Tuesday 31 March 2015

Ably Assisted.

Now cats believe themselves to be superior creatures and expert in many fields. From time to time they care to demonstrate to those in their enslavement how a job should be carried out correctly so that us mere minions may have the privilege of watching and learning.
On Friday Humphrey observed me packing for the show with increasing exasperation. In the end he elbowed me out of the way to show me the proper way to do it.....

"Righty- oh now I've finished where are you taking me?"  he asked.

Upon being informed that the destination was the NEC...home of that ratty little dogs show called Crufts he sniffily beat a hasty exit and sought refuge elsewhere to recover from his exertions.


Monday 30 March 2015


Hellooooooooooooooooo! Did you miss all my witterings?

I've spent the weekend being a grown up and ably "assisting" [fetching coffees when our flask was empty, minding the stall on rest breaks etc] Mr GBT at a dollshouse show at the NEC. It's a 4am start for us and then work both days before getting home last night at 7.30 which was a lot earlier than some previous occasions when we've staggered through the door at 10. Thank goodness for caffeine is all I can say!

The event itself was well attended and as ever we were surrounded by a lovely bunch of fellow makers who regaled us with show and non show tales [not divulging any here!].All the craftsmen and women spend huge swathes of time ensconced in their workshops working under their own steam. It's good to get together and catch up every few months at shows.

I am pleased to report that some jolly good sports were kind enough to place orders with us so Mr GBT's waiting list remains at 18 months. I particularly liked it when one lady showed us the photos of her house with her furniture from us in situ. As a collector myself it's always a treat to be able to nose at other people's houses. Normally I find something to add to my own house and this time was no exception. I blew the budget [already saved up] and invested in this beautiful handmade Victorian pram from Roberson miniatures. Colin makes the prams from scratch from sheet metal and Yvonne paints and upholsters them. The photos give you an idea but don't do them justice.

How lucky am I though!


Sunday 29 March 2015


What links this

to this?

Why don't forget that the clocks go "a head" [or several in this case] by one hour today!

Normal blogging will resume next week!


Saturday 28 March 2015

Yoohoo It's The Weekend!


A couple of cheery faces and a tune to make your weekend go with a swing...I myself am working all weekend so will be kept out of mischief bah humbug!

Kick your heels and enjoy!


Friday 27 March 2015

Making Your Voice Heard.

I enjoy hearing the opinions and views of others on many wide ranging subjects and I do think Voltaire had it cracked when he uttered the now famous lines:

 "I might disagree with your opinion, but I am willing to give my life for your right to express it."

Opinions are sharply divided at the moment over what constituted appropriate action in the light of the latest Jeremy Clarkson debacle. On this particular one my own view is that forget the ratings, the celebrity status....a fellow doing his job was hurt and the perpetrator if found guilty must take both responsibility and the consequences of his actions. End of. Many though take a different line. Fair enough. Let's be grateful for living in a democracy where we can...

This quote along similar lines caught my eye...am liking the sentiment.

"A lion doesn't lose sleep over the opinion of a sheep."


Thursday 26 March 2015

Downland Poddle Part Two

Continuing on from yesterday's ramble......Coates is a tiny village only a mile or so away. It too has a little gem of a Downland church called St Agatha's. This type has a charm of its own- an unadorned elegance with white washed walls and clear glass lancet windows. There are a couple of patches of medieval wall paintings left in situ.

More unusually the church has its door on the North side. I'm not sure that this applies in this particular case but there are a few medieval Sussex churches which have bricked up doors in the North wall. These are known as devil's doors and the belief was that because unbaptised children brought the devil in with them he needed his own portal to make good his escape. Some are far too small to have been of any practical use.

Coates itself enjoys a SSI status as it has the only non introduced cluster of the very rare Field Cricket. The skies were full of birds collecting nesting material. I never cease to be joyful when spotting a Buzzard circling overheard. Rarely seen here twenty years ago they are thankfully now a much more common sight. The very fuzzy photo is an Egret....just as well H was with us as I'd have assumed that it was just another seagull I was looking at. It was a long way off in the distance.

Spring is definitely beginning to peek out from all corners- both the Magnolia and Pussy Willow are just coming out.

To round off some of the slightly more eclectic things which made me smile en route.

Another lovely walk spent exploring my beautiful county.


Wednesday 25 March 2015

Downland Poddle Part One.

As many are aware by now I love living in Sussex being surrounded by the woods and the Downs. The more I explore the more I discover and the more I discover the more I find there is for me to explore. On Sunday we took a stroll out with a couple who have been very dear friends of ours for many years. Our children are now in their teens/early twenties so we are beginning to enjoy each others company sans enfants once more. It's always a pleasure to be in the company of H&C as they know a great deal about this area and furnish me with many snippets.

We started out with a quick trip to the church of St Mary's in Fittleworth. This is an interesting church because for a long time only the chancel and the tower stood with a gap betwixt the two where the nave originally stood. This was remedied in 1871 with a Victorian restoration jobbie. The church itself is attractive but doesn't stand out particularly. H tells me though that it has a broach spire albeit a rather dumpier one than our local parish church. One thing that caught my eye though was this Coat of Arms for George III. Bleedin' funny looking lion face if you ask me....we did wonder if perhaps it might bear more than a passing resemblance to his Royal Highness!

The churchyard sports a rather fine 1000 year old yew tree and a tiddler that was planted to mark the millennium.

Taking our leave and heading forth we met with a couple of fine examples of roofs- the first is known as a cat slide roof and the second is a mansard. The construction of the latter allowed you to extend into the roof space giving you an extra floor.

As for these....well they always get a big tick in my book and three in one day. The weather vane goddess must have been looking kindly upon me unlike the goddess of fossils last week chortle!

More tomorrow chaps!


Tuesday 24 March 2015

A Simple Delight in Early Spring.

Common Dog Violet. The dog part refers to the fact that the flower is scentless unlike the Sweet Violet. Seen at the weekend these are the first ones I've spotted this year. Such delights bring me the greatest pleasure.


Monday 23 March 2015

Fossil Hunting.

Firstly apologies for the extremely poor quality of this shot...I have a newish phone and never either having owned a phone with a camera nor slide screens frankly I am currently like a learner driver behind the wheel of a car the first time! My old faithful Nokia had buttons...Stoneage technology...perfect for a Luddite like me but occasionally I allow myself to be dragged forward by a few years...kicking and screaming mind you!

This little lovely is a fossilised sea urchin or an echinoid to give it its proper name. Sadly not mine but spied on a recent visit to see chums. Another one was spotted yesterday belonging to chum H. I had heard of people finding them in the  chalk on the Downs and others at Bracklesham Bay. Aha I thought well I've not been to the beach for a long time and never knowingly visited this one so we shall grace it with our presence. Now it pays to do your research when the last time you collected fossils was with your Dad down at Lyme Regis....as you may have gathered a few years have passed.....naturally then I did no such thing, but with the spirit of adventure coursing through my veins, hopped into the car and set off expecting the beach to be liberally spread with examples of my quarry. I had romantic visions of bringing them home for loved ones. The first thing you need to check is that it's a Spring tide so that the fossil beds are exposed......yes well it was a Neap tide so they were most definitely underwater. Talking to a local he admired my pretty collection of stones but my heavy dinosaur bone turned out to be a piece of heavy iron pyrite or fool's gold to you and me, the fossilised lines in another stone were sedimentary rock lines only and our "shark's tooth" was a bit of flint. As you may have already guessed I returned home with some lovely hag stones but alas not with what I had set out for. On this occasion the only old fossil coming home was me but I shall not be deterred...I shall keep my eyes peeled.

Round here these are called Shepherd's Crowns. Thought to be reminiscent of the Bishop's Mitre in shape they were carried by the men as a good luck amulet and protection against lightning. Their significance can be traced right back to a Neolithic burial in Whitehawk near Brighton in which the skeleton of a woman was discovered- by her side was a fossilised sea urchin. Reading the information on the Natural History Museum site they were known as fairy loaves in Suffolk....at a time when bread was an essential part of the diet people kept them in their hearth as a talisman to ensure they would always have loaves. Other names they go by are Sugar Loaves and Pixie Helmets. I will let you know when the Goddess looks kindly upon me and I find one!


Sunday 22 March 2015

The Hoard

The Hoard

When the moon was new and the sun was young
of silver and gold the gods sung:
in the green grass they silver spilled,
and the white waters they with gold filled.
Ere the pit was dug or Hell yawned,
ere dwarf was bred or dragon spawned,
there were Elves of old, and strong spells
under green hills in hollow dells
they sang as they wrought many fair things,
and the bright crowns of the Elf-kings.
But their doom fell, and their song waned,
by iron hewn and by steel chained.
Greed that sang not, nor with mouth smiled,
in dark holes their wealth piled,
graven silver and carven gold;
over Elvenhome the shadow rolled.

There was an old dwarf in a dark cave,
to silver and gold his fingers clave;
with hammer and tongs and anvil-stone
he worked his hands to the hard bone,
and coins he made, and strings of rings, 
and thought to buy the power of kings.
But his eyes grew dim and his ears dull
and the skin yellow on his old skull;
through his bent claw with a pale sheen
the stony jewels slipped unseen.
No feet he heard, though the earth quaked,
when the young dragon his thirst slaked,
and the stream smoked at his dark door,.
The flames hissed on the dank floor,
and he died alone in the red fire;
his bones were ashes in the hot mire.

There was an old dragon under grey stone;
his red eyes blinked as he lay alone.
His joy was dead and his youth spent,
he was knobbed and wrinkled, and his limbs bent
in the long years to his gold chained;
in his heart's furnace the fire waned.
To his belly's slime gems stuck thick,
silver and gold he would snuff and lick:
he knew the place of the least ring
beneath the shadow of his black wing.
Of thieves he thought on his hard bed,
and dreamed that on their flesh he fed,
their bones crushed, and their blood drank:
his ears drooped and his breath stank.
Mail-rings rand. He heard them not.
A voice echoed in his deep grot:
a young warrior with a bright sword
called him forth to defend his hoard.
His teeth were knives, and of horn his hide,
but iron tore him, and his flame died.

There was an old king on a high throne:
his white beard lay on knees of bone;
his mouth savoured neither meat not drink,
nor his ears song; he could only think
of his huge chest with carven lid
where pale gems and gold lay hid
in secret treasury in the dark ground;
its strong doors were iron bound.
The swords of his thanes were dull with rust,
his glory fallen, his rule unjust,
his halls hollow, and his bowers cold,
but king he was of elvish gold.
He heard not the horns in the mountain-pass,
he smelt not the blood on the trodden grass,
but his halls were burned, his kingdom lost;
in a cold pit his bones were tossed.

There is an old hoard in a dark rock,
forgotten behind doors none can unlock;
that grim gate no man can pass.
On the mound grows the green grass;
there sheep feed and the larks soar,
and the wind blows from the sea-shore.
The old hoard the Night shall keep,
while earth waits and the Elves sleep.


I don't know if I should admit this but I am not a huge Tolkien fan. I read the first book of the LOTR but left it at that. I do like this poem though from "The Adventures of Tom Bombadil"....a figure I did warm to who didn't make the final cut in the film! Here is the great man himself reading his work:


Saturday 21 March 2015

Springtime Blessings

To all who celebrate the old ways Alban Eiler blessings.


PS This is the cake I am inflicting upon the chums I'm celebrating with tonight. Hardly a bucolic scene more Shaun the Sheep I would say!

Alice In Wonderland.

This year is the 150th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland. An extraordinarily eccentric tale beloved of many generations. I am extremely fortunate to own this copy which came from my grandmother and has the most beautiful colour illustrations by Bessie Pease. This is the front plate and quite unusual to see Alice depicted as a brunette. 

So in the spirit of all things celebratory it gives me the perfect excuse to repeat the Jabberwocky poem [note I am blatantly ignoring that this is found in "Alice Through The Looking Glass"!]


'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

'Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jujub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!'

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
the Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling throught the tulgey wood
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One,two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galmuphing back.

'And hast though slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh callay!
He chortled in joy.

'Twas brillig and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogroves
And the mome raths outgrabes.

The spell checker on Blogger is most put out. Splendid....on that note may I wish one and all a frabjous weekend!


PS This is the cat in the church in Cranleigh which was reputedly Carroll's inspiration for the Cheshire cat.

Friday 20 March 2015

At Sixes And Sevens.

In the 960s King Edgar granted a group of young men the right to use a piece of wasteland in London in return for their services. From this point the Guilds,based on key trades and areas, gradually evolved. Over time they were allowed to check their own weights and measures, prices, wages and who could join their profession. You could only become a "freeman" once you had served your seven years apprenticeship.  Naturally rivalries arose between the different Guilds and traditionally the Great Twelve marched in order of importance in the London show. Every year at Easter the Taylors and Skinners swap their sixth and seventh positions for the forthcoming season.

More useless info to baffle your nearest and dearest with!


Wednesday 18 March 2015

Old Lady's Poem

These past three years I have come into contact with many more third age ladies and gentlemen for whom I housesparkle. As I get to know them and hear their stories, I am inspired for they have done and seen much and continue to lead full and varied lives. It has saddened me greatly both times illness has taken them and I miss them. This poem was found amongst the few belongings of an elderly lady who died on a geriatric ward in Dundee.

What do you see nurses, what do you see?
What are you thinking when you're looking at me?
A crabby old woman, not very wise?
Uncertain of habit, with faraway eyes?
Who dribbles her food and makes no reply
When you say in a loud voice "I do wish you'd try"
Who seems not to notice the things that you do,
And forever is losing a stocking or a shoe...
Who resisting or not lets you do as you will
With bathing and feeding, a long day to fill...
Is that what you're thinking? Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes nurse, you're looking at me.

I'll tell you who I am as I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, as I eat at your will.
I'm a small child of ten with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters who love one another.
A young girl of sixteen, with wings on her feet
Dreaming that soon now a lover she'll meet.
A bride soon at twenty- my heart gives a leap
Remembering the vows that I promised to keep.
At twenty-five now, I have young of my own
Who need me to guide and a secure happy home.
A woman of thirty, my young now grown fast
Bound to each other with ties that should last.
At forty my young sons have grown and gone
But my man's beside me to see that I don't mourn.
At fifty once more, babies play round my knee
Again we know children, my loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me, my loved one is dead
I look at the future, I shudder with dread.
For my young are all raising young of their own
And I think of the years and the love that I've known.

I'm an old woman now....and nature is cruel
'Tis jest to make old age look like a fool.
The body it crumbles, grace and vigour depart
There is now a stone where I once had a heart.
But inside this carcass a young girl still dwells
And now and again my battered heart swells.
I remember the joys, I remember the pain
And I'm loving and living life over again.
I think of the years...all too few, gone too fast
And accept the stark fact that nothing can last.

So open your eyes nurses, open and see
Not a crabby old woman...look closer see ME!


Copies were made and given to every nurse in the hospital.


Tuesday 17 March 2015

The Indiscriminate Collector.

Much is being made of the "Marie Kondo" method of tidying up at the moment...of course being a contrary soul I am totally ignoring it but hey each to their own. I see lots of people very happy with the results of their efforts so good on 'em.

I am by nature a tidy person so tidying up and sorting gets done on a daily basis. I have places for things and don't let things sit around unless I know they need dealing with as leaving it in my eye line will annoy me so I sort it out pronto. However, I am a person who could easily take it too far left to my own devices and it's unfair to inflict this upon the others with whom I share our home. We have designated areas like the spare room cum office cum workshop that I clean but leave more cluttered. It's not on show so what the heck eh!

Decluttering is an ongoing process here at GBT. Even though I sort through paperwork and put the recycling out every day stuff still accumulates. I love receiving items but if it's not appropriate with the former owner's blessing I will rehome it quickly either to another friend, freecycle or the charity shop. I did this with a bag of clothes this week which weren't my style or didn't fit properly. In an attempt to slow down my brilliance at recluttering I've joined the "Not Buying It" challenge over on the Old Style board on MSE which has been my frugal home for a decade now.

At the beginning of the year I reviewed all the items I recycle. I go to a lot of effort to recycle as much as possible without incurring extra car journeys but am happy to go to different places when I'm in the right direction anyway to use specific amenities. My research turned up some interesting results...new items had been added in since I'd last looked and yesterday I was really excited [I am easily pleased] that our kerbside collection is now taking yogurt and margarine pots. Being me I have taken great pleasure in sadly having designated bags/containers for all my different recycling so that it can be kept organised and neat [told you I was a weird one!]. I loathe people dropping litter but in reality I'm not a brave enough soul to tackle those I see do it...I just tut under my breath which is not exactly helpful. In a bid to keep my little area clean though I've just joined our local scheme where you become a volunteer litter picker for our road. I know some will say that it should be covered by our taxes but I'd rather just roll up my sleeves and get on with it.

Anyhow for those of you turning up all sorts of whacky treasures I rather liked this artwork seen recently- the artist gave me permission to photograph his work.


Monday 16 March 2015

Dover Museum.

As threatened ta-da part two! Dover Museum is a very manageable size but they have managed to pack in a lot of fascinating artifacts.

Always of interest to me are pre Christian burials. I still have really mixed feelings about whether we should be putting our ancestors out on display in glass cases but then I'm one of the ones viewing them so hands up I'm totally hypocritical on that score. Ah well moving on....

Some of the glorious grave goods and other pieces of Saxon jewellery that have been found in and around the Dover area.

You can view both the Buckland burial which is the remains of a 6' Saxon male and this one the Wolverton burial which is a highly unusual double burial of two males. It's been laid out as it was found and had used an even older grave site. Interestingly bones and a skull had been brought in from elsewhere to embellish the top grave.

This is an Anglo Saxon gravestone which was found in Dover. Dated pre 650 AD it shows the crossover from Paganism to Christianity with the cross and the runes present.

Amazingly this is a fossilised tree trunk.

A drinking cup for those gentlemen battling with facial hair.

An English bear jug from 1740.

And this selection of eyecatching pieces. 1600 baby cap, 1630 French gambling purse, 1650 male embroidered glove [bit creepy....still looks like it's got a hand in there!] and a man's night cap.

This is only a taster of what I saw....we took many more photos. If you are in the area and this is your kind of thing I highly recommend it. We parked in the carpark up the hill which is cheaper than the town centre ones.


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...