Friday 27 February 2015


I invite her to my home. She says to me "What's all that junk you have here?" She is pointing at a large plate that was my grandmother's favourite serving plate. On this plate are two blackbird feathers that I came across while walking this morning, and a pine cone that my sister sent to me, and a string of amethyst beads that I sometimes wear, and a picture that I found last Spring of a she-wolf with her cubs, and a windfall apple from my garden and a yellow scarf that was a gift from my friend. I tell her it is flotsam.

She stares at me confused. So I explain that this is my altar, that its contents change constantly according to what the universe floats my way. I explain to her that this altar is a reflection and an acknowledgement, a comfort and a challenge, a reminder of the past and the present and the future.

A week later she invites me to her home. In the middle of a shelf in a bookcase there is a space between the books. And in the space there is a little wooden tray carved into the shape of a ladybird. And on the tray there are five sea shells and a child's drawing of a butterfly. Flotsam, she says.

Fi Benson

Bits of flotsam are what changes my living space from a house into a home. I have many treasured bits and bobs that have no monetary value but are irreplaceable and mean the world to me. Sometimes it's good just to take a step back from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and take the time to notice them again.


Thursday 26 February 2015

Brighton Royal Pavilion

A quite extraordinary palace both inside and out. I walked through the grounds last week on my jolly to the city. The rather splendid knitted version was in the window of the cafe where I partook of a little light refreshment.

Not everyone is or has been so taken with it including one Mr Noel Coward who summed up his personal opinion of it with his usual aplomb and withering wit.

The Pavilion
Cost a million
As a monument to art.
And the wits here
Say it sits here
Like an Oriental Tart.


Wednesday 25 February 2015

Getting It Down To A Fine Art.

These past couple of years I have been driving rather than walking to work and as a result, I have been listening to more up to date music on my local radio station. I'm not by any means bang up to date but I do at least recognise some of the tracks the small person plays on Spotify. Remembering who they're by is an art form I have yet to master!

Over the past few weeks I've been hearing this. Now I know it was last summer but this is very recent for me trapped in a folk wilderness as I have been these past few years. I am perfectly capable of yawling along from start to finish but now I have looked up the lyrics on youtube I find that they bear little or no resemblance to what I have been singing. I am curious to know now what gobbledygook is spewing forth from my cakehole!

Ghost-Ella Henderson

Then there was this last week. Even though I am an old fossil I am aware that this is an elderly track and yes it's Take That. I like some of the stuff they've done since they reformed as adult performers but not the stuff from their boyband days. Thus upon this being played and bear in mind that I was actually driving at the time, I was most startled to find that apparently at certain points you clap your hands above your head and not only that, but I also, unbeknown to my conscious self,am fully aware of this and was quite ready to do so. Eeek! I must have absorbed this particular gem via osmosis. Thankfully I realised in the nick of time before my hands left the steering wheel.

Take That- Never Forget

However, this fellow is much better at all this car singing and dancing business. Here he is doin' his thang to Taylor Swift's Shake It Off. Enjoy!


Tuesday 24 February 2015

Elmer The Elephant

When my son was a small person elephants were his world. We had an entire herd and with them he played the most incredibly imaginative games. We had concerts, parties, he made spaceships, built houses for them you name it he probably did it.

 Inevitably I would become involved even to the point of agreeing to making an appropriately themed birthday cake one year. First and last time I have ever used shop bought icing!

Every single one had a name and almost took on their own personalities. As an only child with mild Aspergers they were also incredibly important to him as a comfort when he had not found acceptance at school or needed something familiar to settle him back into his rigid routine when he was trying to deal with the changing and challenging outside world beyond the comfort of our front door. They were often fraught days for both of us and many a tear I wept in private as I feared for how he would adapt as he grew older and whether he would be able to form relationships. The two elephants in the top picture were without doubt the special ones....Lumpy-p-lump and Elmer and the ones that settled him down at night time.

We had many of the Elmer books. I even made him huge pictures of Elmer and his friend Wilbur out of felt for his bedroom wall. The first book contained such a strong message...that even if you were patchwork and not grey like the rest of the elephants it was fine...the other elephants loved Elmer for who he was and this message we were able to relay loud and clear time after time to reassure our son.

It can be a long hard road when you've got a child who's "different". I met with ignorance and prejudice many times when he was a youngster but with an early diagnosis and the support of a close family and excellent school who were flexible in making small adjustments to meet his needs we are where we are today. He now sees his Aspergers as a positive and although, at times "socially awkward" [his choice of words] he has lots of friends and lives a full and varied life. So I am incredibly grateful to Elmer The Elephant as he reaches his 25th anniversary for the difference he has made to one little boy's life.


Monday 23 February 2015

Ashore In Shoreham

Shoreham's a mighty fine place to while away a few hours...if it's a mooch you fancy this is the perfect place. The church in the background is St Mary de Haura [meaning haven]. Originally the town was set up as a port by the Normans and its harbour is still commercially active.

Along with the hobbit doors...sorry I mean Adur portals the town has recently had a new pedestrian bridge spanning the river built. However, the local populace are not happy as a year on it's still not complete. They're showing their discontent by tying shoes onto the fence bordering the unfinished part.

If it's a bit of retail therapy you're after then there are a fair range of independent shops alongside the more commonly found charity shops and chains. It's just as well it was closed otherwise a few balls of wool might ahem have found their way home with me!

One or two random shots for your delectation

This rather splendid sun dial works if you stand on the correct month. Obviously visiting on a sunny day greatly adds to its success!

This beauty is the Marlipins. Now a museum it has been dated to the 12th century and is believed to be the oldest complete secular building in the country. Theories abound as to its original purpose...anything from the remains of a Carmelite priory to a meeting place for the Knights Templar. The more mundane suggestions put forth are a storehouse or a hospital.

To wind this whole Shoreham trip up and saving the best to last [well from my point of view anyway] three new to me greenmen discovered in St Mary de Haura's

This is the final Shoreham post I promise.....I think I have fully blogged the delights of my weekend trips to the town!


Sunday 22 February 2015


Fortified....and for once not by I am talking about Shoreham Fort aka Shoreham Redoubt.

Built in 1857 against possible French attack it would seem it was too little too late and by 1873 a report not only found that it was obsolete but it had inadequate defences. The recommendation to demolish it and rebuild a fort that was fit for purpose was not followed through so the remains can still be viewed for free today. In the intervening period it's been used as a film set and was part of the Emergency Coastal Battery during WWII. Nowadays there's a dedicated team of volunteers who put in many hours restoring the buildings and their longterm aim is to open a museum on the site. On certain days through the year they offer guided tours.

Reading up about it on my friend Wikipedia I am now able to stun you with the following regurgitated facts I have gleaned about its construction.

View along the gun platform.

This rather interestingly shaped building is called a caponier. There are three in total and they were designed to allow the soldiers to fire along the walls at any invaders that were in the ditch.

The wall is known as a carnot wall which is a type of looped hole wall.

And then there was this which is clearly neither Victorian nor part of the fort.

The Nissen hut had been lived in by two land girls in Chichester since WWII original story here It was dismantled and moved to its current location in 2014 and eventually it will become a study centre for the volunteers.


Saturday 21 February 2015

Flying Away In Style

This is Shoreham airport- another destination ticked off on my weekend of jollies. I've been before but it was new to my chum S and she, having had a rough old ride of late, needed a break. Designed by Stavers Tiltman and opened on 13th June 1936 it remains fully operational. The terminal is looking a little sorry for itself at the moment festooned in scaffolding as it undergoes major redecoration. It will look amazing again once it's finished. In the foreground you can see the Shoreham Airport Community Memorial to those who lost their lives during the two world wars and those who made a contribution to the airport. The propeller is from a B26 Martin Marauder Bomber which came down into the Channel in June 1944. Although it's been restored the dent in the left blade has been left as it was found when recovered.

It was a dreich kind of day so the views weren't marvellous. The viewing platform is currently closed so these views were taken through the glass door. The large building in the background is Lancing College chapel.

There is a small museum on site to visit and the rather delightful Hummingbird Cafe situated within the main airport building. It is done in the Art Deco style which is very much in keeping with its surroundings. I had my first ever slice of Red Velvet cake there. A few shots to close to give you a taster. S and I decided it would be the perfect pitstop for a cream tea or Pimms in the summer months! She is already planning a return visit with her daughter.


Friday 20 February 2015

St Nicolas Part Two.

Leaving aside the Norman beam the interior of the church does not disappoint. There are beautiful details from different historical eras.

The first image is the Millennium window by Sue Wallace.

Victorian window and painted ceiling.

Last but most definitely not least the stunning Norman carvings. These two are King Stephen and Queen Matilda

An elf [apparently] and a cat.

Random faces- as ever I regret that the visual joke has been lost in the mists of time.

The Norman arches and some of the details thereon. Perhaps the limpets are a reference to the church's connection to the seafarers?

A complete treat.


Thursday 19 February 2015

St Nicolas Part One.

St Nicolas is situated in old Shoreham and is a church that has seen some history in its time. It's a local church and struggles with the upkeep costs [£110 to maintain a day] so it has a careworn appearance but it is a little gem.

Dedicated to the Bishop of Myra or known more commonly to us as St Nicolas, he is the patron saint of seafarers and one of the figures behind our Father Christmas. Built as a late Saxon church some remnants of that first period remain but architecturally it screams Norman at you with later additions.

How about this for a cracking Norman door. I am programmed to look for a porch so managed to completely miss it the first time round!

I've never seen a zigzag window before.

A couple of the gravestones that caught my eye. I thought the juxtaposition between the heavily ornate one and the very plain one made an interesting contrast.

More tomorrow- don't want you all to suffer photo overload!


Shropshire Church Crawling Gems

Sifting through all the photos from my annual holiday church crawl, I've picked out these which I hope people find to be of interest. It...