Thursday 31 October 2019

Samhain 2019

A spine tingling live version of Rhiannon by Fleetwood Mac. It being Samhain today it just seems right to put up a song about a Welsh witch.

Samhain blessings to all who celebrate the old ways.


Wednesday 30 October 2019

Beneath the carpet.

Now before I go any further let's just say I don't make a habit of rolling back carpets in churches, but on this occasion I made an exception. The information about the church in the West Sussex village of Thakeham spoke about there being an interesting brass near the squint and this was the only remaining place I could think of to look! Was it worth tracking down you might well ask? It's rather diminutive and the style is somewhat lacking compared to other examples it could be argued.

What I didn't know at the time is this lady is a direct link back to Katherine of Aragon and her story throws an interesting spotlight on this period of history. Tudor Queens even in their most private moments were surrounded by a retinue of trusted women. Top of the hierarchy were the ladies in waiting who were married to influential members of the court. Katherine had eight in her service and thirty maids of honour who were the next rung down.

This lady is Beatrice Sydney [d1515] who was one of the maids of honour. They were young girls aged 16 who came from good backgrounds [Beatrice lived in Thakeham Palace] and there was fierce competition for these positions. They were girls of good morals who were expected to be beautiful and accomplished in such arts as needlework. It was hoped that their exposure would attract a spouse and a successful marriage. I can't help but think this is a Tudor version of the debutantes doing the season. For Beatrice things went according to plan and she married Richard Apsley Esq. Her eldest son William is shown in late medieval armour and his rather grandiose tomb stands next to the altar. A small point of interest for any geeks like me is that the black outline is done in pitch and is a decorative technique only found in Sussex.

Sadly for Katherine not all her maids of honour followed the expected code of conduct. One named Anne Boleyn caught her husband's eye and the rest is history as we say!


Tuesday 29 October 2019

U Turn

Knickers to it I've changed my mind and decided to put up some photos of the blousier pieces by Dale Chihuly I saw at Kew a few days ago! Life is busy right now, but not of any blog worthy note. A couple of people left lovely comments about my earlier post showing his work so might as well share some more eh!

Monday 28 October 2019

The Unhappy Mondays

I had to laugh at this selfie TYM took with Humphrey when he was at home a few weeks ago. Both  are party animals and neither of them are at their liveliest in the morning. This particular day H was decidedly grumpy....his humour did not improve when TYM decided to do an impression of him.

I laughed like a drain when he showed me.


Friday 25 October 2019


A seasonally appropriate image taken at Kew. Have a wonderful weekend folks!


Thursday 24 October 2019


You and I would probably look at that stone in my hand and just know it's a Neolithic stone axe [not mine sadly...just one I was allowed to hold in the British Museum]. However, for a long time people revered them and attached all manner of folklore to them to explain their prevalence.

One of the conclusions drawn was that they were thunderbolts and that they buried themselves. They would reappear on the surface after seven years of rain. It was believed that they would protect a building against lightning and some examples have been found hidden in roofs. They were thrown into wells in Brittany to prevent drought and if you drank the water in which one had been boiled in Cornwall it would cure you of rheumatism. 

In Britain the worked stones were sometimes referred to as elfshot as it was thought that they were fired by elves or fairies to bewitch people and animals yet if you owned one they would protect you from the little people. Over time, as our understanding of the tools has increased, their mystique may have diminished a little, but to this day they retain a status as lucky stones. Us humans haven't quite shut the door on the world of talismen and superstition!


Wednesday 23 October 2019

Glass with Class

"I want my work to appear like it came from nature, so that if someone found it on a beach or in the forest, they might think it belonged there."

Dale Chihuly.

I think Mr Chihuly met the brief didn't he! I've deliberately shown some of his more naturalistic pieces rather than the modernistic ones he's famed for [I love the contrast of both styles]. This was last weekend at Kew Gardens and a long overdue catchup with my former blogging pal Lovely Grey. Her choice....great decision!


Tuesday 22 October 2019

Every Four Days.....

Frankly it's not much of a view is it really.....just a ploughed Sussex field. This anonymous vista though was one of the Advanced Landing Grounds which was built to cope with the expected additional aircraft associated with the D Day landings.

The site at Coolham was built during 1943 and was, by its very nature, temporary. Two runways were put down, the watch tower was a caravan and servicemen lived in basic tents.

Now you can walk round the perimeter of the airfield, but there are no details above ground to show its former existence. Pinned onto hedges, fences and trees are simply posters recording some of the stories. Some are anecdotes of those who lived in the vicinity. Bill Pertwee [then a London evacuee], who played the Chief ARP warden in Dad's Army, cycled over there as a boy to watch all the comings and goings after the D Day landings. This Loo-tenant story amused me too [double click to enlarge]

Nevertheless the memories are mainly sombre and the stats chilling. In only 57 days of operation 28 enemy planes were brought down, but 15 airmen lost their lives. That's one every 4 days. It wasn't until 1994 that 15 oak trees were specially planted to mark these heroes.

With it being the 75th anniversary of the D Day landings this year the story has been moved on a little bit more. The local Men in Sheds group has put up some permanent information boards and installed this memorial bench which is made from oak planks from a tree that came down in the Great Storm. It's a place to contemplate and enjoy the tranquillity.

This is not far from me, but I've only recently found out about it. There is a more formal stone war memorial 100 yards back up the road.


Monday 21 October 2019

Malady Monday

Was it so very wrong of me to wonder as we drove down to Lewes recently and passed a Body Shop, whether they'd be able to give me a whole body replacement [preferably a younger version]😁. Sadly I think that this particular retail establishment was only offering its services in relations to cars. Not to worry though for all is not lost. According to my recent 75p outlay of "Curious Cures" from a local museum I can tackle old age head on by drinking 6 to 8 glasses of tar water a day....erm and what pray is this delicious decoction you may well ask. Apparently it originated in the Middle Ages and saw a revival in the 19th century. I was relieved to discover that the "tar" is pine resin and not tarmac.

If it's good luck you're after I've stumbled across a little gem of a book online Let's just say that if you've cut your nails on a Monday all be well so long as you don't think of  a fox's tail. Don't say you haven't been warned!


Friday 18 October 2019

Friday I'm In Love

I'm leaving today's post in the very capable hands of The Cure. Was a huge fan back in the day and still enjoy hearing their unique sound. Have a great weekend folks!


Thursday 17 October 2019

Winchester Cathedral

During my three years of living in Winchester I learnt that the cathedral had the longest nave in the country and that a diver was used to shore up the foundations. TYM is at uni in a cathedral city and as he nears the end of his time there I fully expect him to emerge with about as much knowledge. That's students for you eh😈 After a 30 years plus absence it was probably time to try and make amends..... I've just put up a random selection of shots with explanations where needed or if I know what I'm looking at!

The Guardian Angels chapel. I think the clue is in the name. Painted by the King's Painter, Master William, in 1240ish. If my history is correct the reigning monarch would have been Henry III aka Henry of Winchester.

One of the famous mortuary chests [originally 8, but only 6 now] containing the bones of Saxon Kings and significant churchmen. They suffered at the hands of the soldiers during the Civil War who threw the bones through the windows to break the glass. There's currently a project to work out whose remains they actually have. Queen Emma [wife of Ethelred the Unready] is the latest one.

This is the site of St Swithun's shrine [he of 40 days and 40 nights of rain fame]. He was a 9th century Bishop and accredited with all sorts of miracles after his death. It must have been quite a sight to see the walls all festooned with crutches that those who came for healing left behind upon being cured. It didn't survive the dissolution and his body parts disappeared.

You see carvings covering all aspects of life within churches from the bizarre to the mundane. This little chap in the Lady chapel is getting undressed!

Modern sits happily alongside ancient within this religious setting. It's not a time warp, but a living and breathing space and this is reflected throughout.

A seasonal touch of Autumn and a rather worried looking soul.

This work is designed by Maggi Hambling. Apparently the two altar cloths are called a frontal and a dorsal one. Of interest to me is that there's a well below which is thought to predate the cathedral.

When we were there it was a designated green week in the city. The bee is made from donated materials and single use plastics.

Well it would be rather rude I feel if the mad old bat was not to finish with a mad old bat...I have my standards to maintain and that folks is the topic of Winchester thoroughly exhausted!!


Wednesday 16 October 2019

Keeping a tally.

Remember, remember
The 16th of October?

What?! That can't be right surely! Traditionally we celebrate the attempted burning down of the Houses of Parliament on Bonfire Night. May I be so bold as to suggest that indeed today would be more appropriate. From the Middle Ages until 1826 when they were abolished notched wooden sticks known as tally sticks were used as a form of accounting by the Exchequer. Not all of them were destroyed and rather than be generous and give them away as free firewood the Clerk of Works decided to burn them in the Palace's furnaces in 1834. This proved to not be the wisest decision as it caused a chimney fire in two of the flues and near enough destroyed the whole lot. Thankfully Augustus Pugin was commissioned to design the rather spectacular New Palace of Westminster with which we are all familiar today.

Monday 14 October 2019

In a few words.....

Just a bog standard bench..the sort we all walk past and barely even register unless we are looking for a seat. Just a handful of words making up a simple inscription

"Mary and Henry did their courting here circa 1947"

Yet in that short statement an unknown couple have recorded and shared the memory of their lives together. No fuss, no frills...just enduring love. Very moving.

I make a habit of reading any writing I spot on seats if I have learn a little about normal people's lives that history doesn't record. 


Friday 11 October 2019

Thursday 10 October 2019


This Antony Gormley scuplture Sound II stands in the crypt of Winchester Cathedral. Due to the building being on top of a natural spring the man can be seen standing with water up to his knees if there's been heavy rain. I understand that he has a tube within him which forces the water into his cupped hands when it's flooded.

My emotional response to this mysterious figure is mixed as it swings from feelings of tranquility to loneliness and desolation. I can only assume this says as much about how I am on any given day. I can't even decide whether I actually like it or not, but am pleased that we saw it.


Wednesday 9 October 2019

A Seasonal Outing

Out yesterday enjoying the Autumn sunshine with Nurse L at Polesden Lacey in Surrey. Whilst I might not be the biggest fan of the house interior, the grounds and gardens proved to be stunning at this time of year. I should point out that the graves shown are from a pet cemetery!

L and I had a great time catching up again.


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...