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.

Slow, sloe, quick, quick, sloe

Hedgerow lace and hedgerow elegance as it is embroidered with blackthorn white petal blossoms hides a dark, dark secret. Despite being first in line to adorn the earth with the promise of Spring, sometimes even as early as the end of January and beginning of February, its wood was prized as a weapon in mediaeval times. A branch would be quickly hacked off and stripped of the lower thorns to make a comfortable handle whilst the top part would be left as knobbly as possible so when used, it would crack and tear at flesh and bone causing maximum damage. This early weapon was called a cudgel. Since those times the wood of the blackthorn or sloe as it is often called in Autumn has been used for making handsome walking sticks. Weathered branches that have been cleaned of their thorns make excellent garden canes for peas and dwarf beans.


Stick of the blackthorn or sloe made into a cudgel for attacking or defending persons or property

Blackthorn blossom - Autumn sloe_edited-1

Blackthorn blossom – Autumn sloe late afternoon facing west

Blackthorn white petal blossoms - sloe

Blackthorn - close up of blossom

Close up of blackthorn blossom or sloe blossom

Little extra note: as you can see by the flowers of the blackthorn, it is related to the rose family. It has the Latin name of Prunus spinosa. Blackthorn is often used for hedging as it forms thick impenetrable walls to keep farm stock safely in the fields. The Chaffinch often nest in its branches which reach around six metres tall and it homes Hairstreak butterflies which are now quite rare.

Mineral maintenance, luxury laxative

I have always read … mostly factual – and so, it feels that I have always known about the wonders of cocoa. Dark, dark, chocolate bars are worth consuming as they are a food source that is full of nourishment. It is not worth having light-weight chocolate as it is just full of sugar but the heady, sultry black chocolate bars enrich the body with life-giving minerals for health and strength.

Dark, dark, chocolate bars contain magnesium, which helps with regular movement of the bowels; iron, which enriches the red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body; phosphorous, which not only helps to strengthen bones, teeth, cells and membranes but also helps to destroy feelings of anxiety, stress, general weakness and irritability; copper, which is also a multi-use mineral, it helps maintain hair colour, skin youthfulness, it maintains bones, heart and brain tissue, production of red blood cells, basic energy, fights infections, skin healing; calcium, which helps to strengthen bones and teeth, acts as natural pain relief, relaxes muscles, (people who are short of calcium are apt to be bad tempered, get irritated and sometimes become violent); Zinc, which is surely the saviour of mankind as it has the propensity of destroying viruses and keeping the body safe, it also helps the nurturing of the white warrior cells or T cells in the blood stream, it is essential for the healing of wounds … So never feel guilty about eating the dark, black, chocolate that holds so much abundance of goodness. It is best to try and eat chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa solids and with little sugar and never any sweetener. Munch on one or two squares each day and enjoy this nourishing food.

Dark dark chocolate

Dark, dark chocolate … is surely not only good for the body but good for the soul

Little extra titbits about dark, dark, black chocolate:

Firstly, chocolate is produced from the cocoa bean (cacao, kakaw or cacaua), which is a herb. The cocoa bean and in fact dark, dark, black chocolate contains vitamin P. This is the magic vitamin that many will refer to using the term flavonoid. There are approximately 5000 flavonoids to be found in natural fresh foods. Flavonoids are known for their antioxidant properties. They are widely believed to give us longevity (long life), they protect us from free radicals (these are the little electrons that storm through our bodies pillaging our cells like pirates, they damage our organs, bones, joints, cartilage, in fact wherever there are cells in the body free radicals travel and attack). By eating foods that contain antioxidants we equip our bodies with armies that defend, protect and enable us to mend and rebuild ourselves. So besides dark, dark, black chocolate keep an army within by eating the best possible nourishing foods that you can: fresh vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, seeds and avoid those that inhibit health such as processed, manufactured foods, sugars and starches.

Daffodil or Lent lily

It will soon be the equinox, the time of equal day and night, and to celebrate the daffodils are all coming into bloom. The wonderful deep scented, soulful, smell that is often the magic extra ingredient to expensive perfumes, wafts its way in bursts of heady, breezy, draughts. The daffodil family are within the genus of Narcissus. The term refers to the whole of the daffodil family. The standard yellow daffodil is often referred to as jonquil, which means yellow coloured or the colour of yellow.

There are forty days, not including Sundays that precede the time before Easter which make up the period of Lent. This is the period when the daffodil looks at its best.

Daffodils are the flowers of friendship and are given as friendship posies. Cut flowers are best purchased whilst in bud, they have an average vase life of ten days. Place one tear drop of house-hold bleach into the bottom of a medium size vase and fill with fresh water – this prevents the water from discolouration and keeps it fresh and clear.  Daffodils are usually placed in clear glass vases as they have regimented and standard width stems.


The Daffodil or Lent lily - narcissus genus_edited-1

Daffodil fondly called Lent lily

Lambs tails, fur catkins

So many of our trees produce catkin flowers and this year they have all appeared to be full-stretched a few weeks earlier than usual. The main varieties are Alder, Birch, Hornbeam and Hazel all of which have several varieties within their families. Whilst walking around the lake I came across a most unusual catkin. It was fat, long, grey and fluffy. I have since been researching trying to find out the name of the tree with this beautiful lamb tail … You would think with all of the reference books available and the ever growing resource of the Internet that finding the name of something would take but a few moments. Wherever I looked there was not one reference to this catkin. I am not one for giving up and so ventured into book shops where I looked through further books and then I found one picture reference with the identical catkin with the exception that it wasn’t grey.

The detective in me continued searching and although I have now found what I believe could be the name of the tree that produces the ‘fat furry catkin.’ What is surprising is that tree specialists list different facts and descriptions for this tree and its flowers (the male long catkins and the female short catkins).

The tree that produces ‘fat furry catkins’ is the Downy Birch, Latin name: Betula pubescens. It is native to both Europe and North Asia – height is listed from 21 to 25 metres depending upon source. Bark is smooth and grey, may be brown or white and peeling like paper also depending upon source. Leaves are similar to the Silver Birch but have rounded bottoms towards the stems. This tree does very well and spreads rapidly in areas of woods or forests that have been cut back or burnt. As with other birch the Downy Birch provides a home to many insects and is especially occupied by moths.

Downy Birch - male catkins - lambs tails

Downy Birch - lambs tails - male soft furry catkins

Downy Birch (young tree)

Downy Birch with soft furry grey male catkins

Cardboard–recycled packaging health risks


The world is recycling more and more of its waste products which is only a good and right thing to do. It is only wise to look at what these recycled products contain and where they are best used. Apparently, this is being done – but only after the stable door has been opened!

There is now a worry that recycled cardboard containing mineral oil toxic chemicals from old newspapers has been leeching into food products. Items affected have been listed as cereal boxes and other food containers. According to reports, the quantities of toxins have been allegedly recorded as being from 10 to 100 times greater than agreed safety limits.

The poison is alleged to cause internal organ inflammation and cancer.

The cardboard needs to be checked at the point of use as many cardboard items increase the amount of toxins they contain because they themselves are transported in recycled corrugated boxes which are also made of recycled and contaminated toxic material.

Good hiding

As the bristles of cold begin to melt into Spring, the cat finds it much easier to fall deeper into heavier slumbers. For the first time she starts to roll onto her back in the wicker hide and not even the sound of her dinner being spooned onto her dish wake her from her ever lingering slumbers…


Good hiding - 1

Good hiding - 2

Good hiding - 3

Good hiding place

Lake lustre

The sun was still shining. The sky was distant, clear and blue. The late afternoon or early evening air had a cool punch to it. The weather was ideal for a stroll and somehow we ended up at the lake.

The water birds noisily chatted amongst themselves and most had paired off in courtship. Gulls circled tightly over the tall copse, like raptors in the plains during a drought. Trees clapped their thin, twiglet branches politely in the breeze. The sun began painting the surface of the water, licking into the ripples … it was beautiful.

The sun painting the surfact of the water - the lake in March 

The lake in early evening - March

The lake, early evening in March

Skeleton models

Have I just opened my eyes? Have models always looked like a cross between a zombie and a skeleton? So very grey, so sadly thin, so drastically unhappy, so seriously ill?

Are we all demented applauding the fashion industry for churning out clothes that only fit dead bones? For goodness sake – enough!! I was so appalled when looking through some magazines at the emaciated, shapeless, skinny sacks of bones that are being allegedly paraded in the name of designer labels; I have concluded that perhaps all of these ‘so-called’ designers no longer know how to design for the normal, the balanced, the whole, the healthy human.

How sad that they appear to be so fearful of clothes designs looking dreadful, shapeless, uninteresting and quite frankly bad that they cannot use the normal shapes of women. Why are there not normal sizes ranging from a minimum of size 10 and blossoming ever upward, certainly never downward from that quite skinny size. These designers cannot be confident enough to put their creations on real, healthy women – why not? Are they so bad that no-one would ever buy these designs?

The fact that women who do not have one ounce of flesh on their bones are being used in this way is ultimate contempt for every situation where people have had no choice in becoming walking skeletons through starvation by event … To try and look like concentration camp victims and for the rest of us to find this acceptable is quite simply wrong!

Skeleton model - catwalk model

Skeleton model – catwalk model