Wednesday 28 June 2017

Search Engines For Good

You know how much I love trees. There is, I have discovered, a search engine which promotes the planting of trees. Please do take a look if it's your type of thing. Thank you.


Tuesday 27 June 2017


Ok confession time....I'm a bit of a Nimby when it comes to certain issues. Nothing of any great national importance I should stress on this occasion [I keep my opinions by and large to myself or express elsewhere on the major stuff], but these...gnomes. For a dame who loves to spend her time actively seeking out all the weird and wonderful grotesques etc this might seem like an odd thing to say. There's just something about them which I find vaguely unsettling. No one was more surprised than moi then when Mr GBT revealed that there is a Gnome Reserve down in Devon and I had an overwhelming urge to visit contrary creature that I am😊

What a laugh....a slightly surreal experience, but with a madcap dose of fun thrown in. To get into the whole thing you have the opportunity to choose and then wear your own gnome hat. Needless to say we did and then Mr GBT took his first ever selfie to prove it. We are not the tallest folks on the planet, but that was one giant gnome looming over our shoulders. Naturally we felt it imperative that we shared this image of great beauty with our offspring...he replied with an equally droll comment.

So now I have had the pleasure of viewing lots of gnomes of all shapes and sizes am I a convert?

Nope I remain firmly in the Not In My Back Yard camp I'm afraid.


Monday 26 June 2017


"Walk" the street art said in Exeter . So always being one to follow an instruction [depending on which way the wind is blowing] walk we did.....across a stretch of Dartmoor.

Dartmoor on a sunny day is a joy to behold .....standing stones from Scorhill stone circle. Unrestored there are 23 still upright. I simply enjoy the process of trying to get into our ancestors' minds and trying to fathom why they selected certain ones over others...was it the shape, size or were they simply hauling over what was nearest to hand. Questions with no answers.

One of the famous Clapper bridges. Believed by some to be Neolithic, it seems more likely that they were Medieval apparently. The river bed was a palette of colourful plants.

Baby swallows. Had the parent bird not swooped in on the wing just as I was there I would have missed this. They had been silent until then but created a massive hullabaloo once they realised food was in the offing.

And this which has been added to my very short list of Most Magical Places. Wistman's Wood. A fragment of ancient woodland with stunted oak trees and an SSI for mosses and lichens. It has been another place I have wanted to see for a very long time and once there, I was able to just perch on a boulder and drink it all in.

Any walk requires tea and cake to revive flagging spirits I find. We retired to the Two Bridges Hotel only to encounter Tony Robinson....I am guessing that maybe he was in the area recording a show, but certainly not the person I expected to see on a quiet mid week afternoon!


Sunday 25 June 2017

Tales from the Minster

Wimborne Minster...bursting at the seams with tales from yesteryear and rare artefacts spanning the centuries of its existence.

A roughly hewn Saxon relic box. It must have earnt the church a pretty scillingas. Blimey I'd have paid to see some of Thomas A Becket's blood or the hair shirt of St Francis. They also had a bit of the cross, part of the manger and even apparently hairs from the beard of Jesus himself amongst their treasures.

This corbel is a tiny little thing from the early 1100s. It depicts Moses and as for that natty facial hair I think the competitors in the World Beard Championships could do no better than to look to this for inspiration!

If it's bursts of colour you're after this building has it in spades. From medieval wall paintings [not shown] through to modern day stained glass, many styles from many different periods are represented. The astronomical clock dates from at least 1409 when it first appears in the written records and the quarter hours are chimed by the Quarter Jack on the outside of one of the towers. Originally the figure was a monk, but he assumed his Grenadier Guard persona during the Napoleonic wars.

The man in the wall. Anthony Ettricke was the somewhat eccentric Recorder of Poole and the magistrate who sent the Duke of Monmouth to trial. The good people of Wimborne had offended him and thus he declared he would neither be buried in their ground nor above it. Instead he gained permission to have his tomb placed in a niche in the church wall within his lifetime. He was a chap who knew his own mind and if the scriptures said he would live only for three score years and ten then he was confidently able to have his date of departure of 1693 carved upon his coffin in advance. Unfortunately the powers that be didn't play ball and he lasted another decade. The date had to be amended!

One of the joys Wimborne Minster is known for is its chained library. With only four in the country, it's open a few hours a day for viewing. Holding over 400 tomes and pieces of music many are in excess of 300 years old. The chains are so that the books can be taken off the shelves without damaging the spines and were replaced by the Victorians.

Now you know it had to happen....a post without a spot of carved madness would not make it on to this blog now would it. I've done the sensible stuff so I shall end on a note of silliness and then frankly a bit of downright rudery with the last photo. This one is hidden away in a dark corner high away from prying eyes. Euphemistically apparently it comes under the umbrella of "Male Exhibitionist". Nowt more one can add to that is there really! He is registered as part of the Sheela-na-gig project.

Romanesque bear/dog with rabbit and cat with a rat. 



Saturday 24 June 2017


I like my coffee medium with milk and no sugar. Expresso is not to my taste, but this witty expresso expression is. Seen in a cafe where once again you might have found me feeding my face with cake!

I am wading through a backlog of photos still.....


Friday 23 June 2017


It's tiring work being a cygnet and winding your parents up all day. This little lot of lovelies were in Wimborne and we'd seen them earlier involved in an altercation with a mallard and her ducklings as to who should pass first on the narrow channel of the river when they met head to head. It will come as no surprise that the swans bullied their way through.


Thursday 22 June 2017

It's just not cricket!

When you are invited to perform at a folk festival you are given your slots in advance. Etiquette dictates that you turn up on time, share fairly with any other performers [it's a fantastic chance to see others in action] and don't overrun. Above all else you need to be mindful of the others around you.

Wimborne Folk Festival and this is Hunter's Moon. They are friends of Mythago and the other side which inspired me to get involved in all of this Morris madness in the first place. I should add that they are fabulous to watch.

Part way through one of their dances a very large, very loud marching band decided to strike up at one of the busking spots nearby. Such was their volume that they drowned everything else in the vicinity out. It's imperative that you can hear the beat if you're a dancer. Confuddled we stood there scratching our heads trying to fathom out how we were going to work round this one. It's not for nothing that we are known as The Dark Morris.....

"Please can you help us out in any way you can?" asked the stricken musicians.....why of course we can for Mythago has a secret weapon......the amplifier. Without hesitation we ramped up the amps, banged the drums and shook the tambourines like things possessed.

It had the desired effect though....we made ourselves heard. I really felt for the teams coming on after us as they didn't stand a chance. Appropriate feedback has been given to the organisers to stop the situation from arising again.

As I'm talking about all things Dark Morris related it seems like the perfect excuse to put up Steel Eye Span's song of the same name and another film with sides from our Border tradition [we aren't in it, but it's a jolly little ditty!


Tuesday 20 June 2017

Pit Stops

In order to wring every minute of time out of my precious holiday I have, these past couple of years, incorporated a short visit to somewhere en route to our main destination. It just adds a little something extra to our experience. This year we tagged a week's leave onto a weekend away with Mythago...for reasons I can't explain it was very important for me not to travel too far away from GBT with our son still being in Bangladesh. You would think that as he's 5000 miles away it wouldn't matter would you. Ah the vagaries of parenting!

With the pit stops programmed into the sat nav before we left these were my destinations of choice both outward and coming home.

Maiden's Castle, Dorset. Now I've explored a few of these Iron Age hill forts in my time as there are a handful of remains on the South Downs. With a leap of imagination you can sort of see how they might have looked when they were in use, but I suspect that they always look better from the air. Nothing had prepared me for the magnificence of this one though...the biggest one in Britain. It started out as a Neolithic settlement and then underwent several transitions under the stewardship of the Iron Age tribes before a period of Roman occupation [the foundations of the Roman temple remain above the ground]. It is a hugely impressive monument,but when you factor in that the massive ramparts would have been white in its heyday the mind boggles. It must have stood out in the landscape for miles around.

Now if you were me and obsessed with all things prehistory would you not have pleaded your case for taking in a stone circle too if you discovered that it was only just up the road? Thought so! Thankfully Mr GBT is a laid back sort of fellow when it comes to my whims and he indulged me. This is the Nine Stones [only seven are here now] and you can see from my head just how much variation in size there is. Although it is next to a busy road somehow it manages to retain its intimacy. The Dolmen Grove Druids observe their rites here.

Yesterday the homeward journey provided us with the opportunity to experience another well known sacred site. This is the ruined Norman church of Knowlton built slap bang in the middle of a late Neolithic henge. It's been known for a long time that the transition from Paganism to Christianity was often done by inhabiting the same places which were special to the people and I've been to more than one church which has either been built on top of a suspected pre Christian earthwork or retained a burial mound in its churchyard. This example though makes the connection plain and simple. One of the entrances into the henge is via an archway of yews decorated with clooties and other blessings. I left a small gift of a beautiful snail shell for the guardians which I had found the day before as it's important to me that  it will biodegrade and leave no lasting litter. It was a very peaceful spot, bar the panting sheep lined up on the other side of the fence staring at us!

For any fellow travellers all the places I've mentioned belong to English Heritage, but are free of charge.


Monday 19 June 2017


Hello all you lovely peeps out there. Am back from my wanderings and reacquainting myself with the washing machine. It's a return to paid employment tomorrow, but needs must eh!

This rather lovely little group were convened on a thistle in Dorset. Six Spot Burnet moths I do believe. No words tonight, but hope to catch up with myself on the way back round over the next few days! Until then all the best...


Tuesday 6 June 2017


Really 'twas a weekend of contrasts spent at our local quirky event the "Floral Fringe".  Saturday saw me dressed in a flowery skirt with a floral wreath on my head helping out on our green stand. Knowing how tedious it can be if someone verbally whacks you over the head with a mallet we don't preach at people [I hold my hands up totally as not being anywhere near as eco friendly as I could be], but just gently raise awareness by showing people how items can be upcycled etc. We had a range of chairs from Freecycle which had been upholstered in a patchwork of recycled fabrics together with bags made of old ties and the wreaths themselves had been made from artificial flowers donated by the charity shops [they don't sell well apparently]. Everything was for sale and people enjoyed chatting whilst purchasing. Sunday I was back in black with all my pagan bling on and DM shoes dancing with Mythago. Mind set completely switched to admiring the beautiful silver bird skull pendant one of my friends on the side had bought.

The event itself is very well supported, but is a tad too Country Living for me.  My Laura Ashley days both in terms of decor and dress sense have long since departed. Having said that I did take rather a shine to these garden ornaments....beautiful and a lot less noisy than the white one we saw at Amberley last week!

Weather wise it was glorious both days and we were able to give our coloured kits an airing during the final set.

This is an older photo but you can see where I took my inspiration for it from can't you! We are often complimented on the performances we give as we are fairly unusual within the the Morris world and have quite a following in some quarters. However, we are loathed by some [we do look quite creepy really, but we have a strong penchant for tea and cake behind the scenes!]. A quip I've just read about us on Twitter is that we look like dancing Vileda mops has made me guffaw....looking at some footage just put up [not mine so can't share it] that wag is just so right!!

This will be my final post for a few days as I'm pulling up the drawbridge here at Gnat Bottomed Towers and heading off on the grubby white charger for a few days of adventuring with Mr GBT.


Monday 5 June 2017

Worshipping Felines

A certain black furry purry who rules the roost here at GBT also likes to remind us of this fact regularly as well as making sure we know where we are on the feeding chain😼


Sunday 4 June 2017

Through St Richard's Gate...

It's not often you go through a gate in a churchyard and find this the other side......

A castle indeed. It was once the residence of the bishops of Chichester [St Richard was appointed in 1245] For the past few centuries though Amberley castle has been in private hands and latterly run as a restaurant and hotel. I was there forcing myself to partake of yet another cream's been a tough job spending the past nine months celebrating my 50th birthday, but hey I feel I've risen to meet the challenge admirably😊

If the truth be told I decided to book it when it was our son's birthday earlier this week as I wasn't quite sure how I'd be, it being his first one away from us and all that. In actual fact I was fine and we enjoyed the experience immensely. It's not a place one normally gets to visit unless one is there legitimately so I took the opportunity to snap a few pictures. I seem to have taken a lot of ones with green in...this wasn't my intention, but just the way it worked out. The photo of the cones of the Monkey Puzzle is included simply because of the novelty of them.



 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...