Monday 30 November 2015

Saturday 28 November 2015

Out of Order

This is the art work's official name. Frankly it puts me in mind of a certain teenogre after a night on the tiles, but then there's a reason why I'm not a big name in the Art World [yet!]. By David Mach, it'll be a familiar piece to anyone who has pounded the streets of Kingston.


Friday 27 November 2015

City Wildlife.

Sounds like a contradiction in terms but even on my short walk over to Kingston in the drizzle earlier this week I was stunned when a turquoise torpedo shot past me in the gap between the side of the boat and the river bank. It could only mean one thing...a Kingfisher. I barely had time to even register it before it was gone.

Then round the corner under one of the bridge arches one of these- a heron. Arty L said it's normally there. The water moves rapidly and it's found a perfect place to fish. It's quite used to bemused humans watching it although I suspect the majority miss it as it's tucked away. I took a photo but it's awful- dark, drizzle and a Janet and John press and point do not make for Simon King type snaps so you'll have to content yourself with this much prettier depiction

These images and the ones below form part of the Red Wall Mosaic which was created by the Save the World Club. It deters people from vandalising the area and we discovered it by chance on our way back. Although living in the area this was the first time dear chum L had seen it. This is just a selection from some of the gorgeous artwork depicting our fantastic wildlife.


Thursday 26 November 2015

Old Father Thames...the alternative scene.

'Tis surprising what one finds when one strolls by the river from Surbiton to Kingston with dear chum arty L. A most welcome splash of colour in amongst all the rain and shorter days. Expressing one's individuality via one's boat house no less!


Wednesday 25 November 2015

St Catherine's Day

St Catherine met her maker in 305AD. Reputedly she refused to turn away from her devout Christian faith despite the pagan Emperor Maximinus II's best attempts. She failed to crack under pressure when he tortured her and then turned down his marriage proposal [one would think she had probably already drawn her own conclusions about what type of husband he might make judging by his previous form!]. Frustrated by his inability to force her to yield to his will he condemned her to die on a spiked wheel. Even this plan was thwarted when it shattered upon her touch so he ordered that she be executed by beheading instead. So next time you have a Catherine Wheel as part of your firework display spare poor old Cath a thought!

She is a much celebrated figure in France and has been adopted by the lacemakers in this country. Very much a women's saint she is one to whom spinsters traditionally prayed to help them find a husband. This is an English prayer summing up quite nicely what your average unmarried dame was after when she appealed to St Cath for her services:

A husband, St Catherine
A handsome one, St Catherine
A rich one, St Catherine
A nice one, St Catherine
And soon, St Catherine.

It was traditional to feast upon Cattern cakes accompanied by Hot Pot [ a rather evil sounding hot combination of rum, beer and eggs] to mark the day and celebrate her legacy.


Tuesday 24 November 2015

And The Grumpy Old Trout Went Out!

Overtired and snippy Sunday morning- that was me. Absolutely charming I was but thankfully Mr GBT put up with me being frankly a PITA and once I'd been out in the sunshine and enjoyed a local jolly I returned to The GB Towers in a far better frame of mind.

I've recently discovered and joined a Facebook group called "Strange Things Found In Churches". To my delight I find there are many other souls who take great delight in snooping around churches so I'm afraid this has made me ten times worse! I've got a list of places I'd like to visit including churches [I add more on as fast as I tick others off] and yesterday saw another one scored through.

 Nestling at the foot of the South Downs this is St Botolphs which is a late Saxon church, Dating from 950AD it was originally called St Peter De Vetrie Ponte [St Peter of the old bridge] as it stood at the western end of the bridge [no longer in existence] which was on the pilgrimage route from Canterbury to Winchester. It was renamed after the Norman Conquest.

The ownership of the church passed into the hands of the Churches Conservation Trust in 2014 who are now doing the sterling job of carrying out essential maintenance work. It still has the occasional service held in it and I have to say it exudes the most wonderful sense of peace as you enter. It is simple and unadorned but that is part of its charm for me and I was touched to see in the visitor book that people came  sought solace within its walls after the tragic events of the Shoreham Air Show disaster a few months ago.

I had to wonder if whoever added their mark to the church door got themselves into a spot of hot water upon its discovery?!

And this is a tapsell gate. Although this one is modern [2003] they are quite rare. Mounted on a central spindle they can swing all the way round and are named after a carpenter called John Tapsell.

Always mindful of making the most of our fuel we then dropped into St Mary's in nearby Washington. Parts of the building are 13th century but the Victorians had a whale of a time and ripped down great chunks of it willy nilly whilst they set about "improving" it. Frankly it's left the place a bit sanitised but I did give the thumbs up to the rather splendid wooden barrel vaulted ceiling and the rather Arts and Crafts type depiction of the four gospels. It is very much still a hub of the local community and seems to have adapted to the changing demands made of it. Guess that's got to be a good thing rather than seeing it fall into rack and ruin through a lack of use.


Monday 23 November 2015

Those Damn Druids

It appears we are responsible for all sorts of mischief...but then you knew that already didn't you!


Sunday 22 November 2015

Baby It's Cold Outside.

What the heck eh- knickers to the cold and rain. Best buddy S over, big mugs of tea, plate of homemade flapjacks, loads of jawing and erm several bottles of blindingly bright nail varnish. So what did we get up to.....

Drew a rough mandala pattern on the shiny side of an unwanted cd with a permanent marker and then used the varnish as paint. We plan to do the same with another one and then stick them togeher with double sided tape and hang them in our windows. Nothing sophisticated- just a bit of free recycled fun.


Saturday 21 November 2015

When times are tough.....

I don't watch the news these days nor do I read newspapers. For a moment last weekend I wondered about whether it was safe to go to London so soon after the tragic events that unfolded in Paris. However, it was only a moment and I quickly decided that I would absolutely carry on as normal. To do otherwise would be giving ground to these monsters. Russell's Howard's comments this week absolutely summed it all up for me along with the moving tributes and the sight of the Parisiennes queuing with quiet dignity to donate blood the next day. I've drawn comfort about the human spirit from many quarters and this is perfect. I saw many helpers.


Thursday 19 November 2015

And there was more....

Now being of a gnat bottomed disposition I do have my reputation to uphold you know. Therefore a train trip to London is a train trip not fully utilised if you only have one adventure. Racy old devil that I am had looked beyond just visiting 18 Folgate Street...instead I dragged Mr GBT and les parents to the current Celts exhibition that's running at the British Museum until January.

Once again no photography allowed but I can legitimately show you some of the exhibits that we saw as these are my photos from a previous visit. The museum have brought together items from across Europe into a most amazing display as it tracks the art of the different "Celtic" tribes [there wasn't a race of Celts and even the geographical location of those people who fall within this definition have changed over time] as it influenced those from the Romans right through to the present time. The beauty and detail on the items shown was stunning and they ranged from household, to jewellery, grave goods and weaponry. I won't reveal too much as I don't want to spoil it for those who might be yet to go.

The highlights for me were the huge range of torcs on display. I hadn't appreciated that they were used as a means of identifying yourself with other members of your tribe. The heaviest one weighs 1kg [the single one in the photo] and the styles and patterns vary enormously. One wouldn't have looked out of place in a Steampunk context- it was like a huge metal cog! X rays of broken ones retrieved from hoards such as Snettisham have revealed that the wire ones were make by wrapping the metal around a hazel core.

There were a variety of cooking vessels on display along with shields and helmets. Some familiar to me others not so. I still love this horned one found in the Thames- it was most likely to have been a votive offering to the Gods and the tiny birds on the spit and dragon on the flagon.

However. the absolute star of the show for me and indeed the reason that I decided to part with my hard earned wonga was the Gundestrup Cauldron. I have often admired it on television but never, in my wildest dreams, did I expect to see it in the flesh so to speak. It was discovered stacked in separate pieces in a Danish peatbog in 1891. Made from silver it is huge and decorated to an extraordinary level by many hands over many years. Each panel tells a different story of Gods, wars, mythical creatures. The most easily recognisable figure is the Horned one who is traditionally thought to be Cernunnos. As I can't put up any photos without clearing infringing copyright I shall close with this rather amusing little clip of one of the tales which has been animated. The instrument they are depicted playing is a carnyx


Wednesday 18 November 2015

Travelling Back In Time

18 Folgate Street, 
E1 6BX

Easy to recognise as it's the only one with a gas lit lamp outside and a non electric doorbell. Switch off all your modern day technology and leave the twenty first century at the threshold as you enter the world of the Jenvers family. Ten rooms set out in exquisite period detail from 1724-1914. Backlit by candlelight you are invited to view the dioramas in silence at your own speed as your mind weaves together different threads to form an imagined tale of the occupants who have left just before you. Discarded clues of their recent activities lie all around. There are pairs of earrings left on the side by the wearer, a pile of dirty linen in the corner of the bedroom and a half drunk cup of coffee still warm with its aroma wafting as you drift past.

Anyway back to reality and enough of my pretentious wafflings. It's a fascinating place to visit, but no photos allowed for which I am grateful really as I think it would take something away from the experience. Pared back to your senses as it is, a camera would only add an element of distraction. The house was owned and lived in by the artist Dennis Severs [1948-1999] who created this world of illusion around the imaginary Jenvers family. The rooms are set in different historical periods as they follow the fortunes of the Jenvers with an appropriate level of background noise enhancing the impression that those recently departed are just out of sight. It has an amazing level of detail and unlike the sets in Stately Homes the food is real and fresh and the different smells are genuine not chemical based. Even the diary is turned to the correct date. The biggest shock for me though came when the model black cat suddenly stretched and changed was most definitely the real, purring mccoy. I am quite possibly a bit of a philistine but I had no truck with the "Brian Sewell" type written instructions but I'm sure for others it would add an extra dimension. Definitely a fabulously unique experience. More info here [you have to prebook]


Tuesday 17 November 2015


This simple piece of artwork says it all for me. 

I've been gadding about these past couple of days so normal blogging service will be resumed tomorrow when I've basically got my act together!


Saturday 14 November 2015


In times such as, these when fear and hatred could become my overriding feelings, I have to seek balance and to remind myself that there are many people going about their daily lives doing amazingly selfless things who do not court attention and remain beneath the media radar. My thoughts today are with those in Paris

"True religion is just kindness"

Joanna Lumley


Thursday 12 November 2015

Being Catty

My chum Ice Badger and I compared notes about our felines at the weekend. Hers are currently getting up to some rather niffy antics inside the house as they don't want to brave the rain and she's had to reinstate the litter tray as a short term measure. I commiserated with her remembering how awful Psychocat was in that respect. Thankfully Humphrey is extremely well mannered and clean thank gawd! This reminded me of this cartoon I'd seen the previous day. I shared it with IB and we were both able to smile at it in an eye rolling kind of way....

Drat that cat!!

Wednesday 11 November 2015


"In remembrance of the fallen and the future of the living."
Royal British Legion

Tuesday 10 November 2015

Nail Cutting.

[Image from]

It never ceases to amaze me that the most mundane of chores can have a whole raft of folklore attached to it. I encountered the following rhyme from some folk related tome I read ages ago about how the day you choose to cut your nails can make all of the difference [who knew!!]

"Cut them on Monday you cut them for health
Cut them on Tuesday you cut them for wealth
Cut them on Wednesday you cut them for news
Cut them on Thursday a new pair of shoes
Cut them on Friday you cut them for sorrow
Cut them on Saturday see your true love tomorrow
Cut them on Sunday the devil will be with you all week."

If you've got white marks on your nails heaven help you- the outcome really depends where you land. A couple of examples are in Japan it means a new set of clothes is winging its way to you whereas in Massachusetts it's indicative of how many fibs you've told.

You don't want ridges on your nails...that foretells of approaching death whereas if you have a prominent half moon at the nail base this means you're of good stock.

If you want to harm somebody else try walking over the nails of that particular individual but remember you need to be in Germany for that one to work.

You can even tell the character of a person by their nails. One who has broad nails has a gentle disposition whereas small nails means they are obstinate and angry. Absolutely what you don't want is someone with black nails as this means you're dealing with a cheat or perhaps someone with a love of gardening or even poor hygiene. In the immortal words of my great grandmother when she saw a fellow with dirty nails travelling on the bus "that chap's nails are so muddy you could grow peas under them."

Evidently it is a matter fraught with danger beware!


Monday 9 November 2015

Rain Didn't Stop Play.

My Dad is of the opinion that if you always waited for a fine day in this country to do something outside you'd never do anything. Up to a point I'd have to say I agree with him. It's been a bit of a grotbag weatherwise this weekend in this 'ere part of the world but it's given me the chance to use my red poppy brolly whilst taking an amble when running errands yesterday and the mist and drizzle didn't put a halt to our plans today either.

We've sneaked over the border into Surrey for the traditional burning of the sticks which is held in Brockham every November. Hosted by the Rampant Rooster Morris side us, along with a handful of others, are invited for a spot of dancing and then to cast our sticks which have been broken during the year onto the dying down bonfire left over from the Firework Extravaganza the previous evening.

I've not done this gig before but it marks the end of the dancing season apparently...except nobody seems to have told Mythago because we've got dates in our diary for December, January and February still. Long may it continue. Huzzah! However, it could be the end of it for me because Humphrey seems to have requisitioned my kit bag and upcycled it into a feline bed. I shall have to wrestle that back off him I see!


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...