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.


Tuesday 26 April 2022

Hogging the Headlines

 You might remember a few months ago that we found a very small baby hedgehog out during the day in our garden I'm delighted to say that my hedgehog caring friend went to pick Celia up from Brent Lodge Wildlife Hospital where she's been since then. Now she weighs a goodly 800g and will be released into L's lovely wildlife friendly garden out in the countryside in two weeks time. Let's hope she finds a mate and then has her own hoglets this year. So glad she has made it💗

After a much needed trip to the local recycling centre to drop off several bags of deitrus on Sunday [and a fab evening at the folkclub too I should hasten to add] I decided that perhaps I could at least salvage a little of Monday with a quick evening stroll. As ever I wait and see if anything interesting shows up on the way round.....for reasons I can't explain there's always an ever changing and curious array of vehicles parked on this particular route round. It would also seem that I appear to have decided at some point in time to collect pictures of postbox toppers like others collect Top Trumps!! Ah well it all made for a more interesting totter!

I shall endeavour [famous last words] to put out a final post about Cirencester tomorrow. I've been a bit of a Slack Alice of late when it comes to things like that, but there have been reasons for it and personal challenges I've had to meet. We're off travelling again during the latter part of the week....something to do with TYM and his wearing of a mortar board😉


PS Blogger is still being a p.i.t.a about comments so sorry that I haven't responded, but I always appreciate everyone who takes the time and trouble to do soxx

Monday 25 April 2022

Getting Your Kit On

 Wow well that was some weekend💀❤....a very Mythago based weekend and a real blast from the past. For the first time it felt like it had the zing of the pre-Covid days. Many Morris sides folded during the period of lockdown and I think even the sides that did survive intact lost members through retirement and people deciding to stop. We're a reduced sized team and it's taken a bit of adjusting to, but we seem to be getting there and the creative energy has begun to flow again...we've choreographed a new dance, different musical arrangements, new tunes, improved how we perform parts of old dances and new bits of kit are being made. They take hours as I well know particularly when you are being ably assisted by a "helper"....who frankly is doing anything but helping by sitting on the bits of fabric you are trying to cut and pin😆

However, despite his lordship's hindrance I managed to meet my personal target of finishing the Earth Mother kit by the end of the weekend...the sudden realisation that we're performing the story which needs it in a matter of weeks spurred me on....the original one went missing a couple of years ago so it's not as if we even have an old one to fall back on. Doing something like this to be shared with others is always a difficult one for me as it brings up many insecurities, but I have got over myself this time and am actually a tiny bit proud of myself for once. Another lovely lady in the side very kindly painted the base colours on the mask to get it started for me,

Our St George's day dance and story at a local pub was well received.  I took back the reins of secretary last summer and we've realised that we need to perform more local events if we're going to attract more members. Traditionally we've travelled all over the place dancing to the point where many in the town don't even realise that we are a Horsham side! I got my act together and put the word out on a popular FB page that we were going to be out and about and it seems to have done the trick as we had a good turnout [obviously the good weather helped too]. Having put a lot of personal effort in over the last week I think I shall be taking my Mythago head off for a few days now!!


Friday 22 April 2022

Bits and pieces

 Poking around Abbey Grounds in Cirencester we happened across a rather delicious wall of mosaic loveliness made up of all sorts of bits and pieces. It was designed by young people from various local schools to celebrate the 900th anniversary of the abbey founding back in 2018. I've picked out a few of our favourite panels. 

Hope you have a great weekend. We are off dancing our Sussex dragon story tomorrow at a local pub....yay at last a proper Morris dancing season unlike the washout of the last two years!


Thursday 21 April 2022

The crossover.

 Has anyone been watching "The Pilgrimage" on BBC2? I dipped into the first episode yesterday and have to say I did enjoy it [it's not very highbrow!] and hearing the participants discussing their different views about faith from their personal perspectives and experiences. I have no problem with what people believe [or not] provided they're tolerant, not dogmatic and it doesn't harm anyone. In this household alone we've got an agnostic, an atheist and a Druid, but we're quite happy to accept the differences and get on with our lives. This programme follows seven pilgrims following in the path of St Columba across Ireland and over into Scotland. As ever I'm particularly enjoying seeing all the Neolithic standing stones which would have once have been sites of worship for our Pagan ancestors [and still are for modern day Pagans] and are now venerated by Christians. I saw another example of the crossover of religious beliefs recently at the Chedworth Roman Villa when we popped in for a visit before heading home.

This is the Nymphaeum which was built over a natural spring. People would have come here to leave their votive offerings to the female water spirits. If you wanted a continuous supply of clean water to keep you alive you needed to stay on the right side of them! 

However, by the 4th century it was all change. Water spirit worship practices were out and Christianity was firmly in place. The stone below was one of the coping stones round the pool and on it is the Chi Rho symbol and is one of the earliest forms of a Christogram. It uses the first two capital letters of the Greek Christos. Chi looks like an X and Rho like a P. As an interesting aside it's also where the abbreviated Xmas is derived from.

However, despite the imposition of this new religion this wasn't the end of the story. It would seem that the water spirits made a successful bid to regain their crown for this stone was actually found being reused as one of the steps in the West Bath house with the symbol hidden away on the underside! 


Tuesday 19 April 2022


 [Image from Pixabay]

I'm always on the lookout for meat alternatives to add in to my menu plan and further increase our plant based days. Whilst my two chaps are committed omnivores, they're happy to eat meat-free meals provided that they're tasty. A couple of months ago I bought a bag of frozen Quorn pieces which I've been moving around the freezer drawers ever since, but last week I finally had a look to see if I could find a recipe that I liked the sound of. This is the one I chose and it's a keeper. Absolutely delicious. I didn't use cream, but a bit of cream cheese loosened with milk and basic spaghetti rather than linguine.  It's not the cheapest of recipes, but as it's the lemon and chilli which give it the big hit of flavour I'm sure that you could achieve very similar with vegetable oil and a dollop of pesto. Definitely a good one for a weekday evening after work.


Monday 18 April 2022

Easter Tidings

Hope everyone has had a good Easter break. We've spent most of the time here wielding paintbrushes and catching up on a plethora of other jobs. However, it's not all been work....we treated ourselves to some foodie treats so that we wouldn't have to cook much and ventured out yesterday for a break in the sunshine.

Not being a lover of crowds and not wanting to use the car we took advantage of the town museum being specially open for the holiday weekend and took in its newest exhibition of botanical prints. Although I visit every few months, it's a dynamic place and the contents of the display cases change regularly. This time I was finally able to find out what this strange shaped instrument is called. I've glimpsed one being played in one of the Morris sides and think its name of a "serpent" suits it well. Many were played in church bands from the 18th century onwards and were the forerunner of the tuba. 

The wearer of this late Victorian gown must have been very was tiny. Wool and silk edged with swan down. Possibly a wedding dress or a skating dress. If I had to put my money on it I'd plump for the latter and guess that it might have had a matching muff when it was first made.

It was only last week that I learnt that this barn originally stood on the farmland where our estate is now built. It's full of lots of farming equipment, but also has some of the trade signs from old Horsham businesses....seeing the one for Cramps made me feel rather nostalgic as I can remember it still being up in the main shopping street during my teens. The shop shut in 1986.

While I was pottering around a Dad and his adult daughter were chatting about the various exhibits. They were admiring this Victorian hobby horse tricycle and she was laughing that any wheeled vehicle she'd ever been given as a child was a violent shade of Barbie pink. As a former fireman he meanwhile was discussing the difficulties those early fire fighters must have faced when only having the horse drawn engine available to them and the time it would have taken to get there.

The newest addition is a small WWII gallery [nothing is on grand scale here]. The sausage sign hung outside one of the butchers, but was deliberately damaged by the Canadian troops stationed nearby. They thought it looked like a swastika and expressed their consternation by throwing rocks at it! 

The museum garden is a little gem. It's maintained by a team of volunteers who put in many hours to keep it looking beautiful. With plenty of seats it's a tranquil little spot to get away from the hustle and bustle of the town centre and can be accessed for free.

Whilst it might not have the grandest of days out it was the type of simple, lowkey experience we both relish and topped off most satisfactorily with a pint of ale in a pub garden on the way home!


Friday 15 April 2022

Fluffy Easter

 Those that create magic with their needles have been out and leaving seasonally appropriate offerings on the top of some of the town's postboxes once again.

Hope you all have a great Easter!


Shropshire Church Crawling Gems

Sifting through all the photos from my annual holiday church crawl, I've picked out these which I hope people find to be of interest. It...