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.

Green, green grass of home

I have always lived in Worcestershire and although it may not fall into the description in a dictionary as paradise, I still think that there are very few places in the world that could ever come close to its beautiful lushness. Most of the year it is green. Whether the weather is cool, damp, wet, misty, dry, hazy or humid the land of this county envelops the senses. There are so many places that hardly change with each and every Century that when your feet softly plod on the bouncy long turf you could be walking in the Twenty-First Century or the First Century. It is possible to walk for miles without encountering another soul.

Green, grren grass of home

Green Worcestershire

Green, green Worcestershire … so peaceful, so green and unspoilt as the years come and go – paradise!

To walk in the most beautiful county in England … click here … Worcestershire

In the Dock

Man has walked the Earth for several million years and during that time he has learnt about both the animals and plant life on the planet. What items are good to eat, what things can make him feel better or cure him. It has only been a hundred years or so since man has turned to the type of medicines that we use today and rapidly all of our knowledge regarding natural cures is dissolving in the mists of time.

Very little is being saved, written down and passed on which is a great pity - for with the additional knowledge we have accumulated using science and technology that could be utilised with our ancient wisdom - we have unwittingly lost a great wealth of what could have been our medicine chest. Much of the old knowledge has just been tossed aside like a spoilt child will toss away last years’ toys no matter what their value may be.

Occasionally, I recall items that were used for various ailments. I often look online only to find no record or further information and I think to myself - ‘what quantity of knowledge are we losing forever?’

    • one old cure used for both warts and verrucas is the simple ‘dock leaf'.’ Well known for its ability to ease the pain of the stinging nettle little is documented about rubbing it on the troublesome problems of these minor skin growths that have irritated so many for so long. If you have tried everything else and still have your warts and verrucas then why not go native and rub on a simple dock leaf!


Dock leaf

Dock leaf (courtesy of Google Images)

Use the same way as for a nettle sting … simply scrunch the dock leaf up to activate its natural juices - and rub upon the wart or verruca.

Wind in the sails

The Emperor, the King, the Lord, the most regal of male birds – the cob mute swan in full sail, scolding his precious escort away from the human gaze. He took my breath away in his majestic beauty its feathers preened and cleaned, bleached white in the sun. He may not quite realise his magnificence but his strength over all of his rivals and the brood of females that skirt the edges of the water is quite remarkable. The pens and younger cobs scuttle inwards pushing through the Canada geese and the Mallard pairings to get to the nuggets of bread that are bounced into the water by chattering children. Necks outstretched they strain at the water to gobble up each dripping ‘dobble’ of crust. How swiftly they skirt away when they glimpse the alpha cob, his feathers arched and spiking upwards to compete with any sailing ship in the Armada. Nature’s poetry could not offer up any verse to explain the total transfixion of the entire audience of both people and water birds alike.

The Emperor. the King, the Lord - Alpha Cob (head male swan) The head male swan – alpha cob

The magnolia grandiflora of Chipping Campden

The one magical area in England that holds so many wonderful surprises is the Cotswolds. It is full of old style villages, all of which have their individual charms. Some are slow and dreamy with streams or brooks and gardens over-flowing with paint book brightly coloured flowers full of soft, sweet perfumes. Others have mysterious nooks and crannies that hide tiny pottages of galleries, studios, shops and cafes. There are model villages and bird menageries, fishes, animals and some of the most friendly and helpful people that you will ever come across.

Whilst on a little trip there I came across a Magnolia grandiflora that is often called the Southern Magnolia. It stood regally outside a beautiful hotel called Cotswold House in the square at Chipping Campden. The tree had the most unusual perfume trapped in its pretty cup flowers.

Magnolia grandiflora - also referred to as the Southern Magnolia - this one found in the Cotswolds at Chipping Campden Magnolia grandiflora or Southern Magnolia

Chipping Campden is a place to visit in June as they hold their very own 'Cotswold Olympicks' at Dover’s Hill which overlooks the Vale of Evesham. The very first event, it is claimed, was held in 1612 when special permission was sought from King James I. Not the usual fare of sports is to be seen here but ancient English events such as: shin kicking, cannon fire, wrestling and other rustic activities that culminate with a merry fireworks display and end with a cheery torchlight procession.

For visitors who cannot manage to pay a visit to the area in June - then at other times of the year they may be lucky enough to see and hear the jingle of bells and thwack of sticks as the Morris Dancers cavort their ancient rituals and songs.

The plum saga

Several years ago, like many doing their weekly shop, I was passing by the plant section (eyes deliberately diverted to the next item of food that I needed to buy), when …

… out of the corner of my eye I spotted ‘fruit trees.’ They were grouped all together standing strong and tall and jumbled up, propped against some shelving. There were apple, pear and plum trees. Before I knew it I had picked one up and suddenly I became like a knight on a charger with a would-be lance stretched out well before the top end of the supermarket trolley. Then in an instant, the deed was done and my plum tree had been scanned and for just a few pounds I became the proud owner of a garden food producer.

I already had both apple and pear trees so my plum would make an excellent addition. It was planted and watered regularly until it had settled down. Then I watched and waited. Year after year came and went … there were leaves and branches but nothing else. Then when I had almost given up hope suddenly one year the tree became covered in tiny star-like flower blossom. Being an optimist, I imagined each flower turning into a plum … there were hundreds of them! That year, although I could see small pip swellings as the flowers withered away, I ended up with no fruit. Then last year for the first time I had two fat juicy and very sweet black plums. So when the tree became covered in thousands of flowers this year I thought that I would at least have had fifty good size fruits. My tree however has decided to tease me as once again it has produced just two fruits … I am hoping that I won’t have to share them with the wasps.

Large plum - gradually growing - apple or egg sizeThe lowest plum … growing larger 

Large - apple or egg size plum

Plum - large

The plum growing darker in colour … soon ready for eating

… and then there were none

The year opened with so many problems which have snowballed month after month. Our species has therefore almost been forced to ignore major changes that will sooner rather than later affect us all. Our seas are over fished and the mammals of the sea are becoming reduced in numbers as we have eaten up their food stocks of fish as well as most of our own. The numbers of birds are dwindling and many are probably down to critically small quantities especially in the smaller varieties. What may affect mankind most of all are the dramatic drop in flying insects. These are our pollinators – they are the life givers of our crops and we rely on them for large quantities of food production. They have dropped so drastically in numbers in some regions of the world that crops are having to be pollinated by hand – flower by flower to reap any harvests at all.The bee

We all noticed that honey bees were no longer visiting our gardens … but did any of us quite realise just how many other flying insects had also stopped visiting as well? Somehow we need to turn around the demise of these precious creatures because without them - we and all other species on this planet will have a very difficult time. Can you imagine what food prices will soar to if crops have to be manually pollinated? How scarce all food will be when there is less to go around.

The bee

How can we turn things around? How can we prevent the situation from getting any worse? We all need to take ownership. Perhaps it’s time to say no to pesticides and insecticides. We may need to ask more questions about our food … perhaps even just buy organic food produce. We should also think about increasing the amount of flowers in our gardens – not just any flowers but ones that are specifically used by insects for breeding purposes. Annuals are useful for this and it is surprising what just a few scattered around a garden will do to help.

The bee

Remember that next time you might feel inclined to squash an insect you may well inadvertently eventually be adding a cost to your weekly food bill. Frightening thought isn’t it? Ladybirds


It was a long and cold Winter and many of our small birds and mammals paid the ultimate price. Numbers are drastically down of both animals and birds and like many I have been placing out extra food – not only for the birds but also for creatures like hedgehogs. It is surprising how just a few extra ounces of weight on a hedgehog may be the difference of their survival during any cold snaps.

Well, I had placed out some dried fruit on the slabs by the small shed and had hurried back to cut up an apple, crumble some digestive biscuits and raid the cat food. By now the light had gone and suddenly it was pitch dark … I hurried down towards the bottom of the garden just about making out the outline of the path from the dim light at the back door. I placed the food in little heaps in a row - then turned around to go back to the house. It was much darker on the way back and I couldn’t see the garden path. All of a sudden my foot (I was wearing open toe mules) jammed into something that felt like a pin cushion. It was so painful I winced out loud and realised that I had walked into a hedgehog.

Once back inside, I realised that my foot was now pouring with blood and I could see where each of the spines had penetrated … I had no idea that hedgehog spines were so sharp!

I bathed my foot … and then felt so guilty wondering if I had hurt the hedgehog at all … so back down the garden I went and saw him busily chewing on some apple. Back inside I went – and to try and make myself feel less guilty I came out with yet more food and placed it as though I were laying a little animal banqueting table right before him (I am assuming that this hedgehog is a him, as he was quite a large size).

hedgehog  Hedgehog