And Now This …

And now this … those of you living near me probably know already … as I have roles in so many local groups that I found I had to tell a lot of people (so that I didn’t let anyone down at the last minute).

wp_20160424_15_37_05_proOh! Why?  

Glad you asked, well, my three-yearly mammogram came round about six weeks after Dad’s funeral. I went along – as I always do – quite happily, being sure that I felt no lumps or anything unusual – and I do check.    . . . First a bit of history …

Back in 2003 a mammogram had found something suspicious … that call-back, followed by a biopsy a couple of weeks later, resulted in a diagnosis of Micro-calcification. (poem from the time below)

Evidence of micro calcification

I find myself aware of life, all life
taking care not to harm
even the ant. Just as when expecting,
an un-thought, instinctive  
seeking wholeness and health.

I ask, ‘worse case scenario’
tuck away pieces of terminology
seek little more, seem un-worried
but later, research thoroughly
– the odds work both ways.

Biopsy; as always, do as I’m told
be as still as I know how
the conscientious student
the un-worried patient
put it all at the back of my mind.

From the bath I rescue
both silverfish and spider, for once
pray for myself instead of just others.
Then the letter, and my relief reveals
to me the degree of my anxiety.

Ann Foweraker

Nothing to worry about after-all !

Then a few years ago I had a sort-of sore feeling in my left breast when I lay on that side, nothing to feel lump-wise, just sore – a bit like an old bruise that still hurts when pressed. The ‘soreness’ didn’t go away, so after a few weeks I saw the GP, who referred me for a mammogram just to be sure – it showed nothing to worry about at all ! (and the soreness went away too after a little while)

Then this latest mammogramand the call-back. Immediately I checked again – I still couldn’t feel anything untoward! So set off in a hopeful mood – that this would also be a false alarm

In Plymouth’s Derriford Hospital we have the Primrose Breast Care Centre – here everything for breast care is drawn together so you don’t have to wander around the hospital, going from department to department. It is a charitable foundation working with the NHS to provide the best breast care experience and, completely coincidentally, something that one of the groups I’m involved with had recently voted as this year’s charity to support.

First it was in to take another set of mammograms – to check the area they were concerned with – though they took scans of both breasts – perhaps for comparison.

These must have been sent almost straight into the Radiographer, for that was my next port of call, within a few minutes. The doctor then did a ultrasound and told me, in a kind way, that there were two patches, right beside each other, that, in his opinion, looked very like cancer, and that he was usually right 19 out of 20 times. So he would need to do a biopsy.

There’s me thinking I would have to wait of a couple of weeks for this, as before – but no, within a minute or two he and the nurse were ready to perform the biopsy, the skin numbed and the needle guided by the ultra-sound scan. It wasn’t too painful – an odd tugging feeling in the breast as the needle ‘clunked’, twice, and it was done – the nurse pressing down to stop the bleeding and then putting paper-stitches and a waterproof dressing over the wound. After a meeting with another Primrose nurse to fill out forms, I was ready to go home.

Apparently the pressing is supposed to stop bruising – all I can say – is it didn’t work very well for me! I know I bruise easily – I’m always finding bruises on my hips and shoulders where I’ve caught something, so lightly I can’t remember doing it – but the bruise is there anyway.

This photo is after three days. You can see the site of the biopsy, where the tape was – it left un-bruised lines, and even the water-proof dressing curbed the depth of bruise – but the rest of the bruising spread far and wide! (Don’t be alarmed – it looks a lot worse than it felt – actually the main soreness was around the site of the needle insertion – the red dot)

 Then – about a week later – The Letter. ..

I’d definitely been diagnosed with breast cancer … and a trip into the Primrose Unit again beckoned, this time to discuss treatment with the surgeon.

My reaction? Well, to be honest – pretty miffed! I was just ready to get going again on so many fronts. Yet, somehow, not altogether surprised as I have seen, over the last ten years or so, so many people who have cared for others (often with cancer or another life-threatening, or debilitating, condition) who have then gone on to develop cancer themselves. . . it almost seems as if it is catching – but of course – it isn’t.

My next reaction – research! No point in panic or upset – I’ve just got to get on with it – but find out all I can! That’s me 🙂

Why? Oh Why? Am I blogging this?

Well, because my cancer is (provisional) stage 1 (Early – invasive ductal carcinoma) and, luckily HER2 negative (so, not aggressive) and when I was researching I found that there are many, many blogs out there about aggressive, or late-discovered tumours – but few about the early ones, therefore few to compare with.

AND because I couldn’t feel ANYTHING that would have warned me – even when I had the re-call letter and gave it a really thorough checking out! ONLY the MAMMOGRAM picked it up. So I want to say, when you get the call for your mammogram – GO! I’m only glad my call came this year – not in another couple!

One thing I know – there are hundreds and thousands of people out there who have had breast cancer – survived – and living life to the full – so if you’d like to share here – please do – as always, I love to hear from you – on this or anything else…

And that’s me for today … Best ~ Ann

ps If you are reading this on email and would like to comment just click onto the title and it will take you to the actual blog – so you can comment there 🙂

pps If it is the first time you have written a comment don’t worry if it doesn’t appear immediately, your first comment has to be verified (to keep the spam-bots out) and I do this personally – so I am sure to see your comment – thanks for reading – Ann

Apples and Memories

This week, on a warm day I went into the apple store and realised, by the fermenting aroma, that it was time! Time to sort out all the remaining apples and chuck out all the mouldy ones.

Now a really organised person would have been doing this all along – they’d have done this every time they collected apples – not dashing in, grabbing a few and flying out again, often at twilight, when sorting apples in an unlit shed is not easy.

Red admiral - telling us the apples are ready!
Red admiral – telling us the apples were ready!

As I stood turning over each of the apples that still looked good to check for damage, and chucking the obviously past-it apples into the bucket, I remembered picking this crop. We did it over a number of warm days, the butterflies dancing and tasting apples that had already fallen.

In past years Dad has always been the most assiduous fruit-picker in the family, he’d check the fruit, wait for the dew to dry and then set off into the orchard with a wheelbarrow full of boxes, and steadily pick apples and lay them out in the apple store all day, or until the apples that were ripe were all gathered in.dad-picking-apples-holding-on-2017

This year, ill as he was, he still wanted to help. So, over a few days, he did. I helped him walk down to the trees we were going to pick, and he held tightly to a branch and picked with his free hand, or propped himself against the trunk, and did the same. An hour or so of this and he was exhausted, but happy to have done his bit for that day, and after I’d helped him back he’d settle down in his armchair, feet up, and would swiftly be asleep. wheelbarrow-apples

trug-apples

 

 

 

 

dad-with-howgate-wonderThere had been an excellent crop, with some real whoppers from the Howgate Wonders – an apple I love to recommend as it is sweet enough for an eater, mushes down like a cooker (needing no added sugar) is a heavy cropper and keeps really well! Here’s a snap of Dad holding one, though not the biggest, of these lovely apples.

All this is going through my mind as I sort the apples, and here we are, the second week of April and I still have a range of apples left.wp_20180408_15_17_11_pro
They do not look as pretty as the chilled, native and imported, apples in the supermarket, but they haven’t been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides.wp_20180408_15_16_56_pro

They haven’t been waxed or coated in shellac . . . and if you don’t like the sound of these ‘old apples’ please note that *’apples you buy from the shops are usually anything from a few months to a year old’ * Times Newspaper 10/4/18

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Yet even after all these months, peeled, they still taste wonderful, are free – wp_20180408_15_17_23_pro

 

 

and I reckon I have at least nine kilos left!

 

 

The mouldy and too-damaged-to-eat apples I’ve spread out on our open-top compost heap – where it won’t take long for birds to find them to have nice, unexpected, spring feast.

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What have you been up to this past week?

What annual jobs in the home or garden are you tackling?

Do let me know in the comments – I love to hear from you 🙂

 

ps If it is the first time you have written a comment don’t worry if it doesn’t appear immediately, your first comment has to be verified (to keep the spam-bots out) and I do this personally – so I am sure to see your comment – thanks for reading – Ann

 

Hello Blog, it’s me – been a long time …

Hello Blog, it’s me – been a long time … I’ve missed you.

I missed a lot of things in the past nine months. I tried, I really did, but a blog a month was all I managed – why? Well, I didn’t want to write about the main thing in my life back then as it wasn’t only mine to write about, but now, now that my dear and lovely Dad has passed away, and I am just resurfacing, I can say – yes, looking after Dad took most of my ‘spare’ time and all of my emotional effort to remain cheerful and upbeat for him at times when I really wanted to cry. He always hated to be dependant in any way – and I could not let any strain show for his sake.

frank-foweraker-recent
Taken just before his 90th birthday

So we saw him though operations and radiotherapy and the realisation that the cancer had come back into his lymph nodes and that nothing more could be done. He had his last wish and died at home in our lovely old house, where he’d lived for the past twenty-seven years, having seen his grandsons arrive from all over the world to sit with him in the last days, hold his hand, talk or watch old episodes of Dad’s Army with him when he was really tired.

Yet, he was 91, an age he’d never expected to reach when he was young. He’d had a varied and interesting life and had achieved much.9781909936904-Perfect_FINAL copy Sadly he never got to see the second volume of his memoirs in print – but he did write it, and I will edit and have it published. However, this second volume only takes him from 18 years to 28, so I will have to add a little to fill in the remaining years even if only in bullet pointed highlights. This is one of my targets for this year, even if my own writing takes a back seat.

I don’t think many people expected to do a music hall sing-along at the funeral tea – but that is just what one of his grandson’s arranged. You see, Dad had been talking about this song two Christmases ago, and it was found and played to him … with resulting laughter all round. Here’s a youtube link to a video of him listening to it:

And this is the original – so you can hear properly what the hilarity is all about.(Note:it pauses half way through to turn the record over!)  Dad would have loved it, proper Cockney humour and a proper old-time sing-along!

So that’s where I have been and what I have been doing while I’ve not been talking to you, dear blog readers…

What has the past nine months brought you? Happy times? Sad?

Do share – because I really do like to hear from you

x
Ann

Happy Christmas 2017 & Wishing you a Peaceful and Joyous 2018

For my last blog of 2017 I’ll bring you

– a glimpse at this year’s cake (Christmas parcel)

wp_20171222_11_39_35_proA ‘how-to’ may appear in the recipes before next Christmas 🙂

wp_20171222_12_57_04_pro–  this year’s door wreath wp_20171223_15_26_22_pro– and this year’s tree (same as always) wp_20171223_15_27_30_pro

Thank you for dropping in and reading my blog over the year- eclectic and (this year – due to family illness) erratic as it has been – I hope it brings interest, information and entertainment as well as my news on the writing front- and that you’ll be dropping by again throughout the coming year.

Sending You All Good Wishes for You and All Yours for the coming year!

Best – Ann

Planned Parenthood – early medieval style

It is amazing where researches for a book take you. Regular readers will know that I am embarking upon my first historical novel – and that it is set in early medieval times – late AD600s to be precise.

So my wise-woman is going to help a female Saxon slave to ensure she doesn’t conceive. Umm – and how does she do that? The male in question is not going to be party to any care that needs taking – so off into the depths of the internet I go – following one thread after another until I find some answers – and other interesting facts…siphium

One thread took me back so far that the herb in question had become extinct even before the years I was looking at! But was fascinating anyway. A herb that was the making of Cyrene – wanted for so many reasons apart from that of being the most effective contraceptive potion available. The plant was known as Silphium and it featured on the coins of the country – that’s how important it was! It appears to have been only able to grow in a narrow strip of land – and, despite many attempts, could not be propagated anywhere else. Seeds simply did not grow, roots or cuttings did not work elsewhere.

Silphium had properties that also made it a go-to culinary condiment and ingredient, where leaves, stems and roots were used – as well as making the meat of sheep grazed on it most wonderfully tender. It was used to treat a wide range of maladies – and then there was its powerful contraceptive properties.  It was so valuable that Julius Caesar had a cache (1,500lbs or 680kg) stored in the official treasury. Ultimately it was harvested (or eaten by the sheep) into extinction!

Medical Texts from ancient Greece and Rome

In many medical texts available at the time, there were lists of mixtures designed to ‘hurry the menses or cleanse the womb’, therefore these mixtures were usable to end an unwanted pregnancy, especially very early or before it had begun! One version of the Antidotarium has several recipes for ‘quickening the menses’ utilizing a number of herbs including arum, birthwort, artemisia, century plant, lupine, pepper, Queen Anne’s Lace, myrrh, licorice, pennyroyal, rue, peony, parsley, and cypress.

Did they work?  Well, I’m not sure about pepper but pennyroyal, parsley, and Queen Anne’s lace for instance, are so effective that modern women are recommended to avoid them if they want to become pregnant. In fact, for many of them to work, the concentration had to be so high as to be dangerous to the women themselves. (Yes, I’ve looked a lot of these up – and many are on the Poisonous plants list!) oueen-annes-lace

Herbs could also be used as physical barriers for conception or as pessaries, pulped and often mixed with pungent oils, honey or even animal dung. Ewww!

I need something that would be growing in Ireland at the correct time, and so far have settled on Queen Anne’s Lace – the wild carrot. Modern day use of this as a contraceptive suggests a number of ways, but chewing the seeds for a number of days after intercourse looks like a method that could have been used in Eire in that time, and would be a safer alternative. Apparently it works because chemicals in the seeds block progesterone synthesis, thus disrupting implantation thus preventing pregnancy.  I wonder – how did they find that out in the first place!?

Now to find out if the plant grew there, then! Harder than you might imagine as it will only be if it has been traced by pollen in samples or if a book written, at the correct time in Eire, mentions it, even though it is described as a native plant nowadays – I have discovered this does not necessarily mean it grew there in AD 600.

Do you end up down the rabbit tunnels of the internet – just because you looked up one thing?

Have you ever wondered how they managed these things back in deepest history? – when being pregnant was a very dangerous condition – resulting in death more times than we like to think about.

Do share your thoughts – as always I am fascinated to learn

X    Ann

 

Mud & Poetry – Port Eliot Festival 2017

All the Arty stuff seems to come together for me – first it was the belly dancing – then the Poetry.

This time we were back at the Port Eliot Festival – yes I’ve written about being there before – but this year was different – in a couple of ways.

To begin with it had been raining – and I mean seriously raining (should have known that a dry weekend for Glastonbury would have to mean a wet one later on!)

I normally wear only sandals – nearly all the year – though I will wear boots in winter when the rain makes my feet too cold, but not if it is dry and cold. This year, middle of the summer, I wore my sandals but packed my glittery canvas slip-ons and my common green garden wellies. Thank goodness I did.

‘Is it really bad down there?’ I asked at the gate. I have seen falsified reports of mud on the TV on previous years where they must have persuaded the lithesome girls to paddle in the mud at the edge of the river to ‘make a story’ out of what were a few puddles here and there. The guy grinned, and said, ”tis a bit’.

So wellies on, and feeling a bit weird, I ventured down. No sooner than I was though the gate and I could see the main route down was mud. (DOWN being the operative word, a steepish sloping field) I picked my way carefully down, thinking I really didn’t want to stand up before an audience plastered top to toe in mud. It was a real possibility! wp_20170730_12_49_16_prowp_20170730_12_49_53_prowp_20170730_12_50_22_pro

At the bottom, the two main tents, Park Stage and The Ace of Clubs stage tent, were marooned in a veritable SEA of MUD! Squelching through carefully this I stepped over the temporary bridge over the HaHa – wp_20170730_12_51_11_proto a relatively clean and well-drained wp_20170730_15_50_07_proarea that surrounded the main house – like a different world!

 

From here up the hill the other side, via the gravelled tracks, to the walled garden, where some areas were thick with mud, while others relatively unscathed. Here the Liskeard Poets were to give the first show of the day in the Tiddy Tent. Thankfully, this year a tent that held not just the electrical equipment, but one that was also was big enough for performers and a decent-sized audience, all undercover, with overspill space to the side.wp_20170730_10_35_28_pro

Even though we were on quite early for the last day of a festival – we had a significant audience, which grew as passing people heard and joined those listening.

Then off to look around and listen in to other poets, music, comedians, and dance to the great music in the Ace of Clubs – until it was the turn of a few of us to try our hand on that same stage. I watched as they scraped a layer of mud off of what was, beneath, a green ground mat, then scattered straw all over it. The effect of this was to gather a lovely halo of straw around your wellies as you walked across the inside of the tent. This was going to be weird – I would prefer to be barefoot while reading poetry (if you gave me a choice) but to stand there with wellies with a muddy-straw fringe – well!

The first three of us up took to the stage between the music acts, pop-up poets were designed to entertain while those behind removed or placed equipment. We performed against this – and to an audience who weren’t really expecting poetry at all – and a full bar operating in the background. A challenge we all rose to – belting it out! Here’s my ‘The Novelist’

The second pop-up poets slot we did was slightly more challenging – in that this time we followed a Pole-dancing demonstration and had to stand part way behind them as they dismantled their poles!

I spent quite a bit of time listening the poets in the more refined space of the new Poetry Tent between and afterwards and wondered how well some of them would have got on in the Ace of Clubs!  Port Eliot is always a fabulous festival – but this year was more memorable than most!

Are you into going to festivals?

Do you like the variety – the wildness – the camping?

Do Share – you know I love to hear from you

ps  if reading this on email to see the video you need to click into the blog post title at the top of the page 🙂

Belly Dance Hafla & at the Edge

Many of you know that one of my passions is the belly-dance classes I attend. I’ve been shaking it all about for nigh on seventeen years now.

The first time I was introduced to belly-dance, however, must be more than twenty years ago – when a belly-dancer came to our village WI, told us of the true history of the dances (celebratory or in commiseration, by women – for women) and got us all up and shimmying. Unfortunately she wasn’t running classes, and it wasn’t until a number of years later than I discovered Jules. I had been learning Cornish Dance for a millennium event, but that finished and my friend asked if I would be interested in going to belly-dance instead! Was I? Too right I was!

Our group holds an annual Hafla ( a belly-dance party) with which we raise funds for MacMillan Cancer support (in memory of one of our members). Belly-dance groups come to perform from all over Devon, Cornwall and beyond and great fun is had by all while raising a goodly sum for the charity! For this one we did a veil dance – lots of swishing of gauzy fabric! a youtube video can be found here

Our group, known as Shimmying Jewels, also dances out a few times a year, sometimes at Calstock Festival, sometimes at the Tavistock Edge Festival.  A couple of weekends ago it was the latter. We were all set with two performances and two dances in each part of the town (though the second dance was more as backing-dancers to a dance duet by two of our members)

The first dance was to a lively tune with a refrain that extols the ample virtues of Egyptian Ella – a belly-dancer. (And that’s almost a truism, some of the best belly-dancers are of very ample proportions, but with fantastic control over their sinuous movements!) Jules choreographed a stick dance to this – which means that a brightly coloured stick is used to enhance the moves.

I was hoping a video of this was going up on youtube – but it hasn’t arrived yet (I will link to it when it does) In the meantime here are a few stills. wp_20170708_12_08_06_prowp_20170708_12_08_28_prowp_20170708_12_10_32_prowp_20170708_12_08_32_prowp_20170708_12_10_40_pro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, if you fancy belly-dancing – and know where you can join a class but are wondering what to wear – I may have just the blog for your right here  which also goes a long way to explaining what I love about belly-dance.

Though I just love to dance … any dance really … belly-dance has a special place in my heart!

Do you love to dance?

What type of dancing do you do?

Do share- you know I love to hear from you!

Reading the tea-leaves – bicarb to the rescue

wp_20170706_15_23_39_proHiya, now here’s a problem you might be able to help me with.
I think this household has been drinking PG Tips for well over thirty years – it has been the preferred tea that met the variety of flavour-requisites of those living here. Nothing fancy – unless you think their pyramid shaped bags are fancy – just straight-forward tea – everyone drinking it with milk (this is important to know later) some liking a strong cuppa – some (me) with so much milk in it most people would wonder where the tea was.

We have a vast array of mugs from which this tea is drunk – from Disney mugs with the initials of each of the 4 boys on – through supermarket stoneware or ceramic to proper lovely thin china. None of these ever became stained in all these years! (except the large mug one son took to using on a constant basis – never letting it get in the dishwasher – just rinsing and re-using (shudder – don’t ask!)

Now this maybe because they are usually dish-washed between uses, though rarely were they rinsed immediately after use (recommended for avoiding stains) before putting into the dishwasher. This may be due to the fact that we have very, very soft water (hard-water virtually guarantees staining – apparently). It may be due to the fact that no-one in the family drinks tea black (milk proteins are said to bind to the tannin preventing it sticking to the cup). All of the above are suggested by the internet as ways to make sure your tea-cups do not stain.

All well and good!

BUT – all of a sudden, about six-months ago, the stains started to appear!

WHY? Same cups. Same regime of ‘cleaning’. Same soft water. Same tea-with-milk. Same tea …  Or is it?

Over a year and a half ago PG Tips reduced the quantity of tea in its bags. We are talking a 0.2g reduction on 3.1g. Not a lot – but they claim ‘just as strong a brew’ and I wonder how that can be? I recall a demonstration at a tea-plantation in Malaysia where they poured cold water onto different tea bags, one high quality – one lesser. The inferior one leaked colour quite quickly, the better much less so. We were told that this was because the inferior one contained tea-dust which enhances the colour (yes, still tea-leaves – but very fine particles) and that these ‘leaked out’ through the bag making the tea look stronger.

wp_20170706_15_33_08_proLacking a ‘high-quality’ bag to compare it with in this manner, instead I broke open a tea bag and put it, dry, through a tea-strainer – not a lot stayed in the strainer as you can see …  and how fine is ‘dust’ anyway?  Not very scientific, I know – especially with no ‘old-size’ tea-bag to compare it with.

So I am not casting aspersions, as such, but I wonder if something like this has gone on – and that this is why the tea we have used for so many years now creates these ugly stains even in the nicest and smoothest of china-ware. Whatever – I now have, for the first time ever, tea stains to contend with!

THE SOLUTION

Now I have a regular task of dealing with this problem and have found my new friend Bicarb is in on the act, along with white vinegar. Which is good because I didn’t want any new chemicals in my life. I now keep a small bottle of half and half – water and white vinegar – handy. I pour some of this onto a sponge, give the mug a wipe around, coating the inner surface with the mixture. I then pour a little Bicarb out, dab the sponge into it then rub around the inner cup, with an extra rub where/if there’s a tide-line.

A good rinse – and this is done – then into the dishwasher it goes – and comes out sparkling!

Also … when I have finished the couple of boxes I have in my cupboard – I think I will be experimenting with other teas to see if any of them meet the exacting flavour standards AND do not create stains! So, dear readers, can you help me?

What’s your favourite tea?

Does yours stain your cups?

What do you recommend?

Do share – you know I always love to hear from you

Ann

 

 

Please, if you enjoyed a book by an indie-published author, help them gain a wider audience by doing a review on Amazon – doesn’t have to be in depth – just has to be heartfelt. Thank you X

No so much Navel Gazing as …

Oh! Here I am, back again after what seems a frenetic and frantic time. Oh, yes, life sometimes throws things our way that knocks all the writing to pot – including the blog.

In this case my father’s sudden eruption of a HUGE ulcer on his tongue, followed by numerous and sequential trips to the hospital for every type of scan, followed swiftly by an operation to remove a largish bite of his tongue and several lymph nodes from his neck following the diagnosis of cancer. Thank goodness for the NHS! Subsequently we’ve been on the recovery stage – trying to regain weight lost while eating was difficult – while eating is still difficult (with sore but healing new shaped tongue) However, things are stabilised now and I have found my lap-top and returned to all of you.wp_20170512_09_02_15_pro

And returned to the studies of everyday plants that my character – Dominica – might be able to use in her healing around AD689 – and today I’m looking at the plant known as the navelwort – or pennywort.

Wort, or wyrt,  is actually a Viking or Norse suffix meaning ‘medicine’. So the name of this plant in this country comes from later than the time I am dealing with, so I have to check with my sources as to whether it was an introduced plant – or was here already but known by another name. (Yes, Historical writing is tricky!)

I have always rather liked this plant. The round fleshy leaves are one of those edible leaves that my boys readily took to eating just for fun (after being told they were edible) They taste a bit cucumbery.. basically fleshy, wet and green, not bad in a sandwich. However, I didn’t know of their medical usage. The names, pennywort and navelwort I assumed came from their shape and the dimple, like a bellybutton, in the middle, even though, somewhere in the recesses of my mind the ‘wort’ rang a herbal-use bell.

wp_20170623_10_52_15_proNow, the mini-course I went on tells me that the navelwort, Umbilicus rupestris, have strong antimicrobial properties and would have been placed over the end of the umbilical cord and tied on, where they would dry-on forming a seal and keep infection at bay. Thus navelwort referred to this property (though under the doctrine of signatures – they would also have been saying – ‘look at me, I’m for use on the navel!’) Oddly, this use doesn’t seem to be generally mentioned in online sources, so maybe it’s a very old use, perfect for my story.

It seems that these can also be carefully dried and stored for babies that arrived out of the navelwort-growing season too. Now I am really hoping this plant in a real native as I am sure this could work its way naturally into Dominica’s medicine kit.

So, barring any other type of emergency, medical or otherwise, I’ll write to you next week – in the meantime –

have you ever eaten a pennywort sandwich – or even just nibbled a leaf?

Or do you know these plants by any other names?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you!

A Weedy Medicine Cabinet – Dandelions

Here we are again, we are back in the late AD600 – when the wise-woman, or the monastery-trained, were the go-to people when you were ailing. Why? Mainly because they still held the knowledge honed by the druids about which herbs had which effects on the body.

So it is that I found myself signing up to a herbalist-led course here in the Tamar Valley. My Dominica will have to use the plants that grow here if she is to be a healer (which – in my telling of the tale – she will be)

Here I am going to give a first glimpse of what I learned but how this will be used in the story I have yet to discover (that’s the way my writing works – fill up the  brain with lots of information and then let the sub-conscious sift through and weave it’s own patterns).

We didn’t even have to leave the property where the talk took place – and I suspect you wouldn’t have to stray far from your garden too for the one herb I’m going to touch on here. wp_20170512_09_06_03_pro

Hands-up those who have dandelions in their garden? *sees a forest of hands* Really? LOL 🙂 … well it seems that a Dandelion is a medicine chest all on its own.

Leaves: Make a ‘tea’ from them to drink. (A ‘tea’ basically is as it sounds, pour boiling water over them and allow to steep for a few minutes – remove herb bits – drink)

Many of you will know this is a diuretic (we all remember the warning as children not to pick dandelions as they will make you wet the bed!) Diuretics are used in many conditions today: – for reducing blood-pressure; congestive heart-failure and oedema (swelling due to water-retention) *This is not to say you should treat yourself for these conditions willy-nilly with dandelion tea!*

But did you know that dandelion tea is also a anti-lithic (a stone-breaker) that breaks gall or kidney stones to allow them to be passed?

Roots: Wash, cut and make a tea – this provides a liver-detox.

Then there’s the sap – that white milky fluid that comes from the broken stem. This can be used to treat warts. It is actually a form of latex and seals the wart off from the air. It needs to be reapplied frequently but eventually the wart will drop off leaving a wet pit on the skin that then heals up. (this make total sense – if you recall my experiment with the duct-tape method of wart removal (here) this works in the same way)

dandelion-fiels-freeimages-live! Not only that – but apparently dandelion sap was even used during the war as a latex (rubber) supply (Not one of us on the course had ever heard of that before!) but as things go – in a serendipitous manner – within a day an advert popped up on FB for Continental tyres – saying they are experimenting with dandelion rubber (due the disease attacking rubber plants worldwide) as well as for other things that use latex.

That’s dandelions for you – amazing and fascinating – now I need to check with Dulcie of Dumnonika, the Iron Age re-enactment group, who has an careful list of truly native plants, whether they were here in this part of the UK back in those times.

I’ll share some of the other medicinal-weeds I learnt about with you another time  🙂

What are your favourite herbal remedies?

Do you remember the warnings about picking Dandelions?

Do Share – you know I love to hear from you!

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