Sunday 30 July 2023

Three Natural Resources or mix: Roman Cement; Polyhalite; and Lithium …


This post is to satisfy my inner need to write about these rocks, or mixes thereof … equally I don't want to bore you – I'm generous that way, aren't I? – tempt/inform you … but let you do the wandering …

Various crystals - found in Canada

Many scientists had wondered why so many of the Roman buildings are still intact after 2,000 years, while recent ones fall down or 'think about' collapsing …

I'd visited Canterbury Cathedral (in 2015) where repairs were being carried out after part of the stone tracery from the Great South Window had collapsed … details in links.

Scaffolding seen when I visited
Canterbury Cathedral

Recently scientists appear to have found the magic ingredient behind ancient Rome's self-healing concrete … 

A large volcanic Tephra at Brown Bluff,
Antartica - a particularly large tephra

It is believed that Tephra ... a fragmental material produced by volcanic eruption … is the magic ingredient the Romans added into their building mix … allowing damaged areas to self-heal before further building disaster occurred.

Next – Polyhalite – a natural multi-nutrient fertiliser – a by-product from the potash mined under the North York Moors/North Sea.

North York Moors

It's only recently been realised how environmentally valuable Polyhalite is – they use it on the hallowed turf at Wimbledon - four nutrients are found in one product - the Anglo-American site is informative.

The Polyalite layer of rock happens to be of motherlode proportions … the only known deposit being mined anywhere in the world, now shipped where needed as an organic agricultural fertiliser – so this country suddenly can add mining back onto its export list …

Poldice Mine, east of Redruth
Cornwall – which I call my homeland – has, since time recorded, had mines – the Phoenicians from the Levant 3,000 years ago were drawn to the availability of Cornish locally mined silver and tin, the Romans 2,000 years ago also accessed the resources.

Crown Mines Botallack

The Cornish landscape honeycombed with mine shafts is once again being opened up to exploration for essential minerals – copper, tungsten and importantly lithium

Artisinal miners, Kalio,
Republic of Congo

Maybe we don't like mining our own lands – but surely we 'do it' more ethically, carefully and frugally as far as the environment is concerned – which has to be 'way better' than ripping the earth apart with little care in the world – as happens in for instance the Democratic Republic of Congo … or because of greed insist the populace work in inhuman conditions with little care for their health or lives.

As Ed Conway mentions in his book 'Material World: A Substantial Story of Our Past and Future' … dirty and grimy though mining may be – it is part of the human story.

Ed Conway's book -
that inspired some
of this post

The blurb notes 'Sand, salt, iron, copper, oil and lithium. They built our world, and they will transform our future.'

I have to say I really want to read this book – but am immersed in rather a large number of others – so it'll have to wait – but I will get there … it sounds extremely informative.

Our ancestors were, really, quite wise - I hope we take more note of their ways and knowledge ... 

Anglo-American - 

Polyhalite and Potash - what's the difference? 

The Woodsmith Project - about the new polyhalite fertiliser mine

Canterbury Cathedral Scaffolding tour in 2015 (my blog post)

Julia and Hans Rausing Trust - informative article on the Cathedral and their donation towards saving the window.

Tephra - more info c/o Wiki

Massachusetts Institute of Technology article on Why Roman Concrete was so durable ... 'Riddle Solved' 

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Monday 24 July 2023

Family Wedding guzzles, snippets … 2/2


The bride was ebullient, ecstatic, excited, exuberant, exhilarated and totally thrilled that 'the day to become Mr and Mrs' had finally arrived – sadly no photos … but it was an eye-opening day …

Buckets of flowers - simple, but
delightfully colourful

Fun speeches – with lots of amusing quips coming out … the groom being very determined to look after his near and dear … especially his new Missus – she wasn't going to be left out!

Their first dance showed the Missus' delight – they set off sedately … then I've never seen the new Missus move quite so quickly … as she whizzed back to her hubby's arms – with a few hugs grabbed for good measure!

MIL made the cake

I have to catch up on who did what – I only went over for the day – but everything was meticulously planned – except for that dreaded (cold) wind … and by the time I went home before 'carriages at midnight' were called ... I was very glad!

We had a local catering company 'The Green Fig' – who set up a catering tent, attached to the marquee …

Marquee set up ... 

My guzzle choices highlighted below ... and were listed on our individual Menu ... with a little bio for each of us ... 


  • Trio of salmon (gluten free) - smoked salmon, flaked hot smoked salmon, salmon and chive mousse with homemade focaccia

  • Seared carpaccio of beef fillet (gluten free, dairy free) - served with wasabi dressing

  • Homemade vegetable pakoras (vegan, vegetarian, dairy free) - served with homemade spiced pineapple chutney

Main Courses

  • Slow-roasted shoulder of lamb (gluten free, dairy free on request) - served on Boulangere potatoes with Mediterranean vegetables in a light tomato and rosemary jus

  • Oven-baked cod with parmesan and chorizo crust - served with lemon butter sauce, served on crushed new potatoes with summer greens

  • Charred hispi cabbage (vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, dairy free; contains nuts) - served with a herby polenta cake and hazelnut Romesco sauce


  • Summer berry pavlova (vegetarian, gluten free)

  • Salted caramel pecan pie (vegetarian; contains nuts)

  • Vegan baklava custard tart (vegetarian, vegan, dairy free)

 … all very good.

I'd been tempted by the Herby Polenta cake as my main, and the Salted Caramel Pecan pie … but settled for my first choices.

Heater strapped down - they'd blown
over during the night - weather was
clear though ... 

The 12 tables, with a top table, were all labelled with the names of the places they'd been to on holiday – I was on Athens … the others: Bologna, Cotswolds, Dubrovnik, Limassol, Naxos (Greek Island), New Forest, Penzance, Port Isaac, Rome, Valletta, Venice …

I have friends whose daughter is getting married this weekend – it looks as though that one will be damp … and chilly – I'm now glad ours was on St Swithin's Day.  It was a very wet overnighter?!


I caught up with a few friends … while at the Church, I'd arrived early, a Nigerian pal came early too – and we nattered … he was somewhat bemused when I mentioned the trilogy 'Binti' by the American Nigerian author – Nnedi Okorafor – a Sci-Fi tale based around the Himba tribe in Namibia: not a subject he'd expected to come across!

I'm now looking forward to catching up with all the ins and outs ... and latest news anon.  My brother and SIL have understandably disappeared for a break!  

Plum tree - full of fruits - it's an old
orchard area

Information from One Stop English - where I gather wicked derives from the Old English Word wicca - the female equivalent was wicce - giving us the word witch. 

The Menu card

Hilary (orig. Latin, 'Hilarius': 'cheerful', 'happy')

A generous and loving honorary godmother. Endlessly caring and always there.

A 1613 pamphlet "showing
Witches Apprehended, Examined,
Executed, for notable villanies ..."
I'm glad to live in the 21st C!

Normal service will be resumed here shortly ... 
no peace for this wicce over the summer - I just need to catch my tail if wicce have tails? ...

The Green Fig Catering Company found outside Eastbourne ... 

PS - I forgot b-o-o-z-e ... plenty on hand - I enjoyed my Prosecco and water ... (not mixed!)

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Wednesday 19 July 2023

Wellie boots, St Swithin's Day, family wedding ... 1/2


Well – the weather was typically British – perhaps a little (to put it mildly) windy, and potentially very wet …

Part of The Tye - the wind blew the clouds away

It was St Swithin's Day … 15th July …

Oh St Swithin if thou'll be fair,

For forty days shall rain nae mair,

But if St Swithin's thou be wet,

for forty days it raineth yet.

What to wear … soggy feet or clothes, are not my idea of fun … in the end the rain stayed away – but by golly gosh the wind did not!

In case you're mesmerised by the rug
 - there be clouds on those boots!

I took my Seasalt wellies – my favourite shop in Penzance, when I came back from South Africa (in the early 1980s) to visit my mother – with me – in case … so (including another set of shoes, and a waterproof) I was a bit of a bag lady! - but that wind blew the showers or rainstorm away …

Seasalt's Calendar for this year
Oh by the way – the wellies aren't that old! - they did go to Canada with me … well travelled like their owner – and not often worn! Seasalt has now spread its wings with shops around the United Kingdom.

Coaster showing Church

The Service was held in the Cathedral of the Downs – as St Andrew's Church, Alfriston is known – it was built in the 1370s in the form of a Greek Cross.

There were three weddings in the village that day – the family's first choice would have been Berwick where the Bloomsbury Group paintings have recently been restored – but already booked by another local family … then a Chapel wedding also on The Tye – as the green in the centre of the village is known – where St Andrew's resides.

View of the Downs pre WW2 - painted
by Eric Ravilious (1903 - 1942)
My taxi driver parked up – and started directing the traffic – managing to get my brother, who gave the bride away, and the bride nearer to the Church's entrance … it was pandemonium I gather! The bride recognised my lady driver, then my brother apparently did the thumbs up … she's rather well known now.

River Cuckmere meandering to the sea
The area is near the English Channel – where the Romans plied their trade, then came the Saxons … both 'tribes' ranged inland too – hence our very early animal trails tracked by the early Stone Age peoples, the Pilgrim paths, which begat coach roads … yet earlier Neolithic peoples populated the area. The River Cuckmere was navigable about four miles inland …

Coach Road by Eric Ravilious (1903 - 1942)

All were safely gathered in for the Reception, the rest of the day after the youngsters became Mr and Mrs … that will be part two …

Alfriston village c/o Wiki

Berwick Church – conserving the Bloomsbury Group murals and saving them ... 

The Old Chapel Centre and its history

Seasalt Cornwall – its story

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Saturday 8 July 2023

Pressed Plant Artworks and Owls …


I wanted to send this card to some friends, who occasionally visit a barn owl near their house … north of London, which reminded me of when I visited with them …

Wild Press - Owl

What an amazing artist to come across, when I'd read the notation on the back of the card … I thought I must let you know about her.

Her website ... 

Helen Ahpornsiri's based down here in East Sussex … and uses traditional flower-pressing methods to create her cards from dried leaves, flowers or seaweed.

Her website shows you more … so talented and creative … her sites lets us know about her moral compass as far as working with nature is concerned: she states 'A guiding principle I follow in working natural materials is always to contribute more than I take'.

One of her banners

Some of her creations

She also has some step-by-step instructions on 'How to Press Flowers' …

To up the ante a bit two baby owlets were found hiding under the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury this year, when Guns N'Roses were playing …

Photos courtesy Euronews.culture 
Photos here

the 'babies' are safely rescued and being cared for by a wildlife charity … but have been named: 

as 'Axl' (after the band's vocalist Axl Rose) and 'Slash' (as Slash – surprisingly! - lead guitarist) …

Life's been interesting … with things that weren't meant to be happening - happening … but so be it – I guess 'happening' is the good bit … no electricity, which turned out to be a sick boiler – anyway all fixed now – I can bath!! These interruptions upset the applecart …

Glastonbury 2016

Take care all of you … and I'll be back and around again …

Helen Ahphornisiri - her Wild Press site

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories