Gate guardians

At Chiddingstone Castle we noticed two dog statues, positioned either side of the big gate at the entrance to the house; they were perky and alert in a stony way, and they reminded me of other such statues place either side of an entrance to a stately home, or in a sentinel position in a big garden.

A gate guardian is usually understood to be a piece of military equipment like a big cannon placed at the entrance to a castle or barracks, or in the case of an airbase it might be an old aircraft. Janus was the Roman god of doors and gateways, and for the Chinese there were the door gods Qin Qiong and Yuchi Gong.


I saw another pair of dogs when we were at the Hauser & Wirth gallery in Bruton; they were on either side of what might have been an impressive farmhouse.

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… and there was another beast in Devon,


…and his friend…


…and then I found this little chap in the Netherlands…


Spider, spider…

I quite like spiders, little ones that is, especially those with stripy socks. I don’t mind spiders at all out in the garden, and they do build the most wonderful constructions, their webs are just amazing! To think what they make is purely functional, and yet is so beautiful too.  I confess I don’t like the very big hairy spiders which sometimes invade our house – but I shouldn’t be such a wimp, they are as nothing compared to the huge and poisonous species there are in other countries.

Apparently, spiders are actually araneae, that’s the taxonomic order that they are; everyone knows they have eight legs, and even the little ones have fangs… that sounds beastly! What is worse their fangs can inject venom into you… I guess the little ones have tiny fangs which can’t penetrate our skins, or maybe they are very nice, kind polite spiders who wouldn’t think of biting anyone who wasn’t harming them. I can’t quite understand the difference between them being araneae and arachnids…. maybe I need to ask a biologist. Spiders live everywhere in the world except  the South Pole, and its amazing to think that there are over 44 thousand species! good heavens!

My featured picture is of a really giant spider in the courtyard of the Hauser and Wirth gallery in Bruton, Somerset.

here is a little ditty my father used to say – I have no  idea where he got it from, some music-hall comedian I guess!

Spider, spider on the wall
Ain’t you got n shirt at all?
Ain’t you got no dicky-dirt?
Blimey, ain’t you cold?

Staddle stones

I guessed these stone mushrooms must have a proper name, but I’ve only just found out they are called staddle stones. As you can see, they are used on farms to elevate a wooden building and because of the shape of the ‘mushroom’ cap, rodents and other creatures can’t get into the structure and eat whatever is within. They also allowed air to circulate beneath the wooden floor  and so avoid damp and problems of grain or hay or whatever was within from spoiling. At any time spoiled produce is costly, but in bygone times without all the appliances we have now, it was even more important – matter of life or starvation in many cases.

There may have been a time when a wooden ‘foot’ was used instead of a staddle; that in turn could be prey to insects, rodents and damp. Staddles could also be used for beehives, and smaller ones could serve to elevate larders. More often these days you might find staddles as ornaments in a garden….  next time you see one (or maybe you have one) then think of their original purpose, and how really useful they must have been!

Bruton (21)This staddle at Hauser & Wirth gardens and galleries i Somerset, must be very old,; look at the beautiful pattern of lichen on it!


I love visiting art galleries – or art exhibitions, work in any material, medium, any way of expression, any creative response to the world… and today we went to the Hauser and  Wirth Somerset gallery and  arts centre, near Bruton in Somerset. It is based around a farm and the works are exhibited in and around the old buildings.

The exhibition on at the moment is work by Phyllida Barlow, 3D work of extraordinary  size and very, very interesting. What we also enjoyed, was the rather nice café, even though they had run out of scones, and the book shop which was small but full of really interesting and tempting books about many subjects concerning art, including gardens and photography.

Bruton (6)It is set in a garden designed by Piet Oudolf, a Dutch designer… a place for reflection…

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