Thursday 31 December 2020

2020 Tick

"You normally have to be bashed about a bit by life to see the point of daffodils, sunsets and uneventful nice days."
Alain de Botton

It's stating the bleeding obvious that we've all been "bashed about a bit" these past few months. I have spend a princely £1.50 [naturally reduced from a tenner] on a Attitude of Gratitude diary. The cynical part of me thinks it's a bit naff, but by writing down three good things a day it does make me live more in the moment and gives me a record to read back over when I'm in a towering grump. The jolly little artwork was found brightening up some sort of utilities box on my walk with a friend yesterday. 

Wishing you all a Happy New Year!

Wednesday 30 December 2020

Prior at the Priory

We trundled across to East Sussex earlier in the month after Michelham Priory had reopened the parts it could to visitors. Firstly a brief potted history.... It was established as an Augustinian priory in 1229 and disbanded in 1537 [cheers Henry VIII] and spent the next several hundred years with different owners operating as a farm with tenant farmers in residence. By 1896 it was in a sorry state, but the then owner James Gwynne restored it. During WWII it housed evacuees at one point and then was used by both British and Canadian troops at various points. Its time as a farm came to an end in 1957 and in 1959 Stella Hotblack [the final owner] gave it the Sussex Archaelogical Society which brings us up to the present. Look I even remembered to take a couple of photos outside which I thought most noble as it tiddling down at the time.... you can still see the undercroft and there are some details remaining which tell of its earlier religious origins.

Throughout the property all the rooms had been decorated in historically appropriate Christmas styles. However, I think I've done enough Xmas themed posts so I thought you might enjoy some of the other things on display instead.

This is the devil's chair which I have written about previously. It's early and came from nearby Friston church. The only thing that's known from the archives is that it was donated in the 1960s. Due to such low visitor numbers the room steward very kindly let us get nearer to it to take some close-ups. The face on the seat is from where it gets its name.

I do so enjoying chatting to the people who volunteer at these places as they are always such a fount of knowledge. This particular lady is involved in the Sussex graffiti project....gleefully we exchanged notes and she gave me another easily missed apotropaic mark to go back and look for. These ones were the most easily visible on one of the fireplaces.

Whilst on the topic of fireplaces I was trying to imagine the faces of the Canadian officers when the legs of a female ATS appeared all of a sudden in this fireplace. The two naughty ladies had decided to surprise the chaps by coming unexpectedly through a hidden trapdoor above them, but it splintered and one of them got stuck. She had to be rescued and they both got charged and probably fined! Their jape certainly backfired!

I thought these posters "interesting" and certainly of their time. There are things on the boys one which I think would be useful if everyone could do them frankly!

This final one is the witch bottle which was discovered in 1973. It started out life as a 17th salt glazed Northern European jug which would have stored wine or something similar. They have a variety of bearded faces which seem to have been influenced by the woodwose [wildman] figures that feature in the earlier folkloric traditions of the same area. When it was found it had been buried in an upright position concealed from prying eyes so that it's protective qualities couldn't be disturbed. It was full of pins and possibly a wax heart effigy pierced by pins. Not many have come to light.

This is the first time we've visited without having to dash around at high speed [previously I've been dancing there] so we both enjoyed being able to explore more fully and take it all in.


Tuesday 29 December 2020

Sock it to us.

 Pure joy....I couldn't help but laugh at the lady's reaction to her sock mask!


Monday 28 December 2020

Not Down But Out And About

The glorious tier 4 has put paid to further afield adventuring, but the first thing I do everytime things change is immediately see what I can safely do and then start scheming. It has its advantages being a bluddy minded old bird with a very strong Sussex stubborn streak.

Usually Boxing Day would involve dancing and then a music session at the pub with an alcoholic accompaniment....this year we walked out from ours to explore a newly opened bridle path which has replaced a series of footpaths....a series of signs made it abundantly clear that they were now closed, but I was curious by the use of the word "extinguished". Legal term I presume.

It was a joy to end up in the local village of Warnham's churchyard [nothing new there I hear you cry] and to be greeted by this row of decorated trees. This is what I'd been hoping to see and I have to say that a bit of colourful bling on a cold, cloudy day is a welcome sight indeed. Whilst Mr GBT sorted out the mulled squash and mince pies I poked around and captured some of my favourite decorations.

You would be quite right in thinking that an orange themed tree with kangaroo decs might be a slightly unusual choice for this time of's the livery and logo of a signwriting business in the village.

One tree was uber classy with its black and gold decor.  It wouldn't be my personal choice, but very sophisticated in the right setting.

I tried my best to capture this knitted pig in blanket, but the wind was against me and it wouldn't stay still, so blurred it must be I'm afraid.

An enjoyable 6 miles, but now I've got the lovely task of scraping all the mud off my boots awaiting me. Sussex is known for its thick mud [known as Sussex butter] at this time of year and it's certainly living up to its reputation!


Sunday 27 December 2020

Festive Highlights

 Just a small handful of photos which capture the essence of the last couple of days. 

Back in mid October, with my tongue firmly in the side of my cheek, I jested with our friends P and C how we could always have mulled wine and mince pies sat on the logs in the secluded little spot we always have our walking coffee at hidden away from prying eyes. How those words have come back to haunt me.....thankfully the weather was sunny for our annual Christmas Eve jaunt. We followed it with homemade soup in their garden....if you had told me this was the mad sort of thing we'd be getting up to a year ago I'd have laughed at the ridiculousness of it😁

A most splendid Christmas day spent with my folks. This rather wonderful candelabra puts me in mind of the ones seen in the Great Hall in's inspired me to dedicate every Saturday night during January and February to the viewing of the Harry Potter films in sequence. We've already got them and I never tire of them. Accompanied by suitable film watching snacks that should be our free entertainment sorted for a few weeks!

Finally nothing quite says Christmas like a dead Sussex fairy....the chaps are about as thrilled as you might imagine that she's come to live with me. She's "from" Park Mount in Pulborough which is supposedly the site of the last seen fairy funeral. I visited back in the summer and asked my very talented friend, Witchy Woo, to base her on this when I commissioned her a few weeks ago. WW has even provided her with a biography! 

Speak soon.

Tuesday 22 December 2020

Christmas 2020


This rather gorgeous stoop in a 12th century Italian marble one mounted upon a 19th century Portland stone plinth from Michelham Priory. Am signing off a little earlier this year, but may I take this opportunity to wish everyone a peaceful Christmas and a relaxing New Year. Thank you so much for reading my blog....I am so grateful that people take the time to stop by.

Love from Aril, Mr GBT, TYM and Humphreyxxx

Monday 21 December 2020

Christmas Windows

 A lovely evening's wander with Mr GBT and TYM to see this year's festive offerings. The good townsfolk did not disappoint with their advent windows and I think 4 year old Harry Botting who won  this year's competition to design a Christmas decoration has smashed it with his lovely rainbow tree.🎄

Whatever else might be going on right now it's hard not to feel uplifted by the colours and sparkles of the season when seeing this type of thing.


Friday 18 December 2020


"Wreath" comes from the old English writhen meaning to twist apparently. I was rather curious about why we hang these things on our doors, but their origins seem a little fluid. There's talk of the Romans having a version to signify victory [they weren't ones to let their conquests go unnoticed!] and others speak of the 16th century Lutherans in Germany have some type of Advent version. Common sense tells me that humans have always had a penchant for feathering their bower with whatever they could find to add that individual touch and long may it continue! We've got a very simple gold twiggy star here at GBT, but this splendid one is to be found in the conservation area in the town.

Hope you all have a good weekend.


Thursday 17 December 2020

Hare today...not gone tomorrow.

This rather fine fellow arrived at GBT a couple of weeks ago. He is supposed to be living in the garden, but I am a soft-hearted nid nod and couldn't bear the thought of him getting cold or worse still covered in bird poo. Mr GBT just raised his eyebrows at me when I confessed that this hare is staying inside with us. He's well used to the ways of the dotty dame he married. So there I was just taking a shot when who should muscle in.....the four legged poseur himself. Somebody feared that the interloper might have been stealing the limelight and he wasn't having it. Typical feline!



Wednesday 16 December 2020

Shades of russet

My son asked me what colour russet was last night.....Autumn browns with copper tints I said or like these sculptures we saw on Sunday. Despite the heavy rain they looked perfect offset by the foliage colour in the background.

We actually paid real money to go on an outing last weekend....the weather wasn't great, but we were  allowed to go inside for once.....who knew this would become such a novelty! More details tomorrow.


Tuesday 15 December 2020



I got chatting to a lovely lady over the weekend who explained to me why the base of some columns in churches are shiny. Originally there wouldn't have been any seats for the congregation and people would perch whereever they could find a suitable spot. Over time the lanolin from their woollen clothes leached into the stones of the columns producing the shiny effect. Having been absorbed over many years into the stone it can't then be removed. I do so love a snippet of social history.


Monday 14 December 2020

Seeing double

Sunshine on Saturday meant walking plans could go ahead with friends P & C. We'd had to put our meet-ups on hold for a few weeks, but now that we're allowed out to play again.....

Frankly I spent most of the walk gassing and not paying that much attention to my surroundings.....even this tangerine coloured fungus only came onto the radar when one of the others pointed it out to me! Not exactly easy to miss now is it!!

However, this double bridge was just about obvious enough for me to notice.  It was decided by the Board of Trade that the original brick one left too steep a gradient for the train to have to ascend to the nearby station. Before the railway could open it insisted that the embankments were raised to give a gentler incline and the iron girder bridge was built above it. This apparently makes it a unique example of Victorian engineering and I'm sure the change must have averted some potentially tragic accidents.

The railway line was axed by Beeching in 1966 and since 1984 the old railway lines have formed part of the Downs Link for use by cyclists, walkers and horse riders. Over time it's seen extensions being opened and you can travel all the way from Guildford town centre in Surrey down to Shoreham on the West Sussex coast. I've walked more of the local bits these past few months than I have in all of the preceding years and it's been a godsend for many having it on the doorstep.


Friday 11 December 2020



Another of my scribblings....this time a copy of a Medieval figure that looks remarkably like this fellow.....

[Image from Pixabay]. I wonder where Star Wars drew its inspiration from!! Have a good weekend folks.


Thursday 10 December 2020

Winter in the aboretum

A mud free adventure was the order of the day for Saturday's spot of adventuring with Ice Badger. We both welcomed the prospect of a weekend off from boot cleaning, so I cast around for something for us to do locally. The little local arboretum I thought would tick all the boxes as it's midway between our two homes. I first blogged about it here but haven't been back since. It's not heavily used and we had it to ourselves. As you can see it still had quite a lot of colour hanging on which was a lovely surprise. Since I last was there they've added some benches which look across to the South Downs beyond. On the days when IB has to work from home she reckons this would be the perfect place to come to for a lunchtime break as it's only 10 minutes from her doorstep.

Naturally a decent get together with a chum should involve a coffee and cake at some point. As the government has just kindly put us in tier 2 this is just about possible if you're as bloody minded as us two....yes that was us sitting under the awning in the rain outside the nearby cafe. It also meant I had to master downloading an app and then ordering on it...all good fun when you're a luddite who hadn't brought her glasses with her....however, buns are always a good motivator and dogged determination paid dividends! 

Energy levels restored we took a leisurely stroll around the village of Barns Green. It's a place that expanded with the arrival of the railways. As far as I can gather there wasn't much here before beyond the forge and farm, both of which are shown below. Nowadays it's a lively community with a well supported shop, pub and village centre What it doesn't have though is a church. The nearest one is just up the road at Itchingfield [not shown as previously featured on earlier posts] where the original settlement was, but as happens when the inhabitants move to be closer to the improved amenities the church becomes isolated. Nowadays it's at the end of a little road off the main road surrounded by utterly charming cottages. I took IB to see this little gem, as she had, as I suspected only ever driven past it without any idea of its existence. The images below are a mix of the two places. Just little things to amuse us on a cold, but sociable morning out together.



Back to the town of painted doors and alleycats

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