Tuesday 31 December 2019

Having a ball!

It's 1750 and the Lady of the House has decided to bring the Christmas season to a close by throwing a masked ball. Did you receive your invitation?

Carriages are to arrive at 8 and you will be met by the footman who will take you through to the reception area where there will be a glass of the finest champagne awaiting you.

Some of the gentlemen are already seated around the gaming table and the cards have been dealt. Which one will win I wonder?

Beyond the door the ladies are seated round the fire quietly exchanging the news of the day. They have spend many hours carefully choosing which of their beautiful dresses they will wear. Look at their ornate hair.

Some of the earlier arriving guests have already made it to the ballroom and are excitedly awaiting for the dancing to begin. Shortly they will don their masks and the real frivolity will begin.

For one little boy though the excitement has proved too much and he has sneaked down the stairs to see what is happening. I think it won't be long before the governess takes Lady Fetherstonhaugh's son in hand and shoos him back to his bedchamber. This is not an evening for young prying eyes!

This wonderful diorama is the work of a lady called Delicarta whose mission is to "bring paper to life". Yes you read that read all the clothing on the models and the detailing on the hair is sculpted from paper. Quite extraordinary. This is her current piece which is on show in Uppark House. The property is what's known as a 1000 hours house which basically means they can only allow natural daylight in for that long per year to stop light damage. To create the atmosphere of the ball all the curtains were closed and with no flash photography allowed we experienced the event in similar conditions as the original party goers would have! If you like the artist's work there are more photos on her blog https://delicarta.wordpress.com/blog/

A Happy New Year's Eve to one and all. As ever we're going to enjoy the delights of GBT and perhaps imbibe a glass or two of something delicious!


Monday 30 December 2019

Christmas Clobber

I never go looking for clothes they just seem to "find" me. Most of the time I don't see anything that catches my eye so on the odd occasion I do I go with the flow....that's the beauty of buying via the charity shop route. I hadn't meant to buy a new cardigan [hard to believe I know when you're a proud knitwear addict], but this jumped out along with the toning long sleeved heather coloured t shirt [too dull to show!]

It's been debuted over the festive season.


Sunday 29 December 2019

Old Book New Look

Hello....remember me?! Am just sneaking in for a few minutes before my friend H comes for a cuppa. How lucky am I then these are my "new" books I've been given for Christmas. The two Elly Griffiths ones are from TYM. He nearly always buys me whatever books I ask for, but until this year he's insisted on buying them new despite my assurances that preloved is perfect [unless they're out of print]. This year Mr GBT reiterated to him that the second hand route really would delight me even more and he paid heed except he got me both not just the one. Ah well I'm not complaining!

Well what's one to do with those tatty books you've fallen out of love with and are too far gone to donate elsewhere. This was the problem facing the secondhand book shop at the NT property Uppark this year. They looked at the issue and rather than just sending off any tomes that were damaged or on unpopular subject matters to be recycled they took a rather novel approach. On every Thursday since August a group of volunteers have been making things from them.....come December the fruits of their labours can be seen in all the decorations. If you're inspired here are some of the results.

I'm sure they could be adapted to meet the spec of a whole range of celebrations...stylish and not hard on the pocket!


Tuesday 24 December 2019

Christmas 2019

Festive greetings to all those marvellous people who take a moment out of their day to read all my witterings!

Aril, Mr GBT, TYM and Humphrey😽

Monday 23 December 2019


The good folks of the Causeway in Horsham [it's The Road to visit with all the beautiful houses leading down to the church] have come together again this year and are doing a communal advent calendar in their windows. I am of course thrilled because it gives me licence to be legitimately snouty. Am really not sure how those door wreaths sneaked in under the radar😁 I'm only showing a small selection as some of them are repeats from last year or are devilishly difficult to photograph. The final one was taken at night time as it showed up so much better so, yes, that small white blob above it is indeed the moon!



Sunday 22 December 2019

Midwinter 2019

My apologies for I am late in wishing everyone a fabulous Yule. The light is returning and Spring will soon start stirring [I know it can be extremely challenging to believe this during the sometimes long and hard days of January and February]. I had the absolute pleasure of dancing the Holly and Oak King story within Stonehenge yesterday and despite the rain at some points, we were told afterwards by some of the Druids that a rainbow came out during our performance. Afraid I missed it...something to do with wearing a mask and concentrating like fury so I didn't make a cock up!! Anyway I hope you enjoy this little film called "The Longest Night"  by Angie Pickman.


Friday 20 December 2019

Christmas from a child's perspective.

When we reached the end of the first term of school inevitably the question of what to buy the class teacher for Christmas arose.  Scented candle perhaps or a box of chocolates maybe? My then rather truculent four year old son dug his heels in and insisted we bought a couple of big packets of crisps for her. Any other suggestions fell on deaf ears so crisps it was. I was a little bit embarrassed when I handed Mrs S her gift, but later on in the day she thanked TYM for choosing something different and me for buying something that her whole family enjoyed,

This year our council ran a competition for a Christmas light design. It was won by 6 year old John with his Tree Rex. Much more exciting than the usual festive offering. Here we have the original and the lit up version!

Have a good weekend chaps!


Thursday 19 December 2019


Thank goodness our local museum is currently running a fascinating exhibition about how our town fared after the end of the Great War and there's not a bauble in sight! Its main focus is upon the many changes that were ushered in by the 1920s, but my focus was upon the stylish and beautiful fashions that the flappers wore. If you were to ask me if I had a favourite decade it would be this one every time.

Morning dresses....a little diaphanous affair to see you through to lunchtime...

An anytime of day dress even if the detailing does look like you've got a pair of custard yellow briefs around you midriff!

Quick change into a little afternoon tea number.

And then slip into your salmon pink watered silk cocktail one for your early evening quaffing.....the diamante extras just add that little extra je ne sais quoi.

Perhaps one of these rather gorgeous accessories takes your fancy as you're preparing for either a little intimate soiree with chums or an evening of energetic dancing...the Charleston, the Breakaway or the Black Bottom were all the rage in the Roaring Twenties.

So if it's a night of painting the town red you're after we've got this black velvet one with the closeup of the exquisite beading.....

Or this one may be more to your taste with its strings of glass bugle beads in gold and black. I feel it only fair though to warn you that it is extremely heavy to wear.

Now you might be wondering how I know that this last one is heavy....in the early 1990s it belonged to me. Pre children and in the days of plenty of disposable income I bought this on a whim because I had always hankered after owning one. What I didn't factor in though was just how fragile it had become so in my wardrobe it hang and there it stayed. For several months while I was expecting I volunteered at the museum where I learnt about keeping clothes in acid free tissue and in temperature controlled conditions. At that point I donated the dress as I felt it could be preserved better and enjoyed by many others. This is the first time I've seen it in over 20 years...it was like catching up with an old friend and yes I was so surprised that I was literally flapping with delight!


Wednesday 18 December 2019

Art within nature.

"Everyday I walk out into the world to be dazzled, then to be reflective."
Mary Oliver

I suggested our nature reserve as the meetup point with my friend Ice Badger last Sunday quite deliberately. Both of us live nearby and it's very cheap entry wise [perhaps if I remember to renew our annual pass I might increase the frequency of my visits].  We have shared interests in watching birds [more on the woodland feeders because we recognise them!] and walking where we can appreciate the beauty of the countryside.  IB has spent this year walking the same route along by a canal towpath [I joined her a few months ago] several times a month and people have questioned why she's chosen to do that rather than visiting lots of different places. I completely understood why..being so familiar with it she has come to appreciate the details of the different seasons and how the area is ever changing.

This new sculpture is by a local artist called Will Nash and is called Tri-helix. It's made from cleaved chestnut and is the shape apparently of a diatom. What's that you might wonder? The info board tells me it's a tiny single celled algae. Obviously the first thing that popped into my philistine head was....giant pick-up sticks. I find the regularity of the pattern it makes very calming. The heads have been flattened so they're not as lethal as they look and it is accompanied by a strict no climbing notice!

Personally though I'm equally impressed with this au naturel art display we found on the woodland floor. Mother Nature knows a thing or two about beauty too! I have IB to thank for taking this photo for me...it was beyond the capabilities of my little camera.


Tuesday 17 December 2019

The turning of the Old Year

Being a Druid I'm much more about Yule than Christmas really. We're fast approaching the Winter Solstice when the traditional battle for dominance over the part of the year when the light returns is fought between the Holly King and Oak King. The Holly King has reigned supreme since the Summer Solstice and dominated the months as the energy of the old year wanes, but as they once again take up arms the Oak King will emerge triumphant with the waxing of the fast approaching Spring.

Currently Mythago is preparing a new story around this very theme and we are now starting to finetune it. It's all happened rather unexpectedly and at lightning speed so we're going to have to improvise a bit this time with suitable kits etc. No doubt there will be more tweaks further down the line. The part of the Lady requires two circlets to denote her changing roles in the two seasons. One of us already has a floral headdress for the summer, but there was some talk of maybe weaving an ivy one for the Winter bit. However, the money saving habit is so ingrained in me I simply couldn't bypass the Christmas door wreath festooned with pinecones, mistletoe berries and fake evergreens I spotted in a charity shop. To my weirdly wired brain it simply screamed Winter headdress and there's nowt like a bit of upcycling is there. I parted with my two shiny pound coins gladly and removed some of the foliage to thin it out a bit. It's been snipped and had velcro stuck on so that it can be fitted to the wearer's head. It will get its debut when we have the privilege of dancing the story out within Stonehenge on the 21st December.

For a while now I've wondered whether there were any specific Yule decorations that I could display on my little shelf where I keep a changing display as we move round the Wheel of the Year. I am pleased to say that I've found some handmade ones, so I've invested some more of my remaining birthday money in this Father Yule.

Sometimes I find this time of year a little heavy on the schmaltz side so in the interests of balance and light/dark Krampus has also come to join me. I blogged about this folkloric figure back here  http://gnatbottomedtowers.blogspot.com/2015/12/christmas-cheer-vs-christmas-fear.html

Santa's evil twin is growing in popularity and there's now an annual Krampus Run in Whitby. In reality it's a parade and raises money for charity. Here's a video of the most recent one...don't have nightmares!


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...