Spotlight: Neil Muir (NEILMUIR1)

By Sharon Brown (Sharon) on October 11, 2010

A little more than a year ago on a comment thread attached to one of my articles on medicinal plants, I met a man from England. His response to my article was valid, he knew what he was talking about, and since I wrote of plants that grew in the Appalachian mountains, I wondered how a man from England could know so much about a Kentucky wildflower. Read on, because that certainly isn't the end of the story.

Many years ago when I was a child, surrounded by old ladies to guide me, I learned a lot about the medicinal uses of Kentucky's wildflowers. When I became an old lady myself, I began to write articles about those same wildflowers that were so close to my heart. I was never so surprised as when I began to get comments from a gentleman in England. How could he know about my Kentucky wildflowers?

Time passed and with every article, I received more and more information from England. I was becoming educated all over again. But I got to know Neil Muir, the commenter, very well o2010-10-09/Sharran/41d131ver time, and now I continue to rely on him as a terrific resource.

I thought it was time that you knew him, too. He's very active here in Cubitland, as proud of his country as I am of my Kentucky mountains. Neil, thank you so much for being in our Spotlight today.


Dear Sharon, do you think I am worthy of being a spotlight? I am but a quiet person but I can as you have helped me, write some things about myself!  Like most people, I am reluctant, as who wishes to know about an Englishman in America?  

I was most honoured to be asked to sort the farming cubit out, which I have done; Spotlight though, this is a bit of a shock to me!  But you have immensely helped me out, so yes I will write a simple bio and some pictures if that is what you require!

2010-10-09/Sharran/2f98b5My camera blew up and they have replaced it with a more complicated one. Here is a picture with my new camera I took today, and she sends her love to you!

Neil, you are worthy of being spotlighted, absolutely! I'm honored that you agreed to talk with me. And I love your stories about your cats. This is a lovely photo of Phoenix. But first, let's talk about Neil and save the cats for later. Tell us about you!


Although I was born in London, that is not where my parents came from. My mother and granddad are both Geordies, and my other granddad was Scottish. My father and grandma are both from Yorkshire. This is the place I love so much; my granddad was a landscape gardener and my grandma a Head Cook in a big house; my mother and my grandma taught me so many things!

They taught the simple things, like waste not want not.

I served in the British Armed forces and was unfortunately injured2010-10-09/Sharran/c5d60b. I was offered an apprenticeship for seven years on the parks department which I did and that is the thing I loved.

Working my way up the ladder of horticulture was not easy, but nobody said anything was going to be easy!

I did work for the best; unfortunately everyone was into spraying chemicals, which was killing our flora and fauna off. So I went to University as I thought there must be a better way than this.

Got my Degree in Winchester Cathedral in front of my parents! I could not have wished for more.

I owe so much to my mother and father. They are both not as young as they used to be so I do what I can for them. My mother is excellent at decorative sewing and her work stuns me.

I am happily married to my wife Sarah. I have one cat and she has two!

We have lots of nieces as well!!

I've met yo2010-10-09/Sharran/c05a73ur mother, Neil, and a delightful lady she is. She shared her Spotlight with all of us some time ago. Her needlework is stunning, thank you so much for introducing me to her. And it's evident that she did a wonderful job of raising you! Now tell us more about your favorite things.


My favourite things are plants and gardening. Now I am on Cubits and am getting better at photography (slowly). It has been fantastic to show people the simple pleasure of nature and all its beauty!


I know you've been to a lot of places. Could you tell us a little about your travels, Neil? Is there a special place you'd love to go?


I have been to a lot of places. Where I would love to go is a hard question to answer as I have seen so many places. I would like to take my 2010-10-09/Sharran/860068wife back to Scotland and to the dales of Yorkshire. My wife loved Edinburgh and indeed some other places, but I suppose Yorkshire is my dream! My quest is to show other people, as I spent a lot of time there and want to share its remarkable beauty!

I know from all your letters to me and from your recipe Cubit that you are an amazing cook. Do you do all the cooking at home?


I do all the cooking, unless Sarah is cake making, then I do the cleaning up afterwards. I do the housework, washing, ironing etc! Sarah has to have her coffee in bed and her bits done to take to work with her, plus a hot dinner to come home to, of course.


Ahhhhh...what a wonderful husband! I notice you have a lot of family recipes in your database. That lets us know they are tried and true favorites. Thanks for sharing them with us. Now, on a different subject entirely, but one that is a favorite of mine, please tell us about your cats, especially your Phoenix, who truly lived up to her name.


My cat is a farm cat, a tabby called Phoenix and a wonderful animal. We had some really bad weather last winter, where everythin2010-10-09/Sharran/8b1d5fg was frozen. My cat went missing although she lives mostly outside hunting. I could not find her anywhere at all, and yes I did ask everyone if they had seen her, but nobody had! It turned out that a neighbour had gone away and whilst warming his car up, my cat had gone in his outside garage. She was trapped without food and water for three weeks as nobody could move due to the ice and snow. Finally when he came back, I got a bag of bones that looked like my cat. I warmed her up and we fed her up. She is now fine apart from taking on a red fox the other day, but what can you do?


Thanks, Neil, I love that story: Phoenix rises, not from the ashes, but from the ice and snow! Now, changing subjects rapidly, as I am known to do, I must tell you that one time I mentioned to Neil that I loved the sound of Sco2010-10-09/Sharran/67accattish bagpipes. A couple of weeks later he sent to me a plethora of music, including that of Scottish bagpipes. I still listen and love it so much! It was a kindness I'll long remember. Has your music preference changed at all, Neil?


Music wise I like the Beatles, part of my era I suppose. But I do love classical music and Rugby songs!


I happen to like the Beatles, too, almost as much as bagpipes! You have done so many things, been so many places, is there anything more you'd like to do? Any adventures in your future?

Venture wise and what I would like to do are difficult. A Degree in Hindsight, maybe! No, I have done more things than most people of my age have. Maybe a book on how to understand technology might be a useful thing. It would certainly be handy nowadays!


Would you share with us a 2010-10-09/Sharran/2a79ealittle more about your family? I remember hearing very good things about one of your nieces. 


I have three gorgeous nieces on my side of the family, and three nieces on my wife's side of the family! Connie, my oldest niece who is nearly sixteen, is a pure diamond. She's very clever and has passed a lot of her exams two years early, and then this year some more a year early. She is multilingual and is going to University, although she cannot cook very well. I cannot expect her to learn everything at once. I also have an adopted nephew called Alfie, he would melt anyone's heart on the spot. But as mothers know, it is the cleaning up after him. Great well mannered as he should be, and he is nearly eight now, he even opens gates for ladies. He is taught well, but boys will be boys!


I so appreciate your taking the time to share your life with us. Is there anything else you'd like to tell us, Neil?


Your invitation into Spotlights came as quite a shock to me, as one can imagine.

I was honoured to be able to sort the farming cubit out and help my mother on the great article you wrote about her! That article has spurred her on to do more sewing and use the computer!

I lead but a simple life and enjoy the pleasures that nature gave us, and like you, enjoy the countryside. So I get a tad upset when people try to destroy it for a profit.

Just like you are proud of Kentucky, I love to see England's rolling green hills, the new born lambs gamboling (as we call it), and to eat scones and jam with cream, and help people out!

We are are just simple people!

Like this plant, which is 150 million years old, well, its fossils are that old!  It's a new tree fern frond in the Autumn sunlight, the picture was taken today!2010-10-09/Sharran/0e897a

I forgot to mention my ultimate dream and that is: to serve homemade warm scones, strawberry jam and  loads of cream, with of course tea, to all the wonderful friends I have met on cubits.
Regards and super hugs.

Neil & Sarah 


Now Folks, you and I both know that Neil is quite vocal on his Cubits, when he's on a mission, times when he is involved in a worthy cause, and when he writes articles. But reading his words here, you can see how humble he really is. One of my favorite things about Neil is his storytelling ability, and I'd love to share with you some of his stories.

Life in England is quite different and that's one thing that makes his stories so unique. Even before Neil's cubits were open for viewing, he was telling us wonderful stories in the Writers and Words Cubit. Here is a beautiful story of the Golden Wedding Anniversary of his parents.

Here is another entitled The Fighter Pilot.

Yet another, One Tree Hill.

But my favorite of all of them is this story: The Cathedral, the Water Mill and My Wife. Stories don't get much better than this.

I'm sure you'd enjoy visiting Neil's Cubits, British Gardening 2010-10-09/Sharran/ac5afd and Gardens, and Cottage Gardens.

While there, check out all the articles he's written and shared. And don't forget all the recipes he's given us as well. They're all right there in his Cubits.

Neil, thank you so much for joining us. You are a true gentleman sharing all your wit, your wisdom, and your wonderful words. Regards and super hugs right back to you and your lovely family, and, Sarah, thank you too for sharing Neil with us. We wish you both well!

Folks, don't forget to run your browser over the photos for their names, and click on them to enlarge. You can also chat with Neil using the threads following this article. Thanks for joining us here in the Spotlight!

PS...12 October:  Neil just added another story in the Writer's Cubit: Giving Birth on the Back of a Tank.  You can see it here.





Related articles:
England, gardening, gardens, interviews, plants, spotlights, wildflowers

About Sharon Brown
I am a retired Art and Humanities teacher living in western Kentucky. I love writing and art with equal measure, but I also have a passion for nature and plants.

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Comments and discussion:
Subject Thread Starter Last Reply Replies
Haaaa! KAMasud Jul 19, 2013 11:01 PM 0
Neil murielw1 Jul 12, 2011 2:15 PM 0
Honorable Man gardenersdetective Oct 14, 2010 11:02 AM 3
good to see you here Lance Oct 12, 2010 9:55 PM 8
Wonderful kareoke Oct 12, 2010 9:06 PM 14
So happy to know you better nap Oct 12, 2010 8:54 PM 10
Lovely collaboration Kathleen Oct 11, 2010 4:04 PM 2
Great Article Ridesredmule Oct 11, 2010 9:36 AM 3
Neil pajonica Oct 11, 2010 8:29 AM 3

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