The life and adventures of a mildly dotty old bird.
Friday, 24 March 2023
Wednesday, 22 March 2023
Dorking as seen through my eyes. My regular client was away so I took myself out for a day out. Had a wonderful time and walked a fair few miles. Many photos but I am restricting myself to only five things which delighted me.
One of a series of pre-raphaelite plaques in the parish church. It was not so much the composition as the colours used and in particular the gilded blue angel wings catching the light.
Monday, 20 March 2023
Across the pond
We've got a couple of interesting connections to the early history of the USA from the European settlers round here. I've written previously about William Penn here http://gnatbottomedtowers.blogspot.com/2020/06/the-blue-idol.html and our dear old firebrand Thomas Paine [he of the "Rights of Man" fame] lived in Lewes before travelling across. Last week I came upon another in the nearby Surrey town of Dorking when I suddenly clapped eyes on this weather vane which stands proud on the pavement. I could identify a kraken on it, but had to wait until I got home to find out more.
This piece of public art was made by the Fire and Iron forge and marks the voyage of the erstwhile Dorking born shoemaker William Mullins who travelled across on the Mayflower with his family on 16th September 1620 [surprise, surprise it's called Mayflower😊] and the house below is where he lived before selling it in 1619.
Friday, 17 March 2023
Knickers to it.
It was mildly surprising to see what looked very much like somebody's knickers strung across the fence as I drove to work at 7.45am. After I'd finished curiosity got the better of me and I went back to find out what it was all about. Turns out this month it's the 'Pants to Ovarian Cancer' campaign to raise awareness. It did what it set out to do and got my attention. Having lost my Auntie to it I'm sharing the info as it's a tricky one to detect in the early stages and it's by far and away the best bunting I've ever seen.
Have a great weekend...we're working so one very early start and no scope for any mischief making, but I so solemnly swear to get back to it as soon as I get the chance!!
Wednesday, 15 March 2023
I thought you might like to see this little fluffball which I met whilst out on a lunchtime walk yesterday. People have shown me pictures of albino deer and squirrels before, but this is the first time I have seen one for myself. It was very busy digging for nuts and was in no mood to pose for any pesky human. It was a question of snatching photos as it dashed back and forth. This is the best of the bunch...many are just a white smudge! It's caused by a lack of melanin and it had the classic red eyes.
Monday, 13 March 2023
Isn't it strange how one thought can lead to things you've never thought about before. Last night we were up at the folkclub to see Pete Coe, but before he came on to perform they had the open floor spots. One member regularly plays on his banjo and he's accompanied by another chap playing the spoons. Now it looks simple, but looks can be deceiving and I suspect that it takes more skill than one would imagine to play them as well as he does. That then got me thinking about the humble spoon...an everyday object that I pay absolutely no attention to yet I use every day in some form or other. In the last day alone we've used spoons for stirring, measuring, eating liquds and solids and digging out the coffee grounds for the compost bin.
It turns out spoons in their various forms have been with us for a very long time. I saw these Iron Age ones in the museum in Lewes a few months ago which have survived because of them having been made out of pottery. You can still see the maker's thumbprint in the bowl. Nobody knows what their function was, but it's thought it was unlikely for eating as their design doesn't seem to lend itself to that. They've been made of all sorts throughout history from shell and wood to bone and different metals. I've got one made of horn.
The word spoon is derived from the Anglo Saxon word 'spon' meaning splinter or chip of wood and their use has varied. I've seen the tiny ones used as the Romans as ear scoops for the removal of wax and the now very collectable Apostle spoons were given as christening gifts by the Tudors. A silver one dating from 1490 sold at auction for £36,700 in 1993. Being "born with a silver spoon in your mouth" is a familiar phrase denoting your wealthy status from birth and come the crowning of King Charles III in May the Medieval coronation spoon will be pressed into action when it comes to the anointing of him.
Sometimes spoons just offer fun. Anyone who has enjoyed the fabulously imaginative words of Edward Lear will have wondered perhaps what was that runcible spoon in the "Owl and the Pussycat". I'm sorry to disappoint you, but it means nothing at all. It was a nonsense word invented by Lear...another piece of his whimsy. [the pub is in Rye]
Friday, 10 March 2023
Reasons to be cheerful part 10
I guess if push came to shove and money was no object most of us could list things that we would like to own....I'd really like a piece of the Fairyland Lustre by Wedgwood or a Martin Brothers jug and definitely a complete Bellarmine jar. Fortunately for me though I have a small wish list [many things have been ticked off already] of things which don't cost money...still on it are a photograph of a jay, to see some scarlet elf cups, have my own flint tool and find an echinoid [https://gnatbottomedtowers.blogspot.com/search?q=echinoid. The fabulous news is that thanks to my friends I am now not only the owner of a neolithic stone hand axe [which fits in my hand perfectly], but my own fairy loaf both of which have been given to me in the last few months. I am a lucky lady and will treasure them.
Hope everyone has a great weekend.
Wednesday, 8 March 2023
Then she went to Kent!
Knole House is exactly mid way between Guiding Jo and I and our mutual friend Patchwork C. As we're all NT members and I was the only one who had been before [accompanied by a galloping kinderling so was quite some time ago] it was the perfect destination for our meet-up. It's one you need to have pre-booked tickets for.
First a quick gallop through the history. The Manor of Knole was bought by the then Archbishop of Canterbury [Thomas Bouchier] in 1456 for £266. He immediately set about extending and updating it into a palace worthy of his state. As is so often the way Henry VIII managed to claim it for his own [obviously already having 60 homes wasn't quite enough!] and he housed his first daughter Mary here following the breakdown of his first marriage to her mother. By 1603 it had come into the possession of the first Earl of Dorset, Thomas Sackville and incredibly the same family are still living in it to this day [it was given to the Trust in 1946]. One of the more famous of the clan is Vita Sackville-West [one of Virginia Woolf's lovers] although she fell foul of the law of primogeniture and was passed over for inheritance in favour of her cousin Eddy. Over time the family migrated to the centre of the house which left many rooms unaltered and the treasures therein well preserved.
It's an absolute gem full of 17th century tapestries, beautiful four poster beds with glorious hangings, portraits, wooden and even silver furniture and the most incredible sets of staircases decorated with trompe l'oeil. It was hard to know where to look for fear of missing things, but I've done my best with what my little press and point camera can manage without the flash. I've left my personal favourite to the very end....a painted Armada chest with the merman and mermaid on the lockplate. It would have been so easy to miss tucked away as it was. Enjoy👀
For about the first time in about six months I'm actually up to date with my blog posts...will wonders never cease eh. Based on previous experience I shall enjoy it whilst it lasts! Until next time....
Monday, 6 March 2023
The Big Gay Gull
Now that's a blog post title I never thought I'd write, but here it is the very same....the Big Gay Gull🌈. It's a community art project celebrating diversity in Brighton and Hove. My friend Rescue Staffie S and I had decided that we were due a morning out and just the day before our destination would be Portslade.
Portslade is a small village just a few miles from Brighton and is one of the more deprived ones in the area. We had come specifically to visit the Emmaus project whose ethos is:
In 1949 a French MP and Catholic priest [and a former member of the French Resistance] was appalled by the huge volumes of homelessness [and deaths caused by it] following the end of WWII. Abbe Pierre as he was known set out to do something about it after a former prisoner called Georges was released after serving 20 years. His family had been unable to help him and following a failed suicide attempt he reached out for support. Abbe Pierre's reaction to his request was to empower him and ask him to help build houses for homeless mothers. This action not only saved, but changed the whole direction of Georges life and from then on he became the first companion. By 1951 there were 18 companions and following Abbe Pierre's resignation as an MP they became the French equivalent of rag and bone men picking up others unwanted goods and selling them on to raise funds to continue their good work. These days the Emmaus project is spread across four continents with several branches in the UK. They continue to provide work, accommodation and support to help those who have ended up on the streets to rebuild their lives. It's an amazing project and one which will restore your faith in the kindness of many who don't seek glory and fly below the radar.
The Portslade branch is set in the grounds of what was once a 12th century manor house. Some of the Grade II ruins are still standing, but are fenced off to protect them. The original house was left to fall into disrepair when it was replaced by a Georgian house in 1807. By 1901 it was owned by the Poor Servants of the Mother of God who cared for vulnerable women and ran a self supporting laundry. They had the chapel built which is now one of the on site shops. By 1997 the sisters had left and the Emmaus project had moved in. Now they run a whole series of themed preloved shops all in the one place and a cafe for when one needs a browsing pause. S and I are both enjoy a good rootle and have been doing so since trips down to the North Laines in Brighton when our kinderlings were still in pushchairs. It's a slightly scruffy sort of place [which I like] with a huge amount of stock, very reasonable prices, free parking and really friendly volunteers.
Well did we buy much then? Both of us bought books [she recommended the Dalai Lama one and gave it to me as a present] and I was delighted to find the folk book by Bob Copper for a pound as I have been hearing many good things about it of late. S is a keen cook [she was in catering for many years] so she's always happy to mooch around the kitchen bits whereas I am never happier than looking at the bric-a-brac as I am always amazed to see what's lurking there. I did not bring any dust catchers home with me, but I so enjoyed taking sneaky snaps of these....it turns out that the rather peculiar green leprechaun shoe is probably Edwardian. It made the perfect contribution to the "Cr*p found in charity shops" FB group of which I am a proud member and gives me much mirth when I scroll through😆
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