Sniffs, snuffles and the restorative powers of Mister Knightley……



an afternoons foraging

This past week I’ve been all sniffs and snuffles, a bad head cold has left me feeling like I’ve got a head ful of cottonwool, I’ve felt so absolutely and utterly wretched and I’ve ended up taking comfort in making myself a poorly bed on the sofa where I’m surrounded by tissues, salves for my nose (which is so red I look like I’m auditioning to pull Santa’s sleigh) satsuma peelings, my favourite Austen heroes and cups of hot cordials to help ease my throat…..

hedgerow syrups for winter throats

I’m so thankful I made all the hedgerow syrups back in the Autumn, the elderberry and haw syrup is best taken cold like a cough mixture (it’s a bit too much like hot Ribenna for my tastes otherwise) but the amber coloured syrup made from rosehips, haws and crab apples is delicious stirred into a cup of hot water….just the thought of all those sun ripened berries in such glorious jewel like colours does me the world of good, and I’m happy to drink it even when I’m not feeling poorly, and I’m not sure how much this really helps but drinking it out of the prettiest cup when I’m feeling all snuffly and woollen headed makes it taste that much nicer too.

unwaxed lemons

Over the years I’ve found that when I get a cold I need to just let it run it’s course,  fruit teas and honey and lemon elixirs, steam inhalations, oil scented tissues help me get better gently …it’s not an over night  24 hour fix it but in the long run it seems to suit my system better.

ground almonds and sweet almond oil

I seem to spend half the day with my head over a bowl of steamy water which helps my ears from popping,  I’m a great believer in using essential oils and make a sniffs and snuffles synergistic blend of equal parts of eucalyptus, lavender and tea tree to use when I’m under the weather, then I use one drop of this in a steam bath, add a couple of drops in an oil diffuser, use it with a carrier oil as a chest and back rub or dropped onto tissues…it’s a nice soothing scent which doesn’t over whelm me….there’s a faint reminder of Vicks inhalers about it….

As well as home made remedies for feeling better I also tend to use only the gentlest home made beauty preparations too, anything too scented or scratchy makes my poor nose feel wretched and I find washing my face with a tea spoon or so of porridge oats in a little warm water to be very soothing, if I need to use anything a bit more lively then I make a scrub made from almond oil and a tea spoon of ground almonds, it doesn’t seem to irritate my delicate inflamed nose and helps exholifate away any sore patches that are peeling (man, I’m a right catch when I get a cold.)

Actually when I hold my head over the steam bath breathing in the “sniffs and snuffles” blend, I massage my face before hand-with a drop or so of a face oil I make up with rose and geranium rose essential oils, almond oil, jojoba oil, rosehip and argan oil.  Normally I just use this at night before bed or on a Sunday when I’m not going out anywhere, but when I have a cold it’s an extra treat for skin that’s all sore and dehydrated, it seems to helpstop  me looking a complete fright and at least feels a but like a pamper.

bernard on a blanket

The rest of the time I’m bundled under a blanket with my furry poppet never very far away, a bowl of Heinz tomato soup (yeah I could make a nicer home made one soup, but when I’m feeling really, really poorly this is what I want…no other brand, no other flavour…I don’t really care for it any other time) favourite books are close to hand and maybe some very easy peasy knitting…and when I can’t concentrate on reading or knitting then it’s box set time…having a cold and being confined to a poorly bed on the sofa is what they were made for…perhaps watching Colin Firth as Mister Darcey or Jonny Lee Miller as Mister Knightly would make me feel a little bit better……



Some remedies for coughs, colds and a red and runny nose….

unwaxed lemons


We’re both suffering with Spring time coughs and colds….what started off with a tickly throat over the Easter weekend has become a real stinker of a cold…my nose is puffy and I sound all croaky……Every time the seasons turn and there is a noticeable change in the weather, we find ourselves sniffling and coughing and feeling all miserable and grumpy.

My favourite remedies for coughs, colds and sore throats are pretty much all natural ones…they aren’t so fast working as over the counter ones but I find my body and self responds better to them, no unpleasant side effects and they taste and smell much nicer…..just about all the ingredients are found in a store cupboard or can be purchased

My boyfriend’s late grandfather was a chemist in the brilliantly named town of Pill (it’s just outside of Bristol) and he used to make this lovely tasting syrup for sore throats.


golden honey


Grandpa Keen’s soothing throat elixir….

200 ml of boiled water

50 ml (about 3 desert spoons) good quality honey

50 ml lemon juice (I generally use the juice of one lemon)

25 ml vegetable glycerine

Dissolve the honey in the boiled water. Allow to cool a little and then add the glycerine and the lemon juice.  Allow to cool completely before keeping in a covered jar in the fridge.  Take a tablespoon or so as required.  Keeps for up to a week.

This is really soothing and seems to benefit sore throats where there is a constant tickle.  When I’m suffering from a bout of laryngitis then this is made up in double quantities and seems to live in the fridge.

(Glycerine can be easily purchased from chemists or somewhere like Neal’s Yard Remedies…don’t be tempted to use more than suggested, it’s a laxative.)

I try to buy a locally sourced set honey as I think it seems to taste nicer in this than the runny kind.

When I get a bad head cold with ears that pop and feel muffled then I find nothing seems to relieve it better than sitting with my head over a bowl of hot water, covered with a big towel…breathing in the steam really helps me feel I can breath again…I generally set a timer for 5 minutes, if not I find I lose track of time and end up all drowsy and spaced out……


Clear head steam inhalation

eucalyptus essential oil

lavender essential oil

bergamot essential oil

Drop just 1 drop of essential eucalyptus oil in to a bowl, and pour on a little hot water. Carefully lean over and cover yourself and the bowl with a big towel.  Breath n the steam for about 5 minutes.

In the day time I also add 1 drop of bergamot essential oil as this has a wonderful uplifting smell to it and helps me to feel not quite so grumpy.

When I make a steam inhalation before bed then I substitute lavender for the bergamot, but again only use 1 drop.

If you use too much essential oil then it can be too harsh for your delicate nose membranes (they’ll be feeling super sensitive as it is with having a cold so you need to treat them gently)

If you don’t have the essential oils then a small sprig of rosemary from the garden, crushed a bit in a pestle and mortar will be just as good,  pour over a little hot water and use it in the same way as the oils.


Red and Puffy sore nose balm

One of the worse things about having a cold is the runny nose, and the constant having to blow it….before long, your nose is all red, puffy  and very sore and even the softest tissues feels coarse and rough…I use a little of this balm on my nose to protect it and also a little on my lips as they tend to dry out really quickly when I have a cold.


cocoa butter

almond oil (or a light olive oil)

lavender essential oil (if you are using this as a lip balm you may not want to add the lavender, it’s not to everyone’s taste…)

In a bain-marie carefully melt about a teaspoon of beeswax.  When the wax has fully melted add a teaspoon of cocoa butter and allow to melt thoroughly. Finally stir and mix in a desert spoon of sweet almond oil or a light olive oil.

If you have vitamin e oil capsules then you might like to pierce one and add the oil from that in as well but if you don’t have them then it’s not the end of the world. Add just a few drops of lavender essential oil (3 or 4 drops is plenty) and stir.  Rose essential oil is also very good, 1 or 2 drops will be plenty.

Transfer to a small clean jar and apply as and when needed.  Keeps for about 3 months.

(it also doubles up as a nice hand or foot balm once your cold has gone and your nose is back to normal)


crocheted cosy


I’m a big tea drinker, and tend to drink a couple of big pots a day, however when I’ve got a cold I find that tea tastes a bit yucky so I then drink lots of lemon and honey, so much so that I make it in a big tea pot, cover it with a tea cosy and sip that instead.

A tea I really do like when I have a cold is “morning time” by Heath and Heather….it’s made with hibiscus, rosehips, and spearmint and tastes lovely and refreshing.  My local health food store has stopped selling it but I think you can buy it in Holland and Barrett.

I’m off to make a poorly bed on the sofa (some plumped cushions and a big crochet blanket) and am hoping the sight of Colin Firth in his lovely Georgian trousers will make me feel all better very soon.