Friday 28 June 2019

"Tunnel Vision"

An image of the Clayton Tunnel in West Sussex brings a whole new meaning to the phrase "tunnel vision". Taking three years to build it was completed in 1841 and is a marvellous example of Victorian fancy. Every railway tunnel surely needs its own castellated towers and arrow slits. The suggestion has been made that perhaps rather than just being viewed as a piece of whimsy perhaps the intention behind it was to appease some of the major landowners in the area. Whatever the intention behind it it remains a mighty fine piece of engineering and building!

Hope you all have a cracking weekend.


Thursday 27 June 2019

Templar Tittle Tattle

As is my wont, I got chatting to one of the volunteers in a museum we visited whilst we were away. It soon became apparent that this fellow was on my wavelength and a lover of the odd and curious. He revealed that he had recently read a library book about the Knights Templar and I, in turn, filled him in a little about our trip to the Temple church in London a few weeks ago. People love a mystery and the Templars seem to fill that need perfectly. We agreed that much has been written about this enigmatic group of men and much attributed to them. He suggested in passing that I might like to pop into a local village which has a Templar connection all of his own. Donning my deerstalker a la Sherlock Holmes Aril decided to investigate....

Templecombe. According to the village website the name is derived from Combe Templariorum after the Knights established the Templecombe Preceptory in 1185. A preceptory was a monastery for this military order. Well that proves that the Order was definitely in the area.

Did I find myself my very own Templar....well no I'm afraid. This was what I went in search of....

The famous Templecombe painted panel which has been inside the church since 1956. It's rumoured to be one of a series of portraits which belonged to the Templars. What is definite is that carbon dating has proved it's from 1280 onwards and the Templars were not suppressed until 1307. One theory is that they brought the Holy Shroud [aka the Turin shroud] back from their crusades and this image was influenced by it. I frankly don't think it holds water as the Turin shroud image is so much more realistic and looks more like a photograph. Nobody is even sure who it is...probably Jesus or maybe John the Baptist. Apparently the lack of halo was common at the time including in Templar iconography.

As to the was found in 1945 by Mrs Drew who was the tenant of Mrs Topp. She had popped out to get wood from the outhouse for the fire when she happened to look up and noticed the face looking down at her. It had been wired to the ceiling and covered by plaster to hide it away, some of which had fallen down. Must have been quite a shock. After the picture was handed over to the vicar he decided to do a spot of his own restoration and gave it a good scrub in the bath with Vim which has sadly removed a fair amount of the original paint which was still present! Whether you believe this piece of painted wood is Templar or not it's a relic which wouldn't have survived had it not been so carefully secreted away for us to wonder and ponder over in years to come.


Wednesday 26 June 2019

Brain Strain

I had intended to write more about our holiday, but I'm weary and my writing mojo has crawled off to sulk in a corner somewhere. The words aren't flowing today so instead please allow me to leave you with images of the beautiful wild orchids we've recently seen on walks in Somerset and Sussex. We truly live in a stunning country.

Common spotted in two colours.

Fragrant orchid

Pyramidal orchid

Bee orchid. On the close up you can even see the "eyes".

Greater Butterfly orchid

Perhaps the need for words and explanations wasn't there after all!


Tuesday 25 June 2019

Mrs Perkins

This edifice hides behind Christchurch Priory in Dorset. Initially I only saw the back of it, but nipped down to take a further look at it. One photo later I was none the wiser as to what it was and thought perhaps it was something to do with a war memorial as it's in the garden of remembrance. The true story it transpires is so much more interesting....

Mrs Perkins died aged 47 on 16th June 1783 and this was her mausoleum. Nothing unusual in that you might say.  Mrs Perkins was a lady though who harboured a great fear of being buried alive and went to great lengths to prevent this from happening. Before her demise she stipulated the following-

-She must be buried above ground in a suitable structure and within earshot of the entrance of the Free School. The logic was that if she was indeed still alive and trapped the boys would be able to hear her hollering and release her.

-The coffin lid must be hinged so that she herself could fling it open if she found herself boxed in and breathing

-The mausoleum lock should be constructed so that if need be she could open it from the inside and return to the living world.

All her demands were met, but she was re interred in the  family vault in nearby Winkton in 1803 following the death of her husband. I am guessing that after a period of some 20 years people could be fairly sure that she really had turned up her toes!

We stopped for lunch in Christchurch on our outward journey to Somerset. More photos tomorrow.


Monday 24 June 2019

Up with the lark.

Just a smidge over 29 years ago I had my first date with Mr GBT. Beyond it being a walk on the South Downs in the sunshine my recall of the day itself is somewhat hazy. The one thing which stands out in my memory was the skylarks above us singing their little hearts out and being amazed at just what tiny little pinpricks they were up above us. Sadly now they are on the dreaded red list. Thankfully we were lucky yesterday. Back in the South Downs we heard one above us and then it landed on a nearby bush [normally they go to ground] where it tarried a little while. It has been a pleasure to see what they actually look like.

I've found a little Youtube video to share of what we heard.


Friday 21 June 2019

Alban Hefin 2019

Seeing as it's the Summer Solstice today, but Aril has to go to work [little celebration coming up tonight though!] let's go all Glasto as it seems appropriate on today of all days.  On a personal level I don't find it a particularly spiritual place, but I do enjoy the colour and hippy vibe. I happily snapped away last week whilst we passed through to poke around the hugely impressive and vast abbey ruins.

Hope the sun shines where ever you are. Have a good weekend!

Wednesday 19 June 2019

Mirror Mirror On The Wall

You are most definitely the fairest of them all! I'm back at Lytes Cary again today. I asked Mr GBT to photograph all the sections of the stump work mirror frame so that I could appreciate them when I got home [my camera doesn't cope with low light levels]. The information on line says it was made by Mrs Leopold Jenner and it incorporates 17th and 20th century work. It must have taken hours to stitch.

If you want to take a closer look the photos should enlarge if you double click them.


Tuesday 18 June 2019

Well I had to ask didn't I!

If I'm visiting a National Trust property [or anywhere else for that matter] and I spot something I haven't seen before I always ask the room steward. These marvellous volunteers are the fount of all knowledge. Whilst at Lytes Cary in Somerset one such conversation led to the discovery of more witch marks that I'd have missed otherwise [no photos...think you've probably seen enough of those!] and learning about these.

This is a hunt table from 1800. Clearly not a thing to be celebrated these days, but when you came in cold from hunting birds or beasts you would open the curtains to let the heat through from the fire and through the mesh. This warmed the brandy decanters which are stood on a tray with castors. If you fancied a nip to get the blood going again you could then serve yourself.

These two ladies standing to attention in the fire place really foxed me. They are made of leather and are known as the "good companions". Had you organised a dinner for 14 and then heavens forbid one guest had dropped out you didn't want to be left with the unlucky 13. Judas Iscariot was the 13th at the Last Supper and we know things didn't go terribly well for him did they now! These ladies would be used to bump up the numbers. I'm sure nobody noticed! Their age is a bit of a mystery, but when one was x-rayed it was found that she has a tin can inside her keeping her head on these days. I suspect they are several hundred years old as their clothing implies.

The property has been added onto my favourites. It's got a real sense of the people who lived there and is not too grandiose.


Monday 17 June 2019

Clocking On

Evenin' all. Am back from my dancing and travels down in the West Country. Lovely time, but mixed weather meant a bit of tweaking and retweaking of plans at times. Ah well it all adds to the colour and texture of life doesn't it!


Friday 7 June 2019

Clocking Off

I'm having a few blog free days, so until I pop up later in the month perhaps I could leave you with this amazing art work....


Thursday 6 June 2019

75 years ago today.

Purely by coincidence we met a friend at Bletchley Park last Saturday. I've wanted to go for ages. The information boards sum it up really. These people worked long hours on shifts with bad food and unable to divulge the work they were doing to a soul.  They were deprived of natural light and the huts in which they carried out their code breaking were baking in the summer, freezing in the winter, smoky, noisy and dusty. By March 1946 the whole operation was quietly disassembled and all those involved went back to their everyday lives. Not a word was breathed until 1974 and many have taken their secrets to the grave. There was sheer brilliance shown, yet modesty prevailed. Eisenhower believed that the codebreakers shortened the war by two years.

Surviving veterans on 1st July 2009 were given a commemorative badge. On the back it says "We also served". As the marking of the 75th anniversary D Day landings begin to unfurl today I can only thank these incredible people for the contribution they made to the war effort and the direct impact they had upon this specific turning point in the war.


Wednesday 5 June 2019

Highdown Gardens

My friend Nurse L has recently retired. This means she now has more time to come out and play. A date on my day off was agreed weeks ago and I bravely suggested somewhere down near her neck of the woods. Naturally anxious, I favour "safe" behaviours, so normally I would suggest somewhere familiar up this way. This time I conquered my fear, drove somewhere new and used the sat nav for the first time. We both enjoy flowers [she's a gardener, I am definitely not!] so I floated the idea of Highdown Gardens near Goring. The weather may have been grey and overcast, but it didn't dampen our enjoyment.

Highdown Towers [now the adjacent hotel] was bought by Frederick Stern in 1909. He came from a banking family with ambition and money to burn, but returned from serving in WWI a greatly changed man. His original intention had been to convert the chalk quarry next door into a tennis court, for which he sought advice as to how to prevent the glare from the chalk from blinding the players. Horticultural solutions were given and there his passion for plants was ignited. The tennis court never made it beyond the planning stage, but instead we have this glorious garden. Following his death in 1967 the gardens were bequeathed to the council for the public to enjoy. They are open all year round [closed at the weekends in the winter] and offer something for every season. Entry and parking is free and there is a teashop right next door. What more could a Brit want!!


Tuesday 4 June 2019

Round the Temple

This is the Temple church in London which rose to prominence as one of sites in the "Da Vinci Code". It was built by the Knights Templar in the 12th century and its shape is in reverence to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. These days, as the popularity of the book has waned, it has dropped back down below the parapet and regained its tranquil atmosphere.

I've decided not to do an extensive show and tell of our visit. Instead I'm just going to concentrate on a couple of highlights. One of the things it is most well known for is the set of incredibly well preserved knight effigies. Although they suffered bomb damage they still retain an impressive level of detail. Seen from the gallery above gives a very different perspective.

Most people glanced at them as they made their way round, but I tarried and drank in the details. My closer observations meant that I could see the facial hair on one knight and the carved lion detail on the belt of another 14th century one.

My personal favourite was this one to Edmund Plowden who was the treasurer of the Temple during the 16th century. The notice from 1687 at the back of it promised much....

Frankly I think ETS delivered....even if I can't help thinking that the skull could give Carmen Miranda a run for her money with that confection its sporting! It looks garish to my eyes, but Plowden was a Catholic and hopefully he would have appreciated all that colour and gilding. Below is a picture of the man himself and a rather moving image of his hands in supplication.

There was much else to my liking too. If you do visit there is an entry fee of £5 and opening hours vary on a day to day basis.



 Bowlderise- verb meaning to omit or change parts of text [usually in literature] considered vulgar. Yes it's a new-to-me word alert and...