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.

Sayings, proverbs, quotes, quips

Years ago when I began my very first job, computers took up the whole of a very large room. People wore special dust-proof clothing when entering it. Communications were made either using a telephone or a typewriter for both internal and external messages. Desks would often contain a ‘rip-off’ calendar (one page per day). The calendar would usually have a small quote or saying underneath that brought smiles or frowns to faces …

I have always enjoyed the little quotations that came on the bottom of the daily calendar. My father was also a font of knowledge of such sayings and would share them with me every day. This month I thought I would begin sharing some of the sayings with you. I have been placing them at the bottom of my posts entitled ‘Country Quips’ and I thought I would put July’s offerings all together to share once more. Such sayings make life and events more colourful and therefore are best repeated …

Country Quips:

    • If you only have your looks to trade on, your trade will be very short lived!

    • Even the smallest of jobs will extend to fill up the longest of days.

    • An evil adversary is conquered far more swiftly with a sharp mind than a steel blade.

    • Commitment to a job is nine parts of completion.

    • To hold a belief may sometimes be more dangerous than holding a weapon.

    • Never leave Sunday best clothes festering away at the back of the wardrobe. Air them often for they will go out of style and life is brief!

    • The sweetest smell on Earth is the down on the forehead of a new born baby. It is like no other; it is the greatest gift bestowed on man.

    • The most effective and useful weapon man can ever have is knowledge – always remember that you can never have enough!



Cat kit

According to naturalists there is a danger that soon hedgehogs will die out in Britain as they have plunged in numbers year-on-year. It is a big ask of people but for those who love to see wildlife it is time to take action to protect this wonderful little mammal. It is strange to think that an animal that will eat just about anything is now under threat of extinction in this country. For those who want to help then place the following items out each evening: a small bowl of fresh water – they drink quite a lot (hedgehogs do not drink milk it makes them extremely ill and in some instances can kill them); kibble (cat kibble is ideal); tinned cat/dog/kitten/puppy food; cooked meat chopped into little portions as hedgehogs have very tiny teeth and are unable to chew large pieces; fresh peanuts that do not contain salt (salt is extremely bad for them); raisins-sultanas-currents; mild to medium cheddar cheese chopped up small; digestive biscuit, etc …… Place meat out when it is almost dark so that it will not become contaminated and dangerous.

Starting early in the evening, I had placed out some chopped nuts and cat kibble for the hedgehogs … but – too late, it was spotted by my cat …

Cat kit

The cat found the kibble put out for the hedgehogs

One other reason why hedgehogs are in trouble is they are as their name suggests little ‘hogs’ of the hedge. They spend quite a large proportion of their time in the bushes, trees, shrubs, long grasses and plants that are in the hedgerows. Hedgerows with all of their lovely plants are gradually being dug up and often replaced by fences or nothing at all. Fewer people have green gardens full of low covering plants, trees and bushes so … hedgehogs have nowhere to hide and keep safe. If you are able, then why not plant some bushes, and low covering plants in both your front and back gardens and make them hedgehog friendly. It would be such a shame to lose this wonderful and useful little animal. Remember hedgehogs like to feast on garden snails and slugs, millipedes, caterpillars, small rodents such as young mice – so they help to keep the garden clean and tidy of many things that you would rather not be surrounding your house!

Country Quips:

    • The most effective and useful weapon man can ever have is knowledge – always remember that you can never have enough!


Heaven scent

Close my eyes and at last there is the heavy perfume, nectar of the gods, sweet and lingering fragrance that wraps itself around the garden – the ‘pinks’ have opened their petals and intoxicate the air.

I was introduced to pinks as a child. A name, easy to remember with a perfume hard to forget. My mother had large clumps of them, the old-fashioned double variety with twirls of one-coloured petals, slightly clove fragranced, long stemmed type. She would cut a few and place them in a vase and their perfume filled every corner of our home.  I have loved them ever since but lost my original plant due to bad weather several years ago. It has been impossible in my area to purchase the same variety and over the years I have bought the single petal dianthus which are a poor substitute. Last week I called into a couple of nurseries in the hope of finding a few more plants to fill up one or two spaces in the border and found a two-tone double pink with a strong, sweet, sugary smell that is just lovely.

Pinks - double two tone

Pinks - double dianthus

Dianthus: Scent First – Raspberry Sundae

Country Quips:

    • The sweetest smell on Earth is the down on the forehead of a new born baby. It is like no other; it is the greatest gift bestowed on man.

Trice thrice

I am inquisitive, I seek out knowledge and drink it all up. This, however, often leads to conflicts of things that you learn through observation and cold hard facts on the printed pages of books. There are times when the two oppose each other but we should never be afraid to question the written word.

Wood-pigeons for example, according to bird books are to be found in fields of clover, growing crops, wild mustard, peas, staying in the fields and foraging amongst the stubble later in the year. The wood-pigeons that come into my garden eat everything – from millet, barley, rolled oats, lentils, black-eyed beans, split yellow peas, sunflower seeds, coconut and mealworms to cat kibble, digestive biscuits, bread, cakes, currants, sultanas, raisins, apple, pear, etc. In fact, the only thing that I have not seen them eat as yet is raw fish and meat.

They fly into the apple trees and begin calling if they cannot see any food on the bird table. Louder and louder they persist … and then they flap about from tree to tree to fence to roof and back ‘coooo-coo, coo-coo, coo’ first deliberate and slow then slightly faster … eventually food is found and they gather impossibly balancing on the bird table, often in threes.

Trice thrice - three wood-pigeons

Three Wood-pigeons – Columba palumbus the largest pigeon in Britain measuring 16 inches

Country Quips:

    • Never leave Sunday best clothes festering away at the back of the wardrobe. Air them often for they will go out of style and life is brief!

Moment in time

No one knows for certain why there are hardly any butterflies to be seen in the British countryside. It may be due to climate change or it may be caused by something entirely unrelated but recently there has been a catastrophic drop in the number of all butterflies.

In Britain, over the month of July, a countrywide butterfly count is taking place and everyone is being encouraged to join in, so that accurate numbers may be gathered. Each person willing to take part, runs off a copy of the butterfly chart and does a count within fifteen minutes. If you are able to give those fifteen precious minutes then here is the link: British Butterfly Count.

Red Admiral Butterfly - Vanessa atlanta

Red Admiral Butterfly – Vanessa atlanta


Country Quips:

    • To hold a belief may sometimes be more dangerous than holding a weapon.


Hazel is often passed by without a glance. At times, the Hazel leaf may look very similar to Beech. Hazel, however, produces a very nutritious nut. A free, hedgerow plant worth gathering to add to your larder. It may be dried, cracked open and eaten raw; added to cakes, cereals; slow roasted at the bottom of an oven to create a richer and crunchier nut. Some areas may be more inclined to find Filberts or Cob nuts – these are similar in flavour to Hazelnuts but look more like acorns as instead of being more of a small fat round nut, Filberts are elongated. Both, are packed full of goodness and are natures offering of a natural vitamin and mineral pill …

Hazel and Filbert nuts contain quite a few minerals but have quite fair amounts of selenium, zinc and manganese as well as calcium and potassium. They contain the following vitamins: A, B5, B6, B9 which is often called folic acid, and E. The nut is also known for its fair amounts of both Linoleic acid and Oleic acid contents. Added to all of the above it is packed full of protein.

Whilst on a walk the other day I happened to notice some green, open and cast-off shells on the floor which turned out to be Hazelnuts from the hedgerow. I’m not sure whether they had been cracked open by squirrels or birds but thought I would pick some too. Usually I wait until they are brown on the plant but temptation is a torment and Hazelnuts are delicious so I began to pick those on the lower branches and was quite surprised to find that I had a pudding basin full on returning home. I will leave these to dry out and go brown before eating them.

Crack - Hazelnuts

Hazelnuts (often found in groups of three)


Country Quips:

    • Commitment to a job is nine parts of completion.

Cone zone

I am still struggling to try and fill up the spaces in the garden border that have been left by the heavy loss of plants over the last Winter period. It does though give me the chance of introducing some new varieties into the garden. I don’t necessarily mean new hybrid versions but a different type of plant to those that I’ve had in the past.

One new variety that I thought I would try (hopefully it will make itself at home in our heavy clay soil) is the dwarf Rudbeckia Toto Gold. These are commonly known as coneflowers or in Europe cone daisies. Their petals are usually yellows, oranges or gold and form a halo around a cone or dome of dark brown or brown-black centre.

Rudbeckia Toto Gold - coneflower or cone daisy

Rudbeckia Toto Gold (dwarf) – coneflower or cone daisy

Rudbeckia Toto Gold (dwarf) - coneflower or cone daisy

Country Quips:

    • An evil adversary is conquered far more swiftly with a sharp mind than a steel blade.


Today has had rolling rain clouds threatening to shed their load mixed with lighter patches where tiny daggers of sunshine have tried desperately to cut their way through the grey cloak. I tackled the bird table sorting out the mixtures of seeds, nuts and mealworms in the hope of enticing the robin to bob in a little closer. My little task of placing out the food for the birds was interrupted by the cat rubbing around my legs .. she wanted some more food too and was fervently reminding me of the fact that she had eaten her early breakfast an hour-and-a-half ago and was eager for more.

Where would we be without windows? When looking at animals or birds we often see more whilst being hidden behind glass than we can ever see from a front seat situation. I had placed extra bread on the lawn. A rather bedraggled and battered looking magpie crept up to a piece and pulled it back eating it hidden under one of the wooden chairs. I started to feel sorry for this elderly looking bird .. then a starling flew down and began to peck at the breadcrumbs .. it called out and all of a sudden half the lawn was covered with a flock of starlings. Like a bullet, the magpie shot out from its hiding place and put out its claws like those of an eagle. It pounced onto a starling and squeezed its claws tightly as though it were clinging onto a branch. Then it proceeded to hammer its beak into the body of the starling. Somehow, the starling wriggled free and floppily bounced backwards and forwards on the grass then it took flight up into the branches of a pear tree quickly followed by the magpie. The starling somehow got away .. I don’t know how badly it was injured. I never knew that magpies could be quite so vicious and dangerous – it left me speechless!


Waiting for the cat ...

Country Quips:

    • Even the smallest of jobs will extend to fill up the longest of days.

Dental floss

Dental floss is dangerous! Leading me to ask the question ‘Who needs Botox?’

A couple of days ago I accidentally nicked the corner of my mouth with a length of dental floss. I finished cleaning my teeth and went to bed. When I awoke the next morning my lips had swollen and puffed out … to say the very least it was uncomfortable and left them feeling sore … So far the ‘Botox’ look has lasted three whole days and I am quite fed-up with plastering them with Vaseline to protect them.

Dental floss

Years ago before dental floss was invented, I used a length of cotton or thread to clean between my teeth.

Country Quips:

    • If you only have your looks to trade on, your trade will be very short lived!

The hump

My mother often told me that we all occasionally have ‘off’ days. Days, when we feel something – we cannot necessarily put our finger on it – but something is making us out of step with the world. For no reason that we can think of, we especially when children, become mardy. I was a very lucky child as I was usually light in spirit, laughed at the clouds and ran with the wind. Sometimes ‘the hump’ would reach out, slap me down and suck me up. It was on occasions like this that my mother would take me up and hold me tightly in her arms and recite straight out of her head, Rudyard Kipling to me. I’m not sure when she was taught it, or quite how she remembered it, but she managed to convey every syllable to me in a lovely motherly way and I always felt so much better after she said it, as it brought back the sunshine and the giggles … It should always be remembered that a little industry in the garden brings out the angel and pushes the devil away! If you have never read any Kipling before then this little poem should make you an ardent fan for it shows he knows his fellow man better than most:

The Camel's hump is an ugly lump
Which well you may see at the Zoo;
But uglier yet is the hump we get
From having too little to do.

Kiddies and grown-ups too-oo-oo,
If we haven't enough to do-oo-oo,
We get the hump-
Cameelious hump-
The hump that is black and blue!

We climb out of bed with a frouzly head,
And a snarly-yarly voice.
We shiver and scowl and we grunt and we growl
At our bath and our boots and our toys;

And there ought to be a corner for me
(And I know' there is one for you)
When we get the hump-
Cameelious hump-
The hump that is black and blue!

The cure for this ill is not to sit still,
Or frowst with a book by the fire;
But to take a large hoe and a shovel also,
And dig till you gently perspire;

And then you will find that the sun and the wind,
And the Djinn of the Garden too,
Have lifted the hump-
The horrible hump-
The hump that is black and blue!

I get it as well as you-oo-oo-
If I haven't enough to do-oo-oo!
We all get hump-
Cameelious hump-
Kiddies and grown-ups too!


The birds have kindly scattered some of their bird food around the garden and this is one of the flowers that has grown from their stray peckings – a beautiful sunflower. If you look closely you can see that a sunflower is in fact many tiny flowers gathered together in a head and adorned with a halo of golden petals.


Centre of the sunflower or helianthus

Bring back the sleeves

Year-after-year-after-year-after year fashion designers are leading women by the noses and taking the easy way out. For goodness sake I cannot be the only female on the planet who is fed up of seeing sleeveless dresses in every shop. Added to this, these flimsy frocks are offered only in two lengths … down to the floor like widow’s weeds or up to the thigh like a brothel’s uniform.

Where have all the T-dresses gone? We are constantly being told to cover up and protect our shoulders and tops of our arms and would like to do so whilst looking a little feminine so … designers/creators of fashion – please, please, please, please design something wearable for women. There is plenty of stuff out there for young girls in their teen and twenties …

I support the campaign … BRING BACK SLEEVES IN DRESSES .. do you? If you do please Blog/Tweet/Facebook something to spur the movement on.

Bring-back-sleeves symbol

Magpie meal

It is something that most people love to see, birds … in their garden or outside their windows. I was pottering at the back of the garage and happened to glance out of the window. On the lawn, two magpies were busy poking their long beaks deep into the soil. They appeared to be imitating blackbirds, who regularly dip their beaks down into the soil of the lawn and pull out fat, juicy worms or grubs. I have never seen magpies search for meat this way before. Eventually, one of them hopped onto the seat of a wooden garden chair. The other magpie, jumped onto the plank of wood forming the cross piece of the chair below. The one on the seat poked its beak through the wooden slots, whilst the one beneath positioned itself directly under the bird above and began to take something out of its beak.

Magpies, appear to be mimicking other birds behaviour – no wonder they are growing in numbers and are probably now one of the most successful birds in the Midlands.

Next time that you see a magpie, take a long, careful look at it and you will not only see a bird of the future as it changes with the times – you will also see something of the creature of its past. As it walks with a purpose, sucking in its surroundings with its eyes – there is something of the dinosaur, alert and alive still within its core … biding its time and waiting for its chance to perform on the world stage of life.

Miagpie eating at the bird table

Magpie eating at the bird table

Plop in the pail

Over the years I have read many things regarding the attributes of water. Something that I read fairly recently has stuck in my mind and perhaps it’s time to share it.


Water droplet

Water is like medicine to the body, especially the heart … water helps to activate all of the body’s organs when drunk first thing in the morning. Water helps the heart and all the other organs to work more efficiently if consumed at regular intervals during the day. Water helps to protect the body from both heart attacks and strokes if drunk just before bedtime. Just one little extra note … water helps the brain to work more efficiently.

Now … go and get a glass of water and remember to sip it often it is probably the best medicine that you will ever take in your life.

Water droplet

There are many thoughts as to the quantity we should consume every day but many doctors advise around two litres.

Water droplet

Little extra fun notes on the wonders of water …

Water gives you a flat tummy

Water stops water retention and bloating

Lets be full

The Leaf-cutter bees have been busy. This year they appear to be using leaves from the raspberry canes and a particular fuchsia that seems to be a favourite flavour, a very hardy perennial, gold-leaf variety called Genii. What posh little apartments they are making for their off-spring! The bees are filling up both insect homes … the established old version and the new pyramid shaped one.Leaf-cutter bee homes


Leaf-cutter bee plugging

The Leaf-cutter bees are making quick progress in filling up the bamboo canes with their off-spring

Plodding the beat

It’s amazing how many different pieces of information a person can acquire in day-to-day routine. Sometimes a person can obtain a useful piece of a puzzle to help solve a problem. Occasionally answers to unasked questions just hang in the air. Every so often a gem of knowledge passes into the ear and gets tucked away into a corner of the brain until it is required to solve a mystery.

It came to pass that one day whilst standing in one of those queues that never appears to move, I struck up a conversation with a lady behind me. She revealed that the previous year she had developed palpitations, a sort of pounding with occasional flutters in the heart. She said that she had been advised that it was caused by stress but nothing she could do appeared to help the situation. Then one day she had a chance meeting with an old gypsy lady. As she had with me, she also told the gypsy about her problem. She told me that the elderly gypsy took her hands and looked at the palms. She pressed the palms with her thumbs then declared ‘Your problem is shortage of sugar!’ Sure enough the woman went back home and swallowed a teaspoonful of sugar as the old gypsy lady had advised … one every morning and one late afternoon. The woman told me that after four days she was cured and had never been troubled with palpitations since. ‘Surely, I said to her sugar is bad for you. Everyone tells you to cut it out of your diet.’ ‘I know,’ she said ‘but it truly did the trick. I cannot explain why but was so grateful that I tried it.’

Heart - pounding the beat

This, I hasten to add is a hearsay cure for this stress type condition. I cannot vouch for it but it is one of those conversations that has always stuck in my head!

Please remember, it is always best to consult a medical practitioner rather than self-diagnose any kind of condition and follow very carefully your doctor’s advice.

I spy sleepy July

There is something slow, sleepy and narcotic about the month of July. Full of creeping, caressing plants that grow slowly as you watch them winding and binding themselves onto other plants, up trellis and trunks, up styles and gates. Pinning themselves with glue-like ferocity to walls, stones, ledges and pathways. Yet, time is beautiful in this soft, sweet place where insects gently hum and birds call with notes of pure shrill tones and water gurgles and bubbles over stones. It is surely the month of the gods, for anyone descending onto our rough diamond home from far away would want to wallow and roll in its pure beauty. To suck in the warm sweetness of angels breath and become high with expectations of the gluttony of so much colour and sound .. we are surely in Heaven!

Honeysuckle windings

Honeysuckle July windings

Twin flowering honeysuckle on the climb

Winding and binding Tufted vetch - Vicia cracca - grows up to 200 cm in height or length

Winding binding Tufted vetch in July – Vicia cracca, grows up to 200 cm in length and is a member of the pea family