Tuesday 26 February 2019

Ants in your pants!

Wow hasn't the weather been glorious! It made our wanderings round the local St Leonard's forest all the more beautiful as the Brimstone butterflies had come out of hibernation. Little bright spots of yellow dotting about all over the place Sadly no dragons were found this time [it's where St Leonard's was said to have slain a dragon], but the many other finds more than made up for it.

It was another of the monthly Bald Explorer walks and each time we go I get to meet some more FB friends in the flesh. Usually I'm not much of a big group kind of gal, but they're all so friendly and slightly off beam that I fit right in. Of course, finding a man who knows about trees there meant I homed in on the poor chap to learn what I could. Successful tree id beyond the obvious ones completely defeats me, but still I remain keen and fascinated. I now find that even that oh-so simple silver birch may be more complicated than I thought as you can get a Downy Birch too which looks almost the same. The new growth goes upwards instead and surprise, surprise the leaves are downy apparently. This "conifer" as I'd have called it is a Western Hemlock.

The pond is a small example of a Hammer Pond. There are many in this area and they are the remnants of the medieval Wealden Iron Industry.

This fellow was a devil to capture. Even virtually under my nose it was so well camouflaged that I still wasn't sure if I'd managed to get it until I looked at the images back at GBT

Mick Mill's Race...the path goes on the same dead straight fashion as far as the eye can see. Mick was reputedly a man with an ego the size of Wales who bragged that he could beat anybody in a horse race. Old Scratch got to hear of this and challenged him to prove it. The prize if he lost would be his soul. Mick won, but it's said that they got up to such speeds that it burnt the path and no trees have grown on it since.

I just loved the changing light in this arboreal vista.

To finish....what about the promise of those ants in the pants in the blog post title then? We found a huge wood ant nest....one chap was so intent on filming the masses of ants rushing around that he got very close and they were making a good progress towards the waistband of his trousers as he bent over to zoom in for a closer look...it was a close call, but I think he just about got away in time when his wife issued a warning!


Monday 25 February 2019


It's always a good day in my world when I learn a new word. I have a friend to thank for teaching me inosculation over the weekend. Had we not seen this.....

I would still be unaware that there was even a term for two trees growing together. They look a bit like they're having a cuddle!


Friday 22 February 2019

Dragon hunting

I am off on a quest to find dragons tomorrow [as you do]. Let's hope I'm successful🐲 I found this one lurking on the back of a chair recently. Whatever your plans for the weekend I hope you have a good break.


Wednesday 20 February 2019


Take one lot of musicians......

Add a peck of slightly bemused dancers.....

Mix together on a Sunday morning in February and what have you got....why the inaugral Mythago "Build a dance" workshop. Under normal circumstances our main problem is a lack of time to devise new dances, so when the idea of setting a day aside for just this purpose during the quieter Winter months was floated it seemed like a good solution.

It was a brilliant day, but boy did my poor little brain ache at the end of it! Once we'd chosen two tunes [both written by our squire] from the shortlist it was down to the nitty gritty of choreographing. It's a darn sight trickier than I had ever imagined, as not only does it have to fit the music, but you also need to make sure there's enough time to get people back to place and in the right formation for the next figure.

Now I don't read music and am very right brained, so frankly I struggle with planning and seeing patterns, so it was interesting to see those who are good at that sort of thing working it all out. I'm better at suggesting the smaller details. Everybody contributed and by the end we did end up with a very presentable dance. It's going to need a bit more refining, but we've got the basics down.

We hope to perform "Hellfyre" later on in the coming season. The name is from the Hellfyre Barn which the owner had kindly let us use for the day. Nowadays it's a wedding venue and is in a lovely isolated setting in West Sussex.

It might have been tiring, but there was a lot of laughter and cake too which is always a plus in my book!


PS The spelling of Hellfyre is not some twee Merrie England type affectation. The farmhouse is from the 1300s and was derelict when the current owners took it on. When they were restoring it they found a quote above one of the fireplaces with the word "hellfyre" spelt in that way from 1594

Monday 18 February 2019


At last the kitchen curtains are finished. Bar the curtain pole which we bought new, everything is reused from the unfinished piece of patchwork my friend gave me which her late MIL had made, to the header tape, lining [second hand duvet cover] and the edging which came from a charity shop. I don't have a sewing machine so it's taken a while plus a lot of help with pinning from Mr GBT. They might be wonky, but the important bit for me is that I've made them. This make, bake, create challenge I'm doing is paying dividends!


Friday 15 February 2019

On the fridge door.

It was never really the plan to have a collection of fridge magnets, but they seem to have been quietly multiplying over the years. I remember making the planets with TYM when he was a nipper and definitely buying the repro war sign about tea drinking.

TYM has been one a one man mission to keep his old Mother supplied with magnets and usually he brings one back from his travels [the naffer the better!]. The black cat was the latest one from his summer holiday. He's off to Uganda for two months later on this year to do more of his volunteering ..hmm wonder if he'll be able to track one down there. Might prove to be a bit more a task!

Have a good weekend!


Thursday 14 February 2019

Valentines 2019

"I hope to arrive to my death,
in love
and a little drunk."

I know it's not the norm to put up a picture of a gravestone on Valentine's Day, but I loved the couple puckering up. Not being in the slightest bit romantic I shan't be marking it, but I have used it as an excuse to buy some locally made chocolate which I'll share with Mr GBT tomorrow.
For those who celebrate have a wonderful dayπŸ’˜πŸ’™πŸ’šπŸ’›πŸ’œπŸ’πŸ’ŸπŸ’–πŸ’“❤❣♥♡


Wednesday 13 February 2019

Beautiful or useful?

I'm not going to repeat Mr William Morris's oft famous quote, but I think the interior of Standen sticks to both bits of the brief very successfully. It must have been such a relief after the dark colours and overstuffed clutter of the mid Victorian era.


Tuesday 12 February 2019

Standen House

With the National Trust cottoning on to the fact that if they keep their properties open over the winter people will come in their droves and there's brass to be made, I've found it to be a great boon to be able to have the option of using my card and go out even on a wet, cold Sunday in February. There's nothing like a cheery interior and the promise of a big slab of cake to lift the spirits!

Standen House is my favourite NT place to visit in Sussex and whenever we've been there's always something new happening. This time we were able to enjoy an unexpected trip up the water tower. These used to happen regularly, but they are very ad hoc as not only are they weather dependent [a tad windy up there!], but now seasonal too since it became a maternity roost for the local long eared bats!

A few photos from outside [too bleeding cold to hang about for long] today.

The assistant ranger, Ben Wiles, is in the process of  building the so-called Chestnut Barn from scratch as you do!

The rather magnificent view that you get of the back of the house as you approach from the carpark. It was just meant as a country retreat after the rigours of living in London all week....all 300 acres of it as it was then.

These are some of the remaining original espalier apple trees from 1894

At the time the house was built there was no running water so all the needs of the family, visitors and staff had to be met by collecting the rainwater. The architect, Philip Webb cleverly designed the water tower to make it a feature of the house [it was way over and above what was actually required to house the filtration tanks]. During the clement weather the family used to sit at the top and paint the stunning views.

Nowadays the tours are by donation only. The proceeds of these have been used to buy the bee hives, like the original ones that used to by kept by the owners. Last summer was the first year there was sufficient honey produced to stock the shop......a mere £8 for half a pound. Afraid I wasn't tempted.

Standen is an Arts and Crafts dream. I'll put up some photos of the treasures within tomorrow.


Monday 11 February 2019

It's that bloke off the telly!

Perhaps you have seen the recent BBC2 series called "The Victorian House"? I watch so little TV that I think I might have caught a trailer for it and thought vaguely that I might catch up with it, but clearly hadn't done so when I spoke to this very friendly chap at the Repair Cafe.

A fellow volunteer/friend has a dollshouse and we were laughingly confessing how dusty both our houses are. With what my husband does for a living and my job as a cleaner I should perhaps be more embarrassed, but I don't give a fiddler's flute. My real house is pretty clean so that will have to do and besides I have just repainted the outside of it....dusting with a paintbrush will have to wait. I was showing her the photos of my furniture when she called this fellow over....

It transpired that this fellow is another local cabinet maker and I was admiring the photo of the Sussex Chair he'd made [you can see where I'm going with this can't you!] and when he asked me if he could pop by one day and see the my stuff for real [it's a step up from the photos] I readily agreed. We've shown many people what we do over the years. Still not having a clue who he was that's how I ended up with Abi popping in to GBT on Friday!

What a lovely fellow he is. Mr GBT and he enjoyed an hour of talking woodworking tools, techniqes and workshops. That chair he completed on the programme took two solid nights of no sleep and working through to complete! Purely by chance Mr GBT had just finished his latest piece so he was the first person to see it.....at long last the lady of the dollshouse can sit down in all her finery and play at the piano.


Friday 8 February 2019

From Pillar To Post

A few more from our nose around the building site artworks! This time it's the work of Tim Nash and incredibly these "cut columns" as they're called were originally the pink marble pillars from inside a Victorian church which was demolished [with much uproar!] in the town a few years ago [the spire was retained as a local landmark. Each one is carved on the top [too devilishly difficult to get photos of] and detailed on the sides.

You'll have to take my word for it when I say there's a wonderful skein of geese in their V formation as it was only possible to snap one side or the other. Poignantly, it was believed in Sussex that the noise that the geese made as they flew overhead was the sound of the lost souls of the unbaptised children.

However, to end on a rather jollier note this one is my favourite....can't for the life of me think why! Have a good weekend one and all.


Thursday 7 February 2019

Looking All Wash[ing]ed Out

TYM sent me the footage of a black cat [terrified by the looks of it] tearing across the pitch at the Everton v Wolves match last Saturday with the comment....."best check where Humphrey is!" I reassured him that it couldn't possibly be our gentle giant as, along with his brushing duties, he's now added "Airer supervisor" to his CV.

I only have to put the basket of clean laundry down and that cat materialises out of thin air....how does he know I wonder. Anyway his "helping" consists of weaving in and out of the clothes as I'm trying to hang them and then darting back and forwards through the airer in the hope of a cuddle or at the very least a stroke in passing. Just as well he's such a dear and his antics make me laugh as he's a right Royal Pain!

All this extra responsibility has left him exhausted, so, no, he won't be appearing at any football matches in the near future!


Wednesday 6 February 2019

Over on the building site.

It was a hectic weekend what with being out both evenings, the Repair Cafe and then a big climate meeting afterwards, so what I definitely didn't fancy was going anywhere far in the car. Any adventures on Sunday needed to be local and within spitting distance of home.

There's lots of new builds going on around here at present which I flash past in the car normally, but I had a vague recollection of some public artworks having been put in within the last few months. We took many photos, but I'm just going to limit myself to these few and are a ten minute walk away. The oak sculptures are the work of Walter Bailey and are inspired by foxglove seeds. There are holes drilled into them to provide homes for insects and solitary bees.


Tuesday 5 February 2019


It's all right you can come out from under the covers...there'll be no talk of dentists or toothypegs on this old blog of mine!

Without any guilty conscience I hold my hands up to being a thrifty old bird about most things, but over time I've decided that certain items warrant the additional investment for the increased pleasure they bring me. A few years ago I made the switch from vanilla essence to vanilla extract in my baking. Baking is one of my favourite ways to relax. For years now I have been intending to have a crack at making my own.....now with my new Make, Bake and Create challenge up and running you can guess what's coming next.....

Using this recipe https://www.smallfootprintfamily.com/how-to-make-vanilla-extract I now have this steeping away in the cupboard. Cost wise I thought initially it was much the same as the shop bought one, but I'm left with a third of a bottle of vodka so think it might be a bit cheaper....now need to find a use for that!


Monday 4 February 2019

Tales of olde Sussex

Sometimes I think, when I encounter a beautiful chair like this or some other magical thing, how lovely it would be to wind the clock back to young childhood just for a few hours and to be able to see these things through the eyes of a child not a jaded adult....for is this not the perfect story telling chair?

Surrounded by little wooden stools as it is perhaps you might enjoy a tale such as this.....

In deepest, darkest Sussex down near the coast there lies the small village of Lyminster and besides its church 'tis a bottomless pond, known locally as the Knucker Hole. It's a place to be afeared for many of 'em has perished at the hands of the evil dragon who lives in the depths and made this pond their watery grave. Many souls were lost to this nefarious serpent. Until one day that was a local farmer's lad, Jim Pulk decided to end the monster's reign of terror. Knowing he had not the strength to slay the beast instead he baked him a huge pie. This, however, was not any old meat pie...it was the most delicious pie, but it had a secret....it was full of poison. Knowing how greedy the beast was, Jim called to him from the water's edge and that monster did eat that pie down in one big mouthful and immediately dropped down dead. So satisfied was Jim with his day's work that he did wipe the back of his hand across his mouth...but alas and alack he did then too imbibe poison and departed this earth......

Now it must be a true story for here's the whole tale commemorated in the window by Caroline Benyon in the nearby church and Jim's gravestone is stood next to it. You can even see the knucker hole if you peek through the hedge [it's now a privately owned fishing lake, so nosey parkers like me can't go and have a good old gander!]

The wooden chair is another piece by a local artist, Janine Creaye whose work I've featured before. Poignantly, it's called "Peter's Chair" and is permanently located at the Arundel Wildfowl Trust. Peter was a popular member of staff who sadly died young.


Friday 1 February 2019

Imbolc 2019

Imbolc blessings to all who celebrate the old ways. The days are lengthening once again.


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...