I thought that  near Arctic temperatures were meant to kill off all the bugs. Not so in West Wiltshire it seems. The last few days have seen a gradual increase in the level of coughing around the playground and today two of the usually irrepressible apprentices succumbed and took to their sickbeds, or in their cases huddled on the sofa under a duvet.

At times like these I fall back on the age old cures given to me by my mother – grated apple and warm milk laced with nutmeg, cinammon and cloves for an upset stomach; a sage and vinegar gargle for a sore throat and an infusion of lemon balm to ease a slight fever.

I have always enjoyed making herb teas. My favourites are nettle (to clear the skin), fennel (to soothe a cough), peppermint (calming) and elderflower (mildly sedative and good at clearing catarrh.) I used to love chamomile but drank so much of it whilst pregnant that I can’t touch it now.

I want to grow a greater variety of herbs on the plot this year and to explore their uses. I’m hoping that a visit here will help me on my journey.

Now I’m off for a relaxing bath (with lavender sprigs thrown in, naturally).