Sunday 31 August 2014

A Garden For All Seasons

I count myself very lucky to live so close to the gorgeous National Trust's garden, Nymans. The decision was taken a few years ago to open it all year round and it really does have something to offer as the wheel turns. What I particularly like about the place is that it's always evolving. I see something new every time I visit and the plantings are varied and imaginative. For those not so keen on flowers there are conifers and woodland walks. It offers a huge variety for all ages and has seen us through from child free days through parenting [the kiddlywink activities were a godsend back in the day] almost full circle where once again we are going sans enfant. He meanwhile will be at home foraging through my cupboards in a quest for edible goodies! A small selection of our photos just to show how varied a place it is.

I shall inflict further photos from our jolly there today in another postlet! Be warned.


Saturday 30 August 2014

More Silliness For A Saturday!

Having just seen Christmas chocolates in my local Tesco this morning I am rushing back here to cover my ears la-la-la and bury my head in the sand. Pray tell me have I missed a whole three months of my life without realising? Last time I looked it was August and the kidlets were still on summer holidays weren't they?!

Anyway let's get back to the more important matters in life. I felt like I managed to successfully lower the tone yesterday so hey why not see if I can't just bring it down another notch! Yesterday as Daddikins and I were nattering over a coffee we got round to making game bird jokes when he came up with this gem. I hadn't heard it before so I scribbled it down to share. He euphemistically calls this a "pub tongue twister". I think what he means is that make sure your victim has had a small sweet sherry or three before asking them to repeat it at speed!

"I'm not a pheasant plucker
I'm a pheasant plucker's son
And I'm only plucking pheasants
Until the pheasant plucker's come."

I shall endeavour to post something slightly more sensible next time....or maybe not!


Friday 29 August 2014

Fascinating Aida

Dear chum W has reminded me about this hilarious all ladies's ensemble. This is one of their offerings. Another of their ones made me howl but I wasn't quite brave enough to put it up here...the clue is another word for canine in the title!


Thursday 28 August 2014

A Quick Quote From Mr Dahl.

A rather lovely little nugget from Roald Dahl I feel. I came across this in my crossword book this morning. Inspiration turns up in the funniest of places I find and this short one just appealed to me.

"Those who don't believe in magic will never find it"


Wednesday 27 August 2014

St Mary's Church

I know churches called St Mary's are ten a penny in this country but this rather pretty one is local to me. I have a couple of house sparkling clients in this particular village and a jolly good chum [who's the link with the people I clean with there] with whom we had lunch on Saturday. We have many shared interests and one of these is an enjoyment of poking about in churches.  Since discovering this common ground she and I have notched up a few over the last couple of years.

This St Mary's is the parish church in Pulborough, West Sussex. It's a pretty church and high CofE so is vibrant and full of colour. Unusually it has white washed walls which further increases the brightness. It's not a significant church historically but the warden on duty made it come alive as he kindly pointed out one or two features that I would have probably missed otherwise.

If you look at the photo above of the chancel and the nave you will notice that they are out of kilter as you can only see the right hand wall. This is known as a weeping chancel and it is thought that the angle was created deliberately to reflect Christ's head drooping to the right when he was on the cross. Maybe a fanciful idea but I have a suspicion that the church builders probably knew what they were doing by the 13th century.

This lovely window is fourteenth century and the stained glass window was made by William Glasby. It bears more than a passing resemblance to the work of a certain William Morris.

The oldest item in the church is the Norman font. I kindly gave Mr GBT permission not to photograph it [I'm generous like that!] as it had suffered over time. At one point it had been slung out and the Reformation vandals had done their work well by destroying all the carved panels that it once would have had. The one fascinating detail was the holes that remained in the top where once a wooden lid would have been attached. This was to prevent people from stealing the holy water and using it in their homes as protection against witchcraft. It was also used to sprinkle on the fields to ensure a good crop.

The final picture is a tiny strawberry plant which was the signature of J Sebastian Cooper who oversaw the restoration of the Onley Chapel in the 1950s. His ashes are buried within the church.

Hope you have enjoyed the latest quick flit around a Sussex church.


Tuesday 26 August 2014

Blousy Blooms

Some little toerag decided to book a £1400 holiday online with my credit card last Thursday. Now call me old fashioned but the least I'd have expected was an invitation along and my approval of the destination if I was being expected to pay for it! Thankfully being of the gnat bottomed spending persuasion it immediately got flagged up by our security and the attempt was declined. Now I'm waiting for a new card to arrive. Ho hum. Thankfully many more sparkly things have happened in these last few days to counteract the bitter taste left in the mouth by another's actions.

How about these for a much needed zing of colour. The red gerberas were a gift from friends who came for a cream tea at ours in celebration of their golden wedding and the dahlias were an unexpected pressie from my morris dancing chum's allotment.

I do hold onto the belief that the good uns outweigh the bad members of society.


Monday 25 August 2014

Happy 400th Birthday!

This year is a special year for the little town in which I live for it is our local dragon's 400th birthday! Yes you might wonder at the validity of this statement but there is documentary evidence to prove that our dragon existed.

In August 1614 A pamphlet by  a London bookseller called John Trundle named "True and Wonderfull- A Discourse Relating to a Strange and Monstrous Serpent" was published which claimed many had seen the serpent [otherwise known as a dragon] in St Leonard's Forest. One John Steele, Christopher Holder and a Widow Woman dwelling nere Faygate "can certifie the truth of all that has been here related".

Until 2006 it was believed that the booklet was only a single sheet but recent research has turned up a copy which has proved it to be twenty pages long. It goes into great and glorious detail describing how the beast has slaughtered both men and beasts with its venom. It is described as about nine feet long with a white ring around its neck, black scales on its back and a red underbelly.

The dragon story was widely known at the time and a few weeks after the discourse it was reported that it had either been killed or had died. One wonders what people were seeing or perhaps they had had a small beer too many. Our local museum has put together a small exhibition in commemoration of this local piece of history which I dropped into recently. Excuse the poorer quality photos....sadly this time Mr GBT was conspicuous by his absence!


Sunday 24 August 2014

The ALS Challenge

I know there's a lot about this in the challenge in the media right now with various celebrities getting behind it. The small person is doing it this afternoon. It's easy to be cynical but please do take a look at this video if you want to understand more.


Double Duty

In a bid to stretch the budget ever further I've been looking at ways at making some of my bits of kitchen kit work harder for me. I call this double duty. I have a teensy kitchen [which I am loathe to spend any more time in than is needed] so space is at a premium. Any gadget that is a one trick pony and clutters up my cupboards has long since been culled and sent off to a new home where it will be loved and appreciated [freecycle is my saviour in these instances]

The first "victim" to attract my beady eye has been my slow cooker. Now I am possibly going to be drummed out of the school of frugality for the next statement but I must admit that I was a bit disappointed when I first purchased one of these beasts. Back then I had become the main breadwinner [Mr GBT had been made redundant] and I was working full time so frankly I had little spare time and was bone tired. It needed as much prep as any other casserole and I was only able to use it at the weekend. The early attempts all turned out stews of varying success but I am glad to say things have greatly improved since I have found lots of different tasting recipes to my liking. To make it work harder for me and now having the time to experiment more I've become a bit more adventurous. Beyond making casseroles, stocks and soups I have now mastered lemon curd and apple butter and cooked some reduced price duck legs in there [for this you need to rub Chinese 5 spice and salt into them and then add a dash of soy sauce. Cook on low for 6-7 hours on low]

Other ideas I've read but have yet to try are bread. Recipe here and meringue. For this the cooker was lined with parchment paper in the middle and up the sides.

More ideas for you to try here if you are so inclined!


Saturday 23 August 2014


A view from a once in a lifetime trip to Canada in 2008. With all the current turmoil in the news sometimes I need to take a step back and just breathe.

"Peace is always beautiful"

Walt Whitman


Friday 22 August 2014

Frugal Coconut Milk

To make 400ml of coconut milk chop up 100g of creamed coconut with 300ml of boiling water. It will thicken once it's cooked. Having checked the price on it works out roughly half the price of a tin of the same quantity.

It is often cheaper at the Asian supermarkets if you have one nearby as well.

Either way it leaves more money for me for buns!


Thursday 21 August 2014

Toot Toot!

Please forgive me but I'm doing the proud Muvva thing today. The small person has got a good set of GCSE results today and I am very chuffed!

Thank you.


The Grass Is Always Greener....

....on the other side. Well this goat definitely thought so and who am I to disagree!


Wednesday 20 August 2014

Of Its Time

This was recently bought by my chum W from a carboot sale and she's lent it to me as she knows my love of social history [well she would as we've been chums since we were 11!] Having now read it I would have hazarded a guess that it was published somewhere between the 1930s and the early 1950s and a quick scour of the internet confirms it to be 1935. Something about the no nonsense King's English style of writing and slightly quaint patronising tone gives it away.

Written by Mrs Annie Phelps [note the Mrs is a very important feature] I would speculate that a document such as this was well ahead of its time. Mr and Mrs Phelps owned three chemists in London and offered discreet contraceptive services and advice to married couples or those about to embark on wedded bliss. The shops had separate entrances for the genders and different waiting rooms with nurses of both sexes available to put the customers at ease.

This publication recognised that intercourse was not just there for the procreation of children but also as a pleasurable act for loving couples to share and enjoy. It's aim was to dispel old wives tales that still held sway as to how to prevent conception eg coughing vigorously afterwards and women were told in the most stern tones that they were to ignore the "advice" freely given by them others but Mrs Phelps also was at great pains to explain why there was no such thing as a "safe period" or how easily natural methods of contraception were liable to fail. It gives a fascinating insight into how, for many, practising celibacy once their families were completed was the only way to stop bringing extra mouths into the world that they could neither afford to feed nor house. No benefit system to back you up back then.

The booklet gives very clear instructions on the various contraceptive aids available through Phelps Ltd and how to use them effectively. For those on a tight budget there were washable sheaths. Even back then there was a glandular preparation called Prepon to tackle impotency in men and a tonic called the French Rejuvenator for women who found them "incapable of interesting themselves in the sex act". Some of the statements are shocking when measured from the more liberal times many of us enjoy in our country today as Mrs Phelps berates the government for burying its head in the sand over sterilisation to stop people with afflictions such as TB, Epilepsy from having children. It has to be born in mind though that only 70 years or so previously many still believed that Epilepsy was caused by being bewitched.

At the back of the book there is an interesting little footnote which shows what Mrs Phelps was up against...not only were there political and religious obstacles preventing people from gaining the knowledge on how to practise family planning but the every National Newspaper refused to carry advertisements for "Family Limitation". For anyone who wanted a copy of the book it would be sent to them under plain sealed cover free of charge.

Fascinating window on to the world of yesteryear.


Tuesday 19 August 2014

Racing Green or Racing Orange?

Today it is the Orange Race day in Totnes. Organised by the town's Elizabethan Society it supposedly commemorates Drake's visit to the town in the 1580s when he bumped into a delivery boy and sent his oranges bowling down the street. Nowadays the event is free and open to all. Oranges are thrown down the High Street and Fore Street and then chased down to the finishing line. You aren't allowed to pick them up with your hands. Appropriate refreshments of freshly squeezed orange juice are offered to those who finish.

The gloriously bonkers Brits! The photo may seem a bit random but this globular buddleia which grows in my garden is the nearest thing to a photo I have that is orange and round!


Monday 18 August 2014

On Trend

I am most certain that any sense of fashion I may have accidentally possessed in my dim and distant past went out with the square wheel. Occasionally, I find though that I am apparently on trend purely by chance. One such occurrence of this strange phenomen arose upon my buying a pair of, what I thought to be, sensible flat shoes for work a few years ago only to discover in horror that they were that season's must have and graced the feet of just about every nubile young filly I passed. As I was in my early forties at the time it was not a look I rocked!

Once again I find myself in this position but this time it's because I am now the owner of one of these.

I find that they are called loom bracelets and I have been unknowingly trying not to hoover them up for months in a bedroom where I housesparkle. I think each little unit must come with its own mini jet propulsion pack for they seem to be able to sprinkle themselves liberally across any given space!

My bracelet is actually a gift for me from my dear chum S who made it specially for me in my favourite rainbow colours when she heard of the demise of Psychocat. She always loved the antics of the furry madam and reminded me of how she'd created havoc the evening we'd sat and made pompoms and stolen the halloween biscuits [she was a cat with a sweet tooth] from the table when our backs were turned on another occasion. A lovely thoughtful gesture.


Friday 15 August 2014

It doesn't all have to end in chutney!

I love the generosity of folks at this time of year as they share their extra veg and fruit with others. Perhaps it's just my overactive imagination but there always seems to be a surplus of runner beans and courgettes. A couple of recipes for curries using these two have come to my attention over the last couple of days so if you're scratching your head to find new ways to use them up and not waste them perhaps these might tickle your fancy!

Courgette curry:

Runner bean curry:


Thursday 14 August 2014

The Fae Say.

I think I may have a quote addiction..since I was a young teen I have collected clever utterances that have made me think. Recently I noticed some new words on my dear chum's wall. He wrote it but it resonated with me and he's given me his permission to reproduce it here.

"When you have what you need
You don't need to have what you want"

An important point succinctly made.

Wednesday 13 August 2014

The Black Dog

I was so very sorry to hear of Robin William's death yesterday. His work entertained me but also made me think. He was brilliant as the genie in Aladdin but if I was to list my top ten films two of his would be on it for the lasting impression they left and they were Dead Poet's Society and Awakenings. I always suspected that he may have walked that thin line between mental ill health and genius so many great talents do and maybe that's what gives such individuals that extra sprinkle of fairy dust. I shall miss his work but I am thankful for the wonderful work he leaves us with.

As a fellow sufferer I stood and looked over that precipice almost exactly two years ago. That day I wondered I really did if I could continue but I have a very strong sense of survival and a most amazing set of family and friends. I saw my son's face in my mind and that was enough. With incredible support and my own inner strength I managed to pull back from the edge and get the treatment I so desperately needed. This little bloglet of mine is testament to how far I've come and how I appreciate every day I am lucky to be here to enjoy.

This youtube film is very helpful if you have someone in your life who is a sufferer for there is hope and people do recover.


Finding Uses For The Downright Difficult Things....

Those annoying little silica gel packets that come in boxes of shoes and other online goodies the small person purchases with his clothing allowance. What to do with them....up until now I've had to throw them but in the spirit of seeing if there's anything I can do with items before automatically hurling them away some kind person has put some ideas together here

Might come in handy one day!


Tuesday 12 August 2014


Now I have absolutely no love for a sensible handbag. The last time I briefly owned one was when I had to go to big girl interviews after I was made redundant. After a couple I remembered why I loathed working in the corporate world and had fled it back in 1996. Hence why I am now a self employed house sparkler. Needless to say the pinstriped jacket and skirt and said bag were soon returned to the charity shop from whence they came. Now show me a bag with an owl on it or bling......

Well that's a whole different story. I think I must have been a magpie in a former life. Not because I steal things I hasten to add but because I am always drawn by colour, sparkles, texture so over the years I have amassed a rather gorgeous collection of bags which meet this criteria. All were gifts or bought either from charity shops or in the sales. I haven't bought one in a long time as I've run out of space to display them [I do use them from time to time]...yes you read right I hang them up. Some cover an offendingly groovy dull but functional banister whereas others fill a lovely set of fretted shelves which Mr GBT made in the dim and distant past.

No china figurines for this dame despite that being the suggestion of my dear Auntie gawd bless her!

Now have you ever wondered why we don't call these shoulder bags for we rarely carry them in our hands do we? During the middle ages women and children had various duties to perform post battle and one of these was counting up the number of dead. Rather than drag a whole cadaver back to the camp they would cut off the right hand of each victim. At that time everyone was taught to fight with their right hand which is why we still shake right hands today...originally this was to stop someone from being able to stab you with a dagger. These hands were put into a sack which was then emptied so the removed limbs could be counted...hence the name we use today. Be grateful the  next time you rummage around in the depths of that huge nosebag you lug around with you that it's only the kitchen sink and not a severed hand you're likely to find. Many thanks to the medieval peddler for this somewhat gruesome historical snippet!


Monday 11 August 2014

Sand Sculptures

Dearest Mummikins and Daddikins saw these sculptures on their recent holiday to Denmark and thought I might like them I think they're bleedin' fantastic. Predictably my favourite has to be the tree of life.


Sunday 10 August 2014

A Pale Green Shade Of Life

From the beginning of last month I made a little pledge to myself to try and find as much as possible [other than food] from non high street sources. I already do this more than some but less than others but it ties in well with my frugal recycling outlook. Inspired by Jen's positive attitude on her Make Do and Mend blog and some of the interesting links she puts up on the Book of the Face I think I "could do better". Much as I'd like to buy all ethically sourced clothes, organic food etc etc I've reached the conclusion that you need to have a much bigger budget than my modest one to achieve that. However, I am sure there's more than one way to skin a cat so I've started toddling out on my own little journey. From my jottings these are a few things I've done over the last few weeks.

-Two old mascara brushes that I would normally have thrown away have been thoroughly washed and will now be used to clean in nooks and crannies. Particularly good for getting around the base of taps I find and a good replacement for the old toothbrushes we no longer have since moving over to electric ones.

-I've discovered that I can put a combination of both clothes and scrap textiles in together at the charity banks at Tesco. This has enabled me to combine two lots of recycling in one if I go shopping there.

-My peg bag finally died the death. Normally I would tsk but fork out for another one. This time I thought about it laterally, removed the fittings and converted a bag I already had.

- I managed to stain a white t shirt on holiday and despite my best efforts it remained stubbornly there. Two new ones to me via the charity shop along with a pair of boots and these lovely skirts.

As I've mentioned on many previous occasions I have a lovely circle of family and friends with whom I regularly swap and share items. This month alone I have received some wonderful free veg including my first ever patty pan, food samples from my chum's daughter who works in an artisan deli and this lovely cardi. I am not by nature just a taker....I have also paid it forward in as many ways as I can if the opportunity has arisen.

I am now mid way through making a birthday present for someone and I have a few ideas stirring for Chrimble which will hopefully be well received later on. I plan to think carefully about anything I do make...I don't want to foist any horrors upon people! 

I am looking forward to the little twists and turns my journey may take me on this month!


Saturday 9 August 2014

A Quick Quote

I have lots of ideas dashing around my head to blog about, but a busy day planned, so best save it for another day!

"My father said there were two kinds of people in the world: givers and takers. The takers may eat better by the givers sleep better."

Marlo Thomas

Sleep well!


Friday 8 August 2014


Margot Leadbetter, she of "The Good Life" fame gawd bless 'er. I strongly suspect that I have more than a little of the Margot about me at times. I am very much Captain Sensible and only a measured risk taker. I deal with change well when it's one I've instigated but not when it's foisted upon me and as for spontaneity forget it. I have to have time to think things through before I can make a decision although that doesn't necessarily make me a ditherer either. I used to desperately want to be a free spirit but over time I've come to accept how I am and realise that being sensible does not mean you have to be without an individual streak or a sense of naughty fun.

Referring to this type of personality as "straightlaced" always puts me in mind of a dullard. It was fascinating to learn from Toni Mount [a fascinating speaker and historical author] at the weekend how this phrase came into our every day usage. Prior to buttons becoming common medieval clothing was laced. Those with money had their lacing at the back of their garments as this demonstrated to the hoi polloi that they had no need to waste their precious time in the completion of such mundane tasks when they could afford minions to do it for them. The more everyday folk had lacing in the front of their clothes. The type of lacing chosen said a lot about the individual's standing in the morality stakes. Those "ladies" who earnt their groats in a "wham, bam, thank you ma'am" fashion favoured the cross over lacing as it sped up the removal of dresses whilst conducting their nightly business whilst a respectable wife would opt for the straight lacing opting instead.

I never tire of hearing how our use of language developed.


Thursday 7 August 2014

Essex Babe Or Mediaeval Baebe?

I hail from Essex so feel perfectly entitled to natter on the topic of Essex babes. I strongly suspect that I fall far short of the type of girl we see in the media or on "The Only Way Is Essex" for my shelf frontage is more akin to an ironing board than the pneumatically enhanced chesticles of which some are so proud, I lack an orange tan and I've never been the proud owner of a set of veneered gnashers so bright you'd be dazzled from Mars!

In my head I rather fancy myself as more of a Mediaeval Baebe...I mean what's not to like.....they're are beautiful and accomplished singers and musicians....

The reality is that I would look more like Fiona from Shrek if I were to dress so....aah well never mind. One can dream. Here are the ladies doing their thang


Tuesday 5 August 2014

Tales From A Medieval Joust

It's been years since I went to one of these events and I had forgotten what a joyous romp they are. Can I also say [I know BAD MOTHER] just how civilised it was not having to hare around with a grumpy small person [when he was small I mean] these days [he was as ever still in bed when we left him and out with some young fillies when we returned] and the novelty of not having to visit the children's zone still hasn't worn off!

I've seen Devil Stick Peat the Jester before but in the intervening period he's got married and produced a couple of his own little jesterlings. Aww. This chap is not only great fun but he also does some great work for charity both here and abroad.

Medieval musical entertainment from A Companye of Strangers and musicians in the living history village.

Fascinating talks on a range of subjects from medieval sayings through to medieval housewifery. As you might imagine I have scribbled down a few choice snippets to share in due course!
This gentleman gave a most graphic and gruesome talk about Master Topcliffe who was Elizabeth I's torturer and struck fear into the hearts of even the most hardened criminal. His stand was very much in keeping with this theme.

One of the traders made it crystal clear the fate that awaited any would be light fingered individual.

Naturally, as you expect, there were some stonkingly good battles which Mr GBT enjoyed whilst I sought the entertainment of the Mediaeval Baebes.

Most marvellous way to invest one's groats methinks!


Sunday 3 August 2014

Rather Astonishing Really!

Having confidently said in August...erm we're talking 2013 here...that I would be doing a red Goddess poppet next I cut it out, couldn't decide how I wanted to decorate it and thus consigned it to the bottom of the UFO pile where it has languished ever since.

Fast forward to the last couple of weeks and a fully formed idea wandered into my head. Taking the red/white/silver colours and moon motif for the Mythago ladies's kit and the yellow and gold sun kit for the Mythago chaps as my inspiration for the yellow and red dolls progress was swiftly made. A final push to get the orange one done and I am now pleased to say that all are finished and are now out on display on my seasonal shelf. Here's the proof!


Saturday 2 August 2014

A Quirky Dame

It's been a while since I featured a local eccentric so I thought it high time that I addressed it with a tale of Miss Elizabeth Gatford.

In life Miss Gatford had already earnt a reputation as being rather a one off let's say. For twenty years she remained holed up in her mansion whilst everything around her including her coach was left to rack and ruin. However, in death she was more remarkable still.

I have found it often to be the case that those individuals who stand out from the crowd and plough their own furrow are also amongst the most generous. Miss Gatford was no exception. In her will [written in 1790] she instructed that a sum of £5 5 shillings per annum should be used to buy bread. This was to be left on a shelf in front of her seat in church and then distributed amongst the poor every Sabbath. This has continued until recently but now the money is put towards supporting a local foodbank. She also specified that £15 pa should be used to feed her animals after her death- this included her cats, dogs, guinea pigs and parrots but for some strange reason not her horses. She was equally clear about the arrangements for her burial which were carried out in accordance with her wishes.

Elizabeth eventually shuffled off her mortal coil on 8th July 1799. Her body was kept preserved for a month in wine of spirits and then she was interred within four coffins- one of shell, one of lead and the others of oak and stone in the vault of the church she attended after 10pm at night. I think it must have been quite a memorable affair.


Friday 1 August 2014

Lammas 2014

August the month for kicking off your shoes and relaxing. Bright blessings to all who celebrate the wheel of the year. Enjoy the sunshine and treats of the late summer.


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...