Friday, 20 May 2022

Just chillin'

This view just made me smile. Seen in London on a warm sunny day. Have a great weekend everyone.


Thursday, 19 May 2022

Slowing fast fashion down.

An obsession with cheap clothes which are only worn for a nanosecond before being discarded without thought has led to the modern phenomenon of "fast fashion" and it literally is costing the earth. Thankfully not everyone is willing to let this non sustainable situation continue and some are already taking positive steps forward to show that there are other ways to make garments which don't come at such a price.

One such fashion designer is Bethany Williams who graduated in 2017. She has set out to prove that things can be done differently and works in collaboration with different marginalised sectors of society to design and create clothes that use recycled materials. This works on so many levels as it brings about change via environmental and social development. Her work is bright, sassy and uses a fabulous range of techniques including weaving, knitting, patchwork, embroidery and patchwork. Everything is handmade right down to the buttons. During the pandemic she turned her hand to making scrubs for those working on the frontline. 

I was lucky enough to catch her work being exhibited at the Design Museum where I popped in for a quick visit on my lunchbreak from the London show we were working at last weekend. Truly inspirational. We need more people like Bethany pushing forwards.


Wednesday, 18 May 2022

What a goon!

 [Image from Pixabay]

"Contraceptives should be used on every conceivable occasion."

Spike Milligan.

He always had such a way with words that man! It made me inwardly titter when I read that quote.


Tuesday, 17 May 2022

Call the midwife.

 Sometimes when I go poking about I draw people's attention and curiosity gets the better of them. I can vouch that the volunteers who give their time to St Michael's in Cirencester are exceptionally friendly and most helpful. Having established that I was merely looking out for any unusual gravestones rather than one in particular a couple of chaps kindly pointed me in the direction of several stonkers. I had already found this one for myself. As gravestones go it's nothing out of the ordinary, but it's the epitaph which makes it stand out.

Sacred to the memory of Sarah Avery
who died April 8th 1833
Aged 80 years.

Never before have I encountered a non modern example which refers to a woman's vocation. Whilst the ones for men laud their achievements and trumpet loudly about the professions and positions they held all I ever see for women is mention of their roles as Mother, wife, daughter, sister etc. I know that this is very much down to the class of women who could have afforded a headstone often not working, but it also springs from a time when a woman became the property of her husband upon marriage. Beyond the conventional descriptions you get very little sense of the individuality of females, so I was staggered to see that Sarah was a midwife. This led me to wonder why she was thus singled out like this, but frustratingly I can find no mention of her online to give me the background.

Well if I can't glean the information about Sarah it has whetted my appetite about what late 18th century/early 19th century midwives would have been doing at this time. The origins of the practice would most probably started by women in labour being attended by women who had been to other births and through experience had learnt their craft. It was a world very much secreted away from men and those fulfilling the role were often viewed with suspicion in a male dominated society. Further on down the line it became a way for women to earn money rather than being dependent upon a husband through marriage which would have been highly unusual for the time. By the time Sarah Avery was practising the whole business had been altered by a far more scientific and medical approach and there were now male midwives called accouchurs. With a better understanding of the human body from the advances in anatomy treatments had improved, but giving birth remained a very dangerous business both for the mothers and infants right up until the early part of the 20th century when key drugs came into play and mortality rates finally dropped. The situation was also greatly improved by the 1902 Midwives Act which ensured all midwives were registered, trained  and proven to be able to practise at a standardised level of medical competence.

You might be interested to know too that officially the first British woman to qualify as a physician and surgeon was Elizabeth Garrett. She was barred from the male only classes at the Middlesex Hospital, so in order to circumvent the system she took private tuition and passed her medical exams with the Society of Apothecaries in 1865 which named her as a doctor. And their enlightened response to this? To change their rules and prevent the situation from arising again. Thankfully Elizabeth was nothing if not determined and in 1872 she set up the New Hospital for Women. Her refusal to have her ambition thwarted eventually yielded results and by 1876 a new act allowed women to enter the medical professions. She wasn't the first trail blazer though to blast open the doors of this exclusively male world. Dr "James Barry" qualified as a doctor in 1812 and "he" served as a doctor and surgeon in the army for 46 years. It was only upon "his" death in 1865 that "he" was discovered to be Mary Ann Bulkey. Quite extraordinary but not the first time I have heard of this happening. Definitely a case of if you can't beat 'em join 'em. I have the Sick to Death museum in Chester to thank for the information about these two incredible women who paved the way for those who have followed on.


Monday, 16 May 2022

Through the windscreen.

 Roundabout art....lousy photos, but we were travelling round the roundabouts at the time so 'twas to be expected! 

The Shoreham Sheep. These were put there in 2011 to promote the South Downs National Park. Now you would think that half a dozen green plastic sheep wouldn't trouble anyone, but concerned drivers kept reporting that there were escaped sheep in the middle of the roundabout. In a bid to put people's minds at ease the council placed yellow plastic barriers round them, but it didn't work. In the end they were removed for a few weeks and then reappeared alongside a new obviously metal shepherd designed by Danny McBride and there they stay much admired as we all fly past.

The next two are from our drive home from London yesterday. The two cyclists is the work of Heather Burrell and was done to mark the British Olympic cyclists using the road as one of the Olympic routes back in 2012. The legacy is that the routes remain hugely popular with anyone donning lycra and on two wheels to this day. The other one is my old friend the Dorking cockerel. His history is featured here When we went past in the morning he was very clearly sporting his Jubilee get-up, but he seemed to have gained a Liverpool scarf in the intervening is to assume that a fan of The Reds must have been rather pleased at their team's FA cup success a few hours earlier!


Friday, 13 May 2022

Sick to death

 While we were waiting for TYM's grad we whiled away the morning at the recently opened "Sick to Death" museum in Chester. It was right up my street, but not sure Mr GBT was quite so keen as some of the displays were fairly gruesome. It was to be expected really as it is covering the history of medicine. It's housed in a redundant church so you get some good effects with the sun streaming in through the windows.

Hope you all have a great weekend....we shall be working. I might have hatched an escape plan though for a couple of this space😉


Wednesday, 11 May 2022

Operation Birthday Month

May is a very busy time for me birthday wise.....I've got two family members plus a friend with birthdays who I like to buy a small something for and friends getting married....add in the big upcoming London show and with the Morris season now in full swing it was all starting to feel slightly manic. I shouldn't have been, but I'll freely admit that I was quite relieved that yesterday's house sparkling client has gone on holiday which left me with a day off work. All of a sudden I could see my way through to catching up and getting everything done on time. Mission accomplished. Of course in between searching out some locally made goodies I wove in a little bit of adventuring to keep me amused😀

My first stop of the day was to drop off some bits with my friend E and whilst there I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to drop into the nearby microbrewery. It's rather charmingly called the Kissingate Brewery and does a good range of ales....I have a Dad and a son who both enjoy craft beers so I was always going to be on a winner there wasn't I. The owner kindly let me have a quick look around and showed me this rather fantastic model of a kissing gate and a crow on it which her son had made for her.

I started to notice crows all over the place without there being any obvious explanation. Well me being me I couldn't resist asking her what the significance of this particular bird was. She originally hails from nearby Crawley and she explained that its original name was Crow Leah . Leah was an old English word meaning clearing so it literally was a clearing of crows. To mark the association they brew a "Murder of Crows" and "Six Crows." Makes much more sense now.

On my way again I decided it was high time to take a little detour to revisit a church in the nearby village of Slaugham [pronounced Sloffum] As is always the way I discovered that I had completely missed the very thing the church is most famous for on that first visit [I do a little more research these days] so thought today was the day to make amends. This rather grandiose affair is the family vault of the Matcham family. Catherine Matcham was the youngest sister of one Sir Horatio Nelson no less. The other grave shown is interesting because it's so old....most rare to come across anything decipherable from before 1700. Nothing seems to be recorded about this Thomas Norud de Sesed who died on 14 March 1615.

Wanting to mix it up even more [racy old devil that I am] I decided to come back another glad I did as I spotted one of the Milennium history boards that were put up around the district back in 2000. Never seen this one before so had to park up and go back to see what it was all about didn't I...I have driven past this pond [now a private fishing lake] countless times over the years. Today I learnt it's called Hawkins Pond. With it being very overcast it's not perhaps looking at its best, but the nearby woods are still glorious with all the bluebells out.

My final port of call was a local farmshop as by then I'd decided to buy some foodie bits for the couple with their upcoming nuptials. They're both West Sussex born and bred and I know they're rather partial to cheese and biscuits and a drop of cider. It doesn't take a great leap of imagination then to work out what I bought and all made within a five mile radius of here. The great mystery is though how did those three enormous sausage rolls which I found in my basket when I went to pay get there?😋 That was supper sorted right there and then!! 


Tuesday, 10 May 2022

Monday, 9 May 2022

Transformative Saturday

 It was never going to go down as an average Saturday morning in town when you encounter this huge yellow being.....

I am reliably informed that it is a transformer which made a great deal more sense when I later found out that there was a Comic con event being held. The weirdest thing was that it kept bopping away to Rick Astley's  "Never gonna give you up"!

Mind you whom am I to talk as I spent most of the day wandering around with this jammed on my face...😆

At long last the Horsham Day of Dance has returned after three years. It was sooo good to catch up with many dancing friends from the Morris world....we all retired to a local watering hole afterwards and had an impromptu couple of hours of beers, chats and each side taking a turn. I met some lovely new people and forged new connections with other sides which we intend to turn into shared events further down the line. Please allow me the liberty of sharing a couple of snaps of other teams we shared our stands with. Despite my best intentions I forgot to take any more [bad blogger!] but I was having way too much fun!!


Friday, 6 May 2022

The greening of the season.


On Monday I joined my friends for a belated Beltaine jaunt up to the woods for a spot of magic and making merry. Walking home I admired the freshness of the sharp green Spring growth and then noticed these....the chartreuse [I can't tell you how many years I've been waiting to use that word on this blog😁] flowers of the English Oak. In all my born years I've never seen them before. So the old adage that every day's a school day certainly did ring true! Anyway with whatever you're up to this weekend I hope you have a splendid time. I shall be jangling the old Morris bells in the sunshine and there might be a bit of ale supping going on at some point during the proceedings! Thankfully it's in the town so we'll be on foot.


Thursday, 5 May 2022

Mini mural art

Always on the lookout for things that inspire me I was pleased to see that some of the BT boxes have been turned into pieces of art. So much cheerier than the bog standard olive [or goose turd green as the Tudors called it!] paint job they usually get. Since then I've found out that Chester launched a mini mural trail in March and these are three of them. 

I'd love to see more of this sort of thing being rolled out in other places. Brighton has some incredible decorated street furniture.


Wednesday, 4 May 2022

Sitting pretty in the city

"What on earth is that thing poking up from the middle of the roundabout?" I asked TYM as we drove past on our way out of Chester for our meal. "Some garden thing" he replied airily...."I used to walk through it all the time." That was it....I booked my slot with Mr GBT to have a short explore round it on our way back to the hotel.

What it actually is I now find is a city forest garden which has been designed to blend the urban and wildlife and raise awareness whilst creating a beautiful space for people to enjoy. That metal sculpture is known as a super tree [there are three of them] and by growing climbers up it you are creating a vertical habitat [we have a living wall in Horsham which does a similar thing]. This green oasis has been built by a combination of local volunteers and partners and is dotted with information boards to help and inspire people to rewild the spaces around them. It's very effective, but as you can see from the photos below it really does sit pretty in the middle of the city!

It's a great project.



Tuesday, 3 May 2022

After two years.....

 After two years of waiting, TYM finally graduated from Chester uni on Friday. I kept my fingers crossed and kept a little of myself back just in case it got cancelled. He's already had his Masters one postponed once this year. However, with a great sigh of relief it went ahead on what was a beautifully sunny and warm Spring day. We travelled up the day before and took him out for a delayed celebratory meal at the Frodsham pub where we'd taken him the night before he started back in 2017. It seemed an appropriate way to bookend his whole experience and we owed him one. The poor lad got his degree during the first lockdown and all the restaurants were shut....a takeaway from the local Chinese had to suffice, but we were blooming grateful to be able to do that at least.

Now our adult son has inherited his parents dislike of the being centre of attention and he's not very keen on having lots of photos taken either [that comes straight from his Mother...unless we're in fancy dress and then we don't give a monkeys!]. The uni had provided two huge deckchairs and the big orange Chester lettering which the others attending were having great fun with. However, as I suspected, it really wasn't his scene nor was having any official ones taken either.

No problem though as I had remembered that he'd spoken fondly of a cobbled side street nearby where he and his mates had their Peaky Blinders photos taken It proved to be the perfect spot just near the cathedral, but quiet and no other people. A clutch of photos later followed by a very polished ceremony which was live streamed so my parents could watch too means our Chester chapter is now closed. The uni held 11 ceremonies last week to catch up with the backlog of 2020 and 2021 and we were the final one. I'm just so pleased that all the young people were able to experience the full fat version rather than a version compromised by Covid restrictions. A happy day for us all.

I don't often share much about my family, so it'll be back to my normal weirdness tomorrow!


Monday, 2 May 2022

A Statement Piece

 Might I be so bold as to suggest that this is not a statement piece, but a piece which makes a statement? I don't do politics, but in a very British way this cake sums up the present incumbent with a hearty dose of humour. If he's ever put in the stocks I might just be first in line with my rotten eggs to throw at him😆


Saturday, 30 April 2022

April Moths

 We've only put the trap out twice this month so this is our new one. Called Maiden's Blush I'm guessing because of the rosy coloured stripe across its wings.


Wednesday, 27 April 2022

Sparrow City

 Alexander Neckham [the then abbot] claimed in the 13th century that way back in the 6th century  due to wars between the Saxons and Britons the city of Cirencester was besieged for six years, but the Saxons couldn't break it. That is until one day when their leader noticed the many sparrows who spent their days feeding in the fields and their nights roosting in the thatch rooves. Apparently [this is now beginning to sound less and less plausible] the Saxons managed to catch all the spadgers and tie burning straw to their tails so that their return to the city dwellings would set everything ablaze and force the Britons to flee. It makes for a dramatic story🔥🔥 irrespective of whether this medieval account is true or not.

Our visit to Cirencester thankfully went off without a hitch and not a hint of drama. We were staying a few minutes outside the city centre so we able to leave the car at the hotel and just walk. It is by far and away my favourite way to travel with much better opportunities to snoop about😆

We started off along Gloucester Street which is full of lots of lovely old buildings all in that gorgeous creamy stone that the area is known for.  The cottage below is called "Tatty Marsh" and was built in 1796,. It's one of a series of cottages supposedly built for the "drowners" who were the men who looked after the water meadows. It's all very tastefully done with greys, sage greens, creams and then one person went rogue and thought s*d that for a game of soldiers I'm having a pink door....I just love it when people do that! Further along I stuck my big snout up an alley and found the rather attractive hidden view.

On our way into the town centre we passed these arches which are the remains of the chantry and hospital of St John the Evangelist. It was set up by Henry I in 1133 as a place for travellers to rest and the destitute to live. It eventually came to be owned by the local abbey and as is always the way, it was brought to its knees by the Henry VIII's reforms in 1539.

The Augustinian abbey of St Mary was established a few years earlier in 1117, but not consecrated until 1176 by Henry II. Nowadays there's literally only the gatehouse [shown below] still standing and a handful of paltry stones remaining in the Abbey grounds. Much of the masonry was incorporated into later buildings round the town. I enjoyed the little detail that the archaeological digs had revealed- the ceiling was once adorned with gilded stars to make it look like the heavens.

Whilst the Abbey grounds might be sorely lacking in the Abbey stakes these days it does hold a treasure trove of other delights. I showed the mosaic wall last week, but there's all this too. This wasn't the only hare I saw. I gather they were part of the Hare Trail in 2018. I'm sure most people won't understand my excitement at seeing the metal bench....confidently I told Mr GBT I thought it was Victorian. Turns out I was right as Victoria's Jubilee plaque left me in no doubt.

Our outward destination was the Roman ampitheatre which has stood here since the 2nd century [although nowadays it's just the earth banks which would have supported the seating for the 8000 visitors who came to be entertained]. Since the Romans abandoned left it behind it's gone on to be used as a market place, a fortress and even a medieval rabbit warren. Nowadays it's become a popular spot for dogwalkers to throw the ball as you can get it quite a long way in that enclosed space!

Making our way back just a few bits and bobs for your delectation. The doorstep mosaic is the work of Debbie Stirling. Inspired by Vix's visit earlier in the year I thought we'd love it and I am thrilled to say Cirencester didn't disappoint.


Just chillin'

This view just made me smile. Seen in London on a warm sunny day. Have a great weekend everyone. Arilx