Friday 31 January 2014

Friday Funding Fun.

I recently made a massive investment of thirty [yes thirty no less] pennies towards a stripy jumper that caught my eye at the recent jumble sale I was helping out at. Once I'd got it home I noticed that it had two small holes in the back- easy enough to do a spot of make do and mend but alas and alack no apple green thread to be found in my sewing box.....until I remembered that I have bags of inherited embroidery threads from my Aunt as well as leftover ones from finished projects [yes they do occasionally reach completion- I never cease to be as startled as you!] all carefully coloured coordinated [yes I am tragically anal like that] and huzzah therein lay the perfect thread. So before you part with your wonga for a new spool and no doubts lots of other temptations in the sewing shop whilst you're there that you hadn't planned on getting it pays to do a bit of rummaging through that craft stash you've got secreted all over the house!

I've now had this bonkers plan that said jumper could be converted into a cardigan....sheer madness but for the sake of thirty pennies I am willing to risk it. If the result is passable I might even share a photo- if it's an unmitigated disaster this is the last you will ever hear of this particular cunning plan!


Wednesday 29 January 2014


I read about this yesterday and was curious to discover what the author was referring to. Now I know....

This is the gatehouse at Pevensey Castle [photo taken by Mark Robinson]. I should now like to see it for myself so it's been added to the list!


Tuesday 28 January 2014


Small word - four consonants, one vowel and two syllables. Simple yet the implications and consequences of that word either used as a verb or a noun has destroyed many." Cyber bullying"- an insidious new phenomen where the perpetrators can spew their bile anonymously never having to face up to the fallout of their actions. I am no saint- the halo occasionally gets an outing but generally it's a bit tarnished and is flung in the back of a cupboard. It's human nature to evaluate others unless you are more highly evolved. I judge people positively and negatively and often wrongly but I try not to use it to hurt people. I have learnt over the years to keep my big trap shut more often than not and the hardest lesson of all that generally it's none of my flamin' business anyway. Sadly sometimes I still get it wrong.

When I first became self employed in my pre house sparkling fairy days I worked briefly for two bullies. One was easier to read being a text book bully, but one used psychological bullying as a form of control and that's a slippery beast to pin down.It took me a while to suss what that particular individual was up to and how it operated to gain control.  I'm a quiet old stick and I loathe confrontation but in the end I defended myself against both- I have a sharp tongue which generally I keep in check but at times like that it's invaluable being able to cut such people down to size and has proved, on occasion, to be a useful weapon in my armoury.

What has a gravestone got to do with bullying you might ask. This is in the front garden of a local inn called the George and Dragon and is in memory of the son of the former landlords. His name was Walter Budd who was an albino and an epileptic. His condition exposed him to cruel bullying and he was generally shunned. His situation proved too much for him to bear when he was falsely accused of a minor theft and he drowned himself aged 26 in 1893. He is buried in Shipley churchyard just up the road but the vicar took offence at the final sentence on his gravestone and demanded it be removed:
"May God forgive those who forgot their duty to him who was just and afflicted"
In defiance of the bigotry of others his parents placed the memorial where it remains to this day in full view of the road and the people passing by.

Bob Marley sums it all up for me:
"Who are you to judge the life I live?
I am not perfect and I don't have to be!
Before you start pointing fingers,
Make sure you hands are clean."


Monday 27 January 2014

Merrie Monday

Another nearly new fangled one- gosh I am getting so with it I shall hardly know myself soon!


Sunday 26 January 2014


I find when you mention the word corvid or any of the individual birds within the group it meets with a strong reaction. People have a definite opinion about them- I am a huge fan [I know that some of their behaviour is unsavoury but humans can hardly take the moral high ground]. I could write reams, use poems, quotes but others in the blogging world [see Leanne's lovely entries on her Tales of Simple Days] have already done so. Instead a few of Mr GBT's pictures I hope will capture their spirit.


Saturday 25 January 2014

Randomish Bits and Bobs!

Just a few loosely related history thingummy jigs from the last few days.

Firstly this- a mystery object [ooh I do so love a mystery object] that I encountered this week when I was nosing around our town museum.

This I discovered is a grape storage jar. A piece of vine with the grapes attached was inserted into the neck of the jar then it was filled with water and charcoal to purify it. This allowed the grapes to stay fresh for longer.

Then this from my trip to the Cat House in Henfied in the autumnn

At last I have found what this was used for- the zulu hole

The eccentric Robert Ward who lived here and took great umbridge at Canon Woodard's cat who killed his canary used to blow a horn out of it. The reference to zulu maybe because he fought in the Zulu Wars. That little conundrum has been bugging me for months- I knew there had to be an answer out there somewhere!

For anyone interested in the Saxons [me, me,me] a Book of the Face chum has posted up this link for a map of Anglo Saxon London by Brian Bates: [you might need to copy and paste the link as sometimes Blogger embeds it properly and sometimes it doesn't- it seems to a Luddite like myself this is entirely down to which way the wind is blowing!]

Finally I received this little gem in the post this week- I have taken part in a January Blues swap this month with some members of a lovely forum I frequent. My swappee [you don't know the identity of your sender] has got me down to a tee I think- was most thrilled.

Most marvellous reading material for this weekend me thinks!


Friday 24 January 2014

Clear orff!

Can't you see I'm hibernating!


Friday Funding Fun

A thrifty tasty winter bake recipe.

1 red onion thinly sliced
2 large potatoes thinly sliced
1 large parsnip thinly sliced
2  Bramley apples cored, peeled & thinly sliced
1/2 pint veg stock
2oz grated cheddar

Preheat oven 200C. Fry onion. Arrange 1/3 potato over base of oven proof dish then 1/2 parsnip and 1/2 apple. Repeat finishing with potato. Pour over stock and scatter onions on top. Cover with foil and cook for an hour. Remove foil and scatter over cheese. Bake for 15 mins.

My chaps are confirmed carnivores and usually bemoan the lack of bacon when I do a veggie dish [I roll my eyes and ignore them- it's a standing joke] but I don't hear a peep out of them when I serve this one up!


Thursday 23 January 2014

An Aide Memoire

In a past life before the redundancy axe struck I was an adult literacy tutor.  It was a job I loved [not the dullard government paper pushing side to it which too up far too much time] but the one to one interaction with a huge range of people and above all, seeing many achieve their first qualification. School for a multitude of reasons doesn't work out for some and it is amazing to see how competent adults still carry the belief that somehow they are stupid from from all that time ago. Watching someone begin to prove themselves wrong is a privilege. Part of my job was to encourage people to revisit the war wounds of the past by asking them to reconsider improving their English and Maths skills and once trust was established many did. I think me admitting my own problems with Maths and the demons I'd had to face in the process of gaining my qualification put us on a far more equal footing.

One way students would often express their difficulties with literacy was summed up in one little word "spelling". Now I am fortunate because my spelling is reasonable, but these days when doing crosswords I've noticed that perhaps I'm not quite as good as I thought I was and there's definitely room for improvement. When I was teaching [you know me and my love of words and phrases] I memorised quite a few mnemonics to help and these are a few of my personal favourites.

There's a rat in separate

Necessary one collar two socks

A piece of pie

Accommodation two cots two mattresses

Stationery/stationary stationery has an e for envelope in it

Calendar has a for April in it

I before e except after c except weird which is just weird

Never believe a lie

Miss Pell never misspells

I love them so would be much delighted if anyone knows anymore.....


Wednesday 22 January 2014

In The Words Of Flanders And Swann.

Mud, mud, glorious mud.....January in the Sussex Weald can be a very muddy affair. We're on clay here and the wetter it gets the claggier it gets. Rather optimistically it was called Sussex butter and it was believed by some to be lucky to walk it into the house. As the probable cleaner up of such muddy footprints I beg to differ on that point! However, as the old adage goes there none so happy "as a pig in mud!"


PS Many thanks to "The Sussex Garland" by Tony Wales for furnishing me with this snippet.

Tuesday 21 January 2014

Wassailing Sussex Style

I've been lucky enough to have been wassailing or, to use its Sussex name howling or charming or even whostling come to that, these last two weekends. Wassailing is one of those traditions that fell out of favour in many parts of the country, but has thankfully enjoyed a resurgence over the last few decades with many different regional variations emerging. Originally it could be from door to door or, as is more often the case these days, in orchards and all sorts can be wassailed from apples to pubs [the Barley Mow at Selmeston was indeed wassailed earlier this month] and even bees. This is the rhyme from "A Sussex Garland" by Tony Wales for just such an occasion:

"Bees, O Bees of Paradise, does the work of Jesus Christ,
Does the work of which no man can.
God made bees, and bees made honey.
God made great men to plough and to sow.
God made little boys to tend the rooks and crows.
God made women to brew and to bake
And God made little girls to eat up all the cake.
Then blow the horn!"

Yesterday we plumped for a very young community orchard in Arundel. The first apple trees were put in last year and a local permaculture group along with the audience and us planted another batch. Mulled cider was poured on the tree roots as an offering to the tree and cider soaked toast was hung in the branches to encourage the local birds who eat the harmful insects. With much banging of drums, sticks, pots and pans the bad demons were driven off with their tails between their legs and I can't believe that even the sleepiest of tree spirits could have snoozed through the cacophony of sound! To really add that final county touch we sang the "Sussex Sugar Wassail" from the 1840s which is one I have not previously encountered. For anyone interested the link to the words is here- it is sung to the tune of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen".

I am now off to read this Christmas pressie to learn even more!


Saturday 18 January 2014

Do you mind most awfully if I don't......

This was actually taken on Christmas Eve across the road from us but, once again, the river burst its banks yesterday- thankfully it didn't reach quite the same height this time.


Friday 17 January 2014

Friday Funding Fun

For many years after I completed my degree I swore I would never study again- this was the case until my last job required me to gain new skills and qualifications so that I could teach. After failing my Maths O Level three times [my Dad has a Maths degree but it bypassed me totally!] at the grand old age of 37 I learnt how to do fractions and passed my level 2 Maths. For me it was a proud moment and I rediscovered a love of learning. I have no desire to do exams which I find very stressful but have recently just completed a fascinating six week course about England in the time of Richard III and it was gratis! The course is being rerun this year and the company offer a wide range of other courses on a plethora of subjects. Mr GBT has signed up for one about Moons!  Link below along with one for free taster courses with the OU.


That's what I like free, frugal and fun!


Wednesday 15 January 2014

Fits like a glove.

I've had this gorgeous picture frame sitting on my window sill without a picture to go in it for the last two years since it was given to me for my birthday. I've had the postcard for...well to be honest I have no idea but I think that it may be since I was a sixth former in 1600 or thereabouts because it turned up in the loft amongst all my teenage angst ridden diaries [you know middle class teenager full of woe when actually living rather happy, settled life with nothing whatsoever to whinge about type tomes] which were being decluttered- I don't want anyone else reading that drivel thank ye. The two items just seemed to be perfect bed fellows.


Tuesday 14 January 2014

Upon having baggage......'s not a post about emotional baggage. Instead acquiring a new to me bag for the princely sum of thirty pennies from the jumble sale I was helping out at on could I not bring it home with me. Anyone who knows me in real life will know that this little number is right up my street!

Whilst on the topic of lovelies and glancing through the photos I have also forgotten to put this piece of treasure up that came my way via a very generous freecycler just before Chrimble. I have a beautiful wooden corner cupboard half way up my stairs that Mr GBT made for me some years ago that holds some of my dearest things. One day when I am feeling organised I shall put up some photos so anyone who is kind enough to drop by can have a nose if they so wish.

I do so love a hearty splash of colour!


Monday 13 January 2014

Merrie Monday

Golden brown by The Stranglers- loved it the first time I heard it. Was one of the early tracks I taped off the Top 40 on Sunday evening on Radio 1. That little statement dates me!


Saturday 11 January 2014

Friday 10 January 2014

Friday Funding Fun

On matters of window dressing and saving some wonga for more exciting non essentials.

These are a few of the things I have done over the years- before I get started I should point out that I am not a talented needlewoman I have a very patient Mummy who holds my hand. I also work at the speed of a striking slug [if I were to race a sloth I am not all that sure I would win!] so projects can take months if not even a couple of years sometimes!

I have made most of my curtains [with help] so that I can afford better quality fabric- the idea being that they will last longer. I have chosen fabrics that won't date and washed them first to ensure that there is no shrinkage later down the line. When the small person was a babything I made him blue tab top curtains with coloured buttons along the top- now he's 15 and they're still going strong. I have simply removed the primary coloured buttons.

Charity shops are a good source of decent quality curtains- I have a pair of patchwork ones in my spare room that I picked up for a song.

Old curtains- I remove the header tape as this can be reused as can the lining. The pair I made for our room have a separate lining.

Our bathroom is in dire need of a new blind- I have bought one for £3.50 from the charity shop [I always try to recycle or make do and mend where ever possible to both save money and not create a space for a new blind to be made] which I am in the process of cutting down to size. Erm in 2010 I got 3/4 of the way through making a blind for our cloakroom- it's the back of a plain cream duvet cover [the front was tea stained] which I have covered with an Indian sari remnant and over stitched with gold thread. I have some ribbon tucked away to bind the edges- this will not be one that needs to be pulled up. As I am dangerously nearing redecorating the cloakroom there is a fighting chance that this UFO will see the light of day and be hung before the year is out!


Thursday 9 January 2014

In times of stress

This was in the kitchen of the house I sparkled today- made me chuckle!



"I am a marvellous housekeeper. Every time I leave a man I keep his house."

Zsa Zsa Gabor


Wednesday 8 January 2014

Surrey Jaunt

Huzzah the weather broke and the sun shone as we made it across the Surrey Sussex border safely to our intended destination of Cranleigh....

As one might expect when us ladies get together there was a great deal of gossipping, perusing of retail outlets [some goodly charity shop bargains for us both] along with tea and buns. Now my chums are very tolerant of my slightly idiosyncratic ways and thankfully, some seem to share my slightly strange love of exploring churches and churchyards....

St Nicholas is a 12th century church with several later additions. It underwent an extensive restoration programme after it suffered severe damage from a flying bomb in August 1944 which took out many of its stained glass windows. As a direct result of this the interior of the church is much lighter than you would expect for a church of its age.

The churchyard boasts a marvellous selection of different styles of gravestones including some interesting shaped iron ones and a wooden bed head marker which I saw but doesn't make a very thrilling photo somehow! I loved the way the moss was growing on the last one.

Inside it's an attractive church [although not quite gloomy enough or musty smelling for my liking!] with a stunning hammer beam roof

The wall hanging is called "From Darkness To Light" and was designed by Lucinda Johnson and her team. It's made from different fabrics- unfortunately my Janet and John photo does not do it justice.

As for this chap he's a 12th century carving and is known as "The Cheshire Cat"- rumour has it that he inspired Lewis Carroll. This was actually why I had wanted to visit and he didn't disappoint!

Some things don't change from generation to generation examples here being graffiti and recycling. The old broken gravestones had been given a new lease of life as paving slabs in the floor of the lychgate.


Tuesday 7 January 2014

Old Man's Beard

A lot of my joblets are on the outskirts of the town where I live which means I am forced to drive through the beautiful Sussex countryside. My mind ambles about whilst I am behind the wheel [I am concentrating on the road at the same time I hasten to add!] and yesterday, seeing all the water in the fields from the recent heavy rains, I wondered what you might see if you went for a walk in the countryside in January. The answer came quick enough as I passed by the hedgerows. This

Old Man's Beard or to give it its proper name Clematis Vitalba. Long stretches of its fluffy seedheads putting on a pretty feathery show but largely unnoticed by moi. However, as one of my aims is to celebrate the ordinary, the overlooked, the everyday I've been off for an internet trundle to find out more.....

It's one that has rather mixed associations- on the one hand it is said to do the work of the Devil by the way it trails into other plants and strangles them yet it is also called the Virgin's Bower because of its virginal white appearance. One of its more familiar names is Traveller's Joy but sometimes it is known as Shepherd's Delight, Love Vine and Herbe Aux Gueux [meaning beggar's or rascal's beard]

Southerners named it the Baccy plant after poor country folk would cut its small wood into pieces and smoke it like tobacco. Beggars were known to rub its acrid sap onto their skin to cause ulceration so that they persuade sympathetic passers by of their plight and be given money.

It seems to have been of little medicinal use but it was used in Slovenia to weave baskets for onions and binding crops and used in Stone Age Switzerland for rope.


Monday 6 January 2014

Merrie Monday

First Monday of the new year so time for a cheesy track methinks. I guess many are going back to work after the festive break- in my old life I would have been one of those but now as a self employed bod I went back on 27th December. It was rather nice not to have that Sunday night of dread this time. I had a bit of a scare first thing this morning though as I thought someone had mistakenly released a baby elephant upstairs so was mightily relieved to discover that it was actually the small person trying to coordinate his limbs after his early start. Bit of a shock to the system when you've not emerged from your pit until 11.30 these last two weeks! Anyway here's Scissor Sisters with "I don't feel like dancin'"


Saturday 4 January 2014

Unsanitary Upcycling!

As the weather is to be,quite frank, a little on the naff side today I thought perhaps a little silliness for those ladies of a certain age like myself who no longer have need of specific ladies items. If I had an unused stash of such glories remaining I might perhaps choose to while a wet afternoon crafting......

Perhaps a toupee for Mr GBT who is folically challenged

Or a bouquet for Valentine's day

Or even slippers

I have got a new pair of slippers today- but erm bought in the sales from a retailer on this occasion!

More marvellous ideas to while away the hours from here

Never let it be said that I don't spoil you!


Friday 3 January 2014

Friday Funding Fun

This week upon matters of selfies and puffs or maybe in this particular instance puffed up's ok you're safe no selfies from camera on my phone [can you tell my phone went out with the square wheel!] and besides, my face immediately contorts itself into one of my many gargoyle expressions the minute I am aware of having my photo taken....nope this is to what I refer!

This is the Gert, The Gnat Bottomed Purse, who has been on my case ever since I started the frugal bit as she feels she should be the star of the show as keeper of the money. She's the one on the left with the red hair- not natural I hasten to add, a while back it was a rather startling shocking pink. She is erm quite a force let's just say- she sounds like a sarf London used car dealer and is rather trappy to say the least although she has a heart of gold. She guards her money like a dragon with its hoard and wails like a banshee every time I attempt to extract some- you may have heard her?! This gives you some idea

For many years she was married to Big Bill but he's now gone to that great cashpoint in the sky but now she is engaged to Stormin' Norman the wallet. She wishes he was more like her hero Arkwright but he is a very easy going fella [he needs to be] and as she doesn't understand the concept of credit cards he's quite happy to release the snitch card [it has wings] for any necessary purchases. Shown with her are one of the purslings [the grandchildren]- they are identical twins and rather naughty. I can't tell whether that's Penny or Prudence and at the far end is her daughter Cashandra who does know about credit cards and gives her owner Spendy Wendy a very hard time. Anyway enough of them.....

Puffs- a frugal filler food. I'm not claiming any nutritional value for them but served with an otherwise healthy meal they are a great way to fill up hollow legged teenagers cheaply. I am not a fan but Mr GBT makes them like his Mum did and she had 6 children to feed. Mix self raising flour with a little water to make a very thick paste and season with salt and pepper [Mr GBT has also added herbs and dried fruit when he's made a sweet version] and then shallow fry big dollops in vegetable oil for 15 minutes turning so that they are golden each side. Serve immediately.


Thursday 2 January 2014

The Blue Bonnet

Or to call it by its familiar name the Blue Tit.

It is the only tit with blue colouring and I think this recent photo taken by Mr GBT at our local nature reserve shows it well.

I was recently lucky enough to be given some back copies of the RSPB magazine which has furnished me with some interesting snippets.

Although every blue tit might look identical to the human eye, the birds themselves are able to recognise each other as individuals.Their blue cap gives off a strong UV signal which tends to be stronger in the males. The brighter the cap the healthier the bird is so is more likely to attract a mate. Interestingly though scientists have discovered that the birds tend to pick a partner with a similar intensity of colour to its own. The other factor a female needs to take into account is how bright a yellow is the male's bib as this shows how good a provider he is- the pigment comes mainly from the caterpillars he eats thus the more consumed the more eye catching his bib and tucker!

This does not work when translated into a potential human breeding partner- anyone with either a tinge of yellow or blue about them does not scream fabulously fit and healthy does it!


Wednesday 1 January 2014

A New Year's Resolution...

First and foremost may I wish you a most splendid New Year and on the matter of resolutions mine is very simple....I have resolved not to make any for I find them personally a negative, guilt inducing process at what already can be a difficult time of year. I shall be making some small tweaks and setting some achievable, modest goals but you can take your hair shirt and place it permanently in an orifice where the sun don't shine thanks all the same.

Nothing racy planned here just the decision to hopefully have learnt 6 new veggie main meals and 6 new puddings by the end of the year along with reading some of Ronald Hutton's books, a changing set up on my seasonal shelf when and as the mood takes me and finally to manage my anxiety/depression and to build upon the foundations I laid during 2013. Simples! What I shall not be doing is giving up anything that I enjoy doing so crisps will remain a firm favourite- in moderation but ooh the delight they give me!!

The making and breaking of resolutions is not a new phenomena as Pepys illustrated:

31 Dec 1661
"I have newly taken a solemn oath about abstaining from plays and wine, which I am resolved to keep"

20 Jan 1662
Pepys took delivery of "four gallons of Malaga wine; what it will stand us in I know not; but it is the first great quantity of wine that I ever bought"

Despite having a copy of Pepys diary in my reading pile I have oft opened it but erm may not as yet quite read any. This excerpt is thanks to Jane Struthers "The Book Of Christmas"

Now I'm sure that there is a tube of Pringles with my name on somewhere waiting for my undivided attention....



Being a soul who could win an Olympic Gold if overthinking was ever included as a sport, one thing which really helps me to slow down and be...