Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Porth-y-Rhaw - Promontory Fort

This small promontory fort is being eroded by the sea, and is rather dangerous to venture around, but it is to be found next to a beautiful little cove with the same name. The best thing to do is to park your car at the little NT car park just off the bottom of the hill at Nine Wells, outside Solva.
There is a holiday cottage and a small camping site to the right, where I have often camped.
Car parked and then wander down the path towards the sea, this path skirts an old temporary airfield, though you would'nt know it now, as it is more of a nature reserve, though I believe there was also a cromlech here as well amongst the gorse bushes.
You come to a gate and before the sea and the little cove, its a pretty place here, a stream runs down to the sea and the land is very boggy and full of flowers.
Take the left hand path and after about a hundred metres the promontory fort will be on your right. It has been excavated and about eight huts were found, giving it a date about the middle Iron ages, iron working and bead making were also carried on according to this report.
Remedial work on the footpath round this area in 2006 highlights the need for protection of our cliff paths and the archaeological sites that are fast disappearing into the sea because of climate change.

The banks of Porth-y-Rhaw

Field mushrooms

More banks

The cove

Looking down on the old field systems

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sandford Mill

A sunny day and a mooch round Sandford Mill, slightly misnamed as it is an engine house for moving the water round, and is now a museum. But it is at the end of a little lane and by the Chelmer river. Strolling towards the little bridge that goes over one of the leats here, a small very overgrown field catches the eye.
Climbing the fence, and one is immediately aware that an ecosystem has developed through neglect of the field. Firstly there is no grass but short plants, yarrow mostly underfoot, tall teasels are scattered everywhere. A great bushy hedge all round this field is slowly encroaching into the centre, blackberries are already ripening and ready for eating. Maybe this was an 'escape' pond for the water from Sandford Mill, the ground reminds one of a boggy pond gone dry.
Over the field into the untamed wilderness that is the green belt round Chelmsford and the river provide. Purple loosestrife, meadowsweet, beautiful willow trees planted by another pool, and, though I'm not sure of this either aspen or white willow planted along the river banks, giving a soft shimmer of grey as the wind picks up the leaves and shakes them gently. Victorian cottages over the bridge, nestling down a quiet lane, to the left over the fields a busy arterial road and a wind turbine slowly turning in a field. The wheat has turned golden, the year seems to be turning too quickly; a man and his dog walking the path through the fields stops to talk for a while, his cavalier spaniel yapping sharply in the grass for his master to move on.
Children come cycling down the lane, there bare limbs will soon be nettle stung if they take to the river path, a carrier bag of food on someone's bicycle.

A culvert, overgrown with a dense green cover of plants, butterflies flying in the cool shade

Purple loosestrife

the beautiful blue of the damsel fly

Small pond

Small overgrown field

teasels, maybe the mill had been a fulling mill at some time.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Peacock warming himself

Watching a queen bumble bee - probably a second hatching - this morning on the snapdragons, it is fascinating to see how the weight of a heavier queen bee compared to the small worker bees of the brood manages to manipulate the somewhat difficult flower petals of the snapdragon. A snapdragon is well named, childhood games of picking the flower and snapping the 'mouth' of the individual flowers was something I remember. The bumble bee however has to force her way into the petals of the flower, pushing the lower lip down, and having the upper petals on her back, thereby brushing the body with pollen - a good pollination technique that is seen in many flowers.
Growing flowers for bees, and the great range of hover flies (they imitate both bees and wasps) is useful for the vegetable and fruit garden, my apple trees and soft fruit are always covered with fruit because of the early flowers in the garden. Hoverflies are of course good for getting rid of aphids as well, there are just under 300 different species in Britain, and almost impossible to name or identity.
There appears to be plenty of insects round this summer, the nurseries are full of them, so although it appears very windy all the time, the flowers both natural and cultivated have plenty of creatures to pollinate them.

hoverfly on Cosmos

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

St Justinian

St.Justinian Chapel

Another tale of a monk, this one quite dramatic though it has the 'severed head' motif in it.
St. Justinian was a 6th century monk who lived on the island of Ramsey just off St.David's Head, St. Justinian though was not happy with his servants, they were lazy apparently, so when he asked them to work harder they cut off his head in spite. Where the head fell a spring (St.Justinian Spring) appeared miraculously and there is indeed a well on the island, and evidence of two later monastic settlements.(see below ) The murderers contracted leprosy and lived out the rest of their days on a crag called Leper's Rock
But our saint of course walked across the sea carrying his head, coming ashore at St. Justinian Point, where he wished to be buried, and this was the origin of St. Justinian's Chapel.
There is another chapel dedicated to him at Scleddau, the foundation remains of this chapel lie by a great marsh, with an' enclosure of large stones encompassing seven springs' - This in another book by Elizabeth Rees she calls it a stone circle.
Ramsey Island is a nature reserve for birds, but you can take a trip round the island to see the seals and a large water cavern.
This trip I did with my son, though I was gravely sea-sick, and a need to die quite happily in the cool green waters, but I did manage to focus on the seals and the marvellous quiet as our large rubber boat's engine fell silent and we drifted into the cave where the seals lay on a small rocky ledge. The waters round this Pembrokeshire coast are beautiful, clear, clean and crystal sharp.

Life boat Station at St.Justinian

Historically, the island formed part of the parish of St David's, and contained two medieval chapel sites which may have early medieval origins, one of which - dedicated to St Tyfannog - lies in this character area. It is associated with a holy well site, a cemetery and an inscribed stone which may commemorate a 9th century bishop. It has been suggested that the relationship between the island and the monastery at St David's may be analogous to that between Llancarfan and Flatholm in the Bristol Channel, as an island retreat for the monastic community. The island is laden with legends from its past inhabitants, many of them supernatural and involving the fairies Y Tylwyth Teg and Plant Rhys Dwfn; others tell of the sound of bells beneath the sea. During the post Anglo-Norman conquest period, Ramsey Island, and particularly the well, was an important pilgrimage site.
Taken from; Landscape St.David's Area

St.Tyfanog; Ramsey Island was also known as Ynys Dyfanog, after a chapel near Capel Stinan, an Anglo-Saxon burial inscription on a stone from an early christian burial site, probably relating to a bishop of St.David who died in 831.

(plant hrees thoovn) This, meaning the family of Rhys the Deep, is the name given to a tribe of fairy people who inhabited a small land which was invisible because of a certain herb that grew on it. They were handsome people, rather below the average in height, and it was their custom to attend the market in Cardigan and pay such high prices for the goods there that the ordinary buyer could not compete with them.

Well a little further investigation reveals that the above fairy people lived on an land that was invisible, which would fit nicely into the story of Ramsey Island, as islands disappear into the sea fog. The story originally was told round Cardigan Bay, but the the fairies grew tired of this place and moved down to Fishguard.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Catmint moth; Saw this small moth on the apple mint yesterday, have always seen it on catmint before, but was glad it has a wider range in the mints.
It sent me hunting for that other favourite of mine, the hummingbird hawkmoth which used to feed on the soapwort plant in Somerset, far too quick to catch on camera for me, its wings a blur of movement, but I came across it in Mary Russell Mitford's letters in My Garden. She had a funny name for the hawkmoth, but the book (50p from Hanningfield Nature Centre) was a small treasure of letters and flower paintings done by Pamela Kay.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Hanningfield Reservoir is a pleasant place to visit on a sunny day, at this time of the year the waters are full of ducks and other waterbirds, but the following photographs are the geese that lounge around in an enclosure and which you are allowed to feed.
Foolishly I wandered in with some bread in a bag, and was immediately leapt on by that white goose with the blue eyes down below, intimidation just about covers his behaviour but of course geese are famed for their aggressive stance and are good protectors of property.
Well he/she got his bread and I managed to distribute it in a fair manner to the others, not exactly elegant creatures geese as they waggle round but very colourful, and to see them in flight in that marvellous 'V' formation in the sky and to feel the heavy beat of their wings in your mind, it is well to remember that in the Celtic world they were probably associated with war, figuring alongside the gods Jupiter Taranis and Mars.
There is a marvellous goose image sitting atop the pre-roman sanctuary at Roquepertuse, with its head turned back, underneath is a frieze of horses heads, with skulls nestling in the niches of the wall round the sanctuary.
There is an Irish Celtic story about geese, or at least it probably refers to them. Geese have a tendency to flock together, land in a particular field and then eat the grass down to the roots, farmers in the Scottish Isles often complain about this. Well in this tale, the magical plain of Emain Macha is laid to waste by a flock of destructive birds. The king, Conchobar and his nobles set out to hunt the birds and the story goes that the magical creatures were chained together in groups of 20, making nine chains in all, "Lovely and choice was the bird flock and the accompanying bird song", as the hunt progresses the story turns, as any good story should, on the king's daughter Deitchine, when the god Lugh comes to the girl and the hero Cu Chulainn is fathered, the metamorphosis of three magical birds separating from the flock have been transposed into these three individuals and the magical conception story of Cu Chulainn is told.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

St. Brynach and Nevern Church

St.Brynach or Abbot Brynach is another 6th century saint. His church is the little ruined building that overlooks St. Brides Bay, in Cw-yr-Eglwys (Valley of the church) just on the neck of Dinas head and he is famed for talking to angels in the nearby prehistoric hill fort of Carn Ingli (Rock of Angels).
There is another church dedicated to him, above the Gwaun Valley, in Pontfaen, the church has a 'celtic' circular church yard.
Nearby a cromlech on Mynydd Llanawer, a standing stone near Rhos Isaf and seven standing stones in alignment in the Field of the Dead (Parc y Merw at Trewllyn).
Celtic saints have fascinating stories associated with them, and though the point of trogging all through the book of saints is to find out their relationship with megalithic stones, the earlier celtic pagan history can also be found, in the stories attached to the churches and saints.
Well the Nevern church has a 'bleeding yew' in the churchyard, yew trees of course heark back to the Iron Age, and the pagan religion that worshipped in groves of trees and saw water as sacred, a liminal space in which to enter the otherworld on death. This yew is called 'the bleeding yew' because its trunk oozes a red resin. A monk was hung from the tree and he cast a curse on the people who had hung him that the tree would bleed for evermore because of their wickedness.
Near Nevern is Trellyffant Cromlech ((Toad's Town) apparently a chieftain was buried there who had been eaten by toads.
Breverton lists Pentre Ifan cromlech near here and a stone circle on the Preselis called Waun Mawr. Two more standing stones to the south called Carreg Meibon Owen, and another at Tre-Fach, called Y Garreg Hir.
Another story associated with Brynach is about the cuckoo, and of course birds are very much a part of the druidic celtic religion of the Iron Age, the previous saint Beuno having a curlew in his myths. But to return to the cuckoo, that first call in mid April that we still look forward to was still coming all the way from Africa hundreds of years ago, perhaps it also came at the time when the prehistoric stones were raised and the stone people would here its famous cry on the wind.
But back to the story, Brynach's feast day was the 7th April, and so on this day the cuckoo would fly back on that day perch on the great celtic cross and this would be the signal for the priest to say mass. But one year it was late, and everyone waited patiently for several hours to appear, when it eventually appeared the poor bird was so exhausted after its long flight that it dropped down dead. According to the legend it had battled its way through storms to reach the church because it knew it could not fail its ancestors who had the honour of starting mass on St.Brynach's day.



Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Saint Beuno and Clynnog Church

St.Beuno's church is said to stand on top of a stone circle, whether this is true or not I do not know but there is a stone in the nave floor and stones in the foundations.
But this is only one of its many interesting facets, reading The Book of Welsh Saints by T.D.Breverton, I came across the fact that cattle were taken to the church to be blessed by St.Beuno and one was given to the church as a form of 'sacrifice, one half being given to god the other to the church, and this followed the tradition of the Northern Celtic religion which honoured the primal cow 'Audhumula',. Somehow it did not add up, but there's a somewhat tenuous connection that links the pagan northern rites and the christian church.
First, I had read that the Welsh being rather poor would pay in cattle, its still done today of course where cattle are seen as wealth in Africa, the second thing is that we always tend to think that taxation took the form of tithings in the medieval agricultural landscape, so what we are seeing here is a form of tithes being paid to the church. So where had the Danish story come in?

There was of course a short period in British history when the Danes took over the country and at the time a form of tax was introduced called 'Danegeld', it was paid in a way similar to a ransom, it was protection money paid out by the people or church to stop the Viking raids that happened all round the coast line. So perhaps what we are seeing here is an old remnant of a past memory. The church was raided and burnt down in the middle of the 10th century by Vikings, maybe what we have at Clynnog church is the past memory of Danegeld being paid out in the form of cattle to protect the church.

Stories and folklore travel down through time, mostly they follow the same motifs, giants throwing rocks over rivers to explain prehistoric cromlechs, or decapitated female saints (and males) who miraculously restore the head to the body, or snakes that are banished. In Wales the stories follow the traditional Irish celtic stories, but to find a northern celtic story may seem strange but given the history of the Viking raids not impossible.

Beuno Stones; Breverton mentions other stones named after Beuno, Clynnog itself has an interesting cromlech (Bachwen Clynnog Dolmen) with a 110 cup-shaped hollows in its capstone, and nearby a standing stone known as Maen Dylan. Also Penarth dolmen stands in a field named Caer Goetan. At Berriew, Maen Beuno is a leaning standing stone on the Severn's bank. Llanycil in Merioneth, is dedicated to Beuno and has three standing stones, but none seem to have survived.

There are a couple of lovely stories about Beuno (born in the 7th Century), one is that as he was walking by a river he heard a Saxon calling to his hounds on the other side. Infuriated Beuno marched back and summoned his followers to move eleswhere 'let us leave this place for the nation of this man I heard setting on his hounds has a strange language which is abominable'

Another tells of Beuno losing a book of sermons as he crossed the straits of Anglesey but when he got back to his cell there was a curlew in the cell sitting by the selfsame book. Beuno prayed to god for the protection of the curlew, and that is why today you can never find a curlew's egg today.

Miscellany or indigo dyeing

There I was ready to start writing on Saint Beuno, stone circle under a church and Audhumula, when my eye happened to fall on the cloth on which the keyboard sat, and I remembered I had promised myself to take photos of the indigo cloths I found in the house, so they were hauled out and had their photos duly taken
The first three are obviously indigo dyed, and show the bleaching effect and uneven colouring of the dyeing process, they are grouped together because of the chrysanthemum motif. The woven surface of the rough cotton is patchily dyed, of course with modern dyes this would not happen, but the natural colouring of these clothes is rather beautiful.

The camera shows in the following photo how a modern look alike indigo dye is really not anywhere near the original colour having slightly purple tones.

A different pattern and a much stronger use of indigo ...The cloth was yellow when first dyed, and then the pattern stencilled in, and a paste resistant substance applied to the stencilled areas, after which the cloth would be dyed again in indigo.

The next three aprons are 'shop' aprons, and have the motifs for the trade of the shop printed on each one.

This one is for a cake shop, and the character letters on the bottom are the telephone numbers, the last three, 432. As there are only three numbers, it probably dates from the beginning of when phones were first introduced into Japan.

Again a cake shop apron, the phone numbers have increased, perhaps the apron is about 70 years old

This apron is comparatively modern, it has a zip pocket, and is the apron of a 'fish sausage' maker (rolled up fish to look like a sausage on a wooden board)

This is a work coat. Work coats were heavy affairs, and some of the most interesting were the 'fire coats' worn by the firemen, having stitchwork (Sashiko stitch) patterns applied to them, the firemen and their coats were soaked in water (the coat could weigh up to 84 lbs when saturated) and this helped to protect them. The above is not a fireman's coat, but its loose easy fit must have been comfortable to wear. And if ever I get a moment I shall weave some cotton cloth to make one!
Further investigation reveals that the above coat is all hand sewn, and that the characters represent a surname (Valley Mouth - which is common), and that one character represents '8', which could be a shop name. The bottom band of abstract design could be Ainu inspired.....

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Hi granny

How are you cos i'm fine in whitby even though it's very hot I'm very happy and down in the dumps the good news is it's nearly my birthday and the bad news is Real Madrid have signed Ronaldo and Kaka.Anyway have you seen my wish list lately,and i'm quite annoyed because everybody's talking about micheal jacksons death.

lots of love from Ben
PS.Barcelona will win the la liga

This email from one of my grandchildren, its point is obvious but it made me laugh.
Well yes Ben I had gone to Amazon to view your wishlist, normally it has hundreds of things you want, but you had thoughtfully erased everything for me and left the one request for Action Replay up. Strangely your granny is not so thick as you think, having lived with computer games for the last 15 years, computer cheats and codes on games I understand having had to decipher them for your brother Tom, and as for games your uncle, my son is the expert.
True I have been bored out of my mind hanging round game shops or trying to choose one.
When Tom was small, he used to sit on my lap in front of the computer playing some god awful racing car game, whilst I handled the foot pedal for the speed, till I ended up sick and dizzy from the continual movement on screen. There was that Lara game, and Sim Earth, my vain attempt to educate them from violent killing games that spilt blood all over the screen.
I noted last year the obsession with wrestling games you and Tom played, and was rather appalled by it all, even chided your mother on allowing such things.
The good thing is that all you boys have all grown up gentle and non-aggressive, the games obviously having no effect. What I have learned from this experience is that the computer has not dulled the wits of our children but has given them the ability to be quick-witted on screen and to communicate in a polite manner. Your sister Matilda's email a few weeks ago was beautifully expressed and crafted both in use of font and word, and she is only seven.
So yes Ben, Action Replay arrived in the post this morning, along with the add on Pokemon cheats.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Carn Meyn or Meini

Below are some photos of Carn Meini, a place where the bluestones of Stonehenge are supposed to come from, the arguments rage to and fro but let it suffice that I am firmly convinced that the bluestones did come from this particular range of rocky outcrops. Reading Castleden and Darvill on the subject they are convinced to, but the evidence is both complicated and to some extent elusive as to the how.
One of the many pointers, is the fact that this would have been the travelling route from Ireland through to the western side of England, either by boat or land. Another is the prehistoric remains that litter the landscape around, still not fully referenced but N.P. Figgis's Prehistoric Preseli, gives a good idea of what still remains.
The third thing that is so striking is the landscape, the bareness of the mountains like a lunar landscape with the jagged outcrop of rocks making a striking statement. How would this statement have been interpreted by these early stone people is hard to say. Their cosmology belongs to them, but the colouring and quartz to be found in the rocks tells us that they regarded such things as important in their monument building.
Perhaps also that enigmatic 'horseshoe' shape of stones to be found below Carn Meini as seen here on TMA


with its echoing shape of the horseshoe at Stonehenge says that there is a link, but it is all ephemeral.
But the one thing I did come across whilst wandering round the slopes was the remains of a RAF plane that must have crashed into the ground in September 1944. Strangely some bits of the plane remain alongside a plaque commemorating the men killed, the wreckage remains probably due to the fact that this is a remote spot in the Pembrokeshire countryside, a sad reminder of something that happened 75 years ago.

Quartz; click on photos for larger images

The modern bluestone brought down by helicopter in the 1980s

Timothy Darvill - Stonehenge (The Biography of a Landscape)

Rodney Castleden - The Making of Stonehenge

Prehistoric Preseli - N.P.Figgis

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Song for Gwydion

When I was a child and the soft flesh was forming
Quietly as snow on the bare boughs of bone,
My father brought me trout from the green river
From whose chill lips the water song had flown.

Dull their eyes, the beautiful, blithe garland
Of stipple faded, as light shocked the brain;
They were the first sweet sacrifice I tasted,
A young god, ignorant of the blood's stain.


Last night I read through some of the modern Druidical literature, in my usual curious way, intrigued by the factionalism of this modern belief system, did it have a core at its root belief, well I did'nt find it and must add it to my long list of belief systems that blossom and eventually fade. The Christian church followed the same way also, the early Celtic church disappeared beneath the waves of its stronger foe the Roman Catholic church, and England inherited a watered down version in the Protestant faith.
So the above poem written by that most miserable of Welsh priests R.S.Thomas, is not the one that should be here, but is taken from his early memories of childhood as he takes on the 'guilt' factor in his life.
Why the photo of the church, well it is Great Bartlow in Cambridgeshire I think, and it is very symbolic for me, in the sense that the one path leads to a church but if you were to follow the left hand path you would come to the pagan Roman burial mounds, some of the largest Roman burial mounds in North Europe.
Four lie surrounded by woods but a short distance from the church, there is a feeling of neglect about the barrows but that is probably all to the good. Rich pagan burials a couple of hundred metres from the church, a bit like Avebury church, caught in the ring of the henge and stones, a clash of belief systems.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Daylight Robbery or Window Tax

Old Riffhams

Entrance view, the gardens cover quite a few acres

Out walking yesterday in Blake's Wood, we went past 'Old Riffhams' a much restored tudor house with beautiful gardens. It is a private house, only open occasionally, but going past the front of the house which is adjacent to the lane, the thing that strikes you is all the 'pretend' bricked in windows, probably about eight on the two wings of the house. Now we all know that this is due to 'window tax', which apparently came into being in 1696......
The tax was introduced under the Act of Making Good the Deficiency of the Clipped Money in 1696 under King William 111 and was designed to impose tax relative to the prosperity of the taxpayer, but without the controversy that then surrounded the idea of income. At that time, many people in Britain opposed income tax, on principle, because they believed that the disclosure of personal income represented an unacceptable government intrusion into private matters, and a potential threat to personal liberty.
or so it says in Wikipedia, well that is hardly the case now, income tax and VAT have both got their feet firmly under the table, but they were having none of it in the 17th and 18th century, and so the famous window tax came into being, and everyone bricked in as many windows as was feasible before blocking out all the light, and that is where the term 'daylight robbery' came from.


Walking round Sainsbury's the other day, looking through the vegetarian dishes, Linda McCartney's name jumped out at me, and my mind idly thought funny though dead she is still advertised. A talk about Laura Ashley had been on the radio that morning, another female entrepeneur also dying at a comparatively early age, and there was Anita Roddick, founder of the Body shop again of the same era succumbing to cirrhosis of the liver bought on by hepatitis.
Three women who had made successful businesses, all starting from an ethical stance that had grown out of the 60s.
So what is it, this self sufficency combined with a need to reform the world. Linda McCartney had a moment of truth when eating lamb and resolved not to 'eat anything with a face' and perhaps more famously if 'slaughter houses had glass walls the whole world would be vegetarian'. She was a strong supporter of animal rights, and the fact that she was married to a very rich husband, did not stop her from cooking the vegetarian meals for her four children, at heart her need to nurture her family and care for animals was strong.
The same can also be applied to Laura Ashley, mother also to four children, she was happy to milk a goat and grow vegetables in her cottage. So how did she change, the story goes that she was looking for those pretty small Victorian prints for patchwork quilts, and not finding any, set about producing them on her kitchen table. There is also another story, because of her pregnancies she wanted a 'decent' nightie, and that is why she designed the demure long calico Victorian nightdress that became so fashionable. Those were the days of 'baby doll' nighties which were hardly conducive to bending down, let alone to being pregnant. Though I remember one of my friends being pregnant with a very short mini dress at my wedding...
And what of Anita Roddick, her soaps, shampoos and make-up were produced 'without any testing on animals', she campaigned for fair trade for the natural oils and herbs that were used in her products travelling far and wide to understand the situation of people who produced these goods.
Bath was one of the first places to have a Laura Ashley shop, and as I made quilts, I would love to browse the boxes of quilting materials, her materials moved on of course, the small Victorian prints gave way to the more luscious chintzes and 'William Morris' design, and the prices went up accordingly. But it is interesting to note that today tucked away in one of the back streets in Bath is a quilt shop, and if you wander into the back room of the shop, you will see rows of neatly stacked materials, the colours shading down into the next colour, which should set the heart of any quilter off. One of my sister-in-laws at the time was a very good quilter, a lecturer in Hong Kong, she had one of those big American quilting frames to produce quilts for the family. And of course Bath has the American Museum with an enormous collection of American quilts.
Anita Roddick also had a connection with Bath she went to Newton Park (now Bath Spa University) to take a course in teaching, something that I did as well at the same college, though at a different time, and like me she never went on to become a teacher. Her Body Shop in Bath was also a fascinating place to wander around.
So all these women, like myself had an early learning curve that seemed to have come out of the 'new age' of the 60s, self sufficiency was the buzz-word, and they translated their 'nurturing' and housekeeping habits to suit the time and made profitable businesses out of them with the help of their husbands of course.
Another female entrepeneur springs to mind for she also has a shop in Bath, and that is Jocasta Innes, now more famous for her 'Paint Magic' paints, and all that stencilling that went onto our plain walls. Somewhere in my books I also have something she wrote early on in her career the 'Paupers' guides to a frugal way of living, as of course Susan Hills book 'Hovel in the Hills', which gave recipes on how to live cheaply.
Serendipity placed them at a time when the world was changing and they went on to make their fortunes out of the issues of that time. But the 'green' movement that had its start here, also took a long time to get through to the general public and even today people go their own sweet way not caring for the environment, though the warnings get more and more ominous.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Wretched Rue

Rutaceae - Rura Graveoleons-Herb of Grace

Whilst cutting the front hedge last week with its great bushes of lavender in front, there was also a plant of Rue in full flowered glory there, and I foolishly put my hands into the plant to sweep away some dropped leaves. Now I know this plant of old, having grown it, and it brings your skin up in a nasty rash.
How does it work, not immediately, the skin seems to pick up the substance from this very toxic plant, and then a couple of days later a rash will appear, especially sitting in the sun, then it starts to blister.
According to my herb book all parts of the plant are poisonous, but it is still used in the pharmaceutical industry, also heavily underlined strong doses may cause mental derangement if taken internally! and it causes dermatitis in hypersensitive individuals.. Well there we are, though apparently it is used externally as an eyewash and a compress for wounds and skin ulcers....