Tag Archives: rosemary

A salad mix from Gallivanta’s Herb Garden










and thyme,


Thyme (which the cat uses for her day bed. 🙂

and, because she asked for it, rocket,

for Cynthia.



This rampant rocket planted, perchance, by the light of the moon and a solar-powered torch, some seasons ago has taken off, all over my garden.

It’s my most successful crop ever. Grows better than any of my weeds.

Now, to add to the mix, I have something that Cynthia didn’t ask for, but she is getting anyway; a review of her book, A Good Home, which I have just finished reading.  Here it is. ( You may also be able to see the review on Amazon)

‘Love, laughter, tears, grief, family and community form the cornerstone of any good home, and this holds true for Cynthia Reyes’ heart-warming “A Good Home.’ From the moment Cynthia opened the door to her little pink house in Jamaica until the last pages in the old farmhouse in Canada, I felt like an honored family member in every one of her good homes ( and gardens). I laughed, I cried, I rejoiced, I mourned and marveled with Cynthia and her family. And, when Cynthia’s life shattered into sharp and dreadful pieces, I sat with her in her silence and cheered her own; willed her to allow the wisdom of the old house to begin the healing of her wounds. To my great relief, the healing began. Without it I would not have had the privilege of reading Cynthia’s tribute to the power of a good and loving home. Read and enjoy, and I guarantee that, by the time you reach the last page, you will, like me, be asking the author for a sequel. If you want to know more about Cynthia and her lovely, good home of today, I urge you to visit her blog http://cynthiasreyes.com/

In my  haste to share my enjoyment of this book, I forgot to mention, in my review, another lovely aspect of Cynthia’s story; her frank account of  her ‘doubting Thomas’ struggle with her faith. It cheered me  greatly because it echoes my own faith experiences, which, dare I say it,  are somewhat akin to the salad mix in my garden. Sometimes they are over abundant, sometimes they turn up in unlikely places; sometimes they are tattered at the edges or bug-eaten, or don’t grow well at all. But the amazing thing is that there always seems to be enough faith around to nourish me when I most need it.

On Amazon you can read an excerpt from Cynthia’s book, so whilst you all rush off and leaf through that, I’ll prepare us a delicious green salad with herb dressing that we can share when you’re ready. Deal? 🙂

From Gallivanta’s Herb Garden, with love.

With love

With love

© silkannthreades

Patience, patience….

My aunt went on, “I don’t know what will become of Sadie. Will you take her home with you and look after her?” “One day, I will,” I replied.  But, for now, she can remain in quiet retirement. She has earned her rest.

Do you remember Sadie Rosemary? The family doll of long years and multiple identities?

Sadie Rosemary

Sadie Rosemary

About six weeks ago, I visited my aunt at her retirement home. She said it was time for me to take care of Sadie; to bring her home with me. The “one day” we spoke of, on previous occasions, had arrived. It was now. No excuses!

So, I swaddled Sadie in her orange shawl, gathered her close, like a newborn babe, and presented her to my aunt for a farewell kiss and, then, with tear-salted smiles, we were off. Off, by car, across the Plains, to begin another chapter in the Life of Sadie Rosemary. It will, most likely, be a staid chapter but Sadie won’t mind. She’s a patient, placid sort, used to sitting about, and letting what will be, be. And, in the process of sitting and being, she’s experienced an enormous amount of life; much more than you would believe by simply looking at her baby-sized self.

Sadie came to life in Japan in the 1920s. Still brand new, she was shipped out  to New Zealand (much like any other settler of the early days), where she found a home in Papanui with two young girls, only a little older than herself.  They all wore matching knitted dresses, home-made in New Zealand. 🙂

Pretending to ride a horse

Pretending to ride a horse

Later, when the little girls grew up, one of them, the one with curly-whirly hair,  went to Fiji, and Sadie eventually joined her, to be cared for by two more little girls; my sister and I.   Sadie, being a  celluloid doll, was not supposed to do well in the heat and moisture but, somehow, she survived more than twenty years in the tropics without exploding or disintegrating. Which meant that, one day, she was able to fly ( in a jet plane, no less! ) all the way back to New Zealand, where, after a certain amount of reverse culture shock, she settled down to a time of quiet contemplation, in the home of her very first companion, my aunt, ( the one with tidy hair and beautiful big bow). In a small, country town they grew old souls, together,

My aunt and Sadie; growing together

My aunt and Sadie; growing together

until that moment, last month, when my aunt said “Now, Sadie, NOW is the time for your next home”.

And, so, here she is, safely home, yet again. To a place where she is snug and content,

Sadie Rosemary, safely home, yet again

Sadie Rosemary, safely home, yet again

and as deeply loved as ever she was.

But quietly, quietly,  I ask, ” Sadie, Rosemary, Sadie, who will take care of you next? ” And from the pale blue eyes there comes a whisper, “Patience, patience; the time is not yet.”  Such wisdom from a doll of long years. 🙂

© silkannthreades

What’s in a name?

Recently, rosemary, the herb, has played a starring role in my blog, and in my home life.  Almost every day, during the past fortnight, I have made an infusion of rosemary leaves and flowers, and the scent has permeated my workspace aka the kitchen 🙂  The fragrance is swoon-worthy but ,of course, swooning in the kitchen would be dangerous, so I resist the temptation and sit sensibly at my bench top laptop instead.  Now, as you may or may not remember, rosemary is a symbol for remembrance. But, even more interestingly, the aroma of rosemary is believed to  enhance memory and brain function. It’s true; the Huffington Post says so  (  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/27/rosemary-brain-memory-18-cineole_n_1304250.html ) Perhaps, then, it was my daily inhalation of rosemary essences that made my brain suddenly take a little leap and twirl and prance off down memory lane, to the time where my life long love of rosemary began.  Strangely though, my love for rosemary began not with the herb but with the name, Rosemary.

Many decades ago, near the beginning of my life, I was given guardianship of a large baby doll which had belonged to my aunt, and, later, to my mother.  The doll came to me from my aunt’s home, complete with beautiful clothes, bed-clothes and a white pram large enough for a real baby. I can not remember if she came with a name (obviously insufficient rosemary chemicals in my blood stream) but I do remember my very solemn decision to christen this precious family treasure, Rosemary.  Why Rosemary? I have no idea; again my brain is insufficiently enhanced to recall!  But Rosemary she remained, all her life with me and then through my sister’s childhood too.

Eventually, after decades of a steamy life in the tropics, it was felt that Rosemary was in danger of ‘going troppo’, so she was returned to my aunt in New Zealand. Sadly, the pram had disintegrated under the stress of tropical living conditions but my aunt, and a doll doctor, were able to restore Rosemary to her original beauty.

Content that Rosemary was alive and well and in good hands, I didn’t think much more about her until, a few years back, when I visited my aunt in her new abode in a retirement home. There, on my aunt’s bed, was Rosemary. I exclaimed “Oh, you have  Rosemary here. How lovely!”  My aunt, who in no way at all needs artificial enhancement of her mental faculties, looked at me in great surprise and said,  ” Rosemary? That’s Sadie. She’s always been Sadie.” It was my turn to be surprised. Through all those years I had loved her, my Rosemary had been hiding a secret Sadie. 🙂

My aunt went on, “I don’t know what will become of Sadie. Will you take her home with you and look after her?” “One day, I will,” I replied.  But, for now, she can remain in quiet retirement. She has earned her rest. My aunt will be 94 this year. I imagine Sadie/Rosemary is only a little younger.

© silkannthreades

A small Last Post

I didn’t feel that I had the emotional energy to write another post about Anzac Day, but my son took some photos of our dog, Jack, wearing a Red Poppy……

and the very sweetness of them has inspired me to write one small, last post. It is a tribute to the animals who were as much a part of the Gallipoli campaign, and the First World War, as any human being.  There are some wonderful Anzac stories about these animals. One particularly famous animal is a donkey, used for bearing the wounded from Gallipoli. The donkey was awarded a RSPCA Purple Cross for animal bravery in war.

However,  it is the inscriptions on the  Animals in War   Memorial situated on the eastern edge of Hyde Park, London, that best sums up my feelings about the contributions our animal friends  have made to our man-made wars

This monument is dedicated to all the animals
that served and died alongside British and allied forces
in wars and campaigns throughout time” (First inscription)

They had no choice“(Second inscription)

Many and various animals were employed to support British and Allied Forces in wars and campaigns over the centuries, and as a result millions died. From the pigeon to the elephant, they all played a vital role in every region of the world in the cause of human freedom.
Their contribution must never be forgotten.“(At the rear of the Memorial)

I have not seen this Memorial, unveiled in 2004, but I would certainly like to, one day. In the meantime, my little Jack, will honour his fallen comrades.

Lest we forget

P1020382Footnote: Jack is a diminutive form of the name John.  The soldiers at Gallipoli were referred to as Johnnies and Mehmets by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in his famous words written in 1934.  Anzac soldiers were also known to refer to their Turkish enemies, at the time, as Johnny Turk.

© silkannthreades

Rosemary for Remembrance

In my previous post, I wrote about the Red Poppy which is an international symbol of remembrance for all those who have fought and died in war.  Another flower, which symbolises remembrance, is rosemary.

On our Anzac Day, we often combine poppies and rosemary in the wreaths, or floral tributes, we place on our war memorials or on headstones in cemeteries for service personnel. This is my table centrepiece with rosemary from my garden. I plan to add some poppies tomorrow on Anzac Day.Remembrance

According to Philippa Werry’s beautiful book on Anzac*, rosemary grows wild on the Gallipoli peninsula.  She writes that a wounded soldier brought home a rosemary cutting from Gallipoli, and a hedge from that cutting grows to this day in the Waite Arboretum near Adelaide, Australia. Also included in the book is a beautiful poem by New Zealand poet Alistair Te Ariki Campbell called ‘Gallipoli Peninsula’. Some of you may be able to access it on  this link  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVzC47BEcyQ.  It begins “It was magical when flowers appeared on the upper reaches….. ”  This poem has also been set to music. This link will give you a brief sample of the music  being sung by the New Zealand Secondary Schools’ Choir ( http://sounz.org.nz/works/show/20973 )

Rosemary, or Rosmarinus officinalis, is member of the mint family.  Rosemary derives from the Latin for ‘dew’ (ros) and ‘sea’ (marinus) and can be translated as ‘dew of the sea’. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosemary).  I think “dew of the sea” is a perfect description for the gentle blues and greens and sea foamy hues of rosemary.

* Anzac Day, The New Zealand Story by Philippa Werry

© silkannthreades

Garden in my Pocket

Most likely, the saying “A book is like a garden carried in the pocket” is well known to many. But I heard it for the first time this morning and fell in love with it immediately. The Garden in my Pocket at the moment is a magazine rather than a book. I am reading Oxford Today, (Michaelmas Term 2012) – Volume 25 No 1. The front cover features an elegant portrait of the remarkable Aung San Suu Kyi.  The caption reads, “Resilient in the Face of Adversity”. I like that; resilient in the face of adversity. And always with a flower or two in her hair.  That, perhaps, more than anything, during all her years of struggle, impressed her resilience and strength upon me. Imagine, being in the worst of circumstances and still remembering to put a flower in your hair and look serene. ♥

Other little seedlings now planted in my pocket garden thanks to  the magazine:

I discovered Cornelia Sorabji, India’s first female barrister, (Somerville 1895) and one of many  famous Indian Oxonians;

And I learned about  Zuleika Dobson

and that the Oxford University Press provided the type for the text of the first Bhutanese passports. Apparently the OUP had a beautiful and elegant handset Tibetan type that was perfect  for the job. The magazine article describes it like “aubretia tumbling over a Cotswald wall”.  A type like tumbling aubretia; glorious description and what a beautiful type to have in a passport.

Small question? Does aubretia (or more correctly ’Aubrieta’) grow in Bhutan?  Possibly?

Another question; have you ever wondered what it might be like to have a real garden in your pocket? Try putting a sprig of rosemary, or lavender, or a rose, or all three in your pocket. For the sake of the washer-person in your life, don’t include any mud, caterpillars, slugs or aphids.