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Scarborough Fair

Flax Blossom

Flax Blossom

“Tell her to make me a Cambric shirt,” well we do have a flax blossom in today’s picture,┬áso that’s a good start. Cambric is a very fine linen thought to have been originally produced in and around the town of Cambrai in France. It is much used for ecclesiastical robes, (and laypeople’s underwear) Google notes.
We only have this one little plant, struggling up, bravely, through the road surface, so I can’t see us getting a whole shirt out of it and, to be honest, that fits in nicely with the overriding theme of the song.
Our little ditty has been around for ages – possibly since 1400-and-something – and occurs in a great many versions with a great many variations of the lyric. Scarborough isn’t even the only place you could be going to, all you really need is a not-so-true love (available in many different sizes and styles) and a few impossible tasks, (similarly simple to locate) and we are ready to go.
Of particular interest is the phrase “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme.” Some people note that in some songs of the period, that seem to be related to Scarborough Fair, a repeated phrase “There’s never a rose grows fairer in time” is often used. There is a consensus that the aforementioned herbal concoction is merely a corruption of this more thought-provoking meme.
History and hindsight make such snuggly bedfellows, don’t they?

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Hot and Wild

Wild Mustard - Charlock

Wild Mustard – Charlock

Dr Edward Bach – in the 1930s – felt that this blossom held the key to those of his patients who described themselves as depressed, but for no obvious reason.

It used to be an absolute scourge of the countryside. Often taking over, up to, 80% of the space – that had been planted with barley in the hope of some small financial return with the possibility of brewing a few pints of beer, too – in the fields.

Luckily it was fairly simple to control it with various weed killers and it almost disappeared from the scene of its conquests. Just lately it seems to be recovering and has become quite common on road verges and other idle land.

The plant is mostly poisonous, not that we humans ever let the mere fact that something kills us now and again stand in the way of culinary progress. The Irish, who were able to survive the Great Potato Famine (1845-1849) by taking the new leaves and boiling them, report that it doesn’t give you an upset stomach very often – providing you don’t eat too much of it and that the seeds can be ground up to produce a type of condiment.

We are, of course, referring to the Charlock in today’s image – most often known as Wild Mustard.

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