Saturday, 4 June 2011

Ze Mad Professor

I was wondering how many of you had managed to make my 'So So or suggestive cookies' from my last post? It's a great cookie recipe.
There I was wondering what I should blog about next as Lyn drove us back from our daughters; as we approached our little village we were stopped by the three way traffic lights that we have had to suffer for the last three weeks and I noticed that Gas company ( it was their hole!) had finished their roadworks but left the signals, signs and barriers in place over the weekend( and still in place today) . Victor Meldrew came over me again! What's the point of traffic lights and barriers when there is no hole? There was a hole and it was reported that that some Gas workers had actually been seen working there ( Though neither Lyn nor I have ever seen seen anyone working here in the last three weeks!) . Please zoom in on the picture and you will see that they have finished their works and refilled the hole and re-tarmacked it and replaced the white lines! But still the traffic lights, barriers and inconvenience. I don't believe it. (it must be good because Lyn stole it and put it on her blog! That's her in the little black car coming around the obstruction!)

I thought that as my blog has been up and running for three weeks I should pay homage to my initial thoughts, the 'Treacle Mines' ....! But with a new Twist, 'Ze Mad Professatory'.

If you go down to the woods today. Sway Treacle Mining

There is no doubt about it, I live in a pretty strange part of the world. Don't get me wrong, I love it here, I've lived here since I was a small boy. The New Forest is a beautiful part of the U.K. and as a result it has attracted over the years some pretty wonderful people. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had a house in the forest and Alice Liddle (Alice in Wonderland) is buried in Lyndhurst Churchyard. But there are stranger stories that I have heard which definitely need further investigation. Sway Treacle Mines is one such tale.
Each time I've heard the tale told, the listener usually has a peculiar grin which is then followed by a strange chicken-like-laughter known as chuckling (if you've never heard a chicken laugh you need to get here soon!) I must confess that the first time I heard the tale I suffered the same symptoms. However, since receiving a mysterious phone call last Sunday I fear that my laughter may have been a little premature.
The phone call was from a Mr Tate, a resident of Sway for many years. He asked me to meet him at a secret location, where, he said 'the truth of the myth would be proved'.
I met Mr Tate late last Monday, just before dusk outside of Setthorns enclosure. He then led me to the secret location, about a mile into the enclosure, he then turned and led me to a small bush like shrub and beckoned me closer. 'This is it!' He explained. 'This is the key to the story. This is the missing plant of the Forest - the treacaldii suagardii'!
Not being an expert on such matters, I enquired why nobody else had ever mentioned the existence of such a plant. Mr Tate explained that the plant name had been removed from all records during the eighteenth century. The reason for this was because of the conspiracy set up by the sugar importers. The plant has a very sweet flavour and a natural stickiness, the sugar importers feared that if such a plant were to become widespread, then obviously their business would suffer.
When I asked Mr Tate how he had come to know of such a plant, he admitted that he had been searching for it constantly for the last 50 years. He'd come to know of it's existence from his grandfather, a My Llyle, who had sworn him to secrecy during his lifetime.
I took a closer look at this amazing plant and discovered that it was, in fact, slowly but surely dying. Mr Tate said that this was probably due to the light - the opening in the tree cover had only recently occurred and the extra light was not helping the rare plants survival.
The myth of the treacle mines themselves was explained: A few members of the New Forest community started to dig holes within the woods, the holes would then be covered and camouflaged and the forbidden plant grown within them. A rare blend of black market treacle followed which was richly sought after.
Unfortunately, the black market treacle smugglers were to come to a sticky end! The sugar importers employed a group of men known as the 'trafia', their job was to seek out and destroy all 'mines' and their plants. Needless to say, they were very successful and the 'treacaldii sugardii' was not seen or heard of again, until now of course.
Mr Tate and myself took the precaution of removing this last plant from the forest floor to protect it from prying eyes and heavy feet. I hope that Mr Tate will have success in propagating further plants and, who knows, there could well be treacle mines in Sway once more.
Sway is a wonderful place. I'm going to show you around it here today, This picture on the right was taken in Setthorns and this one here is taken at Longslade bottom.


  1. Haven't tried the cookies yet ...difficulty finding the specialist ingredients lol .... thinking about substitutions.
    We used to have a hole outside our old home was a road actually but it was always being dug up so one forgot that the hole was not part of the road ... gas and water mainly but others took their turn ...I got very VM when it sat there for weeks only to be filled in ...tarmaced ..and then dug up a few weeks later by some other company ...I used to yell ...from the comfort of my front room...'Do you not comunicate with each other would save time and money' ...but no one heard. I remember the year that the whole road was resurfaced by the council...and it was half a mile in length ...but they must have had money going spare in the 'roads' purse ... then 3 months after the whole job was done a hole was being dug again...7am on a Sunday morning ...out side my house !!!!

  2. First off you have the other end of the hole that is at the end of our road. The gas board dug our end and spent 4 weeks doing it too. I don't think they had the 3 way lights set up in sinc as they spent the entire time on red!!! But came the day finally when the hole was filled in the traffic lights departed and peace reigned for one whole day. Something horrible happened overnight we were deluged with water and it wasn't even raining. In the morning 3 members of the water board were stood round the newly redug hole watching a water spout Moby Dick would have been proud of.
    Secondly my so so biscuits were a disaster. Now not having 2 of the necessary ingredients I had to improvise. Namely 3oz of sway nuts got replaced with a handful of nuts stolen back late at night from squirels bowl.(They did look a bit chewed). I used treacle from our very own mines (that I was telling you about last week the road tar you remember) instead of sugardii treacalii. They were rock hard. Who do I send the dentist bill to please.