Friday 29 January 2021


I love a corny pun.....


This is the hairdressers which now trades from the old granary building in our park.

Here's the original....take it away John Paul Young

Have a good weekend.


Wednesday 27 January 2021

Seeking Art Deco Details

 Stations are places for rushing around in by and large I think. Occasionally I have paid attention to some of the Victorian grandeur on full blown display in some of the London ones, but our one is just a squat and unremarkable affair. I read a comment about its completion in 1938 and its Art Deco details. Art Deco? What Art Deco? I had literally never noticed before! Now I know that it was built by the Southern Railway in the International Modern Style to coincide with the electrification of the line. It was designed by James Robb Scott and is now Grade II listed. The perfect focus for the walk I had planned for last Friday's most recent local jaunt around the town.

Up for a spot of spontaneity for a change I decided to continue to wander in whatever direction my feet took me and once again I found myself in the area of my old stomping ground from 25 years ago. This church was on one of my regular routes back then and had you asked me at that time what I thought of it I'd have probably described it as being "as ugly as sin." In some respects I still would agree up to a brick modern churches don't really do it for me. This one is called St Leonard's and at first glance has all the charm of a 1950s secondary modern school!

As I walked round the corner though I started to notice some of the fantastic angular detailing on the brickwork...the quadruple pillars that make up the window frames and how the cross has been created. Then I spotted the door and it instantly put me in mind of the multi arched Romanesque doors I have been fortunate to see on my travels. It is very beautiful and made me curious. I'm a great believer that every building has a story to tell, so I made it my mission to find out more.

The church was designed in an Art Deco style with a strong medieval influence by the architects Godman and Kay and built in 1939. The original plan was to include railings and a metal spire, but this was omitted because metal was needed for the war effort. The perforated steel spire you can just see didn't arrive for another 70 years...on the day it was meant to be installed all the great and the good had gathered for the traditional topping out ceremony only to find that the star of the show was not present. Hilariously the spire had put in an appearance down at St Leonard's On Sea instead...some 50+ miles away. It did eventually show up some two hours late! The other claim to fame is that the Rolling Stones performed in the church hall on 3rd August 1963. Art Deco features heavily in many buildings of the early decades of the twentieth century, but it is rare on churches and there are only a very small handful in the country.


Tuesday 26 January 2021


With "evenings in" currently being the order of the day I have begun to attend a few carefully selected free talks. The Sussex Wildlife Trust offer a varied programme which I reckoned would give me an excellent chance to learn more about what's in my locality [I found out last week that blackbirds are a member of the thrush family] I couldn't resist signing up for one on wildlife dung [I know, I am your weird friend]. 

Without pinching the entire content of the talk I can now tell you that we have our very own UK dung beetles [thank goodness we do otherwise our country would be awash with the stuff] and that they have different ways of dealing with it. What we do lack here are the "rollers" [cue Pixabay free image above]. I hadn't appreciated that these fellows are actually going backwards when they are moving the dung balls yet they have an amazing sense of direction and can move their quarry a huge distance in relation to their body size. Every once in a while they'll stand on top of their ball to realign themselves using the sun or the moon as their navigation point. One species even uses the Milky Way....scientists proved this by placing little hats on the beetles heads covering their eyes. The result of the experiment was that the beetles starting going every which way, but once their headgear was removed their normal patterns resumed.

Bet that wasn't what you were expecting to read this morning!!


Monday 25 January 2021

Hunting the Haggis

 [image from Pixabay]

Knowing that my Aberdonian friend, C, will be celebrating Burns Night tonight I asked him a few weeks ago where he got his haggis from as he's lived down South for years......with a twinkle in his eye I was informed that you don't buy a haggis you have to hunt them.....

First you need to find a mountain and then climb to the top of it where the haggises live. Descend slowly in an anticlockwise direction for haggises nearly always come down clockwise. Knowing that their legs are longer on their portside than their starboard size, when you meet one face to face you must blow your whistle and wave your arms at it. This will frighten it and it will try to run down, but overbalance and topple over the mountain side. You can then collect your haggis at your leisure once you make it back down to the bottom. Thinking things through I foresee a couple of problems....Sussex doesn't have any mountains and once in a while you may encounter a haggis that only goes in an anticlockwise direction. In that case you'll have to go hunting in the supermarket instead.

Now surely an 85 year old Scotsman wouldn't have fibbed to me would he๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜„

Thursday 21 January 2021

The Middle Aisle

Is it just me or are there others out there I wonder who share my weird fascination with the randomness of the middle aisle in a friend wryly commented "it must be the only shop where you can go in for something very mundane and come out with an angle grinder that you didn't even know you wanted!" I can't resist taking a sneaky peek on my rare visits over there [our one is across town and can get very busy, so I haven't been for several months]. Most of the time I have little problem resisting the delights, but back in September I fell for it hook, line and sinker.  For a four hundred and ninety nine pence investment I emerged with this in my sweaty little paw....

I justified it by working out that it would save me money by me not needing to buy weird coloured spools of thread for specific projects [I've amassed a few of them in my time I can tell you!], but really I wanted it because of all the lovely colours๐ŸŒˆ๐ŸŒˆ๐ŸŒˆ. Has it been useful.....yes indeed, but thank goodness I'm not a frequent shopper there...gad only knows what else we might end up with!!


Wednesday 20 January 2021

Bricking it

This tunnel leads from the main road into our town park and was built by the Hurst family in 1840 who were the then landowners. Originally it was there to allow the carts to transport the vegetables from the gardens to the main house, but now it's used by the public.

Frankly I haven't used it very much over the years as it always used to be very dark and gloomy down there. If it rained you got cold water dripping down your neck! Only recently has it had the lighting put in. Recently I learned that it had been used as an air raid shelter during WWII. At that time it had additional staggered partitions built out from the walls to create a zigzag path and prevent any potential bomb blast from harming those taking refuge there. If only walls could talk...very sobering really.


Tuesday 19 January 2021

Pottery Gems

 My TV watching tends to comprise of selected shows from the catch-up options available on Freeview. Sometimes it might be something dark like the recent incredible "The Serpent" and other times I only fancy things that are positive and fluffy. My current favourite for this is the welcome return of  "The Great Pottery Throwdown" with the gorgeously emotional Keith Brymer Jones. I love all the different styles of ceramics that the potters can create from a lump of clay. 

Now I'm spending more time in the urban landscape I am really beginning to notice what a contribution pottery/ceramic/brick/earthenware details add to the buildings. These are from my recent walkabouts round Horsham.

In all honesty and looking at this little blue bird more closely I think it's enamelled metal, although I took it to be pottery when I saw it from afar. However, I'm sure you'll forgive me for sneaking it in anyway!

Little gems.


Monday 18 January 2021

Cinnamon Flapjacks

As I'm not off out adventuring far at the moment, pottering around at home has been the order of the day over the weekend. Both of us have caught up on boring old chores and between showers Mr GBT managed to plant out the shallots I found in Wilkos last week. I've been having a bit of a play with some new drawing pencils that act like watercolours if you wet them and I fancied doing a spot of baking. For some reason the idea of cinnamon flapjacks popped into my head, so thought I would give them a whirl.

As you can see we roadtested a piece as soon as they'd cooled and it was definitely a thumbs up. If you fancy making some I added a dessertspoon of cinnamon to my standard recipe of 6oz butter, 2 oz soft brown sugar, 5 tbsp golden syrup and 12oz porridge oats. Melt all the ingredients together in a big pan bar the oats and then stir them in. Spread out on a lightly greased tray and bake at 180C for 15 mins. I prepped them in the morning and then cooked them later when I had the oven on already for our supper.


Friday 15 January 2021

In difficult times

In difficult times, you move forward in small steps.
Do what you have to do, but little by little.
Don't think about the future, or what may happen tomorrow.
Wash the dishes.
Remove the dust.
Write a letter.
Make a soup.
You see?
You are advancing step by step.
Take a step and stop.
Rest a little.
Praise yourself.
Take a step.
Then another.
You won't notice, but your steps will grow more and more.
And the time will come when you can think about the future without crying.
Elena Mikhalkova

Advice given to the author by her grandmother. I guess it's the same as what we now call mindfulness. I saw this single rose carefully placed on the bench last week on my walk.


Thursday 14 January 2021

Going back

 Please feel free to skip this post, but I'm returning to the last blog post to update what these shields represent as a local historian has now very kindly provided me with the details. Part of the way I use the blog is to record these local details for myself. Going from left to right the first one is the flag of Sussex. The six birds are marlets which are mythical birds that are depicted without feet and never roost. The lady is the Virgin Mary depicted as the Queen of Heaven. This is the Blazon for the Worshipful Company of Mercers, of which Richard Collyer was a member. The next one is for Henry VIII who was the monarch at the time of Collyer's bequest in 1532. The flowers are white lilies that represent St Mary. Our parish church of the same name has close connections with the college and finally the lion is the coat of arms for Horsham.

I will try to put up something a little less dry tomorrow!


Wednesday 13 January 2021

Urban Crawl

Well while I've got every other Friday off for a few weeks [one client has temporarily stopped due to the current situation] I might as well take it as a positive and a chance to enjoy myself. Keeping it local I stepped out of my front door and walked across town to an area where I used to live up until 1996. Lots more to see than I remembered being there!

This cemetery is now full and hasn't been used in a long time. It sits rather forlornly just off from the town centre with an air of neglect. The Victorian tombstones are covered in ivy and most people just walk on by oblivious that it's even there. I was one of them and had never visited it until about 15 years ago. However, its air of neglect is carefully managed as it operates as an important refuge for the local wildlife and there are many wild flowers to be seen in the warmer months. On a previous occasion there was a fox curled up in the farthest corner....I don't know which one of us was most surprised! For me it's somewhere to escape to when in need of a bit of peace and calm. The sunshine coming through the branches filled me with delight.

One of the many building/renovation projects happening at the moment. One of the old pubs that closed a few years ago along with a former bakery is being converted into dwellings. This "new" wall has recently been built reusing many of the bricks from the properties. I like the salvage aspect to it...not everyone likes the effect of it. Ah well you can't please all of the people all of the time.

Now what I really do like is the wavy form of the railings around the New Street Gardens. This little green space was set up ostensibly for the local residents to enjoy [anyone can go in though] and maintain as part of the Living Spaces project in 2005. Being Winter it's not perhaps at its most glorious, but as you can see it wasn't without interest, although I hadn't anticipated seeing narcissi so early! At one point the council rather thought that they might like to reclaim the land and build upon it, but thankfully people protested loudly and the idea got shelved.

This door panel on the pub across the way really showed up when the sunlight hit it. It made me think of the colours you get when you pour oil on water.

Just as well a] I was on foot and b] I don't drive a mini.......๐Ÿ˜†

Now on the final leg I passed my old sixth form college. This lovely redbrick building dates from 1892 [designed by Arthur Vernon], but the establishment of the school of Richard Collyer has been around 1532. Richard Collyer was a mercer who lived in the town. The terms of his will stated that a free school for 60 boys should be set up and now it is the fourth oldest school in Sussex. Amazingly the Mercers Company are still the trustees. It was the boys grammar school until becoming a mixed sixth form in 1976. I only wish I could tell you who the carved Queen above the door is or what the wooden shields above the windows are, but I'm afraid I don't know. However, I've put out a request for information so I shall update the post if I do!


Tuesday 12 January 2021

If you can't do down to the woods today....


This may not look like it, but this shot was taken on a very wet day a couple of months ago. We were truly drenched by the time we got home. The weather for the next few days is set to be far from fair in my part of the world, so the woods will be very muddy and slippy underfoot. I shall be working so going to the woods is not an option for me, but if you fancy having an arboreal experience whilst staying in the dry perhaps this might provide a good halfway house


Monday 11 January 2021

When the universe has other plans.....

It seemed a crying shame to throw away the leftover scallop shells from our NYE supper, so we pondered what we could do with them. Quickly we both decided that they could feature in a hanging wind chime thingy for the garden and I quickly volunteered my modest stash of holey stones to accompany them. Mr GBT, being a making/repairing wizard, strung them up on some brass wire, but I still didn't feel it was quite finished somehow. Overnight the missing detail came to me and by the morning I added in the red ribbon [salvaged from Christmas crackers]. When I stood back from it I had to smile....every part of it also has an apotropaic element!

The scallop shell features heavily in Christianity and is the symbol of St James [it's littered along the route of the Camino de Santiago] who is the patron saint of pilgrims. If you see it on a tomb, then it signifies that the person has been on at least one pilgrimage. This example is Richard Cheltenham's and can be seen in Tewkesbury Abbey. 

In pre-Christian times it was used as a symbol of the setting sun. Together with the red which was used to deflect evil spirits/witches and those with malicious intent and the hagstones [more detail here it seems like we all have bases covered should someone or something nefarious try and cross the threshold. I love it when the universe has other plans.......


Thursday 7 January 2021

Round the houses

My old schoolfriend was down last week staying with her Mum [they're in a bubble] and so I needed to come up with a plan where we could catch up outside without needing to travel too far. Thankfully my Dad signposted a new series of local heritage walks that have been created by the town's museum staff [it hasn't reopened since March] and one of those turned out to be the perfect candidate.

Now with so much off limits it's not so easy to add in the usual level of detail when all you're basically doing is walking up and down both sides of a single long road for an hour, but I don't think we did too badly under the circumstances. This place looks like it's got some age to it with it gorgeous decorative barge boards. However, looks can be deceiving for above the door is the date 1932. It's built in the Tudorbethan style which was all the rage at the time. Some of the material used though has been salvaged from earlier buildings which does help to make it look older.

Go back a hundred years and this area would have been a mixture of farmland and a large country estate. It even had its own cricket pitch. The big house was demolished in the 1950s and all that remains is the lodge....still rather a lot larger than many of of its more modest modern neighbours though!

This grade II listed house genuinely is 17th century. It's called Dendy's after a local Dr Dendy lived there with his family. Tragically he and his family caught typhus and died after he'd carried out a post mortem on an executed prisoner from the town gaol in 1827. Nowadays it looks rather marooned stuck in the middle of a housing estate.

As we wandered up and down aimlessly looking for a mystery gatepost [we never did find it] I was rather pleased to see that somebody had decided leaving the utility boxes plain and boring just wouldn't do. I'm not sure that I've ever seen art inspired by takeaways before though.....

And to finish...pray what is a good walk, but without a bit of weirdery.....a fairy door and occupants. It really isn't my friend's sort of thing, but she humoured me nevertheless! ๐Ÿงš I know that I've shown this before, but the fairy has gained a friend since my last visit a couple of years ago.

A most splendid way to spend a morning.....this was pre Lockdown.


Wednesday 6 January 2021

The Garden Guardian

 Well it might not be possible to physically do much in the garden planting wise right now, but indoor scheming is afoot. We talked over ideas a few weeks ago and how we could achieve a wildlife friendly plot with our postage sized piece of turf and the solution seems to be seasonal shrubs that are attractive to the pollinators and birds with a few hardy perennials thrown in any remaining essence we've gone for indestructible [hopefully] ones with attractive flowers and berries. It turns out Mr GBT has been quietly beavering away and so was able to present me with a list of possibilities  at the beginning of the recent break. If we can get them I think we're in for a treat and it will be nice to be able to have something to show for some money we were recently given for our little project.

Meanwhile the tiles on the planters are now on [we'll continue to grow veggies in them] and he's just converted the redundant peanut feeder into a suet pellet one...they're fussy little beggars our local avian friends. We're now flavour of the month with the visiting nuthatch and starlings.

Do please come and meet Derek....he's our new garden guardian and is to be found hanging off the fence and supervising our progress. He was one of my Christmas pressies from Mr GBT.  I am intending to move in some of his friends just as soon as I can get somewhere that stocks ones that I like. Am rather fussy when it comes to my grotesques....nowt cutesy thanks.

We now have 6 big bags of compost sitting and awaiting our attention. Ooh the thrills I have awaiting me in this latest period of restrictions๐Ÿ˜œ

Tuesday 5 January 2021

13th century wisdom

"Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder."

Rumi [1207-1273]


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...