Wednesday 30 November 2016

Unbarbecued Spaghetti

Now to my mind this is a classic barbecue sauce recipe

This is my 1970s cookbook version...kind of groovy and not the remotest hint of barbecue about it I would argue. However, it's a mighty fine quick fix veggie offering for those evenings when the cooking monster is rampaging around the kitchen and wanting to do anything but cook. This is one of my go-to favourites when I need to get a meal on the table and Mr GBT is very sensibly ignoring my manipulative whinings [he does plenty of cooking believe you me!]

My only observation is you might like to heed the amount of curry powder depending on your personal taste and strength of said item!

Fry a chopped onion until golden. Add to it 1-2 tbsp of curry powder and fry briefly. Then stir in 2tbsp peanut butter, 2tsp tomato puree, 1/2 pint of vegetable stock and seasoning. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 15 mins. Meanwhile cook 3oz spaghetti per person- I add in a goodly amount of frozen sweetcorn or peas to it. When all cooked combine the pasta with the sauce. It suggests serving it with sausages or beefburgers. I find it makes a rather tasty meal in its own right.


Monday 28 November 2016

Equine Road Safety

My little part of Sussex is definitely horsey....the winding roads see many a horse box upon them at the weekend and even a certain famous horse loving celebrity with her very own pink equestrian box lives here. This is reflected in the local road crossings where there is a large area set aside for them to wait.

What I want to know is how do the poor things press the button? ;-) Particularly if they are of a smaller stature like this little chap!

I am still waiting excitedly to see this feat performed....the novelty of seeing something new always tickles me!


Sunday 27 November 2016

Strictly Come Dancing

The secret is out....I am a huge SCD fan [not of the silly set up sequences granted] and have been for years. The costumes, the live music, dancing,'s a pleasure to watch as the nights draw in and Winter arrives. This year we have fellow fans coming for drinks and nibbles when it's the final.

Last night it was the first time anyone had scored a perfect 40 for the samba. The performance was spellbinding, but it was the music which blew me away. If you missed it this is it- Magalenha by Sergio Mendes.


Thursday 24 November 2016


A rare trip out to the local cinema earlier this week [it won't surprise you to know that we went on the cheap night and took our own munchies will it?!!] means I'm hip and with it for once in my life....yes I have seen the "Fantastic Beasts" within the week of its launch. For one who normally gnat- bottomly waits for all films to come out on DVD, this was quite a break from the norm. I am though a big fan of all things JKR, so delaying the pleasure was never going to happen! Without giving away any spoilers all I can say is that I thought it was Fantastic and given the choice of any the beasts contained therein, my one of choice would be my very own niffler please.....

Nifflers aside, one aspect of the story which particularly interested me was that the main protagonist is a Hufflepuff. The Harry Potter books focus very heavily on the relationship and tensions between Gryffindor and Slytherin. By contrast Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff really don't feature anywhere near as prominently within the plot. Curious to know what the defining characteristics of each of the houses were, I went back to the sorting hat ceremony descriptions in "The Philosopher's Stone". As I read on some of these jumped out as sounding rather familiar and I began to form an idea of which House I would have been put in. Well in for a penny, in for a pound...might as well jump in and test out my pet theory and where better than to set up an account on the Pottermore site and complete the Sorting Hat quiz for myself eh!

And my conclusion? That I am a Hufflepuff through and through. Did the scientific "research" match up? Yes!  Perhaps all just a bit of harmless fun, but I find it a good tonic to escape the grind and rediscover the magic in my everyday life sometimes.


Wednesday 23 November 2016

The Magic of the Arts

How this manifests will be fantastically different for every one of us...isn't it precisely this which makes it magical?

This quote is in Leith Hill Place- once the home of Ralph Vaughan Williams, it is now in the ownership of the National Trust.


Tuesday 22 November 2016

The Spirit of Christmas

My lovely Mother-in-law died from Alzheimers in 2013. Our son decided to set up a monthly donation to the charity in the memory of his Nanny earlier this year. Much as I've enjoyed the sparkle of the clever Christmas ads any readers will know I'm not a fan of greed and rampant consumerism. This I found very moving.


Sunday 20 November 2016

Not Beige.

In the teenogre's estimation Gnat Bottomed Towers is full of some "weird sh*t"...personally I prefer the term "unusual", but hey I'm not a hip 18 year old lad am I. I did have to laugh when he said that he bans any of his mates from touching either the dollshouse, that "weird goblin thing"....weird goblin thing? What!! You mean that beautiful gargoyle your Mother knitted with her own fair hands....the one where she put issued expletives in combinations that even you hadn't heard as she grappled with the indecipherable instructions [knitting patterns completely fox me]

Or this....

Now I absolutely love this and always have done since the first time I clapped eyes on it at a folk festival years ago. Mr GBT had exactly the same reaction and back in the day when we were flush we bought it on the spot. Its familiarity means I don't even really "see" it's just there. Guaranteed though its presence is brought back into sharp relief when somebody new crosses the threshold. Invariably they comment upon it and there's no holding back...people tell me immediately whether they love it or loathe it. It's not an item which provokes a beige definitely black or white. Others, I have discovered, hold very strong opinions on all matters arachnid!


Saturday 19 November 2016

Go on say it.....

Beyond the houses I clean [on the days I did work] I haven't been anywhere this week...all plans were cancelled. It was a welcome change of scene to make it to the supermarket first thing today for the weekly shop....blimey I never thought I would say that about a shopping trip! Mr GBT kindly came with me as I'm still feeling fairly ugh.

Bending down to pick something up from one of the lower shelves, I noticed that the lady next to me was wearing a really unusual and eyecatching coat. For a moment I hesitated, but then I decided to tell her how much I admired her jacket. Looking a little startled, [it's not very British to either give or receive a compliment from a complete stranger is it!] she beamed at me and confessed that it wasn't expensive. When she had seen it she had fallen in love with it and her son had offered to buy it for her. She decided that she was too old for it and had told him not to bother....thankfully he ignored her. I told her it really suited her at which point she thanked me and said I had completely made her day. Such a small glad I managed to overcome my natural reserve and bothered to say something.


Thursday 17 November 2016


In a bid to declutter even more I have spent a couple of hugely thrilling sessions up in the loft identifying old paperwork which can be shredded and recycled. All these rummagings have produced other things which I had forgotten about.....

My son's first pair of shoes. I remember my Mum suggesting that I keep them because "one day you will never believe he was so small." She was quite right of course......

I can only apologise for the state of the teenogre's current pair. I did suggest he might like to polish them before he next wears them to work...."yes Mum" he replied in that kind of "yes Mum, no Mum, three bags full Mum" way they adopt when they're planning to do nothing of the sort....any parent of this age group will be familiar with it!! It has been known for him to crack open the tin of wax once in a while so you never know....stranger things have happened!


Wednesday 16 November 2016

Under the weather.

Last night through the fug of vapour rub fumes, bunged up and restless, my brain hopscotched from one thing to another as I tossed and turned during the long hours of sleeplessness. One question that popped into my mind was why we describe ourselves as feeling "under the weather" when we're not A1.

Having taken today off from my self employed house sparkling I now have answers....

The phrase is nautical in origin and refers to when unwell sailors were sent down below the deck and away from the weather conditions to recover.

"A1" was the mark of a first class wooden ship in Lloyds register. A was the quality of her hull and 1 the quality of her equipment.

This has vaguely stirred memories of reading an article once about maritime sayings and I have turned up a few additional jottings of the reasons behind some of our everyday idioms.

"Between the devil and deep blue sea" - in wooden ships the devil was a seam between the hull timbers near the keel. To be working so near the sea made it very precarious.

"To be at loggerheads"- a loggerhead was an instrument used to heat the pitch for the seams of the boat. It was made up of two large iron balls mounted on each end of a metal bar. One ball would be heated and the plunged into the bucket of pitch to melt it.

So there you have it....


Tuesday 15 November 2016

Trompe L'Oeil

From time to time I have put examples up of Trompe L'Oeil which I have encountered on my travels. I think this one is possibly my favourite so far. It's in Lewes and is referencing the Priory...the remains of which can still be seen today.


Monday 14 November 2016


So tonight is the supermoon and it is gloriously covered in cloud. Apparently if you carry a hazel twig and eat a fern seed collected tomorrow night ie the first night after the full moon you will become invisible. Or so the Medieval folklore story goes......


The image is one of ours of the full moon...obviously not today's though!

Sunday 13 November 2016

Blue Peter Cooking

Anyone who grew up watching Blue Peter will recall the various cooking spots over the years. Due to a lack of love of time spent in the kitchen my cooking has remained at that kind of level. If Mr GBT cooks you'll get a fine dining experience if it's me then it's more Scout Camp in style. Tasty, straightforward and lacking in the looks department.

Due to the inclement weather yesterday we scotched our plans for a walk along the Devil's Dyke [part of the South Downs], so chum H came for lunch and an afternoon of catching up. Having fed her Monday Pie and apple crumble I had also baked some of these to go with a cuppa later.

"Care for a sticky blob?" I asked her. Raising one eyebrow rather quizzically, she asked me why they were called that. "No idea" I said "it's just the name of them in the Be-Ro recipe book". They tasted rather good and this was all that was left later. The original recipe is here You will be relieved to hear she's still standing this morning ;-)


Saturday 12 November 2016

The weather outside is frightful.....

With the leaden skies outside I am taking on the task of brightening up this little corner of blogland today with a big old hit of colour....street art from our recent trip to Belfast. Many are on the hoardings of old buildings which I think will be demolished as they continue to regenerate and titivate the city. I can't profess to "understand" the paintings, but it's precisely that quality and the discovery of them hidden away up side streets, which is part of their appeal.


Wednesday 9 November 2016

A Day of Loss and Celebrity

Before I start....there is going to not be one word about the events across The Pond. I'll keep this as a breathing space for silliness and light relief for people today methinks.

Yesterday the bunting was out and the flag was hoisted high for I had a day off.  Huzzah! This fellow meanwhile was just off.

Humphrey had got wind of the fact that it was the day of the Annual Visit to the Vet for his jabs. Thankfully we had blocked off all his escape routes [it 's amazing how such a portly soul can squeeze into such a tiny space!] so his stout little legs didn't get him far before we caught up with him and incarcerated him in the Box Of Doom. I literally live two minutes away from the vet, yet he wailed like a banshee the whole time. Such a big girl's blouse.

Now I'm not a great fan of these little trips really. I mentally prepared myself for another gentle ticking off about him having gained yet more weight. I had my script and defence prepared.."yes he only has the recommended dose of the diet food twice a day, but he also regularly indulges in an overnight snack of petit-furs which I can't monitor." I don't mention that he's on occasion he's been fed twice...he always scarfes down his food immediately and is happy to tell you that he's not been fed a single morsel an hour later. I only knew he'd eaten on Saturday when I came in because the teenogre had left a note saying "fed" next to his bowl! Amazingly though he has lost weight....he has been frantically searching for it since we got home!

I meanwhile have been moving in the upper echelons of society....I met the Queen yesterday....she was working outside a local cafe. Times must be hard!

'Tis a thing of great beauty I'm sure you'll agree. Made me smile though and crikey we need it more now than ever!


Tuesday 8 November 2016

Hooked on books.

"Books may well be the only true magic."
Alice Hoffman

Hands up....books are one of my greatest pleasures in life. I actually get quite twitchy if I finish one and haven't already got the next tome lined up. Not that that's a problem at the moment for I have the fastest Amazon finger in the nation....the second hand market place could easily become my second home. Oh those treasures to behold and all for one small shiny penny.....

GBT is a small castle without much in the way of storage space. Not being a lover of clutter either I am fairly disciplined about my book buying. All fiction flies out of the door again as soon as it is read and non fiction by and large is borrowed from the library. There is much joy in the sharing and lending of books to friends and family though I find. Despite all this I am delighted to report though that books continue to find me.....

These are the latest ones. The greenman one was a present from an online forum friend who I've never met, chum E gave me the middle one as a late birthday pressie and the Trollope Aga Saga came via my chum FourPooch S when we had supper with her at the weekend. So obviously I have nothing to read.....that doesn't explain then why I was to be found snouting around the library on Saturday morning then when I found the above quote on one of the shelves. Predictably I couldn't resist bringing another two books home with me....I know, I know!!


Monday 7 November 2016

The Prayer of the Tree

On a cold winter's night
I am the heat of your hearth. 
I am the friendly shape
That screens you from the summer sun.
My fruits are refreshing draughts
Quenching your thirst as you journey on.
I am the beam that holds your house
The board for your table
The timber that builds your boats.
I am the handle of your hoe
The door of your homestead
The wood of your cradle
The shelf of your last resting place.
I am the gift of God
And the friend of Man.
You who pass by listen to my prayer.
Harm me not.
Harm me not.



Sunday 6 November 2016

Simple Things....

Supposedly simple things please simple minds. I am disproportionately proud of my achievement of getting the apple peel off in one's the proof.....

A similar rush was achieved by my successful mission to get to the crust of the baguette yesterday as well. Yes I know I should share....on occasion I do. However, it's all out warfare here for the honour....all manner of dirty tricks are employed to claim it for yourself. Yesterday I won!

Hmmm I think the old adage perhaps could have been written about me....;-)


Saturday 5 November 2016

The Fantastical Beasts of Winkworth

If you look very carefully there's always magic to behold......

Fairies at the bottom of the garden...their homes are there for those who see....

And fantastical beasts masquerading as tree branches.....

Magic can take many forms...its interpretation is down to the one who perceives. Some days it may be delights such as these....some days it may be the plant valiantly flowering in a crack in the pavement. Look for the sparkles and you will find them.


Friday 4 November 2016

Autumn Tints

Now belonging to the National Trust, Winkworth Arboretum was originally planned and planted as a garden which would come into its own in the Autumn. I hope its original owner, Dr Fox, would have been pleased with the results of his vision which he would have known he would never live to see.

The palette was enhanced even more by all the berries. These are the pink and white variants of the Mountain Ash which I've never encountered before.

Taken together it made for a stunning vista, as my friend E and I explored the grounds.


Wednesday 2 November 2016


Yes another birthday parents very kindly paid for us all to attend a live show at the head quarters of the Magic Circle in London.

Now many of us who grew up in the 1970s will have been fed a diet of Saturday night TV with more than its fair share of magicians. There was a lot in the way of light entertainment on offer back then and with only the three channels to watch not a great deal of choice. I've always enjoyed the spectacle of it all...the amazement and the smoke and mirrors used to create the illusion.

Magic has been performed since the time of the Egyptians....indeed the conjuring balls and cups is a trick still very much with us today. The word itself is derived from the Greek "mageia" meaning ritual and the oh so familiar "abracadabra" once appeared on amulets as a protective charm against dangerous and life threatening diseases.

The show itself consists of a series of close up performances. Once or twice I was able to work out how the magician had completed the trick [sitting in the front row with a sideways view helped], but most of the time I was completely foxed and spellbound. There seemed to be a lot of additional movement with the hands which I felt was designed to distract and confuse the brain of the observer. The second half was stage magic performed in the theatre...again equally impressive.

I don't want to give too much away as I don't want to spoil it for others suffice it to say that it was a chance to do something completely different. The whole evening was very special.


That was the week that was.

I'm a touch staggered to find that it's been a week since I last dropped in. Usually such an absence is down to me being away, but t...