Monday 29 April 2024

Spring


 'Where flowers bloom so does hope.'
Lady Bird Johnson


Bluebells and Ramsons as far as the eye could see. A gentle poddle around the Newdigate Nature Reserve with my friend Heather. This was the site of the brickworks, but has now been returned to the earth and the area is full of Spring flowers. We missed the orchids on our way round, but were treated to several of the beautiful egg yolk yellow Archangels. I have been very busy of late and now the dancing season has started once again weekends will be even more hectic. Rather than rushing posts out I'll take the opportunity to catch up gently over the coming weeks with what I've been up to aside from the Morris part of my life.

Arilx

Thursday 25 April 2024

Not bog standard.

Look at these beautiful cast iron panels. The design is called 'Floral Adamish' and is one of three which the company Walter Macfarlane Saracen used on their 'Temples of Relief'. It's another one of those rather twee phrases which the Victorians used to disguise anything to do with bodily functions. As you might have guessed by now these are from a urinal. What a lot of trouble to go to decorating something which was intended to be purely functional. The concept of a public toilet originated in France and the first one opened in Paris in 1830. They nailed it the first time by simply calling it le pissoir....with a name like that there's no room for doubt about its purpose is there😆



Here is this example from the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham. It dates from 1880 and is grade II listed. Regrettably it's not being maintained so its condition is rather poor. Let's hope someone picks up the baton and starts looking after it. I've seen many photos of these interesting pieces of social history, but this is my first encounter with an actual one. 


 

Hope everyone has a great weekend.

Arilx


Tuesday 23 April 2024

The cityscape

 From my all too short time spent in Birmingham my impressions are that this city does Victorian and Modern architecture fabulously. If you're looking for ancient stone or timbered buildings stretching back many hundreds of years then you're going to be sorely disappointed because they didn't call this place 'the city of 1000 trades' or 'the terracotta city' for nothing. From the little bit of reading I'd done beforehand this was what I'd surmised and I wasn't far wrong. However, there is nothing like freely exploring on foot and nothing prepares you for what you might find. I don't restrict myself to a favourite type or era, but judge alone on each individual building. Brum's cityscape is exciting in a way like Oslo and parts of Cardiff are with the new builds that have gone up. As we strolled past I captured a few to give you a taste. The library and Selfridges are famous landmarks and probably familiar to many. Others I regret I don't have a name for, but here goes!







In years past when we worked up at the NEC it rained or even snowed yet as you can see we were treated to bright sunshine and blue skies. Having never had time to actually see anything of the area before this was one of our primary reasons for coming up. We weren't disappointed.

Arilx


Sunday 21 April 2024

Little and Large

 Mr GBT looked slight aghast at the long list of things I'd written down for our then upcoming trip to the Midlands....'we're only going for two full days' he reminded me. Laughing, I explained that was only a wish list and I only hoped our time there might permit us to see some of them yet if it came down to it I only had two wants. 

The twelve metre 'Green Man' sculpture adorns the exterior of the old custard factory in Digbeth. He was created by Tawny Grey in 2002 and unveiled by the Druids at the Summer Solstice. I feel it's highly unlikely that I shall ever see one of that stature again. Seeing photos of him was one thing, but physically standing next to him I really got to experience the impact of this sculpture.


Going from the sublime to the ridiculous this diminutive gravestone is for Nanette Stocker who died on 4th May 1819 aged 39. It's barely noticed by most these days, yet in her day this lady was a celebrity. She was a star of the music hall and performed across Europe. Her claim to fame was that she was only 33 inches in height and her professional partner, John Hauptman, was 36 inches tall. Together they waltzed and she played the piano and he the violin. It is near Birmingham cathedral in the graveyard known locally as 'Pigeon Park'.   

I was fortunate to have been able to cross these off my 'wants' list. 

Arilx

Friday 19 April 2024

Puzzling

Being a soul who could win an Olympic Gold if overthinking was ever included as a sport, one thing which really helps me to slow down and become absorbed is doing a puzzle. I sit down and next time I look up an hour has gone....that's if the four legged attention seeking one doesn't interfere😆


He didn't stick it out very long thankfully and I managed to finish it today! We've enjoyed out time off the hamster wheel this past few days and I hope to bring you a few chosen tales over the coming posts. In the meantime I hope everyone has a cracking weekend.

Arilx


Friday 12 April 2024

What Aloicious Did Next

 After laying low for a few months Horsham's spoof artist Aloicious Shaftspole has been up to his tricks again. A 'what three words' hint appeared on his social media, so I downloaded the app to see what mayhem he's been creating this time. Having found the spot it took some hunting down to solve the mystery. Fortunately being an avid reader of signs on benches and a snouty old bird stood me in good stead👀😁

Hidden away on a tatty bench in a dark corner of the park was my quarry....there has been much talk of the rodent problem🐀 People keep chucking their food in the bushes and littering despite all the best efforts of an amazing team of volunteers who give up their time to try and keep on top of it all. I enjoy the way he gently pokes fun at the residents of the town. 



Hope everyone has a good weekend. This will be my last post for a few days as we're breaking free from Sussex and are off for a spot of adventuring in another part of the country.

Arilx


Tuesday 9 April 2024

Crossing the Gulch

 'What on earth is a gulch?' I asked Mr GBT as we diligently followed the instructions for our latest waddle. Turns out it's a deep narrow ditch with a stream at the bottom.....in fact exactly what we'd just crossed over. Not that exciting perhaps, but it's another new word to add to my repertoire along with 'fenny' which was last weekend's walking revelation. There are many things you can learn, see and discover on any new walk it seems. Last Sunday I wanted to enjoy the dry weather, but not travel far....the quickest solution was to pick the new Fancy Free walk a scant three miles up the road. It's surrounded by new housing estates yet somehow we found ourselves within a few minutes in the middle of the countryside and hardly saw a soul. It might not be far from GBT, but it was all completely new to me [bar the pub that is😁] so perhaps you'd like to join me on my ramble whilst I ramble about it.

This first one of the garage door was a tad disturbing....one had to wonder what an earth was in there. 👀 I have my own personal theory.


Unexpected things often turn up in woods. This is the PArk Road Trails community who run the BMX/MTB [just had to look that one up....I'm not a cyclist and didn't know that mountain bike was shortened to this] dirt track. What a great place for people to let off steam and enjoy themselves. It's run by volunteers. It was the hand made gate I saw first.


Round here there are many pot holes. The council is filling them in gradually, but whilst they remain a hazard sticking a cone in them seems to have become an unofficial way of alerting road users to them. One local has taken it to another level and if they fill with water they've been adding rubber ducks to them. Sadly I haven't seen this yet with my own eyes.


A few woodland shots. Currently the floor is covered in a glorious carpet of flowers and the new leaves are the most gorgeous chartreuse green. We're just starting to see the bluebells and the one of the stream is the underwhelming gulch!





Is it just me or does there seem to be an endless amount of old pieces of farm machinery lying around in fields quietly rusting away. We guessed this was a harrow, but it is very likely that we are wrong so do please enlighten us if you know the correct answer. It was made very clear to us that the sheep were not to be fed...this fellow had other ideas and immediately rushed over to negotiate for a little soupson of something. Despite the pleading eyes I remained steadfast.



There are so many things that I like and this is yet another one. Stiles especially ones with a twist. My first ever turn stile which Mr GBT kindly agreed to demonstrate for me so that I could get appropriate blog images. Having been sensible he then decided that he wasn't going to obey the blue sign by cantering off down the path ahead of me guffawing as he went😈




I clocked the house name on the gate first. Being me I had to check that the property lived up to its name. Thankfully I wasn't disappointed. However, it's not as good a name as the pub which is now 'The Frog and Nightgown. It started out as two cottages which were knocked into one and was turned into a pub called the Royal Oak. It was so small inside that they could only have 10 drinkers there at any one time. When I first went there as a teen it had already had its name changed by the couple who ran it as the Royal Oak was the name of their favourite local. It was still tiny inside with frog ornaments everywhere and a pink chaise lounge in the corner for you to perch on. You'd walk in and there would be deadly silence as the other three punters with their dogs would turn and look at you. The 'bar' was a hatch across the kitchen and the snacks were a couple of packets of crisps in a small wicker bowl. If the landlady took a dislike to you then she'd just ignore you. Despite of all its quirks I flipping loved it and missed it when it closed down. Thank goodness here we are a few years on with it open again with new owners and a refurb which has retained its former history. Our boots were caked in mud so we didn't stop, but it looked busy and hopefully is thriving once again. 







As you can see from the sign we were in Faygate and its surrounds. This sign is opposite that garage door. I missed it on the way out, but I have to ask myself perhaps it's a big bear he's got stored in there in which case it would be very dangerous. I sincerely hope that I am wrong🐻🤯 Please excuse my brain....my wiring does mean that I make some weird connections sometimes😉



With that we headed home for a brew and crumpets. 

Arilx


Friday 5 April 2024

The Fam

 There's little in the way of what I would call vaguely interesting shareable news this week so instead here's 'The Fam' as TYM calls us. Most unusually for us we were all free at lunchtime on Easter Saturday and it was such lovely warm weather it seemed a shame to stay inside. I needed to pick up something which one of the less local dancers had left behind at the farm we'd danced at recently, so we combined the trips. A delicious pint of cider and one of their veggie burgers was greatly appreciated by me. The cows have got their calves with the, but are currently still in the barns because we've had 110% above the average rainfall in Sussex and the fields are too wet for them to go out to pasture yet. They were mooing loudly at the farmer and telling him exactly what they thought of the new hay he'd had to buy in for them. Unlike us they were not enjoying their victuals!


Hope you have a great weekend.

Arilx

Tuesday 2 April 2024

Holi-day on a Holy Day

 'Long may the Spring quietly as a sleeping infant's breath send up cold water to the traveller with soft and even pulse'.

S T Coleridge


As we sat in the garden of the Duke of Cumberland Arms [known locally as the Duke] in the small Sussex hamlet of Henley enjoying a swift half I commented to Mr GBT that I was at my happiest. This is an old inn which still has gas lighting and has not been gentrified. It's not a spit and sawdust pub, but it hasn't been turned into one of those very expensive gastro pubs which are really restaurants by any other name. The customer behind me in the queue was reliving the drinks of his youth and was ordering a Black Velvet or poor man's Guinness as the barman joked. Yesterday he laughed as he revealed that he'd had his first Snake Bite in years. This place is built into the side of the Downs and has a series of pools dotted around the garden which are fed all year round by a natural spring which never dries up. Whilst we supped the chef appeared and threw bread into the ponds for all the koi carp in them. Being nosy I asked how he'd come about having so many and he told me that people keep giving them to him as they get too big for their ponds. He's got his very own orphanage now. Noticing that there was no netting I was curious about whether the heron took them. They are too heavy apparently, but he received loads of goldfish recently which are no longer there...the heron tucked in merrily treated the fish supply as his own personal sushi bar. I guess we all have to eat something! It's fascinating some of the unexpected tales people tell you when you have time to stop and chat awhile.

We were enjoying a fancy free walk from Easebourne to make the most of the good weather on Sunday and this was our midway break. You'll see below that we saw some sights on the way round and got some great views. Everything's greening up wonderfully. The artwork is by a chainsaw artist called Nathan Blatherwick and there were several examples of his work in the park. We got there just before a couple of sets of parents released their very excited small children on an Easter egg hunt. The vehicle has to be the coolest ever horse box I've seen. It was a lovely six mile waddle and good to escape GBT for a change of scene.










Arilx


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...