Friday 30 April 2021

April Moths

Common Quaker

Small Quaker

Early Grey

We've only been putting the trap out once a week or so and am delighted with our little haul. Hope you all have a fabulous weekend.


Thursday 29 April 2021



This is St Peter's in Hascombe and looks for all the world like a 13th century church. However, looks can be deceiving. There has indeed been a church on this site since that time, but it had fallen into such a state of disrepair by 1862 that the decision was taken to knock it down and rebuild this one by Henry Woodyer in a nod to the same period in 1864. It's built from the locally quarried Bargate stone.

I hadn't planned to stop, but as went past much to my amazement I noticed it was open...such is the novelty of this that I didn't need to be asked twice. Had you told me beforehand that it was going to be a Victorian/high church combo I'd have definitely not bothered.....fortunately I didn't know that at the time so was completely unprepared for what awaited me.........

How about OMG. It might be a small parish church in a tiny village, but it punches way above its weight. Absolutely glorious. I was actually lost for words by the beauty and rich colour of the decoration before me. Actually stunned is more not have been able to go inside anywhere for so many months and to not be expecting it was physically quite a shock to the system. 

Whilst we were there one of the wardens popped in and very kindly gave us a big of background information. It was deliberately designed to not be artistically fixed to any one set period so you see nods to all sorts and many of the wall paintings had a distinct Medieval feel to them in their portrayal. There were originally 153 fish [some have been lost due to a later doorway] on the walls caught in the nets of St Peter. This was because it was believed at the time of the Bible that only 153 species existed. You can tell from the standard of interior that it's been paid for by some very wealthy individuals. It was inspired by the Oxford Movement who wanted to see a return to an older style of faith hence the "catholic" and heavy stress upon the religious symbolism on every available surface. The beliefs of this group [active in the mid Victorian era] was known as Tractarianism after the tracts they published 1833-40 and eventually it evolved into what we now call Anglo Catholicism.

This was my personal favourite [worth double clicking to see the details] as I could see it was a dragon. As is oft the case once I got home the photos reveal more than you see at the time. Not the normal St George and the dragon, but a magnificent 7 headed beast with each showing a very different expression. The rather boss eyed one at the front tickled me. I had no idea what this was about only that I had never encountered it before. Since them some kind soul has confirmed that it's from Revelations, but I'll just continue to enjoy it as a rather wonderful piece of art.

This church keeps itself well under the radar as I haven't seen any mention made of it on suggested places to visit in the county. Am so delighted that we stumbled across it completely by accident. What a little secret treasure.


Wednesday 28 April 2021

A Surrey Saunter

 Mr GBT works very hard both within his business and at home, so I like to try and organise a little venture out somewhere over the weekend to make sure he gets a break. There's a lot of wisdom in a change is as good as a rest. Wanting to see the stone circle provided the inspiration for the walk we did around the small village of Hascombe and up above it in the Surrey Hills. 

This piece of public sculpture is by Tom Nicholson Smith and is called "Grains". It's inspired by the grains in the greensand. This in itself is apparently a special type of sandstone that runs in a ridge from Kent all the way across Surrey and into Hampshire. The design is such that it's intended to be used as seating.

It never ceases to amaze me just what turns up in the woods. This is a very rusty old piece of farm machinery [harrow Mr GBT says]. I rather like it when we stumble across this sort of thing.

Mainly photos today. We were in for a rather fabulous surprise at the end of the walk which I'll reveal tomorrow.


Monday 26 April 2021

On 1st April 2003

 A date from so many years ago might seem like a funny thing to use as a blog post title. I don't recall what happened during the daytime except I was pretty fed up by the late afternoon [probably tired with looking after an energetic little boy] and my friend WW's car had broken down. At that time I was a member of a now defunct group called Positive Living which used to have monthly speakers on a variety of spiritual topics. That month it was by a stonecircle builder and frankly I thought I'd probably give it a miss as I had visions of a slide show of naff things this chap would have made for your garden. At the last minute WW and I had a change of heart and decided to go. Arriving there to be met by a bloke in a purple cloak with a dog and long grey hair surrounded by crystals didn't do much to change my mind.

Then this chap spoke and I was mesmerised from the word go. In front of me was a person who managed to be erudite, charming, magical yet refreshingly grounded, funny and real. His name was Ivan Macbeth and he was indeed a stone circle builder [amongst many other things], but full sized ones including the one at Worthy Farm where they hold the Glasto Music Festival. He described the camps they held and the tales of how he and the volunteers built know the photo of the proud angler with the biggest fish...his equivalent was the biggest stone from the quarry. More importantly still he was a Druid and in those couple of hours he brought together all the soul searching I had done to find out which spiritual path I should be on. I had tried and discarded various things knowing that they simply didn't align with my personal beliefs and from that moment on I found my tribe. He literally gifted me a life changing moment and set me off on a different course. I might not remember much of what he said, but I do remember I was so excited I didn't sleep that night and I was tingling with excitement for the next couple of days. Anyone who knows me in real life will know that I am usually a very measured person who keeps their emotions tightly in check so it really was a huge thing for me. For once I actually committed my feelings about the experience to paper. 

Since that day my Druidry has presented itself in a very different form that suits my personality and I am perfectly happy with the idea of my being a Solitary Druid rather than being in any groups. I haven't kept up with Ivan MacBeth until recently when I was sorry to learn that he died suddenly in 2016. However, I did find out just a few weeks ago that one of his circles was within half an hour of here and so I made it my mission to visit it as soon as we could travel further afield again. Yesterday was that day....the quietly impressive Dragonstones in Hascombe. They might be modern in the sense of only being erected a few years ago, but the stones themselves are ancient and come from Portland. We had the place to ourselves and without a doubt I shall return many more times.


Friday 23 April 2021

St George's day 2021

 Now knowing me as you do you would probably expect at the very least a dragon on this English Saint day, but no I'm ringing in the changes and offering up a slightly more unexpected picture of bluebells. 

You might not know that the bluebell is the flower of St George as its flowering season traditionally started on 23rd April [it's bang on this year then] and rather charmingly it has also been called Granfer Giggles, Witches' Thimbles and Cuckoo's Boots in the past. It is an ancient woodland indicator. The plant is poisonous, but in previous times its sap was used to bind books [it repelled insects], glue feathers to arrow shafts and the bulbs provided a starch which was used to stiffen Elizabethan ruffs.

As with almost any plant bluebells feature in folklore. It seems that you might be in all sorts of potential danger if you enter a woodland at this time of year. Beware if you hear a bluebell ring....that will attract a malevolent fairy who'll have your card marked and you will not be long for this world. If a child picks one the you will never see it again, but if you pick one that's it folks those pesky little fairies will lead you a merry dance. As a young child I picked armfuls of bluebells to take home [I should point out that this was the early 1970s when that's what you we know better]....I think perhaps the fairies have been leading me astray ever since­čśĆ

Have a fabulous weekend!


Thursday 22 April 2021

The Friendly Network

My friend S moved house into a road much nearer to me at the beginning of the year. We haven't met for a few months whilst she's been getting herself settled, but that was rectified with a cuppa and slice of cake [she bakes delicious treats] in her sunny garden on Monday. Funnily enough we had cancelled from the week before due to the freezing temperatures and snow...can't think why that wouldn't appeal­čść

Whilst there S gave me this....given to her via another mutual friend who thought it might just appeal to me. Honestly sometimes I think others know me better than I know myself!

The sheer joy of them....I feel that I might need a couple to join me here at GBT and that a trip to the wool shop might be in order. Haven't knitted anything in ages and am not terribly confident, but then I'd have told you that I couldn't make the gargoyle either a few years back yet the motivation was sufficiently strong to tempt me to have a go and now he sits proudly on my bookcase......we shall see!


Wednesday 21 April 2021

On Familiar Ground

 The wonderful thing about visiting Nymans is that although it's very familiar to me it is never the same, so without further ado sights from around the garden and woodlands with accompanying notes as needed. Most of the time the images are self explanatory and speak for themselves.

Five star bee hotel.....only at the National Trust­čśü

Whilst I know a standard Grape Hyacinth when I see one this "Touch of Snow" was a new one to me.

This one too I have seen in a yellow form, but didn't know its name...a bit of googling tells me it's a Fritillaria. They're very exotic looking and tower above everything growing alongside them.

Having had a week of more clement weather Nymans was a little more obliging on the blossom front that Winkworth was the week before. I did catch a glimpse of my first ever bee fly, but it wasn't hanging around long enough for me to get a photo.

Lots of the visitors never make it to the woods, but it makes a welcome contrast to the more formal gardens.  They are quite hilly in places and at the top of the ridge runs an old Medieval trackway. There are also lots of remains of the different activities that have gone on here in times past. The hammer pond is from the traditional Wealden iron industry. 

A wonky old hurdle, hand made latches on an old door and another of the carved benches I always enjoy. This one is possibly the work of David Lucas.

Whether we make it across again this season now that we have options open to us remains to be seen, but, I, for one, have been immensely grateful to have this on our doorstep. It's given us a legitimate reason to go out and a much needed boost to our spirits during the cold months of the year.


Tuesday 20 April 2021

Woodland Characters

Not magical tales of imagined folk, but real people after whom the woodlands on the Nymans Estate have been named.

Hard as it is to read the first one is Pookchurch Wood. I can't find much online about him, but Reverend Pook was known to tell Bible stories to anyone that would listen from the raised dais that projected out from one of the natural sandstone outcrops.  It's become known as Pook's Pulpit and there is now an ongoing project to record the built up layers of graffiti that cover it. Some of it dates back 300 years, but it's thought that there are probably carvings that are even older. Due to its delicate nature people are asked not to touch it, but the National Trust has created a 3-D model of it for anyone who's interested [me! me!!]

Now this second board should read "Jack Reeding's wood", but I have inadvertently missed off the first letter. Mr GBT and I were wondering who this fellow might have been. My bet was on it being the estate gamekeeper....but no. His real name was Jack Rigging and he was a rather unpleasant 18th century highwayman who relieved people of their valuables as a profession. He used to hide out in one of the disused quarries in the wood until the law caught up with him and he was hanged outside the Red Lion pub in the village of Handcross where Nymans is situated. 

It's hardly the stuff of Enid Blyton's "The Magical Faraway Tree" is it!! More tomorrow.


Rest awhile and smile.

I parked my ample rump on that there bench and followed the instructions on its plaque.  It wasn't exactly an onerous task to have to re...