Friday 31 July 2020

Chester The Finale

Chester is a city that is littered with history....everywhere you turn there is something to admire whether it be Roman, Medieval, Industrial...the list goes on. This handful of shots was taken in a relatively small area as we ambled about.

TYM's former house is a Victorian terrace property on one of many interlinking roads of the same period.  I watched a series recently about the corner shops and it said at this time there would literally have been a shop on every corner and these ghost signs are evidence of this. Even where they no longer stand you see the shadow of the shops in how they have been converted from retail into domestic dwellings.

If you a canal enthusiast then Chester is like manna from has it all including the Northgate staircase locks which run in succession. There's a set of instructions of dos and don'ts on an accompanying sign and I'm pretty sure that it would be a good idea to follow them if you don't want to get yourself in a pickle!

One street in particular had some rather nice door furniture which I felt the need to stop and admire...this need was not shared by the chaps as they stood by with pained expressions waiting for me to get a move on! I am guessing that you wouldn't have much trouble finding where I lived if I told you mine was the house with the pink or orange front door. It works much the same way in Horsham for me with having a scarlet door!

With this modern sculpture by Colin Spofforth to round it all off....Captain Morgan's cannon. Morgan was commander of King Charles I's artillery during the Civil War. Although most of the surrounding countryside was anti Royalist Chester remained pro the monarch. From February 1645 to January 1646 it was held under siege. With the inhabitants facing starvation it was eventually forced to surrender to the Parliamentarians and the broken cannon commemorates this defeat.

With our stroll complete we retired to the hotel bar to enjoy a few ales and relax after a long day. It's rather pleasant when you have offspring old enough to buy their aged parents a drink and supper by way of a thank you!!


Thursday 30 July 2020

A Thrifty Morning

With the changes ushered in by recent events my work pattern has altered quite radically. People have shuffled into new spots as I've adjusted arrangements to try and meet people's requirements. I have lost my alternate Tuesday off which I hope to be able to reclaim if things settle a bit more further down the line, but I have gained a free Tuesday morning every week. It's proved to be a useful gap because I get up early and am home from the Co-op by 7.30am with the weekly shop. I've yet to go back to Tesco and am frankly not bothered. We've done the sums and reckon that with a monthly trip to Lidl we're buying less and wasting nowt, but spending about the same as before. I much prefer the ethics of the Co-op anyway and this has forced me to walk my talk and change my habits.

I don't know if I should be admitting this [as a non lover of cooking], but the rest of my mornings are not getting wasted either as I'm using the time to either batch bake or cook ahead with any food that needs using up. This week's efforts have produced another variation on the slowcooker lentil and coconut curry I did a couple of weeks ago, but this Slimming World recipe gave me the chance to use up my sweet potatoes. There's two dinners worth for all of us now lurking in the freezer.

My parents gave us a big pot of double cream last weekend which I whipped and then sweetened with some sieved icing sugar and flavoured with instant coffee mixed with a little water. It's not quite got the texture of icecream, so I prefer to think of it as iced cream, but it still hits the spot if you fancy a bit of naughty calorie laden dessert!

One lot of yellow stickered roast chicken turned into Coronation chicken to go in wraps for supper and that was it I was all "kitchened" out. It was with great joy I plumped my ample rump into a chair and spent the remaining time doing some more hand stitching on my bathroom blind before heading out of the door to go and earn some real money!

A few photos from Chester tomorrow.


Wednesday 29 July 2020

The Dorking Cockerel

Another one in a very occasional series of themed posts about "exciting things seen on roundabouts". We were travelling so a rubbish photo, but this is the rather splendid Dorking cockerel. It's based on a type that was bred by the Romans for its meat and when it was first installed it wasn't popular. However, times have changed and he's become a bit of a local celebrity in the past ten years. The local knitters have great fun keeping him on trend and as the moment he's sporting a natty mask with "Be Kind" on it. At Christmas he had a long knitted scarf and on one occasion a large baby's dummy hanging round his neck. It's the work of sculptor Peter Parkinson from the Fire and Iron Gallery in nearby Leatherhead. I know we're nearly home when I see him!


Tuesday 28 July 2020

'Tis Done

The final uni run to Chester has been done and the house cleared.  He caught the 5.30am train home on 17th March as he feared getting stuck with a possible lockdown looming on the horizon and hasn't been back since. I'd be a lying toad if I didn't say that we were a little apprehensive at the prospect of using the motorway services and needing to stay overnight in a hotel. However, am glad to say that despite it all being slightly odd everything was fine. What we found was that you need to plan ahead so we took all our food and snacks with us and had a takeaway at the house.

Once we had shoved [and I mean shoved] all the TYM's clobber into available bags/boxes we headed out for a final mooch around this lovely city. We meanwhile have now gained a garage full of stuff which he can have a glorious time sorting through/recycling this week. Am mightily relieved that he decided to leave his airer behind for the two mates that are staying on for another year as it would literally have been a case of either he or the airer making their way back to Sussex independently as there was no more room in the car....had we opened the boot there would have been a cascade of possessions tumbling out. He had apparently acquired rather a lot more in the two years since we'd dropped it all off!

I hadn't intentionally included TYM in this shot, but it rather sums up the end of a fabulous three years for him. There's a little sadness, but he's a positive lad with lots of new and exciting things on the horizon to look forwards to. Besides all being well he's going back up in a few weeks to sink a few [or many I suspect] beers with all his mates...the current situation might have denied them the big knees up they would have had at the end of term, but I am confident that they will more than make up for it!!


Monday 27 July 2020

Good mews.

Being in a line of work that takes me into people's homes, I've seen many things over the years. Mostly it's day to day stuff as you chat with clients and they tell you a little about their lives. Sometimes I've been present at times of great sadness and thankfully also seen moments of great joy. Clearly discretion is extremely important, but I'm sure one lady wouldn't mind me mentioning that I was with her last week when her new rescue cat arrived.

A female tortie had turned up on a building site, but due to Covid19 the Cats Protection hadn't been able to go and collect her until recently. Attempts to find her owners had failed, so the builders befriended her in the meantime and one of them took food in for her everyday. You never know how an individual rescue cat is going to react, but this little lady spent the first hour nosing around her new abode and making friends with her new staff member. I took a couple of photos for P as you can never recapture these moments can you. By the afternoon she had hopped up onto the sofa for more cuddles and was busy making herself at home! 

All the signs seem very positive and I was just delighted to be able to partake in a little of P's excitement and delight!


PS The photo is a Pixabay one...not of my client's cat.

Friday 24 July 2020

Rave on

Have a good weekend. We're hauling ourselves up the country to clear TYM's stuff out of his old uni house.


Thursday 23 July 2020

Stinking Rich

These type of stone coffins saw use in the Middle Ages and were designed to be reused.  Only those with wealth and/or social standing could be interred in one of these and they came in many sizes. The cadaver was left until the soft tissue had decomposed [hence the very real need for a drainage hole!] and then the skeleton was reburied and the next occupant placed inside. Some of the coffins were within the church buildings under the floor and so the story does that this is where the phrase "stinking rich" comes from. It is very dubious that this is really the case though.  By the time of the reformation burial practices had changed and all bar a few were buried inside.


Wednesday 22 July 2020


Randomly the other night Mr GBT asked me if we had any peppercorns and vinegar. Then he wanted to know about mustard and coriander seeds. I wasn't sure, but a good old rummage at the back of the cupboard produced all the requested items. I wondered why.....

Here's the man with a plan....busy peeling all the teeny onions from our recent harvest.

Waste not, want not and all that....we now have a jar of pickled onions in the larder.

Something to accompany our next Ploughman's!


Tuesday 21 July 2020

A trifle vulgar I fear.

This pile of abandoned telegraph poles reminded me of a naughty poem my Dad told me....I shared it with C when we were out walking [yesterday's post]. By the time we caught up with Mr GBT and P we were tittering like a couple of six year olds...

In days of old
When knights were bold
And ladies weren't invented.
They drilled a hole
In a telegraph pole
And kept themselves contented.

And on that low note I shall love you and leave you for today.


Monday 20 July 2020

Not on the tourist trail.

Now with me back working everyday it's only weekend walking we can manage, so we met for another local stroll with friends P & C as they showed us yet more little secret corners in our locality. 

Starting from the village where they live I had to say I loved this repurposing of one of the old village phone boxes [they've already got one set up as a library]. This has to be be the smallest Tourist Information Office I've ever seen. Nevertheless it was packed full of local places to visit, history and walks for the village plus an informal swapshop with toys, seeds and books. Fabulous idea.

As ever much of the walk was across fields and woodland. Some of the coppiced trees have been left to grow out and this tree lined path really caught my imagination. I hope the owl box has seen service this summer too.

There were many lovely old properties hidden away. If I had a gardener this is what my garden would look like [well in my head anyway]. We couldn't glimpse the house itself because it's completely screened by huge hedges, but I know it's 400+ years old and has two bedrooms....P's grandparents lived there from the 1920s and her Mum was born there!  This wooden platform is a little further on and must give marvellous views out across to the North Downs in the distance.

Part way round the path took us past a field of cows and their calves....they were very stressed by our presence so we didn't tarry as we had no desire to upset them further. Upon leaving the field we encountered a fenced off area with some far more laid back occupants. One in particular couldn't resist coming up to the gate to take a closer look...the rather charming curly haired mangalica breed of pig. They must be hot with all that fur!

It's our turn to organise the next one....I have already got a plan brewing!


Friday 17 July 2020


Returning to work might have slowed me down, but I'm still following the rules of thrift and using what I've got to make a new blind.  Lots of hand sewing means it's taking a while, but this is where I've got to so ex duvet cover, one lot of pink thread and a table runner from a locally run charity shop, ric rac trim from a jumble sale and it will all be lined with a ripped voile curtain someone "helpfully" added to the bottle top recycling I sort for charity. Usually I'd curse them inwardly, but they were inadvertently right on track this time!

I've still go a way to go before it's finished, but it will work well in our bathroom.


Thursday 16 July 2020

Rayleigh Scattering

West Sussex has its fair share of ecclesiastical gems, but many of its churches are devoid of the richly decorated stone/woodwork that I encounter elsewhere in the country.  There are several country churches which are simple stone and whitewashed affairs, but charming for it. What we do have though is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to wall paintings. They're damaged, but what remains is fantastic. This one comes from a tiny Downland church at Coombes.

With the library now allowing us to order books I have at long last been able to get my paws on "Churches and Chapels of the South Downs National Park" by David Parsons and Robin Milner-Gulland. They give an excellent explanation about how most of these paintings were done on wet plaster [fresco] so the artists needed to make swift progress. Later ones tend to be on dry plaster [secco] so there was more time to add in intricate patterns and details, but the colours don't last as well.

The one at Coombes is early. I had thought that perhaps the pigments were made from ochre, but the yellows and reds actually come from the greensand beds in the North Downs. Within the spectrum they could be anything from a pale pink to purple or cream to brown. The white and black came from lime and charcoal. Certain colours are absent because they were very expensive to produce. The blue from Lapis Lazuli is one that many will have heard of, but it was rare. However, the painters of the day managed to achieve a blue effect by mixing a few particles of charcoal into white. The light causes it to appear blue apparently and this comes with the very official sounding name of "Rayleigh Scattering". 

The best news of all for Mr GBT is that this week's reading has produced at least one more target for me to visit with wall paintings....I am imagining his "delighted" [read that as pained­čść expression when I break this to him]. He does so love a wall painting!!


Wednesday 15 July 2020

An optical illusion

As a child I remember looking through an art book of work by M C Escher. I was completely transfixed and that fascination with the finding of hidden details or clever optical illusions has carried over with me into adulthood. The small sample below are free images from Pixabay. If, however, you fancy a darker variation I am more than a little partial to the deviant art of Jeff Lee Johnson here...don't say you haven't been warned though!


Tuesday 14 July 2020

Ten years down the line.

Mr GBT took this photo of a dragon on Mardol Street in Shrewsbury way back in 2010. At the time we thought it might be old, but knew no more about it. Thanks to a FB post I now know its backstory.

The carved dragon by Mr B Haigh was added to the timber framed building in 1986 as part of its refurbishment. It forms part of a metal beam which was needed to protect the upper storeys and is intended as a visual pun for the dragon beams you get which go down to the corner of wooden structures [I have had them pointed out in some of the places I've been to before]. At one time in the 1990s there was a nightclub on the site....they didn't think too hard about what to call it when they named it "The Upside Down Dragon" did they!


Monday 13 July 2020


The gentle unfurling of a new fern [except I only had a photo of bracken!] is called a koru in Maori art and represents new life, growth, strength and peace.

Methinks it's going to be short blog posts this week as haven't been beyond a local pub catching up with friends and starting the bathroom blind which I should have done during lockdown, but simply couldn't summon up the enthusiasm for.  On the good news front though we learnt that TYM has got into his uni and course of choice for his masters for September. He'll be staying down south and living at home for the next year. He was delighted, but even more excited about the gym reopening­čśä That should keep out of trouble for a while yet!


Friday 10 July 2020

Coconut lentil curry.

A nice easy recipe with a dhal like texture, no need to precook anything [big fat tick from me] and one you can sling in the slow cooker, forget about for several hours and then find you've got a tasty meal ready for you. There is no's not a culinary looker!

170g red lentils, 1 diced onion, 2 crushed garlic cloves, 1/2 thumbed sized piece of root ginger [I used powdered as that what I had] peeled and finely grated, 1 tbsp garam masala, 1 tsp cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 2 tbsp tomato puree, 1 can tomatoes, 200ml coconut milk, 200ml veg stock, salt & pepper.

Put all the ingredients into the slow cooker, season and cook on low for six hours.

Friday supper sorted! Even the chaps who are intensely suspicious if I try and sneak anything that might be dhal in under the radar wolfed this down.


Thursday 9 July 2020

My Top Ten

There are 1000 sculptures at the Farnham Sculpture Park. I liked hundreds of them, was indifferent to a fair few and loathed a handful. I could have had several different choices for my top ten, but this lot gives a good spread.

The dragon weighs 300 tonnes and is made out of horseshoes and the tank is from scrap wood.  There were some that were way out there/gloriously bonkers, some completely unfathomable to my philistine mind and some surprisingly incredibly conventional.


Wednesday 8 July 2020


I was "going to" write a post and share my top 10 sculptures from my outing at the weekend, but then real life got in the way and I jumped at the chance to join my pal, Ice Badger, for an evening's exploration along the local Wey and Arun canal instead. I'll get back to my intended content later on this week!

We last visited a year ago and although we started from the same point we went in the opposite direction this time. The army of volunteers has been incredibly productive as they continue to build new locks and bridges as part of their longterm goal to reopen the waterway. The restoration started in 1970 and every season sees them get another step closer to their final goal.

Ice Badger explained to me [I know nowt about boats, but her parents owned their own narrow boat when she was younger] that the table is made from old metal paddles which are pulled up and down to let the water flow] and the bench is repurposed from the wooden lock gates.

By my reckoning those might be common red soldier beetles making whoopee!

This memorial is one of many along the route. I believe that the rather unfamiliar wording is intended to be amusing nonsense, but Keith was a highly valued volunteer and made a very significant personal contribution with his hedge laying skills.


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...