big ideas from a little garden

tales and stories of how we make the most of our garden and our terraced house.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Phytotherapy laws...

I am currently sitting the final part of my phytotherapy diploma. Once this is complete I will be legally allowed to peddle my knowledge to my hearts content. No doubt there are the dubious among us that don't believe anything can be changed with a fist full of greenery. Well, more fool you!
Phytotherapy or Herbalism, even herbology. It's all the same horse in different pyjamas. It has been around since the first cave man realised his tummy felt better after a meal or infusion of mint. That same wise cave man may also have found his wife was more receptive if she had nibbled on some feverfew, and her headache was miraculously banished. The famed herbals are countless and invaluable. So to all you doubters I thumb my nose at you and say “ner ner na ner ner”
Herbalism has been passed from mother to daughter, from practitioner to apprentice even swapped between neighbours for a millennia. It has kept people from the brink of death. It has made simple country maids more alluring to the hunky blacksmith. It has been a household essential.
Then comes the sting. The modern world has decided it cannot be practised in a “hedge witch” manner. You need a qualification to practise. A diploma will suit! or so I thought.
So years of study, one phytotherapy diploma, one clinical phytotherapy diploma and countless other complimentary essentials. I am on the right track.
Wrong! After all this study “they”, whoever “they” are, have decided that this will no longer be enough come May.
It is not a simple matter of nipping off to the local uni and signing the next 3 years away. I have my two delicious cubs to raise. My wonderful DD to care for and be cared about. I have a gaggle of loopy chickens that need my daily attentions. And a garden I plan to thoroughly enjoy.
There is a serious lack of complimentary therapy correspondence courses out there. Granted any sort of therapeutic course needs a substantial amount of clinic hours to be able to feel competent. The courses I have undertaken take this on board.
So the options are.
  1. don't peddle herbs (well that's not likely is it dear reader?)
  2. move the entire family to Scotland or London to go to university (hardly fair on team duck!)
  3. enrol with the University of east London and commute to London for 500 clinic hours. (on reflection 500 hours over 3 years is not too bad)

Well it seems option three is the way forward. Despite my having spent the last couple of years studying I now have to start from scratch for a Phytotherapy BSc. This seems to encompass the majority of the diplomas I have already done, but places them all under one umbrella.
Still it would be nice to have BSc after my name rather than simply Sac Dip.(it sounds so wrong)
Perhaps over the year to come I can do a doctorate in botany or some such thing. Just imagine Dr Nelly!

It's a good job I love the subject. All together now, deep breath. Ahhhhhhh, herbs!
*wanders off to channel the spirit of Culpeper*

A desk sized sewing kit.

1.  Take one jar. Remove the lid and attempt to cut the middle out of it.
2.  Use all the utensils in the kitchen that you may think will do the job.
3.  Discover they won't.
4.  Almost remove the pads of your finger and thumb on the metal.
5.  Shout up the stairs "Nothing, everything is fine", when DD enquires about the banging and swearing.
6.  Finally carve the hole by using the rusty blade of an old waiter's friend.
7.  Use a sharp pair of scissors to "tidy" the edges.
8.  Bleed into the sink a bit.
9.  Swear and curse as you utilise every housewives trick to try to remove the sticky glue from the glass jar.
10. Decant mint sauce into the washed jar and use the mint sauce jar instead because it has a nice paper label that is easy to remove.
11.  Clean up the blobs of mint sauce from the kitchen counter.
12.  Hunt down some nice fabric.
13.  Pick off the bits of fleece/unspun silk that linger in the bottom of the sewing basket.
14.  Sniff to check it doesn't smell of manky old sheep.
15.  Draw around the lid on to some stiff card.
16.  Do it again.
17.  And again.
18.  Cut out the circle and place it upon the fabric.
19.  Cut roughly around the card placed upon the fabric.
20.  Do it again because it is too small.
21.  Place cotton wool balls in the middle of the fabric scrap.
22.  Place the board on top of the cotton wool.
23.  Glue the fabric around the edges.
24.  Staple the fabric around the edges because the glue isn't sticking.
25.  Push the padded circle into the lid ring.
26.  Realise you didn't account for the extra width of the fabric and staples.
27.  Cut a smaller circle and repeat actions 19-25 leaving out action 23.
28.  Glue some contrasting cord around the edge to make it "pretty".
29.  Hunt down some sewing essentials.
30.  Drop pins into DD's electrical gizmos and hope you don't all explode.
31.  Screw the top back on and enjoy you handy work.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

An Unexpected Award

I have kindly been given the Versatile Blogger Award recently by elf sufficient and would like to pass on the love.

1. I would like to introduce you all to the Kirby Family  via their fun and informative blog. They are some of the world truely good people.
2. I also enjoy reading and indulging in my love of all things earthy and herbal at By Earth Root and Flower
3. I couldn't pass up an oportunity to show you all my beloved DD's Blog now could I?
4. And last but by no means least I have recently been reading the blog of a friend who shares not just a name but an ethic for a way of life. NorthernMonkeyGirl's blog.
5. And last but not least. A recent blog I have looked at and follow is from The barefoot gardener. A person after my own heart.

Things about me.
1. I am studying phytotherapy, reflexology, aromatherapy and massage.
2. I read between 3-6 books a week.
3. I am named after my Great Grandmother Nelly Bladen.
4. An apple never falls far from the tree. I am the daughter of a Derbyshire man and fell head over heals with a Derbyshire lad. (While living in Wales)

Dickens' Chickens and the Great Escape.

*an escape tunnel?
As the weather has warmed up the egg laying committee seems to be forming itself into a Dickensesque criminal gang. They seem to be taking on the persona of a stereotypical Victorian underclass. I must say, they have gone about the garden in a most efficient way. Turning a lush, verdant jungle of naturalism into the slums of a the criminal underbelly.
They have successfully prevented any regrowth of grass and the ducks have enjoyed making the garden path into a thick swamp. Perhaps if you listen carefully at night you can hear the cries of Able Magwich? Struggling in the mire of the once, clean and functional garden path.
In good time shovels and brushes will be deployed, and it will be restored to it's former glory. Then it will be covered in fetching pea shingle. Just right for bare tootsies. But, for now, the gang can enjoy the haven of scratchability they have bestowed upon the grounds for just a little longer.
Due to this lack of green stuff they have spent a week or so gazing through the fence with desire dripping from every feather. Next-door's unsullied lawn taunting them with it's fresh growth. Clearly, the cabbage, sprouts, lettuce, broccoli, and other sundry good they are presented with is unacceptable. They will deign to present us with regular eggs but we do not, at any point, feel the look of longing is for the benefit of anything other than our own guilt. Surely if they look at it long enough we will put in a small chicken sized gate to allow them access to such superior pasture?
Well, they have given up waiting! Late at night they gathered around the brazier outside the egloo. Warming their wings and listening intently to the master plan.
Pecky has assumed the roll of Fagin. She is, and always will be the leader of this motley crew. Commanding her minions to do her bidding. Egging on Poppy to mob DD as he kindly takes their feed down to the feeding station. Taking advantage of Poppy's placid nature. Clearly the Nancy of Pecky's rabble of Molls. She is a sweet bird, never any trouble and always clean and tidy. She never seems to get into any scrapes and shares her food with the smaller girls.
"They willl never expect you to come flying onto the bowl and scatter the grain far and wide while they are carrying it. Then they are silly enough to refill them! Two meals for the price of one!"
Violet and Rosie are being instructed in the ways of the street urchin.
"Look cute girls! You know the silly male food provider cannot resit letting you hitch a ride upon his shoulder. Make sure you come running to his feet in an endearing way. Fluff your feathers and take on the cuddleablitiy of a loved and cherished bear. Then, when you have gained his confidence, check his pockets! There may be tasty treats within. Utilise the shoulder ride. I feel sure one of these days you will find grain in his ears. Be thorough!. Rest assure, he is soft hearted and will think it is a friendly nuzzle" 
Then there are Snowbell and Gwynn. The hardened ladies of the night. Selling their favours to any passing crow, for the right price. Tail feathers in the air and a confident swagger.
 I am sure that they are saying "'ere lovey, Fancy a good time? Just one fist of grain will take you halfway to heaven" I wonder if I check their privet hidy hole I will find the tools of their trade? lipstick, perfume and white stilettos?
Of course there is Darcy to contend with. Ever on the scene, "protecting" his girls. Come too close or ruffle a few feathers and he will fix you with his steely eye.
"One false move, mister and I'll cut ya!" He has attempted to enlist Georgie Pup as "Bullseye" but she just doesn't cut the mustard as the ferocious hound.
Enter the Ducks, stage left. Our ever present, ever pious missionaries. Sent into to slums to "improve the souls" of the underbelly and low lives.
They have little interest in the Garden of Eden next-door. As if they know it can only lead one astray and into the path of evil. They try to show the chickens the error of their ways. They are clearly leading by example. Splashing in the puddles and making mud pies is a far more wholesome activity. "My dears, look not to greener pastures. Have joy in the mud the lord has provide."
Yesterday saw The Plan come to fruition. They Have dug their tunnel and found a path to Eden. You could observe them scratching at the lawn and shuffling their feel. Distributing the soil dug from the tunnel about the garden. The Human Beans will never suspect a thing.

Then came the knock at the door. "Your Cockerel is in the garden"

So, I hotfooted it into the garden next door to retrieve Darcy.  Imagine my inner smirk at the "towny" as I chased down Gwynn. I feel certain being thought of as a lad will do her trade no good. What self respecting crow would want a dalliance with a transsexual chicken?
We played around and around the garden for a good few minutes until she decided her home turf was the place to be. Silly bird. I now observed the escape tunnel and went about blocking it up. Grasping her firmly I lobbed her back over the fence. She shook herself off and all too soon returned to Eden. This time taking Poppy, Darcy and Snowbell with her.
This time it was Teenbeast and DD who did the honours. I had been excused due to a booking of Taxi of Mum. 
Upon my return from Boglin's horse riding lesson I asked DD why he had so many scratches. Through gritted teeth he said "they got out again"
The breech is now blocked sufficiently by DD and all secret alternative routes have been hunted down and blocked.
The one joy in all this was the donating of the two eggs laid in Eden. Happy neighbours. I only hope the next eggs the consume from the committee comes via a glut not an adventure.
* not one of our birds, but this photo struck a chord.

Do Children Sleep in Grow Bags?

My adorable cubs.
Today's job de jour is to clean out the temporary holding cell of Cubbage Clothing (the boiler cupboard). Sort the clothing into piles that fit and piles that don't. Then to Re-file in a more appropriate place.

I no longer feel that a stack of freshly laundered clothing is improved any by having a boiler drip onto them. I did briefly entertain the idea of cutting out the middle man. No longer putting them through the washing machine, and further reducing the energy bills by making the Cubs sit in there, fully clothed. They could have a wash and clean their rancid school uniforms at the same time.
However, I felt this was a little too akin to Chinese water torture and prefer to come up with my own ingenious ways of tormenting the kids.
I am finding that being a member of the PTA and just turning up at their schools is quite sufficient to cause maximum embarrassment to them and elicit cries of "Oh Mum! how could you?" I have attempted to blink out of existence at a moments notice. All in the spirit of saving them the soul crushing humiliation of admitting they were born of man but I just don't seem to have made much of a success of it as yet. *note to self, Must Try Harder*
They are currently missing in action (at their Dad's).
So I have thought this would be a fine opportunity to go through their possessions and remove any that I, as a responsible despot deem surplus to requirement.

I always find it a harrowing experience. Entering the lair of the Teenbeast is not to be taken lightly. You will find an array of pants and socks that could either save humanity from cancer or wipe out the national debt. (let's face it after a bubonic like episode the country would have less mouths to feed). There are the tangled bedclothes that seem to show he was wrestling with inner daemons during his sleeping hours. I ask you, dear reader, why is he incapable of keeping a fitted sheet on a mattress? Does if offend him in some way and he has to wrest from it's anchoring corners to be flung aside?
However, I shall do my duty as dotting Mummykins and reassemble his carnage and find a space to store his darling, precious garments. (What will be left of them after the refiling! mwahahah)

Next up will be the Abode of the Boglin Princess. Why is it that small girls permanently smell of biscuits? I may take on an experiment to feed her just cabbage in the weeks to come, and see if the slightly damp, vanilla scent diminishes slightly. I also have puzzled, over the years where all the glitter comes from. After a just ten minutes in her company you will go about your business, only to be told that you have a fleck of glitter upon your person. Where does it come from? Does she sweat glitter? Maybe it is an essential part of Boglin hair? Her barnet is often so boglinesque that I swear a mouse is in residence. Perhaps he is a Disco mouse and adorns his downy fur with multi coloured glitter for his disco nights?
Dear Boglin has a large array of garments. She is a fashionista extraordinaire and could wear a different outfit everyday of the year without having to use the same garment twice. However, around 80% of this wardrobe of delights is now far too small. It was only a couple of month ago I culled the Boglin's wardrobe, and yet here I am again.
I am aware she has a hearty appetite. I do wonder if she is allowed to eat as many servings of lunch at school as she does here. If so do they have an outside caterer just to fill her needs? Or are all the other children shadowy waifs, who have the grey pallid faces of the underfed. Sitting at her feet, begging for scraps from her plate, as she has once more eaten the whole kitchen out of food?
Despite her healthy and hearty appetite, I hasten to add, that I have seen more fat on a sparrow's knee cap. She is still clinging to the delicious shape of a small girl, although age is creeping in and turning her into a teen! She may eat for Britain but she has a the balanced diet nutritionists around the world applaud. She loves fresh fruit and veg and can easily put away as much as any full grown man.
If she is enjoying such a healthy and fulfilling diet it has to be going somewhere. She sure as hell is not overweight in any sense. She is a beautiful image of an eleven year old girl. The only thing that can be done to accommodate this consumption of good home cooking can be height. Ergo, this must be the answer.
With good health among children comes good growth. My two are certainly taking this as the rule.
In conclusion, they do not sleep in grow bags. They have a good and healthy diet!
NB. I may have to raise the door frames to stop them bumping their heads within the next year or so.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow......

our glorious view.
Here at the tinyholding we have been waiting with bated breath for the snow to reach us. It seemed like everyone and their dog had snow except us. We just had ice and drizzle.
Late yesterday afternoon if finally happened. The Somme has turned into a winter wonderland. Crisp white and pure. Not a sludgy puddle in sight. It's simply beautiful. Our spectacular view now sports acres of blue sky over acres of white field. It makes you blink in it's brightness. The view cannot fail to be breath-taking but extremes of weather make it more so.

The tinyholding cubs have had a marvellous time. Snowball fights happened (Poor DD got in the way and found himself a target). They built a snowy shutter over the front window to make it look like we were trapped inside from the living room. Steamy jacket potatoes were requested. Hands rewarmed under cool water.  Soggy gloves, jeans and socks steaming gently on the bathroom floor (for the laundry fairy to pick up of course).

However, the egg laying committee are not so enthralled. As usual the naughty ducks met us at the back door for breakfast but we had to go and hunt down the chickens after they had been let out.
Darcy was the first out. Obviously doing the macho "I'll see if this white stuff is safe, ladies!" fluff, fluff, strut!
Then followed Snowbell. After all nothing a silly as this white stuff will keep her from the choicest picks of breakfast. Maggie saunters out second. The baby of the bunch this is her first snow. She lifted one foot after the other like a cat on a hot tin roof. The others followed suit, slowly but surely. Eyeing the ground with suspicion.
All bar the two banties, Rosie and Violet, seemed to be tucking in. Fearing the worst DD went to investigate. He had nothing to worry about. Passing Rosie on the path after she had plucked up the courage. DD gazed into the coop. There sat Violet. Her feathers fluffed. If she could she would flap her wings about her in a chilly arm flapping way. She eyed DD and seemed to convey, "Brrr. Do you think I'm stupid enough to go out there? Bring me my breakfast Jeeves, and be quick about it!"
She finally decided to give it up as a lost cause and went to get her own.
Wandering barefoot back down the path. DD stopped to give Rosie a stroke and tickle her neck. She almost climbed him. She made it quite clear that his arms was where she was supposed to be. After all, he was warm, up of the ground and willing! He obliged and picked her up. Gave her the obligatory cuddle and tried to put her down. She was not having it! In his arms was clearly the place to be and that is where she wanted to stay, thank you very much. After doing the "get the chicken off me" dance she finally found herself back in the snow. I'm sure she gave him a *look*
Well, they had better get used to it, because it seems it's in for a while. Personally I'm quite happy with it. However, I don't have to go anywhere. No doubt after a week or so I will feel the same lack of patience as the birds. But for now...
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.....