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.

First petition

Petitions are a useful tool of the lay person to try and achieve a goal of belief. It has now been alleged that this particular method has been used for the very first time in a British Prison. The alleged petition has been drawn up at Belmarsh Prison in South-East London where every violent, vicious and dangerous criminals housed behind its walls are incensed with its latest inmate.

This new inmate was the stepfather of a beautiful blonde-haired blue-eyed little baby boy who had barely just reached the walking stage. According to news reports the stepfather and mother along possibly with a lodger had tortured this little boy with a sickening amount of injuries (over fifty were found) including the removal of fingernails, the tip of a finger, shaving the young boys head and gouging it, breaking his back … the list is long and painful.

Some quirk of the law has made it possible for both the stepfather, mother and young son not to be named in this most blackest of cases that has stunned the whole nation. Their convictions are also puzzling … “causing or allowing Baby P’s death.” It was also alleged that the family and especially the baby were being watched by social workers …

The inmates of the prison are petitioning the governor and also the Home Secretary to have the stepfather expelled from the prison!

Baby P

Baby P

Blind, bleak, black ice

We were warned by weather reports late yesterday that today would begin with frost pockets and patches of deadly black ice. The most frighteningly, chilling of all ice it forms on roads and pavements and is completely invisible. None of us know that we have strayed onto it until it is too late – like some unseen monster it lies in wait to see how many it can claim – so slippery that vehicles can be flipped over when they skim on its surface. Needless to say people fair equally as badly.

I awoke this morning and peered out into the dark morning. It was still very dark but from what was visible of the sky it was overcast, grey with a slight mist … and … it was very, very cold.

I went to the back door to let the cat out – she sniffed briefly and sucked in the icy blast then turned around and jumped up onto the small kitchen step stool looking at me. I switched the gas on and clicked the button which lit the stove to boil the kettle for a cup of tea and I could feel her eyes burning into my back. It was time for her breakfast – she knew how to get the message across and was prepared to plait her legs and wait for it to warm up a bit before going outside to relieve herself. Cats are very stubborn and mine is no exception.

Eventually she went outside and was back before the hand of the clock reached seven. She managed to flick around my legs and I could feel the cold that had attached itself to her coat. Then she softly slinked off into the living room. I followed on with my steaming tea and she presented her tummy with its fur as soft as down, to me …

cat-28.11.08 cat-


Common cerise Christmas cactus

At last within the few days my standard ordinary common Christmas cactus is blooming … its flowers full and statuesque jut out from its shark-egg shaped leaves. Magnificent.




… now … Christmas is surely on the way! :)

Many years ago, I had one of these beautiful plants and had grown it into a fine specimen of approximately eighteen to twenty inches across in every direction. I made the most dreadful mistake to listen to advice on a gardening programme on the television which recommended that these plants fared and flowered much better when allowed to sit outside for a few months of the year. Out went my prize possession, lovingly fed and watered as instructed by the same programme. That year we had an unseasonal extremely early frost - just a mild one, but it was a ground one. The next day my beautiful cactus plant was 'soft mush' not even one part was retrievable - not a leaf remained with which to take a cutting from. I am very careful about following advice from television or radio programmes now.

Flowering note: I usually allow my cactus to dry out for four or five weeks for a month or so before the flowering season. I then soak them with a liquid feed and plenty of water (just once) before going back to watering them with a splash about once each week. This produces a large quantity of flowers which last until well after Christmas. I often repeat the process a few months after Christmas which encourages a fresh blossoming at Easter and, if I remember, I sometimes have a third flowering season during the Summertime! :)

Lack lustre liquidation!!

My last post written just a few short hours ago regarding my memories of Woolworths and now they are announcing that it is to go into liquidation. I can’t help but believe that it is through losing its way … all those high shelves and where did all the inexpensive treasures disappear to?

How sad that no one appears to want to rescue it and take it back to basics!!

The latest news at 7.00 am on Thursday 27 November, declares that this will involve 800 shops throughout the UK.


When I was a very little girl, I used to like going into Woolworths. The counters were just the right height for a child to peer at - and they sold plasticine which I used to love to play with. (Plasticine is a child’s modelling clay that comes in a selection of colours – it requires needing to make it pliable so that it can be rolled, pulled and squashed into a wonderful creation.) It cost the princely sum of sixpence (six old pennies that is two-and-a-half pence in today’s current monetary system). There was always something a child could buy at Woolworths – they had items from one penny upwards!

A few years back the store was overhauled and revamped … which resulted in high walled shelves soaring to heights greater than most of the customers. Items became out-of-reach and somehow I felt alienated, claustrophobic, and feeling that I could get mugged without anyone seeing for in between the narrow, tall aisles – I was invisible. Whereas, at one time, it was possible to stand at the door and form a rough idea where the item you wanted would be – now there is a sea of almost floor to ceiling shelving and the customer friendliness that was there in the beginning has left the building.

It has been announced today that there are problems at Woolworths … with such a shop layout – I am not surprised!

Christmas plops through the door

The first Christmas card has ‘plopped’ through the letterbox and on to the hall carpet! … not long now and Christmas will be upon us with all of its wonderful, magical moments. The poor ‘old’ letterbox will be working overtime up until the last post – (the letterbox is spring-loaded on the outside with a metal flap on the inside … which clatters every time the postman pushes envelopes through the door – but at least it keeps out the draught!)

Christmas card 2008

I must admit, I usually don’t start writing Christmas cards until December has at least peeped through. I love to use a fountain pen with washable blue ink – this tends to slow down the writing and hopefully gives it a neater appearance. I would like to take this opportunity to wish each and every one ‘Greetings of the Season.’


Rat recipe

I love the smell of brand new books. It’s a smell that is different to anything else on earth. Over the last week I have begun to look for Christmas presents and as usual, ended up glancing over neatly packed shelves of books in a variety of book shops.

Whilst my eyes were drawn to cookery books, fiction, autobiographies and a spell binding number of many others, I spied a little inconspicuous book entitled ‘Mrs Cooks Book of Recipes for Mariners in Distant Seas.’ In the corner in small print it stated ‘Boiled Jellyfish, Stewed Albatross and Other Treats for Sailors.’ The book, quite interesting, contains the recipes of Elizabeth Cook (1741 – 1835) and is compiled by John Dunmore. Many of you will have heard about her famous husband James Cook.

Whilst glancing through the pages I noticed in between simple staples like Yorkshire pudding there were other recipes which, brought a smile to my lips as I never imagined that anyone could have written out anything so desperate as “Rat Stew.” I suppose if you posses a recipe that describes how to cook a rat then you would be able to cook almost anything as a mariner in a time of need.

Meme theme

Those of you who know me will be surprised at this particular posting as ‘I never do memes’ so I have made an exception just this once. My blogging friends Karen and Gerard Zemek presented me with this unusual one and thought I might like to try it out. So here I am ‘dipping my toe’ into a meme theme! Karen and Gerard have two blogs by the way so why not take a trip over to each of them to take a look … Karen & Gerard Zemek and My funny dad, Harry.

Now ……. let me get down to the business in hand, namely that of the meme. Firstly, I need to pick a book. I am told that it should not be my favourite book so I will need to close my eyes – can I do that without peeping? I will try. Right, I have managed to do this without squinting – the first book that I have put my hand onto is called Song of BE it is by Lesley Beake it is published by Hamish Hamilton Ltd who are part of the Penguin Group. It was first published in South Africa in 1991 and in Great Britain in 1995.

The actual meme reads as follows:

1 Pick up a book

2 Open the book at page 56

3 Find the fifth sentence

4 Post the text of the next two to five sentences

5 Choose something other than your favourite book, don’t look for one that you think others will be impressed with.

6 Tag five people to do the same

Those are the rules … and so here are the contents of the book …

‘I went to /Aotcha which was my n!lore, the place where I belonged, the place of my fathers. I went there and I found my people had gone to a new place which was not our n!lore, a place where the white people said we must come, because they wanted to help us. They said they would build houses for us and there would be jobs and we would be … civilized. Yes, civilized was the word they used. For us it was a place of death.’

Not everyone will want to join in and try this meme but I would like to pass is on to the following blogs for them to do a post on it if they would like:

Mommy's Little Corner

On The Bricks

Lainy's Musings

This Is My Life

My footprints on the Paths

and a special little note … for those of you who have not yet had a go at a post on a meme … why not have a go at this one … you could leave your website link in my comments box and join in. :)

I hope that the rest of you enjoyed my mystery book … it is a very small, sad, interesting book – but if you choose to read it be prepared to feel upset – a taste of real life can sometimes be very upsetting!

Number 5

The number five has become quite important to me. A few years ago, I had a lingering cough. It was a nuisance during the day and at night I would wake up choking, gasping for breath. I had tried every cough remedy I could find but nothing seemed to appease it. At the time we didn't have any pets so there seemed to be no explanation for it.

Every time I went out shopping I would scour the shelves looking for a cough treatment that I had not yet tried ... then one day, whilst in a health store, I came across a display of tissue salts. At the time I had never heard of these before. This was my first introduction to homeopathy. The tissue salts contain a minute amount of something which allegedly acts on the body similarly to an inoculation. I picked up pot after pot and eventually found 'New Era Biochemic Tissue Salts Number 5' in my hand.

The little tub bravely declared "A biochemic remedy for minor respiratory ailments and for coughs, colds and children's feverish ailments" with 450 moulded tablets.

I purchased the pot and placed four of the small pills in the centre of my tongue as directed. The tablets were tiny and sweet and dissolved slowly. When first taking them, if the complaint is severe, the directions advise that the process should be repeated every half-an-hour until symptoms subside ....... amazingly, the tiny tablets worked. I have been a fan of tissue salts ever since.

One Christmas, a long while ago, my husband treated me to a bottle of Chanel No 5. I sprayed it onto my neck and wrists and sucked in it's fragrance ... I don't know whether it's my imagination but deep within its smell, I fancy that I can smell the faintest suggestion of daffodil. Since that very first application I have never used any other perfume ... I just adore its soft, sweet, haunting, feminine smell.

So you see ... the number five has become quite important to me.

Christmas cactus - Angel

It is Sunday and although it is early, my Christmas cactus is at last in flower. This is a very special variety as it resembles a beautiful angel - but that is not the only reason why I like this particular plant. It is slightly different to its cousin the standard pink Christmas cactus - the leaves are much thinner and slightly leathery with a dark plum serrated finish to their edges. The flowers are more open like slender waisted ladies with open skirts and wings. It is truly angelic as it thrives - no matter how bad a person might be at keeping plants.

My plant is kept on a sunny windowsill slightly out of reach of direct sunlight and receives an occasional splash of water it is very slow growing and every year, around Christmas time it produces small 'white angels' at the tips of its leaves. Magical ...

A Yorkshire man's advice to his son

The following is a very old saying from Yorkshire - it is the advice that fathers would pass on to their sons and is entitled:
Yorkshire man's advice to his son
"See all, hear all, say now't ... Eat all, sup all, pay now't ... And if ever tha does owt for now't, allus do it for thisen."
A little translation for those who are not familiar with the dialect - See everything and hear everything but say nothing, Eat everything and drink everything but pay nothing. And if ever you do anything for nothing, always do it for yourself. *A very old saying ... :) 

Sweet soft snowberry secretly sneaks ...

Although winter is obviously on the way and much of the traditional weather of the Autumn hasn't really happened it is still interesting to take a look at the various borders and see what new items have arrived. Today, whilst snipping back a little of the honeysuckle I was surprised to see some white berries peeping up through the rambling branches. It was a snowberry. It was well hidden as the leaves resemble those of the variety of honeysuckle that rambles along the fence. I was more than a little surprised as I hadn't planted a snowberry bush and as it isn't native to Britain the berries are alleged to not ripen enough for the seeds to germinate into new plants in our gardens. So perhaps a bird had dropped a seed and somehow it has managed to grow. As this one apparently had defied all odds and has not only grown but also developed quite a strong base section.

These plants usually throw out new shoots from below and this is the easiest way to produce a new plant. They are apparently quite prolific shoot producers - so my question is should I dig this lovely winter berry up or should I keep it and hope that it doesn't kill off my lovely old woody honeysuckle or woodbine?

My honeysuckle is especially precious to me as it is a cutting off my mother's plant which she loved very much.


Yesterday, at the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month - Britain stood still for two silent minutes of reflection. This tradition sprang up after the war of all wars, The Great War (WW1). So many young men who were sons, husbands and fathers were thrown into battle to fight over a few square yards of mud. What these vibrant young men endured is legendary. They dug deep trenches in deep solid clay to try and maintain protection against the bullets that whistled past them. It has always been claimed that 'you never hear the one that hits you.'

My grandfather served in the First World War. He was a young man that had recently married and his wife, my grandmother was carrying their first child when she kissed and waved goodbye to him. He came back wounded with shrapnel with horrors playing over and over in his head. Although I came into his life a long time afterwards ... he was not one for discussing the events of this devastating tragedy.

Like many children, I was persistent in my queries as to what it was like and eventually he relented and told me little pieces of information of what it was like.

When it rained, the trenches filled up with water that seeped through the leather boots and sometimes lapped over the tops filling any gaps between sock and leather. So sodden did boot and foot become that the flesh became wrinkled and began to rot. Even if they could take off the boots there was no means of drying them so day after day after day they endured icy cold water permeating their flesh. There were gas attacks which included the dreaded mustard gas - truly a viscous weapon as it burnt eyes, skin and lungs and caused bleeding inside and out those that died from it slowly and painfully suffered until they closed their eyes for the last time. There were rifles with bayonets and machine guns and miles and miles of barbed wire that ripped through uniforms and gouged into skin.

When the conflict was over, the land being a sea of mud and bodies not a blade of grass remained but eventually the ground became a red glow as million after million poppies pushed their way up from the slaughter ground and opened their red petals in the day light. We now recognise the poppy as a symbol of the fallen ...

When you next see a poppy take a moment and reflect ... not just for the fallen in the First World War. Remember also those who have had their lives taken or have received serious injury and who have taken up arms in our name to protect us all and keep our freedom and make this planet a safe place so that we may go about our daily lives. Let us hope that somewhere in the not too distant future we will eventually see the end of all conflict and may be we can then share a wonderful life of peace!

Peepo pus

From the very first day that our cat became a member of our family (as a kitten), she enjoyed playing her own version of 'peepo.' She has several variations of this that she has developed over the years. As a kitten, she would hide underneath a cover and as you walked passed calling out her name wondering where on earth she could be ... out would pounce one of her paws ... and catch your foot. She became very adept at this and the result of the capture of your foot became quite painful for the recipient - usually me. "Ouch - Look what you've done." I would say - but of course - my foot was mouse practise and I am not a person that gets cross ... it's not my nature.

As this lovely little kitten grew ... she took the game into the garden and began waiting behind bushes ... she was very patient and would wait and wait and wait until finally someone in the family would walk past (usually me) and out her paw would strike. As those who have ever had cats know, their claws are like a series of scalpels and just as effective!

Now my cat is ten years old and she is still playing peepo - although looking half asleep in the pictures above ... just moments before she was lying curled up in a circle fast asleep. If I am sitting in the chair she often will walk along the side of it - sit down and stretch her head above the arm - then quickly dip it down again. If I don't respond after she has repeated the move three or four times - she will jump onto the arm and pull her face around so that it is directly in front of mine and look me straight in the eyes! What a shock this can be. From a peepo game to almost a 'boo!'

Kangaroo - ancient answers?

I have always found Australia fascinating and have admired the way that they have embraced nature. People over the years have pontificated about what undiscovered cures may be available to us in the rain forests of the world. The human race has taken animals and bred in certain qualities and bred out others to achieve the farm animals that we have today. We have gained valuable food sources by doing this but what have we lost? It is now evident that kangaroos being primitive creatures untouched by man have a secret weapon. Their digestive system is the same as all other mammals with the exception that the bacteria in their guts create acetate which fully aids their digestion resulting in totally gas free bowels. They simply do not produce any gas whatsoever - they do not fart! Kangaroos therefore do not produce any greenhouse gasses and when that is compared to cattle - the average cow produces enough gas to fill a 40 to 45 gallon drum - approximately 250 litres of methane per animal, per day.

The first terrorist?

Today is November 5th and throughout the United Kingdom people up and down the country prepare to remember Guy Fawkes' escapades. A gang of men that nowadays would be labelled as terrorists tried to blow up The Houses of Parliament. The gang were English Roman Catholics and regarded themselves as revolutionaries. They were lead by a man called Robert Catesby. Parliament was due to be opened by King James on 5th November 1605. An anonymous letter was received by Lord Monteagle, a Catholic peer that warned him not to attend parliament. Monteagle immediately set about warning the government and a search of both houses (House of Commons and House of Lords) was ordered. Guy Fawkes was discovered guarding 20 barrels of gunpowder which was hidden under a pile of coal and faggots.

The name of Guy Fawkes is taught to all children - many of whom are encouraged to make full scale images of him to place on the top of a bonfires and the whole thing is set fire to. At the same time, a fireworks display is arranged to represent the barrels of gunpowder that didn't go off!

For those who may be interested here is an account of the actual trial ... Gunpowder Plot Trial

Children are taught the following rhyme:

Remember, Remember ...

Remember, remember the fifth of November

Gunpowder, treason and plot.

I see no reason why - gunpowder, treason -

Should ever be forgot ...

The list of the main conspiritors: Robert Catesby, Christopher Wright, John Wright, Thomas Percy, Guy Fawkes, Thomas Winter, Robert Winter and Thomas Bates.

Blue Peter

Blue Peter is a children's television programme that has been running on BBC 1 for fifty years. It has become so famous that the Queen invited presenters both old and new to Buckingham Palace as a celebration of longevity and popularity. For those of you who saw the very early programmes you may remember Valerie Singleton - she has now got together with some old pals (or chums) and formed a website to save us all money. It was originally devised with the over sixties in mind but in these times of world-wide hardship it is being promoted as a useful bookmark for us all to have on our PC's.

So, when you need information or to buy something or if you are just curious ... then access http://www.discount-age.co.uk/

Mischief making

When I was a child Halloween was a lovely, innocent, magical event. It was the one night of the year when children were allowed to be 'a little bit naughty.' Halloween is linked to the mischief that 'the little people' get up to on one night of the year. The Elves, Pixies, Leprechauns, Goblins and other fairy folk were supposed to go afoot throughout the land on Halloween creating mischief at everyone's door ... because children were little people they too were allowed to have fun on this night.

Many youngsters would choose to do the age old pranks of their parents and grandparents before them ... the favourites being to knock on someone's door and run and hide and then stifle the giggles as they came to answer finding no-one there. The adults would shout "Who's there, who is it?" ... and those who were decidedly grumpy would add "... be off with you." Children would tie gates so that they couldn't be opened. Milk bottles would be clanged together. Pine cones or acorns would be tied to a piece of thread and hung near windows to that the breeze would cause them to knock with each gust. All was innocent and would result in ever increasing fits of laughter that made the belly ache until it was supper time.

Nowadays, such innocence has been lost and there is a pseudo Halloween practice that has billowed up resulting in shops being crammed with orange and black plastic items. Knocks come to the doors and there are little children often walking the dark, cold, silent streets alone, some holding hands with another of around the same age ... from about three upwards. Then there is the other end of the spectrum, youths who appear to range from 14 to 18 knocking doors, looking decidedly menacing and indicating that a gift of money would be a good option.

This latter idea of Halloween has been transported from over the ocean but as with most traditions has somehow changed in its translation when it reached our shores.