Monday 30 October 2023

At home with Virginia

 Whilst everyone else is busy with all things witchy today, please allow me to take you back a few weeks to when it was my birthday. I dithered about what I wanted to do, but in the end I booked us in for a tour round one of those small National Trust properties which are only open on certain days and can only handle a small number of visitors. I'd had an idea that I'd like to pay a visit to the Monk's House over in East Sussex, so at long last we made it happen. I instantly fell in love with the interior of this mid 16th century weatherboarded house. It reminded me of something else, but I couldn't for the life of me pin it down. It finally came to me a few days ago...if anyone's familiar with the work of Kaffe Fassett it does seem to be along similar lines. 

This is the home of Virginia and Leonard Woolf which they bought as a weekend retreat in 1919. By then her sister Vanessa Bell was living very near by at Charleston Farm with the rest of the Bloomsbury set and I would imagine both places saw some extraordinary bursts of creative output. The major difference is this one feels less placed and far more homely.  As the war progressed and after their London flat was damaged in an air raid  they moved down here permanently. Virginia had a writing studio set up in the garden and the room below became her personal bedroom. The tiled surround was made for her by her sister recalling the holidays they enjoyed together in Cornwall and the books behind the chair are a set of Shakespeare's works which she rebound as she found the process soothing  when she was ill. Undoubtedly it was a place where Virginia enjoyed periods of solace in between her traumatic bi-polar episodes. Tragically her mental health eventually deteriorated to such a low point that she drowned herself in 1941. Leonard continued to live here up until his death in 1969.


Sunday 29 October 2023


Another of those posts where I unashamedly bung together some of my random doings which don't merit a post of their own👻🍄🍁🍂💀

How about starting off with a few photos from a locally organised fungi walk my friend E invited me on. It was all a bit last minute as I had been due to go elsewhere, but my plans were cancelled. The upshot was that I only had my phone with me so the photos are not the best quality. The top ones were a real lilac hue when you saw them with the naked eye, but the colour didn't transfer across.

TYM has now settled well into his new flat in a new town. He's still working for the same people in London, but having secured a recent promotion, he only needs to go in once a week. It's probably just as well because they've just moved office and his commute in is almost two hours long. What this means though is that he spends a lot of time WFH so we've been having some chats about ways of meeting people and making friends. He's got some different things to try out and it's rather spurred me on to shake things up here a bit too. I don't like to get too settled routine wise, but baby steps and all that. This weekend I've been trying my hand at a couple of new veggie recipes. We've enjoyed cheesy crusted squash [I doubled the amount of breadcrumbs], gingered chickpeas [slow cooker recipe] and flatbreads 140g SR flour [sifted] with 140g natural yogurt and 2 tbsp oil all mixed together and divide the dough into three. Roll out on a floured board and then fry in oil in a pan until each side is golden. Thankfully everything worked out well as I am a reluctant cook at the best of times and it doesn't take much for me to get stroppy in the kitchen😆 The flatbreads were so easy that I might even go wild and make them again. It looks like we're going to be showing TYM how to make them too as they're cheap and he's wanting to expand his repertoire.

As you might just have noticed it's all things Halloween again at the moment. I am always intrigued to see how the food manufacturers jump on the bandwagon in the supermarkets. Going to Tesco is never my most thrilling thing to do so I have made it my mission over the years to find small things which amuse me whilst there. On the journey over a few weeks back I spotted a jogger in full punk gear with a blue Mohican..I kid you not and at 7am on a Saturday morning. How about this for a rather tenuous link to the season. I presume they're pushing the garlic/vampire🧛connection here....I would imagine it will be appearing on the reduced shelf with a yellow sticker by the end of the week!

Like Christmas, this time of year provides a sticky beak like me with the perfect excuse to practise my nosiness. One of the local schools has been holding a Halloween trail near my parents' house so I might have ahem sneaked a couple of pictures before I started work. These are, of course, joined by the obligatory new post box topper. 

It's been many years since I had anything up in the way of decorations of this ilk and never outside because I didn't want to attract any trick or treaters. Sorry folks, but it's my pet hate. Below is my Samhain altar, but I have succumbed and invested in three knitted pumpkins. We found them in a small independent charity shop which was raising money for an animal shelter when we were away and for a few pounds home they came with me.

That's enough chatter from me for today!


Thursday 26 October 2023


 There I was in the pub with my friend ordering us both a coffee when I just happened to glance across at the beam next to me....

Not what I was expecting and the only one in the building. The lady working behind the bar couldn't tell me who'd carved them either. Have a great weekend one and all!


Monday 23 October 2023

Famous Walthamstow Exports

Whilst Walthamstow might be famous for the 1990s band "East 17", it was news to me that William Morris was born here in 1834. He is a man I have always greatly admired both for his work, but equally for his thoughts about social equality and his drive to bring fairness to all. He was from a wealthy family and he all too clearly understood the disparity between his ideals and the reality that only those with money could afford to buy the Arts and Crafts goods his interior decorating company were famous for. Throughout his lifre he slaved tirelessly both for his business and for his philanthropic endeavours. By the time of his death in 1896 his doctor was to say that the cause of his demise was 'simply being William Morris and having done more work than most ten men'.  Part of my recent visit included a trip to the free William Morris museum which was his home from the age of 14 to 22. 

Below are photos from both the gallery and a few images referencing him around the area. If you had never thought you would see a footie shirt in a Morris textile then you have now. Even the toilet doors haven't escaped the Morris decor!

Over the past few weeks I've allowed the blog to become rather out of sync and seeing as I don't want to be hopping backwards and forwards like a kangaroo with a hornet stinging its backside I'm going to do a few posts in chronological order to get it back on track.


Thursday 19 October 2023

Mr Shaftspole

 Back in this August post I wrote about the spoof art trail that someone had put up around the town centre It caused much mirth for many of us, but some rather sourly were affronted by the whole thing and spent a lot of time removing the "exhibition" labels from many of the ugly things they adorned. Since then the plot has thickened and the supposed artist has stepped forward...he is one Mr Aloicious Shaftspole born in 1968 and "died" in 2009 except he also claims that he has had to go into hiding as he's got himself on the wrong side of a Mexican drug cartel so what am I to believe I ask myself😆

Anyhow Mr Shaftspole has been up to more shenanigans recently.....this time it's a blue plaque which has mysteriously appeared on a boarded up house which due for demolition.........

He has been busy on social media of late and there is to be a follow up 'project' launched in early November. I'll keep you posted. In the meantime hope everyone has a good weekend.


Tuesday 17 October 2023

The Knife Angel

The famous or perhaps I should say the infamous "Knife Angel" created by Alfie Bradley in conjunction with Clive Knowles and his British Ironwork Centre [Wolverhampton]. It was a concept Clive came up with in 2014 to kickstart the discussion around all violent and aggressive acts with a particular focus on the rapidly rising rates of knife crime in this country. It acts as a memorial to all those who have already lost their lives in these tragic circumstances. He stands at 27' tall and weighs 3.5 tons. The 100,000 confiscated knives from which he is constructed were donated by 43 police forces across the country. He started to tour around the country in 2018 and we caught up with him in Colchester. Stood with him was a policeman who was there to chat about the piece and explain how it's intended not only to highlight the issue, but also to bring out much needed social change. There is a haunting beauty to this sculpture and it's very moving to behold him. 



Sunday 15 October 2023

The Fat Man of Maldon

Hello....remember me?!! I'm back from my latest wanderings and ready to impart a few tales teased out from where I've been exploring. Let's start today with Edward Bright from Maldon.

He was a grocer from the town and it was claimed that he weighed 44 stone when he died aged 29 of typhoid on 10 November 1750. A special coffin had to be built to contain his body. On 1st December a bet was placed at the Bull Inn that seven men could fit into his generously sized waistcoat and by 28th January 1751 they'd bettered that and had got nine men inside it. The wager this time at the King's Head was for a ham, some chickens and gallons of wine. A little more exciting than your average modern day raffle prizes I'd say. Mr Bright sounds like he was an all round good egg who was very popular and I'm sure he'd have enjoyed the jollifications. By all accounts he was an honest tradesman, affably tempered, a tender father and valued friend. The sculpture marking the 'Fat Man of Maldon' is by Cartharni Stern.



Thursday 5 October 2023

The Perfect Ending

 One of those days when I was chasing my tail doing jobs in the town when this made me pause and reflect. It was on the A board outside an independent florists.

Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend. I won't be on here next week as we're off for a spot of pearl wedding celebrating.


Tuesday 3 October 2023

Round the houses

 A little later than planned, but here's the post I promised about our time spent over at Butser Ancient farm for the Autumn Equinox. There's a bit of background about the project and information about the Roman Villa from an older post here Speaking of which I found these two Viking Re-enactors lurking by the villa. Historically they are a few centuries out, but just behind them you can see the reconstruction of the Roman garden which wasn't there on our last visit. At its centre is this brand spanking new mosaic which was revealed in August....well I say brand spanking new, but it's actually been constructed from genuine Roman tesserae. When the M4 was being built it went through a villa in Badbury, Wilts and these are where they were rescued from. It's always good to see a bit of recycling going on. The design is based on one from Sparsholt in Hampshire.

The other new addition is this larium which was apparently a domestic shrine to the household gods. It makes it sound like I know all about it, but fear not I am only parroting what I've read elsewhere. Ceres, Goddess of the Harvest is shown here because of Butser being a farm. 

The greatest joy for me though is always having the chance to nose around round and long houses. Much as I regard the achievements of the Romans with great awe, I am far more drawn to the Iron Age and Saxons. Perhaps it's the lack of written records and the conjecture based on the archaeological remains which is what makes it so fascinating for me. The houses below have been reconstructed based upon the footprint of the post holes left behind in the soil from whence the originally came. One of them is based upon a place in Glastonbury and the other in Llanfair, North Wales. What you get here is the attention to the personal details. The colours used are based on the pigments which would have been available to our ancestors. The roundels in one have been inspired by Iron Age artefacts. There may not be definitive proof that the houses were painted, but evidence of such decoration has been found on the Neolithic homes in Orkney and people like their surroundings to reflect their personal taste.

As you'll have seen last week the boat burning provided the dramatic finale to this exciting event. Being allowed in before the paying guests allowed me to take a few close up shots of it before it was set alight. It's the work of Mark Ford of Two Circles Design and during the afternoon the visitors are encouraged to attach slips of paper with personal messages on it. 

There's a great variety of activities on offer from short talks to demos and battle renactments, live music and oh yes dancing! I was very impressed and can see why it sells out so quickly. It's hard to believe that there were 2000 visitors on site and I'm sure it's raised much needed funds for the museum's ongoing research. We have already been invited back next year👏 


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...