Tuesday 31 May 2022

May moths

Muslin moth

Garden Carpet

Common Marbled Carpet

Morning-Glory Plume



Monday 30 May 2022

Our tour guide

 How gorgeous is this silver tabby💕 He sauntered out to meet and greet my friend and I when we were out yesterday and then led the way on a short tour. You had to pause for regular cuddle breaks otherwise he'd just stop and wait. Going by the width of his tail you can see how thick his fur coat was! Naturally being a feline he didn't man his post for long....why would you when there were many other humans awaiting your undivided attention😀 Photos to follow of where we were.


Friday 27 May 2022

"Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin......"

 May has been a bit of a month for slightly left of field chairs....I love the look of all of them, but being the world's worst fidget at the best of times, I'm not sure long I could sit still on any of them! 

The Zigzag chair designed by Gerrit Rietveld in 1932 [Design Museum]. All those lovely sharp yet unforgiving Modernist lines and corners.....

The Wiggleside chair designed by Frank Gehra in 1972 [Design Museum]. It's made of layers of corrugated cardboard glued in different directions to give it strength. Knowing me the first thing I'd probably do is spill a glass of red vino over it.....now I'm wondering if that would make it dissolve into a lumpen pile of papier mache?!

The Witches chair dating from the 1700s. My parents recently spent the weekend staying at the Mermaid Inn in Rye. Very obligingly they took a photo for me of the "goat's head chair" as I called it. However, it's not a goat's head, but Old Nick himself. It's said that it was once the property of a witches coven and is cursed. Most definitely wouldn't perch there then!

Hope everyone finds the time to curl up in a comfy chair and relax for a bit this weekend.


Thursday 26 May 2022

Birthday boy

 For once my friend A's birthday fell on a Saturday and even better I was free [usually I'm away dancing]. When we met for our Beltane bash at the beginning of the month I floated the idea of getting together for a few hours in St Leonard's Forest which is on the far side of town because I know that for A, being in the woods, is his absolute favourite place in the world to be....chuck in a cup of tea, a bacon roll, some cake and some quiet spiritual music and he's a happy bunny. The weather played ball....it was glorious all day and we found a secluded glade off the main track where we could relax [his wife who is my very dear friend S was there too I should hasten to add] without being disturbed gave us the makings of a perfect afternoon. Here's one of the birthday boy himself and I swear that I have done nothing to brighten or tone down the verdant greens which surrounded us. Glorious isn't it. 

It comes as no surprise that we weren't the only ones who love these green woods. From afar I saw this odd shaped "thing" under a tree. I knew I didn't recognise it, but couldn't quite work out what it was until we got closer to it. A memorial to the legend beyond his lifetime, Tony. Both S and I liked the lightness of touch and humour of the words chosen to describe this chap. At the time I didn't know who he was, but I've subsequently done some digging and he was the owner [and himself a rider] of the nearby motorcross track which he had built on his land. Many speak fondly of him and the opportunity he gave to so many to learn to ride. Here's "his tree".

It was a special day spent with special friends.


Wednesday 25 May 2022

After work....

My friend J and I have been trying to organise a walk together for a few weeks now, but Murphy's Law dictated that if one was free the other had a prior engagement and so it continued back and forth. Finally we managed it last Friday after I'd finished work and despite showers throughout the day the skies had cleared by the time we'd met. Boots on and off for an early evening saunter....

We kept our jaunt fairly short and sweet to make the most of the light levels. It was a new route for both of us just on the outskirts of a village called Pulborough around an area called Wiggonholt Heath. It sits next door to an RSPB reserve hence the huge bird's foot below in the first shot.

After a potter through the woods and winding our way up round the hill we were treated to some rather stunning open vistas once we'd scrambled up the final slope.......

Now our ancestors knew a thing or two about making an impression and it came as no great surprise to me to find that they'd plonked their bowl barrow right at the pinnacle of the hill. Nowadays this scheduled monument is covered in an incredibly thick layer of mulch so you'll need to take my word for it that it really is one! There are various ones near by and it's estimated that this example dates to 1500BC.

Dotted all around the route are these charming handpainted signs.....afraid we didn't spot anything exotic. The antics of the friendly robin and grey squirrel were appreciated though. We did come across this sculpture though. I scratched my head, but couldn't work out what it was meant to be [my silly noggin suggested a flea which I knew couldn't be right!]. Looking later online it's a field cricket which are very rare. There is now a breeding programme on the heathland and they've been releasing the crickets since 2017 to repopulate the area.

With our amble over J had got the bit between her teeth for a bit more snooping and wasn't quite ready to go home. After a poke around the local church and admiring its mass dials we decided to see if we could find the nearby Toat Folly. This four sided brick tower sits on private land so you can only get a glimpse of it in the far off distance, but it was built in memory of a London tea merchant Samuel Drinkald who died in July 1822 from falling from his horse on this very spot. If the rumours are to be believed not only is he buried astride his favourite horse, but he's upside down. Now that's what I call showing off😆 As ever the truth is a little less thrilling, as he's actually buried in London and the whereabouts of the remains of his infamous equine are unknown.

I could get rather used to starting the weekend earlier in this style!


Tuesday 24 May 2022

C'mon Terry

 [Image from Pixabay]

When my son was a small toddler and I was at home we used to go to a nature centre over in the next town. Often I met my friend H there with her young son too and together we'd amble round with the boys looking at the animals. Over in one part were a series of large aviaries which housed a variety of birds which had needed to be hand reared and couldn't be released back into the wild. We always headed to our favourite...the shared enclosure with Merlin the crow who laughed like a small child and Terry the Raven.

Now Terry was something else. He'd look at you silently with those wise eyes and if you were lucky he might surprise you with a "hello Terry" or a "c'mon Terry"...a perfect imitation of the male warden who had brought him to the centre originally. It was quite a surprise the first time we heard it and it was sometime before my child could understand that not all birds can talk! I hadn't thought about Terry in a very long time, but was rather sad to learn that he had to be put down last week. However, he'd had a good innings and was 30. It's stirred up some lovely long forgotten memories for me though. I had to laugh as I caught up on Terry's story for the missing years....naughty people taught him to swear and he appears to have had excellent timing and produced his most choice language in front of the most inappropriate audiences. He was also heard to often shout "arse" and there are a handful of films on Youtube with him doing his party piece followed by lots of chuckling by his ardent fans! He'll be missed I think, but fondly remembered for his antics!


Monday 23 May 2022

Light Emerald

 All the moths we see are stunning, but occasionally one comes along in the trap that is even more special. I think that this Light Emerald moth deserves a post all of its own. Hand on heart I have done nothing bar sharpen the image slightly and crop it. That colour and shading....opening the trap the morning after it's set is like opening a box of jewels. You never know what gems will be in there [or sometimes it's completely empty]. We struck gold yesterday!


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 https://gnatbottomedtowers.blogspot.com/search?q=dorking+cockerel. 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 hours....one 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 hours....watch 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] http://gnatbottomedtowers.blogspot.com/2015/04/to-slaugham.html 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 way....so 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.



Being a soul who could win an Olympic Gold if overthinking was ever included as a sport, one thing which really helps me to slow down and be...