Tuesday 31 March 2020

Grunt Work

Grunt work....you know those jobs you put off because you loathe doing them. Two of my pet hates are cleaning the oven properly [the stove top is kept very clean] and weeding. However, seeing as I have no underling to delegate them to I've just had to be a Big Girl and get on with them.

Despite the lower temperatures on Saturday it was still sunny in the back garden so harrumphing and moaning to myself I rummaged around in the garage to find the necessary kit to make this happen. As is often the way it took under an hour and there has been an upside to all this. Whilst sorting out the borders I came across two patches of wild violets in bloom which didn't show up before and after I'd finished I rewarded myself with this tiny posy of blooms.

In a bid to encourage as much wildlife into our garden we don't use chemicals and we deliberately don't keep it too neat. It was a joy to have a wren dibbling about in the raised bed Mr GBT had cleared and planted up with carrot seeds and our first goldfinch on the feeder. Yesterday morning I spotted two very furtive starlings checking that the coast was clear....they were gathering dried up stalks for nesting material which had lain hidden under the weeds I'd cleared.

Talking all things oven related now I have paid a man these past few years to come in and clean my cooker. Last year though he had really hiked up his prices and had rather gone off the boil. I'd already decided to use somebody new but hadn't got any further with it. I made the wise decision to lay foil on the oven floor as soon as it was done before which saved me a lot of work this time round. A combination of Astonish paste which I already had, a metal scourer, hot water, a pot of elbow grease and my new oven cleaning scraper [the handle had come off the fish slice and we had failed to mend it despite trying].....

And I now have this....not bad for a 32 year old model plus I've not forked out over £100 either.

I am now like Smaug guarding his hoard and will never allow anyone to cook in it again!!


Monday 30 March 2020

Wild evenings in!

So we're now living the high life here at GBT with our wild evenings in. Thursday evening saw us all attend a virtual pub quiz....the first time I've ever been to such an event without physically being inside a hostelry. Mind you with 180k of us participating it might have proved to have been rather a squash! Going for the full throttled experience we filled our glasses with something tasty and filled our ramekins [these are proving to be an excellent way of enjoying a naughty snack whilst restricting our consumption of supplies] with peanuts. It was a brilliant evening with all 3 of us knowing different answers and we relaxed sufficiently to sleep well for the first time in several days.

Fast forward to Saturday and we upped the ante....digging around at the back of the cupboard of puzzles brought forward these long forgotten treasures.

It's been years since we've done anything like this as a family and it was just a real treat to spend time together even if TYM did beat his parents hands down in Boggle. Revenge will be ours when we break out the Yahtzee next time and I might even try my hand at Scrabble. He's currently playing Scrabble against my Mum online! Thankfully we also have a rather good range of jigsaws so I've selected a new unopened one from Mr GBT's birthday which should keep us entertained as an alternative.

Until tomorrow!


Sunday 29 March 2020

Flower Power

Last Saturday [not yesterday] I popped out to pick up a couple of books a client had kindly given me. Knowing that possible change was afoot I snapped a few pictures on my short walk there and back. Nature is still doing her beautiful thing.

If you are not too bored by my drivel I intend to post every day whilst the current situation continuesxx

Saturday 28 March 2020


We are spotting lots of hand drawn rainbows appearing in windows as we take our permitted evening perambulation. I pondered about putting one in our window, but then I remembered I already have this which was rather out of sight...I changed its position so that it now hangs in our kitchen window. Am really enjoying the play of light as it catches the sun streaming in.


Friday 27 March 2020

The Thrifty Times Issue One

So here's some of the thrifty ways I've been entertaining myself with since we were confined to barracks earlier this week. Being a self employed bod I am no longer earning for the foreseeable future so I shall be using every penny pinching method I know so that we eat into our savings as little as possible.

As many will have done, Mr GBT and I spent a thrilling session going through our food stores at the weekend to get a handle on what we actually did have in. With an inbuilt penchant for buying dented tins or torn packets of cereal in the reduced shelves and an inability to resist [Mr GBT suffers from the same affliction] appropriate and useful yellow stickered fresh stuff we had already built up quite a good store of useful longlife and frozen stuff. Despite what dear old Boris says online shopping slots are as rare as hen's teeth round here so we have to brave the supermarket once in a while, but are choosing quieter times and generally finding what we need. I can be flexible about what I eat and am happy to substitute stuff or omit things to keep costs down. Thankfully TYM was never a fussy eater and will eat most things we waft under his nose!

All this poking about has yielded some treasures....I had obviously lost our stash of soap at some point [we use it rather than shower gel to reduce plastic] and restocked. Have rediscovered all of the lurking bars and put them all together. We've turned up a tin of Mamade which is a bit out of date, but will be fit for purpose and so making that up one evening will keep us amused. Even better was the bottle of mulled wine we unearthed....our homemade wine is going to be a boon I think. Two frozen bananas will reappear as banana cake next time I've got the oven on. Can't tell you how pleased TYM was to find some snacks and bottles of cider in the bottom of his wardrobe leftover from Christmas...he'd not had room in his case to take them back to uni at the time.

Mr GBT has been a busy bee. He made a batch of parsnip wine last weekend...usually I would just compost the veg, but it's made a tasty curried parsnip soup which has fed us for lunch for the last two days. He has planted some carrot seeds and I've been mugging the chaps for their leftover orange peels so that I can start another lot of citrus peel cleaner off. I also worked out that I could just add a couple of teaspoons of cocoa powder with a tiny bit of sugar to my slow cooked chocolate chilli rather than needing to buy a whole bar of chocolate. One of our treats is having a real coffee for breakfast and after dinner....the morning one is now a mix of proper and instant and is working a treat. That's one from the 1970s that my in laws used.

We're natural make do and menders, but we're definitely exploring new ideas now. Both TYM and I need haircuts....brandishing my sharpest pair of scissors Mr GBT has trimmed my barnet....no doubt the hairdresser will have a fit, but it looks fine to me and our son now has a buzzcut. He was dead chuffed with his free short term solution until he can go back to the barbers. I'm doing a fair bit of deep cleaning and tidying at home at present. I find it weirdly soothing and a good way of keeping my anxiety at bay. We don't have a great deal of clutter because I'm a born sorter and have kept on top of it over the years. At the moment I'm making more net bags [great way of using up groovy coloured threads which have been sitting around for yonks] with a left over net remnant and taking on small craft projects using what I've already got. This was made for me by Mr GBT from scrap wood to stop us wasting so much soap as it now allows it to dry out properly underneath.

Entertainment wise there's been a lot of enjoying the sunshine in some quarters....namely Humphrey hassling TYM in the garden for cuddles when he's trying to study for his final assignments [he's almost finished uni now].

I've got lots to keep me amused and have just signed up for a free Future Learn course to keep my brain ticking over. Have also had lots of contact with friends making full use of the free calls with Whatsapp and the meetings you can set up on Zoom [they've lifted the 40 minute cap for now on the cost free version]. It was lovely to spend over an hour in a four way natter with three close friends on Wednesday afternoon and just be able to laugh. I also hope to be able to utilise the free factual online books in the Wellcome Collections and Project Gutenberg whilst the library remains shut. Please do share what new ways of thrifty living you are discovering through this strange situation we all find ourselves in.

Anyway apologies for the length and waffle of this post...speak soon!


Thursday 26 March 2020

Keeping it local

Last weekend we sought out a new yet hitherto unknown local green space to us. There were very few people and we were able to keep the required distance. Just a friendly smile and a quick hello with the unsaid understanding of a shared experience. Sunlight and birdsong with a groovy psychedelic fairy door painted by little hands for good measure ....soothing balm for the soul.


Wednesday 25 March 2020

The Big Reveal

With everything being cancelled I decided to share a photo of the kit I finished earlier this year [still a symbol to be added on the forehead which will get done once things get back to normal] with Mythago as a little surprise on our Whatsapp group. It met with a very positive reaction...quite what our neighbours thought about a batty middle aged woman striding around her garden dressed like this at 9.30am is anyone's guess....👿👿


Tuesday 24 March 2020

Being civilised.

The anthropologist, Margaret Mead, was asked by a student what was considered to be the first sign of civilisation in ancient society. Surprisingly she replied that it was when you found a healed femur. If your leg is broken you can't escape from danger, catch food or get to water sources. If it is healed somebody else has bound the wound, moved you to a place of safety away from predators and cared for you. Civilised people help and show kindness to others.

I made this one before last month and it's now stuck on the back of my front door to remind me when [meaning only for food...I have suspended my cleaning for all clients to keep them and myself safe] I go out.


Monday 23 March 2020

Can't moan about Mahonia

Up until last week I had no idea what this yellow flower was called let alone that it smells divine. You know how these things go...find out on Tuesday walk past one en route to the dentist with Mr GBT on Wednesday. Whip out my new phone whilst importantly announcing this is a Mahonia. Naughty wifey omitted to tell him exactly how long she'd known for. With my scatty memory chances are that I will have forgotten again by next week anyway! We stopped for the obligatory whiffle. Just a little moment of joy during difficult times. It was good to see the new growth on the tree round the corner too....they look like little fireworks at the moment.

Due to circumstances blog content will be more humdrum and home based I suspect for the time being. However, I promise that I shall endeavour to keep it a happy space...it's important for me to keep it as a personal tonic as much as anything.


Sunday 22 March 2020

A little lightness

TYM's idea of a suitable Mothering Sunday card....yup he's nailed it again!


Friday 20 March 2020

A Spring Smile

Just keeping it lighthearted. We all need a break sometimes from the current situation.


Thursday 19 March 2020

Clogged up

I've caught the Swedish clog Ebay bug from Vix over at Vintage Vixen. The perfect pair winked at me and are the ideal footwear for the dress I bought last month for the upcoming wedding we're going to. I made a cheeky offer far below the asking price and was delighted to have had it accepted.

Pillar box red!


Wednesday 18 March 2020

Jigs and reels

Whenever I am either unsettled or uncertain one of the things I like to do as a distraction is to play upbeat music, especially folk music. We went to hear The Flying Toads at the folk club on Sunday and they are a complete treasure. Even the most miserable content is made to sound uplifting and joyful. Their latest CD has been added to our collection. Here's a taster for you!


Tuesday 17 March 2020

Art Deco Vs Art Nouveau

Opposite the Victoria Embankment sits the Blackfriars Pub...a stunning example of Art Nouveau which I blogged about on a previous post here http://gnatbottomedtowers.blogspot.com/2019/05/thank-you-mr-betjeman.html Its extraordinary shape is because of the buildings and alleys which once surrounded it. They are no longer standing so it makes it look rather odd stranded all on its own. Back in May I hoped that one day I might have a chance to go inside....that time arrived with Lovely Grey and a couple of rather fine pints of pale ale.

The interior is just as amazing as the outside. However, it wasn't appropriate to take photos when people were in there enjoying a quiet drink. However, the stained glass was right next to our table so I thought that was fair game. I know the friar has a tonsure, but I can't help thinking that it looks rather more like he's wearing a pair of those pixie ears people don!

Across the road we have the polar opposite. The Unilever building which is testament to all things Art Deco. For me it's equally fabulous with all its elegant lines and pared back details. This was built in 1929 and must have seemed as radical a change in style when it came in as the Art Nouveau which went before it. These are a few of the details from the front entrance.

Until tomorrow.


Monday 16 March 2020

The hostess with the mostest.....

Is not something I either aspire to or realistically stand a cat in hell's chance of ever achieving. Once upon a time guests would have asked you for the recipe if they liked something you served them. Then there was this......

Yesterday my friends emailed me to thank me for lunch and to say that they had popped into our local Tesco [they haven't got one near them] on their way home to pick up a frozen Jaffa cake dessert like the one they'd had at ours😆 In truth it's a long running joke.... all of us always make the main dish and then cheat with a bought pud when we get together. It was an unexpectedly delicious dessert for £2, but it has inspired me to go off and find a recipe for making something similar. This one looks a good 'un  https://www.janespatisserie.com/2018/07/16/jaffa-cake-cheesecake/ and could be featuring over Easter. I've not been a complete Slack Alice when it comes to all things culinary this weekend though as I've made a Frikadeller in the slow cooker and my first every lot of meatballs. It's a bit of a feather in the cap moment for me as I really dislike handling the raw mixture with my  hands.


Friday 13 March 2020

Keep calm and carry on.

This poster was produced by the British government in 1939 just before WWII to alleviate fear and motivate the population. Despite its production it was rarely seen and not remembered until its rediscovery in 2000. Now you see it everywhere and in many forms. Perhaps it is overused and rather hackneyed, but I draw great personal comfort from it especially during times of uncertainty. I am keeping my sensible head on.

Hope you all have a good weekend.....please allow me to leave you with this moose I met in London [report of the visit next week]. Rather more charming than the mounted head of a real one I think.


Wednesday 11 March 2020


I am rather dithery today about deciding what I want to write about so instead I shall take the easy way out and share my newest word. "Spolia" is the term used for incorporating old fragments of stonework into newer buildings. Little did I realise that this is what I was photographing at Winchester cathedral a few months ago. There's a lot of this sort of thing seen in churches especially.

If I can get my act together I will endeavour to show you some more of my visit to London tomorrow!


Not going to the art gallery.

 Mr GBT didn't really want to visit an art gallery whilst we were in the Midlands last month....he's a clever fellow though and dist...