Sunday, 30 November 2014

Saturday, 29 November 2014

A Big Knit.

Even I am shocked that I have the cheek to put one of my home made efforts in a postlet directly following the stunning handmade items from the Watts Gallery shop yesterday. I am however, wholly unrepentant! It has to be said that I've posted little about what I've been up to on the crafting front of late...I've not been idle but some makes are for Chrimble so obviously cannot be revealed at this point in time. Nevertheless I did finally finish this rustically wonky Aril blanket for my chum H at the weekend. It's taken me a fair while as I don't knit a great deal when it's hot...there's far too many distractions like Pimms and icecream for me to focus I am afraid. Please let me reassure you that I am not inflicting this blanket upon H...she asked me to make it for her having seen some of my earlier efforts and even asked me to put my name on it hence the daft label. It's been hard to actually get it finished because a certain black furry purry hears the clack of needles and is immediately in attendance trying to catch the wool. It's not easy to knit when you've got a huge cat "helping" you by killing the ball at regular intervals and then attempting to make off with his "prey" when it's still attached! Persistence pays though and I got there in the end. It goes off to its new home today.



Arilx

Friday, 28 November 2014

Watt Retail Therapy.

Just further up the road from the Watts Memorial Chapel is the Watts Gallery where, for a small fee, you can view the artist's paintings http://www.wattsgallery.org.uk/visitor-information Having been on a previous occasion there are other Pre Raphaelite artists I prefer so we didn't stop but we were enticed to visit the tearoom and the shop which houses some gloriously unusual handmade items. If you're passing and wish to buy something completely different I can thoroughly recommend you drop by. I didn't buy anything [if funds were unlimited I could have happily spent a fortune] but I hope you enjoy the photos of some of the items they had in stock to give you a taster of what a smashing range of stock they hold.

These lustreware plates are by Jonathan Chiswell-Jones http://www.jcjpottery.co.uk/ Naturally I loved the triple hared one!





Gorgeous felted animals and cushions.




And finally this just stunning peacock jacket. I am using this as possible inspiration for when I finally get around to making my coloured set of Morris tatters. I only wish I had a scrap of these people's talent!


Arilx

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Hidden Surrey Gem.

Watts Memorial Chapel in Compton, Surrey. Simply stunning. It was built by the wife of the pre Raphaelite artist G.F.Watts between 1896 to 1898 along with the local villagers and is an incredible example of the whole Arts and Crafts movement spearheaded by the likes of William Morris and many other well known names. I, for one, have been a massive fan of both this and Art Nouveau for donkey's years. I attended the V&A Morris exhibition in 1996 one hundred years after his death and have since been to Prague, Standen House, Wightwick Manor and a handful of the churches in Brighton that have some of the original Burne-Jones stained glass windows.

At the weekend dear chum L came down to meet Humphrey. She is a fellow fan of this artistic style so I took her over to the chapel for a visit....I had assumed she had known of it but apparently not so. I was delighted by her shared joy of it. If you are passing by do pay this wonderful building a visit. It's free to go in but a donation towards its upkeep is appreciated. The village also has the Watts Gallery if you want to see some of the paintings by the artist [entrance fee] and a lovely shop stocking all sorts of unusual handmade items.











Arilx

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Like Mother, Like Daughter!

Being a grateful member of the Stone Age generation before such things as "social media" were even a pipe dream....the inventors of those delights would have still been in nappies I'm quite sure....humour was delivered in different ways....papers, TVs, cards, books and the 'umble naff car sticker. Now I love a good car sticker that amuses me whilst I am sitting behind the said vehicle in traffic and there are no where near enough on display for all and sundry to enjoy/be offended by in my opinion, Left to my devices the metal box with a wheel at each corner would be positively festooned with such lovelies but I don't get the final say in these matters and BORING I have to share the car and do grown [perhaps that should be groan] up things like travel to work in it. Of course there's also the teenager's image to maintain. Ho ho!

Friday afternoon homeward bound I stopped behind a car at a junction with most excitingly stickers on the back. Sadly insufficient time to read all of them but mightily amused by "Old Git Inside" complete with an appropriate arrow pointing to the driver's seat and "Honk all you like...I can't hear you anyway!". My kind of person.

Fast forward to yesterday and I received a text from Mummikins to say they were behind a camper van displaying the following "Never piss off a witch!" It would appear I have inherited my Mum's sense of humour! Here I am doing my level best to look like a grumpy witch but I am not convinced that I would scare anyone somehow!


Arilx

Monday, 24 November 2014

There, there dear!

The beginning of last week saw me sitting in our local hospital with Mr GBT nervously awaiting the results of some investigative tests I'd just undergone. Now I had been tremendously grown up about the whole business and had seen my Doctor at the first opportunity when I had had symptoms that are never welcome in a definitely post menopausal dame. I naively expected my GP just to dismiss my concerns with an airy wave but instead she sent me for an emergency referral which rather put the wind up me despite her reassurances that it was standard practice in these specific circumstances...I think the momentary look of wild panic on my face must have given the game away. I was terribly sensible throughout the two week waiting period for my appointment and deliberately didn't consult Google.....I decided that raising my blood pressure with a dodgy self diagnosis was not the way to go! Thankfully the results came back all clear....phew....then I howled like a baby once I got home. Strange reaction I think now but I can only think it must have been the release of all that pent up tension.

Fast forward to the end of last week and I was doing my usual dusting duties for my parents [dusting was supposed to be my Dad's job but he'd rather pay me to do it...it has its uses have a professional housesparkler for a daughter!] and as I was cleaning the book shelves I happened upon this little tome [thank you Mummikins...she is unaware until she's just read this that I even borrowed it....she wasn't there to ask...bad daughter!] which was given to her following a major op some years ago I can only assume.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Aches-Pains-Maeve-Binchy/dp/0752848631

If you know anyone who is poorly may I recommend it as a most marvellous tonic. It's got some very down to earth advice in it liberally sprinkled with huge dollops of humour and some rather marvellous facts. Better still the author's royalties go to the Arthritis Research Campaign.

We might knock our NHS and there is much wrong with it but there is also much right with it and we're very lucky to have it. Having had both my trip and an unscheduled trip to hospital earlier in the year for another family member I remain in awe of what our Doctors and nurses are able to achieve and often under such pressure.  I think Maeve Binchy puts it much better than I ever could:

"We should rejoice that we live after rather than during the days of leeches and bleedings and dosings with unmentionable things. If ever there was a reason not to mourn the passing of the good old days, it would be in terms of health."

Arilx

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Herby Turkey.

A good straight forward one for a weekday meal. It would work perfectly well with Quorn as the flavour comes from the herbs and the mushrooms if you prefer a non flesh version.

Preheat oven to 220C. Tear 4 pieces of bread into pieces and scatter over the base of a roasting pan. Sprinkle over 11/2 tsp dried herbs. Slice 250g turkey breast [or 4 chicken breasts]  into thinnish strips and lay over bread. Pour over a tin of mushroom soup [you will need to add a little more liquid just to stretch a tad further] and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 mins then scatter 4oz sliced button mushrooms across the top for a further 5 mins.

Arilx

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Snigger!

One of my trade marks is that I often wear pillar box red lippy and I have done since I was a teen [in fact I wear lots of bright lippy colours as I'm pale like a wan ghost at the best of times!]. I learnt my lesson one day as I threw a nearly empty one into the bin not taking into consideration that the crawling small person had developed a latent talent for bin emptying. I found this out only when I discovered him and the brand new bedroom carpet liberally smeared all over in bright red lipstick. I just stood there and howled with laughter he looked so hilarious before unceremoniously dumping him in the bath so he couldn't further his handiwork. Thankfully the carpet wasn't stained either. Ah the joy of parenting little ones. It's for this reason that I've put up this clip today as it's brought  back very fond memories and a smile to my face!


Arilx

The Diva In The Kitchen.

I once saw a chap wearing a t shirt which said "If God had wanted me to cook why did he invent restaurants?" and that has been my personal mantra ever since. The rot set in early with cookery lessons at school or in my day Home Economics as it was called for my school was a former secondary modern and we were taught how to lay a table correctly and fold napkins. I endured three years with mixed results and then when it became possible to give it up a nasty masochistic streak reared its ugly head and I decided to take it as an O level option [yup showing my age here!]. I think that I thought I might never cook again if I stopped before I had peaked.

Two years of culinary hell ensued for me...the very sight of a piping bag [yes we even piped our mashed potato] brings me out in hives and if anyone asks me to "garnish" a savoury dish with parsley and tomato slices or decorate a sweet one with angelica and glace cherry I shall not be responsible for my actions. During my torturous Thursday afternoons I attempted rough puff pastry, swiss rolls, pork pies, hot cross buns, scotch eggs....disasters were all too frequent and always in the knowledge that whatever I had made I would be eating for my tea that night. Congealed eggs mornay carried home slopped over on its side is enough to give anyone nightmares..there's a reason why it's not Gordon Ramsay's signature dish! Somehow I passed with an A. In those days you had to demonstrate 5 skills during the practical exam...boy had I sussed out which ones were the easiest and most idiot proof. I was amazed at my result even my domestic goddess of a teacher Miss Davis [she was a saint as she patiently helped me out of one scrape after another] was a little incredulous "I had hoped you might get a B dear" were her exact words I seem to recall.

So did I cook again?...did I heck. I entered the world of canteens, takeaways, restaurants and meals that went ping with great gusto, By the time I met Mr GBT in 1990 my speciality was prawn stirfry...that was it. However, we were both working full time with few responsibilities and so we could afford to be as profligate as we liked....at our height we ate out four times a week......

I reached a point of no return in 1993. I grew weary of M&S sandwiches such was the regularity with which I was scarfing them down and we had taken the decision to move from our flat to a house. However, we didn't want to increase our existing mortgage so savings had to be made so we could put down a 25% deposit. The easiest area to cut back on was food initially....homemade lunches were taken in, I started to menu plan and heavens forbid I [and more usually Mr GBT] started to cook again. Now I would say that I'm not by nature a testy person and I don't often lose my rag- when I do there will be a strong reason but blimey put me in the kitchen and I used to grow horns....bit like mild mannered people who suffer road rage as soon as they get behind the wheel of a car. It didn't take much for me to have a tantrum...recipes that you get half way through only for them to say "add the cooked chicken" and why did the list of ingredients fail to mention that the chicken should be cooked?!, inaccurate timings and simply things that didn't work....Mr GBT would hear me start swearing and arrive pronto on his grubby white charger. Many a time he's taken over and rescued a dish before I hurled it in the bin. Once I threw a whole box of branflakes across the kitchen....we were finding the bluddy things for weeks after!

Nowadays I have calmed down a little. I still get the greatest joy if Mr GBT offers to cook or I realise that the dear slow cooker has made enough for a second meal. Leftovers are my greatest pal and I'm always the first to suggest a wicked fish and chips at our local Wetherspoons when they run their regular offer on a Friday! I have a criteria for a recipe now- it has to be cheap, quick, simple and most of all tasty. I cook a wide range of veggie and non veggie meals with all sorts of ingredients but if I have to buy something specific then I'll only do it if I have another recipe which will use up the remainder. The reduced fridge is my best friend and I plunder it regularly...my menu plan is always first and foremost based around what I've got in and what needs using...I also share food with my parents and a couple of pals to keep wastage to a minimum. Along the way I've learnt lots of strategies to overcome hurdles....I simply cannot make pastry neither can my Mum [[my Dad and Mr GBT make it for us]  but we both bake a good cake. I hate rubbing fat into flour so now I've got a pastry blender from the charity shop nor do I enjoy making burgers or fishcakes...I bought a burger maker from Lakeland many years ago which has been amazing and anything requiring coating in egg and breadcrumbs now gets put in a marg tub with beaten egg and then tipped into another one with the crumbs and lid on, shaken vigorously. Scones defeat me [that old pastry/dough problem again] but baked in a round and then cut up works fine and so the little triumphs continue. To see just how far I've come I made this recipe a couple of weeks ago http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-2ingredient-nutella-brownies-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-204550 I used own brand chocolate spread and the tin was too big....the worse thing was that they stuck to the paper. However, I let them cool, froze them and then made a batch of chocolate sauce [mix cocoa with butter and syrup] which I poured over them and served with icecream. Voila one wicked pud last weekend! Don't be deceived though.... I still have my moments and if I was allowed to bake but never have to cook again I would rejoice!

Arilx

PS For anyone wanting more ideas of what to do with gluts of things this blog was highlighted in one of the recent Waitrose magazines http://glutsandgluttony.com/

Friday, 21 November 2014

The Mystery Of Wuss In Boots and Alfie Bear.


Please meet Alfie Bear [so called because his name is embroidered on his foot]. Now I am not by any long chalk a fan of cuddly toys but my chaps won him in a raffle back in 2007 when I was holed up one Christmas with real flu [go to and stay in bed for a couple of weeks type flu] and he never left. Despite my misgivings I'm rather partial to his boot button eyes and generally laid back stance. Now I am more than aware that he might enjoy the odd slurp of Scrumpy or so and on occasion attend too many alcohol fuelled teddy bears' picnics where I find him later slumped upon my monk's bench a little worse for wear but......

frankly I was a little bit puzzled as to how he'd ended up on my bedroom floor a couple of times decidedly soggy......that was until this week when I discovered he's made a new chum. Here they are the partners in crime......


Now Humphrey is the polar opposite to our previous feline Psychocat. She was tiny and very feisty. She objected on principle to dogs walking past our drive even if they were on the lead and on the pavement...even that offended her....so much so that she would hide up the side of our car and then ambush them, chasing after them hissing and spitting. As for other cats who dared to enter her garden....if she saw them they soon knew as she'd go flying out of the cat flap shouting the odds and showing no fear, wallop them one if they hadn't already scarpered. Aggressive wasn't the word....she was always very affectionate to humans but totally intolerant of any other creature...amazing really when you consider she had a gammy leg, was elderly and barely a tooth in her head. This one...well let's just say he's couldn't be more different. He avoids trouble at all costs and only goes out when he can't keep his legs crossed any longer. He doesn't have a vicious bone in his body...his idea of armed combat is to duff poor old Alfie over and chew his fur hence the rather sorry looking damp bear I've been finding of late! His antics have now earned him the nicknames of Wuss in Boots and Samantha the Panther!

Arilx

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Maya Angelou

I was genuinely sorry to hear of the death of Maya Angelou earlier this year. I first read her work as part of the American Studies side to my degree and despite her life trials, she came through as a survivor with an indomitable spirit. She's left us with a cracking body of work and some rather fantastic words of wisdom. Here are a few of my personal favourites.

"I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage and tangled tree lights."

"...Making a living is not the same as making a life."

"You shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw some things back."

"Even when I have pains, I don't have to be one."

"People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

"Every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug or just a friendly pat on the back."


"Try to be a rainbow in someone else's cloud."

Arilx

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Beauty and The Beast.

In the 1960s Dr Beeching [with some just cause it has to be said] was a much maligned figure. Flanders and Swann wrote a song called "Slow Train" which laments the closure of so many stations [lyrics here for anyone interested] http://www.nyanko.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/fas/anotherhat_slow.html] and this little ditty from the TV sitcom "Oh Dr Beeching" which is rather more tongue in cheek about the whole affair!

"Oh! Dr Beeching! What have you done?
There once was lots of trains to catch, but soon there'll be none,
I'll have to buy a bike, 'cos I can't afford a car,
Oh, Dr Beeching, what a naughty man you are!
Oh, Dr Beeching, what am I to do?
The trains have all gone missing and I'm busting for the loo,
I'll do it in a shrub, 'cos it's hidden from the road,
Oh, Dr Beeching, I've just piddled on a toad!"

As I mentioned in the last post Southwater was on Beeching's hit list and lost its one in 1966, but forty eight years on I am delighted to say that the phoenix has risen from the ashes. Nowadays the old railway line forms part of the Downs Link which is enjoyed by walkers, cyclists and horse riders alike http://www.westsussex.gov.uk/leisure/places_to_visit_and_explore/downs_link.aspx

The old railway bridge has also undergone a rather stunning transformation. Initially it was the butterflies at the top that caught my eye so being me I just had to to cross the road to investigate further.


A closer look reveals the true extent of the positive changes. Underneath the bridge and on its walls are bat boxes [my photos of that didn't work], nesting boxes and either side bee and bug palaces.




On the approach new planters have been put in which have been decorated by paintings of butterflies done by the village school children. I think the whole concept is fantastic.





Arilx

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Suthwatre Wanderings.

The lure of two new-to-me charity shops literally just up the road in a village which has now grown so much that it's virtually now joined to my town proved just too tempting last weekend. Dear chum E is another one who enjoys her surroundings and a good old snout. With the promise of a bun and a cuppa thrown in for measure we were off!

Suthwatre, as it was first referred to in documents from 1346, started out life as a village based around agriculture. These days it's called Southwater and has seen a massive increase in its housing over the last thirty years. Its population has grown to reflect this and now numbers ten thousand. The infrastructure of the village has been improved over the last few years to accommodate it so that now it has its own library and small arcade of shops and restaurants. The decline since the closure of the railway in 1966 and the closure of the brickworks in 1982 has been halted and reversed.

Meet Iggy. He's a bronze sculpture made by Hannah Stewart to commemorate the opening of the newly built shopping centre in December 2006. He is based upon the fossil of an iguanadon that was found in the clay pits when they were dug in the 1920s for the brick making. The brick plinth he stands on is made of Southwater bricks. Nowadays the former brickworks has been transformed into a lovely country park with a play park for the littlies, a lake for boating and other water based activities and a cafe. Next time I go I shall try to remember to take some pictures. It's a haven for wildlife and I saw my first ever watervole there a few years ago.




While we were there the lure of books called to me....our county runs an excellent service and you can borrow and return books to different libraries from whence they came. I might erm have come out with a couple of local history ones and one with wild food recipes. Books are my absolute Achilles heel every time....the library is my idea of heaven on earth really it is! This is a tree of remembrance on display in the library foyer....it's reminded how pretty and effective wool wound round branches is.


My friend E introduced me to this gigantic set of bellows outside the Wheelwright's House. Sadly they seem to have seen better days.


Perhaps you are wondering whether we accomplished our mission....tracking down charity shop goodies. I am most thrilled to report that both shops yielded bargains for us and that their prices are far more reasonable than some in our town centre. Perhaps the rents are cheaper who knows. I'm even thrifty in the charity shops these days....needs must. E bought some gladrags and I added the Per Una scarf to my burgeoning collection [I have lots but as the Queen of colour and accessory coordination they are an excellent addition to giving me a whole heap more outfit combos]. Not bad for 100 pennies methinks......

Arilx

Monday, 17 November 2014

Ho Ho Ho!

I made a decision back in the late summer that I would like to do something extra to help a charity at Christmas this year. As a family I already volunteer for a local visually impaired charity and the small person has been working in Oxfam for a couple of hours every Saturday [he now juggles it with his paid weekend job]. I've done this type of thing since I was 15. I don't do it for any glory I simply like to help people and it helps me to remember and appreciate just how lucky I am. I toyed with various ideas but plumped for this yesterday after a request came up on our local FB page asking for marshals.

This is one of four 4k Santa Fun Runs held locally to raise money for our nearest hospice- each one will raise £30,000 to support St Catherine's over the twelve days of Christmas. Each participant pays an entry fee rather than having to raise sponsorship and everyone gets to dress up. There were all ages and abilities including appropriately dressed four pawed members!

Look who I got my photo taken with...the real deal...or so he told me and as we know Santa never lies!


People really did look like they were enjoying themselves.



Even the four pawed ones



Although perhaps one or two may not have been quite so enamoured.



And one found it all too exhausting!


A brilliantly positive experience and all for a great cause. As a footnote I did speak to the organisers who confirmed that all the runners had signed forms giving permission to share photos of the event. Mr GBT took the photos from his marshalling spot.

Arilx

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Hag Stone

Sometimes a gift from a friend has no monetary value but is much more special because it means that person has really thought about what they are giving you rather than just randomly grabbing something off the shelf in a shop.

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I would like to have my own hagstone one day but on my rare trips to the coast I've never yet found one. Within a couple of days a Morris Dancing chum produced this out of his pocket and gave it to me. Our cheeky drummer quipped "well that was just a stone until a moment ago but now you've got it it's a proper hag stone"....pray what was he implying...surely it is a well known fact that I am a well established hag although one prefers the term crone....it sounds more genteel somehow!


I've had great fun looking through the hole and enjoying the different perspective the narrowed view gives me. It is quite incredible to think just how long it must have taken for the water to bore a hole through the middle of it like that  and I can really see how they were and continue to be treasured amulets for some. Obviously this has led me to poke about on google. Please allow me to impart my findings.

Such stones have featured throughout history in different cultures. Holey stones were found in ancient tombs in Gaza. In England [there are Welsh and Scottish names too] they've been known variously as witch stones, holy stones. Wiki also refers to them as adder stones but I'm not entirely clear whether they are actually the same thing. Anyway I digress.

When walking past a local house in the countryside last year I noticed it had a whole string of them hanging in its porch. I now find that they are regarded by some as good luck symbols and for protection. In earlier times it was believed that if you had one by your bed it could stop nightmares and stop the night hag from stealing your power when you slept. Superstitious Dorset fishermen [all fishermen seem to have different rituals they enacted to try and protect their lives in different parts of the country. Hardly surprising when you were at such personal peril so much of the time] had them on their boats to keep witches and evil spirits at bay.

As is often the case hagstones were imbued with medical powers. Rubbed on wounds and broken bones they were believed to heal and could be used to cure whooping cough. If you wore one around your neck it could keep away illness.

Nowadays they feature within Paganism as a meditation aid as concentrating on them can allow you to shift your level of consciousness and leave your everyday thinking behind for a temporary period. Some claim to be able to enter the fairy realm and other alternative realities. It's not something I've ever experienced but I am, as ever, open minded about such matters. For now though I shall just continue to enjoy its tactile qualities as I handle it and peeking through the hole when I think no one's watching me!

Arilx

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Frugal Doings!



I know that I don't often do a post on the gnat bottomed side of my life but it continues as ever....the GBT purse puts paid to any wanton spending believe you me. She has a heart of pure gold but is a right old tartar when it comes to parting with any of her coin horde [my coins I hasten to add!]. I think that I've been doing it for so long that it's virtually second nature to me these days. A friend has recently set up a closed FB group for those of us locally to share inspirational recipes and meal plans which helps us all to cook something different. She's just started meal planning and is raving about it as she's no longer reaching for the takeway menu when she's tired. I've been it doing such a long time that I had forgotten just how much time and money it can save...it's good to be reminded of the basics though.

With the old bat helping me keep on the straight and narrow the following savings have been made. Matters of personal grooming....men's razors and razor blades totally rock especially when they are Wilko own brand. I don't need to pay extra for a pink razor just to stop my bikini line looking like two baby gorillas trying to escape cheers! The mysupermarket site made my job of tracking down the cheapest offer on Clearasil for the small person a walk in the park. Rather than pay £4 in Tesco Wilko had it for £2.70. Mean mother that I am though held off buying until the teen really had emptied the 3 bottles he thought he'd finished...turned them upside down and then showed him how much was still left to be used.

Cinema tickets to see the latest in the Hobbit trilogy sorted....Nielsen homescan points have been traded in for vouchers same as last year.

With Chrimble preps well under way here at GBT [I'm one of those horribly organised people but I refuse to spend my precious spare time being squashed into a retail outlet with other humans thanks...I avoid the shops like the plague during December apart from when I do my weekly shop when I always go ridiculously early anyway to avoid the queuing]

I used the Autumn lot of Tesco clubcard vouchers to buy the bits I needed to make some home made presents that I didn't already have in store. I've now made three different types of gifts...all which should be useful. No more details on that front obviously. The latest lot of clubcard vouchers have been doubled up so that we can buy a bike lock for the small person [he already knows] after he recently broke his. I've extracted some pressies from my gift box that I've picked up during the year, found some items in a 75% off sale in a charity shop, taken advantage of the 2nd hand market place on Amazon and picked up some other items from the charity shops. We're all into recycling in my family and my sibling and I have an agreement that it's perfectly acceptable to both of us to give second hand- we're both on a tight budget. We have chosen carefully for each other over the years and come up some lovely things and I have done the same for my parents on occasion as well.

Many of my chums and I have agreed not to send Christmas cards- we have seen each other and spent time together enjoying each other's company which is much more important I think. I plan to make a few but will plunder my stash of pretty papers and other craft supplies. Over the year I've snaffled away any pretty boxes, envelopes and sweetie papers that have caught my eye to boost it and recycle even more.

Chrimble food preps are now going on apace. Again I used mysupermarket to check alcohol prices- this yielded a bottle of vintage port on offer for £6.75 in Sainsburys which Tesco charge £12 for. I am waiting for our local branch of Savers to get some more of their cream liqueur in as it's the most reasonably priced locally. We're not heavy drinkers and make our own wine so our drinks cupboard is now replenished and the new purchases will probably last us a couple of years. I shall pick up some snacky treats as I see them on offer but not go overboard. All these little savings have allowed me to order free range beef from a local butcher to have on the day itself.

Too much nattering...I promise I'll stop now and leave you all in peace.

Arilx

As ever the photo of the Chinese lanterns bears no relevance to the content of the post..it's simply  another rather lovely evocation of the beautiful Autumn sights I'm enjoying as I'm out and about exercising my nosy bone!

Friday, 14 November 2014

Spindle Tree

 Mr GBT and I happened upon this gorgeous example of a spindle tree across the road from the Pear Tree in Hook Norton where I danced a couple of weeks ago with Mythago.


 As you can see it was absolutely laden with berries. If I was to have a favourite this would be it....the clashing vibrancy of the pink and zingy orange is a complete joy to behold. The close up below was taken by my parents on their Romanian holiday last month.


To give it its official name Eunoymus Europaeus this is derived from the Greek "eu" meaning good and "onama" meaning name. The tree itself is an hermaphrodite ie the flowers are both male and female and the berries are poisonous to humans. However, the leaves are eaten by a variety of creatures including the Holly Blue butterfly and the magpie, scorched carpet and spindle ermine moth.

In folklore it was believed to be a lucky tree but if it flowered early this could be a portend of plague. It could be used as a purgative and if vinegar was added it was made into a lotion to treat mange in horses and cattle.

Otherwise known as prickwood the wood has been used for spindles for spinning [hence its name], skewers, toothpicks, pegs, knitting needles and pipe stems.

Arilx

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Random Ramblings

A series of bits and bobs that don't merit their own postlet but have given me pleasure over the last couple of weeks.

Common Darter dragonfly. It was thoroughly enjoying the sunshine we enjoyed at the apple day we danced at last month and was in no hurry to skedaddle off.


A sweet knitted witch and ghost that came my way after I took part in an online Halloween swap. They sat on top of my TV along with my table of other decs. I don't quite go to town as much on doing up the house as when the small person really was a nipper!


Beautiful branches dripping with ripe berries. These are hanging over a fence literally just round the corner from me and I noticed them when I went slogging horribly early Sunday morning. I informed Mr GBT who kindly and very sensibly waited until it was much lighter and sunny before heading out to take a photo for me.


Told you it was random but it gives you an insight into the things that tickle my fancy!

Arilx

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

An Apple A Day....

Once upon there was a small hobbit sized garden with a very big tree. Now this was a magnificent tree which had lovely lime green leaves in the summer and sunny yellow leaves in the autumn. It lived happily in its little hobbity garden until the nasty cold winters came and killed it. The GBT hobbits were very sad when the man with the big saw said it had to come down but the dastardly deed had to be done...


It was indeed a very dark time for the Hobbits with no Ent to protect them...there was no feasting nor drinking of mead in the halls of GBT until one day  when Mr GBT discovered the dwarfs' horde of golden pennies....he plundered the treasure and with his bounty, made good speed on his short hobbit legs to the Forest of Newbridge....glad tidings for upon his return to the Wealden lands he brought back an apple bearing ent and once again the sounds of merriment can be heard echoing around the Towers of Gnat Bottom.




This is a James Grieve apple tree.It cost £34 which I think is a fruitful [geddit?!!] investment and provided it survives, I forsee many a fine crumble further down the line.Suitable for small gardens it's a dwarf apple tree with apples both suitable for eating and cooking and even better still, it's self pollinating. November is the month for planting...what's not to like!

Arilx

A Tale of Two Villages

Mr GBT and I do our best to do something if we find we have a day without any commitments at the weekend. What we do varies according to tim...