Lemongrass: four stars for what is usually a four star plant. Lemongrass is a delicious lemon-scented grass. I tend to associate lemongrass mainly with savoury dishes, but it can also be used in sweet contexts. These particular specimens came from our own garden. I finely sliced the inner core to use it in a fried tofu dish, and used the remaining leaves to make a herbal tea.

As our little raft transported us further inland, there came to be many smaller canals, drains and ditches that zig-zagged across the country-side. We decided to take a south-easterly canal rather than continue south-west along Wettington River. The canal water was slow-moving, and we were able to make good speed across the stagnant waters.

Unfortunately, the stagnant waters also brought with them a great smell of anoxic decomposition. My eldest nephew made a loud gargling exclamation of disgust, and submerged his head in the barrel of orange juice. After a minute had passed, he re-emerged out of the barrel, took a deep breath, and then quickly submerged himself once again. I took out a handful of salt plums and put them in my mouth to suck on. When my nephew emerged once again, I took two of the plum pips and popped one in each of my nephew’s nostrils. He seemed to find it quite difficult to breathe, but at least he stopped submerging himself in the orange juice.

The other problem was the mosquitoes. Even now, in the middle of the day, the mosquitoes crowded around us in a big black swarm. Somehow, even here, they could smell us. If only we had some lemongrass, or a citronella candle. I swung the bull pizzle at the area where the mosquitoes were most concentrated. At least three of them fell to the water. I swung the pizzle again, but got nothing. The next time I swung, I gave it more welly. The bull pizzle came crashing down upon Blotch, the enrafted mule. Interpreting this blow as a rather forceful “proot”, poor Blotch made a dash for it and ran straight into the water.