Wednesday 31 July 2013

Having a crossword!

Ah-ha I thought to myself one morning earlier this week- as Mr GBT was showering [I know, I know, tmi but I am a big beaked old bird!] I thought I shall have 5 minutes with the crossword before I have to perform my ablutions. Well that's what I thought.....the furry varmit had different ideas. Look at her the picture of innocence...

Well don't believe it! As was to be expected she had other plans - those of us in servitude to felines will know that firstly, the one thing cats hate is to be ignored when they want attention and secondly, they know themselves to be experts in all things and that includes crosswords. Ho hum- every time I picked up the pencil to fill in a clue she felt she knew better, so to stop me from completing them incorrectly, she pushed my hand away vigorously with one of her well aimed furry head butts. By this time she and I really had had a cross word and my window of opportunity had passed. Making myself clean and nice to know had become a priority so I departed and here is the evidence of her antics in my absence. Photo one shows her scowling because she's been caught trying to read the clues....

Photo two, believing the coast to be clear, shows her about to pick up the pencil....

And nearly having been caught red pawed she is using the tried and tested distraction technique of suddenly finding a grubby spot which needs her immediate attention.....

However, having seen the evidence I was not fooled for one moment. I get the last laugh though because unbeknown to her she's off to the cattery for her annual hols later this week. Tee hee!


Tuesday 30 July 2013

The Underground Railroad Story.

Such marvellous things books- as often as not when reading it brings me into contact with a whole host of new information or sends me off at a tangent to find out what an unfamiliar word or phrase means. Such was the case in point with this borrowed book that I'd read through quickly yesterday.

The Underground Railroad was first set up in the 1800s and was a network of safehouses and trusted individuals who helped to free slaves from their incarceration in the South and escape to safety in Canada where they could not be brought back.

It became known as the Underground Railroad in 1831 because of the similarities to the railroad network- the slaves followed routes, the safehouses were known as stations and the leader was called the conductor and the runaways were passengers. The underground is derived from its secretive nature upon which it depended for its success so that the slaves could avoid recapture by the slaveholders or officials who were pursuing them. Slavery at this time was still a legal trade  The advice given to the fugitives was to "Keep your eye on the North Star" ie to keep heading North. Using the system a hundred thousand made good their escape. One of the major players was Harriet Tubman ,who had herself escaped in 1849. She made 19 return trips to the southern plantations and her actions gave 300 their liberty. She threatened to shoot anyone who lost their nerve and wanted to turn back.

Despite being a major episode of historical note there are few recorded accounts of the movement. However, through the oral history of Ozella McDaniel Williams passed down by her family it was claimed that slaves were taught how to achieve a safe passage by following key messages in certain quilt patterns eg Jacob's Ladder. This has as alternating path of dark and light and can be used to show direction. There were supposedly 10 such quilts in all. Although it is not proven one way or the other it makes for a good story nevertheless!


Monday 29 July 2013

Merrie Monday

If my memory serves me rightly I learnt to play this on the recorder at school. Sadly since then not only have I misplaced the instrument but also the ability to play it!

And another track from Mr Scott Joplin -  Maple Leaf Rag.

Two hearty, toe tapping little numbers to hopefully start your week off right!


Sunday 28 July 2013

Various weekend natterings!

This is a smorgasbord post of basically all my wonderings and wanderings that can't be persuaded to fit neatly anywhere else!

Firstly my new awen pendant made of yew [my favourite tree] and made for me by one of my dearest chums as a marvellous surprise on Friday at our little Lammas rite [there are only 3 of us who come together to celebrate so it really is small scale!]. I wore it for my dancing yesterday.

A most lovely sweetie display spotted in a shop window as we hurtled past in Eastbourne- fortunately it was closed. Arils like sweeties and having broken the Guinness world record for demolishing a big bag of liquorice allsorts on Friday, I thought I should leave others the chance at the other sweetie eating records. I'm not known as the Snackette Queen for nothing you know! It takes a great deal of time and dedication to the cause to reach such heights!

Witchy potions espied in another shop window- you never know when you might need a top up of the old eye of newt!

I fell in love with these little chaps, but, much to Gert's delight [the GBT's purse] the shop was shut so I couldn't indulge the material girl. Sob!

I did feel that the universe was conspiring against me in the shopping stakes- romantic notions of having a leisurely stroll around the various hippy stalls whilst flinging my pennies around willy-nilly soon were put out of my head with a short lunch break sandwiched between back to back dancing sessions. However, I have a snout like a bloodhound and can sniff out the scent of a greenman at a hundred paces. Consequently, I managed to track down a greenman stall very efficiently and place my custom with him. This little chap came home with me- the stallholder has been painting greenmen for 15 years and his work has been featured in the Goddess Magazine, Pagan Dawn and Merry Meet. Sadly I was so short on time that I forgot to ask him if he had a business card so I didn't get his name. Hopefully, I might catch up with him again sometime.


Lammas Fest 2013

Incredible experience and I danced everything pretty much okish huzzah!! I'll put up some other non dancing photos in another post shortly, but for now I shall inflict a few Morrisy ones to give you a flavour of some of the sides we were dancing with- it's organised so that you and the other sides dance a couple each before processing [call that nattering and ambling- too hot to for any extra dancing yesterday in full tatters thank ye!] to the next stand. The procession was led by John Barleycorn

Firstly the extraordinary Pentacle Drummers- if you like tribal drumming do google them they are just incredible. There are loads of them there- these are just the three who lead it [I think]

Next Hunter's Moon, like the Pentacle Drummers, another brilliant local side. They always wear black and silver and blacken their faces. This traditionally [there are many theories as to how Border morris originated] comes from the time when the poor who worked the land would demand money for menaces- they would disguise their faces so they would not be recognised. The tatters we now wear supposedly represent the jackets the original dancers wore- they would have turned their jackets inside out and shown their ripped linings.

Gong Scourers side- these were the medieval chaps who cleared the privvies and sluiced the drains in the castles. Each would have had an oak spade to make his job easier. They operated at night so that they were out of sight of the lord and lady. Average life expectancy was 27 due to the diseases caught from the faeces.

I have nominated this chap as the Johnny Depp of the Morris World!
He is part of a recently formed side called Steam Punk Morris. They have a huge following and gorgeous costumes as you can see below. If Morris dancing should ever become cool this will be the side to lead the way!

And just to prove that I really was there in my newly finished tatters jacket [making my own mask is next on the list] I am the one in the silver mask. I am plucking up the courage to buy a pair of New Rock shoes.....

And this one's for was amazeballs!


Friday 26 July 2013

Venturing Forth To Pastures New!

I am exceedingly overthrilled about this coming Saturday for it promises many new adventures- having lived in Sussex for the most part of my life I am being wildly rash and crossing the county border from West to East in order to pay my first ever visit to Eastbourne. I have already dug out my tartan rug and flask in anticipation of needing to find a roadside stretch of tarmac upon which to place my deckchair in order to enjoy my picnic to the full! A bit of light drizzle so that I can reach for my cagoule would just be the icing on the cake.

And why this sudden impulse to travel one might ask....I am incredibly lucky to be waving my big stick [it will be sunny- I am steadfastly discounting any naff weather reports that dare to suggest otherwise] at the Eastbourne Lammas Fest. It's an event that as a Druid, I have longed to go to for as long as it's been held,
but we have always been away on our hols but not this year chaps. Hooray!!

Other than the odd shopping trip to Worthing [lots of charity shops- good for keeping the GBT purse stum] I rarely get near the coast so it will be a double treat. Having seen a picture of a close up of sand on The Book Of The Face yesterday this has given me the perfect, if exceedingly flimsy excuse to show just how stunning sand is [this picture was taken from Chris.B.Leyerle's blog] when seen under the microscope.


Thursday 25 July 2013

Cheeky Odes

There is nothing so much I love as a bit of unpretentious rude poetry to make me titter. I share with you a couple of my favourites which amuse me in a Les Dawson meets Beryl Cook type way!

Firstly the one off Roald Dahl

A Hand In The Bird

 I am a maiden who is forty,
And a maiden I shall stay.
There are some who call me haughty,
But I care not what they say.

I was running the tombola
At our church bazaar today,
And doing it with gusto
In my usual jolly way

When suddenly, I knew not why,
There came a funny feeling
Of something crawling up my thigh!
I nearly hit the ceiling!

A mouse! I thought. How foul! How mean!
How exquisitely tickly!
Quite soon I know I'm going to scream.
I've got to catch it quickly.

I made a grab. I caught the mouse,
Now right inside my knickers.
A mouse my foot! It was a HAND!
Great Scott! It was the vicar's!

And a short one which I encountered when doing my 'A' Level English back in the 18th century.

Groupie- Lynn Peters

So I went backstage and told him
I thought his performance was fine.
I loved it but only half as much
As he was going to love mine.

And on that high note until next time......


Wednesday 24 July 2013

And breathe....

We've all made it to the end of the school year- huzzah no packed lunches for me to make for 6 weeks. The small person is on sandwich duty until September- at the moment he's too young for a paid job but he starts a voluntary job at the local library helping out with the national summer reading scheme for 4-11 year olds this week [I gave him the initial paperwork but left it to him to decide whether he wanted to pursue it or not]. I remember what a godsend a free activity like that was for us that first summer following Mr GBT's redundancy. Between that, a couple of holidays and meeting up with his mates for tennis, cycling etc he should be kept fairly busy aswell as the obligatory two weeks spent twonking about on Facebook!

Anyway it's a mighty fine cliche but I have to leave you with the uber cool Mr Alice Cooper. I am swooning over the 1970s stage glad rags the chaps are wearing - the term itself originated in the 19th century and was a term for seamen who went ashore wearing bright clothes.


Tuesday 23 July 2013

One that made me stop and think.....

I am extremely good at not just jumping but positively leaping or even triple jumping to conclusions when I am not in possession of all the facts. It's a bad habit and one which has occasionally got me into trouble...I am slowly getting better but I do still from time to time open my big trap to change feet. Sometimes I read something that reminds me about waiting before I reach judgements. This is one such instance.....

"At times in life, it's not other people or events beyond your control that hold you back or get in your way. Your own attitude can be just as big a problem.

At school in Ghana, Africa, I was one of a group of boys who sat on the floor of our professor's office for a weekly lesson in 'Spoken English'. One day the professor put a large sheet of white paper on the wall. The paper had a little black dot on the right-hand corner.
When the professor asked "Boys, what do you see?" we all shouted together "A black dot!". The professor stepped back and said, "So not a single one of you saw the white sheet of paper. You only saw the black dot. This is the awful thing about human nature. People never see the goodness of things and the broader picture. Don't go through life with that attitude".

Life teaches you lessons in surprising ways and when you least expect it. One of the most important lessons I ever learned came from a sheet of paper and a black dot. They may seem like small things, but they were enough to prompt big changes in my outlook on life."

Kofi Annan


Monday 22 July 2013

Summer Naughty Tortie Mewsletter

Dear Naughty Torties and Honorary Naughty Torties,

Welcome to the summer mewsletter of mayhem, mischief and fun.

Firstly, I have been hearing rather worrying whisperings that some newer members may have been vacating their seats to members of staff when asked. Please can I remind you that in this hot weather you may sit wherever you fancy- it is after all your home that you share with your staff not the other way round. They don't have a fur coat to contend with and it is far too hot for them to provide a lap sitting service. I find my particular problem is that she has developed a tendency to sit on the chair in front of that dratted computer thingy [you know that box with the most inanimate boring mouse in the world- I could sort her out with a real one in exchange for some smoked salmon] first thing in the morning which is where I wish to catch my first rays. My solution is simple- announce your arrival with the mithering miaow and then stretch up on your back legs and anchor yourself to her with your claws extended into her thighs before jumping up - she detaches me at high speed to the chair next door but I bide my time. It's only a matter of moments before she'll get distracted [flighty thing that one] and go off to do something- at that point I return to the original chair and ensure I am in full snooze mode before my tail hits the deck. She wouldn't have the temerity to disturb a sleeping cat. Any further clarification needed do contact me between 1 and 2 when I begin my teatime campaign. Obviously prior to that I shall be resting. I include once again my training video for further inspiration.

Whilst the weather is hot can I remind you about some of the indoor entertainment there is to be had. All this week I have been playing the let me in let me out game. This is the one where you ask to be let out through the front door so you can relax on the doormat in the sunshine but the minute somebody opens the door then you rush back in. There is perhaps just time for a quick bite of something [never let the staff catch you eating their idea of a meal though] and then rush back to the front door and repeat the process. Hours of fun to be had with this one- I have been finely honing my technique for days. If the staff had provided me with a cat flap in the front aswell as the back then I could use it if I so chose but unless that happens they must live with the consequences.

Now to the subject of scratching posts....members of this club never use such a thing. Dogs scratch cats manicure. Mine was freecycled unused I am most pleased to report....why bother when I have a whole flight of stairs to sharpen my claws. As you can see from the evidence below I have been most diligent in my use of my scratching stairs and am now moving on to a few of the others to bring them up to the same standard. The staff seem to get most overthrilled when I use them although I am unable to fathom why- they gave me a wooden stick covered in carpet originally and now I am using wood covered in carpet for the same purpose so I fail to see the difference.

 Finally if you are lacking inspiration for suitable meddlesome activities might I suggest that you follow young George's fine lead over on Leanne's Tales of Simple Days blog. I have been mentoring him for quite some time and he has now written a naughty list that he refers in order to keep his staff on their toes. Remember always Purrsistence Pays!

Until next time

Twitten Naughty Tortie Extraordinaire

Merrie Monday

I can't help but channel my inner TOWIE girl [I am the real deal and from said county so can be as rude about Essex girls as I like...I hasten to add that there are bits of Essex I love and hold special memories for me] when I hear certain tracks so it's on with the Louboutins [£4.99 carboot sale] and sling the Louis Vuitton bag [£4.99 local market] on the floor so I can dance around it....or my version of it flat shoes and a greenman bag! So I've just heaved my carcase off the chair and am off to strut my wobbly funky stuff. Anyone care to join me......


Sunday 21 July 2013

A Weekend of Old Cocky........Part Two

I leave you unashamedly with a clip of our side dancing my favourite Thor's Hammer- this clip wasn't from yesterday but it was included in one of the sets. I am marvellous at it on practice night but don't yet dance it out in public- everytime I try to do it I show them an alternative version to the one I've been taught!! Be warned- this is a dance for rain and flooding!


A Weekend of Old Cocky........Part One

Well two pints of it to be precise......

Plus a hearty sup of this

This is one of the perks of being a morris dancer and in my case, it brings a whole host of loves together in one package- dancing [not awfully good at yet], live folk music and best of all real ale [very good at!] We were invited to dance at a local microbrewery called Welton's yesterday. They have several regular cask ales but they also launch regular monthly the moment they have one called King or Queen as it's awaiting the imminent arrival of the new baby before they can finally announce its name. Although, I wasn't in charge of the metal box with a wheel at each corner yesterday, I did taste their latest brew called Top Dog- it's only 1% but is a super tasting beer and I think you would think it a much higher alcohol content from that alone.

For many years our town had its own brewery and chain of pubs, but sadly it was disbanded a while ago and the operation was moved down to Dorset. It wasn't one of the big boys muscling in nor was it an aggressive takeover. Many lost their jobs and it looked to be the end of our local association with brewing, but I am thankful to report that several small phoenixes rose from the ashes in the forms of 4 or 5 local microbreweries, some of which were set up by the some of the original brewers so now we have some fantastic brews to choose from. Naturally as morris dancers we are offered a free pint or two and having been brought up to think it would be rude to refuse I don't unless I am driving. If anything like yesterday was to go by though I'm not entirely sure it improves my dancing ability!!


Saturday 20 July 2013


To me the glorious sight of a field full of poppies signifies late summer and the harvest. The first photo was taken earlier in the week on the edge of a neighbour's lawn. By the next day the strong breeze had blown away all the petals and the moment of transient beauty was gone.

These yellow and orange Welsh poppies were taken in my garden last year but the orange ones have put on another impressive show this year. The yellow one stubbornly refuses to self seed despite my best attempts and so I have just the one still!

This pink one I saw on my recent visit to Manor Farm

Finally I have included this one that I saw in Devon some while ago because I was just so taken with a spotty poppy and I have never seen one since!


Friday 19 July 2013

On just being yourself....

These days I am more than happy to admit I am a round peg in a square hole. For a long time outwardly I tried my hardest to be a square peg in a square hole, but my efforts failed spectacularly and caused me some considerable distress along the way. I have had several little epiphanies over time and now try to plough my own furrow. However, old habits die hard so I am thankful to the CBT I received in the latter part of last year as this has helped me to identify some of my old behaviours that hold me back. As the saying goes, knowledge is power, so now I am able to make gradual changes so I can continue to move forward. It has also given me the confidence to try new things this year despite the possible risk of failure which is why I am now blogging and trying my hand at morris dancing! I am still a work in progress but moving steadily in the right direction.  I have always always had a sneaking admiration those who are just themselves no matter how eccentric others might think that is!

I have been lucky enough to come across one such character in The English Way of Death by Julian Litten which I have just finished [I found the book to be fascinating but  not to everyone's taste I can appreciate!]
Martin Van Butchell [1735-1812]  was a well known dentist who, upon the death of his first wife Mary on 14th January 1775, had her embalmed. This process was meticulously recorded by him in a diary over a month long period. Her body was then kept in his front room in a glass topped coffin and members of the public could view her at preset times. It seems his second wife may have objected to this arrangement because the corpse was subsequently moved to the Royal College of Surgeons where it remained until it was destroyed in an air raid in 1941. If this were not fairly unusual in itself Van Butchell cut a distinctive figure riding around the streets of London on his white pony which from time to time he painted purple or purple with black spots as the mood took him!

Along similar lines I will sign off this epistle with a couple of quotes:

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.
Oscar Wilde

Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.
Judy Garland


Thursday 18 July 2013

Hot and Frazzled....

And that's just the poor teachers. I think everyone is just treading water now waiting for the end of term including my own small person....

I should point out he's a little bigger than this these days- he starts year 11 in September and has just had his final sports day ever...sob! I meanwhile have a permanent crick in my neck where I have to lean my head back to look up at him when I am scolding him :-)

Anyway for all of us who have had contact with tiny fidgety kinderlings here's a reminder to bring back all those memories with the wonderful Joyce Grenfell.


Wednesday 17 July 2013

Coastal Des Res

There has been talk in the media of late of the outrageous prices being asked for some beach huts- one went on the market for a mere asking price of £245,000 in Devon this year [although to be fair it had got some rather impressive modcons] but I could buy my modest 3 bed mud hut for that and I live in West Sussex which is not not renown for being cheap and cheerful! Each to their own.....

I have always had a soft spot for beach huts. As a youngster my Nana had one and I can remember going to the beach and spending afternoons there sometimes. I recall it as being tremendous fun but not erm exactly glamorous- in my day it did pretty much what it said on the tin ie a hut on the beach with no pretencions of it being a bijou home. Ours was a simple affair- a place to store buckets and spades, wind breaks and deckchairs aswell as a place to shelter in when getting changed after going winkling and cockling.One of the mysteries of my childhood was how did I manage to secrete half a tonne of sand about my person in my cossie and still remain standing upright. Naturally part of the ritual was expelling the said sand onto the beach hut floor! On our return home our "catch" would be cooked up and eaten for supper.

I am, I will freely admit, very taken with how people stamp their individuality upon their beach huts- there is a lovely row of them in Hayling Island which pleased me no end. How I would love to have rainbow stripes all over the outside of my mud hut- instead I have had to content myself with a pillar box red front door and garage and stuff as many rainbows inside as I can decently get away with. I shall leave you with a bright, bold splash of colour and once again I can only stand back and  admire the artwork of others.....


Tuesday 16 July 2013

If you are having a carp day.....


I saw this on a card at the weekend and it made me smile.

Or in the words of dear old Ken Bruce "Life is dangerous- eat pudding first!"

So go on indulge your inner imp and reach for the spoon!


Woodland Wanderings....

Jolly hot and yes I, plus Mr GBT and chum, have been gallivanting around some local woods- not quite as mad as it may sound as we were being walked by a rather lovely collie labrador cross called Bonnie at the time. Said chum was dogsitting for her parents.

The woods were wonderfully cool- not many flowers to be seen at this time of year apart from this Musk Mallow [I think but please do correct me if I am wrong] but H said she'd seen her first ever Angel Orchid there earlier in the season- up until then I'd never even heard of one!

Lots of lovely butterflies to be seen- sadly they were not playing ball and simply refused to stop long enough for Mr GBT to take a photo of them. They were just getting on with the business of being butterflies fluttering back and forth in the dappled shade. For that reason I have had to "borrow" a couple of online photos on this occasion instead.

Firstly the rather splendid Silverwashed Fritillery

And secondly the White Admiral

Finally this rather surprising sign...... had we known better we could have taken the pony and trap but instead we felt sorry for the grubby white charger [the one Mr GBT uses when he is doing his knight in shining armour routine] and had given Ned the afternoon off because of the heat!


Monday 15 July 2013

Merrie Monday

I absolutely adore this set of pins- it brings out my inner Beryl Cook. Sadly, I have never been able to get my own photo of them as I am always on the park and ride bus when I see them. They are to be found gracing the roof balcony on the Duke of York cinema in Brighton. They came to the city in 1991 following the closure of the Not The Moulin Rouge in Oxford.

It quite brings a lump to my throat to inform you that my can can dancing days were over before they really started....I have had the honour of owning my very own pair of frou frou undercarriage garments. Indeed mine were so divine that they looked like someone had stitched an enormous white doily onto my rump...however, if I tell you that at the time of wearing my parents affectionately referred to me as the Michelin baby due to my rather chunky little legs looking like tyres [some things don't change- I am still the proud owner of little chunky legs!] you will understand that I am of the 1960s generation that wore those voluminous nappy covering drawers. No disposables for my poor Mum. I am quite sure that the sight of me doing the can can would be absolutely dreadful for your blood pressure so instead I shall leave you with Buster Bloodvessel of Bad Manners who did it so much better than I ever could!


Sunday 14 July 2013

Words to comfort....

I suspect that it will come as no surprise to you that I keep a notebook of favourite quotes [and other books of jottings on other topics besides!], but this one that I came across several years ago, remains my favourite and one I return to when things are perhaps a little rocky. I find great peace in the timelessness of the wisdom and the recognition that ,although what troubles us may change, the emotions we experience remain the same from generation to generation.

It was written by Dame Julian [canonised in 1980] who was born in 1343. Little is known of her life but she became a mystic and latterly an anchoress living in a cell in the south wall of the St Julian church in Norwich which is now maintained as a shrine to her.

"All shall be well, and all shall be well. And all manner of things shall be well."


Saturday 13 July 2013

Closing the deal Bristolian style.

I have my chum C to thank for furnishing me with this snippet- she originally hails from Bristol.

"Paying on the nail"- a common phrase used in everyday parlance meaning to pay promptly in cash and seal a business deal.

The origins of the phrase are disputed, but it existed in Anglo Norman times as "payer sur le ungle", ungle being derived from the Latin"ungula" meaning claw or nail. The phrase is also in use abroad- in America it is known as "cash on the barrel or barrelhead".  As in Liverpool and Limerick, there are four permanent bronze pillars in front of the Bristol Exchange known as nails and certainly transactions were carried out on these. They may well have been modelled on the mobile tables which were taken to medieval trade fairs for the same purpose. The oldest nail in Bristol in probably Elizabethan, one was given by Robert Kitchen [d1594] and the others are dated 1625 and 1631 respectively. Originally they were located in Tolzey Walk but were moved when the Corn Exchange was opened in the 18th century.


Friday 12 July 2013

Smile You're On Camera!

There are many advantages to Mr GBT having a new camera and lens- one being that I can now appreciate the detail of things at a distance, often at height, that I simply can't get close enough to to satisfy my sticky beakedness. The first two grotesques which are on our local parish church are a case in point. He has also been able to take much clearer photos for me than previously of the manic grinning faces that are on the same building.

Like greenmen, grotesques and gargoyles is another area which fascinates me- I only wish I could talk to some of the stonemasons who carved them. I know that some of their carvings were designed as warnings again various deviant, immoral behaviours but some are quite unfathomable to the modern mind. Whilst some I think were designed with no more than a visual jokey appeal I strongly suspect some masons had a decidedly maverick streak which showed itself in their work- you may not have wanted to cross swords with particular individuals for fear that they may wreaked their revenge via the creation of  a less than favourable image of you for all to cackle at in perpetuity!!

I pity anyone who visits here- I guarantee I shall be inflicting more upon you in the future.Ho Ho!


Thursday 11 July 2013

Homemade Runes

Every once in a while I go utterly mad and finish one of my carefully stored UFOs [UnFinished Objects] of which there might erm just be one or two lurking. I regret that you won't see a plethora of high standard craft projects. Firstly I am terminally slow and have the attention span of a gnat and secondly my crafting ability is what could be politely termed somewhat rustic. My primary job in the craft domain is to admire the work of others. At the moment I am not allowed to start anything new- I have been knitting a rainbow blanket for months and am now on the last strip but until my tatters jacket is finished everything else is out of bounds. Otherwise if I don't stop twonking about the newest member of the morris side is going to get her jacket finished before me!

I made these runes a couple of years ago after a jolly good chum showed me how to do them. Having sawed a hazel branch into the appropriate number of discs for the runes I then sanded them before drawing each rune on in pencil. Much as I'd like to be the owner of a pyrography pen I found a soldering iron did the job of burning in the runes perfectly adequately. They were finished with a matt varnish. The bag was a bit of a game- I reused the lining of a wicker basket and traced the triskele and Rocky Valley maze onto greaseproof paper again in pencil. I then pinned the design onto the bag and after many trials and tribulations I backstitched through the actual paper to the material with ordinary sewing thread. I then wet the fabric and peeled the paper off with tweezers. A bit fiddly but it gave me the result I was looking for. A cheap and cheerful make.


Simply Stunning

Rainbow Eucalyptus- I think I need say no more....


Wednesday 10 July 2013

Berry Good News!

Oh go on please do- help yourself.... at only fifty calories per hundred grammes of strawberries you can afford to go completely and utterly wild!

I hear the glad tidings that this year is meant to be a bumper year for strawberries. I am thrilled at this news as we have both cultivated and wild self seeded ones growing in our postage stamp sized garden. I leave the latter for the birds, but we do net the former so that we can start to enjoy the odd bowl full as our crop increases. This is the first year so it really is a few per day, but it's a cracking start and I am most hearty about the state of affairs. That got me thinking- beyond a few culinary ideas about this humble little berry we all take for granted at this time of year I know next to nothing about it. As ever I aim to address that just a little here.

The earliest mention of the strawberry appears in ancient Rome in 200BC. The Romans believed they could alleviate the symptoms of melancholy, fainting, all inflammations, fevers, throat infections , kidney stones, bad breath amongst others.

It is not certain where the name "strawberry" derives from but theories have suggested it is from the Anglo Saxon strew meaning to spread. It is only from 1538 that it is spelt in its current form- until then it was written down as streoberie. The berry not only comes in red but also white and yellow and one variety tastes of pineapple. During the Victorian era there were far more varieties available than we have today- rather charmingly these are taken from William Cobbett's The English Gardener [1829], the Kew Pine, Chili and Hautbois to name a few.

A few quirky bits of trivia for you that my rootling around has turned up:
-Bavarian country folk tie small baskets of wild strawberries to the horns of their cattle as an offering to the elves
-Anne Boleyn had a strawberry shaped birthmark on her neck which, some believed, proved she was a witch
-To symbolise perfection and righteousness medieval stonemasons carved strawberry designs on altars and pillar tops in churches and cathedrals
-The 12th century Saint Hildegard of Bingen warned that strawberries were unfit to eat because they may have been contaminated by snakes and toads due to them growing so close to the ground.
- The French believed the strawberry was an aphrodisiac so they made a soup of them along with thinned sour cream, borage and powdered sugar and gave it to newly weds.
-The Native Americans called the fruit "heart-seed berries" and pounded them into their traditional cornmeal bread. The Colonists were so taken with the flavour that they then invented the strawberry shortcake.
-It was believed that if you broke a double strawberry in half and shared it with a member of the opposite sex then you would fall in love with them.

To conclude in the words of Dr William Butler, a 17th century writer:
"Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did"

I couldn't have put it better myself....

PS Please forgive my ill breeding and lack of manners- it goes without saying that if you fancy a sausage roll, slice of cake or apple pie do tuck in. Honestly my first outing out as the blogger hostess with the mostest and I have fallen at the first hurdle. I am off to study my Debrett's Guide to Etiquette....

The Knight of the Garter Stitch

 In my time I've come across knights made from stone and wood, but this is my first encounter with a knitted knight. We came upon this f...