Water & Nature – The Versatile Dandelion

Dandelions, long immortalised in Dance, the Media Arts and Music are, in fact, weeds.

If you don’t believe dandelions have been used in popular music over the last few decades, boy oh boy, are you in for a surprise! Just to get the dandelion swaying, here’s a fine example:

Prince or pauper, beggar man or thing

Play the game with ev’ry flower you bring

Dandelion don’t tell no lies

Dandelion will make you wise

Tell me ~ The Rolling Stones

My dandelion obsession has been with me since I was a child –  there’s something just so fey about their lighter than air ghostly seeds and the way they’re distributed + it’s awfully pretty too.

One thing I never imagined though was that dandelions would be used to make rubber for tyres. Yup, can you Adam and Eve it? Tyres!

According to an article at Green Builder Media: “Dutch biologist Ingrid van der Meer often meets with disbelief when she talks about her work on dandelions and how it could secure the future of road transport. The reaction is understandable, given most people regard the yellow flowers as pesky intruders in their gardens rather than a promising source of rubber for tyres …

The dandelion mission is being backed by some big tyre manufacturers, “such as industry leader Bridgestone Corp and No.4 player Continental AG.”

The report adds: “A U.S. research team found the dandelions delivered per-hectare rubber yields on a par with the best rubber-tree plantations in tropical Asia.”

A report in Rubber News last year says that what is old is new again. Apparently dandelions were grown for rubber use during World War II and grown purposefully throughout 42 U.S. states for the rubber industry. After World War II, production ended.

The cultivar considered most promising is the Russian varietal, though breeding is ongoing to make even more productive varietals.”

Colour me impressed! For now, though, I think I’ll be sticking to another rather remarkable by product of the plant that’s been brewed since time immemorial – Dandelion Wine. More my speed and to my taste methinks. *hic*

I wouldn’t, however, recommend that you use the bottled water that your office supplies, drawn from  one of three natural sources throughout the U.K when you try out the above recipe.  Trust me – I tried filching a few bottles and it didn’t go down well at all!

Hydration and the Heat Wave

Or as Martha sang, ‘Heat wave …. uh … Heat waaaaaaave …’

Or as a fellow FB’er posted … ‘Don’t we just call this summer?’

Anyhow, tamayto, tomado, whatever the weather *cue all-knowing sniggering* the fact remains, when the temperatures soar, do you know how to keep hydrated?

Here’s a refresher (thanks for this, AquAid compadré) about keeping yourself refreshed and hydrated through this blistering (and no, do not mean this in a sexy way) heat. To make it super easy, I’ve repeated keeping cool ideas for home, work and all around.

In the workplace:

  • Stay hydrated!  Set an alarm clock if necessary to make sure that you visit the water cooler as often as needs be to replenish your drinking water.
  • Chill your wrists: Run cold water over your wrists for a minute every hour.  Try not to do this using the cool water from the water cooler – it’s messy and I doubt the water cooler station is meant to be used as a private bathing area. Rather use the taps in the bathroom.
  • Drink cool (but not icy cold) liquids to help lower your body temperature. Yep, the water cooler station is perfect for this.
  • Turn off electronics: If they’re not being used, unplug electronic devices to keep them from generating unnecessary heat.

At home:

  • Chill your wrists: Run cold water over your wrists for a minute every hour:
  • Stay hydrated!  Kids may not feel thirsty, but it’s essential to stay hydrated, so make sure young ones are getting lots of water. If you’re planning to leave the house, freeze some water bottles and take them with you.
  • Drink cool (but not icy cold) liquids to help lower your body temperature.
  • Try to keep water refrigerated prior to drinking, if possible.
  • A little help from some fans: They may be little, but those battery-operated personal fans can make a big difference.
  • Frozen flannel: Freeze a flannel and then plop it on the back of your and your family’s necks – instant refresher.
  • Turn off electronics: If they’re not being used, unplug electronic devices to keep them from generating unnecessary heat.
  • Stay downstairs: Downstairs areas tend to be cooler.  Herd kids into an air-conditioned basement, if available. If not, stay on the ground floor.
  • Don’t cook: Feed your family fresh foods such as salads and fruit. Not only will this cool the body’s core, it’ll also keep cooking-related heat from filling up the house.
  • Postpone laundry: Plan to do heat-generating activities after the sun goes down. Do laundry at night, for example.

All around:

  • Shut windows and pull down the shades when it is hotter outside. If it’s safe, open them for ventilation when it’s cooler.
  • Avoid the heat: stay out of the sun and don’t go out between 11am and 3pm (the hottest part of the day) if you’re vulnerable to the effects of heat.
  • Keep rooms cool by using shades or reflective material outside the windows. If this isn’t possible, use light-coloured curtains and keep them closed (metallic blinds and dark curtains can make the room hotter).
  • Have cool baths or showers, and splash yourself with cool water.
  • Drink cold drinks regularly, such as water and fruit juice.  Avoid tea, coffee and alcohol.
  • Stay tuned to the weather forecast on the radio or TV, or at the Met Office website.
  • Plan ahead to make sure you have enough supplies, such as food, water and any medications you need.
  • Identify the coolest room in the house so you know where to go to keep cool.
  • Wear loose, cool clothing and a hat if you go outdoors.
  • Check up on friends, relatives and neighbours who may be less able to look after themselves.
  • People who have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease; are on fluid-restricted diets; or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.
  • If you’re sweating a lot, be quick to replace lost salts and minerals as well as water. Fruit juice or sports drinks with electrolytes are good choices, but do not take salt tablets unless directed to by your doctor. Taking calcium supplements, however, is a good idea.
  • Drink cool (but not icy cold) liquids to help lower your body temperature. Try to keep water refrigerated prior to drinking, if possible.

It’s all about the Water … and the Tea and the Coffee

Tea Time. Choose any of the innumerable varieties of teas and herbal drinks, not only to stay hydrated, but also to reap piles of benefit for your body. Black tea contains catechins, flavonoids that can improve cardiovascular health and may help prevent cancer.  Green tea lowers your risk of heart disease, reduces your risk of lung cancer, and can help your body burn fat more easily – the polyphenols in the tea appear to work with caffeine to increase calorie burn.

Proper tea stemming (a-ha) from the plant Camellia sinensis includes only four varieties: Green, Black, White and Oolong. Anything else, like herbal ‘tea’ is an infusion of a different plant and isn’t technically tea.

This however, doesn’t mean that there aren’t many health benefits to herbal teas. Sage tea can help with excessive perspiration. Chamomile can help control blood pressure and ease digestion and gas. Ginger tea can soothe your stomach and ease arthritis pain.

AquAid supply a rather nice PG Tips, which is a Black Tea, with their hot drinks dispensers.

Coffee break.  Let’s not kid ourselves, coffee (like tea) probably makes the world go round and has done so since its introduction to the West in the 1600’s. We’ve already discussed the good vs. bad when it come comes to coffee consumption – rule of thumb being ‘everything in moderation’, so here I’m going to talk about some of the many benefits of coffee.

Because coffee is a diuretic, many people avoid it before they work out. You might want to rethink that approach. Coffee has been shown to help your body burn fat while you exercise, aiding in weight loss. It also enhances performance by minimizing the effects of fatigue.

As with tea, coffee is full of powerful antioxidants called flavonoids, which help to prevent LDL cholesterol (bad for the heart) from oxidizing and causing heart disease.

If one avoids loading up with the sugars and creams when having one’s cup of Java, drinking coffee is also not bad when one is dieting, as black, unflavoured, unsugared coffee contains about 2 calories.

Look for the Kenco range of coffees that can come with your hot and cold drinks dispensers and keep in mind that for every Kenco coffee purchased, a donation is made to The Africa Trust, bringing clean drinking water to rural communities in Africa.

Topping up the Water Tank. As with all our bottled water, both our hot and cold water dispensers are kept replenished from water drawn from the source.

Glug, glug. Enjoy.