Tea Time

Self Heal
Self Heal

Today’s picture is of Self Heal, it grows pretty much everywhere – especially in lawns. It doesn’t grow very tall, so nice short grass is its preferred environment. It gets its name from when it was used to heal wounds – in those bygone, olden days when wounds were healed with this sort of thing.
Most of the people Google knows note that it is edible. When you’re dealing with things herbal – it’s edible – is a euphemism for it won’t kill you immediately. No one really, ever eats it. I mean, what would you eat? You’d need a good acre of it just to make a salad topping. But, apparently, people did chop it up and make a drink from it.
This started me wondering. It wasn’t safe to drink the water unless it was boiled. Boiled water tastes yeugh. So anything that introduced even a slight flavour had to be useful. Therefore hot drinks were likely to be seasonal. This is where beer and wine came into their own – barley could be kept all year, so beer could be made all year round. Wine had the double advantage of not only did it keep, but it actually improved in the keeping.
So the terrible dilemma Marco Polo faced was – whether to have another Bud, a glass of Chardonnay, perhaps – or discover China?

Sieze The Day

Lazybones, sleepin' in the shade - lyrics by Johnny Mercer and music by Hoagy Carmichael.
Lazybones, sleepin’ in the shade – lyrics by Johnny Mercer and music by Hoagy Carmichael.

Life is full of opportunities. This wouldn’t be so bad if they would organise themselves in some way. Well, in any way would be good. Most of these chances to change our lives happen on Facebook. Does posting an inspirational quote count as doing something constructive, I wonder? I mean, you have done your part to inspire millions, possibly billions, of people – who would otherwise just be frittering their lives away watching cat videos and emotionally targeted advertisements for whatever it was you clicked on last.
The important thing about cat videos (and dog videos, too, of course) is that the cats are usually doing something. There are very few where we are invited to get all gooey about a cat staring at a phone watching people doing cute stuff. This would suggest that cats, at least, are inspired by all the inspirational messages their videos are sandwiched between.
It is at this point in our analysis that the awful truth rears its ugly head. If the uplifting advice posted on Facebook is intended for cats, but the cats are doing all this cutesy, cuddly stuff anyway.
Is Facebook really just a waste of time?


Ruled By Jupiter. By Jove

Herb Bennet
Herb Bennet

You know those really irritating burs that stick on everything from socks to the dog? Well, this is what they look like when they’re in flower – before they get to that hard-to-remove bur stage. Aside from the names you’ll, no doubt, give it as you’re struggling to remove these burs – you could call it Herb Bennet or you could call it Wood Avens, or Coleroot, Colewort, Cloveroot, St.Benedict’s Herb, Bennet’s Root, or even Old Man’s Whiskers. What’s in a name?

As many gardeners will attest, it has good strong roots and is very difficult to remove once it takes hold in a shady flower bed. But hold on – before you spray it with weed killer – guess what? It’s edible. Not only that but those tough roots have a nice smell of cloves and are very good for keeping the moths away from your clothing.

However, being ruled by Jupiter, it really shines when it comes to mad dogs and poisonous snakes. It’s even better if you have the odd evil spirit that you need protection against – and it’s good for mouth ulcers, too.

Here We Go

May Blossom
Knots of May

Once upon a time, as all good stories start, one of the important times in the year was when the chance of the weather receding into winter, had receded.
In the days when most people rose with the sun and worked until sunset, the most common activity involved herding sheep and cattle. Now, all the sheep and cattle we know are reasonably communicative, but their grasp of the concept of working for six days and resting on the seventh, is hazy. So this pastoral community had very little need for a detailed calendar. The coming of spring and the opportunity to release the farm animals to graze the pastures was marked by the festival of Beltane.
But how were we to know when Beltane came? While it was certainly no guarantee, the blossoming of the May bushes was a reasonable indication that summer was on its way. So the May Queen and possibly a May King became a part of the celebrations and children would collect the bunches of May flowers from the hedges along the lanes – singing the latest catchy ditty from the Minstrel’s Hot Hundred, “Here We Go Gathering Knots of May”.