Thursday 31 March 2016

A Stone's Throw Away.

Having no work commitments on Tuesday and due to Arty L being poorly, I was left with an unexpectedly free day. Frankly I'm a bit rubbish at the concept of a day ridiculous Protestant work ethic gnaws away at my conscience and berates me if I think of being anything other than productive. Thankfully I ignored the nasty little voice and kicked my heels instead.

I'm one of those people who enjoys the company of others, but equally enjoys her own company. It's good for the soul to do this once in a while. Trundling about here and there I relished the freedom of making up destinations as I drove along. After a couple of pitstops along the way I eventually wound up in the local village of Wisborough Green.

Poking around in the church of St Peter ad Vincula I was delighted to see this well preserved wall painting. It is thought to date from the time of King John and to have been covered up within a few years following on from one of the many transformations the church has undergone. Long since forgotten it re-emerged in 1867 after two workmen brawled over a local lobbed a stone at the other and in the process dislodged some of the filling that had kept it hidden from view.

Referring to the description in the guide book the figure at the top is St James with his pilgrim dress and cockleshell badge and below an unusual depiction of Christ sharing the crucifix with two thieves. He is being offered vinegar by a soldier and St John is shown beside him. The colours are much stronger than in other examples I've seen in the area.


Wednesday 30 March 2016

Devil's Fingers

Easter Sunday revealed my Father wearing a new pair of shoes....a rather more pointy toed version than normal. His faithful old pair had split across the sole and shoe buying last week had revealed that everywhere including the "traditional" stalwarts, such as Clarks, is all favouring winklepicker lines at the moment. At 71 I don't think Dad was that thrilled at the prospect of walking around with toes like the genie out of Aladdin!

This whole episode has put me in mind of when I was a Bright Young Thing....W and I paid a visit to Shelly's, the famous shoe shop, in the King's Road. Triumphant I emerged with to what- to- me were The Thing to be seen in...back in the day when my bands of choice were The Cure, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Joy Division and other such hearty soundtracks, a flat black shoe adorned with a silver buckle and toes so pointed that the angle of them meant they never actually made contact with terra firma were my footwear of choice. I thought I looked like the dog's doodahs...possibly in reality more like a walk on part in a panto, but they were blissfully comfy.

The original medieval version of these were called poulaines or crackowes as a nod to the Polish wearing noblemen who came to pay homage to Richard II's Polish wife, Anne. After the trauma of the Black Death in the 1300s, something so frivolous must have seemed like a bit of light relief and people took to the new fashion with great gusto. Those who lived permanently in the killjoy sector of society [conservative is the polite term I do believe] inevitably disapproved as they believed the wearers to be feckless and lazy, hence the name of devil's fingers. In reality they were probably not that practical as they could be hard to walk in. The men stuffed the toes with hay or moss and supported them with whalebone struts. By the reign of Edward III the Sumptuary Laws specified that commoners could only wear toes up to a length of 6" whereas a gentleman was permitted to extend his to  15" plus. I would have loved to have witnessed people trying to get past one another in a narrow space!


Tuesday 29 March 2016

Mini Marvels

Last Saturday was a designated grunt work day....chores to be done and errands to run. As it was forecasting rain later I trotted down the town early to try and avoid a soaking.

Over the past few years there's been an Italian festival held over the Easter break which features a market, Italian food, opera and displays of cars for all the family to enjoy. Good Friday was the turn of the Ferraris...sports cars simply do not appeal to me  [to my peasant eyes many have the look of having been run over by a steam roller about them but each to their own!] so didn't heave my carcase out to view them.

However, by a happy coincidence I was in the right place at the right place to see the parade of Minis. Quite what a Mini has to do with Italy beyond "The Italian Job" is a tad mystifying, but I have always loved them. These much loved little cars beetling past me brought a bright spot to what was otherwise a grey day- they never fail to cheer me up! Please excuse the poor photo quality- I wasn't expecting to need my camera so only had my phone with me.


Monday 28 March 2016

Best Foot Forward.

Today I am going to be doing one of the things I love best....dancing at the Weald and Downland museum. If the weather plays ball we'll be down in the Market Square with the South Downs as a glorious backdrop, but even if it's pants, then we'll be able to perform in the dry inside the Gridshell.

The type of dancing I do is tough on the old tootsies so footwear needs to be chosen with care - something sturdy which can take the beating is the order of the day. Several members of the side favour New Rocks which are good shock absorbers and are very much in keeping with the look of the side. They are expensive new so most have bought them from Fleabay.

Personally I prefer the shoes and for a brief while I had a pair which I bought off my dancing pal Ice Badger. However, having tried dancing in them they were too heavy to be either comfortable or practical to move at any speed other than that of a striking slug.

So 'twas back to the drawing board and after having worn holes in the soles of a couple more pairs of boots since then I have finally come up with a solution. I am at the grand age of 49 and no longer a DM virgin!

Being honest I am a bit of a doom merchant and I anticipated problems with nasty blisters etc. Thankfully I have been proved wrong- I think their previous owner probably broke them in for me but they've had only the lightest of wear. I've worn them to a couple of practices so far and they've been blissfully comfortable. For £50 including p&p from America I think I've nabbed myself a bargain. Am looking forward to christening them later!


Sunday 27 March 2016

Easter Baking hope you've overindulged on the chocolate front [like me!]....hop over and join me on the Naughty Step!

Frankly the weather we have in my little part of the world today is what I would call "typical Bank Holiday weekend"....lashing down so what's a girl to do....bake of course. Being me have I gone for a traditional Easter style of hell I have!

My offering is an orange and carrot cake using this recipe id=g4ieBAAAQBAJ&pg=PT148&lpg=PT148&dq=mrs+simkins+carrot+cake+recipe&source=bl&ots=1GxW8lXeIN&sig=RzVttlrAeGWj3acQ2cnkifw4ogk&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjA-eOs8-DLAhWHExoKHSl6DhQQ6AEILjAD#v=onepage&q=mrs%20simkins%20carrot%20cake%20recipe&f=false Carrot cake is my absolute favourite but I've only ever made it the once yonks ago- I have bad memories of spending three days grating carrots and then waiting a further day and a half for the wretched thing to be cooked. It put me right off ever trying it again, but having recently discovered this recipe, I thought I'd be brave and give it another whirl. Simples...all done in the whizzy machine and it was even ready within the stated cooking time.

My late FIL always insisted that at Easter you should have a chicken and the last saved Christmas pudding...none of this leg of lamb malarky. We have a clan gathering later and as a nod to the Christmas pud idea, we've concocted a mincemeat and orange pastry tart for dessert which we'll serve with cream pimped up with a slug of the Peach Schnapps that Mr GBT recently made. As for the poultry, I understand we're having a three bird roast which has been languishing in the parental freezer since the festive season. Can you hear my tummy rumbling from there?!!


Happy Easter

A cabinet of eggy loveliness courtesy of the Pitt Rivers museum- hope you enjoy the break.


Saturday 26 March 2016

BST Reminder

Clocks go forward....

Would it surprise you to learn that I have never used a gym....thought not!!

Friday 25 March 2016

A Pithy Quote

There are many quotes by Churchill that I cherish, but this one is my favourite- pithy and simple to remember.

"When you're going through hell, keep going."


Thursday 24 March 2016

Sorcerer's Violet

It's been a while since I've done any folkloric posts, so high time to resurrect the genre methinks! Following on from the slug range of colours we endured in January [I'm talking about the drab, grey days not when the sun shone] and the muted whites of snowdrops, it was with great relief I spotted a shot of blue in the hedgerows whilst out on my recent walk at West Dean. Sorcerer's Violet or Periwinkle as many may know it.

Chaucer referred to it as the "fresshe pervinke, rich of hew" and in France it's called Pucellage [Virgin flower] as a nod to its colour. My personal favourite is Fairy Paintbrush.

As with many other flowers, it is supposed to give protection against the devil and witches, but in Italy it is a flower of death with heretics being led to the stake wearing them. As an evergreen, it was also believed to represent immortality so garlands were often placed on the coffins of children or planted on graves. If you uprooted them then you would suffer nightmares or be haunted by the deceased.

However, it's not all doom and gloom...dried out and mixed in powdered form with leeks and earthworms if you're canny enough to slip this delicious sounding concoction into the food of your Dearly Beloved you luck might be in as it was said to produce love between a man and a woman. Well according to Albertus Magnus in his tome the "Boke of Secretes". Earthworm anyone?!!


Wednesday 23 March 2016

"A Quirky Victorian Museum"

The above was a description of the Horniman museum I read recently before I visited with Lovely Grey at the weekend. Having viewed the contents I am mystified why anyone would choose that particular adjective. It all seems perfectly normal to me.....I jest! In all truth the thing that unsettled me the most was the case full of stuffed pooch's hardly as if I've never seen animal heads mounted up as hunting trophies before but dogs? I found it really quite distasteful even though there is no rationale behind my reaction. I can only think that as a dog lover it seems I am more culturally hard wired than I had appreciated!


Tuesday 22 March 2016

Ravings About Shavings

This is the card the teenogre bought me this year. I was tickled pink by the clever use of pencil shavings for the skirts.....something so simple and Bob's Your Uncle I am thrilled.

Imagine my overexcitement a few days later then when it came to my attention that there is a whole website devoted to just this type of small scale recycling. Generously I have decided to share my discovery [as obviously Facebook played no part in this...wanders off whistling tunelessly!]

Oh yes and dotting about randomly as usual the phrase "bob's your uncle" apparently refers back to when PM Robert Gascoyne-Cecil appointed his nephew Arthur James Balfour as Minister for Ireland in 1887. When referring to the PM he naturally called him Uncle Bob...or so the story goes. Nobody is really sure of the true origins.


Monday 21 March 2016


Ugly little blighter isn't he! This is the "merman" from the Horniman museum and probably one of the most famous objects in the collection. We were lucky...often he's off on tour so we were fortunate to catch him chillin' at the bottom of a very dark case in the dimly lit Centenary Gallery. Most recently he was spotted on the latest series of QI in the episode "Monster Mash".

The original mermen and mermaids were created for the Shinto shrines and represented the ningyo which were the water sprites of Japanese folklore. However, this one is an old was made for the European export market and was used by the unscrupulous Victorian showmen to part their punters from their cash. This example was bought by the Wellcome Collection in 1919 and was catalogued as a monkey fish. However, my pal Goggle tells me that the latest research has blown this theory out of the water. The animal parts present have been tested and the DNA is most definitely not primate in origin. The jaws and tail are from a fish [species as yet unidentified] and the claws are avian. As for the rest? A bit of clever jiggery pokery with paper mache held together with wooden supports.

I am most delighted to have made his acquaintance at long last. More to follow on the unusual contents of this quirky Victorian museum in a later post.


Sunday 20 March 2016

Alban Eilir

Bright blessings to all who celebrate the old ways this Spring Equinox.

I have photos to sort and adventures to tell, but having had a stonkingly marvellous time with Lovely Grey [and yes she is both lovely and grey!] in the Big Smoke yesterday and then a trip over to do the final clean on my Father in law's flat [4 hour round trip] before we put it on the market I am, as you might imagine, a bit of a weary old bird now so please bear with me until normal service can be resumed.


Saturday 19 March 2016

Looks Can Be Deceiving.

I trotted past this tree without giving it a second glance last week...only for my Dad to point out to me that it's actually made of fibreglass. The sculptor and owner of West Dean College, Edward James, commissioned these for his gardens in 1972. Deciding to capture the form of old and diseased trees forever he had the trunks covered in fibreglass. The wood has rotten away just leaving the form of the original behind. Natural beauty captured unnaturally.


Friday 18 March 2016

Smile It's Friday Folks!

Life is busy here at GBT at the moment but in a domestic trivia, working kind of way which leaves my brain a little frazzled and lacking in inspiration so rather than produce lower quality drivel than normal I'm going to be a lazy bones and leave you with an image to amuse I hope!


Thursday 17 March 2016


St Patrick's Day greetings for all celebrating. A track from U2 no less. This takes me back to my student days. They were one of the bands I listened to and form the sound track of my youth.
"With or without you"


Wednesday 16 March 2016

Adore A Door

I am mildly obsessed with doors and door furniture. These two tickled my fancy over the weekend.

"If opportunity doesn't knock build a door."


Tuesday 15 March 2016

Off With His Head!

Those words made oh so famous by the Queen of Hearts. However, at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Warminghurst, West Sussex they are literally true!

This is the 16th century brass memorial to Edward Shelley who died in 1558. Shown alongside him are his wife and seven sons.

Possibly not all that unusual for the time but if you look more closely you will see his son Edward Junior is missing his head.

This was not an accident but done deliberately. He committed an act of treason during the reign of Elizabeth I for sheltering Catholic priests and was hanged at Tyburn in 1588 . The damage to the memorial marks his crime. He was beatified in 1929 and his saint day is 30th August.


Monday 14 March 2016

The Greening Of The Season

I've been keeping the old mince pies peeled for signs of Spring appearing these past few weeks. For those that look the Blackthorn blossom has been out a while now and the corvids have been squabbling amongst themselves as they settle down to the business of messy nest building. Recently I've been rewarded with banks of primroses and the first green haze on the hedgerows as some of the leaf buds begin to unfurl.

This weekend it was the monthly Sussex wildlife walk which I try to get along when time permits. It's easier at this time of year as I don't have any dancing commitments and for me,  it was the first time of walking around West Dean near Chichester. The weather was glorious and I,for one, was grateful for the the real warmth in the day. It really did feel like Spring had sprung. A few shots of what we saw...don't be impressed by the identification of the fungi. We had an expert who joined us- I can just about recognise Fly Agaric and King Alfred's Cakes but that's about as far as my knowledge goes. The highlights were for me seeing my first ever Marsh Tit and at one point having a skylark singing out its little heart to one side of us whilst three buzzards circled overhead in the distance.

In order these are King Alfred Cakes which only grows on Ash, Hairy Curtain Crust, Lumpy Bracket and Birch Woodwart. Ta- dah!


Sunday 13 March 2016

Peeking Through

This is what greeted us when we peeked through the gate on our walk yesterday. It started off misty and by the time we were up on the South Downs, the cloud was beginning to lift and you could see the sun just breaking through over Chichester.

I love Sussex.


Friday 11 March 2016


There seem to be a lot of people challenging the systems in place at the moment and changing things at grass roots level. I've been meeting inspirational men and women of late- just ordinary individuals doing extraordinary things which gives me great hope.


Thursday 10 March 2016

Thursday Titter

Time for a bit of arty-farty pretentiousness methinks. I've read some claptrap in my time, but allow me to present a website which will do all the work for you. Many thanks to W for sending me this little gem. Hopefully it should raise a smile!


Wednesday 9 March 2016

A Saxon Marvel

The teenogre is off gallivanting...a geography field trip to Pompeii no less. Of course I am! The upshot of such a jolly is one's parents kindly take you to Gatwick on Mothering Sunday for your flight so whilst in the vicinity of said airport we thought we'd knock another place off my list of want-to-sees.

This is St Nicholas at Worth just a couple of miles up the road and reputedly the 4th oldest church in the country. Definitely in the top ten said the vicar wryly as he left but he wasn't sure that the actual placing could be that accurate. Originally it would have been in the middle of the forest of Anderida but now it sits on the outskirts of the urban sprawl of Crawley and the other villages it's swallowed up in its expansion.

The church is an amazing Saxon survival with much of the original structure still intact. The far end is actually rounded by the chancel but it was difficult to photograph from the outside as there was a notice asking people not to walk on the grass. This is the interior view of it with the contemporary arches.

Again Saxon windows- placed deliberately high to deter marauders and give protection to those seeking safety within its walls.

I was particularly pleased to see my first genuine Devil's Door- a North blocked door which is a "tradition" supposedly peculiar to Sussex. I use the term lightly as there is a lot of debate as to whether such a course of action was ever truly followed. There may well have been a far more mundane reason for it being closed up permanently. I touched upon the topic in this old post here The South Door gives a better idea of the original height. It is thought it may have been to enable a rider to enter on horseback without needing to dismount. Again though this is pure conjecture.

The charm of the place really lies in the architectural details. There isn't a great deal of note otherwise although it's perfectly pleasant. It does however, have the grave of Mr Robert Whitehead who was the inventor of the torpedo and the great grandfather of the Von Trapp family.

A brief but enjoyable sortie.


Back to the town of painted doors and alleycats

 đź’•Ah Tewkesburyđź’• Do you know what...I flipping love this town with all its curios and layers of history. It is entirely down to Mythago an...