and they are now very well established and smell as sweetly as hyacinth. I was recently saddened to learn that many people are planting similar bulbs - usually called Spanish bluebells in gardens near to natural bluebell woods. The English bluebell, a protected species, has less flower bells on a rather fragile stem that has a gentle stoop. Although it is called a bluebell the colours very often are much deeper with a slight violet tinge. In cases where the Spanish bluebell has been planted in close proximity to the English bluebell a hybrid version takes over and the original plants have begun to die off. (Bluebells develop seeds where each bell has flowered on the stem. The seeds swell up and fall to the ground during the summer where some of the seeds will set and grow into new plants. If you have bluebells in the garden either wait until the seeds are ready to fall before placing them in new areas of the border or alternatively split the bunches of bulbs in late Autumn.)
Ramsons or Wild Garlic
I don't know why but I have a soft spot for wild garlic and have a few small patches in my flowerbeds. It is a useful little plant - years ago it was used extensively for flavouring in place of onion or garlic - though it is very mild. The plant belongs to the lily family and in the North of England many people call this plant 'stinking lily' because of the pungeant smell it produces if accidentally trodden on when it overhangs canal banks and country walks
Wild Primrose
now is a protected species
We are in the midst of a mini heatwave this May. The spring flowers are at their best ... but in a couple of days with the heat they will begin to lose their flowers.

Vaccination - protection for all

Pets require vaccinations. My cat has just had hers. The vet kindly mixes the two solutions together so that she only has to endure one prick. Cats have to be inoculated for the following diseases: Feline Panleucopenia, Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Feline Calicivirus and lastly - Feline Leukaemia. The first three come in one inoculation whilst the last is a separate solution. Feline Leukaemia is usually fatal and and is spread through animal fluids. If a cat gets into a fight with another who then sinks its teeth into your cats flesh, the chances are this disease will be passed on to your cat. If your cat gently noses another cat in friendship, which they do when a visiting cat offers no threat - this is another way the disease is caught. Lastly, it is spread when they mate.

Mouth ulcers - canker sores

In England they are called mouth ulcers but in some parts of the world they are known as canker sores - little white ulcers surrounded by red. There are various things that cause them and many concoctions to relieve them.

A while ago a friend told me that she had been troubled with them for years. Over the counter products simply didn't work for her so she had to visit the doctor - over and over and over again. No matter what she was given the ulcers were persistent. She had a chance conversation with an old friend and happened to mention them. To her surprise her old friend said "What toothpaste do you use?" She used several - all well known makes. "I know what the cause of your ulcers are." she was told - "It's the foaming agent in the toothpaste - use ones without foaming agents and they'll clear up."

It sounded too good to be true - but she began to read the labels and found ones without the foaming agents and the ulcers disappeared. She has not had a mouth ulcer since.

It makes you wonder what we are putting into our mouths - and how many of us have had these painful ulcers because of it!

~ Little note: mouth ulcers take longer to heal if the diet is short of vitamin B12 ~

"White Rabbits!"

It's the first day of May, May 1st, May Day. The first day of the month is greeted by many in the British Isles with the words "white rabbits" as the first words spoken on the first day of each month. This tradition of eccentricity varies some only say it when there is an 'r' in the month, while others say it three times when there is an 'r' in the month and just once during the summer months when there are no 'r's.

Sayings for May

"Cast not a clout ~ until May is out." - This refers to a warning - not changing into summer clothes until the May blossom on the hawthorn is in flower - to protect against chills and other ailments.

"Never shear the sheep in May or they'll be sheared all away." - May often has several very cool days.

Traditionally it is the time for the Maypole - when children would perform complex dance patterns whilst holding colourful long ribbons that would form a plait down the pole - then the dance continued as the plait was unravelled. The tallest Maypole in the British Isles once stood in London where it remained until being chopped down in 1717. It is said that this pole was used by Sir Isaac Newton when a large pole was needed to support a new reflecting telescope.

On another note ... poor people often used to eat rabbits years ago but if rabbit meat is not supplemented with a variety of vegetables and occasional grain then malnutrition occurs and a swift death.
We need certain nutrients to process our food and aid digestion - this is so that we can extract vitamins and minerals, etc and expel the waste product through the bowel. Unlike other meat, rabbit meat doesn't contain the necessary nutrients to aid this process - our body has to deplete its own valuable resources of nutrients to dispose of the rabbit meat. Thus causing eventual starvation.