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.


I have always loved bamboo. As a plant is it very under valued and never used to its full potential. It can be used in building, fence making, gardening, eating … the list is almost endless. Currently it it being trialled for use in the construction of computers as it is a fully bio-degradable material. I hope that we see more and more of it being used as an obvious choice to help save our planet.

I have, so far, purchased two bamboo plants only one of which has survived and thrived. I was naive when making both of these purchases. One was just tagged as ‘Dwarf Bamboo’ the other as ‘Black Bamboo.’ I have since learned that there are many, many different varieties – some are dwarf versions whilst others tower the heights and may even be classified as ‘tree height.’

The ones that I most love perhaps are those that are pictured with Giant Pandas – these vegetarian bears that appear to lie on their backs whilst munching bamboo shoots with their front paws are perhaps the reason why I noticed bamboo as a plant in the first place. Then I tried some bamboo shoots in a stir fry … so that was why the pandas enjoyed it so much!

Given the right conditions it grows swiftly and spreads quickly … so why aren’t we growing it to eat? Why aren’t we using more of it?

This is a picture of mine. It is a slow growing dwarf variety that has been in the same spot in my garden for eight years. Did I buy the right kind? Well the truth is I would have preferred the taller version that was fast spreading – but I had to make a compromise and this variety is more suited to ordinary gardens. If I had introduced the one that I really wanted then I would have had to dig up at least fifty percent of it every other year and I would have felt guilty unless I could have passed on the discarded clumps to fellow gardeners. That probably would have been most unlikely … hence the compromise.



For those who like the very difficult to find - theme tune to the new Demons series currently being shown on ITV1 – here is a version on YouTube ~ Demons

Free energy …

No don’t click away. Energy saving light bulbs are now being given away free. Can you imagine my surprise when purchasing a daily newspaper today to find that I was given two free energy saving light bulbs. There was also the opportunity of sending away for a free energy saving three-pin-electric plug as they are currently giving away 50,000 of those too!



For those who are interested these are currently being given away by the Daily Mirror. The offer is being repeated as two free energy saving light bulbs will be issued with tomorrow’s Sunday Mirror! Can’t be bad can it in these terrible times to receive some free light bulbs can it?

Free greens

There are many plants that appear to just grow out of thin air … usually they are seeds that have been distributed by birds, clung onto the fur of animals or simply blown in the breeze. These seeds just grow where they have been dropped and often keep gardeners amused for many months as they try to identify them.

I have had many of these seedlings that have pushed their way through the soil in my garden over the years.One that had me puzzled for quite a while was a common hemp which most probably originated in some bird food. I had seen the same plant in many peoples gardens and noticed how it grew into quite an attractive lacy, bushy, almost exotic plant. The one that grew in my garden took two and a half to three years before any flowers formed on it. The flowers were like green cups and formed on the tips of each of the soft green stems. Once the flowers had been fertilised the whole plant changed and became covered in a thick brown sticky tar like substance that dripped onto everything near it. So if one of these plants appears in your garden … remember that once it has flowered it becomes a would-be ‘triffid.’ I would therefore recommend digging it up for composting as soon as the first flowers have formed. The most amazing thing about this free green plant was the fact that despite having soft green stems it sturdily rallied through ice, frost and snow through two whole Winters.

common hemp used in rope making - flash1

First picture – small common hemp plant taken with flash

common hemp used in rope making1

Second picture – the same small common hemp plant taken in natural light

Flying saucer

Britain has been visited …

Saucer cloud at Borth in Wales January 2009

this was spotted mid way on the west coast of Wales over a place called Borth.

It is a cloud called a Lee Wave, of course. These clouds are formed near to mountains on sunny days in particular atmospheres when the wind is just right for gliding. Sometimes they are seen as individual discs and other times they piggy-back - so several saucer like clouds ride on top of each other as with this one. It is alleged that this cloud retained its shape for at least an hour.

Nature is a wonderful thing!

President Barack Obama and his family – priceless work of art

A specialist artist with an ability to slow down his heart as he produces miniature sculptures has made a model of President Barack Obama and his family standing in the eye of a needle. The name of this wonderful, amazing, creative man is Willard Wigan and he lives in the centre of England, in our second largest city of Birmingham. He produces these magnificent pieces of art from inside a cupboard where he has a microscope set up so that he is able to see and work on the various models he produces.

To paint this special family … he used the hair from the back of a fly. He has had to make his own various pieces of sculpturing equipment and often attaches single hairs to needles so that he can paint details accurately.

Tiny Obama familyWillard Wigan - artist

For those wishing to see more then here is the BBC News item where you can see exactly what Willard does to make these amazingly tiny sculptures. :)

Blue Monday

It’s the unhappiest day of the year and that’s official … the day is called ‘Blue Monday’ and it is the third Monday in the month of January. It is the day when the human race feels at its worst, most depressed, sad and vulnerable – it is recognised as the worst day of the year. It stems from unpaid bills, terrible weather, New Year’s resolutions broken and tossed aside and the reality that everything that has been placed at the back of the mind over the Winter holiday season … has now reared up to haunt us all.

So on a positive note … things can only get better!!

January jewels

The birth of a new year has brought some awards for my blog … these following awards have kindly been bestowed on me.

The first is from a lovely lady called Allena (please click on Ally’s name for her new blog link) and the award ‘The Honest Scrap’ is mentioned in her blog In The Eyes Of The Beholder. Please click here for information regarding the award details.


Within the space of a few hours another special blogger who also has two amazing blogs passed on both a tag and awards to me. I hope with these links that I can tempt those who have never visited Mariuca's blogs before to take some time and peruse them. I would like to pass on her tag to any visitor of my blog that would like to reflect and participate … The awards are featured on her other blog Mariuca's Perfume Gallery they are:



I have also received an award from Blanne from Hit-or-Miss anything under the sun.. so take time and tour around this blog too:


I would like to pass these awards on to the following bloggers as they are all exceptionally helpful, kind and amazing people. Why have they left these impressions on me … well the only thing that I can suggest is to take time out of your busy day and click onto their links and visit them. If you have the chance leave a comment for them. If you have a question, ask them. These people are known in blogging circles as – TBOTB (the best of the best) … enjoy these blogs :)

East Coast Life

Liza at Mommy's Little Corner

Marriage and Beyond

Windmill on the Hill

Princess Lainy at Our Journey To Forever

Kikey at My footprints on the Paths

Heidi at Health Nut Wannabee Mom

I raise my glass to all of these bloggers - ‘Cheers to you all!!!!’

Eeeeeoooow, eeouw, yow-wawa-wow!

I wondered what on earth the noise was that came from outside but was getting louder and louder and louder. It was the middle of the night. To be precise 3.30 am. What on earth could make such a racket?

Nothing for it but to investigate … yes you’ve guessed it – it was the Ragdoll cat that comes for regular feeds. I had no alternative but to give him some food because he was bawling so loudly and was so determined he was not going away until he had something to fill up is tummy!

I have come to the conclusion that he isn’t a stray. He never comes on a Saturday – so there is some kind of pattern to his needs. I do wish his owners would give him more food for he is always ravenous when he turns up at our door.


The ‘would-be’ stray we call Big boy

Looking, looking … Lost

Today, I found myself rummaging through cupboards and drawers searching for something I had misplaced a few weeks ago. I don’t know how many times I have found myself in a similar position over the years. It happens when I decide to “put something away to keep it safe.” Sometimes, it’s piece of paper with a name and address, current email or telephone number on … sometimes it’s an old fashioned photograph prior to the digital age. Usually, it’s something I know that I will want, possibly within the next month or two. I must be like a squirrel! Why do I do it? I can never easily find my precious possession once I have dispatched it to its safe location … it just seems to evaporate my waking hours as I spend time looking and looking and saying to myself that the item is ‘lost!’

The inevitability of the loss before I have even begun the search does usually bring on compensations however. I always find previous lost items that I have misplaced in a similar fashion when I am looking for the current item. So I thought I would share my latest find with you. At the back of a cupboard behind various household items I spied a brown paper bag. It was crisp and neat and folded around a small oblong wedge of an item. I gently retrieved it and opened it up … I neither could remember placing it there or what it contained … this was almost like receiving a present as I pealed back the brown paper bag to reveal the contents.

This is what I found:




… early photographs of my cat, whilst she was still a kitten. Sadly they are not as crisp as the digital photographs of today. Her scratching post is lovely and new and has its original ball on a string instead of an old fluffy grey chewed mouse!

Well, I still have to go on looking and looking as I have lost the item I am seeking at this particular moment in time.

Magic beans

When I was a child, one of my aunties had a remedy for an upset stomach … it was two teaspoonfuls of Demerara sugar in a glass of warm water – vigorously stirred and then sipped slowly. So I was not surprised when I read that someone advocated the use of a fistful (20 or more) of jellybeans taken at bedtime followed by a glass of water to cure constipation. It wasn’t the fact that I didn’t think that it would work – more the thought that if a person was to use this as a cure or preventative measure over a period of time they could end up both with high blood sugar levels and extremely bad teeth! I suppose, on the other hand perhaps in some places jellybeans are more accessible than other over-the-counter medicines to cure the problem!


Plummeting prices

Something is definitely going on … the prices of the low energy bulbs are spiralling downwards to a point where they may very soon actually be given away. Tesco, this week have dropped the cost of their low energy bulbs to

**Buy FIVE low energy bulbs for 40 pence

At these type of prices it looks as though the shops are currently trying to sell off their current ranges of low energy light bulbs.

Me thinks that something is definitely afoot … could it be that the next generation of low energy light bulbs are coming to the shops two years earlier than predicted? If so, we could all be in for massive reductions in the cost of our electric bills – as the next generation of these bulbs allegedly run on a fraction of the cost of their early rivals!!!

But a child that is born …

As a child my mother would often sit me on her lap and tell me various nursery rhymes, many of which I still know to this day. There is a lovely bond that adheres a mother to her children that is strengthened by physical contact, especially the times of cuddles and closeness whilst sitting on a lap. Little secrets would be swapped and something new learnt.

One rhyme my mother would often say to me is the following … and probably the reason was because I was born on a Sunday.

Monday’s child is fair of face.

Tuesday’s child is full of grace.

Wednesday’s child is full of woe.

Thursday’s child has far to go.

Friday’s child is loving and giving.

Saturday’s child works hard for its living,

But the child that is born on the Sabbath day is bonny, blithe, good and gay!

Perhaps this explains why I have never been thin and bony (as thin as a *lath, as my mother would say), I have always had a happy and cheerful disposition, and the rest goes without saying. ;)

* Note a lath is a thin strip of wood – almost as thin as a shaving (my mother was very descriptive). Blithe years gone by always meant cheery. Gay, of course, was and still is the short word used to describe happy.

Cats catch

Over the years, we have bought all kinds of toys for the cat to play with – added to these have been various bits and pieces that we thought might catch her eye. Not once has she ever played for a few minutes with any of these items … so when we were out shopping before Christmas and another toy was suggested I was not at all keen …

In the end, I agreed that we could buy the cat one more toy … but this definitely had to be the last.

We saved the toy and whilst everyone else had their presents on Christmas morning, so did she … For the very first time in her little life she was spellbound. She is so attracted to this toy – a sort of fly type creature on a piece of string attached to a velvet stick – that she actually seeks it out and lies with it. She chews, tugs and throws it about with her claws and whenever anyone comes into the room she runs up to them, circles them and nudges them in the direction of the fly … she persists until someone picks up the stick and waves the material insect about so that she can catch it over-and-over-and-over again!






So … you can see just how surprised I was by this particular toy which has made a ten year old cat roll back the years and become a kitten once more!

Last day of manufacture

There was an announcement today which almost made me feel as though I had developed a sixth sense. One of the news items stated that from today 100 watt standard light bulbs would no longer be manufactured … the lower wattage bulbs would also be phased out but at a later date. So – finding the best energy saving light bulbs is now to become a major priority for us all.

Whilst out shopping yesterday, I thought I would take a look to see what the price of low energy bulbs are currently in Worcestershire … I realise that you can purchase them on line and so they may be slightly cheaper … but the current price for them locally is £0.67. I think, allowing for the fact that they reduce the electric bills considerably this current price is quite good.

Another news item also relating to energy efficient light bulbs was quite an interesting statement that I had not heard before. Allegedly, as the structure of low energy bulbs are similar to fluorescent bulbs they have a propensity to flicker. The flicker, it was claimed induces migraines in susceptible people. I listened with interest to see what would be offered as an alternative … nothing was suggested.

There is a version that has an outer protective layer on which resemble traditional light bulbs that may be of help to sufferers. There is also a version that offers a day-light type of glow which it has been claimed help sad (seasonal affective disorder) sufferers.

Good hunting with your bulbs … let me know if you manage to find some that cost less than 67 pence … and which particular brands are you finding the most reliable? I think we would all like to share that information!!


Little extra note added on Thursday 8th January - two little extra points on this post. Firstly, after visiting Sainsbury's supermarket I was shocked by their current offer of FIVE low energy light bulbs for 50 pence - making this the best inexpensive deal I have seen - at only 10 pence per light bulb. You do have to purchase five at a time to take advantage of this price. Secondly, it was announced today that their is now a new generation energy saving light bulb. Currently it is only available on the Web but it looks like a standard light bulb only it is white in appearance and slightly squashed. It works as follows: one 4 watt bulb will give off the same amount of light as a standard 40 watt bulb and so on .... thus it saves double the amount of electricity as the current low energy saving bulbs.

Standard bulbs conversion to Energy bulbs

I found a handy little way of how to tell which bulbs to buy when converting from standard light bulbs to energy saving light bulbs.

The energy light bulb wattage is multiplied by five to find out its equivalent in a standard light bulb.


Energy Saving bulb 20W x 5 = 100W Standard light bulb

Energy Saving bulb 12W x 5 = 60W Standard light bulb

Energy Saving bulb 8W x 5 = 40W Standard light bulb

Now all you have to do is to choose .... at least you will know that they are saving electricity when you do convert over to them!

Fizzled out

Last year we converted all of the standard light bulbs around the house to energy efficient ones. Energy efficient varieties do save money on electricity bills, they are also supposed to last for approximately seven years before needing replacement.

Either we are extremely unlucky or the latter part of the manufacturers' claims of long life are to say the very least a ‘big stretch of the imagination.’

So far … we have replaced an energy efficient bulb in the hall, two in the bathroom and one in the lounge!! Today, just after 11.00 pm … the bathroom one fizzled out once more and if you take a look at the picture of it you can see how it burnt out near the top on both sides of the fixing.

Come on manufacturers … time to put more work in, the first part of your claims are accurate – but where is the long life?



Energy saving light bulb – burnt out


Betwixt one year and the next we had a type of hoar-frost it clung for dear life on everything that wasn’t moving. The term hoar-frost most probably arose from the description hoary which means a person that has acquired white or grey hair through long life. The hoar-frost often takes on the appearance of hair as it adds length onto branches like short white-grey hairs.

The garden became a magical, fairy tale land as wisps of white trailed over the honeysuckle, roses and apple trees. The window panes on the little shed looked as though they had been engraved like the glass of an ancient chapel.

The pond was frozen over and needed poking through to make sure the fish had enough oxygen. The fountain became a sculpture of stalactites that hung delicately down – Leonardo di Vinci could not I think have made the icy world look more beautiful. I am fortunate to have glimpsed a beauty that slowly melted away.

big freeze

big freeze

Little tip – to remember whether it is a stalactite or stalagmite – remember that stalactites have to hold on tight or else they will fall.