Saturday 27 June 2015

A Brief Blogging Respite

I'm taking a very small and well earned blogging break for a few days. Real life and adventures call so I shall be back very soon with a full report. In the meantime I shall be down the end of the garden in the potting shed...obviously not gardening but with my feet up, reading a good book and a cup of tea to my side.

See you soon- be naughty!


Friday 26 June 2015

Life's a bore!

Samantha the Panther [aka Humphrey] briefly considered doing a little something extra beyond breathing on Wednesday. Having thought about it he quickly reached the conclusion that he was still suffering from the strain of the momentum of his rather portly tummy slapping against his front legs as he rushed down the stairs for tea so a mighty yawn it was and a speedy return to his normal state of complete suspended animation.

Seriously though he's getting along rather well. He's a gorgeously straightforward chap who is tremendously affectionate towards us. He is still however, very wary of anybody else and tends to hare off at the first opportunity. He remains resolutely stout and always in the market for a snack. I'm not so keen on his penchant for live mice. He let the last one go in our front room but I think he must have caught it later on as three weeks down the line I can't smell anything thank goodness. Yes definitely an all round good egg!


Thursday 25 June 2015

Sun Down

As a Druid, marking the seasons as the wheel moves round is very important to me. By and large I do this quietly with my closest friends behind closed doors. There are no photos- it's a private affair enjoyed by us all. From time to time though the opportunity arises for me to celebrate with like minded souls.

This year Mythago were kindly invited by Sompting Morris to celebrate sun down on the Solstice up on the top of Highdown Hill above Angmering. After the sun had set torches and a flaming beacon were lit in celebration. It really was incredibly atmospheric to dance in the middle of a circle of people back lit in this way and it has does nothing to lessen my addiction to Morris Dancing I'm afraid!


Wednesday 24 June 2015


As it's midsummer and the traditional time for fairies this poem seems rather apt for today.

The Stolen child 

Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats;
There we've hid our faery vats,
Full of berrys
And of reddest stolen cherrys.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim gray sands with light
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances
Mingling hands and mingling dances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping that you can understand.

Away with us he's going,
The solemn-eyed:
He'll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.
For here he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than he can understand.

W B Yeats

Tuesday 23 June 2015

Kingley Vale Part Two

Nowadays Kingley Vale is an SSI. The wood is set at the bottom and then there's a steep walk up Bow Hill but it's well worth the effort as you are greeted with the sight of several different styles of Bronze age burial mounds. These are known as the Devil's Humps or the Kings' Graves as, so the legend goes, the good men of Chichester took on and beat the Vikings and their Kings are buried here [ don't let the fact that the tumuli predate the Vikings by ten minutes or so spoil a good story now will you!] At night time supposedly the trees move around and the ghosts of the Kings haunt any foolhardy soul who visits after the witching hour.

This is the view back down from the summit of the hill. That's a dew pond which is full of white water lilies that you can see in the distance. The darker trees are the yews.

One of the things I loved about this walk was seeing all the flora and fauna. Most of the butterflies didn't tarry long enough for me to get a shot so I was quite chuffed with my shot of this female Common Blue which I took with my little press and point camera. Mr GBT took all the other shots.

White Campion



White Bryony

Cinnibar Moth

This is such a special place. It only has a small car park which can get busy at times but there is no charge. If you're visiting the county it's a real hidden gem.


Monday 22 June 2015

Kingley Vale Part One

Kingley Vale is one of the best preserved yew woods in Europe and the estimated dates for the trees vary anything between 800-2000 years old. It's been about 10 years or so since we last visited but this time we took some local friends with us who wanted to go but had never quite got round to it [I know the feeling]. If you like yews this place will take your breath away.

The nature of the way yews grow and their papery bark creates some beautiful lines and textures and with the human propensity to see faces in things I definitely glimpsed one or two things apparently "looking" back at me!

It's very dark but the colours and shapes are eye catching.

This one just says "boar" to me and the one below definitely looks like it's trying to escape its wooden incarceration. Slightly creepy I'd say.

I will be back with some more shots of the things I saw in my next post.


Sunday 21 June 2015

Summer Solstice 2015

This natural tree formation looks like a tree spirit to me. Bright blessings to all who celebrate the old ways.


Saturday 20 June 2015

Surprise, surprise!

I came home from work rather hot and bothered earlier this week only to find the above on my doorstep along with a bag of fresh spinach and one of chard. My Morris Dancing chum had stopped by unexpectedly and left me with some of the surplus of her allotment. Such a lovely surprise- it quite lifted my mood. I have inflicted a bottle of my elderflower champagne upon her in return so the bartering economy is alive and well here in Sussex!


Friday 19 June 2015

The Medieval Medicine Chest.

This was the title of a most amazing course I attended at the Weald and Downland last weekend. Run by Cathy Flower-Bond she was a splendid lady and a source of incredible information. I really enjoyed the combination of learning and hands on experience the day offered. Obviously for reasons of copyright I don't want to replicate the content here but I'm sure she wouldn't mind if I shared some of the fascinating asides she threw in as the conversation meandered onto other loosely related topics during the day. Here she is wearing the clothes she makes herself showing the fashions of the early and later Medieval period.

These were taken of the garden and herb borders at Pendean House in the museum.

Nettles- surely one of the most amazing plants used throughout history yet largely ignored by us today or seen as a weed. I myself have tried it in tea, soup, pesto and made string from it. I know it's favoured by butterflies and can be used to make paper, beer and that it was used to dye the uniforms in WWI [WWII green came from hops] but it can also be used to make a silk like fabric. It holds its shape when folded so was used to make the Medieval headwear the ladies wore. It gives a yellow dye if used earlier in the season.

And to leave you with a few random morsels. The Tudors cleaned their teeth with dried ground up mice eek eek! Onions were left on the window sill at night to repel the devil. Red was believed to be medicinally beneficial hence Elizabeth I was wrapped in a red blanket when she had small pox. Chamomile lawns originated as a means of masking the smell of the urine of people tiddling on the grass and pigsties often had a toilet in them as it was found the swine would eat human faeces worms and all. They had an immunity to the worms which was passed on to the humans once they were slaughtered and eaten.
There you go- never know what you're going to read next on this 'ere old blog of mine!


PS It was my Christmas present from my parents.

Thursday 18 June 2015

Sussex Folklore Map

'Tis a well known fact that I am a great lover of all things folklore. W and I went to a thrilling talk by the folklorist  Dr Jacqueline Simpson on Tuesday evening at the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairytales and Fantasy. I am excited to report that they have produced a free map for the county which links back to Dr Simpson's book "Sussex Folklore" but also includes a plethora of other related information. The final version is to be launched at the end of October. If you notice any omissions or know any other pertinent details they've asked if you could please email them as they want it to be as accurate as possible. Link here


Wednesday 17 June 2015

Erm Squirm.

Once upon a time when the world was flat and the moon was made of cheese I worked in an office for a big insurance company. Lovely people but definitely not my natural environment. At that time I shared a phone extension with another lady and one day I answered the phone and was a trifle surprised to be met with the opening line:

" Hello, are you the woman I go to bed with?"

This was followed by a bit of a cough and a splutter on my part before I recognised the voice and replied:

" I can get her for you if you like....."

Deathly silence....
It was my colleague's husband! I did meet him subsequently and a jolly nice fellow he was too but I didn't let on that I had been the recipient of his lusty call!! Bet he didn't do that again snigger!


Tuesday 16 June 2015

Sussex Day

Since 2006 the 16th June has apparently been Sussex Day. This has only come to my attention within the last few weeks and that above is the Sussex flag again of which I knew nowt! The six birds represent the six rapes [boroughs] of the county and the date is the one upon which St Richard of Chichester's body was moved to its current resting place in the nave in the cathedral in 1276.

Coincidentally I shall be down in Chi today attending a folklore talk with my chum W. To neatly dovetail the post I thought a short 16th century Sussex folklore tale about the giant of Brede was in order.

Sir Goddard Oxenbridge was a 7' giant of a man and the story goes that he ate a child every night after dark and could not be killed by any metal weapon. He met his demise when a group of angry Sussex children got him drunk and then killed him with a wooden saw at Groaning Bridge. In real life he was a god fearing gentleman and the owner of Brede Place [Brede is a small village nowadays]. He was knighted by Henry VIII in 1509 and is now buried in the local church. As for the story...Brede Place was a hiding place favoured by smugglers so they may well have fabricated the tale to keep certain people at bay.


Monday 15 June 2015

2nd Anniversary.

Somehow I find that I have been wittering for two whole years the hell did that happen. To be honest I wasn't sure how long I'd stick at this blogging lark but I have to say I love it. Always was a sucker for the written word so may I just thank all of you who are so kind to drop by and I really appreciate the comments you take the time and trouble to leave.

As ever a random photo of strangeness that tickled my fancy.


Sunday 14 June 2015

Grave Notice.

Erm....there's not a lot one can say when faced with an instruction such as this. My inner geek feels that it should have had an exclamation mark added at the end just to add further kudos. Needless to say I obeyed and no graves were walked upon in the taking of this image!


Saturday 13 June 2015

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No...It's

A hummingbird hawk moth.

I was beside myself with excitement when one visited our garden on Monday. Such a speedy little blighter we couldn't get a photo but it returned today. It has a definite penchant for the Valerian. I've seen them elsewhere in the country but this is my first time in Sussex. Several local friends and families have confirmed they have seen them too. Am just so chuffed!


Friday 12 June 2015

The Blues.

Fear not...we're not talking head in hands type blues here but of the wildflower variety. Phew!

Bugle. This is literally just round the corner from my abode.


Comfrey from across the road- discovered when I was poking about in the verge looking for elderflowers.

As in the words of dear old Del Boy "lovely jubbly"!


Thursday 11 June 2015

Champers dear boy?

Swing top bottles courtesy of freecycle. Elderflowers now harvested and 5 bottles of champagne hopefully now beginning to bubble. This is my first foray into this particular brew. Other flowers have been frozen and will be made into the 2015 Elderfaerie batch of Hobbity Booze in a few weeks time.


Wednesday 10 June 2015

Brassed Off.

With an attack of cabin fever looming on Sunday I decided on the spur of the moment to head out to a local village [more of a junction really that everyone whizzes through to get to Brighton] just up the road called Cowfold.

Having recently read that the local church houses the biggest brass  in Sussex dedicated to one Thomas Nelond [prior of Lewes 1420-29] and having, of course, not done my homework I rather naively assumed it would be up on the wall.  Nadda...not a trace. Beginning to think I had imagined the whole thing I noticed a long stretch of carpet padlocked down. Yes you've guessed it. Not surprising really as it's been knocking around a fair few hundred years it's suffered a fair amount of wear and tear from the sheer number of tootsies that have trundled across it over the centuries and is now protected. To save anyone from repeating my blunder it can be viewed by appointment. I meanwhile have had to content myself with an image of it instead.

No matter. Several other little nuggets were gleaned which made the trip over more than worthwhile.

The churchyard has various examples of body stones- these were dummy gravestones intended to deter the body snatchers from going about their grisly business. No photos as they were obviously intended to be difficult to identify in amongst all the genuine ones!

The church has three lovely examples of lancet windows. The quarries [the individual geometric panes of glass] are at least from the beginning of the 14th century as yellow stain was not used prior to that date.

These two Cowfold fellows are making a sterling job of holding up the the stonework. Mr GBT saw them tucked away at the back behind a screen. Closer inspection reveals they're different with their arms pointing in up and down.

In a previous post here I first made mention of the importance of folklore relating to bees in Sussex. If you didn't share your tidings good or otherwise, known as "telling it to the bees", all sorts of misfortune may befall you. I was tickled to read the following story along the same lines which was framed on one of the window ledges.

When a death occurred the etiquette was that you tapped on the wooden hive to inform them otherwise the bees would disappear permanently. For many years the Rectory had persistently been invaded by bees and all attempts to remove them had failed. However, the sudden death of the Archdeacon after a very short illness caused them to buzz off. They had not been told!

So what started out as a bit of a potential harrumph trip actually provided me with lovely little stories and images to come home with.


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