Sunday, 20 December 2009

This is a stone on top of a long barrow in Dorset the photograph was taken during the solstice day time. To me it's symbolism seems apparent. The flat part of the stone (Shown) accurately faces the winter solstice sunset, meaning the rounded part faces the summer solstice sunrise. It has been 'worked on' so that it must have originally been part of some sort of framework. The barrow lays north and south.

ancient wooden post?

This is a wooden post that does not seem to be of any use on some land near a barn in Dorset that is left uncultivated almost as if the area is a barrow. It is very similar to the stone on top of a long barrow about a mile away.

Friday, 30 October 2009

cherries and arthritis and gout

It's hard to find emprirical scientific research that proves cherries actually cure gout and relieve arthritis. However if people keep anecdotal recods on blogs, about this or any subject the body of anecdotal evidence will equal scientific research.

A few weeks ago I read that cherries relieve the symptoms of gout and arthritis and I suffer from one or the other of these conditions in the joints of my foot. During the summer the Co-op sold cherries so I tried them and found some relief. It is hard to find cherries in UK shops but after hunting round I have found several sources.

Enough to have cherries every day.

My gouty arthritis has completely gone - completely gone. It doesn't seem to matter what cherries are eaten or how they are served. I have been eating about a bowlful a day.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Turmeric anti inflamatory, pain reliever, mild mood enhancer

This is an anecdotal note and does not claim any medical significance and I have no medical or even herbal knowledge. I work in pharmaceuticals and as part of my job I need to keep up to date with research projects. It is this that led me to read about anthocyanins and turmeric. There is a lot of information about turmeric so I won't repeat it here. However I decided to try it for myself.

As near as I can ascertain the dose of turmeric for a therapeutic effect is one to eight grams and I estimate a teaspoon full to be about a gram, so Decided to take one gram a day. I have some arthritis in the joints of my feet which ordinary pain killers have no effect on. Right from the start of taking turmeric there was a reduction in pain and in the slight inflammation. The joints can move without grating, in fact almost from the first day the arthritis seemed to improve.

I made up a paste of turmeric and sesame seed oil and applied it directly to the area despite the yellow skin - if it works it is worth temporary skin discolouration. Applying turmeric direct to the affected area had a noticeable effect at pain reduction and a reduction in inflammation. But, there's even better to come.

I was reading that turmeric is difficult for the body to absorb and most of it is passed through the system. I read that black pepper increases the absorption of turmeric. I tried this in a meal last night and will describe something that happened later.

I mixed some ground black pepper into the turmeric sesame seed oil paste. I manipulated the joints before the application and they hurt a bit. Then applied the paste and there was instantaneous and complete pain relief. Not just surface pain relief but instantaneous deep pain relief and I could move the joints with some pressure without any pain. I can say from direct personal experience that turmeric, especially when mixed with ground black pepper is an anti inflammatory pain killer.

I also have a long standing injury to my left shoulder area which gives tingling and some pain. My arm tingles and is uncomfortable when I go to sleep. This problem has completely gone.

I am a 'low level' alcoholic or a social drinker if you like. Every night about 8 o'clock the addictive voice starts prompting me to go to the pub and I have to resist strongly to stay in. I decided to limit my nights in the pub from four/five to two. Last night was a Wednesday and I would normally go to the pub on a Wednesday and I expected a hard time from the addictive voice but last night after the turmeric and black pepper it was still. I even taunted my addictive voice or booze brain to tempt me into going up the pub but it was completely quiet. I felt zero desire for alcohol. I also felt in a very pleasant mood and enjoyed just listening to music.

From my purely anecdotal experience I can say that it would seem that turmeric reduces cravings for alcohol and even acts as a mild mood enhancer.

Well; tonight (Thursday) is one of the nights (the other being Sunday) that I have given myself permission to go to the pub. I had about one and a quarter teaspoons of turmeric with black pepper in my meal earlier, it will be very interesting to see if I do go for a drink or if I stay in. It seems to take an hour or so for turmeric to be absorbed and you can normally tell because the sinuses suddenly start to drain and you get a mild relaxed feeling.
Finally there seems to be no adverse effects at all.

I would estimate that a gram of turmeric is equal to diclofenac as an anti-inflamatory pain killer, this is just anecdotal but at the same time there is no harm in trying. One caution is that turmeric is supposed to be a blood thinner, I am unable to comment, but perhaps it shouldn't be taken in a high dose with blood thinning medication.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

A deserted gypsy camp

I came across a deserted gypsy camp but I'm not going to say where.

An old barn falling into ruin

There was a dead deer inside and the place smelled of death. Not somewhere I would venture out to at night.

The fantastic blackberry

I'm surprised that people don't strip all these berries from the bushes as soon as they appear. The pigment that makes them black is called anthocyanin and this is said to be a 'wonder food'. Anthocyanin is under research by the pharmaceutical industry for multiple uses. I'm feezing them for use over the winter. However in reading about blackberries, I read about an even more 'wonder food berry' and this is the cherry which for all practical purposes comes from the supermarket. I recommend those sold at the Co-op.

The beautiful Hawthorne berry

There's something nice about hawthorne berries, when you see a tree full of red berries, it really catches the eye. They have a tint of both Autumn and Spring. They are edible but with a big seed and the berry eaten from the tree is a bit tastleless and 'mulchy'. Just boil them up with some apple and strain the juice for a delicious if slightly tart syrup which has a really sort of deep but sweet after taste. This sauce is tart at first and becomes spicy sweet in the mouth. I add it to yoghurt. I also add elderberry to this sauce but it doesn't taste as nice. If you add a small amount of brown sugar it is delicious and sort of decadant.

Rolling hills of Dorset in harvest time

This is the area where the blog is set.

Elder berries supposed to have strong anti viral properties

Please look up the information yourself as I would only be repeating what I have read. Elder berries and flowers are said to have strong anti viral properties. Hard to prove one way or the other because if you catch a cold whilst eating elder, perhaps they don't work and if you don't catch a cold perhaps its because you haven't been exposed to the virus. I have tried to make some elder cordial to see if it would reduce the effects of a cold (when I get one) but I don't want to use masses of sugar. I have made a delicious elder, hawthorne and apple cordial with no sugar but it doesn't keep very long. Elder berries are OK to eat straight from the tree and it seems to me that they are the only berries that the birds eat an any quantity. On looking closer there seems to be more to the elder berry than first meets the eye, one to investigate.

No more ploughing

I only found out the other day that farmers don't plough fields after the harvest very often any more. The scrape the ground with the equipment in the photo, allow plants to germinate then kill them off with weedkiller before planting the new crop.

Incidently the old part of the barn in the background is where Thomas Hardy's Tess had a hard time cutting up root crops.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Dangerous dogs Piddlehinton Dorset

Having been attacked by two dogs in a week in the Piddlehinton area of Dorset, I researched the legal position. Under the Dangerous Dogs Act a dog is not under control - no matter what breed - if it is not on a lead or does not have a muzzle. If a person has reason to believe they are going to be attacked they can take appropriate action including killing the dog(s). When reading how to defend against a dog attack the best advice seems to be to shoot it. However we are not allowed to carry offensive weapons in the UK, including pepper spray. Second to shooting a dangerous dog the advice is to use a stick and if possible ram it down the dog's throat as far as you can. I'm not sure how easy this would be in practise but we are allowed to carry walking sticks in the UK and I have one of those Nordic type stick that has a titanium tip. I've never used it until now and I have found that the iPod pouch on the rucksack, which is actually too small for an iPod, provides a useful strap to hang hold the walking stick.
Next time a dog attacks me I will retaliate.

Friday, 28 August 2009

2nd dog attack in Dorset in a week

I was walking in the hills behind White Lackington in Dorset when I was suddenly attacked by two dogs. I managed to get them to stop jumping up at me and saw their owner more than 200 metres away. She did call the dogs and eventually they went away. Later on I got behind the safety of a gate to video and photograph the woman and her dogs. As soon as she saw me with the camera she turned and walked away. So the photograph is a maximum range. You can't see the face of the owner but you can see the two dogs. It is worth noting that this woman was able to walk away from me and my camera but I was not able to walk away from her out of control dogs.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Beware this man and his dog. He looks very country and even respectable but the dog looking back at us is not under control and is vicious. If you are attacked by his dog make a report so that something can be done about it.

Friday, 31 July 2009

Anyone know what kind of butterfly this is? Found near Weymouth.

Monday, 20 July 2009

A Dorset cottage

Not many people live in cottages like this anymore, in fact there aren't many old cottages like this around anymore.

The grave of Field Marshall Sir John Michel GCB

This is the poshest grave I have seen in Dorset and its part of a group of posh graves in Dewlish churchyard. Sir John was mentioned in an earlier entry as the man who looted and burned the summer palace in Peking and carted the loot back to Dewlish House. We honour our dead heros in Britain.

I first visited the church on a Sunday and there was a service going on so I came back the next day and it was locked. So far its the only church in Dorset that I have found locked. Perhaps there's some Chinese loot inside.

Broad bean field

Well, I mean if you grow broad beans alongside a footpath you've got to expect a few to go missing. The pods are supposed to be good for Parkinson's disease. When you cut the pods and leave them for a bit they turn black, so does the water you boil them in.

spider egg?

I don't know what this is. It looks like some form of spider's egg?

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Plantain and dandelion leaf stir fry

Young dandelion and plantain leaves stir fried with onion, wafer thin garlic, green soya beans, green beans and peas.
Anyone know what type of butterfly and caterpillars these are?

Puddletown bypass

The Bere Regis bypass near Puddletown is a concrete road and very noisy, you can here this road for miles. This photo was taken on a Sunday and the road was very busy with traffic rushing to and from the quiet of west Dorset. Ironic that it passes very close to the village where Thomas Hardy set far from the madding crowd. I expect the people of Puddletown are glad that the road no longer goes through the village.

How people rush around though, even on a Sunday
An old Dorset mill house, just to the right you can see where the water would have flowed onto the wheel long since removed. I wonder what life was like for the miller who worked and possibly lived here when it was a mill?
These are the main gates to Dewlish House. They are made of Chinese steel that doesn't rust looted from the Peking summer palace and the only (known) loot that is left. No wonder the sign to the right of the gates says "beware guard Dogs".
This is a glimpse of Dewlish House. The British were very good a making parkland for big houses. I'm not sure about the history of Dewlish House, it might have been built for a Nabob (someone who made a fortune in India) or a returning slave owner from a Caribbean plantation. One owner of note was Field Marshal John Michel. He looted the summer palace in Peking, loaded all the loot on a ship, sent it all back to Dewlish and burned down the summer palace.

Friday, 3 July 2009

The tiny purple and yellow plantain flowers seem to work their way up from the bottom of the stalk.


I think, along with dandelion, plantain is classed as a nuisance weed yet they are both edible and have significant nutrient value. There are several sites that describe plantain and include references. is one. I have included it in two meals on two consecutive days with no ill effects.

Plantain is said to stop bleeding and heal tissues. It is good for the skin, reduces cholesterol, helps bronchitis, acts as a laxative and is an antibiotic. I have used it with sesame seed oil on my skin with noticeable positive effects. There are two main plantain species growing in Britain and they have similar qualities.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

The patterns within a dog daisy flower are amazing, you need to look through a magnifying glass to really appreciate it.

I wonder what the little beetle's looking at?

End of June and the Barley's beginning to turn yellow and ripen,
could be an early harvest if it stays dry.

A spider on her web on the edge of a wheat field just on the top left of the photo is her den made behind a wheat leaf, an attempt at photographing her in her den and a family of aphids on a wheat leaf. The aphids look a lot like a family of ducklings.

Monday, 22 June 2009

This traditional farmhouse near a church and manor house is being renovated. I wonder if I will ever live here. I have an idea in the back of my mind and if it should come into reality I could live here or even in the manor.
Watercress growing along a stream the flows through a farm, churchyard and a manor house. Parts of the stream have been laid out in watercress beds that probably supplied the farm or manor house many years ago.

Richard Mabey in his book Food for Free (Collins) cautions against eating watercress that grows along slow flowing streams in pasture land is it can harbour liver flukes. Both cattle and sheep graze along the banks of this stream.

photographic skills and specialist flowers.

Getting good close up shots require more skill than you might think. The tiny beetle was trying to get into the nectar of this cornflower but it couldn't get into the flowers despite its size. The flower probably only allows certain insects to feed on the nectar. The chances of this beetle finding another cornflower and pollinating it would be slim so it makes sense for the flower to develop methods of keeping unwanted visitors out.

The beetle is unclear because it was very difficult to get it into focus. The anthers of the cornflower are perfectly in focus but the beetle was tucked in behind them.

sesame seed oil and plantain oilment

There is a lot of evidence to indicate the beneficial effects of sesame seed oil. The Romans used plantain to help heal battle wounds so I decided to mix the two as a skin ointment.

Sesame seed oil is an insecticide and will work to remove little 'visitors' from hair, plantain could also have insecticide, antibacterial and fungicide properties.

The chef a my local pub told me that apple pectin will thicken oils to make them more like a cream. As I don't want to buy anything I included apple in the mix and it did thicken the oil into a sort of 'oilment'. As elder flowers are said to be good for the skin I included some in this batch.

The method is to heat the leaves and flowers in the oil without letting it get too hot and then just let it steep for a couple of hours before straining into a jar. Just to prevent any volatile oil evaporating I used a small balti pan as a lid so that any oils that evaporated would condense and drip back into the mix.

Next time I want to experiment with extracting (some of) the pectin from apples.

wild woodbine

Wild woodbine or honeysuckle on the top of a windswept hill.
The flowers are said to be edible.

foto food kit bag

This is what I take with me when out walking or cycling. I have tried both a rucksack and shoulder bag and on balance prefer a shoulder bag because it is easier to get stuff out of it. The camera is a Fuji S1000fd.
The book Food for Free is recommended by Ray Mears, by Richard Mabey and published by Collins. this is pretty much a perfect field reference book with clear pictures and descriptions. Everyone who goes walking in the countryside should have a copy.

15 minute lunch mackerel pate

Course mackerel pate with wafer thin sliced garlic and onion plus elder flowers and finely chopped dandelion leaves. Served on toasted wholemeal bread where one side has well flavoured olive oil spread over it and heated but not toasted. The whole meal takes less than 15 minutes to prepare. Delicious and highly nutritious.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Wild strawberries are quite common and are just changing into fruit.

There is a lot of good information on Wikipedia on the biology of flowers, fruits and seeds.
This butterfly has blue markings on it's wings that are a similar colour to the cornflower. I wonder if these are ultra violet and some form of camouflage?
If you look closely at the cornflower you will see that it is made up of hundreds of small orchid like flowers. It is one of the most beautiful flowers in the hedgerow. The foto was taken on a cloudy day and it is not as clear as I would expect. Perhaps thiscould be due to the flower showing ultra violet light that somehow matches the slightly grey light.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

I wanted a teapot to make tisanes and came across this made by London Pottery.

It's a bit 'Radio4' (middle class) but it works well.
I ordered a magnifying loupe from Amazon to help see plants in more detail. When you look at plants through higher magnification they become even more fascinating. I have tried to get the fine detail with the camera but it can't pick things out. For example there are tiny snail like bugs inside many flowers and tiny insects. The next piece of kit is a microscope.

Elder flowers

Reading up on elder flowers before trying them I learned that they were used as a medicine. They were used to treat conditions of the skin, as a pain killer and for arthritis. they are also supposed to be good for sinusitis. I do have some arthritis in the joints of my feet through excessive walking etc in an earlier life. So I am interested in any beneficial effects elder flowers may have. The following notes are purely anecdotal and are not in any way scientific. Firstly there were no ill affects after eating elder flowers with food and drinking elder flower tea. However the stalks are said to be toxic so I carefully removed just the flowers. About 2 hours after eating a tomato and elder flower sandwich I noticed a definite clearing of my nasal passages. On three occasions after eating elder flowers with a meal and drinking a small amount of elder tea I did notice that the ache and pain in the joints of my feet had gone.

first hawthorne berries of 2009

These are the first hawthorne berries that I have seen in 2009. I thought they would form a bit later in the year.
There will be more on these as they ripen.

after a nice feed...

After a nice feed on some buttercup nectar

And whilst covered in pollen, it's time to have a look round,

find a mate
and, at the same time, help make some new buttercups

Monday, 15 June 2009

birth of a seed

This isn't the death of a rose (flower) it's the birth of a fruit.