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.

Health boost

There is one thing that I have learnt over the years and that is the magical method of an instant health boost. When I became compromised with eating grains this one health means was lost to me in an instant and the alternative was to become a ‘pill popper’ which is not a natural existence at all.

Every system of the body requires one form or another of Vitamin B to help it function at optimum levels which in turn helps to sweep away a deluge of unpleasant symptoms from vile boring deep down chronic aches like fibrositis which often is called fibromyalgia, neuralgia, sciatica, back pains, hip pains, leg pains, hand pains, feet pains, etc to problems with skin, hair, nails and so on. In fact the health range that this series of Vitamins touch is virtually endless.

I used to take Brewer’s Yeast every day. It cured all kinds of issues from a deep bedded sciatic pain that would shoot the entire length of my leg and make me stand still in my tracks to crunchy brittle nails that wouldn’t grow and would continually break and peel. Added to this was dry patches and pimples on my face.

My grandmother had always advocated the use of yeast but this is something that could only be taken by those who have not yet found that grains just do not work for their health. Yeast mostly, if not always relies on sugars often produced through grains to make it grow. More and more people are now finding grains an issue and a cause of long-seated health complications. Highly processed sugars are often produced using grains such as wheat and barley and may cause recurring health issues as well as the loss of the feeling of well being. It is therefore commonsense to avoid foods where highly processed sugars have been used in any food production including yeasts.

I have now found a condiment yeast that is not grown on any form of grain and is rich in all of the nourishing B Vitamins. It tastes lovely and doesn’t leave any after flavours in the mouth. This condiment yeast comes in small dry flakes and therefore may be sprinkled onto virtually all meals. It is called “Nutritional Yeast Flakes.” The version that I have chosen to buy and use has added Vitamin B12 and Zinc but there are other versions that are the B Complex vitamins only. I thought it wise to have these two additional added items because B12 prevents mouth ulcers/canker sores and Zinc protects against catching viruses and I hate catching colds, etc!

Nutritional Yeast Flakes

Nutritional Yeast Flakes in a pot

Nutritional Yeast Flakes (primarily Saccharomyces Cerevasiae) grown on enriched purified molasses. It is grown under controlled conditions to ensure that it is free from candida albicans yeast it is also free from genetically modified organisms. This particular yeast is grown in Estonia.

English fairies of the garden

The beautiful Large White butterfly, which is generally known as the ‘Cabbage White’ butterfly flutters in such a way that it resembles a fairy and so is sometimes called the English fairy. Both the Large White and the Small White, which generally dominate the butterfly scene of the early warm days in Spring were very sparse this year. So late did they make their entrance that they are still hatching and there are now caterpillars that appear to be transfixed in a perpetual state and unable to develop into a chrysalis.

Caterpillar of the Large White Butterfly - Pieris brassicae Caterpillar of the Large White Butterfly - Pieris brassicae - close-up Catterpillar of the Cabbage White - Large White - English Fairy - Pieris brassicae

The Caterpillar - Pieris brassicae - of the Large White - Cabbage White - English Fairy Butterfly  The Caterpillar of The Large White Butterfly - The Cabbage White Butterfly - The English Fairy Butterfly -

The Caterpillar of The Large White Butterfly, The Cabbage White Butterfly, English Fairy - Pieris brassicae

The caterpillar on the leaf above has now not moved for three whole days!

White Mohawk bees; white hour-glass head bees; last of the Mohican bees

The other week on my quick daily inspection of the hive I found that the hive was being visited by bees that I had never in my life seen before. They had white hour-glass patterns on the top of their heads. I expected that there would be an altercation or two. Maybe the drones would appear and push these strangers away or perhaps my lovely ladies would gather around these new comers and make short shrift of them sending them back to where they had come from. In fact not one bee took the slightest notice of these white-headed bees. I wondered if they had come from another hive. Perhaps our hive was more attractive to them. Each day I carried on my inspection of the entrance and found more and more of these white hour-glass honey bees going in and coming out of the hive. They were industrious bringing back pollen packed basketfuls. I knew that I had to find out more information about them and chose to Google to find out what they were. I could find nothing even on the bee forums. The nearest answer was sugar coating from sugar water feed. Our bees however had no sugar water, the weather was hot and sunny and the bees required no extra feed so this wasn’t the answer I was looking for.

I did eventually find out that these were our bees and these markings were caused through their tops being dyed by the pale white pollen from Himalayan Balsam, which lines the water courses, streams, brooks, creeks, canals and rivers in the area. Although the pollen dyes the tops of the bees where there is a small amount of fur on the back of the bees heads, it is harmless. I am also advised that if the pollen from Himalayan Balsam is found and collected by honey bees it makes the most superb honey.

White hour-glass headed bees - white mohawk bees 10

White hour-glass headed bees

White hour-glass headed bees - white mohawk bees 1

White hour-glass headed bees - white mohawk bees 2

White hour-glass headed bees - white mohawk bees 3

White hour-glass headed bees - white mohawk bees 4

White hour-glass headed bees - white mohawk bees 5

White hour-glass headed bees - white mohawk bees 6

White hour-glass headed bees - white mohawk bees 7

White hour-glass headed bees - white mohawk bees 8

White hour-glass headed bees - white mohawk bees 9


… and here is the culprit the flower with the white pollen that dyes the top of the fur heads of the honey bees in a beautiful hour-glass shape or Mohawk .. at least I have found the solution to my white headed bees!!

Himalayan balsam

Himalayan Balsam wild flowers

The meat in your fruit

Watch out those of you who are vegetarians or vegans because there is meat all around! The raspberry season has been spectacular this year and this particular droop is exceeding its lowly cousin the blackberry by a mile. Not only are the raspberry fruits plentiful but they are large, sweet and juicy also. I have been picking a fair few each time I have ventured into the garden and squelched their freshness onto my tongue whilst their pips have juicily jumped down my throat like miniature pomegranate pips. However, recently I nearly got caught out by a tiny green meaty fellow that was so tiny I was only awakened by what appeared to be a little green hair that momentarily seemed to be moving. On closer inspection there was a tiny hair-like worm which I think may have been a newly hatched raspberry beetle in its first stage of life.

Raspberry droop inner caterpillar with silk spin

Raspberry droop inner caterpillar with silk spinning

Raspberry droop inner

Raspberry droop close-up picture

Raspberry droop close-up of the flesh with strand 3

Raspberry droop close-up picture of strand coming from one of the droop fruit seeds

Raspberry caterpillar spinning silk

Raspberry beetle grub Byturus tomentosus, weaving silk in the centre of a raspberry droop

Close-up pictures of my raspberry, together with its newly hatched grub; pictures of the tiny green hairs that grow between the tiny fruit seeds

2013 long hot Summer

I was beginning to think that we (may be due to climate change) would never see a wonderful long, hot Summer ever again. It is more than seven full years since we have had the type of Summer whereby we could simply laze in the garden and feel the warm, if not, hot breeze kiss our skin. To suck in warm, sweet smelling air and listen to a million insects busy themselves sucking in the nectar as they flit from flower to flower.

Although, with September the air has cooled there still remains an expectation of a warm and long Indian Summer to stoke up the vitamin D in readiness for the Winter.

One thing that I have come to realise is that this year there is an abundance of extra large acorns on the oak trees. I’m not sure whether this signifies anything at all …

Acorn 1

Extra bit of useful knowledge is that acorns are edible; they store well for two or more years; they may be roasted to make oak or acorn coffee; when planted they produce an extraordinary long, thick and strong tap root; they will kill off parts of themselves, whole thick branches if required, in times of drought; they maintain a whole eco system for a large variety of living things; they live to be 1000 or more years old; they are a hard wood tree; they are truly exceptional!

Cape Fuchsias – Phygelius – tall, hardy and very regal

The soldiers of the African garden, Cape Fuchsias grow well in British soil. I have only encountered two hybrids available for purchase, a deep Royal Pink and a warm Emperor Orange. Wild Cape Fuchsias all have delightful yellow throats but are inclined to grow between a metre to a metre and a half in height with a spread of around eighty centimetres.

I purchased mine a couple of years ago as tender, small, young plants and with a little fertilizer and a splash of water they soon began to grow. I was pleased that they established themselves so well in our soil.

Cape Fuchsias, unlike other hardy fuchsias, are not non-stop flowering plants throughout the Summer. They have a flowering season then have to be gently pruned back and nurtured with some more plant food before they provide a second show of flowers. They do provide vivid splashes of brightness so are well worth adding to the border. Do not buy too many as they are easy plants to create off-spring from. The two best ways for cultivation are firstly by seed collection – keep the seeds in the house or a warm greenhouse and store in dry conditions. An old clean brown paper bag stores most seeds well. Plant the seeds outdoors from mid-March onwards preferably in an area of the garden that faces the sun. Make a small dip or drill into the soil the size of a bamboo cane placed on its side – drop the seeds in the row and roughly cover with earth – water evenly with a gentle spray. If too many seedlings germinate take out the weak ones and allow the strong ones to form new plants. The other method is to gently pull away some of the soil around the root of the plant and you should see quite sturdy sucker type root stems just underneath the surface. Pull one of these slightly above the surface and push a dry twig underneath the exposed area. You should find that a small stem with leaves will grow and once it has reached the height of a hand approximately 16 to 18 centimetres. Gently prize out the new plant and cut through the attached sucker root. This may now either be planted on into a medium to large flowerpot or tub or into a sunny place in the garden border.


Cape fuchsias - African Soldiers

Cape fuchsia - Phygelius - pretty hybrid

Cape fuchsia - Latin name Phygelius

Cape fuchsia - Phygelius

Cape Fuchsia – African Soldiers - Phygelius