Thursday 29 February 2024

Ghost Post

 [Photo by M Duffy]
This is one of the major things which has been taking up my time these past couple of weeks. All those white sheets and shirts a handful of us were sourcing from our local charity shops back in the Autumn have now been made into the Mythago wraiths. I most certainly did not make these all by myself....many members of the side have supported me and worked on different aspects of this project to make it a reality. I have actually done relatively little sewing this time round. Our final push was a very successful kit making day we held recently which broke the back of the masks. It all takes many hours to make these things and Mr GBT and I just finished off the last little bits off. It's been an interesting experience for me organising it all and making it happen....literally a project management, but what seemed almost insurmountable a few months ago I have now achieved. On Wednesday we were able to unite the tatter jackets and masks for the first time....I knew the masks were quite creepy because I've had those empty eye sockets following me around the room at home for several days [no I won't miss them!], but they seemed even more spooky when they were in a group. It might not look like it, but the photo was actually taken in our practice hall carpark😁 They will appear in some of our stories that we perform.

Have a great weekend. Mine will not involve any kind of sewing whatsoever!


Sunday 25 February 2024

Night Knight

I know that it's many hundreds of years since these three knights entered the final long sleep, but they do look very peaceful and the one with his head on the cushion really does look like he's merely slumbering. Of the three he's the one who most caught my eye because of the snake which is entwined around his sword. The carving on all of the effigies is very detailed, but unlike the many other examples I've showcased over the years these are not stone. Instead they were made from a complete oak trunk and hollowed out from beneath. Incredibly the first two are thought to be members of the Saint Clere [now Sinclair] family who owned the manor and paid for the now oldest surviving part of St John The Baptist's church in Danbury on the North side. It's thought that originally a chapel stood there built for the soul of William de St Clere in 1290. These two date from between 1272 and 1307. If you look closely the second one hasn't fared so well over the centuries as there's been a lot of beetle damage and there's a big hole near his legs. Hardly surprising given the age of him! The third one's origin is not known, but is a bit later from the style of mail he's wearing. It is entirely possible that the first two might have taken part in the crusades and there are mutterings about possible Templar connections.

Back in 1779 workmen discovered an unmarked lead coffin. The rector and warden decided to open it and found within it another elm coffin containing an embalmed body of a young man still in the liquor which had preserved him. It is quite possible that the cadaver they found could be one of these knights. He was resealed and reburied. I found the report of his discovery in The Gentleman magazine to be very interesting, but can appreciate that not everyone wants to read all the gory details. For those who do the link to the article is here Back in 2017 I wrote about how the hearts of the crusaders were kept and sent home to their loved one, but this latest information does lend itself to the theory that perhaps the crusaders had learnt how to embalm while they were away and some of the bodies did make it back. There is no proof, but it adds an interesting dimension to the discussions about this period of our history.

I've been doing mainly non blogging type activities over the last fortnight or so and generally catching up. One job has been to edit some more of the backlog of photos and thus today's post emanates from our trip away in the Autumn.



Friday 23 February 2024

Just my cup of tea

 My only reason for showing this photo today is the utter gorgeousness of this tea cup and saucer. You can see it for yourself at the Wallace Collection in London where my friend Arty L and I paid a visit recently. I say 'paid', but entry is free😁

Have a fabulous weeknd.


Sunday 18 February 2024

The Not So New Town

 If I asked you to name a New Town you might say Welyn Garden City, Milton Keynes or here in Sussex we've got Crawley. Some have fared better than others and many will roll their eyes if you mention would be a lie to pretend it's a pretty place. Its 1950s architecture looks shabby and dated, the town is quite is run down with the rows of vape, nail and tattoo retail outlets and there's poverty. What you don't necessarily appreciate though is that it's got some good facilities, it's very multi cultural [best samosas I've ever had and that's compared to ones I've eaten in Bradford and Leeds] and everyone I met that day was, without exception, really friendly. I hope that the following photos show a more positive side to what can be found if you drill down a bit to find out more.

There have been people living in this area since Mesolithic times and the museum has a very fine collection of flints and bronze age tools to prove it. As only I would my original motivation for travelling over was to see the Bronze Age sword discovered by drainage workers in 1952 in a stream. It was undamaged and all the signs point to it being deliberately put in the water as an offering to the Gods. I love this sculpture called 'Golden Tree' by Joss Smith as it does a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to explaining some of the history of the town.

The sandstone bottom represents the Jurassic limestone from when the area was all covered in forest, the granite anvil is the ironworking which was a major industry here, the now verdigris axehead started out a gold colour hence the piece's name and the two crows reference the original Saxon name of Crow Lea. This meant the place of crows and is where the name of Crawley is derived from. It sits in the High Street along with some of the lovely older buildings and an imaginative range of modern street furniture. The first editor of Punch, Mark Lemon, used to hold meetings in the white house and other famous names you might recognise from here include Gareth Southgate, Robert Smith [The Cure's frontman] and Romesh Ranganathan.

Whilst there many not be many public works of art in the centre of the town, what they do have are rather eyecatching. These two images are of the Glacial Boulders by Jane Fordham and David Parfitt. The colourful stone sits at the centre with the 9 smaller ones surrounding it. The patterns on them are based on a series of signatures the artists collected from some of the locals!

Slap bang in the middle of town sit both the RC church and the parish one. For those with an interest in graves Lord Alfred Douglas is buried along with his mother in the Catholic cemetery. The name might not ring a bell until I tell you that most people knew him as Bosie and he was famous or perhaps infamous depending upon how you look at it as being Oscar Wilde's lover. I did take the obligatory photo for my records, but would rather share with you the stunning windows from St John's. Looking them up now I find that they are by Burne-Jones and am not surprised that I fell in love with them. His work is fabulous. Beneath each angel were the panel of words which I thought rather moving.

After my bimble around the museum [as that was what I was supposedly there for!] I decided to reacquaint myself with the Victorian bandstand which sits in the middle of the main shopping area of Queen's Square...except it wasn't there. I know it's been a fair few years since I last visited, but I was a tad confused. Am pleased to say though that in the intervening period a piece of land bought in 1921 in memory of the lives lost in the Great War has now been transformed into a well thought out Memorial garden and public green space. The bandstand has undergone an impressive refurb and has been in its new home since 2018. The backstory to this is quite interesting because this is not its first move. When it was first made in 1891 it was to be found at Gatwick. Back then Gatwick was not an airport, but a major racecourse and sufficiently important to have held the Grand National [sorry not a fan] on three occasions during WWII when Liverpool was the target of German bombers and deemed too unsafe. The Crawley Development Corporation bought it in 1948. 

Indeed this is not the only item which has transferred from its home in Queen Square. To be honest I don't remember this mosaic, but it was made in the 1950s by Len Baker who worked for Carter Tiles. It was inspired by Lewis Carroll. After it was removed it disappeared until someone put up a photo of it lurking in a pile of rubbish unloved in one of the country parks. The adverse publicity led to a change of heart and I am glad to say that it too was restored and is now back on display for all to enjoy!

So in amongst some of the negative reviews this "New Town" receives there are most definitely some good things to see and celebrate🎈🎈


Thursday 15 February 2024

The non chocolate lover

 So I started writing a Valentine's Day post yesterday, but beyond stopping to snap this in passing [Valentine is the patron saint of bees] I found my heart wasn't in it so I scrapped it. The older I get the more rebellious I am about rampant commercialism and the more I dig my heels in about conforming. I understand that for many it's a day they hold dear and thus I hope that those who celebrated had a jolly good time. I'm not completely hard hearted as I did my usual and bought Mr GBT a packet of his favourite chocolate biscuits. It's always a win in his book as there's no need to share as I'd already got myself crisps. Unlike himself I quite like chocolate, but crisps will always win out. Even Mr GBT's love of the stuff might be challenged by this little delight I found lurking in the cabinet of our town's newest gallery.

The first thing to be said about this rather curious combination is that this little packet of tablets neither contain chocolate nor worms for that matter! This 'medicine' was made by Robert Gibson and Sons. I use the term 'medicine' lightly because we're entering the wild west territory of unregulated Victorian/Edwardian treatments. This particular remedy might have sorted out your intestinal worms, but I'm not so sure that the mercury listed on the ingredients would have done you a whole heap of good. Weirdly they were cinnamon tasting too? This company also made liquorice lozenges which contained chloroform. Whilst it smacks of quackery to us such things were the common antidotes to various medical issues. Give me this type of social history over that of Kings and Queens [I accept this too has its place] any day of the week! 

Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend!

Monday 12 February 2024

True Colours

I had a cold last week.... 🎻. Not exactly exciting news, but in between working I spend far more time sitting on my ample rump watching the year by year greatest hits of Top of the Tops than I normally would. Dull though it is resting is what leads to a faster recovery....a lesson which has taken many years for me to learn! The cat was delighted by this new regime....a near permanent lap and actually I enjoyed reliving the songs of my youth. It starts from 1980 which was the first year I listened to the charts properly.

One song which hadn't really been on the radar when it originally came out was 'True Colours' by Cyndi that time I was heavily into the likes of the Cure, Echo & The Bunnymen etc, but now I suddenly heard the lyrics and all of a sudden it seems like an anthem for our times as conversations around what constitutes inclusivity are beginning to become far more common. Within 24 hours of viewing it I then stumbled upon a short documentary about a lady who left the Amish aged 19 in 2004 and was then shunned. It caught my attention because I couldn't fathom why I was seeing a brightly coloured Amish style dress being worn. Her story is one of pain, betrayal, but ultimately triumph as she has reclaimed her Amish identity and recast it in her own rainbow hue. Only Mary can tell her story and she does with dignity, honesty and light humour. The lyrics of 'True Colours' could have been written for her. I've put up the links below for both in case it's of interest.


Thursday 8 February 2024

On the buses

 Sometimes people ask me how I know so many odd things or where to see things. Besides having a brain which retains trivia that interests me reasonably well I read [and note things down] all sorts....not just books, but social media posts, plaques, random name it I read it in case there's a juicy titbit of information. This plan is not always foolproof mind you.

Last Friday's client was having her new woodburner fitted and having me in at the same time cleaning would never have worked so I booked it out to myself as a day trip on my tod...those occasional days where I enjoy my own company and do what I please. Did I have a plan...course I did.....there's a local museum near here with a Bronze age sword awaiting my attention. Usually I'd go on the train, but it was a day of working to rule and I try to avoid those days where possible or find alternative means. Wanting to stick with public transport and knowing how low the current fares are for this year I thought I'd take the bus. The route is direct from our bus station to the one in the centre of my chosen destination. Two buses an hour how difficult could that be? Except yours truly never travels by bus on her own....I might be 57, but great chance to learn and have a new mini experience. I arrived in good time and waited patiently in bay D for the No23.....except the No 23 went from Bay C and I only realised when I saw it glide away up the road. That notice attached to the glass partition which I hadn't so much as glanced at warned me that the bus might need to leave from a different bay if the original one was already occupied [which it was]....

Lesson learned. Once upon a time such a situation would have triggered a panic attack and I would have given up and gone home. Nowadays I chuckle at myself. I sent Mr GBT a text saying that I was still very much wearing my novice bus catching L plates, but that the extra time had given me a chance to chat to a German gentleman with magnificent grey hair down to his waist who was wearing stylish grey glasses and a pair of very memorable banana yellow jeans. He boarded the bus to Brighton where I am quite sure he would have blended in seamlessly. 'Silver Linings' was my husband's brief reply. Am pleased to say that I safely boarded the next bus and even mastered the modern tap on and off payment method....I am now eyeing up the Brighton bus in case I find myself with another work free day anytime soon!

Have a great weekend folks....after all the dashing about of the past few weeks and then slowed down by a cold this week I have made no definite plans. We'll see how it rolls out🎉🥳


Wednesday 7 February 2024

Reliving My Youth

 'Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.' 


I think I must now be old enough. As I sat waiting for my friend Arty L at Victoria on Saturday, I quietly read my library copy of 'The Magician's Nephew'. I only read 'The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe' as a child, but Lewis suggests that you start with this one even though he wrote it later. I now understand why the children were able to get to Narnia through the back of the wardrobe and I have eaten a box of Turkish Delight [sadly I couldn't find any mint flavoured ones] over the past week to make the experience more authentic. Volume two has now been reserved and the revisiting of this author's work was inspired mainly by my recent trip to the 'Fantasy Realms of Imagination' exhibition which I took in at the British Library with my friend Elena earlier this month. This is his map of Narnia which was on display there.


Monday 5 February 2024

Tie a yellow ribbon.....

 My dear friend Arty L is not a fan of Winter. The fact that we were meeting up this early in the year is indeed most unusual, but we've had a big gap due to a horrible situation she has had to deal with in her personal life which I am glad to say is now thankfully resolved. Her advice for getting through this time of year is a regular top up of seeing colour and/or beauty. On our wander back to the tube after our time spend elsewhere she reminded me that I'd mentioned a desire to see the haberdashers V V Rouleaux many years ago. I had forgotten, but it is never too late to realise an ambition is it now and it was all the better for it being an unplanned surprise. Unlike the lyrics of the song from which I've pinched today's blog title, you could tie a ribbon of any colour you could imagine if you bought it from this retail outlet!

I just admired the contents of the shelves. Anywhere that is trading on a road in London with the word Marylebone in it and is sited near Oxford Street is going to have prices to match their high end rent!


PS Sorry Blogger issues again. Have tried signing in another way. It's having none of it!

Thursday 1 February 2024

The Black Madonna

This painting represents 'Our Virgin of Guadalupe' [artist u/k] and is one of a number of so called Black Madonnas. Perhaps this is the first time you've encountered Mary shown in this way. Although she's far less common than her more familiar caucasian counterpart, it's not a new concept. Madonnas with differing skin hues stretch back at least to the Medieval period and there are many examples in Europe especially in the more Southern countries like Spain. Some were made of wood and the argument has been put forward that it's simply a case of the timber being darkened by candle soot and time. However, this hasn't happened to the Jesus carvings who share the same skin tone, so all the pointers are that it's a deliberate decision.
'The Black Virgin' as she's sometimes called has her own legion of fans, whilst others find her to be controversial. One theory is that she may link back to pre Christian worship and the veneration of female deities from our African ancestors.  Interestingly many are sited near sacred features in the landscape like mountains or water. London's Lady of Willesden in St Mary's Church has a holy well and the name means 'spring at the foot of the hill'. In 1249 there were reports that there were two Virgin Marys, but the black one was worshipped for her miraculous powers to such a degree that pilgrims travelled from afar to visit her shrine. It was this one along with the statues from other major Marian shrines like Walsingham which were destroyed by the King's commissioners at the behest of Thomas Cromwell in 1538. Nowadays both the Catholic and the Anglican churches in the area have their own Black Madonna once again.
To my eyes perhaps we are simply overthinking the whole issue and it's just the case that people simply wanted to see somebody that looked like them who they could venerate in their places of worship? Whatever the reason it's a fascinating topic beyond any religious discussions. This particular picture is currently on display at the Wellcome Collection in their free 'Cult of Beauty' exhibition which was one of the events I went to with my friend on Saturday.

Have a great weekend....I am off to London once again!


Peace and Love

 Peace and love...two things the world needs more than ever. I saw the painted house when I was away recently and came across these two beau...