Thursday 31 December 2015

New Year's Eve

As ever I am a New Year's Resolutions free zone. I've got a few quiet goals in mind, but I'm here to enjoy the quietness and stillness that January has to offer. The January Blues will soon get sent away with a flea in their ear if they come knocking on my door. So that just leaves me to wish one and all a very Happy New Year. See you on the other side!


Wednesday 30 December 2015

The Early Bird Catches The Worm?

....But for me it was more a case of the grumpy old bird goes shopping ridiculously early as she has no desire to waste her free time standing to nose to tail with her fellow humans on a bank holiday if she doesn't need to. The sunrise seen from the Tesco carpark at some god forsaken unearthly hour [actually 7.30 just as I was loading the car but it doesn't make such a hefty yarn if I don't exaggerate the facts now does it and this is la la Blogland afterall!]. I needed a Nana nap later to recover my energy levels!!!


Tuesday 29 December 2015

Keeping The Year Of The Wheel Turning.

As I Druid I mark the changing seasons in my own quiet, lowkey way. Sometimes I decorate my altar...sometimes I just leave Percy the gargoyle propped up on it in various states of inebriation. This was him looking decidedly "grotesque" [geddit!!! groan] after he had imbibed far too much of my Christmas Pudding vodka.

However, decorated or undecorated this latest edition to GBT courtesy of a very generous and naughty husband will allow me to still move round the wheel of the year. The back of the plaque has a series of hooks on so I can rehang the current season at the top. If you like it he bought it from Hedingham Fair - the photo will enlarge if you double click it and want to take a closer gander.


Monday 28 December 2015

Stitching The Fabric of Our Everyday Lives

I always enjoy the beautiful needlework I find in churches- there are beautiful examples of quilting and needlepoint to be seen. Kneelers are always a favourite of mine along with these panelled screens. You never know what images you're going to come across- all seemingly random choices and unrelated to one another. Here we have everything from the local Brownies to a three faced figure. As a fellow stitcher I can really appreciate the hours that have gone into creating these. This particular example is in the church where Mr GBT is a bellringer.


Sunday 27 December 2015

Festive Snaps 2015

I don't think I've ever done a selection of festive snaps before but why not ring the changes eh! A few taken over the last few days.

Our little tree

The ginger and chocolate cheesecake we had instead of the traditional Christmas Pud.

Beautifully laid festive table. All done by the fair hand of Mummikins. I should point out that she made the placemats and napkins.

We met our very good chums for lunch on Christmas Eve. We had planned to do a proper walk in the morning but the weather was against us and I am a bad tempered troll if made to put one foot in front of the other if it's heaving down. That is most definitely not my idea of fun. Thankfully the weather broke so we just strolled down to the village church. I've seen much to marvel at in churches over the years but the simplicity of the Lady of Dedisham [featured here] remains my favourite. She excudes a beautiful calmness. This time she's sporting her own decorations.

And to finish a couple more from inside.


Saturday 26 December 2015

Boxing Day Capers

One of the things I have really enjoyed since taking up Morris Dancing is getting out there and strutting my funky stuff on Boxing Day. I used to haunt Mythago on Boxing Day as a spectator and now I can still hardly believe that I am lucky enough to be a participant!

Occasionally we go wild and wear our coloured kits. Usually it's only on high days and holidays and today fell into that category. I had the lovely surprise of discovering that Ice Badger [that's her in the snazzy orange kit in the first snap] had finished it. She had been hoping to but there was no rush as only having the correct black kit is obligatory. I now need to finish the mask I've painted to go with it. Against the backdrop of a grey, cloudy day [although thankfully dry] the colours really showed up clearly. Am really delighted with my new tatters jacket!


Thursday 24 December 2015

Wednesday 23 December 2015

Untraditional Festive Pud

I've mentioned in previous years that I'm not a fan of the traditional Christmas Pudding so I seek out a new dessert recipe to try when it's my turn on the sweets course. We trialled the potential pud last month to check it's up to scratch and it's a good 'un so Chocolate and Ginger cheesecake it is - recipe here We have slightly tweaked it to our taste- no stem ginger biscuits to be found locally so we're using digestives [ginger nuts weren't a great substitute], mix of chocolate/ginger [100g] with 50g of milk chocolate as it was just a tad too sharp. Really liked it though as the fromage frais cuts the richness and it's not cloyingly sweet....can you hear the weighing scales screaming from here?!


Monday 21 December 2015

Alban Arthan

Winter Solstice Blessings to one and all

An appropriate offering from Damh the Bard


Sunday 20 December 2015

The Spirit of Christmas

My son loved his lego. This little film is all about what the true spirit of giving gifts.


Saturday 19 December 2015

Christmas Cheer vs Christmas Fear

Everything has a shadow..there's no light without shade..... why even Jolly Father Christmas has an evil twin....yes you read that right....

Please allow me to introduce you to Krampus. Never heard of this particular figure? neither,well not until last year at least when I first encountered him in a folklore book.

Originating in Alpine folklore, Krampus night is celebrated on 5th December which is, of course, the day before St Nicholas. Believed by some to have his roots in a pre Christian tradition he fell from grace after the Austrian Civil War in 1934, but has seen a resurgence of interest in recent years.

Depicted as a dark hirsute man with horns and cloven feet he punishes the naughty children with a bundle of birch twits. That basket and chains he carries...why that's to ensnare and cart your misbehaving little horrors off to hell....does this description remind you of it a coincidence that once you rearrange the letters of Santa it gives you Satan? Methinks not! Anyhow here's the chap himself in all his glory.


Friday 18 December 2015

Gotta Lotta Bottle.

Small steps in the right direction have been taken recently by moi. I decided to expand upon my litter picking duties and have become involved with a local lady who's a beacon of light on the local green scene. She's just won the green community award and is a very positive do-er. The environmental news is grim, but the thing with doom and gloom merchants I've found is that they take great delight in spreading their tidings of woe, but are not actually the ones who always get off their rumps and do anything about it. This approach just scares the carp out of people- recent evidence shows that people are far more likely to be proactive in these sort of matters if they realise their efforts do make a difference and they get positive feedback [or you hit them financially in the pocket!]. I am now collecting materials for the Terracycle brigades from local pick up points which can't go through any of our other local recycling facilities. These will be sent off for various projects. My first small personal success has been to get our local council to update their website to reflect the latest addition of plastic lids which they'd announced earlier in the year in a magazine. They want us all to increase the amount of plastic that's diverted from landfill so I'm just making a nuisance of myself and making sure that all the relevant information is freely available!

Continuing with the theme of recycling this is one of this year's town centre Christmas trees. Made from 600 bottles donated by Wessex Water. It was created by Rubbish Artist Tracey Graham and paid for by a Wrap grant. The plan is that it will be used throughout the area. I am very taken with it.


Thursday 17 December 2015

"Seeing" The Winter Solstice

I find it hard to believe that it's already been six months since we visited Maes Howe. At the time the guide mentioned that they set up a video cam within the chamber so that you can view the winter sun hitting the back of the tomb at the time of the solstice. It still amazes me at the sophistication of our ancestors. Provided that the weather plays ball it will be in or around 21st [sometimes it's a couple of days later]. Many of us will never have the chance to see this for ourselves so this at least gives me the chance to be in on the action.


Tuesday 15 December 2015

Watch What You Say!

Occasionally some of my housesparkling clients have asked me to clean for their relatives if they have been unable to keep an appointment. For this very reason I did a one off clean for a lady's Mum last week. Having never met her before she insisted I stop for a cuppa afterwards and she turned out to be a complete hoot regaling me with various tales of the antics she'd got up to. Naughty torties, mars bar eating horses....and this one.

At one stage she lived in one of the Sussex villages with her hounds. Out walking the dogs along her usual route she passed a caravan only to greeted by a torrent of abuse and swearing at her from the open window. The first couple of times she ignored it as she knew she wasn't trespassing but after it had happened again she saw the owner and felt it time to have a word with him to try and get to the root of the problem. As she wryly said she's no prude but the language really was very coarse. The chap looked a little taken aback when she approached him but then smiled and told her to follow him. He introduced her to the culprit...he had a pet mynah bird! Relief all round.


Monday 14 December 2015


Imagine being about 13, sitting on a cold tiled floor in a chilly school hall for what seemed like forever listening to a rather morose bloke who you've never heard of reading some of his rather bleak and depressing poetry. Yes that was me and who was the Mr Ted Hughes. Underwhelmed was the word probably, but that was nothing to do with how he delivered his work. It was simply that it was 1980 or thereabouts and I was the wrong age to appreciate it. Frankly my interests didn't stretch much beyond my friends, boys, fashion, the Top 40 and whatever leading article caught my eye in my Jackie magazine. Later on as I went further with my English studies I rediscovered his body of work and grew to admire its starkness and raw quality. This one follows on well from yesterday's post about Woodwoses as he writes from the perspective of the wild man.


What am I? Nosing here, turning leaves over
Following a faint stain on the air to the river's edge
I enter water. Who am I to split
the glassy grain of water looking upward I see the bed
Of the river above me upside down very clear
What am I doing here in mid-air? Why do I find
this frog so interesting as I inspect its most secret
interior and make it my own? Do these weeds
know me and name me to each other have they
seen me before do I fit in their world? I seem
separate from the ground and not rooted but dropped
out of nothing casually I've no threads
fastening me to anything I can go anywhere
I seem to have been given the freedom
of this place but what am I then? And picking
bits of bark off this rotten stump gives me
no pleasure and it's no use so why do I do it
me and doing that have coincided very queerly
But what shall I be called am I the first
have I an owner what shape am I what
shape am I am I huge if I go
to the end on this way past these trees and past these trees
till I get tired that's touching one wall of me
for the moment if I sit still how everything
stops to watch me I suppose I am the exact centre
but there's all this what is it roots
roots roots roots and here's the water
again very queer but I'll go on looking.


Sunday 13 December 2015


Or maybe the term woodwose is more familiar to some. I encountered my first woodwose a few years ago on holiday in Suffolk. Taking a photo I promptly forgot what it was called and then came across the name again in passing recently. I have only just made the connection between the two. And what is this of which I speak you may be wondering?

Why one of these!

This particular chap is on the font in the parish church in Saxmundham in Suffolk and it would appear that the county has a  fair few scattered around [they do appear elsewhere in the country]. Woodwose or wild man of the woods is a hairy chap, naked and carrying a club. Likely to have been brought forward from an earlier incarnation elsewhere in Europe he seems to have come to prominence here in the Middle Ages. Combining a fascination with man in his base state he often appears along side greenmen but is seen far less frequently- a plausible theory is that he was the epitome of barbarity and a warning to everyone of the dire consequences which would ensue if the social and moral order of the day broke down. This particular fellow is rather rocking the Medieval hat he's wearing which would have been contemporary with the time he was carved. A friend has kindly sent me this link with a current article about a wildman spoon handle found in Woodbridge, Suffolk by a metal detectorist


Saturday 12 December 2015

The Humphrey Christmas Tree

I need one of these in my life!

Humphrey is underwhelmed by this and wishes to remind one and all that one black cat is quite sufficient for any household when you are as gorgeous a feline as him.


Friday 11 December 2015

All Together Now...Awww

Haven't done any festive posts yet but seeing as it's Friday this is one to make you smile.


Thursday 10 December 2015

A Magical Invitation

A friend is taking their child to the Harry Potter Studios as a surprise early next year, so to add to the fun, I offered to write an appropriate invitation. After a short while pondering what I might do, I finally decided on this -a letter from from Hogwarts no less. Once I had reminded myself of the key names it was great fun to do. I love the chance to do a bit of creative scribbling once in a while and probably don't give myself permission to do it often enough. I've used the school logo to go at the top of the document and found a free Harry Potter font to print it out in. As it's for a present I don't want to put up a photo but I thought you might enjoy the body of the text:

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

Headmaster: Albus Dumbledore
(Order of Merlin, First Class,Grand Sorc.,Chf Warlock,
Supreme Mugwump, International Confed. of Wizards)


We are pleased to inform you that you have been granted a place on the upcoming tour of the Harry Potter Studios. The date and time of your excursion will be confirmed once the centaurs have consulted the night skies and checked that the stars are aligned correctly.

May I please remind you that although a witch, you must display only behaviour and mannerisms familiar to Muggles. You are entering an entirely Muggle populated environment which is different to ours and there must be nothing to frighten them or draw their attention. I shudder at the sheer number of memory charms that were needed after one first year let off one of the Weasleys Wildfire Whiz Bangs in the building. The staff in the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes were livid…if the Muggles’ gutter press had got hold of the story they would have had a field time dreaming up all sorts of lurid dragon related headlines.

Kindly read through the rules below. Regrettably any breach will have serious consequences.


There is to be no daylight flying of brooms to the destination. Even unseen during the hours of darkness causes a major headache for the Air Traffic controllers at Heathrow. They wildly imagine that the unseen objects that appear on their radars are an invasion of alien aircraft which can lead to major panic for the populace as a whole.

Only Muggle methods of transportation are acceptable. Our “car parking attendants” are specially trained wizards who can weed out a magically modified car instantly. Mr Ron Weasley may have thought he had got away with it when he used his father’s Ford Anglia, but that met a very sorry end at the branches of the Whomping Willow if you recall.


Owls, rats, toads or cats are not permitted within the grounds. Again staff will be on the lookout for any cases of transfigured pets- you will not be able to sneak your friends in for free without detection.

Dress Code

Standard human dress code must be observed throughout the duration of your visit. You may of course wear your House scarf and hat. This type of merchandise is freely available for the Muggles to purchase so will not stand out. However, please remember that within the Muggle world cloaks do not change colour of their own accord- only chameleons are able to achieve this feat.

Beverages and Victuals

Butter beer is freely available. Thankfully now, with the Ministry of Magic’s full permission, the recipe has been modified to bring it in line with the product sold at The Three Broomsticks. The Muggle version was a most poor imitation

Although not strictly enforceable it is strongly recommended that you restrict your sweet consumption to Lemon Sherberts (a favourite of the headmaster’s no less!) For some unfathomable reason Muggles get very agitated when they see the Chocolate Frogs jumping. I can only think it’s the chocolate that startles them!

Remember all payments are to be made using Muggle currency. Staff will be unaware of the correct current exchange rate for our knuts, sickles and galleons so you may unfairly pay over the odds


It is expressly forbidden to perform any type of spell whilst on your tour. Any violation will result in an immediate written warning and punishment deemed appropriate for the incursion (cf International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy)

Enjoy your visit.

Minerva McGonagall
Deputy Headmistress


PS Having been lucky enough to visit for myself a couple of years ago it was the most incredible and enjoyable experience. Expensive but worth every galleon!

Tuesday 8 December 2015

Puppet Master

I have a pet theory that goes something along the lines of this.....whenever I spot a table of books raising money for charity and they are going for a bargainous price of 3 for a quid I throw caution to the wind spending wise and take a punt on things I might consider more carefully under different circumstances. This was the case with "The Night Circus" and again with "The Puppet Master" which I picked up between dancing sets at a fete Mythago performed at back in the summer.

Without wanting to give too much of the plot away it's set in Prague in 1898 and is akin to almost stepping into the frame of a surrealist painting. Drawing upon folklore it weaves between the main plot and in and out of Bohemian history as once again the power of women is threatened by the misogynistic Puppet Master. Layers of richness are added to the tale with the addition of vintage posters, old documents and dark Gothic illustrations. It holds out a nightmarish quality as the marionettes come to life yet it remains completely compelling throughout. A highly unusual read but I was enthralled.


Sunday 6 December 2015


'Tis the season of all things shimmery and shiny...this year the trend really does seem to be "all things" getting the glitter treatment from female hairy arm pits [each to their own but not one I shall be following sisters] to beards proof here

The seasonal madness has put me in mind of a story that I heard a few years ago..I suspect it's apocryphal but it amuses me nevertheless.....

A young lady had rather over indulged at a party and awoke hung over at her friend's house. Remembering with horror that she was due to have a smear test at the surgery later she realised she didn't have time to go home and freshen up. Running late and in a vain attempt to make herself half decent, she rushed into the bathroom and sprayed all the necessary areas with a borrowed deoderant. Arriving at the surgery just in the nick of time she was ushered in by the nurse, who having carried out the necessary procedure, smiled at her and said "you probably don't need to go to so much trouble next time!" She had picked up a can of spray glitter by mistake.......


Saturday 5 December 2015

Two Robins

Normally with a blog post title like that you would either expect a folkloric content or a Christmas offering from me but this time may I offer something rather touching and different to the norm.

Yesterday I ended up with a free morning as my usual cleaning client had needed to cancel for this week. Rather than waste the time I grabbed the opportunity to catch up with a long standing chum who I've not seen for a couple of months. She's had her fair share of up and downs over the intervening weeks including the loss of her much loved Nan.

Although 95 and in poor health, Nan's still always been a major part of my friend's life and she played a pivotal role in her childhood. As I was leaving I noticed two robins sitting along side one another on her fence. Knowing how territorial and aggressive they normally are, I commented upon what an unusual sight it was. Her reply was unexpected but moving- "that's my Grandad and Nan" she replied. She explained that whenever her Nan had come to stay at her house and they had sat out on the porch they were always joined by a robin which she always believed to be her Grandad. Last week when walking the dogs in the local woods she noticed a robin criss crossing her path- this she took to be a sign that her Nan had died [she'd known for six weeks that it was only a matter of time] and when she got home she walked in to receive the news that this was indeed the case. Since then she said she has seen the pair of robins all the time in her garden and from this she has drawn great comfort. The funeral is on Monday.


Friday 4 December 2015

A Mystery Solved

Having recently joined the Strange Things Found in Churches FB group I have been scurrying back through the photographic archives to come up with some images to contribute. I've always enjoyed having a nose around churches but my interest increased frankly when we were looking for free/cheap things to do. For me it's as much about the history as the religion- that tantalising glimpse into the world that our ancestors inhabited and the clues they left behind into how they viewed it. Much of it mystifies me but intrigues me in equal measure. Often I haven't really got a clue what I'm looking at and there's a surprise round every corner. My digging around came up with this beauty last week.

Apart from knowing it's a 9th century Saxon carving of an animal head from St Mary's Priory Church in Deerhurst the internet is very quiet about it. I vaguely remember us seeing it when we were on holiday and us popping in when we were walking but beyond that clueless. I had idly wondered if it was some type of doe but then one look at those flesh ripping teeth put me in mind of a hound of some type. Similar conversations ensued within the group as the idea of a boar or even a horse [there is a passing resemblance to Mari Lwyd] was mooted. In the end though somebody came along with the right answer. It's the Deerhurst Dragon no less and you can read its tale here Having terrorised the neighbourhood for quite long enough it met a grisly end and had its head lopped off with an axe by the local farmworker George Smith. 

I am just so chuffed to have had this little mystery solved.


Thursday 3 December 2015



January cold desolate;
February all dripping wet;
March wind ranges;
April changes;
Birds sing in tune
To flowers of May,
And sunny June
Brings longest day,
In scorched July
The storm-clouds fly
Lightning torn;
August corn,
September bears fruit;
In rough October
Earth must disrobe her;
Stars fall and shoot
In keen November;
And night is long
And cold is strong
In bleak December.

Christina Rossetti

It seems incredible to me that here we are at the end of another year yet again.


Wednesday 2 December 2015

Sorry seems to be the hardest word....

Actually that is not the case for me...I'm always doing that quintessentially British thing and apologising even if it's patently not my fault. Step on my toes chances are I'll say "sorry"- it's like an automatic reflex. For me it's that little two letter word- one consonant and one vowel and by not saying it often enough in the right context it's got me into all sorts of fixes.

Simply it's "no" when someone asks me to do something I don't want to. For all sorts of reasons over the years I've agreed to doing all sorts- I've known I've not wanted to do them, but actually verbalising that seems almost impossible...fear of letting people down, people pleasing..... there are many illogical reasons why I have been unable to politely utter that little word and even if I have, there's always been justification and reasons given. Except of late I have become a little braver. In understanding that part of my managing my stress levels and keeping my anxiety in check is down to me being proactive, I have said "no" twice in the last couple of months [not without worrying about what people will think of me I have to be honest] but I am discovering that the sky doesn't fall in. In fact the reaction has been absolutely fine after all others say it all the time without there necessarily being awful repercussions. That does not mean to say that I am going to be practising so called "safety behaviours" from now on but I shall trust my instinct and step outside my comfort zone when I feel ready.

'Tis a small step but definitely one in the right direction.


Tuesday 1 December 2015


An extremely cheap padder food- only occasionally though as not so good for the waistline. This is what my Mil used to cook for her big brood to fill them up when she was doing a cooked breakfast. Called "Puffs" they are simply a very thick paste of water and SR flour [think thick wallpaper paste] with salt for flavour [we added herbs last time] Heat up oil in a frying pan and drop dollops in- cook slowly for 10-15 mins turning once. During that time they puff up- hence the name! Worth draining them on absorbent paper as they soak up the oil otherwise. Even the hollow legged teenogre took a brief snacking break....mind you he was back nosing around my cupboards looking for edible treasures within the hour but that's quite a long time with his current state of near perpetual hungriness!


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...