Saturday 31 August 2013

An evening of revelry in Sussex!

So what could possibly link this:

to the following seemingly random selection of items?

...why an evening of Morris dancing at the beer festival at Amberley Museum. The museum itself is a fascinating tribute to the industrial history of the South East and has many different vintage machines on display including said traction engine. Some can even be ridden on to get around the site as well a range of  workshops where you can see the craftsmen in action.

Last night, however, was a slightly different affair with a fabulous range of ales, perries and ciders to sample, many from the plethora of local breweries that  we are lucky enough to have around here. I love the inventiveness of some of the names- Hop'o The Morning Stout, Wormcatcher, Betty Stogs, Moondance, Vision in Pink, Bottle Wreck Porter to mention but a few. I would have liked to have tried them all, but I have a confession to make- I love drinking beer, but I am a Morris dancing light weight and at the moment having too much would not do much for my performance! It doesn't take much for me to get distracted and forget what bit of the dance I'm supposed to be doing! However, I looked the part with my tankard except it was filled with Top Dog which tastes fab but is only 1.2% [Mr GBT was driving last night]. After I'd finished I had a pint of Elderflower Perry which was sensational, quite a bit stronger and left me a tad whittled!

The New Rocks are a recent acquisition bought from my dear Morris dancing chum Sam. Lots of the side wear them, but they are surprisingly heavy so I am not quite at that stage yet. I have enough trouble coordinating my feet in time to the music as it is!

Finally, the angry cats? We do a dance called "Foul Mouthed Cat" which finishes up with all of us lining up and hissing, claws out like grumpy moggies!


Friday 30 August 2013

The devil's in the detail.

This bee was in our garden yesterday on the sedum.

We have saved up our leftover grocery budget money from the last few months and invested in a close up lens for Mr GBT. I hope to share a few more photos over time on the blog with you.


Thursday 29 August 2013

On being easily pleased....

I am a very simple soul and it can be the smallest thing or detail that brings me pleasure. These are a few examples that fall into this category that have made me smile over the last few weeks.

An arch seen in the woods at Nymans Gardens- the simplicity of the design is just so appealing.

 A new word- fop-doodle. It means simpleton and so far the only time I have had cause to use it was in reference to Psychocat. Let's just say it's been a costly error of judgement in all senses of the word for I am now having to pay both literally and figuratively for expensive little feline delicacies by way of a grovelling apology. She was more than a little put out!

Our first ever attempt at growing butternut squash- the tiles are to keep them up off the grass. We debated at the weekend whether they were ready to be harvested yet but having checked on the front of the seed packet we have discovered we still have quite a wait yet. Told you we were novices!


Wednesday 28 August 2013

One way to live life!!

A favourite of mine!

Seems like a pretty good way to go about this business of living to me!


Tuesday 27 August 2013

A Sussex Eccentric!

Could it be me.....I managed to surpass even Lady Gaga yesterday by changing colour from green to purple ...sadly my chameleon state was somewhat more mundanely achieved  by firstly wire brushing a green shed and then later on going blackberrying. That does not mean I have abandoned the cause though!!

No this particular individual went by the name of  John Oliver and I encountered his tale upon a visit to Highdown Hill near Angmering. I can heartily recommend a trip to this spot if you are in the area because there is a lovely free garden to visit next door and the partial remains of an Iron age Hill fort on the summit for added interest.

This particular gentleman is buried on top of the hill

A slightly unconventional burial place but not that noteworthy you might rightly think except that the tomb was built 27 years prior to his actual death in 1793 and he used to visit it daily. He also kept his coffin under his bed on casters. Some would claim that he was merely a slightly off the wall character, but others more cynically believed him to be the head of a smuggling gang and that he used his empty tomb to store contraband. A wealthy miller by trade rumours abounded that he would set the sails of his windmill [now demolished] at different angles to indicate to his cronies out at sea that the customs men were absent.
Even his funeral was done in great style for his coffin was borne by young girls in white- a custom usually reserved only for the burial of young children.

Legend has it that he insisted on being interred upside down so that on the Judgement Day when the world turned topsy turvey he would be the only one facing the right way. Furthermore, beware, for if you run around the Miller's Tomb as it is known seven times his ghost will jump out and chase you!


Monday 26 August 2013

Merrie Monday

This one should wake you up this Bank Holiday! We have the dear Osmonds to thank for erm the rather sentimental, schmaltzy puppy love, paper roses [definitely not my taste thank ye] and thankfully this, Crazy Horses! I sincerely hope that the fans were sent toppling like nine pins by the gusts from the flapping flares!! How naughty of me!


Sunday 25 August 2013

I'm no Mary Berry......

but I do so love to bake a wonky cake. I also always follow instructions to the letter [ho ho oh how I wish that was true- it would have kept me out of all types of scrapes over the years!] and take the greatest pleasure in inflicting my efforts upon family and friends!
This is a shop sign from a patisserie in our town

A very clear indicator to me as to just how ill I had become last year came with the realisation that I had become too frightened even to try a new cake recipe for fear of  failing yet again. The perceived risk was just too great so I had stuck rigidly to only tried and tested ones. To remedy this I set myself a little challenge in January to bake a new cake every month. My only proviso was that it needed to be a simple pimple one [I take no pleasure from twonking about with food] and it had to have a rustic appearance! That I felt  was well within my grasp. I have managed every month so far but yesterday a dear chum helped me to catch up as July was manic and I had run out of time. This is the result of our afternoon in the kitchen- she, my parents, small person and Mr GBT have road tested it and they are all still standing. I have yet to hear whether her hubby survived!!

July raspberry bakewell cake [no pastry!]

August courgette chocolate cake- motivation was to use up some of the glut of courgettes we currently have!


Saturday 24 August 2013


I have become most concerned about myself since I returned from my travels two weeks ago- not only have I completed 75% of the long list of tasks I'd left myself to do including my tax return and my tatters jacket but I have also carelessly completed another UFO. Oh where oh where have I mislaid my scatter gun- you know the one that allows me to have 15 things on the go at once [they do all get done eventually but can take a considerable amount of time- we're talking a few years here sometimes] and then start yet another thing that catches my eye. Fear will never last for I will be up to my old tricks before long!  I'm far too much of an old crone set in her ways for such a sensible approach to endure and I am well practised at resurrecting bad habits!

Anyway enough of my natterings. I am gradually, with the speed of a striking slug again], completing a set of felt goddess poppets with the eventual long term aim being that  they will be mounted together into a rainbow wreath of sorts.

And this is the one that I have completed this week

The "plan" [things could easily change on that front!] is to make a red one next once I've decided what symbol I want to go on the front but first I have to finish a rather large rainbow blanket for our bed which is 90% done so we can use it over the winter. Watch this space although be warned you could be watching for quite some time!


Friday 23 August 2013

Garden Visitors

Despite having an intense dislike of gardening I do like are pretty flowers and seeing the critters that pay us a visit. Being a snouty old bird does mean that I notice things! This month's offerings are

A comma butterfly

A small tortoiseshell

A silver Y moth- these are migratory and come up from Southern Europe.When I looked at its wings I then understood its rather unusual name!

And finally a Harlequin Ladybird - I know it's an invasive species but it doesn't know it's not meant to be here if you see what I mean. Striking appearance anyway.


Thursday 22 August 2013

Aargh I've run out of.....

For those times when you're halfway through a recipe only to find you're missing a key ingredient- this hopefully might save the day. How would I know this.....erm because I don't always read recipes through properly before diving in maybe?!! That's why cooking [baking is a completely different creature!] is down there with gardening in my little life at GBT!


Imposing a curfew.....

Thankfully not necessary in this household as the small person is, by far and large, a fairly easy going teenager [just the odd moment now and again].

The word curfew originates from the French couvre feus. In the medieval kitchens labourers were hired to chop and cart wood, turn spits, churn butter or draw water. They may have slept on the kitchen floor but the rooms cooled fast because Norman law dictated that all embers had to be covered at night. The circular pottery dish in the centre of the photo is actually a replica curfew lid used to extinguish the fires which we saw on our recent visit to the Old Hall in Gainsborough.


Wednesday 21 August 2013


One of the unforeseen joys of becoming self employed after my redundancy was the need to complete an annual tax return.  I was disappointed to learn that I had run out of displacement activities yesterday so the Time Had Come to wedge my rump into a chair and complete the darned thing! I am pleased to report that I earn so little that I am actually owed a refund but I still reckon that Mr Mark Twain summed up the whole business rather well in this acerbic comment!

"What is the difference between a taxidermist and a tax collector? The taxidermist takes only your skin"

Since the beginning of the summer holidays the small person has had yet another major clear out of his room including this little gem- "The Wicked Wit of Insults" compiled by Maria Leach. Before I pass it on to the charity shop I thought you might enjoy a small sample!

" The English have an extraordinary ability for flying into a great calm."
Alexander Woollcott

"The English never smash in a face. They merely refrain from asking it to dinner."
Margaret Halsey

"Woman would be more charming if one could fall into her arms without falling into her hands."
Ambrose Pierce

"It is well, when judging a friend, to remember that he is judging you with the same godlike and superior impartiality."
Arnold Bennett

"The mistake a lot of politicians make is forgetting they've been appointed, and thinking they've been anointed."
Mrs Claude Pepper

"He'll double-cross that bridge when he comes to it."
Oscar Levant on a politician

"He's called a broker because after you deal with him you are."

"A dramatic critic is a man who leaves no turn unstoned."
George Bernard Shaw

And finally Mr Mick Jagger

Or in the opinion of Joan Rivers:

"This man has child bearing lips."


Tuesday 20 August 2013

Wrest and Relaxation!

While the cat's away [or in this case the small person is in France] the mice will play.....we had a free weekend so we toddled up to Bedford to spend it with a dear chum S.

Being in the right area it gave me the perfect opportunity to visit Wrest Park which has been on my list of places to see for some time [I knock a few off every year and add just as many new ones onto the bottom] The house and gardens were owned by the Grey family from the medieval times until the early 20th century when it was sold. It is now in the hands of English Heritage who are doing a huge amount of work to the grounds with more to follow. The most interesting aspect to the gardens is that, unusually, three different periods of garden design, as different Greys have made their mark upon the gardens, have  been retained in respect to their forebears rather than sweeping their choices aside which is so often the case. As for me- it didn't warm the cockles of my heart as it was a little on the grandiose and formal side for me. I found it a little sterile not being a fan of statues and Capability Brown landscaping [he landscaped 170 gardens in his lifetime but as far as I can see he managed to achieved 170 gardens that look the same!] However, a most lovely afternoon and the cafe does wickedly large slices of chocolate cake!! As for the relaxation part of the friend loves to cook for people and I love being cooked for so everyone's a winner! Some photos to give you a taste of what we saw.

Imaginative plantings- there weren't many to see but these appealed to me!

Rather strangely a two tailed mermaid.

View from the terrace along to the pavilion. The whole garden is heavily French influenced and it really shows in this view.

Chinese style bridge.

Window detail from the dairy.


Monday 19 August 2013

Merrie Monday!

When, with a chum the other week, I was, I freely admit, just a tad alarmed when she asked me if I would like to see her "dirty little secret"! I prepared myself mentally, you know the "I must be open minded" approach, stiff upper lip, Blitz Spirit and all that. This is what she showed me!

Her comment was "if it's good enough for Chelsea it's good enough for me!" I simply guffawed- knowing her taste it certainly wasn't what I was expecting even though I didn't know what I was expecting if you see what I mean! I honestly don't know what I think about these little chaps- I am fairly sure I shall never have them in my garden but I veer from finding them rather twee to absolutely hilarious. Some are outrageously cheeky which makes me smile even wider! What I do definitely know is that I love the tales of gnome hunting and their subsequent documented travels as they traverse the world before being returned one would hope to their original owner and I definitely want to visit The Gnome Reserve in Devon!

So on this theme the lovely Mr Bowie with "The Laughing Gnome"


Sunday 18 August 2013

Give yourself a hearty thump on the back!

You deserve it. Today you will have done at least one thing to make somebody else's life better even if you don't think you have so give yourself some credit. I'm not suggesting for one minute that we shouldn't be awfully British about this - there's no need to holler it from the roof tops and I promise you you can keep your light firmly hidden under the bushel. I won't be telling on you!
This comes from a card that was sent to me and I find the words moving. I'm afraid I don't know the author is.

Believe in Yourself

I guess the best thing anyone who cares about you can do is hold up a mirror and help you see yourself the way others see you.
If I hold up a mirror for you would you see your strength, your warmth, your kind and generous heart?
Would you see the truth of who you are and how much you do for everyone else?
Today, I want to remind you to have the courage to believe in yourself because you deserve the best things life has to offer.


Friday 16 August 2013

Mad as a hatter's.....

.....audience?! Yes I would, based upon my previous wafflings, guess you were expecting to be told about how the well known phrase came about [for anyone who is interested it was due to the mercury in the felt causing poisoning for the workers over time and resulting in dementia], but this time it is to do with a recent tale I have read about in Nigel Cawthorne's The Strange Laws of Old England [ a charity shop treat from our recent hol].

Now I will freely admit that on occasion I have been a little startled when I've seen what people choose to wear or not to wear, but I would hope that I would regain my composure fairly quickly. In recent years the fashion for the chaps wearing their trews at half mast actually made me want to take the poor fellows by the hand and lead them into safety in Marks and Spencer where I could remedy the "problem" for them with the purchase of a belt! However, I have over time come to find the penguin style of walking they have to adopt in order to stop their trews from falling to their ankles highly amusing and I, for one, am extremely grateful that they are actually wearing undergarments. I have no issue with people going commando yet I really do not wish to see the evidence as they bend over in the shops thank ye! Would you honestly be afraid of one of these though?!

No thought not! Apparently this was not always the case.....

In 1797 the London haberdasher, John Hetherington, decided to debut his newly designed top hat on a drive through London. Strangely it provoked a rather unforeseen reaction- people booed and women fainted. The poor chap was arrested and charged with conduct likely to cause a breach of the King's peace, in particular: "appearing on the public highway wearing upon his head a tall structure having a shining lustre and calculated to frighten time people". To add insult to injury he was fined the enormous sum of £50. Perhaps I should be more wary at weddings from now on!


Beauty on my doorstep.

Our local town, like a few others I have seen, has over the last few years left parts of the grass verges or roundabouts unmown and scattered flower seed instead. We have one such one just a stone's throw from where we live and I think it is just gorgeous.


Thursday 15 August 2013

Whooping Cough Treatment.

The advance in modern medicine is, to me, a miracle of our age. I have an equal interest in alternative remedies and personally would like to see the two used alongside each other a great deal more rather than occupying opposing camps as seems to be the current situation. As a parent the relief knowing that there are vaccines [again this divides people I know] out there that protect my child from diseases that were once a common killer is immense. In the past part of a bride's trousseau would often have included both a shroud for herself and also a couple of infant sized ones. Such was the acceptance of infant mortality.

One such killer was whooping cough [I was bitterly disappointed as a child to discover it wasn't spelt hooping!] and many turned to folklore remedies in desperation. My dictionary of Sussex Folk Medicine recommends as a cure either a man riding a piebald horse or feeding the sufferer on bread and butter given by a family where the head of the household was called John and the wife Joan. If you'd followed that advice to the letter the chances of recovery were not guaranteed I would imagine! Another remedy I read about recently was passing the ill child under one of these three times!

Surprisingly my grandparents actually owned a donkey for a time so would we have been all right under such circumstances? To be frank I wouldn't have passed anything under their mule. My Grandfather [who I never met but think I'd have liked tremendously] had a penchant for auctions but did not have what you might call a regular eye for bargains. He brought home various unusual lots and on this occasion he bought the donkey from a road sweeper for his daughter to learn to ride on. Adolf, so named because he had a dark tash and it was wartime, clearly had other ideas and simply bowed his head forward so my Auntie fell off every time she got on him. No Adolf undoubtedly had alternative talents he was keen to finely hone- one was a liking for eating the teatowels that he could reach through the open kitchen door and the other was as a very successful escape artist. On more than one occasion he make a bid for freedom except each time he was captured by the local soldiers [my grandparents lived just outside the garrison town of Colchester] and walked down the hill to the local inn where he partook gratefully of a bucket of mild! Naturally coordinating his legs after such a session proved a little troublesome and the naughty soldiers would then lead him back up the hill and present him back to his owners in his inebriated state. Hardly pc but amusing nevertheless. Eventually he was sold again but not until he'd left them with a few entertaining tales!


Wednesday 14 August 2013


You know all sorts of naughty quirky bits from my hol that just refuse to play ball and  fit neatly into my other holiday posts so prepare yourself for random ramblings as my grasshopper brain jumps from one unrelated topic to the next. Ho ho!

Firstly on the recommendation of Ilona [Mean Queen blog,] we visited the Museum of Lincolnshire life. A real little gem with a wide range of displays and all for my favourite price of FREE. Woohoo- the GBT purse even unchained the pursestrings and let us treat ourselves to a very reasonably priced cuppa and biccie in the cafe. I am still reeling from the shock a week on!

A calf dozer- why that name my little brain screamed!! Having read the info board I now know that it's a smaller version of a bull dozer. All makes perfick sense now doesn't it!

From our visit to the Old Hall in Gainsborough.

These recesses in the outer wall were for the skeps to keep them dry in inclement weather.

Graffiti- always been a problem. This is a Tudor example discovered when renovations were being carried out. Some things don't change!

Wonderful repro pot.

I do so love some of the angles you get with the timber framed buildings caused by the unseasonsed wood they used. Adds yet even more character I think.

And from our afternoon spent wandering around Lincoln this spotted  high up on a wall we were passing.

And yes I did promise you allsorts.....liquorice allsorts. Just the most amazingly creative confections. I couldn't bear to eat them though and I do so love a sweetie or two!


Monday 12 August 2013

A Whistlestop Tour of Lincoln Cathedral.

I was most taken with Lincoln cathedral-  the sheer quantity and quality of the Gothic carvings are simply stunning. What I particularly liked was that the modern grotesques and gargoyles sit alongside the original ones and are very much in keeping- there's one inside that dates from 2008 and depicts various scenarios following the ban on fox hunting. The political statements of some of the older ones might be lost on me but I can still enjoy the visual humour they present.
This example is one of the more modern ones.

The next two are wooden carvings- according to Anthony Weir in his book "Images of Lust" mouth pulling figures denoted a warning to those viewing them about improper sexual conduct whereas the second chap is suffering from toothache!

Unusually the cathedral does not have seats. This gave me a far greater impression of what it would have been like in its heyday when the congregation had to stand- only those who were frail or ill were allowed to sit on the seats along the wall hence the phrase "going to the wall".

 One of the many eye catching windows.

As ever it's the real history of the people who worked there or visited that strikes me the most- the groove worn in the floor where pilgrims over hundreds of years have knelt in front of St Hugh's shrine or the misericords [mercy seats] mainly carved and signed by the same Frenchman whose work is also found in the French cathedrals. Following an outbreak of plague he returned to the Continent never to return to complete his task- some of the seats remain in their original plain hewn state.

Finally you cannot help but notice the fuss made of a certain little chap- folktales abound about  him. This one [taken from Wiki] is the most common one.

According to a 14th-century legend, two imps were sent by the devil to do evil work on Earth. After causing mayhem in Northern England, they  headed to Lincoln Cathedral, where they damaged furniture and tripped up the Bishop. When an angel came out of a book of hymns and told them to stop, one of the imps brave started throwing rocks at the angel, but the other imp cowered under the broken tables and chairs. The angel turned the first imp to stone, giving the second imp a chance to escape. It is said that even on still days it is always windy around the Cathedral, which is the second imp circling the building looking for his friend. So to prove that I followed the well beaten tourist path to his door here he is the very same!


Merrie Monday

Friday night was always yoof club and was a major event in the thirteen year old's life who went to a strict all girls' school and didn't get within a hundred paces of a member of the opposite sex except every other Friday. I used to go with my jolly good chum J who remains a jolly good chum all these years hence. It was difficult to know which was the better option- having J's Dad picking us up at 9.45 because he would stay in the car unseen or my Dad coming at 10pm but him insisting on waiting in the foyer and looking through the club doors at us! We never actually spoke to any boys- we'd have probably needed smelling salts to revive us after our swooning but the potential for meeting BOYS along with the silly ideas about romance that our Jackie mags filled our heads with kept us going in the intervening period. These two tracks take me right back to that time!
The Gap Band

And Kool and the Gang


Sunday 11 August 2013

A fanatic is one who won't change the subject....

Or to quote Winston Churchill fully
" A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject".

Well that's just about summed me up....yes I am back to one of my favourite topics again...the greenman and naturally I am not in the least bit repentant! If someone is daft enough to allow me to cross their county border then it is inevitable that I will go out and search some of the little chaps out. The lady at Lincoln cathedral even kindly let us take a photo of her map to show where they were located- 17 in all. Even I know that to ask my family to look for all 17 is bordering on obsession so these are the ones we located fairly easily....

Oh yes and then there was this one in St Chads, Harpswell where we were staying. We paid a visit there on the first afternoon as it was just across the way- Mr GBT and I discussed whether we should take the camera but decided perhaps we should as there may be something of note. There were some goodish gargoyles but alas no greenmen....or so I thought. Flicking through the cottage info when we got back, I was stunned to find that there is a fairly robust example on the base of the plinth of the tomb of William Harrington who was a 14th century rector of the church. I should point out this was the only tomb in the church and I had stood right next to it, but with my wonderful powers of observation having wandered off in search of a bun I had managed to completely miss it. Naturally we went back the next day and made amends.....

It does pay to be a nosy old bat sometimes!


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...