from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Friday 20 November 2020

pets and insecticides

 I can't keep quiet about this. I feel so angry. If you live with animals, you should too (or even of course if you don't!).

A recent article in The Guardian has highlighted the outrageous practice of giving our companion animals routine – often monthly – doses of flea treatment and wormers – even when they don't need it.

Our vets, whom I otherwise rate, invite one to sign up to receive such treatments regularly. (A doctor friend of mine said 35 years ago: 'It's the pharmaceutical companies that really pull the strings.' Yes indeed. Let's not buy their line.)

It doesn't take much intuition to sense that these are not going to do our animals any good. It also doesn't take much intelligence to wonder where such insecticides end up, and what their impact is. I almost never use these products.

But I wasn't aware that one dose, for one medium-sized dog, of a common flea treatment contains enough toxic chemicals to kill 60 million bees. Yes, you read that correctly. We know how badly bees are suffering already.

An irony is that this happens whether or not it's flea 'season', which in northern Europe is summer. (Yes, I know ticks can be dangerous to both animals and more especially humans, if they carry Lyme disease. However, if you walk in the countryside, you are likely to pick up ticks even without an animal beside you. It's good practice to check your skin after such a walk. I'm assiduous about checking our dogs regularly and removing ticks with tick-hooks.)

There are alternatives that are insect-repellent but non-toxic.

I buy an essential oil blend, Pets' Parasite Formula. I use it weekly in flea and tick season, and yes it is harder work and no it is not quite as effective as a blast of chemicals, but it's not bad. You can use it as a spot-on, on their collars, in a shampoo like Neem, or brushed through their coats. I buy it direct from the French vet who developed it, but you can also buy it here.

For worms, I use Verm-X, which is herbal, tasty, and very effective. This too has been developed by a vet. You can get this from the manufacturers.

I have written to my vets asking them to reconsider. I've posted this all over social media, and am telling anyone who will listen.

Read the article here.

Wednesday 11 November 2020

Trees in Autumn (poem)


Trees in Autumn
for Sam Wernham

I know the theory
the way xylem and phloem
carry food and waste
from root to branch to leaf
and back to root
how the sap flows up the trunk
in spring, why the tree shuts off
the leaf’s umbilical in autumn.
And still the way those leaves
surrender to the first frosts
of November, give their rainbow
to our eyes, their nourishment
to the soil, remains
one of the wonders of this world
before which miracle I stand
as one receiving benediction.

© Roselle Angwin



Friday 6 November 2020

the best lockdown vegan and g-f chocolate truffle brownies... & a big box of books


'They' say cooking's an art and baking's a science, don't they? Well, I'm definitely not the latter. So allow me a small boast. Not being a baker, then, (other than of bread), and eating very little sugar, I am especially astonished that I have made what might be the best chocolate brownies ever. Even TM, a confirmed dairy-eater, has volunteered that these vegan and gluten-free brownies might just be The Ones.

For I have, dear reader, started – finally – to compile the plant-based cookbook I've been yacking about for ages. It's slow, especially with just one good hand with which to type, but it is happening. As counterpoint to the tasty but (arguably) worthy wholefood savouries mainly based on what is in the garden when, I do in fact include some sweet things.

And who doesn't need a treat like brownies now and then, especially at times of COVID, election uncertainty, BREXIT (and in my case a fractured arm)? With my one good arm I managed to make these truffle brownies for TM's birthday last Monday. I defrosted some of our blackcurrants, and would highly recommend incorporating some tart berries.

These are delicious warm from the oven, and possibly even better out of the fridge the next day. Enjoy them.


  • 80 grams raw coconut oil
  • 180 grams dark chocolate
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract.

Grease and line a square tin (8" or 20cms) square tin. Preheat oven to 160º (fan).


  • 140 gms of rice flour, coconut flour or ground almonds (I usually use rice and almonds 50/50)
  • 20 gms cocoa powder
  • 180 gms unrefined dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp ground cardamom (optional)


One or a combination of: 2 tbsps of fresh or frozen blackcurrants, 2 tbsps sour cherries, handful chopped walnuts, 1 tbsp chia seeds


to dry mix

  • melted ingredients
  • 240 mls almond milk (230 mls if using fresh or frozen berries)

and stir well to make a batter. Pour into the tin and tip to level the top. Bake for 25-30 minutes maximum (any longer and it will become cakey). It should still look a little liquid in the centre and be gooey. When coolish, mark into small squares (they're rich).


Something I started to do before the broken-arm fiasco was a book-cull. This also involved much clearing and sorting of my 'garret' – at least, in theory. I got as far as putting about 120 books that I'm unlikely to read again in boxes for charity shops, and shuffling around the various boxes of my own books. Gulp. I have 100s.

Having recently come into the twentieth century with some podcasts, it occurs to me that I might begin to read the opening few pages of my various books and post them. Meantime, I'd like to mention this, my second and most recent novel, The Burning Ground, to you in case you'd like to support a struggling writer in the time of covid. The book's set on Dartmoor and in Brittany, places close to my heart. Here's the blurb:

Take two brothers. One secret. One woman, two lovers. Add in two deaths, and the trauma of foot and mouth on a small Dartmoor hill farm. Under such pressure other older secrets emerge, with devastating consequences.

I read this over two days and could hardly bear to put it down. Gripping narrative, beautifully written and with a depth of knowledge of so many things: landscape, environment, farming, archaeology, myth and human passion, yet none of it heavy handed or overpowering the plot.’ MTR

‘…the best book I’ve read in a very long time…Dr HG

There’s a summary of it on the Guardian’s ‘readers’ best books of 2013′.

There are a number of reviews on Amazon. You can buy it direct from me by heading to the links to the right of this page, scrolling down, and choosing THE BURNING GROUND from the dropdown menu.

Oh and if you don't know of it yet I want to mention the newly-launched online ethical bookstore:

Well – What about enjoying a good brownie alongside a good book? (Double boast.)

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