Friday 30 March 2018

Easter Greetings

Happy Easter everyone! No major plans here bar a clan gathering and sewing of curtains. I am looking forwards to a few quiet daysxx


Thursday 29 March 2018

At last!

Years ago I noticed a white house with a quotation painted in black on the far end wall. The issue has been that it's just set back off a stretch of dual carriageway on the way to Dorking and I'm in the car so no chance of finding out what it says as we whizz past. Everytime I see it I promise myself that one day I will stop and find out. This time I had planned ahead and my Mum very kindly pulled off and parked up to allow me to go and put this one to bed. It's become very hard to read now behind the tall trees in front of it, but with a bit of cocking my head on one side and squinting through branches I was able to decipher it.

"Let others tell of storms and showers,
I tell of sunny morning hours"

When I looked closer I realised that there's a huge sundial painted to one side of it and seen in this context suddenly this charming quote makes more sense. Since coming home I've found out that the property is actually called The Sundial Cottage and was built in 1903 as a place for working class London girls to have a break in the clean air. Although you can clearly see the detail from the other side of the low fence on the public path, I felt it would be invading the owner's privacy to take a photo, but I hoped you might appreciate the sentiment of the words.

Here's hoping for a Thursday of "sunny morning hours"!


Wednesday 28 March 2018

From the sublime to the ridiculous!

Yesterday it was all about the unbelievably small. Today it's all about the pretty massive. I don't know about you, but this is certainly the biggest Granny Square I've ever seen....or can you top it?!!

It's in the window of a glorious wool/felt shop called Fluffatorium in Dorking where my Mum and I were having a bit of a snoop yesterday. Didn't buy anything, but fell in love with it all💗 Having had a bit of spend up on little treasures for my dollshouse at the weekend I thought I had better be good. The sign outside rather tickled my fancy too!

Hope you have a good Wednesday one and allx


Tuesday 27 March 2018

Beauty is on the eyelash of the......

...beholder apparently if this photo is anything to go by. A working pair of scissors on a human eyelash no less!

For the first time ever I met one of those amazing people who are literally able to create unimaginably tiny works of art within the eye of a needle. Micro sculptor, Adrian Thompson, brought some examples of his work for all of us to be amazed by last weekend. If you attend a miniatures show you're going to have an exceptionally appreciative audience who understand just what an extraordinary feat this is. Under a series of microscopes [I could barely even see the gold needles with the naked eye] the wonder was of these Chinese cats which actually waved its paw just like its much bigger counterparts....

Gold butterflies
Aston Martin and 007 insignia. That's a match stick in the foreground for scale!

I had a brief chat with Adrian to ask him how he started and he said that after he'd had a gold tooth fall out he decided to sculpt it into an angel. Enquiring whether he ever sold any of this pieces he admitted that he had done reluctantly on occasion, but he preferred not to because it means he has to make another one to replace it. One lady asked the price and she presumably decided it was beyond her budget after he told her it would be £15000. I can well believe it! What an unexpected treat to see these marvels for myself!


Monday 26 March 2018

The sun/sonshine returns.

We've been away working all weekend and back to my housesparkling clients today as per normal. With a 4am start, the clocks going forwards and us not getting home until mid evening I'm a tad fatigued now so it'll be a short one from me.

An excellent show for us, TYM is back home and I saw the loveliest sight of a brimstone butterfly going about its business amongst a front garden full of daffs in the warm sunshine. 'Tis all good!


Friday 23 March 2018

The Boat Race

I am happy to put my hands up and freely admit that is definitely not one of the more exciting photos I've shared here. Bear with me though for I haven't lost my marbles [believe you me they were lost long ago!!]...whilst Charles Merivale might have once been the Dean of Ely Cathedral, I was much more interested to discover that he and his friend were the ones behind the foundation of the Boat Race in 1829. He was a Cambridge rower and his partner in crime, a rower for the opposition. Both participated in the inaugural race which Oxford won.  Tomorrow the two universities will square up against each other once again. We don't actively follow it, but I'm guessing, that as a former Cambridge chap, Mr GBT would prefer it if Oxford didn't repeat last year's triumph😊


Thursday 22 March 2018

Let's drink to that!

[image from Pixabay]

So there I was on Tuesday quietly finishing my cup of Vanilla Chai [I should point out that I was a virgin chai drinker before then], replete after demolishing a very decadent cream tea with Mr GBT and people watching unobtrusively. For those of a less gnat bottomed disposition than moi there was an additional option of having a glass of champagne and half of the group nearest to us had chosen to do so. As they clinked their glasses and said "cheers" suddenly my brain stepped up a gear and asked why do we that and how did we learn it? Well that's it I need answers now!

Except...nobody really knows. The practice seems to have started with the Greek and Roman cultures as they raised their drinking vessels to their Gods before the celebrations could commence. Cheer is Latin in origin and meant any sort of facial expression at the outset. Since the 18th century it's morphed into the familiar "gladness". Less frequently heard is "chin chin" which comes from the Italian "cin cin" and has the same intention. As to "Bottoms Up" theories abound. Whatever your take is on it the motivation was to get you to start drinking and thereby show the bottom of your glass to the company you were keeping. One idea is that it came from the English sailors being conned into service by way of a coin based bribe. The coin would be placed in the bottom of their glass of beer and to prevent this the drinkers would use the phrase to check whether any of the beers had been tampered with in this way.

Proposing a toast may be to do with placing a piece of actual bread in the oft acidic tasting Elizabethan wine to improve its poor quality or flavouring it with spiced toast in the 17th century. As for the clinking sound, beyond creating a sense of unity and bonding, you may well be echoing the medieval idea of driving away malevolent spirits with the sound.

Whereever the truth may lie I'm happy to raise a glass. Cheers!!


Wednesday 21 March 2018

I'm late, I'm late for a very important date!

One day there is a vague possibility that I might just remember that the Spring Equinox is a moveable feast, but clearly this is not the year for any such realisations, so please accept my late wishes for Alban Eiler.

I've chosen a personal favourite to illustrate the change in season. I can recall this picture being at home when I was a kinderling. It turned up in a bag in my parents' loft a few years ago when I was helping my Mum sort out some stuff and she passed it on to me. Now it sits quietly in my corner cupboard of treasures. No idea how old it or where it came from originally bar it having been in my Mum's bedroom when she was very young. I would guess anywhere between 1920-1940.

Hopefully we'll start to enjoy some slightly milder temperatures soon eh!


Tuesday 20 March 2018


In a bid to increase the number of avian visitors to my feeders I've been tweaking what's on offer. A switch to a daily top up of dried meal worms has brought a flock of anything up to twenty starlings in one go.

The official collective noun for these beautiful birds is a murmuration, but frankly they rock up like a load of noisy teens squabbling and pushing each other out of the way and I think a "quarrel", as for sparrows, would be hugely more appropriate. I can hear them shouting at me to get a wriggle on above my head as they line up on the aerial and the moment I'm back indoors down they swoop. Most of the time they're so busy arguing and chucking the stuff on the floor I can't think the ones on the table get much....the ones lower down the pecking order who have to wait their turn on the ground meanwhile quietly tidy away the mess the others have made.

I might be completely wrong here, but starlings strike me as anything but bird brained [in relative terms]. One has got the measure of the suddenly flaps its wings which causes disarray amongst its feathered companions and sensing imminent danger, they scatter to the four winds in a panic. Meanwhile the perpetrator sits tight....mission accomplished and it gets to feast on the goodies without interruption! Humphrey watches this daily spectacle through the safety of his cat flap....I think he reckons those long, pointy beaks could do him some serious damage if he took one of them on!


Monday 19 March 2018

Before the fire.

An amazingly detailed animation of what 17th century London might have looked like just before The Great Fire took hold. This is one of the titles from Pudding Lane Productions.


Friday 16 March 2018

In deepest darkest Sussex..... a corner off the beaten track where it feels as if time has stood still. Another age when the mysteries of the natural world were still closely intertwined with the teachings of the Church. The Old Religion and New Religion walking side by side.  It's a place where I can imagine villagers leaving "thanks offerings" at the feet of the now unknown painted female saint in the local church. Perhaps she is indeed St Margaret of Scotland or St Margaret of Antioch, patron saint of childbirth. If I was with child I know where I'd be leaving my money.

Still today votive offerings are left at the Shrine of Our Lady in memory of loved ones. Flowers and even potatoes on occasion! It may be a later addition to the landscape [it is in memory of a local lady's Mother] it has gathered a mystique all of its own within the setting of the dark woodland grove and the "bottomless" Madonna Pond.

Down a mud filled track you can only approach on foot . The sudden atmospheric change in light levels makes the tales of the coach and horses disappearing into the pond, never to be seen again and glimpses of the Beast of Binsted in your peripheral vision suddenly seem very possible. Within the last twenty years a tin containing broken china and surrounded by paper wound round nails was unearthed by a metal detectorist. Later investigation found there to be a curse written on the the originator never intended to be found. It's a sacred site for many seen and unseen.

Danger lurks at the nearby knucker hole too for this is the watery lair of the serpent-like nicor. These reptilian dragons will bide their time silently before launching a deadly attack on any unsuspecting victims who venture too close to the water's edge. Beware!

We're in the small parish of Binsted area unfamiliar to me, but with the promise of a rich folkloric seam to be mined it was my destination of choice on Mothering Sunday. Sadly this beautiful place is under serious threat from a redevelopment of the A27. The final decision is awaited.


Thursday 15 March 2018

A Combination To Play With.

Paul Weller [simply the coolest man on the planet] and Adele singing live. "You Do Something To Me"


Wednesday 14 March 2018


Beakheads...of these I speak....

A Romanesque style of decoration upon the chancel arch in St Mary Magdalene's in the tiny hamlet of Tortington in West Sussex. These strange fantastical beasts biting down upon the stonework are not very common and tend to be concentrated in certain areas only. It's thought that they were probably painted when they were first carved. Over time I've been lucky enough to see a few examples around the country, but they've all been a repeating pattern. It was the first of my little Mother's Day treats to discover that not only has West Sussex got some of its own, but each one is different. This only came to light when we were taking a closer look at the photos last night. It is thought that they may have been intended to terrify the congregation or perhaps they were there to amuse the kiddies when the sermon went on too long. We shall never know, but I've popped up a couple of close up shots with a little more detail.

A bit of Norman madness!


Tuesday 13 March 2018

Kindness Wall

Seen last week. Part of this Chester charity It certainly made me stop and think.

To end on a more positive note a short film about people getting their lives back on track post homelessness


Monday 12 March 2018

Upon Being a Muvva....

Well what can I say....TYM is definitely a chip off the old block when it comes to his taste in cards...

Had the most splendid day....needless to say a very Arilesque type day!


Friday 9 March 2018

Wrong footed

"Oi mate...the boss wants a carving of an elephant 'cept he wants it done like yesterday".

"An elephant? So what's one of them then? You ever seen one?"

"Nah mate. It's kind of huge...but not quite dragon size with a long nose like a big wyrm. Have a look in the Bestiary there might be summat in there."

"Do you reckon kind of cart horse height then? What about its feet? Any idea?"

"Yeah cart horse sounds about right. As I said before mate I never seen one of these 'ere beasts nor the feet. Just do what you can so I can get the Guvnor off my back."

So with a bit of artistic license here we have a medieval carver's interpretation of an elephant complete with horses hooves. A pretty good attempt all things considered. There are a few other ones round the country, but this one is in Chester again.


Thursday 8 March 2018

The Wandering Eye

The Atlas Obscura site has turned out to be a great weapon in my arsenal for doing a quick online recce of anywhere I'm thinking of possibly visiting. It's a recent find and gave me some good leads. By far and away though my favoured approach is just to wander and see what turns up. That way I can take a picture of all sorts and then have the enjoyment of researching when I get home. As ever a random selection from Liverpool. It was a bone chilling cold day so we didn't tarry!

Just to prove that on occasion I do stay on piste and behave like a proper tourist here's the photographic evidence. The Three of the most iconic views of the city. Blue skies, but it had been snowing a matter of minutes earlier!

This fish tail shaped piece of metalwork is actually one of a thousand milestones funded by the Royal Bank of Scotland and is part of the National Cycle Network. It's covered in all manner of marine details.

Liverpool is twinned with Shanghai and as a mark of the good relationship they share this Chinese Gate was shipped over in pieces in 2000. It has 200 dragons and is the biggest example outside of China itself. All the street signs in the district are bilingual.

Variations of this odd canine shaped "thing" pop up all over the place....except it's not a dog, but that oh so common combination of a lamb and banana. Yes you read that right! The original yellow one now stands outside the university and is the work of Taro Chieze. Its official title is Superlambana and it is a comment upon genetic engineering. This example features Liverpool bands including one of my favourites as a student....Echo and the Bunnymen.

Some of the sights moved me greatly. This WWII memorial is to the Merchant Navy seamen who lost their lives and "have no grave but the sea" [the globes are in closeup] or this, St Luke's which is more commonly simply called "The Bombed Out Church" It was a victim of the Liverpool Blitz in May 1941 and the decision was taken to leave it as a ruin. It stands in memorial of the victims and as a place of peace.

Down at the Pier Head there is a plethora of sculptures to view. To keep the content shorter I've picked out "Telescope" by the artist Ell Brown. It commemorates the work of the 17th century astronomer Jeremiah Horrocks who came from Toxeth. He is noted for being the first to describe the transit of Venus [so Google tells me!]. I am intrigued to know why the orrery has a cherub on it...alas so many questions without answers!

This one was a swine to photograph...I had to lean at a jaunty angle with my camera lens pushed right up to the fence to get a was the best I could manage, but worth the effort for the Dazzle Ship methinks. Originally the Edmund Gardner Pilot ship sported a more conventional black and white livery. However, these jazzy colours are a temporary homage to the Dazzle painting technique used in WWI. The theory was that effect would break up the shape of our warships and obscure their movement in the water from enemy submarines. If camouflage was the name of the game I'm guessing the palette of choice would have rather more subtle rather than the current ones which put me in mind of the Bob Marley rasta hats!

Finally how about a piece of evolving public art...there is something rather touching about the padlocks or Lovelocks as they're known decorating the fences. People continue to add them as a  personal mark of their love for the special souls in their lives. This simple act seemed very touching even to an unromantic bod like me!


Wednesday 7 March 2018

"Our Colour Reflection"

"Our Colour Reflection"  is the official title of the temporary art installation by Liz West which was, until last week, on show in the Chapter House in Chester Cathedral. According to the accompanying details it consists of 765 mirrors in 15 colours at varying heights with 4 different diameters. It certainly created some beautiful reflections with the light coming through the stained glass window up behind it.

It was the effect of the light reflecting back on the ceiling and walls which entranced me..should I  admit that the effect puts me firmly in mind of the revolving coloured spot lights at the discos of my youth back in the early 1980s?! There's a reason why I've never been employed as an art critic....☺


Tuesday 6 March 2018


Many people will recognise the fellow in the photo above as the Lincoln Imp I'm sure [except me who had never heard of him until I went to Lincoln itself!], but how about this chap....the Chester Imp?

The legend goes that this medieval representation of a chained devil was added to the cathedral after a monk spotted Satan peering in through the window. This was intended as a stark reminder for the cloven footed one of what would befall him if he dared to enter the sacred space of the House of God.

The carving is way up in the cathedral and quite a pickle to photograph I can tell ye...thank goodness for dear old Mr GBT and his long lens! There was much excitement in the press back in 2015 when it was apparently "discovered" by a drone which was used as part of the "Chester Unlocked" project. However, much as I hate to be one to put a bit of a dampener on things and imply that the papers may not quite have reported the facts accurately [never been known!], the image was already known. However, this was the first time it had been seen at close quarters. Now it's uplit and easier to see with the naked eye.

Its new found fame spawned a Chester Imp Trail in which 25 imps [there are five styles], made by the artist Eoghan Bridge, were mounted upon different buildings around the city centre. Sadly the company behind it is no more and the information about where they are all sited has been lost. There's now a Facebook page called "The Lost Chester Imp Trail" dedicated to finding them all again so if you spot one or know where any of them are they'd be delighted to hear from you. Let me leave you with a couple of photos of the ones which have been relocated. I shall have to keep my eyes peeled if I visit again!

This is the first set of photos from our mini break last week. Hopefully a couple more posts to follow in the week as I sort through the images.


Monday 5 March 2018

Three Little Things

Weekend forays outdoors at this time of year tend to be of the spontaneous local variety...if sunshine is promised all chores are suspended for a couple of hours and we're off out of the door. Making new discoveries on our patch is good for the soul as far as I'm concerned and a recent return trip to Buchan Park reinforced this belief.

My primary reason behind this particular choice of destination was to see the latest carving by Janine Creaye who I featured last month. I make no secret of the fact that I absolutely love her interpretation of our land's beautiful nature and spirits. This piece of work was paid for by the Friends of the park and is dedicated to Robin who is the former senior ranger.

This nest like structure swinging from one the silver birches I passed left me puzzling as to what on earth it could be. I now know it to be a type of gall called Witch's Broom. It gets its name from the belief that it was caused by the witches flying over the tree, but in reality it's triggered by a fungus. The tree then produces a mass of growth from one point and they are known to be used as nests by some bigger species. 

As for this fellow....well he had me completely foxed. All I could say for sure was that I hadn't seen one before. Believe you me I'm no birder, but eventually with my fabulous powers of observation [not] I eventually noticed that that right next to the normal identification charts there was one with just the marsh and willow tits on it. Aah so it'll be one of them then! However, the differences between the two species are minimal and you really need to know your onions to be able to accurately tell them apart. This particular avian chap wasn't in the mood for hanging around for a selfie....this was the best of the lot...most of the images are of an empty feeder where he's just flown off or out of focus tail feathers as he makes a speedy exit. Not one to give in that easily though I put it out there on an appropriate FB group and I'm reliably informed that it's a marsh tit.

A couple of hours spent well and still got all the gruntwork done on my return to GBT!


Saturday 3 March 2018

Frou Frou Saturday

Sorry folks time ran away from me yesterday....will catch up with myself no doubt on the way back round! Anyway a charming topical may have seen it on FB, but hope you enjoy it nevertheless. Normal blogging service will be resumed next week.

Hope you have a good weekend and keep safe in the weather. I'm off out on Repair Cafe duty this morning.


Thursday 1 March 2018

In like a lion.

Well hello folks....blimey March hasn't exactly announced its arrival quietly has it now!! I could show you pictures of snow, but how about a bit of melted snow and a big old blast of welcome sunshine and rainbow colours instead. Hopefully something to warm the cockles, whilst we're all hunkered down confined to barracks. This was Liverpool on Tuesday....I have been off a'wanderin' feeding the soul and all that. Safely back here at GBT now and hopefully with a few tales to tell.


Back to the town of painted doors and alleycats

 💕Ah Tewkesbury💕 Do you know what...I flipping love this town with all its curios and layers of history. It is entirely down to Mythago an...