Friday 29 December 2023


 Hello.... I've got a brief lull before my old school friend is arriving for supper so thought I'd just pop in.

Our Christmas has thus far been quite busy catching up with family and friends with a goodly slug of dancing. The photos below show White Raven who was the Norse celebrant at the recent Jul event we performed at and our musos chilling after our Boxing Day shenanigans. It was my turn to drive that day and I had my first encounter with 0% alcohol Guinness. I didn't have any great expectations as every other low alcohol beer or cider I've tried has been disappointing, but this was a revelation. Not only does it look the part, but it tastes right too [obviously you have to like the stuff to start with]...two pints later and I was sober as a judge, but a very happy bunny not feeling that I was missing out in the slightest😁

Would it surprise you to hear that I am now the proud owner of even more preloved obsession is alive and well together with an unexpected tiny handmade ceramic ghost and a bag with 'stone circle lurker' on it. Years of training my chaps has paid dividends. Indeed the only one who didn't receive a gift was the feline, but then I'm not big [call that mean] on forking out for pet presents. No matter he claimed one of mine for himself.....he's now abandoned it and is denying all knowledge that he ever showed any interest in it. I have the photographic evidence to prove otherwise.

Mind you when we received this surprise fabulous picture [painted by one half of the Hungarian couple who we give a lift to Mythago events to] he wanted absolutely nothing to do with it. I had hoped that I might be able to persuade him to pose cutely in front of it, but he was having none of it. If he looks rather miffed that's because he was....there may have just been a slight physical pressure applied to get him to lie down for the one second he was there. The upshot of it is that he's wearing the exact same expression as he is in the image behind him which has made him even crosser. The reality of life of those who are in cat servitude.

As of tomorrow we'll be pulling up the drawbridge for a few days and taking a breather. New Year Greetings to everyone and I hope 2024 brings you peace and happiness.


Friday 22 December 2023

Festive Tidings

 Festive greetings and a most Happy New Year to everyone who is kind enough to drop by for a read of my witterings. Tonight I'm dancing at a Nordic Jul celebration. It will be fascinating to see how another country celebrates Yule and the returning of the sun.

Blessings to all.

Aril. Mr GBT, TTM and Humphrey 🐾🐾 

[Image from Pixabay]

Tuesday 19 December 2023

Far from the madding crown

 As the month whirls ever faster and people get ever more harried quiet souls like me retreat into spaces and places away from the noise and hubbub [I don't mind it some of the time so long as I have an escape route]. Over the past couple of weeks I've gently wandered and meandered in search of unfamiliar sights within familiar sites. These are my discoveries.

Once again the residents in our conservation area are running their Advent Calendar windows. Some are reruns of previous years, but one or two houses go all out in the corny cracker joke stakes. This one with the peas is so far my favourite💚

Another familiar festive entry on this blog is the annual Christmas decoration competition the town runs. This year's winner is a corgi in a stocking as you do. Children don't put limits on their imagination at this age do they. All the ones from previous years are put up again too so there's quite a collection in this one spot. 

What I hear you cry....only one topper. There are several out again, but many have been recycled [am pleased to see them doing that] so have already featured here before, but instead I am offering you a crochet tree done by one of the village WI's. I was working just round the corner and it added  a sprinkle of joy to my day after I'd finished.

Sadly I couldn't find the right combination  to steal the 'Trains, Planes and Automobiles' film title, but instead I'm able to offer you a bus, cars [in various states of repair] and a tank which is currently undergoing restoration. It doesn't scan quite as well somehow, but I do my best. A local family own several steam powered vintage vehicles which they bring to various fund raising events throughout the year. Usually it's one of their traction engines, but this time they were giving rides for donations to the Rotary club. I'm intrigued by just how fast the orange car would go if you were to floor it having pretended to steal it. Does anyone know what sort it is?

The Bear Pub was one of my sixth form haunts back in the day. It's undergone several different guises in the intervening years, but I was saddened to see it close its doors for the last time back in the summer [there were ongoing problems with local dealers etc and general anti social behaviour]. I am pleased to say though that it has a happy ending this time as its got new owners who have spent a lot refurbishing it and attracting a very different clientele. I think it's more of a gin palace than an ale house these days. The bear is currently sporting our town's football scarf as they've done rather well this season beating teams who on paper are several leagues above them. My Dad and TYM have really enjoyed attending the matches these past couple of years.

The fellow below is included just for the shock factor...he was randomly looming over a garden fence above my head and gave me quite a turn as I came round the corner. I was prepared for Christmas surprises, but not a big old  dinosaur😱😆

Well that's it for 2023 weird wanderings and here's to more weird wanderings in 2024 🥂


Sunday 17 December 2023

Surround Sound


I have my Mum to thank for telling me about this piece of modern music. It feels like it's enveloping you in a blanket of calmness. If you've got four minutes to spare please give it a listen and see what you think.


Thursday 14 December 2023


 Nymans is doing 'The Nutcracker' for its festive theme this year and thus the garden has these toothy wonders spread all over the place. 

These wooden nutcrackers originated in Germany and took many different forms, but the soldier is the one most people will know. They have been very popular since the 19th century with people giving them as gifts. Some say they bring good luck others that the soldier brings protection to your home. Their popularity has spread beyond Seiffen, Saxony where they were first mass produced to beyond their Motherland's borders. I'm sure that a certain ballet by Tchaikovsky will have more than helped and now many homes will have their own festive example. Not here at GBT as I find them a bit sinister...maybe it's those gnashers....ironically the one thing the modern versions can't do is crack nuts😁 

As ever the NT has excelled itself with its Christmas decorations. I actually went last month with my friend E, but have been holding out until now. I have delivered on my promise of keeping all such content restricted to the month in which it rightfully belongs.

Have a cracking weekend.

Sunday 10 December 2023

The Hospital

 If I was to ask you what you thought that this ruin originally was many might suggest it started out life as a chapel. It would be a fair guess, but this is the hospital of St Giles in Maldon which was founded 1154-89 to care for those who were suffering from leprosy. Even the word 'leper' sends chills down the spine...all those tragic photos I saw when I was a child in the 1970s with the lesions and loss of fingers and toes. It's a horrible disease for those who suffer from it and probably travelled across the globe as people migrated. 

You don't hear much about leprosy these days. Occasionally I stumble across references in my reading...a local church has a so-called 'leper's squint', but it's more likely to have been part of the now vanished anchorite's cell and there was a Leper's Walk somewhere near the South Downs. There's still an echo of the victims being ostracised by society as if in some way they were to blame for their affliction. The link with sin has come down through the Victorian morality codes which still linger today. It's been fascinating to read that this approach wasn't a blanket one back in the Medieval times when it was at its height. There was no cure then, but it wasn't as contagious as we once believed. It passes between those who have close and frequent contact via water droplets. There is evidence that the deceased who had leprosy were buried in the main graveyards along with everyone else and this can be proved because the tell-tale lesions remain on the skeletons. The article here about a pilgrim found in Winchester shines a greater light on this one particular man

St Giles is set on the outer edges away from the centre of the town. Even now you can't gain access to the site as it's got a locked gate, but this is a move to protect them from wanton damage. In its day it probably had its own orchards, herb and vegetable gardens together with a clean water supply so it could be reasonably self sufficient. However, it would have had strong links with the community nearby and access to suppliers for additional quantities or for things it couldn't produce itself.  Back then without the medicines to get rid of it people were still cared for and their wounds cleaned. Even all those years ago it was recognised that people would respond positively to having access to beautiful surroundings. Nowadays it would come under the category of 'mental health'.

Ultimately the bacteria which causes leprosy didn't greatly mutate over time, so humans built resistance and more survived. Nowadays there are 208 thousand worldwide. The WHO announced that it was no longer a public health problem in 2000 and if it's caught early enough it can be successfully treated with a course of antibiotics.


Friday 8 December 2023

Draws the eye

This three wheeler stands just outside the restaurant to which it belongs. You can hardly miss it now can's so vibrant and full of life. Please can someone put me out of my misery and tell me what its correct name is? I've looked online, but am unsure. Have a glorious weekend folks.


Tuesday 5 December 2023

Croc around the clock

If I were to only show you the one photo below I think you'd guess in an instant what classic children's book the National Trust has turned to as the inspiration for this year's festive display at Hinton Ampner over in Hampshire.

The NT do this sort of thing splendidly. They started planning 'Neverland' in February and it's not difficult to see why they needed such a long run at it when you see the level of detail they've managed to cram in. The tree in each room has been decorated to reflect the theme of the plot extract for gawd's sake! To create the right ambience and lower the light levels the curtains were kept shut, so these are mainly Mr GBT's shots today [my camera doesn't do dark without a flash]. My one contribution is the page of the visitors book inside the church on the estate....I wonder how many of those who come will spot this? Told you the amazing folk creating all this magic for the likes of me hadn't missed any opportunity to add to the depth of the experience.

 Such experiences add to the value of my annual membership. You never know what to expect, but whatever it is you won't have seen the like before! There will be the usual number of festive related posts sprinkled throughout the month, but as always I shall continue with the non Christmas ones too. I mix it up the rest of the year and December won't be any different.


Sunday 3 December 2023

So the season's turned

The ethereal beauty of the gardens of Hinton Ampner in Hampshire. Fleeting moments captured as the seasons relentlessly march on.



Saturday 2 December 2023

Slightly late

 I've enjoyed one of those glorious Winter bugs the past couple of days so have been in bed with a bucket, but moving swiftly on this particular one seems to rush in and out on the tide so am already feeling a lot better. Now we have hit December may I unapologetically share this new topper from my early morning trawl round Tesco this morning. This one is promoting the community foodbank. I know the existence of such things in a country such as ours riles some folk up, but I don't think they're going to disappear anytime soon and people should not have to go without sustenance whatever the rights or wrongs of the situation. 

Have a great weekend🎄


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...