I don't know whether it's just me, but colds that do the rounds these days seem worse than their predecessors. This may be because they actually are worse and have mutated evilly into more vicious versions of themselves or it may be that one only gets the nastier bugs because one has already had the less nasty ones and is now immune to their wiles. Or of course, it may be that getting older simply means one doesn't fight them off as efficiently as one did when younger. Whichever it is, it's been a fairly miserable week in this household and Raffles is learning fast how to repeat wheezes and coughs as well as what we say.
H has been off school and I would have liked to have been off work. Oh to be fourteen again and have a note written by a sympathetic mother that gets one off the hook of having to do anything other than curl up quietly with a book or watch comedy re-runs with tea and meals brought solicitously on a tray every so often ...
I say this, but to be truthful I don't really like doing nothing and enforced inactivity I find stressful so I am deeply grateful this weekend (as opposed to last) to be feeling like bustling round again, cleansing* the place and cooking more than just the minimum required to keep people going.
*Cleansing as distinct from cleaning. Cleaning is the sort of everyday activity that can be done without clearing the decks and while on-the-go with something else. Cleansing, in my book, is a whole different story, a deep-clean initiative which, when under way here, the wise retreat to safe hidey-holes only emerging when the coast is clear in case they get deep-cleaned too!
I am not over-keen on popping vast quantities of patent medicaments for colds - none of them seem to do much good in my experience but some of the old-fashioned remedies have quite a bit to be said for them. Lemon and honey with a dash of hot water in a glass, a bowl of steaming hot water and a towel, rest, plenty of fluids etc etc are as good as a whole lot of things you can spend a fortune on in a chemist.
To this end I discovered a recipe for "Blackberry Cough Syrup" in a recipe book I was given last year called "It's Raining Plums". It's a collection of Daily Telegraph recipes compiled by Xanthe Clay with interesting anecdotes and asides included from the readers who sent in the recipes. Good reading as well as inspiring cooking. I recommend it. The first time I attempted the cough syrup recipe I managed to wreck it by adding the full quantity of vinegar when only using half quantities of all of the rest of the ingredients. Do not do this! The result will exacerbate rather than ease any cough you have! In fact I should think if you didn't have a cough before, this would give you one!
On the second time of asking however, all went well and the result is rather good - thick and syrupy with a sort of linctus kick to it. It can't do you any harm and probably does a lot more good than a lot of patent, medicated cough sweets. I like the idea that it does anyway and anything simply made of blackberries, sugar, honey and wine vinegar has a most endearing, old-fashioned appeal about it. Having said that, I found a couple of ancient 1940s cough sweet tins in my grandmother's sewing table and cherish the notion that anything labelled "antiseptic bronchial lozenges" must have been powerfully efficacious!
You don't get anything labelled like that nowadays. The eponymous "antiseptic bronchial lozenges" in the tins have long gone and been replaced by pins and buttons so I shall never know for sure and even if my theory is unfounded I shall cling to it in blissful ignorance and take a dose of my own blackberry cough syrup, in a splash of boiling water, in the knowledge that whatever else it may or may not do, at least it is full of vitamin C and bioflavonoids!
Do you have patent remedies you turn to when autumn and winter colds strike? Do tell, although I hope it will be a while before you need to deploy any of them.