For a long time, the small fireplace in the bedroom was closed up.
Then I decided to open it up and build a small surround.
In the true vernacular style I have used stones from the area around the cottage.
These were stones that the earth had simply pushed out…pieces of red sandstone.
I collected up the small bits to make two piers, one for either side of the fireplace.
These piers were then built onto the larger stones used for raising up the fire grate.
On the top of the larger stones in the grate I placed a big flag stone I had sitting around by the back of the cottage.
I put this old fire insert in place.
I had this sitting out the back with plants in it for a long time!
An old piece of wood was placed atop of the stone piers to form a small, compact mantelpiece.
It was then painted the same colour as the walls to bring it all together!
As you can see, it serves the purpose well!
There is nothing quite so comforting as drifting off to sleep in front of a beautiful, open fire!
I grow over 40 varieties of herbs here at Bealtaine Cottage. These I store in glass jars in the pantry, pictured above…
As well as the cultivated herbs, there are, perhaps hundreds of wild herbs growing here as well, such as Sorrel and Mint…in fact several varieties of mint!
Other wild herbs are less obvious, but are there when one goes looking for them!
The fact is, more and more people are becoming alarmed at the reliance on modern medicines.
Many people are seeking natural alternatives and many of these are already known to us.
It is important that we pass on the wisdom accumulated in our lifetimes as much of what was common lore, folklore is fast being lost as the lines of communication between people are closing, for people talk with each other much less these days!
Folk wisdom was founded on a combination of what people knew, what was passed on to them, understanding of the human mind and a very deep understanding of the value of herbs and plants.
What is more comforting than a cup of peppermint tea to soothe a bilious stomach?
Or a cup of Camomile tea to calm the nerves, or tea made from Lemon Balm or Lemon Verbena?
Wild Mint tea, Nettle tea are ancient recipes for various health problems.
All these are now dried teas that we now buy in shops, but these are easily grown, cultivated or even collected from the wild!
Herbal teas are very easy to make!
Simply take half an ounce of the dried herb and pour on one pint of boiling water.
Alternatively use one ounce of a fresh herb to one pint of boiling water and let it stand for five minutes.
One can add honey or sugar to sweeten and any milk or cream…it really is a matter of personal taste!
It’s important to pick the herb before flowering and in the early morning, before the sun is at it’s strongest and many of the oils in the plant are weakened.
If you have a particular herbal tea that you enjoy, it would make sense then to grow an abundance of it, dry and store for all year round use.
It’s always best to store in either glass, or stoneware jars as these are natural and will not impart any unwanted flavour to the herb.
I often drink herbal teas that I mix with Indian or Ceylon teas…and get the goodness and flavour of both!
Tulips planted several years ago under one of the many Beech trees at Bealtaine.
London pride growing on either side of the steps. This is a perfect permaculture flowering plant, as it takes over, even in weedy, clay soil. Small bits were planted alongside the steps about 4 years ago and managed to push out the creeping buttercup, which can be very resolute and defiant! London Pride will flower during May and keep it’s flowers for many weeks!
Bealtaine Cottage is beginning to merge into the Spring growth…another few weeks and it will not be visible at all!
Little pots of Sedum are flowering atop the old fireplace at the back of the barn. Sedum is a great plant for enduring dry periods, then flourishing after rain!
Lilac has blossomed in a sheltered corner of the front garden. I pruned this last Autumn, cutting out all the spindley and crossover branches and consequently the blooms are lush.