Monday, 31 January 2022

Knepp

 Welcome to Knepp and the home of the most famous rewilding project in the country. It's been featured in the national press and on television and for that reason amongst many I have avoided it like the plague [I have danced here] even though it's on the doorstep. During the lockdowns it became rammed with people and there's little in the way of parking, but now things are thankfully settling down a bit and it's the quieter time of year I thought I'd chance my arm.

The Knepp Estate has been in the hands of the Burrell family for more than 500 years and the current owner ran it as a farm for many years. However, as the family's ideas have changed it's gradually been transformed into a rewilded area and it's incredible how many species have returned [it is regularly surveyed]. The different habitats are very carefully managed and many larger grazing animals roam freely. It even has a pair of beavers, but they can't be released and has started a successful white stork breeding programme. For anyone wanting to know more Isabella Tree's book "Wilding" is fascinating. Thankfully for me there are a series of public footpaths which crisscross the area and marked walks which make it very clear where you can go. With the weather so glorious it seemed wise to follow the longest route and make the most of our time there.

There's a lot going on at Knepp. They have a campsite and yoga retreat and during the warmer months they run their wildlife safaris. It's one of those places that you never know quite what or who you might encounter. The butterfly creation and arch of antlers is right near the carpark and as for that random column near the gate I've no idea how that fits in!

You pass by all sorts of different environments as you wander round. There are several well considered platforms built in the trees [so they don't damage them] which give you a good birdseye view. The "lake" is the millpond and was originally tied to the 16th century iron industry which flourished here. At the time it was the biggest body of water in the South East, but these days it's half the size it once was.




For some of the time we were following paths which took us out and into the countryside beyond. We passed through the small village of Shipley where the grade II listed windmill can be seen. It used to be owned by the writer Hillaire Belloc and it was the fictional home of Jonathan Creek for anyone who remembers that series. For many years it was run by a group of local volunteers who kept it maintained and it was open to the public. However, it was closed in 2009 and although it's still got the same owners it's looking rather like it's seen better days. I read that it's an octagonal smock mill and although I've encountered the term before, I've only just found out that this is because it was believed to look like a farm worker's smock. Smocks were all the rage here in Sussex and people wore them with pride on high days and holidays too. Some of them were beautifully embroidered.


I felt the urge to take the photo of the front door nearby because of the sheer size of the hinges....definitely a case of go large or go home!


One of the other things the area is famous for is its history. Way back in 1075 William the Conqueror had divided Sussex up into territories...so called Rapes and this one fell into Bramber and was given to his loyal knight William de Braose. By 1125 it was felt that a castle was needed to plug any defensive weaknesses and this paltry piece of masonry is all we have left of it to see today. During its time it saw many Royal visitors, but King John stands out for all the wrong reasons. He had been good friends with William de Braose III [he had stayed there before travelling out to France], but by 1208 they had had a major falling out. He confiscated the lands, killed William and rather charmingly starved his wife and heir. Until his death he used the land as his hunting grounds when it then passed back into the original family's hands. The Roundheads did a good hatchet job on it in 1648 to stop the Cavaliers from having it as a military base and then most of what was left standing was pilfered to make a local road. That said it was rather pleasing to finally discover what is at the top of that mast as normally we only glimpse it from the dual carriageway which runs along the back of it. Thanks to Mr GBT for the closeup.



Well I suppose the question remains...did we see any wildlife. I knew the odds weren't going to be great as it's not the best time of the year for it. Deer were glimpsed in the far off distance, but no pigs were to be seen. However, the very chilled longhorn cattle were in full sight and we saw a Red Kite. They're beginning to make inroads into the area, but we're still far more likely to see buzzards still. There is a little lovely hiding in the final photo too, but you'll have to double click it and squint hard to spot it!






Hope you enjoyed visiting virtually with us.

Arilx


















Friday, 28 January 2022

Magic Moments

"I don't like weirdos" said one of my clients last month. I had to laugh as I commented "well you've got a weird cleaner!". He and I have very different views, but we get along well and I'm there to work not challenge him. However, I have taken a secret delight when he asked about the Halloween wedding and I said the bride wore black and then about being in Mythago. I said "you won't like that because we wear black masks", but he wanted to see a photo anyway. He just raised his eyebrows. I was quite surprised then when he bought me a box of Black Magic along with a bottle of vino for Christmas. Upon my return in the New Year I thanked him for the gifts. "Have you eaten the chocolates?" he asked...."I chose that brand specially because they seemed rather apt for you" as he smiled at me devilishly👿😉

Have a great weekend....I shall not be practising of the dark arts I should hasten to add!

Arilx


Thursday, 27 January 2022

The Teardrop


This is "The Teardrop" which stands at the centre of the Peace Garden in the abbey grounds of Bury St Edmunds. It's the annual meeting point for marking Holocaust Memorial Day on 27th January. However, the sculpture is more than this because it is dedicated to every victim of genocide. Sadly this type of massacre stretches way back in time and those 57 Jewish residents of the city who were murdered by a group of rampaging Christian crusaders on Palm Sunday on 19th March 1190 are amongst those who are remembered. 

Arilx


 

Wednesday, 26 January 2022

Oddfellow


 Welcome to my first church odd fellow of 2022. I met this chap over the weekend and am intrigued by his distinctive triangular hat. I hope this will herald another fine year of weird and wonderful carvings. No more words today.....weary old bird.

Arilx

Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Feed the birds

Journeys over into Hampshire to see a friend or when we used to travel to see my in-laws often took us past this village sign. Puttenham is on a busy Surrey road and it's not a place I would have any need to stop in. However, the question has always remained as to whether it was a blackbird [my suspicion] in the middle of it.


It turns out I was right all along. It is a blackbird and it's the symbol of the parish council. Round it are hops because another claim to fame is that it is the only remaining Surrey village producing them on a commercial basis. The sign was the work of a local artist called Pat Willams.


I loved the fact that somebody is taking the trouble to scatter birdseed around the base of the carved bird so that the real feathered variety can be fed during these hard Winter months when natural food is scarce.

Another wander and lots more wonderings....I have some work to do before I post any more!!

Arilx

Monday, 24 January 2022

A few things

 A few things which have crossed the threshold this month....many more have left👏

We caught up with my Auntie on Christmas day and she asked me if I would like to have the tablecloth her mother had made for her as none of my cousins were keen. I didn't need to be asked twice. How gorgeous is that and how long must it have taken her to make all that lace. Talk about a labour of love! I did meet her on several occasions when she spent the last few months of her life with my Auntie. She used to beat me every week at scrabble😀

I realised recently that I much prefer wearing skirts to trousers and that I feel much more "me" in them somehow. That said I spend most of my life in trousers when working or dancing, but that's a decision based on purely practical purposes. With that in mind I took a short break during my working day and popped into a charity shop on the far side of town when I was up that way. I paid the princely sum of £4.50 for this little Monsoon number. I, of course, chose it for the additional details and have already given it an outing.


A recent long overdue clan gathering with one of Mr GBT's sisters and brothers [he's one of 6 but we don't often see the others] plus partners has finally happened. So with a late exchange of gifts [our original date in December had to be moved forwards] Mr GBT's sister made us this with handrolled scrolls of paper. She has a bigger one which I had admired. It took her many hours and although she's now retired I think she's busier than ever! It will go in the kitchen.


Arilx


Friday, 21 January 2022

Tracking down the track.

 We've both been enjoying catching up with Professor Alice Roberts [Mr GBT never needs an excuse to watch any programme featuring her!] in "Digging for Britain". Running through the episodes there's a track that caught our ear. Despite checking the credits we couldn't work out what it was, but with a little bit of digging of my own I've found out that it's called "Coins for the eyes" and is by Johnnie Flynn. He also did the theme tune for Mackenzie Crook's "The Detectorists".


Hope you have a great weekend.

Arilx



Thursday, 20 January 2022

Squirrels


 Grey squirrels....love them or loathe them they're here to stay. At one level I curse them for gnawing through my bird feeders, but I do enjoy their acrobatic displays and their cheekiness. If I do get a bit grumpy our ones just nip through the hedgehog hole in the bottom of the fence and bide their time until I've gone back inside. They're opportunists and I've always understood that if I want a wildlife friendly garden then I can't then pick and choose who visits. Besides it's spurred on to get a genuinely squirrel-proof feeder so the little birds still get their fair share and everyone gets fed. If you notice any of our bushy tailed friends hurling themselves around the tree tops January is the month of the aboreal dance when the males chase each other to get mating rights. The kittens will be born about 10 weeks later. I have to say they do provide some good entertainment through the living room window😀

Arilx

PS I think Scrat from Ice Age might have been the inspiration for this particular one. Those acorns are rather large!


Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Cabin Fever


Lousy photo I'm afraid...it was late afternoon and low sun back in 2020. Not one I bothered showing when I saw it on our walk round Cuckmere Haven, but I thought it might have once been something interesting. There was no plaque and I didn't find anything out about it online. Sometimes you just have to wait though for the information to turn up...usually when you're least expecting it!

This wooden hut is now in privately owned and used to store fishing tackle. In 1900 the Anglo American Telegraph Company bought a plot of land and built the cabin station upon from which to operate telegraph lines which ran under the sea to France. In 1940 all the lines were cut and the hut was requisitioned as a pillbox. It didn't fare well with the army gunfire and was left in a ruinous state at the end of the war. In 1947 what remained of it was moved to a different site. Captain Douglas Ann restored it and it remains in his family's possession.

Arilx
 

Tuesday, 18 January 2022

"Worth"while

 Another of those "I've only got a couple of hours spare, but want to go out" type trips from earlier this month when the computer was out of action. Not wanting to go too far this time we travelled over to Crawley which is our nearest big town. We rarely go over that way, but I discovered last year that it has a selection of parks and green spaces tucked away in amongst all the "new town" development which sprung up to take the London overspill post WWII. This time we headed for Worth Park Gardens.

Originally the area was part of the ancient Worth forest. People have lived here since at least Saxon times and and for many centuries it served as a deer hunting ground. By the 1800s the land was in the possession of the Montefiore family who had a large house [called Milton Mount] and parkland built in the estate. By the late 19th century it was decided that the gardens were in need of a revamp and the then famous Victorian garden designers and terracotta manufacturers, James Pulham and son, were chosen to draw up the design and carry out the work. The house functioned as a girls' boarding school from 1920 until it closed in 1960 when it was demolished and replaced by a large block of flats. Thankfully the grounds were retained and nowadays a set of very dedicated volunteers maintain them beautifully.

To give you an idea of the former grandeur of the property this is the stable block which now houses the visitor centre. In front of it stands the "Timeline Totem" carved by Simon Groves in 2016 using a storm damaged tree. It visually records the history of the area.






As I hope you can tell from the photos below the gardens look splendid. Back in 1884 when it was all remodelled ideas were still heavily influenced by the Grand Tours people had undertaken.  A naturalistic looking setting which would offset the many plants [particularly alpine and ferns] which the travellers had brought back with them was desired so Pulhams became known for the creation of artificial caves, grottos, islets and follies in their work. They had won medals at the 1851 Great Exhibition and were known nationally. Examples from them grace both Sandringham and Buckingham Palace. Many of the original features in this park are now Grade II listed. The rockery and the rock standing in the middle of the lake [the tiny yew on it is 120 years old] are made from Pulhamite. This is an artificial rock that the company were famous for and used in many of their garden structures. It was a type of cement which was poured over mounds of broken brick and rubble. When it set hard stonemasons would carve it and if you didn't know that it was made in this way I don't think you'd realise as it's very convincing.












If it looks this good on a Sunday in January then I look forwards to paying it another visit later on in the year. With free parking and entry and a small cafe it has all bases covered.

Arilx

 


Monday, 17 January 2022

Blue Monday

 So today is apparently Blue Monday and it's meant to be the most depressing day of the year. Well I'm afraid I'm not playing. My fabulous friend S has a CD player shaped like a juke box with flashing lights and she treated herself to a small disco ball in the second lockdown to keep herself cheerful. Combine that with a suitable range of music, two slightly eccentric middle aged women, a selection of party snacks and what have you got....




our inaugural January Blues disco that's what!! I even donned my sparkly waistcoat for the occasion. Two hours of dancing [and low alcohol beer for me as I was driving], lots of laughing and taking our adult heads off for a bit have done the trick...both of us agreed we felt immensely cheered and it was just what S needed after frankly what have been a rough few months for her. Free exercise and loads of fun....so much so that we're going to do it all again next month. It's something to look forwards to during the colder months of the year and gives you a good old rush of endorphins.🎉🥳

Arilx


Thursday, 13 January 2022

January sun

 Evening....I'm back🌞 Thank you so much for all your lovely messages. We had the dreaded blue screen on the pc last Friday and as people know that's normally the death knell for any computer.....big bill expected at the very least.

We are incredibly fortunate that we have a man who can near us and he's anything but a rip-off merchant. He runs a rather antiquated computer repair shop in the parade of shops near us on the outskirts of town and only deals in cash and cheques. Having dropped off our poorly machine on Monday, he rang yesterday with the excellent news that it wasn't the hard drive causing the problems, but a build up of software corruptions which he's cleared for us. My win on the premium bonds covered his bill with a tenner to spare. 

So now it's back to normal and I have been relishing the sunshine of the last two days even if I've only been seeing it through the my clients' windows! As ever my taking of photos which amuse me has not abated and I would happily give this car a home. There'd be no chance of me forgetting where I'd parked it in the supermarket carpark would there!!




Have a great weekend and I'll be back next week.

Arilx


Sunday, 9 January 2022

Poorly PC

 Hello😀 Just popping in to say the hard drive on the computer has died so can't access the photos at the moment. Am having to do this in my phone which isn't as easy so please bear with me for a few days. The object in the last post was a fly trap and would originally have had a bung in it.

Arilx


Friday, 7 January 2022

Mystery Object

 I spotted this on my recent trip to Standen. I know what it is because I've had a miniature version in my dollshouse for several years, but if anyone would like to hazard a guess then please put your answer in the comments below. I'll put up the answer later.


Hope everyone has a great weekend.

Arilx

Wednesday, 5 January 2022

First walk of 2022

2022 has called already for me to get out there and explore. With others or on my ownsome with my little camera, locally or further afield, revisiting somewhere to refresh or somewhere new...I really don't mind. This time I chose somewhere close to home, but just over the county border in Surrey. It wasn't a place I'd been before

Ewhurst is a fairly small village which has seen occupation since Roman times, but doesn't seem to have featured heavily in the history books. The parish church of SS Peter and Paul is 12th century, but has undergone at least six different transitions during its existence so it's now a bit of a curate's egg. The font and one of the doors is original, but the rest is a right old mish-mash. The spire collapsed in 1837 and its final restoration was as recently as 1954.

It's really only at the time of Henry VIII's break with Rome and his subsequent casting around for sources of ecclesiastical income that Ewhurst gets a mention. It was a poor area and a church without great wealth. It's recorded as having no silver plate and even today the lack of impressive tombs inside is noticeable. The combined factors of poor weather and crop failure created such dire poverty that they were granted exemption from paying any clerical tax in 1554. Everything goes quiet again until the Civil War when the village came out in support of the Cavaliers. The nearby village of Rudgwick threw their weight behind the Roundheads and fights between them continued for decades before they resolved their differences. Nowadays it's a rich man's playground and celebrities such as Eric Clapton have chosen to settle here. How its fortunes have changed!

With the brief history lesson out of the way a few photos from our amble. There are some lovely details on the stained glass windows within the church which was our starting point. This one with the robin and mistletoe seemed very seasonably appropriate and on the opposite corner the primroses and the promise of things to come [sooner than I could have anticipated at that point]


Now you know by now that I can never resist the temptation to have a little look just incase there's some graffiti somewhere within the fabric of the building. My luck was in with a rather large nosed fellow peering out at me. He's medieval by all accounts.


Leaving the church we crossed various fields and followed the footpaths as they criss-crossed farms and stables before we entered the Sayers Croft nature reserve.



The area we were in was mainly wooded with a few fairy doors sprinkled around for good measure. To either side of us was the private land belonging to Sayers Croft. Nowadays it is a charitable trust that runs activity camps for inner city children out in the countryside. It was set up originally in 1942 as a safe haven for evacuees from Catford Central school. Its ethos is to cultivate positive mental health and relationships for young people and foster a strong sense of responsibility and community spirit. There are up to 12000 attendees every year and they can try their hand at all sorts. The archery looked very tempting!





Now imagine my surprise when I glimpsed this in the far distance. A reproduction roundhouse was something I definitely did not expect to see on my way round. It turns out that it's another of the Trust's projects. The original one was the victim of an arson attack in 2013, but the locals rallied round and built a second one. The decision was taken to leave the remains of the original in place so that the archaeologists could see how they decay over time.


Finally how about this for a lovely little early surprise. After seeing the ones depicted in glass, seeing the real thing tucked away in a sheltered and very warm spot was delightful. 💛

Arilx


Just chillin'

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