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!

Lost in Time – researching for Dominica!

I’ve been gone one thousand, three hundred and twenty-eight years – back in time … to an era we call ‘The Dark Ages’. The Roman garrisons have gone – left these isles to tend to their problems closer to Rome with a farewell letter to the Romano-British from the Emperor Honorius, in AD410, to see to their own protection  – even as they called for aid to fend off the raiding Saxons. However, by the date I’ve been visiting, AD689, the Angles, Jutes and Saxons are well ensconced in the majority of what will become England, but the Vikings are not yet attacking.

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Can you see the river Tamar, just behind the trees – and further beyond?

I am in Cornwall, here, just over the border – the river Tamar. Though, in AD689 Cornwall is not Cornwall – as such, it is part of Dumnonia, roughly Devon and Cornwall and part of Somerset and Dorset, and it is a different place culturally to the rest of ‘England’. The West Saxons (those being the closest – Wessex) have not overtaken the people of Dumnonia yet – in fact – even the Romans had made little impact here, this side of the river, either … a few forts only – no fancy towns all laid out Roman style with villas and influence over the local Kings* here. (*or ‘big-man’ as the system seemed to be in Cornwall in the pre-Roman times … and probably was even at the end of the AD600s.)

So it is a tumultuous time on the border, the threat of invasion by the West Saxons is real, they have made in-roads into Dumnonia … and they have a new battle-cry. By this time the Anglo-Saxons had, by and large, turned from their pagan gods to Christianity, some converted by missionaries from Rome, some by missionaries from Ireland. This had resulted in a clash of Christian doctrines – the Roman church and the Celtic church having different ways to work out the Christian calendar, different tonsures for their monks, and differing rules and ways of worship and a different attitude towards women. Within my time-line comes the decisive synod of Whitby, AD664, that found in favour of the Roman Church and meant that the Celtic churches that would not change were then seen as heretical – and to be wiped out.

The Church in Dumnonia, and especially the ‘Cornish’ ones backed by King Geraint and so rich in Celtic saints from Ireland, refused to change – setting themselves up for the West Saxons to proclaim a ‘religious war’ as a motive to back-up their invasions.

It’s been hard to get back to the here and now – I look at the landscape around me with different eyes – where would have been occupied? Where would have been safe? I read the names of the places I know and refer to my books to see whether I can call the place by its current name – whether the name we know is, in fact, original Celtic (Cornish) or an English name given only after the West Saxons’ invasion, or a blend … and even that has made me look at the landscape again and see things with different eyes as I find the meanings behind the words.

Those who know me in person, know that I am interested in history, mainly local history rather than that of Kings and Queens, but this is something different. To weave a story based on a few scanty legends (Dominica and Indract), set in a time that is poorly recorded (there’s the reason it is called the Dark Ages) and to try to throw myself back into that time and inhabit that landscape and that life is, for me, an extraordinary experience, both thrilling and very scary. It is also totally absorbing and takes me to a place I have never travelled before!

Wish me luck on my time-travels 🙂

Do you go time-travelling?

Do you find yourself inhabiting a different world when visiting ancient houses or estates?

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

Chicken talk of yolks

The recent government rules on keeping chickens in / away from migrating birds which might be carrying H5N8 bird flu –  has made me do something I have intended to do ever since we stopped keeping goats.

When you mainly cook from scratch and grow a lot of your own veg, and buy the rest from local sources, you end up with a lot of peelings. Especially when you like to have a lot of different types of vegetables with each meal!wp_20170226_12_56_25_proNow this was never a problem when we had goats – there was always the bucket for the edible scraps for the goats and the bucket for the compost heap. The latter generally only had onion skins, citrus skins and teabags in – judiciously mixed with torn cardboard loo-roll tubes and such stuff.

When we sold the goats, prior to putting our beautiful house on the market, the vegetable peelings joined the compost bin . . . even though I kept saying to myself that I ought to prepare them for the chickens.

With the chickens compulsorily being kept in closed-off quarters I eventually did something about it!

I first found that if you just give raw peelings, toppings ‘n’ tailings, outside leaves etc to the chickens they will peck at it … but they will not clear it up efficiently … for that you need to give it a light cooking.

So, after I have cooked and served-up our meal I now drop the whole pile of peelings into the largest pyrex bowl I have already used (in cooking the meal) and pop it in the Microwave for 10 minutes. wp_20170226_14_47_25_pro

When it is cool I put it back into an old bowl (or a re-purposed sweet tub even) to take out to the chickens.

They love it – especially with the odd soft apple, from the apple store, sliced up in it too.

AND as a bonus, now they are back out on the grass and getting the extra veg-peelings regularly too, we now have the deepest yellow yolks going – yes even darker than usual – and that was pretty good anyway – and yes – this is the actual colour  – it is not a trick of the light.wp_20170301_07_06_42_proSo we get to eat tasty, rich, healthy eggs and I get to feel even better now that the peelings are being used properly again.

What do your do with your veg peelings?

Are you a chicken keeper?

You know I love to hear from you – do share

🙂  Ann

Lichen sclerosus and Why Borax is my new best friend

It’s difficult to talk about this – and this is why it has taken me two weeks to write one blog! After just telling my husband the diagnosis, lichen sclerosus, and that I had been prescribed ‘a cream’ for it I hadn’t mentioned it again even to him – and even though, over the course of four or five years, the symptoms got worse and worse.

Back at the end of October, the symptoms had become excruciating – and the ‘cream’ useless. I had been told that as an auto-immune condition there was nothing else medicine could offer apart from suppression of the symptoms by the ‘cream’ – a corticosteroid – classified as a ‘potent steroid’.

So, what is Lichen sclerosus? It is an auto-immune condition that affects mainly children and post-menopausal women. (Yep, tick that last box)  As I am sure you know, and auto-immune condition is one in which your own body turns on itself, destroying cells, and in this case making the skin thinner, prone to blistering, swelling, soreness, irritation and inflammation.

Lichen sclerosus also has a favourite location for this disruption of the skin – and this is why I (and many other people) don’t generally like to talk about it. It affects the skin between the buttocks and reaching forward to include the skin around the vulva. In people who have had it for decades it can even result in atrophy of the flesh.

By the end of October I was in pain all the time, especially when sitting, and every time I needed to use the toilet I faced the agony of cleaning and drying myself, and the area affected seemed to be extending. Now Corticosteroid must be used sparingly – frequent reapplication is not acceptable – not desirable – as Corticosteroid also THINS the skin!

I positioned a mirror to look – the skin was red, shiny, swollen, cracked and blistered – no wonder it stung to blazes!

This is where I am surprised at, and ashamed of, myself. I have been looking into natural ways of supporting the body and brain by supporting the health of your whole system – but I hadn’t looked for a natural way of dealing with Lichen sclerosus. I had been ambushed by the fact that it was considered an Auto-immune condition  – and, therefore, I knew that meant it wasn’t curable.

…  or did I?

 After all, hadn’t I been reading about other auto-immune conditions that had been helped by natural means – by a rebalancing of the gut-bacteria, specifically. However, I have already gone down this route for the sake of my brain, and I hope my gut-bacteria are now in a good balance and are being ‘fed’ the food-stuffs to keep them happy. I would say that in other ways my body was feeling better tuned and functioning well.

So it was, that feeling desperate, I began to research whether there was a natural way to help the condition . . .  and there was!

I read so many pages, so many personal responses. I read of people with this condition who were in a much worse state than I was – whose body had suffered permanent changes that were life-affecting. I also read of those who had found the answer – or an answer. And it involved my new friend Borax – also known as Sodium Tetraborate. I read around the subject – finding out lots more about Borax (especially about uses here) and it’s uses, trawling sites for negatives as well as positives – until, convinced it was worth a try, I sent off for some, it was only £5.95  a kilo – link here.

First it said, once you have obtained your borax have a bath – with one tablespoon of borax and one of bicarbonate of soda – just for relief. OH MY! That was SO GOOD, just in itself! That alone was enough to convince me to take the course.

Then there was the taking of borax in solution every day for a fortnight. This was in a specific high dose: One eighth of a level teaspoon of borax to be taken everyday, dissolved in one litre of (warm) spring water – consumed over the day.  Followed by a life-time of a much lower dose of borax –  every day – forever. AND the mandatory taking of a magnesium supplement always – as the borax needs that to work effectively. Magnesium citrate is easily absorbed but can also act as a laxative so I researched and decided on magnesium glycinate – which is also easily absorbed but does not have that side effect. (magnesium oxide – often sold in supermarkets – is very poorly absorbed)

(NB. The site I looked at also advised adding one eighth of a teaspoon of ground Himalayan Pink Salt to the Borax – so I did this too … to begin with, until I had the odd reaction of tingling in my face – that seemed to be caused by an overdose of sodium – so I dropped the pink salt and continued with the borax – the odd reaction faded away.
Himalayan pink salt is often recommended by natural health bloggers for ailments – and I wonder if someone was trying a belt and braces solution that worked for them – but overloaded my system with sodium? My verdict – I believe this works just as well with Borax only)

ANYWAY…. On day 5 – when I was drying myself I thought ‘Oh! What? My skin has gone numb in one small place.’ So I checked with the mirror to see where this numb area was. It turned out it wasn’t numb at all – just healed-up and looking normally pink, surrounded by skin that was still screaming at me – it only seemed numb in comparison.

Over the remaining time of the fortnight this small normal area grew – until all the skin looked pink and healthy and did not hurt any more. The swelling had gone down too – and it was only then I realised how bad that aspect had actually been.

One other thing I used over that fortnight was a simple ‘cream’ I made-up myself. Without the corticosteroid cream there was no slippery barrier to each inner cheek rubbing against the other and causing pain. So I used two rounded tablespoons of coconut oil (which is a solid at room temp) melted it (in a small lidded pyrex bowl in the microwave, watching it carefully) and mixed into it one level teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda, one level teaspoon of Borax and 3 drops of lavender oil (essential oil) The dry ingredients are dissolved into the warmed oil and constantly stirred – even as it begins to solidify. The essential oil added before it solidifies but after the oil has cooled a bit.  This then sets to a hard ‘cream’ – so I would scrape off a little and it would melt on my skin providing the lubrication on the sore skin with the soothing qualities of the other ingredients.

Three months down the line and there has been no more pain, I still take the 3mg dose of borax each day [1 tsp of borax dissolved in 1 litre of water – kept in fridge and only 1 – 2 teaspoons of this solution taken each day in water] and use a little of my own ‘cream’ especially after showers or baths.

This borax treatment is such a blessing that, despite the embarrassment, I have to share it – even if only one other person with Lichen sclerosus gets some relief from the symptoms – then it would be worth it.

 

Comments welcome as always – but …

If you wish to keep it private and just contact me then just reply to the email this arrived on (or if you have found this on the internet then email ann@ annfoweraker .com (closing-up the gaps) – otherwise go to the actual page and click comments to add yours

Best – Ann

 

ps – as with any chemical – do keep these safely away from children 🙂

pps weight stayed the same last week, down 1 lb this … and still happy with the new borax and bicarb hair treatment – and my hairdresser said that my hair felt thicker, and yes – this came out of the LS treatment too!

Something else I have never (knowingly) done before…

I don’t know about you – but I do not usually re-read novels. I may re-read a paragraph if, as I’m going through a book, I wonder if I understood properly something that was intimated, when subsequent events suggest I didn’t – but a whole novel – no. Even as a writer of fiction I tend to think that if I have read it – that’s it, done and dusted – there are far too many books out there to re-read fiction. Usually, if I have read a fiction book I have got from it all I wanted. Intrigue, thrills, laughter, a new perspective, escape … and then I look for the next novel to entertain me. nation

So, I can honestly say, I have never consciously re-read a novel. Now, I do know that I have sometimes started to re-read a novel … one that has come out in a new cover say …but as soon as I get into it and realise I know where it is going and that I have read it before I abandon it.

Just after January settled itself down, I was tidying a book shelf … !yes, unusual phenomena – but there were a few books that needed to be homed – so a bit of judicious shuffling had to happen! … and I spotted a novel by Terry Pratchett that I had not read – and I thought I had read them all over the years. Now I need to explain that #2 son had emptied his rucksack of books out onto these shelves, in what had been his room, before he set off to ‘climb around the world for a few years’ – and at some time he’d had a lot of Pratchett books too.

‘Nation’ is not part of the disc-world series, in fact it is not part of any of Terry’s other series either … it is a complete stand-alone. Weirdly, I hadn’t even heard of it. So I picked it out of the shelf and began reading. ‘Nation’ is set in a parallel world at a time we would call early Victorian, so much is recognisable and that which isn’t is just that little shift different and all this makes for an unusual and engaging book.

Mau, a boy about to become a man, has left his tribe as boys must, to go to the boys’ island, to come back a man. I do not think I will spoil anything by saying that as he leaves the island to return home a big wave comes, a tsunami … and all that follows is as a consequence of this.

I couldn’t but help think about the tsunami that hit Thailand, and neighbouring countries, on Boxing Day of 2004, and of the island of Koh Phi Phi where #4 son spent a few years, more recently.  There  70% of the buildings were flattened, and up to 40% people of the ten thousand estimated to have been on the island at the time (including tourists) were wiped off the face of the land by the wave, leaving 104 children with no parents. Only 850 bodies were recovered, the rest remain missing.

After I had finished reading it I went to my Goodreads page to write a review … and while I was looking for the correct version cover to put on the page I realised that this book had been first published under Pratchett – Children’s books, then only later more generally. I wondered why it was ‘for children’ – as are a few of the disc-world linked novels – but decided it was only because it featured young people as the main characters as it is as intricate and full of meaning as many of his other books.

Yes, full of meaning – as well as being full of ‘funny layers’ and ‘hard truth layers’ and quirky asides. If you are a Pratchett fan you will recognise all these aspects of his work. If you have never read them – or just picked up one and read a little bit here and there, you may think that his books are too weird, too ‘other’ for your taste, but I would urge you to settle down and read a few, to get to know the city of Ankh-Morpork and the Watch as a start. You do not need to know about their world view (a world that is a disc, on the backs of four elephants balanced on the back of a celestial turtle, hurtling through space – it doesn’t really feature much) you only need to know a heaving metropolis populated by the adventurous of every kind of sentient creature that exists on their disc-world – be it dwarf or troll, werewolf or human, vampire or Nobby Nobbs.thud

So it was, that, after reading Nation, and feeling in the mood for more Pratchett I had to resort to re-reading a novel. I chose THUD!.

THUD! Is an exquisite commentary on our times. If you swapped out dwarves and trolls for Muslims and Christians you could be near the mark. And history – oh, history and how it can be manipulated and cause trouble in the mouths of the wrong people. And then there’s the Watch – Ankh-Morpork’s policemen – made up of almost the right mixture of beings to represent the inhabitants of the city…  Sure – there are comic elements – in fact I know I literally laughed out loud more than once – but there … there it is – a fundamental message, glowing in the ‘dark’ of a ‘fantasy’ novel.

I have since gone on to re-read ‘Jingo!’ about War and those who actually wish for it, create it, push for it … to further their own agendas  – regardless of the consequences to the ordinary people … also somewhat pertinent.jingo

Do you re-read novels?

If so – What is your favourite – and how many times have you re-read it?

Do share – I’d love to know which novels you think are worth reading twice.

 

 

ps another 1lb down … 🙂

and hair still looking great 🙂

 

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