My next night’s host on Sheppey chose not to be photographed and to remain anonymous. The company, conversation, generosity and hospitality were appreciated all the same and in no way diminished by this limitation. It was interesting to discuss the relative merits of social media, and Facebook in particular with a self confessed “Luddite”, one who is fiercely protective of privacy of action and place. When I began planning for the Walk Swale Medway project, I hadn’t considered the possibility that people might like the idea of the walk, the interactions and the work and still feel uncomfortable with the element of sharing it all. For me, like others, sharing through social media has become part of the experience of things. If I have a lovely meal and it doesn’t appear on Instagram, did I really eat?
Jesting aside, there were times when I was walking that allowed only for experience, and these were often due to the limitations of my equipment. The camera on my phone is fine – it works for some things very well. Long views with details, movement, and low light aren’t great. So many times, I would see something breathtaking or inspiring, reach for the camera, realise quickly that I wouldn’t be able to create an image would do the experience justice, and go back to…just the experience. Just the experience itself, and the savouring of it. Staying with my night’s host was like that – I just experienced it, with limited documentation and private memories of conversations about precious special places. The limitations, and the willing acceptance of them, like the ones experienced with my camera, were welcome.
When I arrived, I was escorted on a walk by my host that featured Scarlet pimpernel, selfheal, lords and ladies alum, cinquefoil, the “woodland edge”, and many planted oaks. There was a question on the identification of the tiny pink flowered plant, which resulted in a long perusal of a wildflower key followed by much debate and subsequent cries of “That’s the first one I said it was!” We agreed on Centaury in the end, which was helpfully confirmed and fleshed out by the Antiquarian Book specialist Justin Croft in a comment on Facebook.
From ‘The Modern Herbalist’ : Culpeper tells us that:
‘the herbe is so safe that you cannot fail in the using of it, only give it inwardly for inward diseases, use it outwardly for outward diseases. ‘Tis very wholesome, but not very toothsome …
‘it helps those that have the dropsy, or the green-sickness, being much used by the Italians in powder for that purpose. It kills worms … as is found by experience…. A dram of the powder taken in wine, is a wonderful good help against the biting and poison of an adder. The juice of the herb with a little honey put to it, is good to clear the eyes from dimness, mists and clouds that offend or hinder sight. It is singularly good both for green and fresh wounds, as also for old ulcers and sores, to close up the one and cleanse the other, and perfectly to cure them both, although they are hollow or fistulous; the green herb, especially, being bruised and laid thereto. The decoction thereof dropped into the ears, cleanses them from worms . . . and takes away all freckles, spots, and marks in the skin, being washed with it.’
I managed to do some writing that day, after a late morning, breakfast and more conversation with my host. Little did I realise the experience that lay ahead later that day, when I would leave Sheppey behind, going I knew not where.
Scenes from a smallholding
Not all mornings start at 4am!