Wednesday 30 April 2014

A Sting in the Tale

Much merriment here once again at GBT as t'was my Tuesday off and that means either being led astray or leading others astray in the pursuit of fun!

Dear chum sent me details of this recipe she was proposing to make last week.

Unfortunately events conspired against her so it didn't get made....until today that is. I have to say she did most of the donkey work like the nettle picking [she had the last of last year's blackberries in the freezer still] but I did my very best to hinder her and it was certainly a novel way of using up stingers. I am particularly impressed that I have eaten my first ever green sponge!

As to taste....jolly scrummy thank ye and here's "our" [well hers plus my meddling contribution] version!


Tuesday 29 April 2014

A Norman Wolf and Old Bulletholes.....

....were some of the delights that greeted us as we snooped around Alton's parish church of St Lawrence. First established in c1070 it is noted for its different architectural styles but I shall say no more on this particular topic as I am an ignoramus in such matters!

There is a positively ropey Saxon font roughly hewn and not worthy of a picture in my opinion but thankfully this is excused by the rather splendid carvings on top of the Norman columns. I made it my personal mission to track down the greenman once I'd seen mention of it in the children's guide [I find the kiddie's info is often of more interest to me - it has all the juicy bits in!] and as seen from the photographic evidence, was successful.

Just across the way was this mighty fine wolf and his bone.

These caught my eye next. We tend to think of old churches these days as calm with muted, relaxing colours when in their heyday they were anything but.....noisy and garish would have been more the case. These 15th century paintings of Saints give you the merest hint of just how colourful it would have been.

This old door really does tell a story as it permanently captures a moment in history. During the Civil War Alton was occupied by the Cavaliers. On 13th December 1643 the Roundheads led by William Waller mounted a counter attack. This resulted in the Cavalier leader, the Earl of Crawford, fleeing to Winchester and leaving a skeleton troop behind headed up by Colonel Richard Boles. Greatly outnumbered they barricaded themselves in the church but it offered little protection. Boles reputedly died in the pulpit and the door still shows the battle scars to this day as it is riddled with bullet holes and deep gouges made by the pikes as the fighting commenced.

You can read about history all you like in books but it's not until you see the aftermath and perhaps imagine the carnage and terror that ensued during the attack that it fleshes out the bones.


Sunday 27 April 2014

Sweet F.A

No need to start hyperventilating for I am not about to honour my inner fishwife [well not today anyway!]....yesterday proved to have a funny little series of coincidences which led me to find the origin of this oft used phrase.

Once again I managed to make it across the county border unscathed and undetected into Hampshire...this time destination Alton to visit a long standing chum who used to be my room mate at college. Tootling along the Hogsback reading Albert Jack's informative little tome "Red Herrings and White Elephants" [a recent charity shop acquisition] I remarked in passing to Mr GBT how funny that Sweet Fanny Adams was actually a real girl and she had lived and perished in Alton. Thinking no more about it we carried on along our merry little way.

Having feasted well  said chum thought a post luncheon perambulation might be in order...a few ideas were mooted before I asked if we could sneak a peek around the local church. St Lawrence's is where the Fanny Adams of sweet Fanny Adams fame is buried my friend piped up so forth we sallied. Alas no grave was found nor surprisingly no mention in the church guide either, but more lovelies were glimpsed which I shall put up in a further postlet.

By now it was sheeting horizontally with rain so we dived into the local museum to find further mention of this now elusive Fanny Adams. It transpires that she is actually buried in the separate cemetery in Alton- we shall pay a visit another time when the weather is less inclement. Fanny was eight when she was murdered by
Frederick Baker. He scattered her dismembered remains around a hop garden and was hanged for his crime on Christmas Eve of that year in Winchester. This is her death certificate.

At the same time the Navy had introduced a new tinned meat which was cut into chunks. The Portsmouth sailors were underwhelmed and nicknamed it Sweet Fanny Adams. The phrase quickly passed across into Army usage before transferring into modern day parlance.


Saturday 26 April 2014

The Tickling Stick

I found this on Pinterest [a place representing an endless opportunity to pursue displacement activities!] and it made me guffaw for it happens to me my case it's a most gorgeous young rescue Staffie called Bunty who belongs to my friend S. When I house sparkle for S Bunty regularly quietly steals the feather duster and then gallops off into the garden with it. I also have another marvellous tea leaf who is a black flat coated retriever called Fleur who half inches my cleaning clothes when she thinks I am paying her insufficient attention. It's these moments that add to the joy of my house sparkling elf joblets...I really genuinely do love what I do!


Friday 25 April 2014

Friday Funding Fun

Morris dancing is one of the times I make the effort to paint my nails in weird and wonderful colours...most of the time I am a] too idle b] can chip them before I've even finished painting them being apparently incapable of sitting still even for the shortest period and c] there's not a great deal of point when you work as a house sparkling elf for a living.

A thriftier version than all those sparkly nail varnishes on the market is to either buy a clear one with glitter in [as ever being the classy chick I am mine came from £land] or make your own. You just need to make a paper funnel so that you add the glitter colour/colours of your choice. I then use it as a top coat over a couple of coloured varnish coats and it looks rather natty. I was sporting gold nails with a copper glittery effect when I was last let out with a stick!


Thursday 24 April 2014

Big Foot

My word what an enormous pair of plates of meat...I am guessing that this dear little moorhen will grow into them. Spied on my way to work one day last week.


Wednesday 23 April 2014

Lovely Jubbly.

I joined a chum for a spot of lunch last week on my Tuesday off [every other week]....we enjoyed a good nosh and a marvellous natter. It is surprising what you see sometimes when you're out and about as the following example shows. Fortunately dear chum has a phone with a camera and all the other bells and whistles that one would expect unlike me with my antique Nokia which has neither camera nor even has buttons! So it's down to J that we have the photographic evidence!


Tuesday 22 April 2014

A Minor Diversion.

Sometimes I am very observant and pride myself on spotting small details that others miss. Other times it can be something hidden in plain sight and I miss it completely! Hence the need for a minor diversion on our way back from the Weald and Downland at the weekend.

I have written about the delightful Shepherd's church at Didling in a previous post Following a later discussion about it with a morris dancing chum he asked me if I'd liked the greenman [you know me...the obsessed greenman lady]...erm what greenman I asked? So back we went and here is the mighty fine chap. Not sure how old he is....according to the marvellous google the pulpit was made from an old 17th century chest and the face was inserted to cover the keyhole. He's stolen my heart anyroad!

The church is nestled at the foot of The Downs and this is the view [yes that's me snouting as usual in the backgound!] from the rear of the churchyard...I hope it gives you a taste of why I adore West Sussex. The tree in the foreground is a Copper Beech just coming into leaf.

And this is what was looking back at me!

Masses of these are out right now- known in times gone past as St Peter's keys after he supposedly dropped them from the gates in heaven. For any non British readers who are kind enough to drop by and read my witterings these are more normally called Cowslips....unfortunately which translates as cow pats!


Monday 21 April 2014

The King's Men

Have I ever mentioned that I am a Morris Dancer? Thought not she says firmly removing her tongue from her cheek...not mentioned once...pah a few hundred times maybe!! Naturally I am most repentant at this constant repetition [not] so be warned another dancing post is coming up. Feel free to skip if the thought of jingling bells brings you out in hives!

One of the added dimensions to dancing with Mythago is, that as the name suggests, we "the hell's angels of morris" as one spectator was overheard describing us, perform stories aswell as the more regular sets of dancing that all sides do. Yesterday we were at the Weald and Downland museum and "The King's Men" was dusted off and given an airing.

For those not familiar with this particular story it originates from the Rollright Stones in Oxfordshire. Supposedly a King, his men and his treacherous knights were petrified by a witch. Only at midnight can they come back to life and and dance in a circle. It is believed that one day the spell will be broken.

The Witch considering her options!

Intimidating all her foes!

And just before she has cast her spell upon the King!

And the results of her handiwork!

The Kings Stone, The King's Men and The Whispering Knights.

The Rollright Stones are well worth a visit. It is a very atmospheric spot. More info about the site can be found here


Merrie Monday

The Jam and "That's Entertainment" - in my world simply one of the best bands ever.


Sunday 20 April 2014

Happy Easter!

A rare photo of the small person. He stepped in to help out at Beavers last weekend when the usual Easter bunny was unable to attend and got paid two huge Easter eggs for his efforts. Needless to say, as a hollow legged 15 year old lad, they are no more!

Hope you all have a lovely Easter.

Love from us all here at Gnat Bottomed Towers

Saturday 19 April 2014


Now before you read on please make sure that you are sitting down and have taken a hearty glug of your small sweet sherry you are nursing in your paw so that the shock of what is to follow doesn't cause you to topple apex over bustle!.....

Following on from yesterday's postlet about repurposing/upcycling I have actually finished something to illustrate that I do sometimes complete things [rather than consigning everything to the semi permanent state of UFO  as I get distracted and start something else] and try to practise what I preach. Ta da!

Now I may erm have started this blind in 2010 and then not been able to decide how I wanted to finish it so tucked it away...the downside to having a reasonably decluttered house is that it leaves you with lots of space to hide things! Having recently finished redecorating the cloakroom I dug this out again and as you can probably imagine it didn't actually take all that long once I got down to it. The backing for the blind is from the back of a cream duvet cover which had had a mug full of tea sloshed over it and was badly stained. The fabric overlaying came from an Indian fabric shop and was the end of a roll. I must have bought it at least 10 years ago on a whim without any specific use in mind [in the days when I had more wonga and was rather profligate in my spending habits]. You can't see it but I've done rows of hand stitching in gold thread for extra detail and the tabs came from a pair of hideously stripy curtains that I bought from a charity shop reduced to £1. I simply cut the stripes and then pinked the edges so they won't fray. Said item is now hanging up!


Friday 18 April 2014

Friday Funding Fun

I am an avid recycler. I have long since passed the stage where the repurposed or preloved items outweigh the new in my home. I have tried over several years to follow this principle [of course new things do cross the thresh hold from time to time- saint I ain't!] so that I don't create a manufacturing space for something else to be made. I am a very regular freecycler [I do receive but give away a great deal more] and love nothing more that giving /receiving items from family or friends as well as lending and borrowing.

The London Scarcity project is a fine example of what can be achieved with the discarded objects that were destined to be buried in a big hole in the ground


Hot Cross Buns

It was believed that it was good luck to keep a hot cross bun all year round.

Frequently they were hung up as preservation against fire or pounded with water as medicine.

Sussex fishermen carried them as protection against drowning.

If buns or bread was baked on Good Friday it was thought they could not go mouldy.

Those who share a hot cross bun will enjoy a strong friendship "half for you and half for me, between us two good will shall be.

In 1592 Elizabeth I decreed that hot cross buns could not be sold on any days apart from Good Friday, Christmas and for burials because they were too sacred for daily consumption.

The cross was said to ward off evil spirits.

They may have originated in Pagan times with the cross representing each quarter of the moon.

And to finish a ditty popular in the 18th century

"Good Friday comes this month- the old woman runs
With one or two a-penny hot cross buns,
Whose virtue is, if you believe what's said
They'll not grow mouldy like the common bread."


Thursday 17 April 2014


I am most taken with this word that I came across in this week's reading. May I inform you that crotals were found in the 1820s in an Irish bog and that there were 48 of them to be precise!

These are to what I refer

They are late Bronze age artefacts and can either be pear shaped or round. Within each one is a small pebble or piece of clay and when they are shaken they make a noise. Their true purpose is unclear, but various theories suggest that they may have been suspended from a dancer's belt or were a representation of a bull's scrotum and used in fertility rites. We shall probably never know.


Wednesday 16 April 2014

Trolley Dolly

No I'm not being rude about air stewards....I am talking about me when I am let loose, unsupervised, in the supermarket once a week for the joy that is the weekly shop. Actually I don't mind it one little bit but my only proviso is that I am in there by 7ish so I can beat the bored husbands and ratty infants. I don't feel the need to clog up the store unnecessarily.

To be honest sometimes I can be a bit of a liability....many moons ago I inadvertently "stole" somebody else's trolley..there I was happily flinging in all sorts when a message came over the tannoy that a customer had lost theirs. "What a stupid person" I thought to myself until I took a closer look at the contents in "mine" and realised that I didn't recognise them, That was a tail in between the legs moment I can tell you as I had to go to customer services and make a grovelling apology. You would think I would learn.....erm well after a few incident free years I've been at it again. I startled a rather lovely elderly Italian gentleman just a few weeks back as I casually dropped my shopping into his trolley. I have to say he was very gracious as I then had to retrieve said items and beat a hasty retreat!

This week for a change I thought I'd just notice what my train of thought was as I wandered around....

Firstly, even though I have a comprehensive list which I follow religiously....I am so good now I can miss whole aisles out these I still always manage to forget something and how come it's always at the far end of the store from where I'm standing. This week it was condensed milk.

A gentleman walked past me in shorts in the fruit and veg with a bar code tattooed onto the side of his calf...why did I briefly wonder what might happen if I held one of those new fangled scanners up to it...would it go beep?!

When did Easter become so complicated now seems not only do you need to festoon the house with decorations [no objection to that per se], buy money boxes that have "chocolate fund" or "chocolate pennies", buy games for a themed party [Pinata anyone?] but also buy your little darling a huge fluffy bunny. Mine gets a hot cross bun and an egg. Cruel Mother that I am!

If I paid £35 for a Lindor Golden Rabbit would I ever eat it or would I feel the need to keep it as an ornament....and so it continued!

But enough of my witterings...until next time!


Tuesday 15 April 2014

Part Two...all the non woody bits!

Trouble with walking in the woods is that I am a nosey old bint and demand [ooh yes diva in training here] that Mr GBT takes photos of lots of other things that take my fancy en route. These of course don't fit in with the woodland theme so that now I've created the need for this mopping up type of post! Splendid...this is exactly why I love my crazy patchwork [the best type of patchwork...all random bits and it if you haven't seen it before] life here at GBT.

The vicar of said village from which we strode out is a keen walker so he actually joined us before his afternoon duties called. Before setting out the fine fellow gave us a whistle stop tour of the church. This window is truly a window for all seasons. It was made in 1954 and even features a Hoopoe bird which was spotted visiting our climes in that year.

This chap...he really was so laid back that he couldn't be bothered to meet and greet. Having been so rudely interrupted he soon settled down to continue his nap.

Most taken with this character on the roof of a garage we passed.

And finally how about this for some uber snazzy daffs!

Thanks very muchly for joining me!


Monday 14 April 2014

Wandering in the Woods Part One

I am a girl of the woods through and through...nowhere else do I find such peace. The Sussex woods fill me with particular joy. Yesterday Mr GBT and my jolly good chum H accompanied me on a walk organised by the Sussex Wildlife Trust. A taster of what greeted us.

Plant indicators for ancient woodland. Moschatel [aka Town Hall Clock because of its 4 faces] and Yellow Archangel

Cuckoo Flower [aka Lords and Ladies], Stitchwort [my parents always call this Shirt Buttons] and Wood Anemone

Bank Haircap Moss [I think- please do correct me if I'm wrong. I like to learn!]

And finally new growth and catkins on a Hornbeam [this one was identified by another member in the group]

Just beautiful and topped off with sunshine. I shall show you a few of the non woodland goodies in part two.


Merrie Monday

I love that bird dancing...I hope that this turn the corners of your mouth upwards this Monday morn!


Sunday 13 April 2014

A Thought For Sunday

"If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature so does the attitude of the world towards him.....we need not wait to see what others do"



Saturday 12 April 2014

Graffiti Or Art?

Give people a wall, a rock face, a tree, back of a toilet door...basically any blank canvas and some wag will leave some lasting mark on it. Some of it is funny, some of it is clever, some of it is rude and some of it is pure desecration.

Shortly before the French Revolution when I was, but a young whippersnapper, I was incredibly lucky to visit the caves at Pech Merle and see the original cave paintings. Others exist but usually you only visit a facsimile of them so that the originals are not damaged by humidity. There are the amazing pictures of the animals but the one of the hand print sticks out in my mind the most. This puts me right in touch with the human who created it and once again confirms that in many respects no matter how "sophisticated" we may believe we have become as a race our basic nature does not change.

It's interesting how I react to different types and categorise them accordingly and that then got me wondering whether our perception changes over time i.e does something that originally might have been viewed as an act of wanton vandalism at the time become an item of social history as the passage of time puts some distance between it and its audience. We now admire the graffiti runes scratched into the stone of Maes How by the Vikings but at the time perhaps it was their way of expressing their dominance over the landscape and its sacred sites as the successful invaders?

Perhaps one day the tiresome daubings of usually an upstanding pintle or the words "go forth and multiply" [eff off to commoners like myself] seen on the railway sidings and underpasses all over the country will one day become national treasures

 or will they remain tiresome ...I strongly suspect the latter but I am sure the talent of street artists such as the likes of Banksey and his contemporaries will stand the test of time.

There are now guided walks in London where you can view the images for yourself.

What is certain is no space has ever been exempt from the human desire to express themselves whether it be castle walls in this case Bramber Castle near us

or churches as shown in the recent article here in the Guardian about the medieval graffiti in the East Anglian churches Nor is it likely to stop any time soon!


PS The best bit of toilet door graffiti I ever saw was in Holland when I was 12 and it read "turds over a metre long must be left in the corner for the karate man to break up later"!!


 Bowlderise- verb meaning to omit or change parts of text [usually in literature] considered vulgar. Yes it's a new-to-me word alert and...