Saturday 30 April 2016

"Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings"

Above is a quote taken from Jane Austen's Mansfield Park. Thus in the spirit of a busy nothing how about a game of Bingo Austen style for 'tis most certainly the weekend.


Friday 29 April 2016

Scavenger Hunt

For the first time ever I have popped my head above the parapet and joined in with a Scavenger Hunt organised by the lovely blogger Hawthorn Spellweaver Here's my photographic interpretation

1. Orange

 This is my dear chum Ice Badger's coloured kit. Most definitely orange!

2. Feather.

I have a pot of feathers on my bookshelf. The tiny one I found on my walk to Bolney earlier this month.

3. Something fresh.

My interpretation of this is frankly a bit off beam, but the teenogre's fresh approach to avoiding putting away the clothes he's just ironed by hanging them on his punch bag amused me. One wonders where the poor child gets his batty genes from!!

4. Horizon.

We have A levels looming on the horizon.....


Drew a blank on this one so am cheating like mad and reusing my recent photo of the stream with the wild garlic growing on the bank at Buncton, West Sussex which I saw earlier this month.


Having finished my tatters jacket for me at Easter, Ice Badger kindly returned the rest of the fabric to me this week. In effect that means that my as yet unfinished mask has shot to the top of the craft projects list. Typically I want to do anything but this!

7. Growing.

We weren't sure whether our little apple tree had made it through the winter. I am pleased to report that our fears have proved to be unfounded.

8. Memories.

This little tiny pottery wren is the first present Mr GBT ever bought me 26 years ago. I think wrens are most definitely not LBJs [Little Brown Jobs] but the most fabulous birds. When you consider how common they are you rarely see them. I love their little stubby tails.


This is part of a walking stick my friend carved for me. The runes are a favourite quote of mine. "Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken." [Oscar Wilde].

10. Any subject of your choosing.

Dear old Humphrey inspecting Mr GBT's latest handiwork. We are in the process of very slowly [he has very little spare time at the moment] putting the back garden over to gravel and raised beds. At the moment it looks a bit like the Battle of the Somme out there as he's dug up most of the lawn and we're looking out on a sea of mud. Humphrey clearly does not approve if his scowl is anything to go by!

Thanks for organising!


Thursday 28 April 2016

Construction [Crucifixion]: Homage to Mondrian

This striking piece of sculpture is by Barbara Hepworth and can be found in the Cathedral Close in Winchester [there are a couple of other copies elsewhere in the world]. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Modern Art but this one is definitely in the love camp along with Coventry and Liverpool Cathedrals. To me it has echoes of Japanese art, Rennie Mackintosh and the Art Deco Movement, but this dates from 1966 and is one of her later works. For those who want to know more about what it represents I have included a snap of the information board below.

Once again I have no recollection of this being here when I lived in the city but I suspect that it is another case of me wandering around with blinkers on back then!


Wednesday 27 April 2016

Seeing Beauty Everywhere

A short, but uplifting talk by Jay Shetty. It gave me a real boost...I hope maybe it might do the same for you.


Tuesday 26 April 2016

Japanese Proverb

I have friends in real life who are really going through it at the moment yet they're all fighters and some may still be on their knees, but they're hauling themselves up again despite the knockout blows they've been given. This is for them.

"Fall down seven, stand up eight" 


Monday 25 April 2016

The Hospital Of St Cross

The Hospital of St Cross in Winchester are the oldest and largest almshouses in the country. Founded in 1133 by Henry de Blois [younger brother of King Stephen], Bishop of Winchester, it now provides accommodation for 25 elderly gentlemen. Those who wear the black coats belong to the Foundation of the Hospital of St Cross [est 1132] and the red coats are from the Order of Noble Poverty [est 1445]

The site is open to the public [entry fee applies] where you can view the gardens, ancient kitchen and brethren hall. Predictably it was the church which particularly interested to me.

Architecturally it falls into the transition category- in effect this means it still has many of the traditional Norman features like chevron and zigzagging details together with repeating animal/bird motifs [in the photo shown it's a bird beak design] but the pointed arches of the Gothic period appear in the aisle.

There were moments of sheer madness....feline type carvings gurning down on you, peculiar dolphin type figures on the bench ends, an incredible Victorian painted ceiling surrounded by 16 figures who could give the current World Beard Champion a run for his money and then the moving simplicity of the plain wooden cross removed from the WWI battlefield which affected me quite deeply.

But allow me to finish on a note of lightness....a pretty standard not exceptionally noteworthy Victorian lectern except the bonkers touch of giving it a parrot's head. I have heard people laughingly say that some of the peculiar early carvings in churches may have in part been down to the hallucinogenic effects of Henbane beer....perhaps this one is down to a touch too much Datura pollen taken in their tea!

Sunday 24 April 2016


That has to be the longest flower name I've ever seen. It's the old Kentish name for what many others will know as Lords and Ladies.

It's a plant which has a plethora of names. Personally I am rather partial to Snakeshead, Devils and Angels, Bobbins, Jack in the Pulpit, Friar's Cowl and Bloody Man's Finger. There are many more.

Most know the berries, although fabulously eye catching and glam, are poisonous, but the root can be eaten provided it's roasted well apparently. In Dorset young girls supposedly believed that by touching it they could become pregnant and legend has it that it can rouse bears from hibernation. Quite how is not clear! The myth that its pollen glows at night gave rise to another of its names "Fairy Lights."

Naturally though it's the resemblance of its spathe and spadis to the male and female genitalia which has caused the most mirth. The most common Cuckoo Pint is referring back to this very idea for pint is an abbreviation of pintle - an old word for penis. Dog's Dibble, Parson's Billycock and Willy Lily are some of the more ribald alternatives.

With hands raised in horror at such wantonness, the rather stuffy Victorians shuffled along in due course on yet another of their moral crusades to sanitise the was renamed as "Our Lord and Our Lady" with the yarn being spun that the spathe represents the Virgin Mary using her cloak to protect the baby Jesus. I know which version I prefer but I leave it to you to choose.....


Friday 22 April 2016

Court/Caught Humour

Celebrity court injunctions I see have been the speculation of choice this week for our gutter press. Naturally, not being adverse to a bit of juicy gossip myself, I did extensive research on Goggle to find out the identity so the nosey bone can stop twitching. Hypocrite moi? Anyway I thought this graphic in keeping with to amuse on a Friday!


Thursday 21 April 2016

The Dole

Growing up in the late 1970s I was very familiar with people talking about being "on the dole" as they received money to support them whilst they looked for work. The slang term for unemployment benefit originates from at least 1919 when money was "doled out" to those in need.

The concept of a dole [monetary or otherwise] being given to those in need dates back much further to the Middle Ages. Many were left as charitable bequests in wills and whilst many have fallen by the wayside, some are still observed. The Biddenden Dole reputedly dates back to the 11th century and was granted by Eliza and Mary Chulkhurst who were co joined twins. They died within hours of each other and left their lands to the church to support the dole. This takes the form of biscuits with a representation of the twins on each one along with tea, cheese and bread which are distributed to the elderly every Easter.

This is the Hospital of St Cross in Winchester.

It too is famous for its Wayfarer's Dole. Anyone who asks at the Porter's Lodge will be given a small cup of beer and a piece of bread. In my excitement I forgot to ask but my brother-in-law did. He gave a good report of the ale so we both thought it wise to invest in a bottle for memory's sake!

We saw many wonders on our visit - report to follow!


Wednesday 20 April 2016

Returning to my Old Stomping Ground

We met up with family last weekend in the beautiful city of Winchester. It's about mid way between us and I have fond "memories" of the time I spent living there as a student. Now I say memories, but frankly I think I must have walked around with my eyes closed most of the time as I really didn't know many of the famous landmarks save for the cathedral. I must have walked through the city gate countless times but never took on board that it had a city will come as no surprise though to hear that I do recall many of the hostelries and their exact locations! I'm not one for looking back generally but I did enjoy our stroll around.

One of the pubs reminded me of the time my friend J [still an exceedingly good friend] and I decided to do a three legged pub crawl for Rag Week. Now it would have been doable had J been my height, but she's considerably taller which posed a bit of a problem when we had to go up or down steps. Somehow we managed...the drunker we got the easier it somehow seemed to become. We must have looked a sight for we were dressed up as Vyvyan and Neil from "The Young Ones" at the time....I never did find the long wig which got lost en route. Being hugely organised and ones for forward planning....that will have a mad scramble that afternoon to pull it all together then we pondered how we were going to be able to run chains across the punky denim jacket. Mustering every ounce of our student ingenuity we denuded every sink in our Hall of its plug....these too were discarded as we weaved our way from tavern to tavern. I can report that we were not flavour of the month the following morning with our fellow housesharing students but nobody snitched on us to the College thankfully!

For anyone of my vintage who remembers this classic series this remains my favourite clip!

Having a son on the point of going to Uni I definitely think I shall stick with the ignorance is bliss policy with regards to an on campus high jinks he might get up to!


Tuesday 19 April 2016

The Witch and the Bell

Life is curious sometimes with its odd twists and turns. Recently I have started reading one of the books I received at Christmas.

It is proving to be a fascinating if rather weighty [as in heavy on my lap not as in intellectual content] tome with the tiniest writing that I'm sure only a Borrower or a Bright Young Thing with perfect eyesight could cope with for any given length of time. As ever, I am unable to resist peeking further on than the bits I've already completed so was staggered to discover a hither to unknown to me folktale from the small village where Mr GBT rings. Having encountered it last week lo and behold the local paper then featured it this week. I think the themes are familiar and occur in many similar legends around the country but I thought it worth repeating here.

It was said that many years ago a bell rolled from a waggon into a boggy hollow and sunk below the surface. All attempts by the villagers to retrieve it failed so they sought the advice of a local witch who advised that it needed to be pulled from its watery grave by 12 white oxen in silence at midnight. Following her instructions it was near to being mission accomplished until one of the chaps called out in you might imagine the chain snapped and the bell disappeared. I can guess who was buying the drinks that night! I'm sure if you've imbibed enough grog you'll still be able to hear it ringing if you listen carefully enough.


Monday 18 April 2016


Okey doke confession time...I am married to a campanologist or bell ringer to use the more vernacular term. Mr GBT comes from a family of ringers..his brothers are married to fellow ringers....he himself had a near miss, but that was way before I was on the scene. Myself? Never so much as even touched a sally [bellrope] let alone had a go at the noble art of ringing. I have, however, observed the art in the belfry and I can confirm that it is darned complicated. There is no need to be able to read music but you have to be coordinated and follow a rhythm.  The "tunes" are called methods and vary in the degree of difficulty. All have names e.g Cambridge Surprise Minor and Stedman Triples which is one of the earliest dating from the 17th century.

Having had bells play no part in my life until I met Mr GBT, they have formed the backdrop to my married life. The ringers, some of whom I count amongst my closest friends, rang for us at our wedding and rang a special quarter peal to celebrate the birth of our son. A quarter peal takes 45 minutes to ring and there have to be no mistakes for it to count....if you lose your place or it goes wrong it doesn't count, but for those successfully completed they are recorded in the "Ringing World" which is the official journal. A full peal takes about four times as long and you still can't stop! There are certain days when there is no ringing, particularly during Lent and for funerals or Remembrance Sunday they are rung half muffled which quietens every other blow from each bell.

One thing is definite....most bellringers enjoy a swift ale or three. Drinking and ringing have always been closely associated. In times of yore there were even barrels up in the ringing chamber, but in an attempt to clean up their reputation regional guilds were formed to police and eliminate the riotous behaviour. All ringers still have to be a member of their local guild to this day but it still attracts its maverick element. It is reported [although possibly apocryphal] that one local ringer, Henry Burstow [1826-1926], snapped back at the Rev H.B Ottley "I fetch 'em in, and I leaves you to drive 'em away" after the vicar had criticised him for not bothering to attend the service for which he had just rung! For some it forms a huge part of their lives with whole families involved. There are striking competitions and opportunities to ring all over the country. For others it is largely a social activity. Nowadays Mr GBT is most definitely in the latter category!


Saturday 16 April 2016

The North Downs

I am always taken aback by the difference between the North Downs and South Downs. Living in the Weald [the flat bit in between!] I am equidistant from the two ranges of hills yet am far more familiar with the South Downs...possibly due to having had family living down on the coast we've travelled across them since I was a young child.

The South Downs are chalky and pockmarked with the remains of the Neolithic flint minings. Flint lays easily accessible on the surface but I can only think that there was some sort of sacred ritual attached to the challenge of removing the material from deeper within the earth. The hillsides are dotted with sheep and most of the trees were cut down by our forebears. The view is out to sea.

By contrast the North Downs are quite different in feel. You certainly get the chalk escarpments in places but the area is far more densely wooded with a mixture of coniferous and deciduous. The woodland floor is carpeted with stunning bluebell filled glades and the more open spaces on Leith Hill were being coppiced as we walked past. The foresters make and sell hazel hurdles.

Even the soil is different....clay yes in abundance but there are equally many areas of sandy loam and heathland which support many rare species including the sand lizard, smooth snake and natterjack toad.

The views look inland and from Leith Hill Tower [the second highest point in the South East] you can see across to many counties on a clear day. Wembley Stadium stands out prominently on the skyline. The tower was built by Richard Hull in 1765-6 and was intended to be used by his visitors [he lived at the recently reopened Leith Hill Place- also the former home of Vaughan-Williams] for admiring the scenery [telescopes were provided]. At his request he was buried beneath it in 1772. Nowadays you can climb it if you've got an NT card and the kiosk below serves a mighty fine range of edible goodies.

A rather splendid spot to while away a morning I find!


Friday 15 April 2016

Most Thrilled

The release of this trailer for "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" this week has made me jolly pleased. With my head in the clouds and being a bit of a grumpy old git about anything post "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" [I know I should get out more!!], I had completely missed this news. I shall definitely be booking my ticket later in the year.


Thursday 14 April 2016


A sunny Tuesday off work means only one thing in my world....I'm heading out of the door with indecent haste so that I don't waste it bogged down in grunt work. Whatever the weather might have thrown at us I had arranged to meet my dear chum E to go dog walking with her and her young sprocker, Toby. Thankfully it was glorious as we ascended Leith Hill, just over the border in Surrey.

Sometimes I think I must have standing stones on the brain. We passed this sculpture and the carved spirals put me in mind of the swirling patterns I've seen in photos of the Neolithic burial tomb, Newgrange.  I mentioned my observation in passing to E, but thought nothing more of it until I got home.

On this occasion it transpires that I wasn't actually far wrong. This piece is called "Oak Stones" and is by Walter Bailey. Indeed it is paying homage to the megaliths left by our ancestors. Each side has a different set of patterns and this was the view from one side to the other.


Wednesday 13 April 2016

Through The Square Window.....

... a final selection of randomness from Bolney.

"Sculpture" dotted around the churchyard.

A rather jolly weather vane at the vineyard. We are most definitely in pheasant breeding territory here in West Sussex. Shooting is a major part of country life here.

This is my first ever encounter with the invasive American Skunk Cabbage. Some are up in arms about it but I, along with some of my fellow walkers, admitted that we were rather taken with the colour. It was first introduced in 1901 and gains it name from its notorious "fragrance".

Lastly this little fellow. 

The woods and hedgerows are really starting to come alive again. Lots of violets, bluebells, primroses, cuckoo flowers, wood sorrel and spurge. One of my favourite times of year.


Tuesday 12 April 2016

Through The Arched Window...... appropriately themed window for the season!

And a beautiful stained glass panel jazzing up an otherwise non descript garage.

Shots again all from Bolney.


Monday 11 April 2016

Through The Round Window....

Anyone who is of a certain vintage will be familiar with the words from the blog title borrowed shamelessly from the children's programme "Play School." I will complete the set over the next couple of days.

Allow me to present the First World War memorial in St Mary Magdalene's Church in Bolney, West Sussex. A rather attractive central panel which caught the light beautifully, but nothing particularly unusual about it you might think....

But look again....

Surely the dates for the WWI are 1914-1918 yet this clearly shows 1914-1919. Mr GBT spotted this anomaly. Having discounted the possibility that it was an error we hatched various erroneous theories about why this was...all wrong we later discovered. We now know that some are carved with this date in recognition of the signing of the Versailles treaty in 1919...even more rarely others show an end date of 1921 which was when the USA signed the Berlin treaty with Germany.

This was one of the things we encountered on our weekend's walk with the Sussex Wildlife Trust at the weekend...more to follow!


Sunday 10 April 2016

Function with Flair

"Still round the corner there may wait, a new road or a secret gate."
J.R.R Tolkien

Gates and doors are a useful everyday item. They are not by and large distinctive nor eyecatching. I am always on the lookout for the exception to the rule. This stunning portal is off a sidestreet in Storrington. I've been up the road before but with a chum, probably chattering and completely missed it. On my own I look through the world with different eyes.


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...