Thursday 31 January 2019

Stomping Round Compton

I do my best not to double up post material on my blog, but inevitably I make return visits to fairly local places from time to time.

 You will see from this old post that I took my friend Arty L to see the Watts Memorial Chapel. She's a huge Arts and Crafts fan and her positive reaction was priceless, so buoyed by my success I decided to repeat the exercise with another friend E. She'd seen photos of it, but nothing prepares you for the sheer beauty of the workmanship and the depth of colour. I just smiled to myself slightly smugly as I watched her gape in awe as we crossed the threshold. To say she was entranced is somewhat of an understatement....her comment was that she knew it would be good, but she didn't anticipate being quite so blown away. I am resisting the temptation to put up another tonne of similar photos, so I shall just restrict myself to this taster one. It's free entry [unlike the Watts Art Gallery].

Compton is a rather scrumptious place, but one [including us] whizzes through to get onto the Hogsback running above Guildford. We decided to extend our time there to include taking a little turn around the village to see what was what.

These rather fabulous paint brush speed signs are on the road leading up the gallery and artisan shops which are now built within the pottery studio that G F Watts shared with his wife Mary. It would have been rude not to have patronised the on site cafe...I had to take separate photos of the menu board in between the table in front being cleared.

Fortified by a whacking great slice of cake [orange curd and beetroot sponge in case you're curious] we were ready to explore.....

This spot was E's. At a quick glance it looks like some sort of white fungus growing on the tree. A second glance reveals it to be a rather unsettling human face.

This is a reconstruction on the original site outside the church of a 12th century anchorite's cell. They would have remained permanently confined in this tiny space facing the altar in perpetual prayer with only a small gap through which food would be passed to them. Upon death they were buried beneath the cell.

St Nicholas's church itself is ancient and surprisingly untampered with by those pesky improvement mad Victorians. It has a unique double sanctuary [the woodwork balustrade above is the original Norman one] and is a joy for its 13th century graffiti. We have two very crude knights and a series of interlocking circles to keep them pesky evil spirits at bay!

It's just one of those places which seems to have got the balance right between being incredibly elegant, but not taking itself too seriously with the decorated phone box I showed earlier in the week!


Wednesday 30 January 2019


It can be hard work trying to unearth the treasures of Winter, but extra rewarding when you strike gold.

I've seen my first lot of snowdrops this week.


Tuesday 29 January 2019

Ducking Out

Having been out with a chum for most of Saturday, I was "supposed" to be doing more of this...

Kitchen curtain making in case you're wondering. That's what I've been "making" or should I say have gone "back to making" [since I abandoned them last year!] these past couple of weeks. Sadly, I am easily distracted and utterly incapable of resisting the opportunity of going out on a jolly if the opportunity presents itself. So it was with a gloriously guilt free conscience we paid a long overdue return visit to the Wildfowl Trust in Arundel. The last time I went I think was when it was TYM's 3rd birthday!

Mr GBT loves ducks....he was not to be disappointed. It was an extra treat to have the sunlight catching the iridescent plumage.

If you're a thrifty old bird like me it's even better to pay 10% less by buying the tickets online for any of the Wetland Trust places here . I did make amends and sew another hem when I got home!


Monday 28 January 2019

A Cracking Celebration

Compton, a village in Surrey, apparently pulls out all the stops when it comes to celebrating Burns Night! I thought this specially dressed red telephone box was hilarious when I spotted it on Saturday!


Friday 25 January 2019

Having the gall.

For reasons I can't really explain I find this picture of the tree covered with lots of knobbly galls immensely cheering.

Hope you all have a splendid weekend.


Thursday 24 January 2019

May I see in your bag please?

I think, had you seen us, a middle aged couple out for an amble last weekend with our rucksacks on our backs, you might have assumed that we were carrying our lunch, maybe a Thermos of tea or even supplies of Kendal Mint Cake in case we got peckish. What you might not have expected is that each of us was carrying a box of Kelloggs cereal....

Truly we hadn't lost our marbles [well not on this particular occasion anyway!], but my plundering of the reduced shelves in the supermarket the day before had led to me hauling home lots of goodies. Unfortunately the reduction on the cereal hadn't gone through, so, determined not to lose my hard earned £2.46, we popped back [the shop is within easy reach of GBT] to get our refund and use this as a starting point to explore a new local footpath. Lots of new discoveries made around Highwood Hill....

It will come as no surprise that this sculpture is called "Mare & Foal" and is the work of Marcus Cornish. It's been plonked in the middle of one of the many new housing estates being built around us. It doesn't overly excite me if the truth be told.

A decrepit old Sussex barn ripe for development, which, as you can see is exactly what's happened to another huddle of old farm buildings which have now been transformed into rather exclusive dwellings.

I sneaked a peek over a fence and was met with this....a most archetypal of Sussex views.

However, World War II relics were our quarry. This hulking piece of concrete is the remains of a broken tank trap which now sits quietly on one side of the river with its other half on the other bank.

I've cycled past the tank trap before, but was unaware that we lived so close to a pillbox [although I now know there are several more in the vicinity waiting for me to go and find them for myself]. It must have been very frightening holed up inside it for hours on end. During peace times I think it's been reinvented as a party venue if the empties and the choice of graffiti is anything to go by!

Back across the fields, under the "decorated" railway bridge  we were nearing home....

With no snacks on board bar dry cornflakes it was nearing lunchtime. Judging by my final picture of this tree devouring the metal gate bars I was not the only one with hunger pangs!

Another splendid Sussex stroll under our belts.


Tuesday 22 January 2019


Firstly my apologies for the lack of posts over the last couple of days. I switched the computer on at the weekend only for it to literally go bang. I hollered with surprise and then Mr GBT rushed in to investigate. When he tried turning it on again we had sparks coming out of the back and the power supply had died. Thankfully there's an excellent local man who can and it's been repaired now which is good news. A couple of days of screen free time has seen me be quite productive so no time has been wasted.

Lately I've been inundated with the voluntary recycling I do, to the point where sometimes I have felt a bit overwhelmed. However, I've done the sensible thing and spoken up so the call went out and tomorrow we're having a meeting with a potential new volunteer. It always surprises me how people choose to freestyle what they put in the bins sometimes. There's a very clear list, but some seem to think that it doesn't apply to them and pop in whatever they feel like. This rather lovely red stone heart was in with the plastic milk bottle lids, so I have done the decent thing and rescued it.

Having given it a wipe over, it's now been found a spot here at GBT.

I guess it's what you could literally call a "rubbish gift"!


Friday 18 January 2019

Wassailing 2019

Tomorrow we're out for our annual wassailing. We performed at the first one in Steyning back in 2015 when it was a very small affair. Mythago was still finding its feet when it came to apple howling, but we have got it down to a fine art these days with the inclusion of specially adapted intros to key dances and the inclusion of the Sussex Wassail Song. Many locals of all ages now turn out armed with pans and wooden spoons with which to raise a cacophony of noise scaring off any evil lurking spirits and join in with great gusto when the call to Wassail! Drink Hail! is called. It's a great atmosphere with those there intent on having a raucous evening at a time of year many find difficult.

The Gower Wassail by Steeleye Span is one of my personal favourites and an example of the band at their finest. Have a glorious weekend one and allx


Thursday 17 January 2019

Walking along the Downs Link.

It's important for me I've realised to get out into the countryside regularly, top up my light levels and walk. There are lots of benefits to be had and which is why, having thought about doing it last year but not having got around to it, I went out on one of the local health walks on my day off earlier in the week. I not only met some very friendly people, but also found another part of a local village I didn't know existed.

Last weekend we went out on one of the Sussex Wildlife Walks which I always enjoy, but the dates clashed with something else every time in 2018. This time we started from West Grinstead which was one of the stations culled by Beeching in 1966. Nowadays the Downs link is a popular spot with walkers, cyclists and runners. The old platform and one of the original carriages have been preserved and are maintained by volunteers. The latter serves as an information centre and is open on Sundays.

There was a glimpse of a buzzard, a bashed up old skull I found which we couldn't decide what is was [and got put back from whence it came post discussion] and primrose leaves just emerging with the promise of things to come. As you will see hopefully though from the handful of photos we took we were still treated to plenty of sights.

These ancient trackways always make wonder where they might lead!

One of the positives about this time of year for me is being able to see the beautiful shapes of the branches. This old oak was a mighty fine example with its beautiful twisting branches.

Warm it was not and these two needed their cosy jackets. My friend H was a little spooked when we crossed another field of horses one was following right behind her and sniffing her pocket. Perhaps it was hoping for one of her Murray Mints, but it wasn't in luck I'm afraid🐎

When you're out with a group of knowledgeable people, I am shown things or have things explained to me that I either would never have noticed or not understood what I was looking at. This tree's bark has been nibbled by the horses kept in the field. 

I have written the dates in my diary in an attempt to up the ante and get to more. Fingers crossed.


Wednesday 16 January 2019


As Imbolc approaches on 1st February, I am reminded that once again I would like to have a little something Snowdrop themed for my altar. I had vaguely thought about having a go at making something out of felt, but haven't found anything to tickle my pickle. Buying something is always a possibility, but if I'm trying new ways of doing things then I should listen to that little quiet voice in the back of my head muttering about drawing one.....

DRAWING.....where the heck did that stupid idea come from. That was not part of the challenge. For goodness sake I was rubbish at art at school and have barely picked up a pencil save to draw a couple of masks for TYM when he needed them for World Book Day when he was a tiddler. I then had a quiet word with myself and decided that perhaps I should listen to the little whisper and just give it a whirl. That was three weeks ago and I've spent a lot of time looking at pictures of Snowdrops, but putting it off. However, I finally plucked up the courage to have a little try a week ago. Literally my hand shook and I put it down again sharpish feeling foolish and inadequate.

How's it go...try, try and try again. Bolstered by reading that children simply think they can draw, it's adults who agonise over whether they're good enough I regrouped. Everybody can draw something in their own don't need to be a top notch artist to have a go. I literally went back to the drawing board over the weekend and sketched this. It's basic, but it's mine and I am pleased with myself that I have created something purely for me. It still needs a bit of tidying up. I shall cut it down to size and mount it on some card before popping it up on my altar shortly.

I guess that qualifies as the first "create" in my 2019 challenge. I wonder what twist and turn it will take me on next!


Tuesday 15 January 2019

Liking the lichen.

This lichen is very familiar to me. I see it all over the countryside throughout the seasons growing on branches. Today I've learnt that it's called Oakmoss or Stag lichen and is used in the perfumery business. It might have been a cold old day in January, the details may be smaller and less noticeable, but there's still things to be seen and identified out in the natural world for those who have a care.


Monday 14 January 2019


A little secret now.....Aril is extremely partial to crumble either as a pud or cakes with a crumble topping. Recently she's been spotted in a couple of local cafes stuffing her face with a mincemeat crumble slice and a jam version...she should perhaps explain that she was out "for coffee" and catching up with friends at the time.

My new Make, Bake and Create challenge got me thinking about, if I'm so keen on crumble slices, why I've never had a go at making them myself.  I try to limit baking these days to special occasions only and what could be more important than a belated birthday cake for my friend H. Normally I make her a cake over Christmas as her birthday is in late December and rather gets lost in the swirl of festive glitter and celebrations. Unfortunately for the first time this year I had to postpone as I had too much work on, but I did promise to make amends when we next met.

Using this recipe I made these [the tin size is nonsense. You need a smaller one as there simply isn't enough dough and we had to do a bit of tweaking with cooking times etc. We definitely didn't need the entire jar of our homemade raspberry jam for it either, but they tasted moreish so will do again but with amendments.

Now if you're going to eat crumble slices for pud you might as well be wicked and accompany it with a scoop of the raspberry and vanilla icecream we'd also made which has used up the remainder of our frozen berries and the lurking half tin of condensed milk. Result!

The leftover slices went home with H😍


Shropshire Church Crawling Gems

Sifting through all the photos from my annual holiday church crawl, I've picked out these which I hope people find to be of interest. It...