Sunday, October 02, 2005

Swash buckling, sweet chestnuts, universal cures

There's nothing like a swash buckling novel to settle you down after a holiday. And what novel is more of swash buckler than The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas? I've just started it and it is all that I had hoped for. But having used the word, what precisely and literally is a swash buckler? I have just looked it up and can tell you that it is someone who strikes a buckler, a small shield, with his sword in a boastful or agressive way, which is just what D'Artagnan is up to in the beginning of the Three Musketeers.

Horse chestnut trees are everywhere in the Grove and children are busy stamping on the spikey, green shells so that they can get at the nuts to play conkers with. But I prefer the appearance of the sweet chestnut, to say nothing of the fact that you can eat the nuts. There is a sweet chestnut tree in a house on the corner of the Grove. But the nuts, so far, are too small to roast.

There is something disarming about universal cures, even though you may be pretty certain that the claims made for them are exagerated. Cider vinegar is one such panacea which, in my youth, I was persuaded to drink, diluted in a glass of water and sweetened with honey. I see it is still around and note that, among other things, it: strengthens the immune system; helps control and normalise weight; aids digestion; helps relieve aches and pains, soreness and stiffness; eases the pain of dry and sore throats; combats fatigue; reduces irritability; and promotes longevity.
The book on cider vinegar, which someone gave me years ago, was written by a farmer who claimed that he fed it to his cows, whose milk-yield was consequently greatly increased.

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