Wednesday 30 June 2021

June Moths

Heart and Dart

Treble Line

Rufous Minor [ have to be able to sex this particular moth to be 100% accurate and I'm not in the market for that close an examination!]

Grey Dagger

Dark Arches

July Highflyer

These are not all of the ones we've caught, but I am trying to identify them myself otherwise I don't learn anything. When I think I might have found it I then ask for confirmation in the moths group I'm in. People have been very helpful. It takes ages so I have fallen rather behind!



Tuesday 29 June 2021

Ducking out

 As my brain is not firing well today, I am ducking out and writing a much straightforward post than the one I had just about holiday ducks.

Exhibit one.....Mummy duck and ducklings on top of a thatched roof I spotted on a walk round the Suffolk village of Rattlesden. I've seen foxes, squirrels, pheasants, peacocks and even a fairy in thatch, but this is a first.

Exhibit 2.....flying ducks. A glorious example of 1950s post war kitsch and still very popular today. The Suffolk artist Vernon Ward [1905-1985] created them to earn money so that he could continue to paint seriously. He was a member of the Royal Academy and most well known for his wildlife paintings.

Exhibit 3....the real deal. Three rather naughty little ducklings were ignoring their Mummy and wandering about all over the place willy-nilly. They live at Audley End which is now in the care of English Heritage.

Back tomorrow๐Ÿฆ†๐Ÿฆ†๐Ÿฆ†


Monday 28 June 2021

Ralph of Coggeshall

What does a wildman [or woodwose as they are also known] and two green children have in common? If you live in Suffolk you may well know the connection lies in Ralph of Coggeshall who was the 13th century abbot of the abbey of the same name and an English chronicler. His "Chronicon Anglicanum" covered the third and fourth crusades, but, also a handful of lurid tales of English wonder that would have appealed to a medieval audience.  It is thought that Ralph travelled around East Anglia and collected the accounts first hand. Thus they are presented as being "true"

This depiction of the wildman is to be found on the church font in Orford. Ralph wrote about the naked human like being that the local fishermen caught in their nets one day. He was bearded and completely covered in hair. The story goes that the constable at the castle had him imprisoned and tortured, but the poor soul didn't make a sound throughout his ordeal. Eventually he escaped his captors and Ralph speculates whether he might have been some type of fish in human form.

As outlandish as it might sound the information boards inside Orford Castle speculate whether perhaps a shipwrecked sailor rendered speechless by the trauma of his experiences might have been caught. More colourful suggestions were that it could have been an evil spirit hiding within a drowned man.

In the Suffolk village of Woolpit, Ralph recalled how the local peasants discovered two green children at the edge of a pit. They didn't speak in a tongue that the others could understand and would only eat green beans. The young boy didn't flourish and sadly died soon after, but his sister thrived and over time her body lost its unusual colour. She was baptised and lived with a knight's family. He is namechecked in other accounts as being Richard de Calne who was a personal friend of the author. As she grew into adulthood it's claimed that she was called Agnes and went on to marry the Archbishop of Ely, Richard Barre and that they might have gone on to have had a child.

As Agnes mastered the language of those around her it was said that she had declared that she came from a Christian country called St Martin's Land where everything was green and very dark. One day she and her brother came across a cave and heard bells inside. Going in they found themselves in the strange land where they were captured. Once again there is an interesting theory which might explain this extraordinary tale. The Woolpit museum booklet [now in my possession!] suggests that the children might have been the sole survivors of the Flemish mercenaries who the Duke of Leicester [Robert de Beaumont] brought over to help him in his fight to depose Henry II. His men were massacred in a nearby village and the little ones might have eaten only berries and leaves before they were found. With a lack of iron they could have suffered from cholorosis which turns the skin a shade of green. It certainly sounds plausible.

As a keen amateur folklorist this is absolutely fascinating for me. I have to say it was purely coincidental that we were staying so close to Woolpit.....I'm not sure Mr GBT was entirely convinced by my protestations of innocence though๐Ÿ‘ฝ๐Ÿ’€๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿ˜ˆ


Friday 25 June 2021

Coming out of your shell.

In this case literally apparently.......I rule nothing out these days when I go exploring round churches! 

This one is to be found in the tiny church in Wordwell, Suffolk and is now in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust. It has a wealth of treasures to behold, but this jester is to be found on the back of the bench below as part of a highly unusual frieze. There is nothing else quite like it in the county apparently and it is thought to date somewhere from 14th to 15th century. It "may" represent worldly dangers and the peril of the devil round every corner beyond the safety of the church or it may just be the carver showing his sense of humour!

With that may I wish you all a fabulous weekend. 


Wednesday 23 June 2021

St John's Eve

So today it is St John's Eve and according to the 14th century John Mirk of Lilleshall Abbey in Shropshire tonight is the one for which men would have built three types of fire to celebrate. The first one would have been for burning clean bones and was called a "bonnefyre" [from which we get our modern day word bonfire], the second clean wood only and was called a "wakefyre" because the men stayed up all night to tend it and the third was a mixture of both and called "St John's Fire". The evil smell it produced supposedly drove away dragons, but I don't think the friendly one in the photo above would have caused you too many problems. He goes by the inflammatory name of Spot!๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ

Here in Sussex it would have been best to have not found yourself next to a certain oak tree in Broadwater [nowadays part of Worthing]. The hollow trunk of the tree still stands, but in times past it was claimed that at midnight on this very eve skeletons would rise up from its roots and holding hands, dance until cockcrow before disappearing again. I, myself, will be safely tucked up in my bed by the witching hour as it's back to work tomorrow.

We've had a fabulous holiday all topped off with the wonderful news that TYM has managed to get on a 2.5 year paid graduate training scheme for a charity in London. He faced very stiff competition and has only had time to apply for a couple of things so far as he is mid way through writing his Masters dissertation. He starts in August and we are delighted for him.



Tuesday 15 June 2021

8 years!

 I find it quite extraordinary to think that 8 years on here I am still writing away and for the majority of the time [I try to ignore those periods of critical self doubt that creep up on me sometimes] still enjoying it. It provides me a space to share a little of my life and a positive record to look back on. In true Aril style by way of a little celebration please allow me to leave you with a couple of treasures from a recent flying visit over to Arundel with my friend WW.

The front door is one of a series of unusual ones dotted around the town centre and the dog boot scraper sits outside the parish church. Looking at how worn its back has become through many years of use another friend mused that perhaps it should now be called a "wear wolf"!

With all that said thank you so much for all your lovely comments. I learn so much from everybody and I really hadn't appreciated what an interractive process blogging is when I started out. Am having a break for a few days, so shall look forwards to returning hopefully with some tales from a different part of the country.


Monday 14 June 2021

Different colourways.

Back to one of my favourite old haunts....not Nymans again I hear you cry๐Ÿ˜ Yes the very one....but as ever it is a garden for all seasons and every visit provides a completely fresh experience. This time I was joined by two of my closest friends stretching back to our teenage years. We may not all live locally now [another mutual friend is living abroad at the moment] and meet up as much as perhaps we'd like to, but we're in regular touch and have supported one another through many an escapade and difficulty over the years!

As ever it's the imaginative plantings and the unusual colourways of familiar flowers that capture me. It was commented upon that once upon a time it would have been lads that we would have been comparing notes and gossiping about....nowadays we display the same behaviour, but our interest is concentrated on what's growing in the borders instead!!


Friday 11 June 2021


 I simply liked the sentiment of this quote from Axel Munthe that I spotted on a wall recently.

Hope you have a fabulous weekend.


Thursday 10 June 2021

Turn left.

 The instructions were clear as day....when you get to the seafront at Rustington turn left.....why oh why then did the three of us turn right. Who knows!! Thankfully it was a happy accident because it brought us upon these lovelies.

These ones are council owned, but I am endlessly fascinated by the decorative choice people make when they are truly given free rein. One wonders how we'd all really paint the exterior of our homes if we weren't so worried about what others might think. I strongly suspect mine would be a riot of colour๐ŸŒˆ. 

The beach hut evolved from the 18th century mobile changing rooms which started to be seen at the coastal resorts as the Doctors of the day began prescribing medicinal cold seawater dips to their patients. The Victorians then rebranded them as wheeled bathing machines which were pulled into the sea to allow the fairer sex to keep their modesty and not be seen walking down the beach in any form of improper clothing. Men of course could freely canter into the water at their such prudery for them. The heyday of the beach hut was in the 1950s, but judging by some of the ten year waiting lists or the eye watering prices some are prepared to pay they are still very popular. Actually I have a sneaking suspicion that they might even be rather hip...I base this judgement solely upon the fact that TYM took a photo and posted it up on his insta account and he hardly ever bothers to post anything on social media! Indeed he got a response back from one of this mates immediately asking if he'd like to go down again and that's exactly where he went last night. With somewhat better/warmer weather than we had too I hasten to add. Jammy devil!!

I hope that I might be able to seek out a few more shortly.


Wednesday 9 June 2021

Chilworth Gunpowder Mills

 How about a spot of industrial history for a change? In all honesty I'm going back to last year for this one because for reasons unknown I missed it out. Better late than never eh!

Nowadays the site of the Chilworth Gunpowder Mills is just a series of ruins within a beautiful woodland setting which people can freely wander around following the different trails. It's a popular spot with the local dogwalkers. Originally though it was the only gunpowder manufacturer legally licensed to make for the King when it was set up in 1626 by the East India Company. The choice of setting was ideal because the many alder trees were perfect for charcoal making and the raw materials needed could be brought in by barge up the river that flows nearby.

The Mills saw a series of owners during its 300 years  and the introduction of steam power in the mid 19th century allowed for a significant expansion and the large ruins you see in the first two photos date from that period. Over time it extended its production to include different types of powder for both warfare and domestic activities [sporting] and was one of the suppliers of cordite to meet the demand that was created by WWI. Ultimately this was also its downfall as the ending of hostilities in 1918 saw a surplus of factories making the same things and it closed in 1920.

This is the lodge where all the employees had to clock on and be checked to ensure that no one was carrying anything that could potentially start a fire eg matches. Safety was of paramount importance and several measures were taken to try and mitigate this threat. The old millwheels were stood on their ends and then covered in earth as a means of providing some protection against accidental explosions. Despite this it was a hugely dangerous business and lives were lost. In 1901 six men were killed in one such explosion caused by a single spark from a hob nail boot.

Thankfully nowadays it is a lovely tranquil place to visit reclaimed by nature.

We have been back since to show friends.


Tuesday 8 June 2021


There are clouds of these beautiful little blue Speedwells bursting forth from the verges on my way into town at the moment. In Ireland they were considered to be a symbol of good luck and the flowers were sewn into the clothes of travellers before they set out on their journeys to prevent accidents.


Monday 7 June 2021

Getting lost.....

This weekend I was due to be meeting a friend, but she was poorly and going for a walk which in the end didn't happen. Instead I treated myself to a greenman incense burner [as you do] and a long overdue trip to the library. The last bit proved to be the death knell for any outings we might have made as I got lost in a book and have been reading wherever possible between chores. Being rather out of practice I appear to have popped my holiday head on for a dry run before the real deal later this month.๐Ÿ˜ 

The chaps have been merrily beetling about doing their own thing, whilst I have stayed chez nous and enjoyed my own company for a change.


Friday 4 June 2021

Evening stroll

 Unusually for us we made a fairly last minute decision to head down to the coast last night for fish and chips followed by a stroll towards Littlehampton. Mr GBT loves being near water and TYM was happy to join us on our jaunt. It was so peaceful.

Hope you have a lovely weekend.


Thursday 3 June 2021

Consider your conscience pricked!

The recycling volunteering I do requires me to pop up to our wombling sheds behind a church every few weeks to pick up the bottle tops that I bring back here to sort and then deliver elsewhere. I like to go in the early evening when it's quiet and there's no issue with parking.

On my last visit all seemed as normal as I hauled bags back and forth until I became aware of a whirring my surprise I turned to see a cheeky little blighter like this one sitting inside the shed.

Laughing I chided it and warned it that it would get shut in the shed overnight if it wasn't careful, but it paid no heed and I must have had to turf it out half a dozen times. It let me know that it was underwhelmed that I had arrived without a snack for it and guilt ridden I promised to do better on future occasions when I returned to work alongside my fellow wombles.

True to my word I arrived at the next session with a carefully chosen selection of meal worms and suet pellets which I dutifully scattered and enjoyed watching the antics of two robins flying in right under our noses and feasting [they've got young in a nearby tree]. However, much like myself they seemed just as keen on the crumbs in the bottom of the empty crisp packets we were tipping out prior to packing them. Who doesn't love a snack eh! I've now found out that I'm not the only volunteer that had their conscience pricked by these feisty little birds...they now have their very own bag of bird seed sitting on the shed shelf so that they can be fed whenever they're feeling a little peckish! I should point out that there are plenty of insects and proper wild avian food available for them too where we are based.


Wednesday 2 June 2021


Having made the decision that I wanted to do something different, but local and not too time consuming, budget friendly and manageable people numbers I cast around for suitable options on Monday. Within seconds my eyes alighted on the National Gardens Scheme catalogue I'd picked up a few weeks ago [can't even remember where I saw it] and a quick flick through soon told me that we were in luck and an event was on just a short drive away. 

I suspect this garden is usually a mass of perennial flowers at this time of year, but upon arrival the owner explained that everything is about two weeks behind and still very much at the budding stage. That might seem like a bit of a disappointment, but had it not been for that we'd have missed some other delights that should have finished. Every cloud has a silver lining....

The house is a former farm, but still has some livestock. Afraid that the grumpy geese definitely weren't interested in doing a meet and greet! Knowing their fearsome reputation I gave them a wide berth.... what I did welcome though was the sight of tulips. The incredible pink and lime green ones are called Virichic and I so nearly missed them because I thought that they were old ones that had gone over. Thank goodness Mr GBT went back for a second look. I've certainly never seen the like of them before.

One of the things I really did like was the way this particular garden had made space for nature. There were lots of plantings designed to attract insects and areas of grass left unmown were full of wild floers and thronging with winged critters. It's always a joy for me to see a hawthorn tree in full bloom. I knew that it was considered unlucky to bring the May flowers into your home because they smelt of death. I guess at that time people were much more acquainted with it as many would have laid out corpses . It's only recently though that I have become aware that this went beyond superstition. The flowers contain a chemical called trimethylamine which is indeed present in decaying animal now you know!

One visit five miles away taking one hour at a reasonable cost and there was homemade cake. What's not to like! It's been absolutely years since we've visited any of the NGS open gardens, but what a pleasure and the perfect excuse for a stickybeak like me to be able to snout round legitimately in places where I'd never normally be allowed. We did of course do that terribly English thing and bring another plant home with us....another heuchera to add to the collection.


Tuesday 1 June 2021

The Reunion

 At last, at last I have been able to meet with my Mythago buddies once's been six long months since we've been able to physically be together and it was fabulous.  We were able to meet for a meal at our local pub [we have danced there on Boxing Day for years] and have an outdoor music/dance practice in the field out the back. The pub has always been very welcoming and is allowing us to use their field on an evening when they're closed to keep our hand in until we can get back into our usual hall. More recently the pub owners daughter joined the side as a member.

Bar four sessions in November I haven't danced since February 2020, so I was a little apprehensive. Thankfully I haven't forgotten too much, although we are having to adapt some of the figures to make them socially distanced for now. Whilst I was catching my breath [grass and heat always make it harder] I took a handful of photos to capture the flavour of a special day and just sat back and listened to the laughter. I think it's the laughter and mickey taking I have missed the most.

That "smudge" on the photo is one of two storks that were circling above us [you'll have to take my word for it!] and they'd flown across from the rewilding project at nearby Knepp Castle. They were introduced back onto the estate two years ago and raised chicks for the first time last year. This year there are seven nests. I have avoided going over to see them, because the place is always so busy and parking a nightmare. Therefore, it was a real privilege to be able to see them for the first time and totally unexpectedly. More info here They provided the icing on the cake....speaking of which the rainbow cake was in celebration of two longterm couples who unexpectedly got engaged. The Gandalf the Grey photobomber is our naughty drummer. Normally he looks much scarier wearing a mask with a skull painted on it.


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...