Sunday 31 May 2015

Proud Muvva Moment.

Yesterday the small person was 17.  It was a low key affair with him training all day for his new job he starts soon and not much in the way of gifts as we had replaced his bike after his other one was stolen earlier in the year. We did take him out for a meal in the evening [this being GBT we had cashed in our Tesco vouchers for restaurant ones!] and I'd made him a cake. Today we are having a clan gathering with my parents for a meal because the bottom line is that in our world birthdays are all about familial bonds and celebrating such occasions together whenever possible.

Nothing of particular note in the above paragraph. When we got home last night he told us that he had just registered as an organ donor and as a blood donor [he had wanted to do the latter last year but had been too young]. His first appointment is in August. Excuse the Mother's Pride but those decisions he's taken as an independent young man are admirable in my eyes. As a family we all carry cards and I know my Mum will be chuffed to read this news. As for me...I haven't donated for years [largely due to a severe reaction last time after difficulties at earlier sessions] but if he can do it I think his Muvva can pull her finger out, put the reasons aside and get her ample rump into gear once again. After all we're talking saving lives here aren't we....I have rung the NHS today and reactivated my archived record. 17th August here we come!!

More info here for anyone who's interested


Saturday 30 May 2015

The Great Escape.

What's a gal to do when the list of seemingly never ending jobs just keeps getting longer?..why this particular dame said "Sod it- if today was my last day on earth I wouldn't want to have spent it just doing the ironing".  Mr GBT was press ganged into service [the prospect of having to paint the shed wasn't exactly filling him with enthusiasm either!] and away we sped in the metal box with a wheel at each corner.

We didn't travel far. There's so much yet to discover both here in Sussex and just over the border in Surrey which I have spent years ignoring.  Now, having resolved to be a tourist at home aswell as when away on my hols, I am gradually rectifying this. This time we mosied on down to a small village at the foot of the South Downs called Bramber.

Originally sited on an old trade route between Cornwall and Kent, William the Conqueror recognised the strategic importance of the Bramber Rape [term describing the division of areas in Sussex] for defending the weak spots on the coastline near Shoreham. His baron William de Braose was granted the land to maintain the Norman stronghold against invasion and in 1073 built both the church and the remains of the castle that can be seen today.

There's not a lot left of the castle to be frank- just bits of the curtain wall and the tower which has become a bit of a local landmark. Although owned by English Heritage, it's open access and free entry to all so is a popular spot for folk of all ages to kick back and relax.

The church of St Nicholas is a bit of a curious egg ...rather stubby in appearance really. However, further investigation soon revealed that various bits have been lopped off during its life. The churchyard is awash with wild flowers. When I first met Mr GBT 25 years ago we used to call these white floral affairs Sodding Great Daisies. The first present I ever bought him was a wildflower book and from there we learnt that they are, of course, Oxeye Daisies. I still prefer our pet name for them. 

The notice board  in the porch kindly informed me that St Nicholas is dedicated to more individuals than any other Saint so I in turn [being a kind and generous soul] am going to impart this very same info here- children, sailors, virgins, merchants, pawnbrokers, apothecaries, perfumiers and Russia [oh and Bramber too I suppose]. I also gleaned that the 11th century Norman carvings are unusual but the staff with the Maltese Cross is a later 14th century addition and refers back to the connection with the Knights Templar who were associated with the land upon which St Mary's house [see below] now stands.

The house was our final port of call. The "house" bit is rather a misnomer as it was built as a monastic inn for pilgrims walking along the Downs from Winchester to Canterbury. The ground floor would have been open plan with dormitories upstairs but it was subdivided into rooms when it was sold to become a private dwelling. Still within private hands it is open to the public during the Summer months. More info here I have been meaning to go for ages and it didn't disappoint. Oh and I did do the ironing...I was in a much more receptive mood upon my return!


Friday 29 May 2015

Mystery Object

Any ideas? As ever, I'll put the answer up later!


PS This is a sweetcorn sheller.

Thursday 28 May 2015

Around One's Estate.... finds many spots of beauty. No bucolic scenes of pastoral loveliness though...haven't yet managed to turf the serfs off to give me that unimpeded view. Just the modern housing estate where I live. As ever enjoying discovering the extraordinary in the so called ordinary or the locally endearing as Betjeman referred to it. Indeed the very stuff our everyday lives are made up of. I've trained myself to look more [I still miss lots] not overlook these past few years and am thus rewarded with much beauty.

Cuckoo Flower or Ladies Smock as some may know it. This one has its own cuckoo spit [contains the nymph of the froghopper so dear old google tells me] but it derives its name from appearing at the same time as the first call of the cuckoo.

This I find is Hawthorn or May Flower. I had always thought them to be white or a very pale pink. Having identified it I'm now seeing it in lots of the hedgerows so not sure whether it's the same species of Hawthorn or not. If anyone can enlighten me I would be most pleased! I slog past this on my "running" gives me something to aim for as a marker on my second lap round.


Wednesday 27 May 2015

The Time Traveller.

I distinctly remember my parents telling me not to get into cars with strangers so why oh why did I not apply this simple rule to other modes of transport. Perhaps it was this that clouded my judgement?

Against my better judgement I went through the door.....

And found myself transported to this.....1815 I do believe.

If you choose to believe the more mundane version of events then this was the 45e Infanterie de Ligne reenactment group who visited my hometown at the weekend to mark the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo. As for the tardis and whether it's the real mccoy I'll leave that to you to decide!


Tuesday 26 May 2015

Upon Feeling A Little Fragile......

I warned Percy about quaffing too much of the lethal Hobbity Booze's bottle of Goblin Pee at one sitting. "Moderation dear boy is the key" I sagely advised him.

Sadly it would appear it all fell upon deaf ears.

He was looking a little worse for wear and feeling just a tad sorry for himself when I left for work this morning. Serves him right!

Yes get the flags out Aril has completed another project. I am very much a novice knitter and this was the first time I've ever followed a knitting pattern on my own without help. Not helped by the fact that it was aimed at intermediate knitters it did pose quite a challenge for me but  I was determined to finish it despite the colourful cussing along the way. I will not be making another one though.


Monday 25 May 2015

Church Crawler

It is with great delight that I have learnt that there is a name for all this ecclesiastical snooping I do...yes I confess I am a church crawler. Rather anoraky and perhaps more than a smidge of the train spotter chic about it but hey there are worse sorts of crawler I could be ...[thinking pavement edges here] so with unabashed joy allow me to inflict some of the photos from the wanderings from this year so far that didn't make the final cut the first time. Gloriously random as ever.

Burial 18th century style. No shying away from the matter in hand here with thick overlaid Victorian sentimentality...skull and bones it is. [Dunsfold, Surrey]

A couple taken at Berwick, East Sussex. You often find that churches are built on pre Christian sites even on raised manmade sites such as Dunsfold. This one still has the burial mound in the churchyard with the cross on top. Old meets new.

A little visual reminder in the way of scripture boards mounted on the wall in Swingfield, Kent.

Unique survival in Slaugham, Sussex. Norman font with a pike [maybe]. A fish was an early symbol of Christianity. The other shot is of the Richard Covert monument which is notable for its fine carving- the faces are so realistic that it is probable that they are true depictions of the people they were meant to represent.

Enough for now...once the anorak is through the wash I shall zip myself in and with hood up against the wind and rain of the great British summer that may very well be just around the corner I shall be back to report upon further crawler findings.


Sunday 24 May 2015

Upon Being Cultured.

I like to think of myself as a few levels above your average Philistine. For I know of Richard III

Or the slightly maverick take on Shylock's famous speech in The Merchant of Venice delivered by a wag called Stephanie in our English 'O' level class in approximately 1982 and met by raucous snorting and sniggering by her equally mature 14 year old class mates:

"If you prick us do we not breed?"

However, to show how grown-up I can pretend to be now please allow me to redress the balance and stop the Bard of Avon from spinning in his grave. Here is the original...very moving and sadly still as relevant today as it was then.

"I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands,organs,dimensions,senses,affections, passions;fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, heal'd by the same means, warm'd and cool'd by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, do we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that."


Saturday 23 May 2015

Nul Points

Perhaps I should be a tad embarrassed at even admitting this but I am brass necked and don't give a monkeys for tonight I am going to party with chums and watch the Eurovision Song Contest. Naturally I take it all very seriously and take great umbrage at every sarcastic utterance that issues forth from the lips of Mr Norton [not]. Removing my tongue firmly from the side of my cheek I love the naffness of the whole event. We will be ready scorecards in one hand drinkies in the other...maybe even a quick game of Bingo might be on the cards. More ideas to lead you astray here

As for me personal choice for best track ever [none of that schmaltzy puppy love type dross] nope good old Finland's Lordi [to my mind they look remarkably similar to some of the cast members of Lord of the Rings]. I applaud Finland for breaking the mould once again with this year's entry even though they didn't qualify.

Good luck [I'd wish you the luck of the Irish but sadly they didn't get through this year either] to Electric Velvet.


Friday 22 May 2015

A Simple Rustic Supper.

High time for a recipe methinks. This easy peasy one graced our supper table last night. I live with two committed carnivores and whilst a meat eater myself, I more often than not happily tuck into meat free meals. I get verbal reminders if there are too many veggie meals on the trot but this one disappeared at the speed of light!

Potato, Leek and Rosemary Pizza

 Thin pizza base or pitta breads [I know you can make your own but I am a lazy mare with a life is too short attitude to such things as making my own dough I'm afraid!]
12oz small red skinned potatoes [or a tin of basics cooked potatoes sliced in our case to save time]
1 leek thinly sliced
1 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves
2 garlic cloves crushed
150g mozarella sliced
either handful of strong grated cheddar or non veggie 3oz pancetta cubes

Preheat oven 210C. Grease a baking tray. Halve potatoes lengthwise and cut into thin slices. Cook in boiling water for 5 mins, add leek and cook for 2 mins. [if you're using precooked pots put raw leek onto pizza and bake for an extra 5 mins at 190C to stop burning]. Drain and spread over pizza. Top with garlic, mozarella, rosemary and cheddar [or pancetta if using] . Bake 15 mins.


P.S Mr GBT kindly cooked on this occasion.

Thursday 21 May 2015


I consider myself truly lucky to be surrounded by kind people both friends and family wise. This is a blessing so easy to overlook when the anxiety gremlin is demanding my attention. Today I am giving thanks for the souls in my life- you know who you are. I am not by a nature an overly sentimental person but the simplicity of these two epitaphs that I've seen over recent months appealed to me. In a few well chosen words they give a true sense of the people and how treasured they were. Moving tributes with that good old dash of British reserve.


Wednesday 20 May 2015


Maybe once upon a time these two Azaleas [mind you I am making an educated guess here...I do know that they're not daisies!] were planted sensibly side by side with a reasonable spacing between so that you could appreciate the separate colours. Nature definitely had different plans and over time they've become interwoven to become this great mass of acid colours. As this is la-la Blogland and I'm pretending that my life is all rosy please note that the photo has been cropped to edit out the car, road sign, hydrant sign and fence. Well we don't want all that ugly realistic detail marring the pleasure now do we!!


Tuesday 19 May 2015


Please don't fall off your perch it's not that kind of announcement...pitter patter of tiny feet type announcements are long since past.  This is Baby as she's been called.

Being a snouty old bird I was beaking around online when I discovered that the The British Museum of Folklore  had set up a project last year to create a Morris Dancing archive. Those sides that were interested were sent a blank doll and asked to return it dressed in their kit along with photos and a potted history. Rather gingerly I mentioned it to Mythago and was delighted that they were keen. J took up the challenge and has made a superb job of it. Initially the New Rocks foxed her but M, who's an amazing leather worker, stepped in and saved the day. Here's me in my get up for comparison purposes. I believe that there's to be an exhibition at some point over the summer.


Monday 18 May 2015

Plans are just that and can always changed.

It was with shock and a great deal of sadness that we learnt that a young person at my son's college took their life last week. That person was 17 and had their whole life ahead of them. Much loved by her family, they had no inkling that the young person was suffering from mental health issues. I cannot even begin to imagine the utter devastation the many people who loved her must feel as they are left reeling from the shock.  Such tragedies make me take a step back and take stock.

My son is doing exams at the moment and is, rarely for him, showing the pressure. I am driving home the message that despite one having not gone well no result is that important in the grand scheme of is a mistake and mistakes can be rectified, plans can be changed...academic success does not make the person whole. We have talked it through and if [and it's only an if] things have gone belly up I have assured him we can sort things out. People have different gifts, strengths and abilities in a myriad of fields and I love people for who they are not by just what they have "achieved" in life which can be measured in £ signs or bits of paper. A dear chum W showed me this talk on youtube. Sir Ken Robinson makes some very salient points delivered in a light hearted way.


Sunday 17 May 2015

Surprise me!

I do so love to bake so I have made it my duty to make birthday cakes for all the family. Nothing fancy mind just a Victoria sandwich with various flavourings. Last week I sent an email to my Dad to ask him what type he would like this year or did he want me to choose. "Surprise me" he replied. Drumroll......ta-dah orange and almond cake.

Very moreish and not a morsel left!


Saturday 16 May 2015

Taking Time To Breathe.

Being a self-employed bod these days I don't tend to take time off unless I'm feeling pretty rough or away as obviously I don't get paid leave like the old days of working pre redundancy.However, I have managed to organise my housesparkling joblets so that I end up with every other Tuesday free. Of late I have started to sneak a bit of extra cleaning in for people or spend the whole day chasing my tail getting up to date with domestic trivia. It's a slippery slope so I made sure that I reclaimed this one and relaxed properly with some of my closest friends. Armed with tea making equipment and buns they took me on a route in the hills behind our town which was unfamiliar to me. It was glorious weather and quiet. I delighted in glimpsing two roe deer and a red kite which are still fairly rare up this far. I returned home refreshed and renewed.

Firstly please forgive my probable ignorance but this was the first time I have ever seen the flowers on an oak before. I was ridiculously thrilled at my little discovery!

Lots of other trees are flowering right now- here we have Hawthorn and Horse Chestnut [I think but not sure whether the latter has both pink and white flowers?]

King Alfred's Cakes fungus ie looks like burnt cakes. Again please correct me if I'm wrong!

A man of the woods....I love his face!

Bracket fungus of some description.

View across my town from the hill top and one of the ponds possibly formed from an old bomb crater.

Finally, these really are llamas- they are used at one of our local nature reserves to graze the pastures. Rather blurry I'm afraid as they were a long way off.


Friday 15 May 2015

Indoor Planters

One of the things that I like about the concept of gardening [note I only do any gardening when I am dragged out there kicking and screaming but I enjoy the efforts of others!] is the endless opportunities to recycle and repurpose. With a very modest mud hut and a North facing postage sized stamp of a garden there's nowhere to house a green house and I am a right royal pain about tidiness [translates as a bit of an old baggage about the whole matter] so not much scope for trays of seedlings indoors.

 Mr GBT's a mighty fine soul though and he grows some veg each year. Some we buy as small plants as we don't need many but a few varieties he grows from seeds. I found the following link during the winter for making your own indoor propagators. The teen didn't take much encouraging to down a few bottles of pop and hey presto Mr GBT made our own for the butternut squash seeds last weekend. I shall let you know how it goes.


Thursday 14 May 2015

Alfriston Part Two

This is the Old Clergy House which was the first property ever bought by the then newly formed National Trust in 1896. As you can see from the picture below it really was on its last legs!

To be perfectly frank it's pretty diddy and there's not a great deal to see inside. However, the room steward was delighted to find bat droppings on the table at the far end when we were there. It meant that the colony of Natterer's Bats had returned to their roost in the hall. It has apparently been their residence of choice for the past century!

The garden may be small but I enjoyed the colourful plantings that the team have put together. The chard is fantastic and I have a real thing for blooms that are either black or deep purple.

We'll worth stopping by if you're in the vicinity I'd say.


Peace and Love

 Peace and love...two things the world needs more than ever. I saw the painted house when I was away recently and came across these two beau...