Thursday 30 May 2024

Beetlemania

 Having danced four weekends on the trot, I was happy to ram my walking head back on last Saturday and have a potter around the small Sussex village of Woolbeding. It was gloriously sunny and these fabulously named Thick Legged beetles were busy amongst the Oxeye daisies. Their iridescence was very beautiful.


I hope everyone has a good weekend. We're off adventuring for a few days, so I'll look forwards to catching up with blogland upon my return.

Arilx

Monday 27 May 2024

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 rest awhile and smile. Wouldn't you if you were faced with a field planted up with lupins. We were actually a bit early for this delight as they're only really just starting. Thankfully we have a cunning plan as Mr GBT reckons that we can make a minor diversion when we're travelling elsewhere next month, so hopefully we'll see them in all their glory then. This little gem is behind the church in the West Sussex hamlet of Terwick. We were over that way for another reason, so it seemed the perfect time to pay it a visit. More info here https://friendsofthesouthdowns.org.uk/the-lupin-field/











 

Hope you've all enjoyed your Bank Hols.

Arilx


Friday 24 May 2024

Friday twitching


 I can't tell you how thrilled I was today at lunchtime when I looked out of the living room window and spotted a greenfinch on our feeder. When we first moved here in 1996 they were regular visitors, but it must be 20 years since I've seen one here. The photo is of one at the local nature reserve. Have a great weekend folks.

Arilx

Tuesday 21 May 2024

Not going to the art gallery.

 Mr GBT didn't really want to visit an art gallery whilst we were in the Midlands last month....he's a clever fellow though and distracted me with a tempting alternative. Any thoughts of looking at paintings immediately flew out of my noggin as soon as he dandled this in front of me. Needless to say I was sold!


Alfred and Edwin Newman set up their cabinet fittings business in 1882. However, with Birmingham's high rate of mortality and the Victorian obsession with OTT mourning and funeral practices, they took their company in a different direction and by 1894 they were manufacturing coffin furniture. In terms of profits they could charge five times as much as ordinary door handles. By the 20th century until their demise in the 1990s they were the best maker in the country and their products have adorned the coffins of the rich and famous. Everyone from the Royal family through to Churchill and even Judy Garland who died here unexpectedly. They moved with the times and by the end they were selling versions in plastic which could go through the cremation process. Despite what you might have been told they don't take the handles etc off the coffins! Strangely the 'Coffin Works' is rather a misleading name because coffins were the one thing that they didn't make.


Although this place is open on other days, I would strongly recommend taking one of the tours as it really brought it alive [an unfortunate choice of words there] and you were left with a greater understanding of how it operated and the characters who worked there. There were so many snippets, but I don't want to spoil if for any would-be visitors. It did amuse me to see the frosted window panes as their sole function was to stop the young ladies sewing the shrouds and coffin linings upstairs from admiring the young fellows working the heavy equipment in the yard below. Some things never change eh.






Following a morning of funeral facts I thought I'd round it off with a nice jolly trip over to Warstone Lane cemetery after lunch. Well they've got catacombs there and I might never get the chance to see such a thing again. I like to make the best of any opportunities which present themselves. In the end they were the least interesting thing about the place, but I did take the obligatory photo just for the record.


The war stone from which the place takes its name. It's a glacial boulder made from volcanic felsite and once served as a boundary marker.


Such spaces tick many boxes for me as I nearly always come away having learnt some tales of those who ended up here. Below is the rather ostentatious grave of George William Manley. If you hadn't have told me I don't think that I'd have realised that it's supposed to represent one of the Stonehenge trilithons. It's a bit stumpy isn't is. Mr Manley was a druid of the Ancient Order of Druids which was formed in the 18th century. Knowing druidry as a form of paganism today it seems rather odd that he should be found in a Christian place of burial. The reason is that this group were neither political or religious.


Poor little Lily Evans chances of survival were dimmed from the minute she breathed her first. Born to William and Emma Evans she was only ten ounces at birth and 9 inches long. Her parents had already had several healthy children, but they were poor and they saw the chance to make money from this poor little mite. Known as the 'Lilliputian Wonder' they were paid 30 shillings a week for her to be shown to the public for up to 16 hours a day. She lost her fight for life at six weeks after which her mother faced legal action for drinking heavily and not feeding her infant properly. In the end the charges were waived on the grounds that Lily was to receive a decent burial. She is interred in a public grave with 175 others.


These were a couple more notable graves which I spotted as we wandered around which were also of interest.






We didn't set out to have our very own day of death, but that's how it turned out and fascinating it proved to be too. This is the final instalment of our Brum trip.

Arilx


Sunday 19 May 2024

That was the week that was.

I'm a touch staggered to find that it's been a week since I last dropped in. Usually such an absence is down to me being away, but that's not even the case this time. Perhaps a few random photos snatched here and there will give you a flavour of what's been happening. Please feel free to join me on an amble and ramble type of post.

It's been a big birthday kind of week in our family [not me or Mr GBT], but one with a brunch and a day off work. Not wanting to waste our rare free afternoon the BBC Gardener's World voucher got pressed into action and we paid a visit to the nearby Borde Hill Garden. Now I know that I went here when TYM was still in a pushchair yet it didn't ring any bells not even a quiet tinkle! I had no plans to capture floral images in shades of coral, salmon and apricot, but that's how it panned out. All of these were new to me💗




By Thursday the weather was back to grey and showery, but this dame is a gal who likes to have a cheer-up strategy up her sleeve and as luck would have it she was working in a village which provided her with just that little drop of joy to keep the tank filled up. A glittery purple hedgehog did the trick, but the day hadn't finished with me yet. I saw a flash of orange on the usually gun metal grey doors of a deconsecrated chapel [now a hairdressers] when I drove past on my way to my voluntary reading thing I do. With a little time to spare [one of the benefits of being an early bird] I shot out to see what it's all about. These gorgeous koi carp have been painted by an artist called Dominic Simpson and his work is being shown in this space in a couple of weeks time as part of Horsham's annual art trail. I hope that I am proved wrong, but I think that it's probably a temporary piece.



Yesterday was the final weekend of a month's run of dancing and it was a return to Winchester Fest which is a favourite of ours. Dancing our Thor's Hammer to just the drums with the incredible acoustics in the Great Hall was extraordinary. These were what drew me as we pottered between our different performing spots. 

The 'Hampshire Hog' is thought to have been bred from the wild boar which used to inhabit the wooded areas around the city. It was commissioned by Hampshire County Council to mark its centenary in 1989, but because it's a bit of a way out of the city centre I hadn't seen it before. Obviously as a Morris dancer it is de rigeur to find a pub and imbibe a pint of something delicious at some point during the proceedings. We made our way over to The Eclipse Inn and I couldn't resist the little details either side of the door. Now I was a student here back in the 1980s yet I know I never drank here [unlike the nearby Vine where I spent an evening dressed up as Columbia from the Rocky Horror Picture show with my then boyfriend😈] so it was definitely time to make amends. The funniest thing was that my former housemate from this time and still very good friend Jane turned up totally unexpectedly and typically found me here. Some things never change, but it was a lovely surprise.

The building dates from 1540 and has in its time been a rectory and a private home. It became a pub in 1750, but the most interesting fact about it is that Lady Alice Lisle was beheaded in front of it on 2nd September 1685 for harbouring fugitives by Judge Jeffreys in the Bloody Assizes. She holds the dubious title of being the last female to be executed in this manner in the country.



And there we have it folks. Speak soon.

Arilx

Sunday 12 May 2024

Ghostly

It's been gloriously sunny here in Sussex this weekend....the perfect weather for dancing and a reminder of why I am completely mad to wear a mask whilst doing so! Were you one of the lucky ones who saw the Northern Lights? Regrettably I wasn't for I am a true lark and make a hopeless owl....yes yours truly was tucked up in bed completely oblivious of all the drama going on in the night sky right outside my window I very much doubt that my ancient steam powered phone could have captured anything of it  anyway😆

Speaking of spotting things I did notice a little thing unseen by many lurking in this gorgeous painting 'Interior of the Church of St Catherine Utrecht' by Pieter Saerredam [1597-1665]. Initially it stood out for all the different little clusters depicted within this light filled space even down to the dog towards the back.

With most paintings I tend to give them a fairly cursory glance before moving on, but this one really drew me in and had I not spent a bit of time looking more closely I would never have realised that there are these intriguing shadowy figures lurking.




With my febrile imagination running riot my first thought was 'ghostly apparitions'. However, I was adulting that day so I sought out the advice from the room steward who provided me with the much more practical [and slightly duller] explanation that this is where the painter has decided to remove them by overpainting them, but over time they have leached back through to the surface. 

We saw this and many other varied works of art at Upton House. Next time I'll let you know where Mr GBT distracted me with so that he wouldn't have to go to the art gallery I was beginning to make interested noises about visiting. That will be my final Midlands post.

Arilx




Thursday 9 May 2024

'The Prince of Darkness'

 Many famous people hail from Birmingham and of the crop of names, Ozzy Osbourne, aka 'The Prince of Darkness', is probably the one most will be familiar with. Did I go and pay my respects to the Black Sabbath Bridge? Of course I did!

Ozzy's image has been captured for posterity upon one of walls in Digbeth along with a whole host of other stunning street art. This is what the area's now known for and it lives up to its name. It's only since I've looked at the photos here that I have realised that the former custard factory chimney is decorated and that in true devilish style that spout on the teapot in Ozzy's hand is a snake🐍 I find that I miss so much the first time round.









Hope you have a fantastic weekend. More dancing for moi😁

Arilx

Monday 6 May 2024

Getting up to mischief

Isn't it a tad frustrating when you see something you think you'd really enjoy and you can't manage it for a multitude of reasons. That was me last year when the Museum of British Folklore put on an exhibition in Compton Verney called 'Making Mischief'. I had to content myself with other people's photos. Things change though and this year they're back with 'Making More Mischief' in Stratford [London]. Joined by my dancing friend Rachel we managed to swing a visit. Realising that it may be of interest to others who won't be able to get there here's a small overview. It's small, but well curated and free of charge.

Boss Morris. An all female Morris side who were set up in 2015 by Alex Merry. They draw on lots of different folk cultures from around the world to inspire their kit and you'll frequently see them wearing something different. This one has the wheat headdress which was woven by a Ukranian and is one of their staple crops. They've based their Morris doll [the museum carried out a project some years ago where we were all invited to make a doll] on the same outfit. You may have caught a glimpse of these ladies dancing on the Brits last year. It's been interesting to learn this week that there are now more women dancers then men. 




This magnificent beast belongs to Blackthorn Ritualistic Dance side and it often features in their events at certain times of the year. It's called the Darkest Ooser and is based upon the Dorset Ooser. Nobody seems entirely sure what its original role was, but some called it the 'Christmas Bull' and it featured in the local mumming tradition. It would seem that others thought of it as a devil who was used as part of the rough music to punish people who had behaved in such a manner that was not in keeping with the moral code of the area. The last known one was from Melbury Osmond and hasn't been seen since 1897 [a photo of it exists]. Some say it was taken to America. A replica of it is held in Dorchester Museum.


One of the strengths of this display I found was that its choice of folk costumes reflect how multi cultural our society has become. I love learning about other countries. This fellow is called King Momo and he is the King of Misrule in Rio. He was made by the Hackney Paracarnival.


It may never happen, but I would love to undertake a tour of the country and experience our many and varied folkloric celebrations for myself. This Sailor Horse from Minehead is boat shaped to echo the town's history of seafaring folk. There is no apparent record of why or who started it, but it will have been out entertaining the crowds over the May day shenanigans. Speaking of which yours truly has been back to the Rochester Sweeps Festival. Absolute blast as ever catching up with old friends and making new ones. It gives me the perfect excuse to show not only the Mythago doll below, but also the one from Loose Women [rainbow hues with one one of dancers having fabulous rainbow hair to match] and Wolfshead and Vixens who were also there. The Gothic ladies in their black corsets are always a big hit with the audience and are very talented dancers too.🖤 It's always a pleasure to be a part of an event where there is such a breadth of dancing styles on show. 






Speak soon.
Arilx







Thursday 2 May 2024

Ride a cock horse.

"Ride a cock horse"


It is thought that a 'cock horse' was a high-spirited or uncastrated horse or a hobby horse. The annual hobby horse festival is held here every year.

"To Banbury Cross"


This version of the Banbury Cross dates from 1895 and celebrated the marriage of Princess Victoria, daughter of the Queen and Prince Albert. Originally three crosses stood in different locations, but nothing remains of them following their total destruction by the Puritans.

"To see a fine lady upon a white horse"


The lady has been cast as the 'Queen of May' She wears a Spring circlet of 13 alternating daffodils and wild roses with a moth and two butterflies secreted around it and riding a horse based upon a Welsh cob. The 13 references an ancient time when there were 13 months

"With rings on her fingers"


She is casting petals into the wind.

"And bells on her toes"


Seven beautiful blue bells are for the days of the week.

"She shall have music wherever she goes."

I've never been able to portray a rhyme through photographs before. A couple of hours spent in Banbury were a couple of hours well spent. The sun has been a symbol of the town since 1584 and there are several dotted around to spot. Just a few things we saw pottering about whilst we broke our journey before the car park calleth.












 Hope everyone has a peaceful and joyful weekend. 

Arilx

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...