Today I have been smearing mashed turnip on my feet. It’s Rogation Sunday, the start of Rogationtide which lasts until Wednesday. And Rogationtide was when the Beating the Bounds traditionally took place. Beating as in walking, sometimes whacking, and the occasional stuffing a child into a hole, Bounds as in parish boundaries. Think of a cat marking its territory but with a procession, prayers and alcoholic rest points. I’ve popped a link at the end to a rather sweet, if bonkers short documentary from 1983 about the extreme measures the Rector of Sidestrand took to Beat the Bounds of his parish.
Anyhow, back to my feet. Spoiler alert: they’ll be pictures. You have been warned. So understandably, while there are parts of Sussex that still Beat the Bounds, it’s not happening during this round of Rogation Days. But given that BtB means a lot of walking, I thought I should ensure my feet were up for the task regardless, and that meant tackling my cracked heels. Obviously.
Now there are lots of DIY foot cream recipes out there. But why pamper yourself, when you can just rub a vegetable on it? While none of my books cite turnips as a cure for cracked heels, a friend of a friend on the internet has. And how could I resist that?
The recipes all say to just peal, boil and mash the turnip and then apply for between 1-2hrs. The first bit was easy, the application not so much. First, because I’d chopped up the turnip quite small, they’d got very waterlogged in the boiling, so I had to mash them through a sieve to stop them dripping. I’d had the idea of making a poultice out of clingfilm, which didn’t go too well and so I ended up bagging my feet to stop any excess escaping.
It wasn’t an unpleasant experience. Sure, my fingers smelled of turnip, it felt like I was walking on cat sick, condensation started collecting in the bags, and it got very moist between my toes, but other than occasionally having to poke the mash back into position through the cling film, the process was very low maintenance.
After 90 minutes give or take, I divested myself of the plastic poultice, showered off the remnants, dried, then had a fondle. Well colour me gobsmacked. My feet were considerably more soft. They could still do with a jolly good file and a gallon of moisturiser, but even after a couple of hours the texture of my feet have remained a fine sandpaper as opposed to a coarse. Folklore for the win! And given I only used one of my turnips, I was able to bung the other two in the curry I made for tea. Double win!
And yes, these are befores and afters of my heels. It’s just unfortunate framing.
Now, given the alarming amount of things I have growing at the moment I’m going to amalgamate the various updates into one plot. I have no name for it yet, so all suggestions welcome. So here is your plantlore round up complete with a special guest star.
So the spuds. I think I might have killed them, or the majority of them. I uprooted the very obvious dead ones during the week and I am not hopeful for the others. Especially as the flowers haven’t moved on in weeks. And the onions are ex-alliums, they have ceased to be, Gregory-Gret-Onion was a fat lot of use with this one. The herbs are growing, the kidney beans are not, and the garlic is fighting my palm for supremacy. But I don’t think I’ll be perfecting my Felicity Kendall impression any time soon.
And finally, my lovely friend and folklorist, Hildegunn Traa has sent me photos of her lockdown planting. The sage was planted under the new moon, and the camomile and giant strawberry during the days after the moon, and I’m fantastically jealous of her other herbs. She’s also going to be planting some pumpkins which will hopefully happen for Halloween. I may join her. Or I might plant turnips for a punkie lantern. After all, they are the most beautiful of vegetables. Remember to scroll down for the video. I was introduced to it by my tutor, Owen Davies on my Folklore MA at University of Hertfordshire. There’s a link for that too in the Resources if any of this folklore has whetted your appetite…
NB: This post was updated on 18 May 2020 to change the slide shows to galleries.
Bloom, P. (2016) Old Wives’ Lore; A Book of Old-Fashioned Tips & Remedies, London, Michael O’Mara Books Limited
Buckton, H. (2012) Yesterday’s Country Customs: A History of Traditional English Folklore, Stroud, The History Press
Cooper, Q. and Sullivan, P. (1994) Maypoles, Martyrs & Mayhem: 366 Days of British Myths, Customs & Eccentricities, London, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc
Hatfield, G. (2003) Encyclopedia of Folk Medicine: Old World and New World Traditions, Santa Barbara, ABC-CLIO, LLC
Roud, S. (2006) The English Year: A Month-By-Month Guide To The Nation’s Customs and Festivals, From May Day to Mischief Night, London, Penguin Books
Vickery, R. (2019) Vickery’s Folk Flora, An A-Z of the Folklore and Uses of British and Irish Plants, London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson