We read and hear of herbs being used in most of the recipes we come across, but do we really need them? Surely the main cooking ingredients carry enough flavour without the need of artificial enhancement? Unfortunately the answer - at least in my opinion - is no! Used correctly, the right varieties and amount of herbs can drag a blandly tasting meal from a base of utter tedium to the level of a veritable culinary masterpiece. And I for one know exactly which one I would prefer.

What are culinary herbs?

Many culinary herbs are perennials such as thyme or lavender, while others are biennials such as parsley or annuals like basil. Some perennial herbs are shrubs (such as rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis), or trees (such as bay laurel, Laurus nobilis) – this contrasts with botanical herbs, which by definition cannot be woody plants. Some plants are used as both an herb and a spice, such as dill weed and dill seed or coriander leaves and seeds. Also, there are some herbs such as those in the mint family that are used for both culinary and medicinal purposes.

For the majority of everyday herbs, propagation from seeds is a relatively straightforward affair. However, due to the differing parts of the world - and therefore differing environments - that herbs originate from, there cannot be just one single foolproof way of germinating them all. However, I have listed below the propagation techniques required to germinate seed from the most popular herb varieties.

If I have missed out your favourite herb then leave me a message in the comments section and I will endeavour to add it to my list.

To find out more click onto the 'Seeds of Eaden' Directory

For related articles click onto the following links:
Buy Cilantro Seed
Growing Chives from Seed
How to Grow Chives
How to Overwinter herbs
SWEET BASIL - Ocimum basilicum


Whenever I cut open a fully ripened Avocado, I always find it a shame to throw away such a healthy looking seed. Yet despite the avocado's exotic origins it is surprisingly easy to germinate an avocado seed, and given the right conditions will produce a perfectly healthy avocado tree!

For best results you will want to remove an avocado seed from the fruit (yes, despite its popular vegetable classification it is a true fruit, although botanically a large berry) once it has fully ripened, You can tell this by gently pressing the stalk end with your thumb. If the skin and flesh behind it is hard and unyielding then the seed is not ready for removal. If the skin and flesh is soft and yielding then the seed is ready to be removed.

Unlike regular seeds that require pots or trays of compost, you only need a clear, plastic cup along with a few toothpicks.

1. First carefully cut open the avocado to expose the seed, trying to avoid cutting the seed. Now remove the seed with your fingers.

2. Clean off the seed with water to remove all of the slippery flesh. This is important as the flesh contains chemicals which inhibit germination and will also act as a substrate upon which fungal spores will take hold and grow.

3. The brown, skin-like seed coat should be removed to aid the emergence of the embryonic root and shoot. The skin can be peel off with your fingernails or a dull (as in not sharp) plastic spoon.

4. Upon investigating the seed you may well find that there is an indentation or line that runs around the seed. This is nothing to worry about as this is a natural fault where the seed will split allowing the stem to grow unimpeded.

5. You will need to identify the bottom end and the top of the seed as the top end will need to be uppermost for germination. The top of the seed will be the pointed end.

6. Push 3 or 4 toothpicks into the seed at equal spacing, but avoid piercing the fault line. Consider placing the toothpicks in at an upwards angle so that more of your avocado base rests in the water when you set this over a glass.

7. Move the cup to a warm bright position such as a windowsill, but one that does not receive direct sunlight. You will need to maintain a temperature of approximately 20-25 degrees Celsius and regularly replace the water. Always try to maintain a water level so that the bottom half of the seed is submerged. Never allow the seed to dry off as it will die.

8. You can expect the root to appear anytime from 2-5 weeks depending on available light and temperatures. That being said it can take up to 8 weeks so be patient. Germination occurs when the faultline developes into a full-blown crack and the seed splits into two pieces although remaining intact at the base where the root will emerge.

9. Once the stem reaches approximately 6 inches tall, cut it back in half to 3 inches. This may sound drastic but it will encourage new growth. Once the height again reaches 6 inches the seed can be removed from the plastic cup, have the toothpicks removed and be potted on into a regular 8-10 inch plastic plant pot containing a rich humus soil. Be very carefull when potting on as the roots are very delicate and can easily snap. Again, leaving the top half of the seed exposed above the surface of the compost and keep the soil moist, with an occasional deep soak, but avoid being permanently waterlogged. Place in a warm bright position. 

10. Pot on as necessary and harden off for a week or so before placing outside and only then once night temperature remains above 18 degrees.

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TERRA NOVA - Dinosaur trailer

With the production for Jurassic Park four finally getting the go ahead earlier this year, appetites for a block busting dinosaur series have never been stronger. Luckily for us, Fox has invested a large fortune in a new dinosaur based series that began filming in late 2010. It will now premier around the globe over the next few weeks. This new series is called Terra Nova.

What is Terra Nova?

Terra Nova is a show based in the year 2149, a time when all life on planet Earth is threatened with extinction due to dwindling worldwide air quality and overpopulation. Scientists discover a rift in space-time that allows people to travel 85 million years back in time to the Late Cretaceous period on the prehistoric Earth of an alternate reality, offering a chance to save humanity. The Shannon family (father Jim, his wife Elisabeth, and their three children Josh, Maddy and Zoe) join the tenth pilgrimage of settlers to Terra Nova, the first human colony on the other side of the temporal doorway.

Terra Nova Production

The series is based on an idea by British writer Kelly Marcel. Alex Graves signed on to direct the pilot. Brannon Braga serves as showrunner.

Australia was chosen after producer Steven Spielberg vetoed Hawaii because he wanted a different filming location from his 1993 film Jurassic Park.

The two-hour pilot was filmed over 26 days in late November to December 2010. It was shot in south-east Queensland, Australia, with locations in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and the Gold Coast Hinterland. The shoot was plagued by torrential rain and additional material had to be shot in 2011, with a total estimated cost between $10 to $20 million to be amortized over the season. More than 250 sets were constructed. An episode takes eight to nine days to shoot, like most television dramas, but six weeks in post-production, twice the television average. The average episode budget is about $4 million.

Fox Entertainment president Kevin Reilly stated:

'...this thing is going to be huge. It's going to take an enormous production commitment...'

Let us all hope he is right.


Love them or loath them, snakes have been an endless source of fascination for as long as mankind has existed - but what exactly are they? Well, snakes are elongate, legless, carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpentes. However they can be confused by similar looking legless lizards, but are luckily are further distinguished by their lack of eyelids and external ears!

As interesting as that is, most people are interested in how big they get. So, just how big is the largest snake in the world?

The Giant Green Anaconda

The world’s largest snake is also the world’s biggest snake but not necessary the world’s longest. The world’s largest snake is the Giant Green anaconda, and is found in Amazon rain forest of South America.

The anaconda is of a subfamily of non-venomous boas found in Central, South America, Africa and Southeast Asia. They can grow as long as 8 meters long, as wide as a fully grown man and can weigh as much as 250 kilograms.

The green anaconda is usually an olive green snake with black spots along the body. Like any other snake, the head is narrow with eyes set high on the head.

How does the Giant Green Anaconda mate?

During mating, several males are known to wrap themselves around one female in an attempt to mate. referred to as "breeding balls," in which up to 12 males wrap around the same female and attempt to copulate. The group could stay in this position from 2–4 weeks. Nature sees to it that the fittest male -  usually the strongest and largest male - should win and therefore have the privilege of mating with the female. But since females are far stronger they can sometimes be biased to this law of nature and decide on herself which male to mate with regardless of the size and strength of the male. Mating is followed by a gestation period that lasts approximately 6–7 months. The species is ovoviviparous, with females giving birth to live young. Litters usually consists of 20–40 offspring, although as many as 100 may be produced. After giving birth, females may lose up to half their weight.

Can Anacondas Swim?

Unfortunately for most of its prey, the Giant Green Anaconda is a great swimmer and will comfortably work on its prey when in water. It is also capable of finding its prey on land but is rather slow and sluggish out of the water.

What does the Giant Green Anaconda eat?

The diet of an anaconda will consist mainly of fish, birds, and small mammals like deer, antelopes, rabbit, jaguars, and snakes, reptiles, or anything smaller than itself. After breeding, a female anaconda can sometimes feed on its male counterpart.

Is the Anaconda Venomous?

Luckily for you the anaconda is not venomous but that doesn't mean it won't kill you and feed on you. It manages this by coiling itself around you, and then by using massively powerful constrictions, will squeeze you preventing breathing and raising your body’s blood pressure two to three times its normal rate. These constrictions will continue to increase until your death,  most likely caused by a heart attack, or suffocation!

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GABOON VIPER - Bitis gabonica rhinoceros


There have been a number of different dogs that challenged the title of 'Worlds Largest Dog', but only one holds the privilege of being listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. That dog is Hercules, a massive three-year old English Mastiff who made it into the hallowed pages in 2001.

Hercules is owned by Mr. J. Flynn and his wife Wendy of Peabody, Massachusetts. Flynn - not a small man himself - weighed 270 pounds, yet his dog weighed more, tipping the scales at 282 pounds with a 38-inch neck.

Flynn says that Hercules has paws the size of softballs, but is gentle as a baby and wouldn't hurt a fly. They took him on because Wendy wanted a dog larger than the one they already had living with them - another old bull mastiff, aged two years old at the time. They realised that he was big even as a puppy, which is why they gave him the name Hercules. However, they had no idea Hercules would get quite so large and Flynn claims he's done nothing out of the ordinary to encourage the growth - other then feed him a normal diet.

It is their neighbour's son, David Delauro, who is responsible for Hercules being recorded in the Guinness Book. One day, David was browsing through the Guinness Book of World Records and came across a dog that he was positive was Hercules. But contacting the Guinness Book of World Records, Flynn discovered that the dog in the book was a 296-pound Mastiff that had already died, making Hercules the current largest dog in the world. After faxing all the information they needed, Hercules was recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest dog in the world.



If you are talking about fish - and definitely don't mean to include whales - then the answer is easy as there is only one contender - the Whale Shark, Rhincodon typus.

However, unlike the sharks you would normally think off, the whale shark is almost completely harmless. Why? Because the largest fish - and therefore the largest shark - in the world alive today is a slow-moving filter feeding shark. The largest confirmed individual was 12.65 metres (41.50 ft) in length and the heaviest weighed more than 36 tonnes (79,000 lb), however there have been unconfirmed claims reports of considerably larger whale sharks. The whale shark is found in tropical and warm oceans, lives in the open sea with a lifespan of about 70 years.

Originating from about 60 million years ago, they feed mainly, though not exclusively, on plankton, microscopic plants and animals. However, the BBC program Planet Earth filmed a whale shark feeding on a school of small fish.

But if you want to know what is the largest freshwater fish then its a different story as Whale sharks are only found in the ocean. The biggest freshwater fish in the world is the Giant Mekong catfish - Pangasius gigas.

The biggest one ever captured and measured was caught in Thailand in May of 2005. It was 9 feet long and weighed 646 pounds.

Unfortunately the Mekong catfish is in decline and although research projects are currently ongoing, relatively little is known about this species. Historically, the fish had a natural range that reached from the lower Mekong in Vietnam (above the tidally influenced brackish water of the river’s delta) all the way to the northern reaches of the river in the Yunnan province of China, spanning almost the entire 4,800 km length of the river. Due to threats, this species no longer inhabits the majority of its original habitat; it is now believed to only exist in small, isolated populations in the middle Mekong region.



For those of us familiar with Kentish local history it is impossible to escape at least a passing knowledge of that grandest of old English estates, Knole House in Sevenoaks. As is common with all notable medieval properties, if you dig deep enough you will find that Knole has its share of Ghost stories as laid down by years of entrenched tradition.

Firstly we have the dramatically named ‘Black Knight’ or as he was otherwise known, Richard Sackville the 3rd Earl of Dorset (1598-1624). Testaments from the past have seen his ghost ‘…roaming the medieval quarters of the house whenever a misfortune is about to befall Knole…’ and presumably when things are well at Knole he can be seen ‘… riding silently on horseback among the leafy shadows…’ The pseudonym ‘Black Knight’ is probably derived from his portrait that hangs in the ballroom where he is fitted head to toe in black medieval finery. An inappropriate name as it turns out as he was in fact a most colourful figure in his day. While at Knole he lived a life of splendour and vanity, fully indulging his passion for cock fighting, greyhound racing, mistresses, and fashionable clothing.

It may have been his obsession for keeping in with the royal court that began his downfall, but it was his addiction to gambling that cost him his fortune and in magnificent style too. In one spectacular episode he lost 400 pieces of gold in a single bet with King James I. Eventually his addiction took its toll and Richard Sackville had to sell most of his inherited estates, including Knole to pay off his debtors. Unfortunately this wasn't enough and by the time when he died at the age of 35 he was bankrupt and still owing £60,000. In its day a veritable kings ransom.

However, even as a ghost Sir Richard still refused to take his responsibilities seriously. For when Knole House past from Sackville ownership for what is likely to be the very last time there wasn't even a peep from him. Whether you would consider that this was ‘…a misfortune that had befallen Knole…’ will of course depend upon your point of view. Without the financial backing of the National Trust Knole house may have been broken up leaving Sir Richards ghost once more left out in the cold!

The second of Knole’s resident ghosts is Lady Anne Clifford, daughter of the 3rd Earl of Cumberland (1590-1676) and who is said to walk the dark avenue of chestnut and oak trees to the north of Knole’s grand gate house. Unfortunately for the Black Knight she was also his long suffering wife and is now destined to nag her wayward husband for all eternity. Perhaps this is why he inhabits different parts of the estate, an attempt to gain a little peace and quiet.

While he was alive Richard Sackville’s marriage became troubled, and his interest in his wife became based solely on how much money her own estates could generate in order to fund his lavish lifestyle. With their relationship in tatters she dealt with her husband in a way that many scorned women would recognise today. She invaded his wardrobe, removed his collection of finest velvet cloaks and cloth of gold doublets (close fitting jackets) and had her staff cut them up for furniture fabric.

After Richards death Lady Anne had to endure his shame of his indebted legacy for a further 52 years, and it’s believed that it was her hatred of the man that has kept her spirit at Knole all these years. Although the Black Knight may also be seen riding among the same leafy shadows of the chestnut avenues, this probably occurs when the ghost of Lady Anne is away haunting her Clifford estates in Yorkshire.

It is unfortunate that these stories are all that seem to remain of the ghosts at Knole as no-one has seen or heard of the Black Knight or Lady Anne in living memory. Ask anyone who works there, from the Estate’s property manager to the lady who runs the shop and you won’t come across a single piece of anecdotal evidence. As far as they are concerned, there are no ghosts at Knole! Is this some kind of National Trust conspiracy or is it that we are not talking to the right people.

Head gardener to the current Lord Sackville is Justin Wilson, and he reveals a different account taking us back to a time long before Knole became known as the ancestral home of the Sackvilles. In 1456 the original manor house was converted into an Archbishops palace after being bought by the Catholic Church from Sir William Fiennes, for just over £266. The original buildings and chapel still exist within the current property, along with a small enclosed garden which is now part of the much larger walled gardens.

“…Its here when you’re working in what was once the archbishops garden that that you begin to feel that something here is out of the ordinary. It’s particularly pronounced as you walk through the archway at the top of the garden that faces the medieval chapel. There is always that feeling of being nervous or unsettled here but strangely it’s something you get used to. However if you’re still here after dark you can get a distinct and sometimes overpowering feeling of being watched. Several times I have had to finish what I was doing to go and work elsewhere in the larger gardens…”

The thing is, this isn't a simple case of one man's imagination getting the better of him. Standing in the top half of this garden really does give you this sensation of being put on edge and Knole’s head gardener is not the only one to experience this.

The question now is this, what is the identity of this watchful spirit? Unfortunately this is an answer that Justin Wilson doesn't have but there are still some clues around this historic property that we can look at.

Few would argue that St. Nicholas church (found opposite the main entrance to Knole Park) is one of the most beautiful places of worship in Sevenoaks, but Knole’s own medieval chapel is in fact one of the oldest. Believed to pre-date St, Nicholas by at least a century, the so called ‘garden’ next to it is likely to have been consecrated ground and therefore used for burial. With this in mind the ‘garden’ is probably the last resting place for many of Sir William Fiennes ancestors and who of those wouldn’t be upset by the selling off of the ancestral home for a quick profit.

Due to the work and associated excavation being undertaken by the National Trust on the original Manor house, new information from Knole’s history is beginning to coming to light. Evidence has been revealed here that could also point to our ghostly watchers origins, notably a number of so called ‘cellars’ complete with heavy doors and iron locks. These would have been quite useful when catholic discipline needed to be maintained. How many so called heretics ended their days here after suffering the misery of forced confinement in these damp and squalid conditions?

It’s likely that we may never know the true identity of the watcher in the archbishops garden, at least not without help from the likes of Yvette Fielding, Derek Acorah and the' Most Haunted' team. What we do know however is that at least one of Knole’s ghosts is up to the job, keeping the long tradition of classic English ghosts ‘alive’ and in good spirits.


Fuchsias are one of the country's favourite ornamental plants. The trouble is, with so many stunning varieties to choose from, it can end up being very expensive if you try and satisfy your every Fuchsia wish.

However, all is not lost as you can always consider taking Fuchsia cuttings  from the shoots of established plants. In fact, Fuchsia cuttings will root very easily if given the right of conditions.

The trouble is - and I have experienced this myself - is that many growers commonly complain of a high proportion of failure in their their fuchsia cuttings.

So what then, are the secrets to successfully rooting fuchsia?

It is important to take fuchsia cuttings only from plants that are in the very best condition, and the parent plants should have been properly watered a few hours before the cutting are taken. Having removed your cutting it should be inserted into its rooting medium as soon as possible. The next trick is to not allow your cuttings to wilt or that will be the end of it!

To achieve this, your fuchsia cuttings should be kept as turgid as possible and this is achieved by keeping them in an area of high humidity.

This can be done by placing your cuttings in a propagator or by covering them in a clear plastic bag. Just make sure the leaves do not touch the edges. They should also be shaded from the sun.

Contrary to popular belief, the use of rooting hormones is not really necessary for fuchsia cuttings especially if the piece of material has been removed from the very tip of the plant. This type of fuchsia cutting is known as a soft tip cutting.

How to propagate fuchsias from cuttings

If you intend to take a decent number of Fuchsia cuttings then it may be worth investing in a heated propagator. By enabling a soil temperature of just 68F (20C) you can expect a quicker and far more successful rooting.

Choose a good quality compost such as John Innes 'Seed and Cutting' but consider mixing the compost together with some horticultural grit or perlite to help improve drainage.

Green, soft tip cuttings of fuchsias can be taken all year round, but the best time of the year will be the spring when growth is in full spring. The cut on the stem needs to be made above a set of leaves, leaving three sets of leaves above the cut. During the process of taking the cutting, be careful not to damage the stem - wherever possible, handle the cutting by the leaves.

Trim the cutting to immediately below the third set of leaves. Then, carefully trim off the lower set of leaves with a sharp knife, including any small shoots at the leaf nodes.

Take your Fuchsia cuttings as small as possible because these tiny cuttings can begin to root in 10 days or less. Now, gently push the cutting in around the edge of the pot so the leaves are just resting on the top of the compost.

Do not firm the fuchsia cuttings in the first watering will do that, and make sure you label each cutting if you insert many different varieties in the same pot or tray.

Be aware that once your cuttings have taken root, the most common cause of death of cuttings is over watering drowning followed by fungal disease.

So provide good ventilation and allow your plants to dry sufficiently between watering.

For related articles click onto the following links:
How to Take Hardwood Cuttings


With new, and ever larger flowering varieties being released each year, it's no wonder that Hydrangea species and cultivars are so popular. Unfortunately, owning one of these fancy specimens can come at a price - which is normally expensive! Luckily, Hydrangeas are very easy to propagate and cuttings can be taken at more or less any time of the year so long as the plant is actively growing.

In fact, if your Hydrangea cuttings are taken over the summer, they will root in a matter of weeks! And it couldn't be easier, simply cut off a shoot making sure that your knife is sharp and that the cut made is clean and even.

How to propagate Hydrangeas from cuttings

To begin with, remove a section of new growth 5 to 6 inches long with your sharp knife. You can recognize the new stem growth on a hydrangea as it will be a light green.

Remove the lower leaves at the bottom two leaf nodes. This is where the root should form. Remove all leaves except for the two at the top, then cut these top leaves in half crosswise.

Dip the base of the cutting stems into a rooting hormone to help encourage root growth. Follow the directions on the manufacturer's label for correct usage.

Place each stem into a separate pots containing a well drained potting compost such as John Innes 'Seed and Potting'. However it is well worth improving the drainage further by creating a 2:1 mix of compost and horticultural grit/perlite.

Water the pots until the water runs freely from the drainage holes. The soil should now be moist but not soggy.

If you only have large pots at your disposal then you can place more than one per pot, but they will need to be potted on at a later date.

Once the pots have drained, place them into a covered propagator or - failing that - cover the pots with plastic bags.

Make sure the leaves do not touch the plastic.

Leave the cuttings in a shaded location, and only when the soil is dry. The cuttings should root between two to four weeks.

Propagation Tips

Place cuttings in bright light, but never in direct sun as they can overheat and die. Do not water the cuttings until top of soil feels dry to the touch. Remember though that over watering will cause cuttings to rot. Overwinter Hydrangea cuttings under protection as they are unlikely to survive extreme temperatures in their first year.

For related articles click onto the following links:


After 600 years of historical drama you’d think that Knole House would have it all, but there was something about this place that doesn't ring true. After centuries of fluctuating prosperity the Sackville lineage still resides there, but someone or should I say something is missing.

It would be naive to suggest that no skeletons exist in the Sackvilles aristocratic closet, but to say there isn’t a single ghost at Knole is positively un-English.

Today, Knole is now in the protective hands of the National Trust. Ask anyone who works there, from the Estate’s property manager to the lady who runs the shop and you won’t come across a single piece of anecdotal evidence. Is this some kind of National Trust conspiracy or we simply not speaking to the right person.

Head Gardener to the current Lord Sackville, Justin Wilson reveals a different story. In 1456 Knole manor house became an Archbishops palace, after being bought from Sir William Fiennes, Lord Say and Sel for just over £266. The original buildings and chapel still exist along with a small enclosed garden which today is now part of the much larger walled gardens.

“…Its here when you’re working in the small archbishops garden that that you begin to feel something out of the ordinary. It’s particularly pronounced as you walk through the archway at the top of the garden when you face the medieval chapel with its impressive stained glass window. You always get the feeling of being nervous or unsettled here but its something you just get used to. However if you are still here when it gets dark you often get a distinct and sometimes overpowering feeling of being watched. Several times I have had to finish what I was doing to go and work elsewhere in the larger gardens…”

It has long been traditional for members of the Sackville family to be buried at St. Nicholas church, found opposite the entrance to Knole Park, but with the existence of the Chapel on site it is not unreasonable to suggest that the gardens next to it would have been made consecrated ground.

With that in mind this ‘garden’ is likely to be the last resting place for many of Sir William Fiennes ancestors, and who of those wouldn't be angry at the sale of the family’s inheritance to England finest heritage and conservation empire.

Kole was originally in the hands of the Catholic church until after Henry VIII's reformation in 1534 when the ownership of Knole reverted back to the crown. However, if you are looking for evidence of our ghostly watcher then you need look no further than under the original archbishop’s palace!

Situated in the dark underbelly of this magnificent home could be the clues that point to our ghostly watchers origins, notably a number of cellars fitted with heavy doors and iron locks. These makeshift prisons probably became quite useful when it was needed to maintain catholic discipline. How many Protestants ended their days with the misery of forced confinement in these damp and squalid conditions?

After all is said and done we don’t know the identity of this poor lost soul, however there is another clue from old Sackville history. Richard Sackville, the 3rd Earl at Knole lived a life of splendour and vanity.

He bankrupted himself and died at the age of 35 while his wife Lady Anne Clifford had to endure his shame for a further 52 years.

Known as the black knight, his ghost is said to roam the older quarters at Knole whenever a misfortune is about to befall Knole. Perhaps it is his presence that can be felt in the gardens to day. Whoever it is, the ghostly history of Knole adds yet another fascinating side to this splendid country house.


Gorillas are the largest species of primates alive today. They are ground-dwelling, predominantly herbivorous, and although they are frequently portrayed as aggressive, dangerous killers, they are in reality shy, peaceful vegetarians. Furthermore, because of massive loss of habitat, these majestic primates are now at huge risk of extinction!

Gorillas are divided into two species and then further still into four or five subspecies. The DNA of gorillas is incredibly similar to that of humans, between 95 and 99%! In fact they are our closest living relatives next to chimpanzees.

Gorilla Habitat

The Gorillas natural habitat covers the tropical and subtropical forests of Africa. Although their range covers only a small percentage of Africa, gorillas cover a wide range of elevations. The mountain gorilla inhabits the Albertine Rift montane cloud forests of the Virunga Volcanoes, ranging in altitude from 7,200–14,100 ft. Lowland Gorillas live in dense forests and lowland swamps and marshes as low as sea level, with western lowland gorillas living in Central West African countries and eastern lowland gorillas living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo near its border with Rwanda.



Cancer is a term used for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and are able to invade other body tissues. Cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems.

Cancer is not just one disease but many diseases. There are more than 100 different types of cancer. Most cancers are named for the organ or type of cell in which they start - for example, cancer that begins in the colon is called colon cancer; cancer that begins in basal cells of the skin is called basal cell carcinoma.

Cancer types can be grouped into broader categories. The main categories of cancer include:

Carcinoma - cancer that begins in the skin or in tissues that line or cover internal organs.

Sarcoma - cancer that begins in bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, blood vessels, or other connective or supportive tissue.

Leukemia - cancer that starts in blood-forming tissue such as the bone marrow and causes large numbers of abnormal blood cells to be produced and enter the blood.

Lymphoma and myeloma - cancers that begin in the cells of the immune system.

Central nervous system cancers - cancers that begin in the tissues of the brain and spinal cord.

Where does Cancer come from?

All cancers begin in cells, the body's basic unit of life. To understand cancer, it's helpful to know what happens when normal cells become cancer cells.

The body is made up of many types of cells. These cells grow and divide in a controlled way to produce more cells as they are needed to keep the body healthy. When cells become old or damaged, they die and are replaced with new cells.

However, sometimes this orderly process goes wrong. The genetic material (DNA) of a cell can become damaged or changed, producing mutations that affect normal cell growth and division. When this happens, cells do not die when they should and new cells form when the body does not need them. The extra cells may form a mass of tissue called a tumor.

The fundamental cause of cancer is damaged or faulty genes – the instructions that tell our cells what to do. Genes are encoded within DNA, so anything that damages DNA can increase the risk of cancer. But a number of genes in the same cell need to be damaged before it becomes cancerous.

Most cancers are caused by DNA damage that accumulates over a person's lifetime. Cancers that are directly caused by specific genetic faults inherited from a parent are rare. But we all have subtle variations in our genes that may increase or decrease our risk of cancer by a small amount.

Not all tumors are cancerous; tumors can be benign or malignant.

Benign tumors aren't cancerous. They can often be removed, and, in most cases, they do not come back. Cells in benign tumors do not spread to other parts of the body.

Malignant tumors are cancerous. Cells in these tumors can invade nearby tissues and spread to other parts of the body. The spread of cancer from one part of the body to another is called metastasis.

Some cancers do not form tumors. For example, leukemia is a cancer of the bone marrow and blood.

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Firstly, let me apologise to all of those who spell this dish as 'Spaghetti Bolognaise' - you are all wrong, it is 'Bolognese' not 'Bolognaise'! However, what we have come to accept as a traditional Italian recipe in this country is surprising wide of the mark.

In our fair and greenish land we tend to have our bolognese as a rich beefy sauce, fortified with a dash or more of red wine combined with a few, choice Italian herbs - garlic, oregano and basil. But you would be wrong! And how would I know this? Because I have heard it from the horse's mouth, namely Antonio Carluccio, OBE, OMRI - Italian chef, restaurateur and all-round Italian food expert! Not only that, it doesn't even have spaghetti in it - how foolish we are.

Antonio Carluccio's traditional Italian recipe for Spaghetti bolognese

Ingredients for four servings

500 grams of dried tagliatelle
250 grams of pork mince
250 grams of beef mince
1 x large onion chopped
1 1/2 x tin or 400 grams of chopped tomatoes
100 grams of tomato puree
50 ml of Olive oil - not virgin olive oil
1 x small glass of dry white wine - definitely not red wine!
a small block of Parmesan cheese
Do not use garlic, oregano or basil!

You will need a fairly large, heavy based pan with a lid for this recipe - you will find out why at the end.

Firstly, gently fry the chopped onion on a low heat in the olive oil. Do not overcook, just allow them to soften off. Add both the pork and the beef mince and again gently brown off. Pour in the dry white wine, then mix together with the chopped tomatoes and the tomato puree.

Once the ingredients have started to boil, immediately turn the heat down and simmer for between 2 and 3 hours with the lid on - do not allow the sauce to dry out and burn! That's right, I said 2 - 3 hours!

One the sauce is nearly completed, cook the tagliatelle for 10 minutes or so until it is 'al dente' - from Italian 'to the tooth' or 'to the bite', referring to the need to chew the pasta due to its firmness.

When the pasta is ready, drain then add to the sauce. Mix thoroughly and then your spaghetti bolognese is ready to serve, add grated Parmesan on top as required.

I love Antonio Carluccio and his best friend Gennaro Contaldo so check out the video clip I have added at the top of the page.

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I was in the local supermarket a couple of weeks ago when for some strange reason I began to fixate on an elderly gentleman who had half a dozen tins of Heinz 'cream of tomato' soup in his plastic carrier bag. After initially feeling sorry for him as - rightly or wrongly I thought that this was all he could afford to eat - I made a quick calculation in my head as to the cost of that much soup - it turns out to be anything from £ 3.60 up to £ 9.64 depending where you shop.

Having got the taste of it in to my head, I returned home and decided there and then to make my own version of tomato soup. I hadn't prepared for it and so I had to make do with what I had in the house and luckily I had a number of seasonal vegetables left over from a casserole that I had made the day before.

The result took me completely by surprise as I had never eaten soup - let alone tomato soup - that had tasted so good. It was sublime to the last spoonful, and laced with a full range and depth of savory flavours.

I truly urge you to try this recipe for tomato soup. It is easy to prepare, simple to cook and uses basic and readily available produce. In fact there is no reason why you can't grow the majority of these ingredients in the garden.

Take this advice - if you have ever thought about making homemade soup then try this recipe first. It won't let you down.


2 lb / 900 grams of tomatoes - peeled and quartered (or 2 tins of chopped tomatoes)
1 1/2 lb / 700 grams of butternut squash - cubed
2 x Medium Onions - chopped
1 x carrot - roughly sliced
1 x leek - sliced
1/2 a small swede - cubed
3/4 pint of chicken or vegetable stock
1 large knob of butter or 1 tsp of olive oil
3 tbsp of fresh basil leaves
2 tbsp of fresh parsley leaves
2 tsp of fresh thyme leaves
salt and freshly ground pepper according to taste

It is all about the freshness of ingredients - especially the herbs - in order to get the best flavour. Once the ingredients have been prepared, place the butternut squash, onions, carrot, leek, swede and nob of butter - or olive oil - into a suitably sized pan and allow the vegetables to gently cook in their own juices for 5 minutes or so.

Next, add the tomatoes, stock and herbs - keep back some of the basil leaves for presentation - and bring to the boil. Keep a close eye on it though because as soon as it boils drop the heat back down and allow the mixture to simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove from the heat and puree the mix until it is silky smooth using either a hand-held blender or in a liquidizer. See, the whole process is delightfully simple.

Season the soup bit by bit with salt and pepper until it tastes just right.

Finally, for creamy tomato soup stir in 150 ml of double cream or creme fraiche. Re-heat gently for 3-4 minutes and serve very hot in warm soup bowls garnishing with a couple of basil leaves.

I hope you enjoy this recipe for tangy tomato soup as much as I do. In fact it has already become a firm family favorite.

How to Grow Giant Tomatoes


Kids and adults alike love nothing better than seasonal, gorey food during the Halloween holiday. A personal favourite is my very own recipe for blood red Halloween soup and it works well on two levels. Firstly, it really does look like a bowl of congealing blood - and secondly, not only does it taste absolutely superb, it is fantastically healthy for you. However, it does have one secret ingredient - a single carrot 'Purple Haze'. Why secret? Well, its not really, but it is the key to getting that authentic dark red bloody colouring. I don't ever remember seeing carrot 'Purple Haze' in the usual supermarkets, but I do grow my own. If you can't get carrot 'Purple Haze' then use a normal carrot, but instead try and find as deep a red colour sweet pepper as you can find.


2 lb/900 grams of tomatoes - peeled and quartered ( or 2 tins of chopped tomatoes)
2 x Medium Onions - chopped
1 x carrot 'Purple Haze'- roughly sliced
1/2 a small swede - cubed
1 x large red pepper
400 gram or a tin of red kidney beans
100g of red lentils 
4 slices of smoked bacon (or not if you are vegetarian)
3/4 pint of chicken or vegetable stock
3 tbsp of olive oil
1 heaped tsp of cumin
1/4 tsp of chili powder - this is the amount that I use to suit my taste, you may need more or less.
Salt and freshly ground pepper added according to taste

To begin with you need to prepare the lentils. Place the lentils in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and boil rapidly for 10 minutes uncovered. Reduce the heat and allow the lentils to simmer for a further 15-20 minutes. Drain well and leave to one side while you prepare the next lot of ingredients.

Place the bacon, pepper, onions, carrot, swede, and olive oil - into a suitable sized pan and allow the vegetables to gently cook in their own juices for 5 minutes or so.

Next, add the tomatoes, cooked lentils, stock and spices (not the salt and pepper) and bring to the boil. Keep a close eye on it though because as soon as it boils drop the heat back down and allow the mixture to simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove from the heat and puree the mix until it is silky smooth using either a hand-held blender or in a liquidizer. Pour into warmed soup bowls and try to enjoy it without getting freaked out!

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I stayed a couple of weeks in Marrakech a while back and one of the main things I was worried about was catching some things that was going to ruin my guts and therefore my holiday. With that in mind I sort of stuck to any food that was either baked or boiled to within an inch of its life, or chips!

That didn't leave me with many options, so much of what I had was cooked as a Tagine and luckily my stomach stayed intact. But to be fair, the tagines within the tourist areas of Morocco were pretty dull and tasteless. So much so, that whatever you ordered, it tasted much the same.

So now back in my home country I wanted to give a tagine recipe a go and see if I could do any better - surely the locals wouldn't eat this stuff. And to be fair - when I was there - the locals didn't!


225g lean beef, lamb or pork steak, cubed
1 tsp olive oil
1 x red onion chopped
75g apricots, chopped
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground allspice
400g can of chickpeas, drained
450 ml of stock
175g couscous
1 tbsp fresh coriander - chopped

How to make a Tagine

To begin with, heat up the oil in a large non-stick wok or heavy based saucepan. Then cook the onion over a low heat for a couple of minutes - don't over cook!

Add your chosen meat until it has browned off, then add all of the remaining ingredients except the couscous and coriander. Now bring to the boil then drop the temperature so that it simmers for a couple more minutes with the lid on.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the remaining ingredients and stir in. Cover the pan of wok once again and leave for a further 2 to 3 minutes.

The tagine is now ready to serve with a mixed herb salad or seasonal vegetables and bread. This is enough to serve 2 - 3 people.

Tagine as a casserole

As the heading suggests, this Tagine recipe can also be made as a casserole for 4 people. In a change to the first recipe you are going to need some more ingredients. This time you will need to use 450g of lean beef, lamb or pork braising cubes, 175g chopped apricots and 450 ml of stock - plus the remaining ingredients.

Place all of the ingredients into a large oven proof dish except for the coriander and the couscous. Place in an oven pre-heated to 180 Celsius - gas mark 4 - and cook for between 1 1/2 and 2 hours. When cooked, removed from the oven and add the couscous. Mix well in, then cover with a lid and leave for a few minutes. Now add the coriander and serve.



I have often heard about the wonders of traditional Italian ice cream - otherwise known as Gelato, but up until recently I have never had the opportunity to partake. I say opportunity but it would be far more accurate to say honour or even privilege. Why? Because without the slightest doubt, I can say it was the most creamy and flavoursome ice cream that I have ever tasted in my life. And to call it simply an ice cream is - in my opinion - an insult!

The trouble is, now that I have experienced the delights of this truly wonderful taste sensation, I find that my local Sainsburys does not hold Gelato as part of its myriad stock. An erroneous oversight it may be, but all is not lost! With the miracle of modern science you can make the wondrous Gelato at home - all you need is an ice cream maker! God bless those egg-headed scientists.

What is Gelato ice cream?

While frozen desserts can be traced back as far as 3000 years ago to the ancient Emperors of China, Gelato as we know it today was invented in Italy by Bernardo Buontalenti in 1565.

Originally created for the extraordinarily wealthy de' Medici family of Florence, gelato gained wider popularity after the queen of France, Caterina de' Medici summoned Buontalenti to introduce the unique Italian delicacy to the French court. Gelato has been a formidable success ever since.

Gelato is a combination of whole milk, eggs, sugar, and natural flavoring - usually fresh fruit and sugar. It is similar to ice cream, but lower in fat (ice cream tends to be 10% to 20% fat, while gelato is 8% or less). Gelato is typically flavored with fresh fruit purees, cocoa and/or nut pastes.

If other ingredients such as chocolate flakes, nuts, small confections, cookies, or biscuits are added, they are added after the gelato is frozen.

How to make Gelato

The only special equipment you need is an ice cream maker (either electric or manual) that uses salt and ice for cooling. If you have one of those fancy ice cream makers that uses a gel container that you pre-freeze, use their instructions instead!

Before you start on your home made Gelato you will need the following items:

2 cups milk (whole, lowfat or fat-free)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup fat-free powdered milk
8 eggs (yolks only needed)
1 cup light cream, half-and-half or fat-free half-and-half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups of prepared fruit (strawberries, peaches,
raspberries, mangoes, or whatever you have!)
1 ice cream maker
ice cubes (about 8 tray's worth)
2 cups (500 ml) table salt
1 large pot
1 wooden or plastic spatula

It may seem an obvious point, but, make sure that you have all the ice and salt you need otherwise you would have failed at the first hurdle. For a typical 2-quart ice cream maker, you will need approximately: 2 cups (500 ml) of table salt and 8 trays of ice cubes. It is NOT NECESSARY to use rock salt or crushed ice for most ice cream makers.

Using a large pan, In a large pot with a heavy bottom, mix the fat-free milk. Bring the mix to a low simmer over medium heat and stir to dissolve the Splenda, then turn the heat down and just keep it warm.

Now separate the egg yolks from the 8 large eggs. Put the egg yolks in a medium bowl and whisk until they are thickened (it only takes about 2 minutes. If you are too lazy to do it by hand then use a hand mixer on low speed.

While constantly whisking, slowly add 1 cup of the hot milk mixture and whisk until it is blended (this will just take a few seconds). Now pour the egg mixture back into the pot of hot milk and increase heat to medium.

Stir the mixture constantly with a wooden or plastic spoon, until the mixture is thickened (like gravy) and registers between 170°F and 180°F - it is best to check this with an instant-read thermometer.

Stir in light cream,and vanilla. Cover and place into the refrigerator for at least 6 hours before continuing with the recipe. Should you need to you can keep the mix in there overnight or even 24 to 48 hours!

Now it is time to prepare your fruity flavoring  You can add almost any fruit you have! If you want vanilla, you already have it, just pop the mix into the maker. If you want chocolate ice cream, just add your favorite chocolate syrup, such as Hershey's or Nestle to the mixer just before it is time to turn on the ice cream maker.

Some fruits work better than others. You get best flavor if you puree the fruit first in your food processor or blender. So fruits like strawberries, raspberries, mangoes, figs and peaches are idea for this, while apples, coconuts and pomegranates might not be such a good choice.

To prepare the fruit just prepare it as you would for eating, then blend it in your food processor or blender for a few minutes. Here are some tips:

Peaches and nectarines: remove skins, pits and bruised areas
Strawberries: remove the cap (the green parts)
Raspberries: just wash them
Blackberries: I like seedless, so I wash them and then run them through a Foley Food Mill to remove the seeds!
Figs: Remove stems and bruises
Mangoes: Peel, and cut the flesh off the stone.

About 45 minutes before you want to serve the gelato, stir the milk/cream mixture together with the pureed fruit. Stir it up well. Remove the freezer canister and pour the milk/cream/fruit mixture  into the freezer bowl. and put the cover on the canister. Put the canister in the cream maker. Layer ice and salt solution as follows:

1. Pour 1 cup (250 ml) cold water into Ice Bucket.
2.  Place a 1 inch (2.5 cm) layer of ice cubes around Cream Canister in Ice Bucket.
(Hint: Cream Canister should stand straight while layering.)
3. Sprinkle 1/3 cup (75 ml) table salt or 1/4 cup (50 ml) Kosher (coarse)
salt on ice.
4. Continue layering ice and salt to the top of the Ice Bucket.
5. Pour 1 cup (250 ml) cold water over top ice layer.

Turn the ice cream maker on and let the maker work until it is thickened, about 20 to 25 minutes. If you are making chocolate gelato, this is the time to add the chocolate syrup. You will need to add about 1/2 cup of chocolate syrup.

From time to time, add more ice cubes and salt as needed. You can tell when the gelato is done, by simply checking the consistency through the opening on the top of the ice cream maker. You will also hear the motor straining, as the ice cream freezes. On some units, the directions with the maker tell you to let it work until the motor stalls and stops.

When it is done, the gelato should have a soft, creamy texture. Gelato should be stored in a freezer that is just below freezing (say 30 F), or else it will become harder - you'll need to thaw it and hand whip it back to smooth and soft!

Now it is time to enjoy the spectacular fruits of your labour whilst day dreaming about those gorgeous Italian women! Don't tell her indoors about the women though!

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