Tuesday 28 February 2017

Flippin' Eck!

This bell sits on top of Grange Court in Leominster. When the building was the Market House it was used to signal major events. On Shrove Tuesday apparently it was rung to remind the housewives to light their ovens in preparation for making pancakes. I'm afraid if you did that anywhere near me I would not be held responsible for my actions....you certainly wouldn't be getting any pancakes unless you made them yourself!

For the past few years our town has held its own pancake race. It's organised by the Rotary club and raises a goodly few pounds for local good causes. When I was working [pre redundancy] our company entered a team in the inaugural one back in 2009. It was a hoot, but we certainly didn't win! Now it's a much bigger affair with lots more competitors. I've not seen it since, but it's certainly stirred up a few memories. This time it was held earlier than usual to coincide with half term. For anyone with children of a certain age the compere was Dave Benson-Phillips who did a lot of kids TV programmes back in the 1990s. 

Knowing how temperamental I can be in the kitchen and my serious lack of patience with anything batter related, it is probably best that I am not allowed anywhere near the frying pan....Mr GBT will do the honours and I shall do the quality control bitπŸ˜‹ My job is to clear up afterwards!


Monday 27 February 2017


So buoyed up the success of producing a lemon/orange curd in the slow cooker earlier this month, I decided to try my hand at making a batch of citrus biscuits for my February recipe. The result was unremarkable, even dull and although they are being eaten up, I have to say it's without much enthusiasm. The upshot of the was I was left with two zested lemons and an orange glaring accusingly at me. Thinking cap on.......

Trifle or "triffle" as it's known in our sillier moments here at GBT is first mentioned in Thomas Dawson's "The Good Huswifes Jewell" [1585] [thank you dear Wikipedia]. Now I like a goodly portion of trifle and because I take cheaty shortcuts, this pud is a breeze to make! Patting myself on the back for having come up with what I believed to be an original recipe [a later Google search disproved this] this is my version of a citrus trifle.

Layer sponge fingers on the base of your chosen dish and soak in Limoncello or a citrusy liqueur [orange juice for the non alcoholic one]. I spread a tin of drained mandarin segments over the top and then made up a lemon jelly, but added the lemon juice from one of the skulking crew to lessen the sweetness [there was less cold water as I didn't want to alter the standard amount of liquid in the instructions] Pour the jelly over the sponge/fruit mix and leave to set. Now comes the tricky bit....open the carton of premade custard [or you can make your own, but I can't bear the texture of the firmer cold custard] and pour over the top. Finally whip a 300ml carton of cream [I used whipping but think I would use double next time as it went too sloppy when the other bits were added to it], add orange juice for taste [again this was from one of the other lurkers] and enough sieved icing sugar to sweeten but not too much [we used this as the perfect excuse to taste it]. Smear [or pipe if you are so inclined] across the top. Now there's no photo because I decided to sprinkle blue coloured sugar across the top and the food colouring ran in world record time. It might not have been pretty, but it tasted mighty fine!


Friday 24 February 2017


[Image from pixabay]

I do so like that word "crabby" and other synonyms of a similar ilk....crotchety, cantankerous, testy, curmudgeonly, scratchy, waspish and a new one to me, peppery. Yes they all describe me at various points over the past few days!

Outwardly smiling but inwardly seething I, for one, am very grateful that truth bubbles do not appear next to my head because I think I might have got myself into a spot of bother as I stomped around the town thinking murderous and uncharitable thoughts about some of my fellow shoppers on Tuesday.

Realising just how big a grump I was in I decided to reward my bad behaviour [well nobody else was going to give me a treat were they!] with a bag of liquorice allsorts from the pick 'n' mix. Understanding the "crisis" I found myself in there was no time to faff about with an unopened bag....speed was of the essence....find a quiet corner away from prying eyes and dive straight in....you would be surprised just how many I can stuff in my cavernous trap in a short space of time...hamsters with their cheek pouches stuffed full didn't come near it. Through this gluttonous process I have discovered that if there had ever been a world record for allsort speed eating I am exceedingly confident that I could break it hands down. Did it cheer me up...of course it bluddy well didn't.....a good night's sleep was the sensible, if slightly duller, solution.

So other than giving myself a sugar rush and then a self inflicted headache there is little else to report from life here at GBT as either the happenings have been of the real life sort which aren't to be shared with a wider audience or work related. I can finish though by revealing that the teenogre has now raised half of his fund raising target for Y Care International and he's off to Bangladesh for his voluntary placement.


Wednesday 22 February 2017


Blimey must be time to share a thoughtful film designed to raise the spirits.


Tuesday 21 February 2017

Watch The Birdie

Perhaps you need to be of a certain vintage to recognise the phrase "watch the birdie". With the advent of the selfie even "say cheese" might be be gloriously outdated for all I know. Originally photographers used to have bird shaped props with moving wings to hold the attention of the small people who had to sit for interminably long periods. During our reserve trip where we saw the wren we literally did just sit and watch the birdie[s]...patience paid off for in amongst all the blurred ones and feathered backsides Mr GBT took these. Hope you like them.

Female dunnock

Long tailed tit...they don't tarry at the feeders!


Monday 20 February 2017

For Folklore Lovers!

It won't come as any surprise to learn that I am most keen on folklore in all its many different forms and how it played a part in the lives of  some of the ordinary folk who generally leave little mark on the historical records.

For anyone equally passionate about this subject and wanting to find out more, this site might be of interest. It's packed full of articles and there's a weekly live feed over on Twitter #FolkloreThursday with even more info coming in. http://folklorethursday.com/#sthash.AwQl54Ic.dpbs

I, meanwhile, must not buy any more books until I have read the titles already in my collection.

It might look like a relatively modest pile, but don't be fooled. I have another six volumes of the Man, Myth and Magic to add to that. They were my main pressie from Mr GBT for my 50th. I was lucky to get them for an incredibly reasonable price after a friend tipped me the wink.


Sunday 19 February 2017

Sunday Lunch

Having worked yesterday with Mr GBT at a show I wanted to make sure that we spent at least a bit of today doing something we enjoyed which would give us a bit of a break. Thankfully we have a couple of options locally which we fall back on in such circumstances.

We had the luxury of time today, so we spent longer than usual just enjoying watching the birds in the hides at the nature reserve near here.

There are two birds I would love to get photos of [Mr GBT's camera is needed for this]- one is a jay which I do see from time to time, but never when I have anything to take a decent shot with and the other a wren. I love their plump little bodies and stubby tails. It always pleases me when I do glimpse one, but it's only ever fleetingly because they are so shy and secretive. I was amazed when I first discovered that they are the commonest breeding bird in the UK. Our luck changed today though!

Arriving without ceremony...well camouflaged against the brown leaf, covered floor.

Rootling around for a tasty morsel.


First course downed. Now for a little something to finish with.

Perhaps a spot of dessert is in order.

Bound to be something suitable in here somewhere.

We were able to watch more of its antics when we popped back in on our way back to the carpark.


Friday 17 February 2017

Greenman Watch 2017

Yes it's been officially launched...if you're not a greenman fan look away now!

The Monday afternoon trek into town wasn't all about massive brussel sprouts you know....during a fevered moment on our way back from the riverside walk earlier in the month I thought I might have spotted yet another new greenman looking down at me from the roofline of a Victorian row of shops. Seeing as Mr GBT was having a mare with one of his orders a breather was in order....might as well go out with a goal in mind.

Mission successfully completed and can now confirm that I have successfully spotted not one, but three new-to-me greenmen and two dragons. Huzzah and thrice times huzzah.

I shall forward these images to the Company of the Green Man in due course, but thought for any fellow foliate head fans out there you might appreciate a sneak preview!


Wednesday 15 February 2017

Coming Unscrewed

[image from pixabay]
Warning- this post is coming to you as a minor moan and in the category of "First World Problem" so it's not to be taken too seriously.

Jars....aargh...or to be more precise new jars which haven't been opened and have decided that I, sure as hell, ain't going to be the first one to open them either. I am reaching the conclusion that maybe I don't have as much strength in my hands as some, but I don't like to be defeated by a piddling glass container which sits and refuses to budge when I try to unscrew its lid. Over time I've tried various tricks....wearing a rubber glove to give me extra grip, tapping round the edge of the lid with a knife, running the top under hot water [that one always makes me nervous in case the glass shatters] and using one of those lid opener things with the different sized rings [OK until you get a sloped lid when it just spins round uselessly]. In desperation I go and hunt down Mr GBT or the teenogre, but this reliance on my chaps cheeses me off mightily. So any other suggestions gratefully received!

Next time I'm coming back as an octopus....they seem to have got the matter sussedπŸ‘


Tuesday 14 February 2017

Left Field

1. Valentine's outfits πŸ’ Check

I have to say Mr GBT has been rather difficult shall we say at the prospect of wearing the chest wig as he fears it might sting when he has to remove it and I shall need a vest so I don't catch a chill when we sally forth and paint the town red.

2. Valentine Gift πŸ’˜ Check

Saw the perfect item today...sadly it was too big to bring home. This was our local hospice's idea of a suitable contender for their romantically themed window yesterday. A curious choice....I would love to know the story behind this donation. Sadly we shall never know. Thankfully there is no room in my life for a massive brussel sprout done up like a Christmas pudding.

3. Valentine mealπŸ’“πŸ’•πŸ’–πŸ’žπŸ’ŸπŸ’™πŸ’šπŸ’›πŸ’œ Yeah right....this is Gnat Bottomed Towers. For the first time in a good few years I have actually made a purchase....two small packets of McVities chocolate digestives for Mr GBT [they're cheaper than a bigger pack?!] for which I had to gird my loins to pay for a brand and was it so very wrong of me to request my own big pack of crisps. Well I did and I do believe I have got what I asked for....and I won't need to to share them mwahahah😈


Monday 13 February 2017

My cup runneth over.

Selham- small village, small pub and even tinier church. Dull? No!

Pub- opened in 1872 under the rather unimaginative name of The Railway Inn. Due to the sheer number of hostelries already called that it was relaunched in 1873. Just as well seeing as the village lost its station. Now called The Three Moles...this is taken from the Mitford family crest [yes one and the same as the notorious Mitford sisters] who own it. It's won awards and anywhere which holds a sloe gin tasting competition gets my vote. On our visit there were two fellows booming across the table at one another name dropping for all they were worth, whilst guffawing and revealing various salacious details about various members of the upper echelons of society they had mingled with in professional and social capacities. Naturally I rose above it all and didn't earwig in the slightest. Let's just say that it was a good thing that they had a good fire going as otherwise we'd all have been chilled from the flapping of my bat ears! Of course, I would love to lower myself and repeat the Tittle-Tatler, but I shall resist...more to do with not wanting a law suit for defamation of character brought against me if the truth be told!

Sadly all good things must come to an end and braving the sleet and ducks

we staggered round the corner to poke our noses round the interior of St James.

It's a largely unaltered Saxon church [the herringbone stonework is one of the giveaways apparently] with a fairly plain interior. Rather a lovely long squint, personal memories carved on a cupboard door and charming later stained glass windows.

This is not what people come to see though. For fans of the Romanesque it has two gloriously carved capitals...there's great debate amongst the specialists as to whether the carvings are a mix of Saxon and early Norman or all later Norman and done by the same mason. Whatever the correct interpretation is it is of no consequence to me...my pleasure is in seeing and then sharing my findings for those who are interested. More fantastical beasts for your delectation.....


Sunday 12 February 2017

Monochrome with a splash of colour!

Bleeding heck it was Baltic out there yesterday....I could have sworn even the pheasants in Sussex were wearing appropriate headgear.

Perhaps I should have been a little suspicious that this old bird [not me!] was propping up the bar at 10am on a Saturday morning....ah well. Naturally taking into account the said conditions it was the perfect day for a bone freezingly cold stroll in the woods around Graffam,West Sussex.

Another walk organised by the Sussex Wildlife Trust...these are free and always brilliant. Lots of pairs of eyes spot lots of different things and there's no patronising comments when peasants such as I have no idea what it is we're looking at despite the number of very knowledgeable people within the group. It might be February, but we weren't short of things to see.

Hazel catkins,  fungi on a tree branch, lichen on the forest floor and droplets inside the husk of a mosaic puffball...yes that's snow it's sitting on. One of the observations I made to myself when cleaning a client's kitchen this week was just how much the green of grass, evergreens, variegated foliage stands out even on a dreich, dull day. I shared the same conversation with an Indian chap who lives here and he said exactly the same thing...he sees great beauty in our wild spaces at this time of year and prefers it to the dry, dusty landscape of his homeland. I always find it easier to see beauty in the unfamiliar rather than what I am accustomed to. Perhaps this shot of little green water laden stars is proof of this.

You could be forgiven for thinking that someone has casually slung a pair of their old American Tan stockings over a tree branch.

Thankfully it is bark from this Eucalyptus tree is a garden we wandered past. Am liking those crimson berries.

The splash of colour came from other quarters though...this rather zesty example of Yellow Brain fungus. As a rule fungi can be little swines to identify. They even get the experts scratching their heads sometimes. The next example is not so pretty...one of the chaps asked if it was a Stinkhorn to which one of the ladies smiling gave him its Latin name Phallus Impudicus....if you google it you will be in no doubt when you see one as its shape is shall we say "distinctive". This is an Earth Ball fungus which has seen better days.

The final shot is what was to be our ultimate quarry....the banks of snowdrops along the river in the heart of the trees. I'm not sure that I've ever seen so many natural ones growing in one place.

As you might imagine poor old Mr GBT didn't get away with just the walk....there is a follow on. I needed his camera skills for that one. More tomorrow.


PS I have just updated this post as the notes from yesterday have just come through and some of the initial thoughts about the fungi have changed!


 Bowlderise- verb meaning to omit or change parts of text [usually in literature] considered vulgar. Yes it's a new-to-me word alert and...