Tuesday 31 October 2017

Punkie Night

Have you carved your jack o'lantern from your pumpkin then? Afraid I haven't bought one...my one and only attempt at pumpkin soup was hideous and ended up on the compost heap! I have put out all the ancient Hallows decs yet again and Mr GBT recycled the Grim Reaper fancy dress costume which TYM has left here. Me meanwhile.....I invested 85 groats in some "Halloween" makeup in the hallowed halls of Tesco.....as I made up my eyes and lips in a dramatic red/black combo I was channelling my inner Marilyn Manson. I'm not entirely sure that I created quite the look I was going for, as within a couple of minutes of me arriving at the Halloween party on Saturday night, two friends separately said I looked just like Clare Grogan from Altered Images...erm! Definitely back to the drawing board methinks.

At the said party I got chatting to a fellow guest who revealed that she was going to have a go at carving swedes and turnips as they seemed more authentic and predate the American pumpkin tradition. That conversation stirred memories of reading about the Punkie night which takes place on the last Thursday in October in Hinton St George in Somerset.

Punkie is the name given to the hollowed out swede or mangle-wurzel which is lit by a candle inside. Often they would have represented evil spirits and used  as omens of death or to intimidate unpopular folks. Nowadays it's all a lot more genteel with a Punkie King and Queen, prizes for the best lantern, a procession and the traditional singing of the Punkie song:

Punkie night tonight
Punkie night tonight
Adam and Eve
Wouldn't believe
It's Punkie night tonight
Punkie night tonight
Punkie night tonight
Give us a candle 
Give us a light
It's Punkie night tonight.

Make sure the ghouls don't come and carry you off!! Halloween/Samhain blessings to all who are celebrating.


P.S. That is not my handiwork in the photo. I took Mr GBT out last year to admire the decorated houses near here and that window particularly tickled my pickle!

Monday 30 October 2017

Practise makes purrfect!

With his big night coming up I caught Humphrey polishing up his broom riding technique.....

What he gets up to at night time is strictly cat business and nothing to do with his nosey humans. Clearly from the photos he did not welcome the intrusion....look at those creepy eyes!!

N'er mind it will all be over by Wednesday and he'll be able to spend the next 364 days recovering and recharging his batteries!


Sunday 29 October 2017

Ear Worm

A short one from me....it's been a rather busy weekend celebrating all things Halloween👻 We were larking about last night, so I added my own little soupson of fun to the mix....one little word..."manamana".....please feel free to carry on👿


Saturday 28 October 2017

Round and Round

Morning....am most delighted to be able to report that the circular economy is alive and well in this little part of the world.

For many years I've lived with a full length mirror which has been cracked across the bottom corner. Maybe most people would have long since chucked it, I don't know, but it was still fit for purpose so there it stayed. Since the revamp of the bedroom has been completed we've finally got round to replacing the glass, but have kept the same frame. There was a bit of head scratching as to what to do with the original piece.....within a couple of days though a Freecycle message popped into my inbox asking for this very same thing....I explained to the lady about its condition, but she was delighted as she was going to break it up for a mosaic project anyway. Do so love to hear a good reuse story!

Now with the buzz of the Christmas retail spirit really ramping up and the pages in the diary turning quicker than I would like really I've rediscovered the bossy note I left for myself for the beginning of November...that will be the one which reminds me that I have about a sackful of unused Christmas cards in the top of the cupboard having "lost" them last year [ie not actually checked properly!!] and that I going to wrap any gifts in second hand scarves this year. That probably sounds terribly "goody two shoes" doesn't it, but believe you me I have an ulterior motive for that one beyond the green credentials....I absolutely loathe wrapping parcels [in fact I promise Mr GBT all sorts of treats to get him to do it for me if I can!] and I am completely useless at it. Ask any family member who has received one of my dog's dinner efforts and I'm sure they'd back me up. Best get my rump in gear then.....I asked on Freecycle for old headscarves explaining what my cunning plan for them was....I now have all these lovelies from a very generous lady who is clearing her house prior to renting it out. I've got no excuse now have I and am going to have to walk my talk! I think I may spare you the photos of my efforts.....

Following on from our successful launch of the Repair Cafe last month, the same freecycler contacted me and asked me if there was anything we might need in the way of sewing stuff as she still has more stuff she wants to move on. Meanwhile another dancing friend has passed over a black bag full of unfinished patchwork projects her late Mother-in-law had and which was destined for the tip. With her full permission to remove anything which caught my eye first, the rest will be reused at the Sussex Green Living upcycling events. Like me, she hates waste and is just pleased to see the fabric being put to good use. This particular piece of patchwork is going to be made into a new-to-me set of curtains which will go brilliantly with my already rather bright and cheery kitchen!


Friday 27 October 2017

Saffron Walden

My birth county of Essex has a bit of an undeserved reputation at times for being the sort of place you should just pass through to get to wherever you're headed as soon as possible. Certainly it has its grotty areas which are the ones which seem to attract all the attention, but that's par for the course pretty much where there is any type of development. I may not live there, but I have visited family many times and the truth is the further north you go the more gorgeous it becomes. The medieval town of Saffron Walden is a case in point.

Built upon the fortunes of the saffron trade, the Crocus Sativus was grown locally until the 18th century when it saw a sharp decline. There are several references to this part of the town's history in the local church. Later on brewing saw a revival in its fortunes.

It's a place which is delightful to just spend a couple of hours in just mooching around and seeing what you come across. The centre is very attractive, but I think, had we not wandered off in search of the mazes [see my earlier post this week if you're wondering what I'm talking about] we'd have probably missed some of its gems. Unlike many places where so much has been destroyed in the face of modern development, this is a place which has managed to hang on to many of its older properties which in turn gives it a strong sense of continuity.

This was one of our little finds we came across when we strayed off the beaten track. If you approached it from this direction it would hardly impress you now would it!

However, once you've got to the far end of the tunnel this is what greets you if you look back. It reminds me of an 18th century grotto and I'm delighted to say that all the carved stonework continues inside.

For me, besides the beautiful colours of the houses, it's the pargetting which I loved. This type of waterproof plastering is common to East Anglia [it's known as pinking in Norfolk] and there are some lovely examples. I think this one won the top prize for me though. The former 14th century Old Sun Inn was Oliver Cromwell's HQ in 1647. There is a school of thought which supports the argument that the two figures depicted are representations of the giants Gog and Magog or alternatively Tom Hickathrift and the Wisbech Giant.  As for the single leg.....any suggestions most welcome! [I now know this to be the sign for a corncutter [or chiropodist as we would call it in today's parlance]

It truly is a little gem of a place!


Thursday 26 October 2017

Mother's Ruin

I lay the blame at the door of certain friends [yes Lovely Grey you're one of the culprits😆] for my head being turned and me being led astray into a spot of alcoholic experimentation. Various souls around me have been making flavoured gins...I've heard mention of rhubarb from at least three, E has done grapefruit and then raspberry was thrown in the mix....before you can say jack robinson, there I was on mysupermarket checking gin prices. Aldi was the cheapest and if, on a day of dance down in Lewes a fortnight ago, we found ourselves parked opposite [cheapest all day parking in the town] then who am I to ignore a sign of providence😁 Currently with a bumper batch of raspberries in the freezer still [despite jam and wine making and a bag donated to my courgette glut eating neighbour] we still have loads to use. As you can see from the photos below I got my rump into gear on Sunday and got busy.......

I think I might need to road test it before the year's end. This is the recipe I'm using http://www.countryliving.co.uk/create/food-and-drink/recipes/a1081/pink-raspberry-gin-recipe/


Wednesday 25 October 2017

A Garden With a Difference.

These weirdly shaped contraptions form a whole circle, but my little press and point camera couldn't cope with snapping the whole vista so I can only show you half I'm afraid. They had me scratching my head as to their purpose when I first encountered them, looking, to all intents and purposes, as they do like a modern art installation. They are, in fact, supports designed to allow you to sky watch without getting a crick in your neck and are in the Skylight Garden at Anglesey Abbey [National Trust]. The weather wasn't spectacular on the day we chose to visit, but I did rather enjoy the brief cloudscape when the sun peeped through.


Tuesday 24 October 2017


Going round and round..... not in circles as you might imagine, but a mile of loops if you want to get to the middle of this maze.

Now you know me by now....if I'm away on a little holiday I like to squeeze as much out of my time whilst I'm there as possible...anything without an outlay is always a bonus and one of the ways I achieve this is to schedule in something to see/do on both the outward and inward journeys. This little joy is the oldest publicly owned turf cut maze in the country and is in Saffron Walden. Nobody knows when it was first created, but the documents show that fifteen shillings was handed over in 1699 for it to be recut. It's a joy...there's something very meditative about following the loops....I'm afraid though that time wasn't on my side so I cheated and cut through to the middle in the end when I realised how long it was! Oops!

If labyrinths are your thing then Saffron Walden has a whole range on offer. There's a modern one set into bricks, one which is being built right now and laid out with paving slabs and plants and a big old beast of a Victorian one with great tall yew hedges. In my innate wisdom [not] I decided to have a go at this last one just as the sky turned that strange sepia colour last week...it felt a little too reminiscent of the scenes between Harry Potter and Cedric Diggory in the final challenge of the Trizwizard Tournament in The Goblet of Fire for my liking as I encountered different fearsome looking stone creatures around each bend. I was actually quite relieved to get out!!

Nevertheless it proved a unique start to the adventures!


Monday 23 October 2017

Bedtime Battles.

Humphrey keeps, what I would term, teenage hours....he's asleep all day and out on the razz all night. By about 8am he's ready to settle down for his daytime snooze on one of our beds. Generally as a rule that fits in fine with my routine....

When it comes to changing the bed linen he doesn't see why anything should change and that's when the battlelines are drawn. I turf him off the bed, turn round to pick up the clean item in which time he's whipped back on and is sitting tight in his original position. We repeat this scenario several times over except yesterday, after going through several bouts, I'd had enough so I left him on the sheet and pulled the duvet cover over him [not his head]....."that'll learn yer you little s*d" I thought triumphantly imagining that he would shift his plump rump. As you can see though the victory was not mine.

I have retired to lick my war wounds and prepare myself for the next round.


Friday 20 October 2017

Look no hands!

Isn't it amazing how sometimes you will notice a theme running through what you see....for me it's been clocks and not just any ordinary clocks, but clocks with no hands. I didn't set out to intentionally to hunt them down, but find me they did so best just go with it.

This is the Ely Analemmatic Sundial which was designed by Quin Hollick for the Millennium. Rather than try and explain how to use it I've popped up the instructions below. We couldn't resist trying it out and I can confirm that, as the sun was playing ball and shining, it was spot on.

This rather unusual looking timepiece is the Corpus Clock in Cambridge. It was designed by John C Taylor in 2008. It's exact every five minutes apparently....not exactly handy then!

The malevolent looking grasshopper thing perched on top is a chronophage which translates as "timeeater". It operates via three L.E.D rings which mark the hours, minutes and seconds and it marks the hour apparently by the the shaking of chains and a hammer hitting a wooden coffin. All very Gothic....it seemed like it might currently be out of action when we saw it as there was absolutely nothing happening.

To finish...how about this one for a variation on a theme. The Moon Dial on the outside of Queen's College [again in Cambridge]. It has the conventional sun dial, but also can tell you the hour, month, sunrise time and the zodiac [unless it's throwing it down in which case you're scuppered]. The green lines show when the Summer Solstice and the Equinoxes are. If, however, that's not enough for you then you need to turn to the table at the bottom and use the information contained therein to perform a mere four complicated mathematical equations to calculate the lunar motion to give you the time. Oh yes and having completed all that little lot please bear in mind that the moon movements are irregular and therefore, inaccurate. 

Ye gads....I think I'll just stick to looking at my phone thanks!
Have a good weekend one and all!


Thursday 19 October 2017


You may or may not be delighted to hear that the Old Bat has returned from her short sojourn in East Anglia.

This Medieval interpretation of a bat resides in King's College Chapel Cambridge.


Saturday 14 October 2017

Taking a breather.

I'm just taking a couple of days off from blogging to give myself a chance to recharge my batteries. Will be back very shortly....promise.

In my absence...be naughty!


Friday 13 October 2017

Well Heeled

At Guiding J's suggestion, we met earlier this week at our local museum for a nose around the latest free exhibition....right from the outset there was a certain novelty factor to our get together as she rolled up with a rather plump cuddly owl under her arm. Sheepishly she explained that as a Guider, it's her turn this week to take this owl with her and she has to take photos of what she's been up to...I noted that she did not opt for a photo in the pub afterwards mwhahah!

Shoes, or more precisely, the shoes designed by Dan Sullivan and sold through his company Irregular Choice. Now shoes are just not my thing really. I buy them [virtually all charity shop these days] when I need them,but these ones held my attention. They've been virtually catapulted into pieces of art.  I found them endlessly fascinating and took masses of photos. Definitely not all to my taste and I preferred the ones which were not part of the Disney collaboration, but certainly if you bought a pair you would stand out from the crowd. More info about the range and shops from here http://www.irregularchoice.com/

The whole display was a joy for the old eyeballs on an overcast and drizzly day.


Thursday 12 October 2017

Which camp would you be in?

I am slap bang in the middle....one day I might don my black crow tshirt and another day my rainbow jumper. Typical Libran...neither one nor t'other😆 or as I would argue...I get to enjoy the best of both worlds or go off at a tangent whenever the urge takes me.


Wednesday 11 October 2017

Heart Burial

I happened across this fragment of something I didn't recognise recently and was intrigued to read that it is part of a late medieval heart burial. In times of warfare or trauma related death I can understand that partial burial may occur if you do not have a complete cadaver, but a heart burial is apparently something quite different.

Scurrying off to see what the internet had to say on the matter I now know that this was quite the fashion, particularly in the times of the Crusades. Knights often died abroad and it would have been very difficult to transport a whole corpse home. Instead the heart was embalmed in spices and returned to the loved ones in a lead or ivory box for interring here. One of the most famous is that of Richard I in 1199 whose heart in buried in Rouen Cathedral. It was examined in 2012 and found to have been preserved in frankincense [traces of other materials remained too]. For those who might like to see this for themselves  St Michael's church in Exning, Norfolk has a rare double heart example.


Tuesday 10 October 2017

The First Repair Cafe in West Sussex

Our little Sussex Green Living posse sat around earlier this year and just casually chatted about how we would like a sustainable community to look and what steps we could realistically take with the resources available to us with zero funding. Nothing that could be termed New Age Fluff just stuff everyday folks might get behind. The Reuse Shop at our local recycling centre was one...we've explored that and are still prodding and challenging the obstacles put before us, especially in the light of discovering that all the surrounding counties already have them. Dear old West Sussex has to get its recycling targets up from 44% to 50% by 2020 somehow so this is beginning to look increasingly like a viable option...at least worthy of further investigation at this stage.

The other project we had in mind was setting up a Repair Cafe. Now I'm not going to take any credit for sorting this one out....I stick to the Terracycle schemes and FB page moderation, but I guess this has freed up time for the others who aren't still working to get the ball rolling. It took a while to find a suitable location, but as of last Saturday we now have a cafe which will open for 2.5 hours on the first Saturday of the month. With a rolling programme of events we are trying it out for a year to see how it goes

I've been amazed at the attention our project has attracted. It's been picked up by the media and given very positive coverage. It was therefore, with some trepidation we opened our doors...we had no idea how it would go, but a steady stream of people turned up to learn how to repair and upcycle clothing. It was an ideal opportunity for me to be able to clarify the recycling schemes we run and many took advantage of the Ecover refilling service programme which our hosts, The Quakers, have already set up. It was officially opened by our local MP and our local councillor who is head of waste.

Just a few photos of the day. Next month it's repairing electrical and tech.

Items made from men's ties, duvet covers and knitted strips of sheets.

I felt really proud to play a small part in something so positive.


Monday 9 October 2017

Ooh err missus!

I met our local Conservative MP on Saturday. Our town is what is considered a "safe seat"....let's rephrase that shall we....it usually returns one of the highest, if not the highest, Tory majority at the General Election. I don't share our MP's political views, but as an individual, he's a pleasant, jovial chap [and a huge improvement on the one before.]

Doing his civic duty, saying a few words, eating cake and opening our new Repair Cafe I suspect was a relatively easy and non demanding appearance...a celebratory moment with no awkward questions or nasty heckling. For some reason I donned my devilment cap and decided therefore, to be slightly naughty😈

Whilst posing for photos with the cafe banner in front of him so he couldn't read it, he commented "I've no idea what this banner says!"...."Vote Labour" I replied. He smiled and then when we were cutting the cake he said "This feels like we're getting married"...."That's very kind of you to ask, but I'm afraid I'm already taken" I replied. Chuckling, he quipped "Yes, well I think my wife might have something to say about that too!" It was a happy occasion, so a bit of light humour didn't go amiss. I doubt I shall ever meet him again!


Sunday 8 October 2017

Losing Pounds

Just a quick heads up for those of us of a thrifty bent. The old pound coins cease to be legal tender from 15th October. However, if you do find any lurking after that date [gah!] you can still put them to good use.


Rest awhile and smile.

I parked my ample rump on that there bench and followed the instructions on its plaque.  It wasn't exactly an onerous task to have to re...