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Pontifications on Poison

Being some ramblings on events associated with poisonous plants.

Thursday, 2nd June 

You couldn’t make it up.
I gave a talk this evening to the 25 or so members of Craster WI. They’d asked for ‘Medical Murderers’ which is a bit grisly in places and, sure enough, it produced a good mixture of grimaces and laughs, along with a couple of hearty ‘Yeuk’s.
I enjoy doing WIs (and the equivalent SWRI, Scottish Women’s Rural Institute,) except for one thing. The competition. They always ask the speaker to judge the competition and, being an outsider, it’s impossible to know the internal politics and rivalries attached to this important part of the evening.
I’ve found that it’s best to just try and ignore all that and choose based purely on merit, as I see it. This evening’s competition was ‘Black’ and some people had made an effort to make something black whereas others had just grabbed something black from the house. I finished a lively question session after the talk and put my stuff away while the room was re-arranged for supper and, then, gave the entries a careful scrutiny and placed the ‘3rd’, ‘2nd’ and ‘1st’ cards by my completely impartial choices.
That done I made my way along an impressive array of home baking and took a cup of tea to help wash down my well-stacked plate. I saw a table for four with three women sitting at it and asked if I could join them. We were just getting into an interesting conversation when the President called for quiet so she could announce the competition winners. ‘3rd place to the black shawl. Who brought that in?’ and the woman opposite me raised her hand. ‘2nd place to the black- iced cake. Who was that?’ and the woman on my left called out ‘That’s me’. ‘And 1st prize is the black sheep’. It seemed almost inevitable by now that the woman on my right would raise her hand.

Bamburgh Castle at sunset 

My immediate impulse was to scoff down my scone and cake and make a quick exit but I brazened it out and, in truth, I don’t think anyone truly believed it was a stitch up in spite of how it looked.

I drove home following the coast and feeling really pleased with myself for the first part of the journey. There’s something very satisfying about entertaining an audience for an hour and knowing from the questions that they have had a good time. But, my smugness didn’t last. Driving from Seahouses to Bamburgh, the view was spectacular. Bamburgh Castle is always an impressive sight but tonight the sun was setting behind it in a completely clear sky. I stopped and proved to myself that I’m not a good enough photographer to do the scene justice.