Friday 31 July 2015


Now the schools have broken up and the summer holidays are in full swing I am finding I have the odd session free during the week as clients who have school age children go away. I use the spare time productively but sometimes that means taking the decision to have an hour or more out or a holi-hour as I like to term it. As they say a change of scene is as good as a rest. 

Today Mr GBT and I took a stroll down the town to take a peek at some of these. This is the Elephantastic Trail which was launched last weekend. It's been set up by our Rotary Club to fundraise for a variety of good causes. They will be auctioned off in a month's time. I should think it's manna from heaven for some of the parents as, other than a pound for the trail leaflet, it's a brilliant way to keep the kidlets entertained. My son would have loved it- as I have alluded to before in previous posts elephants were his world when he was younger. A brilliant idea and I hope they raise loads!

And why the devil not whilst we're on the topic of pachyderms here's the real thing chasing swallows.


Thursday 30 July 2015

Morris Dancing in Miniature.

Saturday saw Mythago making their annual return to Eastbourne for the Lammas Festival. It's always a good 'un but I've written about it before and by and large it doesn't alter than much from year to year. I've met a new side this season called Wicked Belly Morris. Fab set of lady dancers with sticking skills second to none [I might be just a tad jealous...strictly professional envy you understand] They are also wickedly funny and friendly and always look like they are having a ball. They seem to start their dancers off young...this little lady is 2 and sometimes she performs and sometimes she doesn't. It depends which way the wind is blowing and besides toddlers don't have to do reasonable...they do what they want if my memory serves me correctly. That's her Mummy in green. As they quipped...a dance written for four and a half dancers!


Wednesday 29 July 2015

All is not lost.

As I recently mentioned whilst away I reached a few personal decisions that are bringing in some positive changes. The running is going ok- I was asked if I'd like to join a friend for a 10k race in September. Being a bit of people pleaser my natural inclination is to say yes as I don't like to offend people, but for once I trusted my instinct and politely turned it down. Maybe one day but if I do, it would be more likely to be done for charity.

The situation in the world on lots of fronts has really been troubling me of late....infact scaring the crap out of me to be honest. A few years ago I stopped watching the News or shall I rephrase that as The Bad News but I've got slack and started reading some really terrible rags online so I'm partly to blame. It all gets a bit addictive but I seem to have broken myself of the habit since I've been home. Don't think I've become a Pollyanna...I'm still hearing things but not deliberately seeking them out. This micky take of the tabloid press really isn't that far off the mark.

This article has come up on Book of the Face feed today. Just the tonic I needed In my own little way I have been trying to do my bit for my part of the world in which I live and I shall continue with my efforts. It has to make a difference and I will continue to actively search out more ways I can contribute.

"What this world needs is a new kind of army- the army of the Kind"
Cleveland Amory


Tuesday 28 July 2015

Gardens, Gluts and Gluttony.

Right now we have lots of these

and lots of these. 

Along with courgettes, beans and raspberries coming through thick and fast. Leeks will be later in the season. The onions are drying in the garage and the raspberries are being frozen for jam making. Mr GBT is the clever chap behind our I just make sure we use it all and partake in the eating of it. I'm also incredibly lucky because I have a friend and a client with allotments who generously give me their surpluses as they know I will use every scrap of it. Waste not want not is the mantra here at GBT. When I get the chance I do try to share with them whatever I've made.

Yesterday saw me using up courgettes. I made a lovely mixed veg ratatouille type base with them along with some of our onions, a green pepper, a tin of tomatoes, a goodly splodge of tomato puree, rosemary from the herb bed and to it I made indents and added seasoned eggs. This is then covered in grated cheese and baked at 180C for about an hour. As ever mindful of the leccy consumption [I have my squeaky bottomed reputation to maintain I'll have you know!] I baked a tray of flapjacks and a courgette tea bread. I would have taken a piccie but the bluddy thing has split in half length ways so looks a bit of a dog's dinner to be honest [that put paid to the la-la blogland version of my life that I was going to spin you- knickers!]. Tastes good and has a really interesting topping of a large pinch of sea salt mixed with 1/2 tbsp demerara sugar. I would share the recipe but Waitrose haven't put it online. It's in their July magazine.

For a very brief moment I dipped my toe into the gardening pool and planted some Linara seeds. Despite my black thumbs they did flower but have now died back. They were pretty whilst they lasted but I have retreated back to my excellent position of armchair garden from where I can oversee the operations!


Monday 27 July 2015

The gift of friendship.

Up until my last big girl's job I never mixed work with pleasure. I've worked with some really lovely people over the years but it's been my personal choice to keep my private life separate. The last company I worked for was a completely different kettle of fish. It was a training company and I had originally gone along as a student except I never quite left! It was owned and run by a married couple who treated us amazingly well. After a couple of years they recruited another ex student who over time has become an incredibly close friend. A fellow Druid, we celebrate the wheel of the year together, and she always makes me laugh....we belly laugh the whole time. She's one of those people that plays it completely straight. You know where you stand with her, she calls a spade a spade but I completely trust her.

Last time I saw her she handed over this pentacle she'd made me. I'd admired the one she'd made for herself on a previous occasion. There was no ceremony just a brief explanation that she thought I might like one of my own. Such a touching gesture and yes I love it particularly as it seems it was made to go with the picture my son painted when he was a small person. That was the occasion when they'd been looking at Sunflowers by Van Gogh and then they'd painted their own versions. The school was good....they got them all framed and then held an art exhibition and us parents willingly bought our little darlings's pictures. I seem to remember the teacher muttering about how my child had defied the instruction and taken it upon himself to paint in the dark shadowing effect...mmm I went outwardly agreeing but inwardly cheering his freedom of spirit! He was, as now, charming but stubborn and not scared to plough his own furrow despite what his parents and others might say!


Sunday 26 July 2015

Tewkesbury Abbey.

This was started in 1102 and amazingly today it remains remarkably intact. I am much more familiar with the haunting beauty of the bare boned ruins of the abbeys which met their demise at the hands of the hammer wielding Dissolution Bully Boys. Tewkesbury Abbey took a slightly different path which ensured its preservation for the locals protested that it was their local parish church and bought it from the Crown. It really struck me how magnificent the others must have looked in their heyday prior to being smashed to smithereens.

Now if the exterior was impressive I was in for a mighty great shock when I clapped eyes on the inside. Breath taking. Soaring columns with a vaulted roof high above me created an immense feeling of light and space.

  A close up of a couple of the rather splendid roof bosses. They're quite a long way up so tricky to see with the naked eye.

This is the Suns in Splendour- the Yorkist Suns- built after the Yorkist victory in 1471.

The Wakeman Cenotaph [Wakeman was the last abbot]. A rather gruesome affair I'm sure you'd agree and one that seems to have fallen by the way side fashion wise. I mean who could fail to see the appeal of being depicted as a rotting corpse in an open shroud whilst the likes of a snail, worm, mouse and frog heartily feast upon your entrails eh! Macabre yes but it still draws the eye.

Detailing on the tomb of Richard Cheltenham [Abbot 1481-1509]. The image is of a scallop shell and a palmer crutch which shows that he had been on a pilgrimage.

Yes the abbey has some incredible relics of the past but the modern sits happily along side. These windows were designed by Tom Denny in 2002. Called "To work is to pray" they were commissioned to mark the 900th anniversary and I just loved the quality of the light they cast.

To be honest it was a bit of a whistle stop tour this time as we skedaddled round before I had to be back for my first stand so I fully intend to spend more time there next time and really look round more carefully as I'm quite sure I missed some gems. Regrettably all I can offer is a taster on this occasion.


Saturday 25 July 2015

Ruthless Rhymes.

Mr Harry Graham poet of scorching wit meant what he fluffy bunnies here. Oh no cutting, gruesome wit perfectly tuned into the humour of children. These two were published in 1899.


Aunt Jane observed the second time
She tumbled off a bus
The step is short from the Sublime
To the Ridiculous.

Inconsiderate Hannah

Naughty little Hannah said
She could make Grandma whistle
So, that night, inside her bed
Placed some nettles and a thistle.

Though dear Grandma quite infirm is
Heartless Hannah watched her settle
With her poor epidermis 
Resting up against a nettle.

Suddenly she reached a thistle!
My! You should have heard her whistle.

A successful plan was Hannah's
But I cannot praise her manners.


Friday 24 July 2015

Magical Moments.

I have recently resumed studying a course I started ten years ago but didn't continue with. Real life got in the way and my attention was most definitely elsewhere. Life is thankfully more settled these days and I have more free time. One of the recent lessons has been about mindfulness...taking the time to notice what's going on at any given moment [easier said than done in my case- my anxiety keeps me and my brain very busy if I let it] so you don't miss the beauty or the gifts each day offers. Frankly I'm better at this business when I'm housesparkling for my clients as I go into a different zone- the homes I clean are familiar to me and the physicality of cleaning can be quite meditative.  However, sometimes I have the attention of a....oooh look a butterfly....except last Friday it was one of these.

A Ghost Moth quietly catching 40 winks on the breadboard. I don't know who was more startled- it or me when I disturbed it. Actually I couldn't work out what I was looking at when I first encountered it. Am pleased to report that it made good its escape from the balcony. Sorry about the photo quality but I only had my phone on me.


Thursday 23 July 2015

4th May 1471

The Battle of Tewkesbury. A time of Knights and Ladies.

Musicians and falconry.

Beliefs in magic, dragons and nature spirits.

A time of upheaval as the Yorkists led by King Edward IV continued to fight against the Lancastrians led by Edward, Prince of Wales for control of the crown of England. Skirmishes and violence. Bloodloss on both sides. The Prince was killed on the battlefield and the King emerged triumphant in this round of the Battle of the Roses.

Execution for those who would not turncoat.

Beheadings....erm hang on and fast forward to a rerun of the historical events 2015 style. This was the magnificent annual Tewkesbury Medieval Festival which is the biggest draw for Reenactors in Europe. In fact 1500 of them to give you a more accurate picture. Many come across the continent to join in and recreate the roles the mercenaries played on both sides and of these the majority take it very seriously. As for the English contingent...well you know us and our zany sense of humour. Yes it was done properly but there were many occasions when it was played firmly with the tongue in the side of our cheek. See if you can spot the odd non Medieval anomaly a certain Morris side!!

Back to the matter of removing the head from the shoulders....hugely realistic papier mache ones...Not!

And then there was the parade where the great and the good of Tewkesbury pulled out all the stops.

The Hags with the dung cart.

A selection of the carnival models made possible with the National Lottery Grant.

A selection of the slightly less erm traditional entrants.

We were sandwiched between the Brownies and the Mobility Scooter Knights and Ladies and quite frankly we weren't quite sure what to expect. Certainly not this but what good sports. That was the fantastic thing about the whole weekend. Everyone threw themselves into it with great gusto and the amazing thing is the whole thing is FREE! I really hope that I get the chance to return next year.


Wednesday 22 July 2015

So now you know.

I just love finding out the origins of some of the everyday phrases we use which when you step back and really think about them frankly don't make a lot of sense. I've been saving these ones from the past few months until I had enough for a post's worth.

Frog in your throat

It was believed that if you gargoyled with dried frog mixed with white wine this would cure a throat infection.


From the days of smuggling. Contraband was hidden down long boots- although the customs men would pat you down searching for goods they were unlikely to check your footwear.

Dutch Courage

Gin [then called Jenever] was supposedly invented as a cure all for ailments such as lumbago by Franciscus Sylvius and was sold as a medicine. Soldiers from the Low Countries took it to control their pre battle nerves and give them the courage to fight.

Top Dog and Under Dog

Both come from the positions the men had in the saw pit. The underdog was the poor fellow who stood in the pit beneath the log and got covered in sawdust.


Tuesday 21 July 2015

The Ladies of the Vale.

Frankly I was foxed when my Dad sent me a text to ask me if I would be visiting "The Ladies of the Vale". Now I understand to what he was referring....

The three spires of Lichfield cathedral. We decided to take a pit stop here to break our journey home and besides I have a bun and caffeine addiction I need to feed! We didn't spend long in the city but I was very taken with what I saw so I think it would be rude not to revisit next time we're in the vicinity.

The cathedral is dedicated to St Chad and there is still a place for pilgrims to light a candle. However, his remains were transferred to Birmingham after the Reformation. This so called Lichfield Angel was discovered in 2003 when excavations were carried out within the building. It is a Saxon carving and is a rare survival. Originally it was painted in red, yellow, white and black with a gold halo and precious stones for eyes. The information board said that it had come from a limestone box and the theory goes that this might have been the one which housed Chad's relics.

Various medieval paintings remain.

 And this the Bishop's chair- indeed the cathedra from where the term cathedral is derived. The cathedral church I have just learnt was simply the building in which to house the Bishop's seat!

To round off more shots which made the nosey bone twitch as I was flying past in pursuit of the elusive cake!! Ne'er fear- it was mission accomplished. Believe you me you take your life in your hands if you stray across my path before I've slaked my thirst with the first coffee of the day!!

As promised this is the last smug holiday post. On to more recent doings as of now....Scout's honour!


Rest awhile and smile.

I parked my ample rump on that there bench and followed the instructions on its plaque.  It wasn't exactly an onerous task to have to re...