Regency Flora and Fauna

It has been a while since I posted anything on this topic, but I thought these pictures might entertain as well as inform.

A wild bramble or blackberry bush in flower in a hedgerow. The stems are extremely prickly.  The fruit forms over the summer and is picked late August September. I can recall going blackberry picking out in the woods and fields with my dad so mum could make blackberry and apple pies to her heart's content. And blackberry and apple jam. I can taste it even as I think about it.

And here is a dear little bunny who just happened to catch my eye. Watership Down, anyone?

Guest Author - Kathryn Kane - When Flowers Wore Shirts!

I have long been an admirer of Kathryn Kane as a writer and a meticulous researcher. Her generosity in sharing the fruits of her labour are legendary and can be found at the Regency Redingote. I am so glad Kathryn agreed to share this intriguing research which is reflected in her book Deflowering Daisy. Such a fun title!

For those who comment today, there will be a draw for two copies of The Duke's Daring Debutante, print or e.

When Flowers Wore Shirts by Kathryn Kane

Before I explain the meaning of the title I have given this article, I would like to thank Ann for her invitation to guest here today. I have long been a reader of Regency Ramble and I am honored to be here and have the opportunity to share some of the research which I did for my debut Regency romance novel, Deflowering Daisy.

As a play on the title of my novel, Deflowering Daisy I have scattered a number of snippets of floral history throughout the book. One of those snippets of flower history plays an especially important part in my story. The heroine, Daisy, uses this special technique to create a gift which she believes will raise the spirits of the hero, David, and convince him there is still beauty and joy to be found in life, even if one has to make it for oneself. Later in the story, David, in turn, uses the same technique to provide intense pleasure for Daisy. This particular bit of floral history intersects with the history of dessert.

At the turn of the nineteenth century, some French chefs developed a technique with which to decorate fruit in order to make it more attractive when it was placed on the dessert table. This technique was most often used on small fruits, including dwarf apples, plums, nectarines, cherries, strawberries, currants, raspberries and gooseberries. Fresh, ripe fruit was rinsed and set to dry. While the fruit was drying, lumps of sugar were nipped off a white sugar loaf. The lumps were then pulverized in a mortar and pestle until the sugar was very fine, similar to the granulated sugar we use today. This finely pounded sugar was spread on a plate, platter or other shallow dish, ready for use.

Next, an egg white was separated from the yolk. This had to be done very carefully, for even a small amount of yolk mixed in with the egg white would spoil the final effect. The transparency of the egg white was crucial. At this point, the surviving directions differ. Some call for the egg white to be whipped to a foamy froth, though not so stiff as to create a meringue. But most of the instructions direct that the egg white be used just as it came from the egg, without any whipping at all.

Once the egg white was prepared, each piece of dried fruit would be dipped into the transparent fluid, until it was completely covered. Then it would be rolled in the pulverized sugar until it was fully coated. The pieces of sugar-coated fruit were then placed on a tray, usually lined with a sheet of baking paper and left to dry for three to four hours. The sugar-coated fruit would then be used to make attractive arrangements to adorn the dessert course of an elegant dinner. The pulverized sugar which coated the fruit would catch the flickering light of the candles in the dining room so that it would glitter and glimmer, creating the effect of fruit coated with diamond dust.

This technique was known as fruit en chemise. Translated from the French, it means fruit "in [a] shirt." This technique soon crossed the English Channel to become popular in Britain in the years just before the Regency. But the English did not restrict the use of fruit en chemise to the dessert table. In some of the better homes, fruit en chemise would be found decorating breakfast tables as well.

The English had long loved flowers, and from the end of the eighteenth century, it had become fashionable to decorate the dessert table with arrangements of fresh flowers. Initially, fruit en chemise were incorporated into or around these arrangements, but by the early years of the Regency, English ladies decided to put shirts on their flowers. Though, in most cases, the family chef or cook took the responsibility to dress fruit en chemise, it was the ladies of the house who dressed the flowers. It soon came to be considered another artistic accomplishment for proper young ladies. An accomplishment which a doting mother would have made sure was displayed on the dessert table when potential suitors were invited to dinner.

Only certain flowers would be dressed en chemise. Roses, tulips and other flowers with tightly furled blossoms were not appropriate. Pansies, violets and daisies were all ideal candidates to be done en chemise due to their relatively flat blossom shape. Each flower would be dipped into egg white, then sprinkled with pulverized white sugar. The sugar-coated flower would be set aside to dry, though it was often necessary to carefully shape the partially dried bloom if it had become misshapen during the en chemise process. Once all the flowers were coated with sugar, shaped and dried, they would be assembled into an arrangement for the dessert table.

During the Regency, dessert was considered a special course which came at the end of the main meal. The table cloth was typically removed, an elaborate centerpiece was placed on the table and the dessert was served, very often on an ornate china dessert service. Since at least the eighteenth century, it was believed that a beautiful setting for dessert was a crucial factor in good digestion, so dessert was an important final course for any dinner. However, it was especially important for one which included guests, for whom a host or hostess was expected to make every effort for their well-being and pleasure.

Flowers in shirts, that is, flowers en chemise, were considered an artistic accomplishment for many young ladies during the Regency. There are no records that this art was taught in ladies' finishing schools. Instead, it appears that ladies learned the technique on their own, perhaps from observing a chef or cook preparing fruit en chemise, or from their mother or other female relative, who might herself have learned from watching a chef or cook. There may have been at least a few governesses who imparted this skill to their charges as the Regency progressed. In many households, a mother and all her daughters might share in the effort of preparing a floral arrangement en chemise for a special dinner.

Arrangements of flowers en chemise appear to have been fashionable for only a relatively short period, from the Regency though about the end of the reign of King George IV. After that time, bouquets of fresh flowers were the standard decoration on most dining tables. At about this same time, the dessert course was no longer considered a separate part of the meal for which a special setting was required. Not to mention that the steady transition to gaslight would have spoiled the effect of flowers en chemise, since the sugar coating did not glitter and glimmer under the steadier gaslight as it had under flickering candle light.

Deflowering Daisy by Kathryn Kane

She cannot remain a virgin!

For so she was, after nearly a decade of marriage. When she was sixteen, Daisy had willingly, happily, married a man more than fifty years her senior, to escape a forced marriage to a man she abhorred. Though Sir Arthur Hammond had been a wild rake in his youth, he was so deeply in love with his late, beloved first wife that he never considered consummating his second marriage, certainly not with a woman he considered a daughter. But now, knowing he was dying and that he would be leaving sweet, innocent Daisy ignorant of the physical intimacies which could be enjoyed between a man and a woman, he felt that it was imperative she be given the knowledge which would prepare her for the life of a wealthy widow. Armed with the knowledge of physical intimacy, she would be much better prepared to deal with any fortune hunter who might try to seduce her into marriage for her money. And who better to initiate Daisy into the pleasures of the bedchamber than his godson. David had become nearly a recluse since a tragedy which occurred while he was serving the Crown against the forces of Napoleon Bonaparte. Prior to that, his skill as a tender and considerate lover had been bruited about in certain circles. Therefore, Sir Arthur believed that David was just the man to introduce Daisy to physical pleasure. And what might spending time with true and gentle Daisy do for David?

Purchase from:

Jupiter Gardens Press Print 
Jupiter Gardens Press eBook
Barnes & NoblePrint:
Nook Book

All about Kathryn

Kathryn Kane is a historian and former museum curator who has enjoyed Regency romances since she first discovered them in her teens. She credits the novels of Georgette Heyer with influencing her choice of college curriculum, and she now takes advantage of her knowledge of history to write her own stories of romance in the Regency. Though she now has a career in the tech industry, she has never lost her love of the period and continues to enjoy reading Regency novels and researching her favorite period of English history.

For more information about Kathryn and her books visit:
Blogs: Regency Redingote:

by Michele Ann Young

I'm late. I'm late.......

Glow Worms

There was a bit of a discussion about the presence of glow worms in Britain on one of my lists, and when browsing the Naturist for 1815 this is what he had to say for August:

... compensated by the presence of the lady-bird and the glow-worm; the first for its utility and the second for the beautiful effect it produces.

A bit of research on glow worms in the uk reveals that British glow worms are different from North American fire flies. They are females trying to attract a male, they do not fly during this lighting up phase and always have been rather rare, and only live about two weeks.

However one can imagine a romantic evening in August and the sight of some glow worms adding to the charm of the scene. As an aside, during a walk last July in Washington DC at dusk I was enchanted by the hundreds of fireflies hovering just above the grass, it was like being in fairyland.


Ladybird ladybird fly away home,
Your house is on fire and your children are gone
All except one and that's little Ann
And she crept under the frying pan

I can remember singing this to ladybirds, and blowing on them to make them fly away. There are several ideas about the origins. One is: In Medieval England farmers would set torches to the old hop (used in flavoring beer) vines after the harvest in order to clear the fields for the next planting. This poem was sung as a warning to the ladybugs that were still crawling on the vines in search of aphids.

The reason our naturist thinks they are useful is that they feed on aphids, scale insects, mealybugs, and mites throughout the winter .

Until next time, Happy Rambles

What I am reading:
Dangerous Desires by Dee Davis

Flora and Fauna of Regency England ~ July

by Michele Ann Young
I can't quite believe that this is my third July post on this topic.

Our naturalist tells us that the Fringed Buckbean (I honestly find this a very odd name for a form of water lily) is found in slow flowing rivers in July including the Thames in little recesses.

He also bemoan the lack of sounds from the birds and the hot weather.

He also mentions enchantress nightshade and gypsywort which I thought had such great sounding names, I would include them for your viewing pleasure.

July is also a time of ripening fruits and one of my favourites is the gooseberry.

Gooseberries are native to Britain, but they have been cultivated for many years. They are primarily used in desserts.   It was always my job to top and tail. They have this bit of stalk at one end and a bit of left over flower at the other and we used to cut these off with a pair of scissors. Took forever. But the result, gooseberry crumble, was well worth it.

Until next time, Happy Rambles

Flora and Fauna of Regency England

by Ann Lethbridge
Having just got back from Britain, I experienced June's Flora and Fauna first hand and took lots of pictures. But there is news on the Fauna front I could not resist.

The Great Bustard

is back. I am sure you have seen the news. The Great Bustard was formerly native in Great Britain and a bustard forms part of the design of the Wiltshire Coat of Arms which were awarded in the 20th century by the way so not Regency.

The bustard was hunted out of existence by the 1840s.

The male bird is described as the heaviest living flying animal. It has an eight foot wingspan. It's habitat is open grassland, which means Wiltshire would be ideal, although it can be found on undisturbed cultivation.

It has a stately slow walk, and tends to run when disturbed rather than fly. It is gregarious, especially in winter. This species is omnivorous taking seeds, insects and other small creatures, including frogs and beetles.

I assume this would have been a common game bird for our Regency era, and probably like turkey would have made good eating. Recipes anyone? All right, it is a joke.

Now for the interesting part to me. While we were in Dorset we visited Kingston Lacy. ~ more about which you will be hearing and seeing in due course. But there, in a glass case, stuffed, was a Bustard.

Can't say I was really pleased to see him there, but I was glad of the evidence shall we say. No data, dates or information, but clearly they have been around for a while.

The last bit of my post, another picture of the fauna of England in situ will have to wait. My desktop computer has finally croaked its last, it did so half way through this post, can you believe, and must now be replaced, but all the pictures are hooked up to it, so I am going to post this, late, and get in my care and take the cpu in and get a new one. Oh my poor pocket book. But needs must.

Until next time, Happy rambles. The next post will be next week since no doubt getting set up is going to be a headache.

Sounds of Spring

We are having some wonderful weather.This is a small stream in Bryn Coch, near Neath where we were staying
I took this small video on my camera especially for you. Enjoy the sounds of the birds.

And here are some shetland ponies we saw on our walk. More historical stuff to come later. These are just for fun. (We have now moved on Dorset)

Until next time, Happy Rambles

Flora and Fauna of Regency England

by Michele Ann Young

Our Naturist kindly tells us that rosemary blooms in April. Rosemary is a hardy evergreen plant and will live for up to twenty years, growing to a height of around three feet. It is a decorative herb originating from the Mediterranean and bears small, blue or white flowers in late spring. So this herb would be commonly found in kitchen gardens. My mum had a huge one. We had to fight with it to get the car door open in the drive. I loved the scent when you crush the leaves.

The nice thing about this is of course that we are very familiar with it today. I am going to pop it under food too.

April is the time for spring bulbs, tulips among them as reported by Robert Furber in his 1730 Twelve Month's of Flowers which could well have been a resource for an enthusiastic gardner in the Regency.

Tulips came from Turkey to Europe. Between 1634 and 1637, the early enthusiasm for the new flowers triggered a speculative frenzy now known as the tulip mania and tulip bulbs were then considered a form of currency.

This is a picture of an "old English Tulip" or a flamed tulip. The flaming or feathering apparently caused by a virus, and never the same two years in a row, if I understand my reading correctly. It is a variety which has almost died out, but this is what tulips would have looked like in the Regency. If you are interested in Old English Tulips, The Wakefield and North of England Tulip Society established in 1836 might be the place to start.

This bird exists and nests out on the heaths of England. It is a Stonechat. It is called a stone chat because its breeding and alarm call sounds like two pebbles being clinked together. Want to hear it? Go here. Isn't technology wonderful? This bird likes to nest in bushy shrubs like gorse in the early spring.

Well that is it from me. I have some writing to get done today. Almost at the end of this book, so I am hoping to finish it today. Always exciting. But then comes the editing.

Until next time, Happy Rambles.

Flora and Fauna of Regency England ~ March

by Michele Ann Young
I am beginning to forget what I have posted on this topic and when I go back through my posts I am quite startled by the amount of information I have gleaned from here and there. What I would really like to do, is to spend a year in England, travelling the highways and byways taking pictures. But then I would never get any stories done, would I? A writer's lot is a hard one. (Joking)

This little fellow is a Wheatear, also known as an English Ortolan according to our naturalist who says.

This bird
again pays its annual visit (leaving in September). They are found in great numbers about East Bourne, in Sussex, eighteen hundred dozen being annually taken in this neighbourhood. They are usually sold at sixpence a dozen
Today, this bird is rarely found in the south of England. I wonder why? Quite sad really.

Since the quote was from 1820, I thought the price interesting.

Of interest to our regency people, the brown trout begins to rise. This is a freshwater fish, found in brooks streams and rivers, and delicious eating, then and today. It is a member of the Salmon family.

I'm sure poachers had a field day.

By this time, England is already greening up in the hedgerows. And of course the grass is nearly always green. And what are the farmers up to?

According to our naturalist:

In March the farmer dresses and rolls his meadows; spreads anthills; plants quicksets, osiers, etc. sows flax seed, artificial grasses, beans and peas, broom and whin seeds and grass seeds among the wheat. About the 23rd he ploughs for and sows oats and hemp and fax.

That's all from me, Until next time, Happy Rambles

Flora and Fauna - February

By Michele Ann Young

I am sorry to have been missing for a week. A couple of deadlines caught me up. Today we have a regular monthly feature.
The flower pictured is a snowdrop. I did mention it in a previous blog, but I thought this picture was worth a thousand words. And snowdrops are just so February.

Our naturist as this to say about February weatherwise:

The thermometer is often down below the freezing point, but is generally found at noon between 36 and 46 degrees; towards the end of the month it sometimes rises to 50 degrees or even 52 or 54 degrees. The severe weather, generally breaks up with a sudden thaw, accompanied by wind and rain; torrents of water pour from the hills, and the snow is completely dissolved.

Rivers swell and inundate the surrounding country, often carrying away bridges, cattle, mills, gates etc.

It seems to me this would make an interesting bit of drama in a book, so I will keep track of it, in hopes I can make use of it one day.

And the reason for our picture is this little snippet.

Many plants appear above ground in February, but few flowers, except the snowdrop, are to be found. This ‘icicle changed into a flower’ is sometimes fully opened from the beginning of the month.

My choice for the fauna is this magnificent hunter. A hen harrier. They are also found in North America. They are very much endangered in Britain. In winter found on fields and rough pasture, particularly coastal areas, marshes and often roosts communally in favoured reedbeds. The males are found in the Outer Hebrides and further south in the winter. Whereas in summer they are found in the uplands.

I hope you enjoyed this foray into the natural world.
Until next time, Happy rambles.

Flora and Fauna of Regency England ~ January

by Ann Lethbridge


The weather has a huge impact on Flora an Fauna, naturally. Duh, you might say. but since we all live in vastly different climates I thought a bit of weather information might be of interest during this discussion.

In January 1814 the coldest temperature each day ranged from 3 degrees Fahrenheit (-16C) to 21.5 degrees F (-6C) Remembering that it will warm up during daylight hours - what there are of them. This was an exceedingly cold winter for England. Quite often it is warm enough to walk outside with a sweater, other times you need to be well bundled up.

Flora and Fauna

Not much going on at this time of year you might say. And to be honest many of the creatures I have posted about before appear in the winter too. Our Naturist has, among other things, this to say:

Linnets (fringilla linota) congregate; and rooks (corvus frugilegus) resort to their nest trees. The house-sparrow (fringilla domestica) chirps; the bat (vespertilio) appears; spiders shoot out their webs; the blackbird (turdus merula) whistles; and the skylark sings. The titmouse (parus) pulls straw out of the thatch in search of insects. This bird is also very active in climbing and running about the trees for the same purpose, and the redbreasts search about the holes of walls for snails.

In other words he says there is a great deal of spring-like activity happening already.

As you can see, I picked one of my favorite birds, called the titmouse in the diary, it is also commonly known as the blue tit these days. It is very acrobatic.

The naturist also tells us that marauders such as the fox and the polecat invade farms when there is little to eat in the wild. Our Regency farmers would not be happy about them. Polecats are interesting creatures. They are mainly nocturnal and are found in woodlands, farmlands and wetlands. They often make dens in stream banks or under tree roots and feed l on small mammals such as voles and rat and also on frogs.

Until next time, happy rambles.

Flora and Fauna of Regency Britain

by Michele Ann Young

The streams and rivers of Scotland team with Atlantic Salmon. The reason I have chosen to talk about this in November is that it is in late November when the female lays her eggs.

Up until then, salmon fishing is a prevalent in Scotland. As is it is in many countries with coast lines on the Atlantic.

Various forms of salmon preservation was used in the 18th century and salmon was transported to London in boats called smacks. If the weather was cold and the ship fast, then they might even be shipped fresh.

In 1786, and enterprising supplier sent salmon to London packed in ice from the Spey. This proved to be an instant success.

Ice houses were built to store ice all over the place.

Now those of you have followed some of my nonsense know I collect ice houses. So here is another one to add to my collection.

This one is situated at Tentsmuir Point near Tayport.

In the 1800's and before, highlanders in the Glens speared Salmon. At that time it was a legal form of fishing.

Here is a picture of spearing at night. They called it burning. When they speared in the day, they called it sunning.

Commercial fishing took place in the estuaries with various forms of nets and small boats called cobles or stake nets set in the ground.

Fly fishing or angling was a fairly new way of catching fish at the beginning of the 1800's, but soon caught on amongst the gentlemen around our period.

Much of the salmon these days is farmed, but if you are like me and love salmon in its many forms from sushi to smoked, then I think you know why it has always been popular.

That's it from me. Until next time. Happy rambles.

Flora and Fauna of Regency England

by Michele Ann Young

I thought we'd do something a little different with this monthly article, spread our wings a bit, so to speak. Most of the Naturist's Diary addresses the smaller animals, insects and garden flowers. I thought I would talk a little more about the wild fauna, animals and birds too.

In case y0u were wondering. There are no wolves in England during this period. The last wolf is thought to have been killed in 1743.

If there had been any left in the Regency, this is what they would have looked like. This is a grey wolf or canis lupus. There is talk of reintroducing them - whether it will occur will be interesting to see.

There are very few dangerous animals at all in Britain, unless they are ones that escaped from a menagerie.

The Sporting Magazine of 1810 has a story about an escaped tiger from a menagerie in Piccadilly. On September 2nd. the Royal Bengal tiger was being carried to a Bartholomew fair , the horse bolted , the den broke open, the tiger escaped , clawed someone and hid. He was recaptured shortly .

In 1816 a lioness escaped from a traveling menagerie and attacked the Exeter mail coach near Salisbury.

Either one of those incidents would make a great scene in a novel, don't you think?

There are bats, however. Only look how tiny this pipistrelle is. That is a wedding ring on a finger right next to this one. These are the smallest and most common of bats. they hang head down when roosting and can squeeze into the smallest of spaces.

So cute. I know, you are shuddering. Now what an interesting heroine she would be if she liked bats.

One of the larger animals in Britain is of course the deer. this is a fawn.

Interestingly enough by the 1800's the roe deer had been pretty well hunted out of existence in England and could only be found in wooded parts of Scotland. So for the Regency period we must remember, no deer south of the border.

There are lots more animals to talk about, but this is all for today. Until next time, Happy Rambles.

Stourhead Continued

by Ann Lethbridge

Summer is over. And today is a typical wet and windy fall day. My word it is a long time since I posted on this topic. We still have lots to see.

This part of our walk is all about the garden, so I will be tagging this one Flora and Fauna as well. And just to remind me, This walk was around June 1.

Stourhead Gardens are a mix of natural areas and plantings as you will see.

Here are some lovely foxgloves. We found them growing apparently wild beneath the trees. Not that this might not be a deliberate planting.

In the background of the first picture you can also see one of the rhododendrons, a pretty orange colour.

The gardens are quiet. It is like going back in time. There are no engine noises or other mechanical sounds. Just the wind in the trees and this next creature is very happy about that too.

I don't know about you, but this to me looked like Peter Rabbit of Beatrix Potter fame. Look how close he let me get before he hopped off.

I don't suppose he is the gardener's friend as rabbits tend to do quite a bit of damage. It is odd to see so many bunnies around England. When I was young they had just finished the myxomatosis program which did away with most of the rabbits (very cruelly as it turned out) and they were rarely seen, now they can be found nibbling along the verges of roads, and in meadows and fields every where you look.

Apparently, rabbits are not native to England, which may account for why they seem to over-run the countryside. They were brought in by the Romans and we then exported them to Australia.

What did history teach us?

The next sight to grace our vision on our walk was this wonderful tree. Clearly old. Clearly huge.

Now I am guessing a little here. I believe this is a Cedar of Lebanon. I am quite happy to be corrected.

What ever it is, the dark green needles stood out amongst the paler leaf greens of the other trees.

Our last tree is always a pleasure to see, because of its colouring. Red leaves among all the green.

There are lots of different red trees around the world but there is something quite stunning about the copper beech. And this one is set out in the middle of the lawn and shown off quite beautifully.

Well that is it for me for today. Lots of Stourhead to come.

Until next time, Happy Rambles.

Flora and Fauna in Regency England - September

by Michele Ann Young

Holy smoke. I have been trying to get to this post for nearly a week. Deadlines are looming, which I love, but they tend to take all my focus. The other thing I did was to sign up for some classes. Well, you know I was worried I might become one dimensional and have nothing to talk about except the Regency and really become "Lost in Austen".

I signed up for some sewing classes and for a web design class. I am going to see if I can use dreamweaver. Who knows, but I have met some very nice people, so that is good.

Tis is a saffron milk-cap. It is an edible mushroom and while not terribly well-known, it is a great delicacy, I'm told.

It grows under pines, and is picked in early autumn. I am taking that to include September.

One would expect to find it in the north of the British Isles, most common in Scotland, though it is found in England.

The wild cherry shown here is native to England and has been identified in Bronze-age diggings. In September, the fruits begin to turn yellow, if the birds have left any on the trees, that is.

Our final September offering relates to an insect and the carnivore who eats them.

You may recognize this insect. I always called it a daddy long legs as a child, but I think that was a misnomer. It is a crane fly. These creatures hatch out in August and September and lay their eggs beneath lawns. The eggs quickly turn into larvae.

The lavae look like fat, short brown worms. Not worth a picture, but you can look them up if you feel so inclined.

And guess who likes the larvae. Well if you have ever had crane fly eggs in your lawn, you probably had a visit from the gentleman below. He loves cranefly lavae. And his rooting around looking for them will mean the end of your beautifully green lawns.

Sad to say, during the Regency, badger baiting and badger drawing were considered sports.

Dogs were pitted against badgers as can be seen in this picture from 1824. The sport had been going on since the middle ages and was another form of gambling, like dog fights and cockfights.

I'm glad it was outlawed in 1835.

Until next time, Happy Rambles

Ireland in the Regency

by Michele Ann Young
Actually this is not really about Ireland in the Regency. These are holiday snaps.

Our last port of call in Ireland was a small fishing town called Clonakilty and we stayed at the headland known as Inchydoney in West Cork, at the very South of Ireland.

The town itself is an old one and a fishing town. It apparently played a significant in the rebellion in 1798m but our main reason for travelling there, apart from walking on the beach was to see where my husband's great great grandmother was born. She left Clonakilty in 1830 and travelled to Wales, were she met and married and stayed for the rest of our life.

We were very taken with the town, with its picturesque house painted in all different colours,

it is also a centre of music for the region and there is alway one pub or bar or hall on any partular night with a live band.

We spoke to the warden at the local church, which was built in 1880, long after my husband's relative left and discovered that the priest still has the earlier records, so we have a letter in the post.

We saw the last name we were looking for on many of the store fronts and we discovered that it is a very common last name in Clon (locals call it Clon). So who knows, perhaps we may actually be able to find that we still have some relations there.

I will let you know should anything come of our further inquiries.

I was interested to watch the housemartins building their nest in the eave of our hotel. And yes the sky was really that blue.

And the flowers in that seascape are those of the wild blackberry, just in case you were wondering.

These last two items belong in Flora and Fauna, but we enjoyed seeing them so much I decided to post them.

Interestingly enough I had the feeling that spring comes a little later here than it does in England, because while the May was finished when we drove from Heathrow to Cardiff for our flight to Ireland, it was still in full bloom everywhere we went.

This is a picture of a martin on the wing, with the gorgeous countryside below. It is clearer on my computer, but it is still worth including, if only for the scenery.

The other interesting thing was that the sun did not go down until after 10pm, because we were so far west. The evenings were deliciously long and we did not miss a moment.

We will go back to our regular monthly articles next week, but we still have one more wonderful treat from our last trip to Britain. This time from Dorset.

Until next time, Happy Rambles.

Flora and Fauna of Regency Britain - July

by Ann Lethbridge

Busy busy with edits for my third book with Harlequin. I should have a cover for number two any day now for a sneak peek for you. But in the meantime, here is some Flora and Fauna for your collection.

As always, we turn first to our Naturist's Diary which tells us with a mere passing reference that July is the time when lavender is in blossom.

English lavender, Lavandula angustifolia, yields an essential oil with sweet overtones, and can be used in balms, salves, perfumes, cosmetics, and topical applications.

European royal history is also filled with stories of lavender use. Charles VI of France demanded lavender-filled pillows wherever he went. Queen Elizabeth I of England required lavender conserve at the royal table and bunches of lavender in her rooms.

Yardley first started business in the City of London in 1770. At that time, lavender was the herb chosen to perfume an exclusive range of luxury soaps and, as I am sure you are aware, are still in business today.

Lavender had the reputation of being a miracle plant during the 19th century. It was the most important remedy in the first aid kits for anyone in the provence.It was used for everything from dizziness, nerves, stomach problems, poor vision, infections, convulsions, viper's bites, swooning fits, and palsy.

Lavender is also the stuff of songs of course and one we all know. Lavenders Blue Dilly Dilly......

The earliest surviving version of this song is in a broadside printed in England between 1672 and 1685, under the name Diddle Diddle, Or The Kind Country Lovers, with the first of ten verses being:

Lavenders green, Diddle, diddle,

Lavenders blue

You must love me, diddle, diddle,

cause I love you,

I heard one say, diddle, diddle,

since I came hither,

That you and I, diddle, diddle,

must lie together.

It emerged as a children's song in Songs for the Nursery in 1805 in the form:

Lavender blue and Rosemary green,
When I am king you shall be queen;
Call up my maids at four o'clock,
Some to the wheel and some to the rock;
Some to make hay and some to shear corn,
And you and I will keep the bed warm.
Similar versions appeared in collections of rhymes throughout the nineteenth century.

It seems we got far off course, and lavender is to be our only topic for today, but clearly Lavender deserves a page all of its own. Which reminds me that my lavender is blooming and deserves to be picked and brought indoors. If it was good enough for Good Queen Bess, 'tis good enough for me! I just wish I could scent this post so you can enjoy it too.

Until next time, Happy Rambles.

Flora and Fauna of Regency Britain - June

by Ann Lethbridge

June is my favourite month of the year in Britain. Perhaps because its my birthday month. Perhaps because strawberries are ripe and ready for eating straight from the fields, or perhaps because the weather is warm.

Having returned from England in June, I feel as if I can talk first hand this time, except of course I must beware, because climates change over the centuries. A degree here and a degree there.

One exciting thing that did bloom in June, was the UK edition of The Rake's Inherited Courtesan. What a thrill to see it on shelves in my old home town. Chills down the spine. Must get the pictures up on the website.

Everywhere we travelled were the dog roses in the hedgerows. Rosa Canina. It is the rose of medieval heraldry and the official flower of Hampshire. As you can see, it is a plain single petaled rose that is primarily pink but can also be white, and sometime on the same stem. It has very sharp thorns.

What is lovely, is to see a spray of these, a burst of pink, in the green hedgerow.

I can imagine a man of our time risking bloody fingers to retrieve one for his lady love so she can enjoy their perfume as they walk in the country. Although he should be wearing gloves.

Oh my, I can see just where such a scene would fit in a work in progress. It is amazing where inspiration comes from, isn't it.

Of course, these common little flowers would not be seen in the parks or walled gardens of great houses, but personally I love them.

This bird is a magpie and very much in evidence during our trip. It is as striking bird and there are many superstitions surrounding them.

"A single magpie in spring, foul weather will bring".
The book from which this quote is taken further explains that this superstition arises from the habits of pairs of magpies to forage together only when the weather is fine.

The fondness of all its family for bright objects is well known.

Of course, there were many more sights and sounds to share, but time eludes me as always.

Until next time, happy rambles.

Flora and Fauna of Regency Britain ~ May

By Michele Ann Young

In the spring time, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding;
Sweet lovers love the spring.

William Shakespeare

Must be the rain and the smell of green things making me wax lyrical this morning.

I must say, May always makes me think of dancing around the May pole on the village green. I just could not resist this picture, so antique looking and the little girls dresses are so sweet.

And of course one of the shrubs, bushes or trees most associated with May is the May tree. It's real name is the Hawthorn and it flowers in May at least in the south of England. In ancient times, Beltane or May Day celebrations, were when people and houses were decked with may blossoms ("bringing home the May"). The popular rhyme "Here we go gathering nuts in May" is thought to have been sung by the young men, gathering not "nuts" (which do not grow in May) but "knots" of may blossoms for the May Day Celebrations. These celebrations included a May Queen, representing the Goddess, and a Green May, representing the God and the spirit of the new vegetation. It was known as the "Merry Month" and folk went about "wearing the green", decking themselves in greenery and may blossom.

Some of these traditions, although pagan, continued long into our era, although the church repressed the more sensual erotic side of the celebrations. Hawthorn was everywhere in England, particularly in the hedges so the sight of white blooms would have been beautiful and still is in some areas.

And of course May is a great time for nesting birds. Our Naturists says this:
The spotted fly-catcher (muscicapa grisola), the most mute and familiar of all our summer birds, builds in a vine or sweet-briar, against the walls of a house, or on the end of a beam, and sometimes close to the post of a door.

What our naturists doesn't say, is that this little bird is very clever. It can tell the difference between a cuckoos egg and one of its own, which some other birds, like the dunnock, cannot.

Well much as I would like to continue this ramble, since there would be so many more things to tell you about May in England, chores are calling.

Until next time, Happy Rambles.

Flora and Fauna of Regency Britain - April

by Michele Ann Young
April always seem like a soft month to me. New grass, soft underfoot, new leaves, soft and moist to the touch, new flowers, soft on the eye, and new fauna who are just ... soft on the heart.

Did you guess]? I like Spring.

I thought I would start with this old friend of mine, the hedgehog because they are cute, and they are the only spiny mammal in Britain.

They live on insects and grubs and they emerge from winter hibernation in early Spring, so around now. They have their four or five babies any time between April and September. They are primarily nocturnal, but can often be seen scurrying around at dusk.

My second choice for this month is Britain's Early Purple Orchid.

Yes we have our orchids too. Flourishing in particular in broadleaved woodland and coppices it is scene here amid the bluebells (which you may recall is a favorite of mine).

It is widespread throughout the British Isles, especially in the southern half of England it flowers in late April hence its appearance today.

Lots more to know, but time has run out too quickly today. So until next time, when Ann is going to talk about debutantes as a follow up to an earlier post, Happy Rambles.

Flora and Fauna of Regency Britain ~ March

A regular feature for your delectation.

March is the time of mad hares and spring bulbs.

Hares are called mad in March because of their breeding behavior. Boxing is just one of their favorite pastimes.

These brown hares actually remind me a bit of the kangaroos we saw recently.

One of the loveliest of the wildflowers which blooms in March in England is the violet.

The Violet
Not from the verdant garden’s cultured bound,
That breathes of Paestum’s aromatic gale,
We sprung; but nurslings of the lonely vale,
‘Midst woods and glooms, whose tangled brakes around
Once Venus sorrowing traced, as all forlorn
She sought Adonis, when a lurking thorn
Deep on her foot impressed and impious wound.
Then prone to earth we bowed our pallid flowers,
And caught the drops divine; the purple dyes
Tinging the lustre of our native hue:
Nor summer gales, nor art-conducted showers,
Have nursed our slender forms, but lovers’ sighs
Have been our gales, and lovers’ tears our dew ~ Lorenzo di Medici

I always find it fascinating the way our Naturists breaks into poetry at the drop of a hat.

March is also a time of high winds, or as our diarist says It is also the time of equinoctial gales both at sea and land.

That's it for now. Until next time. Happy Rambles