Tuesday 31 December 2013

Sussex Sheep and Shepherds

I think myself incredibly lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the world. I am actually in the Weald which is the flat bit between the North and South Downs. The latter are more familiar to me and I never tire of seeing them as was the case when we drove through them at the weekend.

Up until 1940 the farmers operated a corn and sheep agricultural method. This entailed the sheep being restricted to certain corn fields at key times in the season so that their droppings would fertilise the land then being let out onto the downland to graze. This was abandoned when the need for domestic food production took priority with the onset of WWII and much of the grassland was ploughed up and turned over to arable farming. It is claimed that Sussex mutton derived its unique flavour from the number of tiny white chalkland snails they ate!

The shepherds themselves enjoyed a unique way of life. This is St Andrew's at Didling otherwise known as the shepherd's church. It's a charming 13th church with a Saxon font which sits up nestled in the Downs in an isolated spot- it is only lit by candles as it has no electricity

When a shepherd was buried traditionally a piece of wool was placed in his folded hands- this was to ensure that St Peter would understand the deceased's vocation and why he was so often absent from church.

Naturally superstitious the South Downs shepherds carried fossilised sea urchins which they found in the chalk as a good luck charm. They were known as Shepherd's Crowns and examples can be seen in Steyning Museum.

One of the most important times of year for the shepherd was in June when the sheep shearing gangs descended. Each would have a captain and a lieutenant the former had gold braid on his hat and the latter silver. Once shearing started the only interruption would be the captain shouting "Tar Boy" - this was the youngest member of the gang and his job was to dab tar on a nick to prevent infection.

On the night before shearing started the gang met at the Captain's house for a feast called the "White Ram" when the programme of work was unveiled. At the end of the season a similar feast was held called the "Black Ram". Both were celebrated by way of heavy drinking and games eg Turn the cup over.

Finally the Sussex shepherds had a unique way of counting their sheep:
One-erum, two-erum, cockerum, shu-erum, shitherum, shatherum, wine-berry, wagtail, tarrydiddle, den
The sheep were counted in pairs so a den stood for a score.
Just as you might expect really!


Monday 30 December 2013

Merrie Monday

It's lashing it down at this very moment so a bit of groove to get you in the groove- mind you you'll need a groovy pair of these to groove in I think!


Saturday 28 December 2013

One to make you smile!

This very friendly chap boinged over to Mr GBT when he was out for a perambulation recently. Sometimes you just don't need words to understand but I think if the furry chap could have spoken I'm sure he'd have said "Go on, make yourself useful!"


Friday 27 December 2013

Friday Funding Fun

I am, to be honest, not the greatest fan of cold turkey on the planet so I've needed to find other ways to use it up. Nowadays we make up some stuffing and blitz it together with the leftover meat and then use our burger press [from Lakeland] to turn them into patties. We brush oil on them and then bake them in the oven [I always try to make sure the oven is full to make the best use of it]. For those like me lacking in inspiration there are masses more ideas of what to do with Chrimble food here!


Whilst on the subject of food from time to time when I remember I click on the hunger site. It costs nothing for me to do it but it means that way a cup of rice is donated each time. Trouble is I have the best of intentions but am lousy at actually doing it on a regular basis. Yesterday I got my ample rump into gear and signed up for the daily email reminder- if you do they donate an extra two cups of rice when you first join. Link is here- there are other sites you can support for free as well.



Thursday 26 December 2013

Short but sweet.....

"Sprinkle joy"

Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Go out and spread thy joy, and yet more joy shall surely be thy reward!"



Tuesday 24 December 2013

Chrimble Greetings

I hope everyone enjoys a peaceful and warming Christmas.

Lots of love Arilxx

Final Festive Fling

I had intended to put my favourite Chrimble track up for today- Steeleye Span's version of Gaudette. Then I heard this one by Erasure on TOTP2 and am blown away by it.


Monday 23 December 2013


Dear Mr GBT has taken me in hand and bought me brackets upon which to display my recently purchased box. Not only that, but the lovely chap has put it up for me and I have been able to display a few select items of a Yule nature. Am naturally very overexcited at the opportunities for fun I am going to have with this next year which I think will almost certainly include many fossicking forarys to local charity shops.


December Baking Challenge.

For once in my life I followed the instructions on the tin- yes I baked, ate and was merry to find that my chocolate and orange biscuits tasted scrumptious. Incredibly for me, I rarely make resolutions as I discard them before the day is ou,t but on this occasion I have achieved what I set out to do!

Recipe is here http://codlinsandcream2.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/chocolate-orange-cookies.html


Merrie Monday

I simply like Heather Small's voice both when she was in M people and as a solo artist. Proud


Sunday 22 December 2013

Mince pies

Naturally not mine....you know I don't do pastry. Oh yes I have mince pies but mine come in a cardboard box. Fortunately for me however, dear Mr GBT is busy right now whipping up a batch of home made ones as I type using the jar of mincemeat my parents kindly gave us during the week.

My only job, aside from eating them, is to furnish you with a few snippets of trivia about them.

It was believed that in order to ensure happiness for each month in the forthcoming year you should eat a mince pie for every month. Others went further by adding that these should be eaten at different households and made by different cooks.....at the rate I've been noshing on them that should keep me up there in the happiness stakes until ooh I don't know maybe 2016?!!

Sometimes dried rosemary was added to the mincemeat. This symbolised the rosemary bush that supposedly offered its branches up to Mary for her to dry the baby's clothes on when she fled to Egypt.

Eat a pie in silence.

Never cut a mince pie with a knife as this is bad luck and make sure you make a wish before you take a bite out of the first mince pie of the season. Don't refuse a mince pie as again you will be inviting bad luck...tough luck if you can't stand them!

Cromwell banned mince pies at Christmas.This may have been because importing currants had been banned in 1642 because they came from Islamic Turkey.

In Sussex the pies were baked in an oval shape with rounded corners to represent a cradle.


Saturday 21 December 2013

Winter Solstice 2013

A very peaceful and beautiful Alban Arthan to all those who celebrate.

Bright blessings

Friday 20 December 2013

Friday Funding Fun Two

This might be of use for some if you live near one of the hubs- it's an arrangement between farmers and people who are willing to collect leftover surplus veg from the fields for free rather than the crops being left to rot.



Frugal Funding Fun

Never let it be said that I am anything but gnat bottomed. However, that does not equate with being mean, which is an exceedingly unattractive trait in my book. Nevertheless I might have been just a tad tight with my outlay of 25 pennies on this particular occasion yet knowing me with my love of a bargain this I felt summed me up. Made me and the recipients of this oh so lovely card smile!

And yes it did genuinely come from Tescos!


Thursday 19 December 2013


I'm not the black sheep of the family, I'm the tie-dyed one.


Wednesday 18 December 2013

Alternatives To Christmas Pud

I am indifferent to Christmas Pudding and why waste a dessert opportunity eating something that does nothing for you. Life is too short! Thought I'd put up a couple of alternatives that I have done over the years. I'll need to find a new one for next year I think though....

Chrimble Crumble

My crumble mix is 6oz plain flour, 4oz butter, 3tbsp oats and 2oz sugar [soft brown if you've got any] to which I add a haphazard amount of spices depending on what I've got and what I fancy! When I did these I made them in ramekins- a layer of stewed apple followed by a layer of mincemeat [not too thick so you can taste the apple still] and another layer of apple finished off with the crumble topping. Cook 190C until top is golden.

Triple Spiced Ginger Cake

This is the one I'm doing this year. It's actually meant to be eaten cold but is rather scrummy eaten hot with custard. The amounts given make two cakes. Freezes well.

200g butter
200g light brown sugar
200g black treacle
200g golden syrup
2 medium eggs
100ml full fat creme fraiche
400g SR flour
1/4 tsp salt
1tbsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1tsp ground allspice
1tsp ground cinnamon

Place butter, sugar, syrup and treacle in a big pan. Melt over a low heat and then leave to cool for half an hour.

Pre heat oven 150C. Line two loaf tins [2lb ones] with parchment paper.[ leave 5cm at the top]

Whisk eggs and creme fraiche then beat into the syrup mixture.
Sift flour, salt, pepper, spices and stir in syrup mixture. Tip into tins.

Bake 1hr 20mins until glossy and middle springs back.

Enjoy with a non modestly sized glass of something alcoholic!


Tuesday 17 December 2013

Bonfires and Dragons

I was fascinated to learn the origin of the word bonfire on The Tudor Monastery Farm a couple of weeks ago- as many will have seen it was derived from the word bonefire and was literally a fire to burn bones. It's been suggested that this started as a Pagan ritual with the burning of the bones of the animals slaughtered for the winter at Samhain. More recently I have read that a bonefire was believed to keep dragons away. It seems however, that they were less than successful in my little part of West Sussex as dragons abound in these 'ere parts as I found earlier on in the year when I went out dragon hunting a couple of times!

I should explain perhaps that local legend claims that St Leonard slayed a dragon and where his drops of blood fell lily of the valley sprung up.


This week's festive musical offering...

Annie Lennox God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. I love the video, particulary the greenman figure, that goes with this rendition.


Sunday 15 December 2013

Westward Ho Ho Ho!

The white stag has taken himself on another little outing...this time I find that he's been skipping around in Wiltshire within a couple of standing stones that might be familiar to one or two of us....

Having spent the last few years zipped up in a bag he really does seem to be kicking his heels at this new found freedom and is turning into quite the poseur....

As ever he was not alone- he brought along another antlered chum and King Richard II no less- no highfalutin' ideas here then......

And here he is with his team of dedicated supporters.......

Seriously though this was the most fantastic day of dancing and an incredible experience. I have not been inside Stonehenge since I was a child when they were open access- in those days I simply used to run in and out of the stones playing hide and seek with my sister. The space is far more intimate that I had remembered- it seemed massive when I was young. Thank you so much to Veronica and The Cotswold Order of Druids for inviting us along to perform at their Winter Solstice ritual. It was a privilege and thanks to Mythago for letting me be part of that!

The fab piccies are courtesy of my dear chum Sam who very kindly has let me use them here.


Saturday 14 December 2013


Not the floral kind. Instead I am referring to the type that are stacked high in every supermarket right now in anticipation of some celebration that I believe might just be happening later this month....you know the one they've been shoving [pushing is too polite a word] since 1st September or if you're Harrods JULY.

I will freely admit that I consider it to be the height of bad manners to refuse one of these if I am offered on any occasion so have never knowingly done so ho ho!

Cadbury's named their product after the Rose family. William Rose from Gainsborough invented the world's first mechanical packing machine and set up his own company called Rose Brothers [Gainsborough] Limited. When the company closed the confectioner bought it and moved the operation to Birmingham.


Friday 13 December 2013

Friday Funding Fun

I am putting my little frugal feet up today and letting some other kind soul do the donkey work for me- lots of marvellous time and wonga saving tips here:



Thursday 12 December 2013

Ho Ho Ho!

A drop of festive silliness!



I am sure you will be delighted and thrilled to hear that today is National Poinsettia Day [at least in America it is]. Being a snouty old bird is always getting me into trouble- by and large I ignore poinsettias, but seeing a whole bank of them at the garden centre recently when meeting a chum for coffee set me off on one of my wonderings about them........

Poinsettias are a member of the spurge family and are indigenous to Mexico. They are named after Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first US minister to Mexico, who introduced them to the USA in 1825.

The Aztecs used them to make a reddish brown dye and for an anti fever drug but they came to be associated with Christmas in the 16th Century in Mexico where it is known as Noche Buena [meaning Christmas Eve]. It is said that a poor girl was advised by an angel to collect weeds from the roadside to lay at the altar to celebrate Jesus's birth because she couldn't afford a gift. From the weeds crimson blossoms sprouted which became poinsettias. The star shaped leaf pattern supposedly represents the Star of Bethlehem and the red the blood of Jesus at the crucifixion.

Nowadays they come in a wide range of colours and are known as the lobster flower and the flame-leaf flower.

Personally I'm rather taken with Plum Pudding.

However, one will not be crossing the threshold- I don't do houseplants [well to be honest any plant really] as one look from me and it'll throw itself on its back with its legs in the air. I've already got a teenager and a cat so don't want the extra responsibility and worry thank ye!


Wednesday 11 December 2013

A Quick Spin Around Good Old London Town

Last Saturday I met up with three chums who I was at sixth form college with a couple of centuries ago- you know you're maturing nicely when your "children" tower above you! We try to do this once a year or so and although there's not a massive amount of contact in between whiles, it always as if they've just walked out of the room five minutes before so as you might imagine there might just be a small amount of nattering when we do meet.......

I enjoy the variety of London- I am in no shape or form a city girl but it's stimulating and fascinating to people watch. There were moving floral tributes laid to Nelson Mandela at South Africa House and the statue next to the Festival Hall but the snow dome over Eros frankly looked naff to me with its ever changing digital adverts running below it and lack of swirling snow. The globe also seemed to swamp the statue.

Thankfully Carnaby Street with its overhead jolly, rotund robins didn't disappoint

And Regent Street, as ever, was the epitome of understated elegance with its white lights and Twelve Days of Christmas.

We were able to play a flying visit to the Tate Modern- forgive me but I am a little sceptical of some exhibits that make it into the mysterious world of "Modern Art"- in my book two stuffed corvids suspended on wires does not constitute a masterpiece. In the real world that would be called a bird scarer!! Despite my peasant approach I appreciated being able to see some works by Ernst, Picasso and Salvador Dali at close quarters. 

A painting called Eluhim [hebrew for "god" or gods" ] painted by Leonara Carrington particularly caught my eye.

Her work is influenced by the Irish folktales of her youth and she became involved with the Surrealists when she lived in Paris. Forced to flee from the Nazis she finally settled in Mexico in 1942. Her work is difficult to interpret and pin down which adds to its mystery or as aptly described by her friend Edward James:

"The paintings of Leonara Carrington are not merely painted. They are brewed. They sometimes seem to have materialised in a cauldron at the stroke of midnight"


PS These are not my photos- I forgot to take a camera with me!

Monday 9 December 2013

Nur Begum

This fairly unremarkable grave lies at the entrance to my town's parish church. To be honest you would walk past it and not really notice it and for many years I did just that as I trotted through the churchyard on my way home from many a shopping trip.

It is the grave of a lady called Helene Bennett and it is aligned to Mecca despite being a burial in a C of E churchyard. Helene or Nur Begum, to give her back her original name, was born in 1770 to a prosperous Muslim family in Lucknow. She married a French mercenary called General Benoit de Boigne and followed him to London along with their two children in 1797 where he retired, a very wealthy man. He renamed her Helene Bennett and together they moved in the upper echelons of society. He received British denization in January 1798 but sadly this did not satisfy his ambitions nor did his current marriage. Instead he remarried a member of the exiled French nobility called Charlotte D'Osmonde. His children were baptised as Catholic and he moved Helene out first to Enfield and latterly a small Sussex village. Considering his vast wealth she received a relatively modest annual allowance and prominent members were so appalled by his harsh treatment of her that they offered to help her to legally lay claim to his money. She however, refused and quietly lived out the rest of her life. Known as "the dark princess" she may have provided Shelley with inspiration for his writing.


Merrie Monday

Morning this should wake you up with a jolt!

Lenny Kravitz with Are you gonna go my way


Sunday 8 December 2013

Reindeer Cam

Spy on what the reindeer are up to- I only hope that they are better behaved than the white stag last weekend!



Oink Oink!

I love it when people do off the wall things with their possessions to make them unique. This raised a smile when I was poking around [I am often poking around I hasten to add] on t'interweb thingy.

I would be most delighted to find one of these parked next to me!


Friday 6 December 2013

Friday Funding Fun

A quick one- unfortunately I share my home with a furry madam who firmly believes that a cat flap should only be used as a window out of which one views one's empire. This means for me the added expense of needing to buy cat litter as she also flatly refuses to use her garden for eliminating purposes.

I have experimented with various types of litter- it has to be fuller's earth so I now buy 20kg Pettex bags from Scats [you may have one in your area] which are far cheaper than anything online but to make it go further I cut it in with the very cheapest cheapie basic litter. I've only been doing this a couple of months but it has worked well.


Oh dear dear deer!

I was led to believe that the morris dancing white stag head was an inanimate object. I think I may have been misled if the following photos are anything to go by. The mask was left under the table safe and sound, whilst I went to dance in a set and was still there on my return. It would appear though, much to my amazemen,t that he had STAGgered off in my absence in search of his own amusement.

A spot of hide and seek for the museum visitors

And a free lunch

I strongly suspect that he may also have supped a mulled cider or three as one of his antlers is now set at a somewhat more jaunty angle than previously. He appears to have had a most merry time!


Thursday 5 December 2013

Tree Undressing With Style!!

My team of naughty torties have prepared this year's festive training video. Please ensure you study diligently to ensure the most dramatic results.



Wednesday 4 December 2013

A Day of Merrymaking.

For we did sally forth to the Wealden land this Sunday last to meet our brethren and talk amongst ourselves of the soon to be returning light and the longer days when we can once again sow our peas. But today was for merriment and much laughter with lanterns held aloft and merry-go-down to be supped. Upon our heads we wore wreaths of evergreen finery and watched as travelling minstrels dressed top to toe in the green of the forest did amuse us with tales of the  hoodening horse

I was, I swear, a little carked of the other troupe for they spun and weaved like puca as the dimpse drew in. They must have been turngiddy...

But afore long I was to see that I was but a poop-noddy and need not be afeared for they were again players with mysteries of  magical hunters and stags.

T'was a day of good lubberward and hum but tomorrow 'tis a day of darg once more.


Source here

Tuesday 3 December 2013

'Tis a Tune for the Season

I promise that I'll only put one of these up a week during the silly season!

Medieval Baebes singing the late middle ages carol Adam Lay Ibounden


Saturday 30 November 2013


...the GBT purse is tight and not in the gnat bottomed sense either today. I have got home to find she's been at my new bottle of ginger wine. The old toper!

Good news for me though as I have been able to sneak out to the charity shops and top up my treasure trove without the usual accompanying Spanish Inquisition.

Now in my sweaty little mitts I have this rather lovely wooden box which was a cutlery canteen in a former life. I plan to re purpose it as a small shelf unit where I can display a select number of items of my choosing to represent the season or a special event. It's something I've wanted to do for ages and an important part of my Druidic path. I'm never organised nor do we have space to set up an altar for me and this allows me far more fluidity- it definitely won't be just pagan objects but whatever catches my eye. Stonking value at 200 pennies I feel.

And a steal at 100 pennies a small woven hanging- I adore the colour combination.

I have decluttered a fondue set and a big bit of fabric via freecycle this week to make sure that I have the room as I am not a hoarder by nature.


Friday 29 November 2013

Autumn Moon

The beautiful Lady Moon on a bright autumnal morning earlier this week.


Friday Funding Fun

On frugal matters pertaining to bread and crumbs. I don't feel the need to repeat a 101 ways with breadcrumbs- lots of frugallers are already au fait with the fab tips out there on this topic and to think I used to just throw out the old bread for the birds.....

If you like crusty rolls it is far cheaper to buy a baguette and cut it up than buy a pack of rolls I find.

And a new recipe hopefully with the festive season upon us to use up some of those bread crumbs. This one comes from the Weald and Downland museum

Gingered Bread

1 lb white breadcrumbs, 1lb runny honey, 2 tsp ginger, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp ground cloves & 2 tsp cinnamon.

Mix spices and breadcrumbs in a bowl. Warm honey and add to crumbs. Mix well until. Line a shallow baking dish and press the mixture down firmly. Cover and leave overnight to chill and set. Cut into cubes to serve.


Thursday 28 November 2013

Labilliere's Grave

Peter Labilliere was born in Dublin in 1725. He became a major in the British army and after leaving, a political agitator. Although never tried for treason he was accused in 1775 of bribing British troops not to fight in the American War of Independence. In later life he moved to Dorking from London and was a regular visitor to Box Hill where he used to walk and meditate. On one occasion he fell in undergrowth and lost the sight in one eye.

As he grew older Labilliere became increasingly odd and stopped washing to the point where he was nicknamed "the walking dunghill". However, people often commented upon his kindness and he was often known to buy clothes for those suffering that he met.

Upon the occasion of his death in June 1800, he was, as he had requested, buried up on Box Hill head first. Some claim that this was because  he believed that the world was topsy turvy and one day it would right itself. However, it seems more likely that the decision was made based upon his religious beliefs- he was a great admirer of St Peter who requested that he be crucified on an inverted cross as he did not believe himself worthy of dying in the same manner as Christ. This is the memorial stone that records Labilliere's internment- it is unlikely that it marks the actual burial spot. Interesting as an aside there is also a horse buried upside down on Box Hill but there is no connection between the two!

For a long time there was an annual celebration to mark Labilliere's passing with a picnic and dancing. This tradition has been resurrected and I hope to dance as part of it with my Morris side next June!


Wednesday 27 November 2013

Making Gel Air Fresheners

I had a lot of fun making these a few days ago with a dear chum.

Instructions from here-

I actually used sachets of plain gelatine crystals rather than sheets and I would be interested to hear if they work with the vegetarian equivalent of gelatine. Knowing what I know now, I would use smaller jars and I found the two I made using food gel colouring rather than the traditional food colouring were more effective- the green one made with the latter has all the attractive look about it of a jar of pond water, although it smells nice. I don't buy gel air fresheners because I don't want the leftover unrecyclable container to deal with and this seems to be a good alternative.


Tuesday 26 November 2013

Jumping Spiders

I know that many people are terrified of arachnids- they don't hold any fear for me but show me a crane fly and I become gibbering wreck so you have my sympathies. Please look no further if you are in the non spider camp.

I have fallen in love with the jumping spider- there are 500 species and they make up 13% of the world's spider population. They come in the most delicious range of hues.

See what I mean!


Monday 25 November 2013

A little thought.....

"The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra."

Jimmy Johnson.


Merrie Monday

Strap a pair of these on your tootsies

And away you go!


Sunday 24 November 2013

How much?!!!!!

We are contributing towards an Xbox for the small person this year for Christmas- we could buy it for him outright but we simply don't go overboard on presents in our family as it isn't the focus of the day. The other monies needed to make up the cost will come from my parents and his savings. He has done his research and announced that he would like the XBox 360 as it comes with a game that he's after. His face was a study when I told him that the new XBox One that was launched this month can be had for a mere snip at £422.99 at HMV [I do so love the way they say only £422.99]. The term daylight robbery springs to my mind.....

Daylight robbery is a phrase familiar to many of us. If a person was robbed of a considerable sum in the daytime and on the high road and if he then declared the theft to the county sheriff before the sun set the county were obliged to reimburse him of the amount if he was able to prove how much had been stolen and where the crime had occurred.


Saturday 23 November 2013

Passionate Purple

Huzzah, huzzah and thrice times huzzah. Most terribly overthrilled yesterday that you really can get proper purple coloured berries- not a hint of black or blue anywhere to be seen. This beauty is called Callicarpa and is out in my parents' garden at the moment. They very kindly took a photo of it...to shut me up/quell my over enthusiasm....no so I could share it on my bloglet.

Enough to gladden my heart on a cold November day!


Back to the town of painted doors and alleycats

 đź’•Ah Tewkesburyđź’• Do you know what...I flipping love this town with all its curios and layers of history. It is entirely down to Mythago an...