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.

Through the eye of a needle

Through the eye of a needle

How religious is the world? How many people on this planet of ours really believes in God? I can hear your thoughts at this question – but have you ever heard of the ‘Humble Parable?’ If not, here it is:

The Humble Parable

A man who had spent his time on Earth trying his best to live a good life - died, after a long and happy life. He was about to enter the gates of Heaven when St Peter said to him “Before you go through the gates into Heaven I need you to answer one question. ‘A murderer, a baby and a priest come on a journey to Heaven, which one of them would God let in?’” Now the good man thought long and hard about this question and was worried that if he gave the wrong answer he would be plunged into the fires of Hell. ‘Well he pondered, after dismissing the murderer it is a toss up between the baby and the priest.” After closing his eyes he decided his answer: ‘It must be the priest for he has spent his entire life praying to God.’ he said. “You are wrong.” Said St Peter. “God would welcome all three for he values all life equally.”

Through the eye of a needle

What lies in a rich man’s head? What lies there that isn’t dead? Does he see a poor man’s need? Or is he simply filled with greed? Does he feel the pangs of hunger; Down the road that’s ever longer? Have worries about a child’s shallow breath? And how he’ll pay for a coffin if the morning brings death. By Kloggers

Humble pie

A long time ago before food wrapping was ever thought of people wrapped their lunches or travel snacks in an old clean piece of rag – pulling together the four corners and tying together in a knot. This meagre meal usually comprised of a lump of bread and a small portion of cheese. Until someone had the idea of finding an alternative way of carrying a meal away from the home. This take-away meal was the pie. Pie crust could be used to encase all kinds of variations of meals. The outer pastry casing (which was used as a protective layer to keep food clean) was always thrown away once the inner contents had been eaten. It is only in more recent times that we have eaten both the inside and outside of the pie.

It was commonplace for people to eat either birds or deer for there were no great herds of cattle or sheep. The wealthy would have all the fine cuts and best pieces of meat and the poorer people would be left with the more stringy portions of meat and the offal. Deer offal is known as ‘humble’ – so poor people would eat humble encased in pastry – otherwise known as ‘humble pie.’

Hence the expression “eating humble pie” the acceptance of humiliation or being inferior – accepting one’s inferiority.

Humble pie - consists of pastry enclosing deer offal Humble pie – pie crust enclosing a meal made from deer offal

Wild primroses

The garden is at last spurting forth some fresh life. My wild primrose patch is showing signs of life in the bitter cold. I have been tempted for years to dig up just a little portion of the plant to create a new one as it has proven to be very stubborn in its willingness to spread. This little wild primrose has remained in this one position – hardly increasing in size since the day it was first planted over twenty years ago.

Wild primroses Wild primroses

Broken glass

I was cleaning out a cupboard the other day and came across the oldest glass that I posses. It belonged to my mother - has no monetary value as it was mass produced and the only remaining remnant of a six part set. It It is around sixty years old and badly chipped but I can remember drinking out of it as a child. So although it is merely broken glass I cherish it as though it were chipped from a diamond!

Broken glass Wine glass

Eerie goldfish

The pond is a very sedentary place during the Winter months. Everything is calm, cool and lazy and even the fish appear to swim in slow motion. It is necessary to check on the fish regularly – if there is ice on the pond’s surface then it must be broken in order that they may breathe. If the fish are moving a little more than usual then they need a scoop of food. On this particular day, armed with a camera, in case there may be any offerings of flowers or buds at all, I took this picture of the fish … slowly moving around the slow gurgling fountain. How strange their shapes looked in the lapping water. The mesh is a safety precaution to guard them from any passing herons – we have lost the odd fish or two when they have fancied a snack from the pond.

January goldfishWinter goldfish

January blitz

This is the last week of January. The snow has left some of the border plants flattened, crushed and bruised under the weight. This clump of Montbretia is usually frequented by frogs in the Spring, Summer and Autumn months. There is little room for anything to hide in it now.

January - garden flatten blitz Flattened Montbretia

The cat in Montbretia

Not only is this one of the frogs most favourite places to haunt but the cat loves to cool in the tall blades of the leaves on a hot Spring or Summer’s day.

Tight knit


Tight knit

Just a lovely little rhyme.

Garlic tip

Whenever preparing garlic cloves - always wash hands in cold water – this washes the smell completely away. If hot or warm water is used to wash hands the smell from the garlic will penetrate the skin and the smell from the garlic will linger on the hands.

Garlic cloves

Crisps decay teeth

I often watch the television programme QI, Chaired by Stephen Fry. It is stuffed full of unusual facts and witty banter. In today’s revelations was the obscure piece of knowledge that crisps decay teeth worse than sweet sugary drinks. In fact, allegedly, they are about the worst thing a person can eat if they wish to escape tooth decay. For some unknown reason the most dangerous culprit is Cheese and Onion flavour!


Potato Crisps


I heard the news of Kraft’s alleged take-over of Cadbury’s with much disappointment. The situation was not helped when the Chairman and CEO of Kraft, Irene Rosenfeld failed to pronounce the company name correctly. Surely anyone who cherishes a company and its workforce would try their utmost to at least say its name properly.

I, along with most other Midland inhabitants, have been brought up in the wonderful tapestry of Cadbury. We have either had someone in our families working at Cadbury in the past or present - or have friends and neighbours who have worked in this magnificent chocolate world. Cadbury, where the heritage from its Quaker roots developed a work ethic for every worker that was the envy of every other manufacturer in the world. Its workforce had homes built for the workers, set in leafy suburbs with every facility at their disposal.

On the news, the tight voice of Kraft continued to change the name of this beloved brand and insisted instead of pronouncing it correctly as Cadbury – bury as in hurry, curry and bun - changing it completely into Cadbury – berry as in cherry, ferry and dead!

Bird of pray

Whilst looking through some of the photographs that I had taken of birds during the Summer, I came across this one – a goose in reflective mood – looks like this goose could be praying, perhaps.

Bird of pray - Emperor Goose in  reflective moodEmperor Goose

These geese are not as gregarious as most geese which may account for this particular pose. Its breeding grounds are in Alaska around the Bering Sea and in Russia in the area of Kamchatka. They spend the Winter period over an area of around three hundred small islands many of which are volcanic. These small islands are scattered from the Peninsula of Kamchatka left to the Peninsula of Alaska and are called the Aleutian Islands.

*Above picture taken at Slimbridge.

January – gateway to the year

January holds thirty-one precious days. In the Northern hemisphere these will be cold, cutting, icy, windy, bitter, rain-filled and interspersed with snowfall. The word January means door, doorway or gateway to the year. Its origins fall back in time to the Romans who worshipped amongst others, a god who was reputed to wear two faces and was known as Janus or Ianuarius. Ianua was a Latin word used for door.

JanuaryThe garden covered in snow in January

The birds are struggling to find adequate pickings this month and there has been a steep decline in the magpie population. Previous milder winters has caused an explosion in the population of the crow family but this year there is noticeably less of them visiting the garden for food. There have been more blackbird and thrushes flying in and prepared to join each other at the dinner table which is most unusual. Blackbird, thrush and robin are very territorial and usually will fight off other members of the same family when their territory has been breached by another. The cold weather appears to have brought out a softer more tolerant side to their natures as they, for once, are prepared to share any offerings to stave of hunger or starvation.

Lady’s advice to her daughter


“Nearly everything is good for you …… but remember it is fattening too. Moderation is the key of a life filled with harmony!” Anon


Healthy food

Bulb blast

Just before the snow descended and covered everywhere for day-after-day … the garden bulbs pushed their way up through both the soil and the hardy perennials - giving hope of new fresh colours to brighten up the borders.

BulbsBlue anemone bulbs sprouting ready for Spring

Gluttony hormone

Our bodies are a result of an ancient design. The bodies of our ancestors rested totally on survival. We, live in different times but carry the ancient design of our forebears.

Primitive mankind would gather as much food as they could during the plentiful Summer months and eat and eat and eat. They would gain weight which would help them to survive the cold, long Winter when food was more difficult to find.

To help ‘ancient man and woman’ survive they inherited a hunger hormone called GHRELIN. We still produce massive amounts of ghrelin in our stomachs to this day. If we do not eat regular meals then this hormone is made in large quantities – its purpose is to advise our brains that our bodies need food. Our bodies have a flaw in that the brain is not informed by the stomach that food is reaching it for a whole thirty minutes after the first mouthful has descended into the stomach.

Ghrelin makes the body desire every kind of food from those we really like and enjoy to those that we normally would probably never eat. It is worse than the most addictive of drugs and our cravings and desires for any type of food know no ends.

It causes us to over eat as we feel so hungry for so long. The result of ghrelin is more and more of mankind are becoming obese. How do we overcome something that we cannot help produce and carries desires far greater than drug addiction? We firstly need to eat regularly. Carry a small handful of nuts, seeds or dried fruit and munch some of it when we feel the first pangs of hunger. Never eat quickly …… remember the half-hour journey from stomach to brain. Take rests during meals so that stomachs don’t become over-stretched. Watch out for the gluttony desire that is caused by this hormone!

ancients The ancient chemical ghrelin and gluttony

Natural Iodine the magic mineral for weight loss

No matter what diet and exercise programme may be taken up and adhered to – none will work if the body doesn’t obtain the essential amount of natural iodine to speed up its metabolism. Nowadays it is simple for both meat lovers and vegetarians and vegans to eat enough natural iodine without the need for supplements, which may result in health issues if taken too liberally.

Items needed in the diet to obtain iodine naturally:

  • Any type of sea fish
  • Eggs
  • Dairy produce
  • Sea vegetables*
  • Sea salt or iodized table salt
  • Sea creatures including crabs, prawns, shrimps, etc

*For those who have never considered sea vegetables then here are some simple tips (all sea vegetables or sea weeds contain iodine):

The most mildest of the sea vegetables is Dulse – it is a dark, rich, red colour and very rich in iron. It can be used as a salt replacement by adding a few leaves to cabbage, greens or stir-fry. Many like it tossed in a salad or simply munched on as a mini snack with a few nuts.

Nori often is available ground up as little flakes and can be added to virtually everything. It is the richest of all of the sea vegetables as it contains a wealth of minerals. It also comes in sheets these may be purchased raw and pressed or toasted and are often used as the outer rim of sushi. The sheets are useful to use in place of bread for those trying to cut down on wheat.

Wakami is sweet seaweed and naturally very high in calcium so is good for those caring to keep their bones strong.

There are many more sea vegetables, including agar which is used to make a natural jelly. For those who may not wish to have anything too flavoured then consider purchasing Atlantic Sea Salad (Clearspring). This is made up of Dulse, Sea Lettuce and Nori and so may be used in every meal – soups, sauces, casseroles, salads, stir-fries, prawn cocktail, risottos, chilli, in fact, any dish from any part of the world! It can even be used as a condiment in place of salt.

Snow continues

Despite the continuing Winter conditions, the birds sound ever optimistic as they sing with the most melodic of tunes. Their songs are loud and beautiful, perhaps to remind us that they need feeding. Often in these type of Winters many of the song birds die. Blackbirds and robins enjoy juicy worms and grubs which they cannot get to with the snow and the ice. The finch family prefer tiny seeds which are also hard to find in this weather. The tit family are diverse in their eating habits as some eat small spiders, insects, seeds, aphids, nuts, acorns, sweet chestnuts, fruit, small slugs (usually the black variety) and pine nuts to name but a few.

If you can feed the birds – then look in your store cupboards as so many things are suitable and will help to keep them alive:

  • Stale cheese grated is always a good stand-by in the cold, crisp weather
  • Stale bread crumbled and soaked in water or mixed with fat
  • A scoop of barley
  • Oats – which can be used straight from the packet or mixed up with fat and made into balls
  • Dried fruit
  • Stale biscuits, cakes, pies
  • Nuts
  • Seeds – pumpkin, sunflower, sesame
  • Stale apple – sliced in half
  • Baked or boiled potato
  • Scrap dinner left-over’s  … etc

Snow scene

Garden bench in the snowBrrr it’s cold out there!

Snow bird

The snow has continued to fall off and on since yesterday. The narrow side roads are still white and fluffy with recently fallen flakes. Although the sun has shone in the patches of blue sky, it is now beginning to get colder. Where the snow has been cleared here and there on pathways the ice is uncompromisingly treacherous and each footstep is perilous. I have managed to crunch around a little and capture this feather-plumped Wood Pigeon … looking for something to eat.

Wood pigeon in an Ash tree - 06.01.2010

Pigeon in an Ash tree - 06.01.2010  Wood pigeon

12th Night … down with the decorations!

Today is the most superstitious day of the year … It is 5th January and tonight is the Twelfth Night. It is known as the Eve of Epiphany the very last day of Christmas the last evening when the Lords and the Ladies of the land can celebrate and make merry in the name of Christmas.

Do take down all of your Christmas decorations. Remove all Green Woods (Holly, Ivy, Mistletoe and Fir) from your homes before the hour strikes at midnight. To leave up decorations after today is to invite troubles into the home. Years ago it was believed that not to remove them would bring disaster and pestilence. Although the observations of putting away all of the Christmas decorations has become a little blurred with the passage of time – it is still observed.

Remember – if you forget then the only way to ensure good fortune is to leave them remaining until next Christmas. Because of this – some people leave one bauble on a shelf all year round – so that if they have forgotten to remove something the bauble will protect them!


*Remember, if you do have mistletoe to take off the berries and smear them into any crevices of the bark in the branches of local trees. This establishes new mistletoe plants. The new plant that grows from your endeavours will entitle you to a wish for every plant that forms – but you will have to wait until next Christmas for your wishes to come true … this is surely worth a few seconds of your time – a wish after all is a wish.


This Winter is beginning to lengthen into long, white, cold snaps. Today, began icy but before long we were catapulted into a Dickens’ scene of bleakness! The snow began to fall and before long covered everything. A path was cleared to both the bird table and the fish pond … but as I write these words the snow has begun to fall once again – thick and full – it is so very dull and bleak.


Bleak afternoon at the bird table - 05.01

Bleak afternoon of 05.01Bleak afternoon in Worcestershire

A crest or a crown

One of the most delightful birds of the Worcestershire waterways is the Great Crested Grebe. It seems difficult to photograph as it is forever diving, ducking and darting out of sight so I was pleased to just capture a few pictures of this particular one … they are harder to find and film than any shy celebrity!


Great Crested Grebe 1

Great Crested Grebe 2 Great Crested Grebe 3

Great Crested Grebe 4       Great Crested Grebe 5

Great Crested Grebe

New Year’s saying

This is a very late posting and added after New Year’s day … but somehow it feels appropriate to slot it into this particular date.

I can remember as a child a saying that was often said on New Year’s Eve. I used to find it deflating as I wanted the Christmas fun and festivities to go on and on and on. It was lovely to be in a whirlwind of total merriment from dawn until dusk, day-after-day. The tinsel, balloons, blowers, whistles, laughter, jokes …. endless and wonderful like a fairytale.

The saying that I am referring to is:

‘It’s all over bar the shouting!’

It is a very old saying that is often spouted when things are done and dusted and all that remains is for people to acknowledge the fact by shouting, screaming or crying.

Somehow … if it is spoken to early, I think it simply spoils the fun.

I hope that your New Year was fun ….