Monday 31 July 2023

The Tide Mills Village

 By the mid 18th century the course of the River Ouse in East Sussex had changed direction and was meeting the sea at Bishopstone. Henry Pelham [the Duke of Newcastle] could see the financial potential in using the power of the water flow in this creek on his land to drive mills and in 1761 he leased it to three millers for that purpose. Three brick tidal mills were built to grind corn and at their peak they were producing 3500lb a week which was being transported by boat to Lewes or up to London.

By 1808 the site was in the sole ownership of the one miller William Catt who ran it very successfully until his death in 1853. Catt was a hard task master, but a fair man who made sure that his employees who had moved into the nearby and recently built flint cottages were treated well. He had a school put in along with a granary, office, blacksmith, carpenter and stores and both the business and the village flourished under his leadership. At its peak there were 70 living in the Tide Mills village. His success made him a wealthy man. Sadly the arrival of the railway at nearby Seaford in 1864 sounded the death knell for the mills as it was far cheaper for the locals to send their grain off by train to be milled elsewhere. Slowly the milling foundered and the machinery was sold off in 1883. The mill buildings continued as warehouses until 1901 when they were taken down.

The village itself continued to be lived in for several years after with the residents working on the nearby farms. By 1920 Dr David Dale, a former jockey and by then a racehorse doctor, had moved into one of the cottages and set up his own stables. He'd often take the injured horses down to the beach and into the seawater to aid their lameness. The horse bath is still evident.

With war looming.  people were served with notices of eviction and the last one left in 1939. The area was used for training troops and many of the houses were damaged by damaged by the bullets of their military practice. What was left was demolished after the end of WWII bar the few walls which remain still standing on the site. 

Nowadays it's a nature reserve leading down on to the beach. There is no charge either to visit or park.

If you haven't already guessed this was where I saw the flint cobbles last week. It was Mr GBT's delayed birthday outing [we had to cancel originally because Humphrey was really poorly]...he loves to be near the water. As we were already down on the coast we made a day of it and went elsewhere in the afternoon which I'll cover separately. It was an interesting day spent in a part of Sussex I really am not familiar with.


Friday 28 July 2023

From the car window.

 I noticed all three of these from the car window when I've been driving home this month so had to stop and take a quick snap. Now the children are on school hols and the library's Summer Reading Challenge is in full swing perhaps some of them will enjoy these well known books. I can remember reading them to my son...from memory he rather liked 'The Gruffalo' and it's only appeared in the last couple of days.

Enjoy your weekend. No idea what we're up to as dancing has been cancelled due to an error made by the event's organiser. I am sure I will come up with something!


Wednesday 26 July 2023

Sussex Diamonds

 In my part of Sussex we're on heavy Wealden clay with woods around us and this is reflected in the brick and timber buildings you see. However, as you travel further into the South Downs there is a noticeable change in building style with many flint covered buildings appearing. Since Neolithic times people have mined the hills for the flint nodules. Cissbury Hill Fort has many scars of the workings which can still be seen as depressions in the surface. It seems a little puzzling that they went to such trouble to retrieve the flint when the surrounding area is littered with flint nodules, but the good quality ones which would withstand being made into tools were at the greater depth and getting them may well have been seen as a rite of passage for the transition from boys into men.

Up until very recently I had never given much thought to how the material is used and the different styles. This is a rather pleasing decorative chequerboard effect on the front of the Marlipins museum in Shoreham.

There are also different terms for the pieces of flint are treated. Sometimes they are square knapped which is the most labour intensive and others are only roughly knapped. You have walls which have them in straight lines sometimes combined with bricks to add contrast whilst some aim for uniformly shaped stones and others use random sizes. The one below is where flint chips are inserted into the mortar and is called galleting [or garreting] yet others know them as witches' eyes.

These ones are just known as cobbles for obvious reasons [I'll write a post about where we saw them last weekend in a separate post], but my favourite and very Sussex expression is 'snail-creep work' for those buildings where the walls have the shiny knapped flint all facing outwards. I am guessing it gets its name from the shiny trail snails leave behind them.

Down-land flint has been regarded as a precious commodity for many thousands of years and hence its other name of "Sussex Diamonds". I, for one, didn't know that there was quite so many interesting snippets to know about what I formerly thought to be rather a dry topic!


Sunday 23 July 2023

Seeing things

I have a rather fanciful imagination at times, but even I couldn't quite believe that I had really seen what my brain was telling me on the road sign as I drove home from work on Friday. I parked up and went back for a second look....

For once it wasn't my mind playing tricks on me....somebody's been busy😹


Friday 21 July 2023

Holiday Treat

 When I looked back over a few previous blog posts about our holidays I noticed that there seemed to be a theme running through them...often we come back with a locally made picture or an object which we can hang up on our wall [last year it was a ceramic greenman]. Every time I see them it brings back happy memories of our travels and experiences. This year we have repeated the pattern and it's a piece made by Rustic Revolution. Aside from it being beautiful [we both fell in love with it and thankfully it was within our budget] it ticks all the boxes for me as it's made from locally sourced organic wool and is mounted on a vintage wool blanket. We've just got to decide where to put it now!

Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend.


Tuesday 18 July 2023

Exploring in a new way

I went back for a second look at this bench in Malvern because I was curious about the rather large plaque on it. It informed me that CS Lewis had gone to Malvern College. Quite Interesting I thought and walked on by....


It really was quite a surprise when I got to the far end of it and saw this on one end of it! Malvern has many of its old gas lamps still remaining and there's a school of thought that Lewis might have been inspired by them when he wrote about the first meeting between Lucy and Mr Tumnus beneath the lamppost in "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe."

I stumbled across this one shortly afterwards which is marking the establishment of the Morris company. H F S Morgan set up his first garage in Worcester Road in 1905 and by 1910 he had gone into production of the three wheeled 'runabout'. They are still making cars to this day....1300 handbuilt classic motors per year with a waiting list to fulfill.

This one shows the shield and axe of the legendary British King Caractactus who was supposedly defeated at British Camp and taken to Rome as a prisoner. His impassioned speech is said to have impressed Emperor Claudius to such an extent that he granted him his freedom. Local boy Edward Elgar wrote his Caractacus Cantana in celebration of the story and it was premiered in 1897.

One thing I did find out about Malvern is that you have to be reasonably fit as there are a lot of steep slopes to walk up round the town. In the 19th century the donkey women saw a chance to turn the inability or reluctance of some visitors to undertake the more challenging conditions into a money making venture. Small boys walked a team of donkeys up and down the hills up to ten times a day carrying passengers on their backs. There's a reason why donkeys are known as beasts of burden. 

The benches were installed in 2017 as an innovative way to introduce people to aspects of Malvern's heritage. They are very visually appealing. There are five in total and I only missed seeing the one with Florence Nightingale and her pet cat. However, it was fortuitous to have come across the others during our amblings as we hadn't set out to look for them. Keep your eyes peeled if you do ever go that way!


Monday 17 July 2023

Two photos

😆I was down in Worthing on Saturday....dancing what else I hear you cry! We sped from stand to stand and as I whizzed along I passed oh so many things that I would have loved to take a photo of. In the end I only managed a paltry two....neither of which reflect the nature of my time spent there.

I seem to be rather on a roll with cat related street art at the moment. This was on the fire exit near where we performed our final stand before lunch.

This building absolutely intrigued me with its galleon frontage. It opened as the Ship Grill in 1933 and was trading until 1984 before it reopened as a branch of the Bristol and West Building society and now it's a sushi bar incase you hadn't noticed. Originally it was all unpainted wood [it looked more realistic I think] with three stern lamps above which were removed for safety reasons a few years ago. There is more info and photos of it here.... All that said it's still a fabulous place.

Was the dancing any good? Of course what's not to like when you're dancing with 7 other Sussex sides and one which has come up all the way from Cornwall [the chap that set them up now lives here] with brilliant sunshine when there was heavy showers forecast and even a party bag at the end of it all! We didn't make it onto the pier though because it had to be shut due to the high winds. Ah well.


Friday 14 July 2023

Not a bad spot for lunch.

 Normally lunch is a rushed affair sat on the sofa at home before I head out to housesparkle for my next client....not every day is like that though. I didn't think this was a bad spot for lunch a few weeks ago.....

Arthur's Stone in Herefordshire. The bare bones remaining of a chambered tomb which would have once been covered in turf to blend it into its surroundings. It commands a very fine view from the top of Merbach Hill. Rumours King Arthur buried beneath these great slabs of rock after he broke his back whilst fighting a rival King, perhaps he survived and those hollows in the rock are where he prayed after his victory or are those the indentations left behind by the giant's elbows after Arthur had slain him? One of them's got to be true surely😃

I am unable to resist going inside and touching the stones for myself [apart from in Stonehenge which is an absolute no no]. They are such a draw for me and hold great power. However, I wasn't as brave as a friend of mine who tells me he lay down inside as the great capstone has completely cracked across. It is rumoured that it inspired C S Lewis to create the stone table for the lion Aslan. That maybe the case, but we did encounter a few such claims on our travels and the jury is still out for me with some of them!

Hope you all have a fabulous weekend. We are escaping down to the coast for yet more dancing...I'm hoping that we don't get too much rain as it would be a crying shame if my chips got soggy!


Tuesday 11 July 2023

A Prickly Post

 As we have been spending more time here at GBT than we had been expecting, Mr GBT kindly took the time to capture a photo of this garden visitor the other evening.....heaven only knows what our neighbours would have thought if they'd seen him hanging out of the upstairs window armed with a long camera lens at 11pm 👀😮😏. This is the perfectly innocent explanation and yes that's a natty piece of straw on its nose from where it had been rummaging about in the border looking for tasty hedgehog snacks🦔🦔🦔

This one times its visits so that it has time to eat a decent sized supper before bully boy rocks up and starts hassling it...there are two bowls with exactly the same amount of food, but it goes without saying that he wants the one which this one is already eating from. They might look cute, but Mrs Tiggywinkle they are not....they are noisy, feisty little things who think nothing of charging at another one and bulldozing it out of the way when it rolls up into a ball. It's very much like the game of croquet with the flamingo and hedgehogs which Alice attempts to play in Wonderland sometimes!!


Monday 10 July 2023



Mythago has just done its annual turn at the Tewkesbury Medieval Festival this past weekend. By all accounts it was amazing even if the side did get all sorts of weather thrown at them including a thunderstorm! Every time I've been it's been blazing sunshine and very hot, but we had to drop out last week as dear old Humphrey was poorly and needed an emergency trip to the vets. We weren't sure what the outlook was to be honest, but thankfully he has responded well to his meds and seems much more like his normal cuddly self. We usually finish our final set of dancing early on Sunday afternoon and whilst we're packing up all the knights are starting to muster for the final battle. If it's hot it's a real struggle for these reenactors as they overheat very quickly and the armour takes an age to get off. I've seen the organisers chuck the knights into a large paddling pool they keep to cool them down quickly.  Last year we had a fellow opposite us who'd brought his son along to help him dress and then undress, but his charge was only young and he'd wandered off. He shouted across to us as he was really struggling to get everything off and was starting to panic. We all rushed over and quickly got him him out of it, but he was still quite distressed by his ordeal and one of us offered to go and get him a beer to cool down. He politely refused as he was teetotal, but gladly accepted water instead. I've seen a few legless knights there over the years, but he obviously wasn't one of them. However, I did encounter a real legless knight in Hereford Cathedral
This fellow is Sir Richard Pembridge who died in 1375. He was one of the earliest men to be made a Knight of the Garter by Edward III and he fought in the Battle of Poitiers in 1356. That's all very straightforward so far and no doubt there are others who have a similar history. However, his alabaster effigy did not escape the Civil War unscathed and his right leg was smashed and disappeared at some point.

Somebody somewhere tried very hard to rectify his limbless situation by having the wooden replacement below fitted. Unfortunately it transpired that it was wrong because it's been carved incorrectly with the garter on it and this should have only been on the remaining left one as shown.

If you look closely as Sir Richard you can see that once again he is sporting two alabaster legs, but with the right one being quite obviously a newer addition. We have Lord Saye and Sele, the Archdeacon of Hereford, to thank for commissioning it in the 19th century. It's certainly the first time I've encountered a knight who has been both legless and had three right legs on my travels!


Friday 7 July 2023

Improving on what's there.

 This homeowner lives nears one of my clients. They have decided that their hedge should be given some personality....of course I couldn't resist taking a sneaky shot.

It certainly cheered my Friday morning up. Have a great weekend!


Tuesday 4 July 2023

The Green Garden

 A free afternoon and a gentle catch up with what's been going on in my friend E's life. Somehow five months have flown past since we last saw one another and neither of us are quite sure how so much time has run through our fingers. This time we fancied a wander around a local garden and whilst Nymans would have been the obvious contender, we decided to go to nearby High Beeches. Although it's not NT I've got my BBC Gardens voucher this year which gets us in for a reduced ticket price. It describes itself as a woodland and water garden. I think it meets the brief. There were only a handful of people visiting when we were there and the unhurried pace did much to quieten our harried souls. It's not a garden with eyecatching borders or stunning pieces of art....its beauty lies in the shapes and shades which fall across your path as you wind your way round accompanied by the hum of insects and crickets in the extensive wildflower meadow which covers a large area of the grounds. We were both very taken with it.


Sunday 2 July 2023

The Outhouse Flowers

 A quick flit into town to run some long overdue errands was needed on Saturday. Since I last went down a couple of weeks ago this lot has come into bloom along the short cut through by the brook.

Traditionally these flowers were grown alongside outside privies as their scent masked some of the noxious odours and their height disguised the buildings. It was an easy way for people to identify where they should be going if they needed to answer the call of nature without having to ask any indelicate questions. Most people would call them Hollyhocks and even growing up the side of a tarmac path they're simply gorgeous. The fine lines on the centre of them really show how they're part of the Mallow family.


Rest awhile and smile.

I parked my ample rump on that there bench and followed the instructions on its plaque.  It wasn't exactly an onerous task to have to re...