Monday, 2 January 2012

Have a Dangerous New Year

 It’s a jungle out there kids, danger lurks under every leaf and every single stone...
Beautiful Bees Won't Sting You if You Don't Threaten Them
Unless you wash your hands without touching the soap container the germs might get you (according to TV adverts). Even water can dehydrate your delicate skin (apparently). Nowadays your brittle hair and fragile nails are under constant assault from the sun, rain and wind – the Horror!
Stinging Nettles Can be Made Into Beer
I do occasionally get asked about the potential dangers of foraging and yet, with a couple of common sense precautions, it is no more dangerous than getting out of bed in the morning, going downstairs and eating breakfast…
Beware of Children
Granted, I might get up, dozily step on a stray Lego brick, fall down the stairs and crack my head. Then, in my stunned state, I could accidentally pour bleach on my cornflakes, but I'm pleased to report that this has not happened, yet...
Don't Get Prickly
I have been stung by nettles and insects; brambles, prickles and thorns have drawn blood, but all of this can happen in the garden or park. I am always careful when climbing trees or encouraging my children to. This is because branches of fruit trees are prone to suddenly snapping. Naturally, I need to make sure that the kids are operating in a reasonably safe environment but then, they also need to learn basic risk assessment and management for themselves; these are essential life skills.
The World Is Out To Get You!
There are lots of poisonous things out there and if you go about randomly eating berries of unknown bushes or consuming strange mushrooms, you will pretty soon come a cropper.
Do Not Drink!
These things might look fascinating, but so does Cillit-Bang, and you don’t put that in your mouth! Commonly occurring trees, like the yew, contain some of the most noxious natural poisons found in the UK but we know not to eat them.
Frog's Legs With Rhubarb
One part of a plant might be very good for you but another part of the same thing might kill you. Rhubarb stems are great with custard but the leaves are highly toxic and whilst elderberries and flowers can be made into some lovely drinks, ingesting the leaves and twigs can put you in hospital.
Elder Berries Forming
Castor oil is used for all kinds of useful things (including sore ears), the plant is commonly grown in gardens and yet the seed of this shrub contains the lethal poison ricin. This substance was used with fatal effect during the Japanese subway atrocity in 1995; it is 1500 times more deadly than cyanide and 500 times stronger than cobra venom! For the record, the only poisonous snake in the UK is the adder or viper and they are so rare that they are protected. In any case, they will not strike unless threatened and even then, they are very unlikely to kill you.
Always - Only Eat What You Are Sure About
Fortunately, you can negate all complications by only picking and eating things that you are familiar with. Most people already know what cherries, plums, apples, pears, blackberries, hazelnuts and chestnuts look and taste like (see Urbane Vs Urban). There’s not much that can go wrong here, unless you have some kind of allergy and you should know about this already.
Only Touch If You Are Confident
The scariest moment I have met while out and about, was being attacked by a large dog, which was appalling but this could equally happen outside the supermarket. I now know that the best way to deal with aggressive dogs is to put your hands in your pockets and look away! This seems counter intuitive but dogs see eye contact and waving arms as a threat (I was not aware of this when I was attacked).
Two Wheels Good - Four Wheels Bad!
Some people think that cycling is risky but it is actually less dangerous than walking, it gives great pleasure, is often quicker than driving and it keeps you fit. Remember, being fat can kill you too.
My Safer At Night Retroreflective Bike
So people, throw your Wii through the telly, get a map, a compass, a penknife maybe - just in case and go outside...
Keep It Real in 2012!
(Don’t forget your helmet)…

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