Sunday, 26 February 2017


Took this photo of Saxstead post  mill some weeks ago.

Went to church at  Aldham this morning and found  we had a problem. The organ was being repaired, and a temporary replacement electric keyboard was refusing  to do  its duty. After the first verse of the first hymn (unaccompanied) the Vicar's lady (we have two vicars - they are husband and wife) said "I think Michael should lead us". Her husband, Tim, who was taking the service, cocked an eyebrow at me, and receiving my confirmatory nod, I started the  hymn again, and all joined in. I then went through  the  rest  of  the hymns, which were listed on the hymnboard, and found to my relief  that I knew  them all.  In fact Tim wanted the first verse of the last hymn sung in Swahili (which he had printed out for us. When we got to the last hymn (What a friend we have in Jesus) I managed to convey to Tim (in a sort of desparate sign language) that  there are limits  to Michael's willingness  to assist, and he announced that Michael was excused Swahili, and the rest of  the congregation then  assumed that they  were included in this amnesty, and sung along with Michael.

After the service several elderly ladies gathered  round and asked if I'd ever sung in a choir?   The answer was "yes, several".  The problem with that was that they were Male Voice  Choirs, and as I sung Basso Profundo in them this wasn't really  much use in leading a church congregation .

Oh well! We all got there, and Ann (best friend - severest critic) said that it really had sounded quite nice; which was better than I'd expected. 

Saturday, 25 February 2017


Rather a nice bench end in Isleham Church. I think  he's meant to be a feerocious lion, but he looks as if he's rather enjoying life.

We have spent most of this last week in an apartment in an old building just off the quay in Wells-next -the- Sea on the Norfolk coast. The apartment was lent to us for the week by our good friends Jon and Jo. The weather has been bright, mild, and and sunny most of the time. Not a bit like  the usual February weather in Norfolk (I'm a Norfolk man by birth so I can be rude about my native county).  We'd both rather forgotten what a lovely little town Wells is. Taken loads of photies, but having problems developing them. Will put  them up when I can persuade them to look pretty on screen.

Yesterday morning  drove from Wells down to middle of wildest Suffolk. There'd been a storm on Thursday night, so there were lots of trees down. I don't believe in giving storms names. It brings out the worst in them and they chuck their weight about.  Stopped off about  fifteen miles from home and had lunch with friends of ours, Jill and Keith. Also present were our  mutual friends, Angela and Leigh. Very pleasant meal and relaxed  couple of hours generally. A lovely ending to a good week off.
Jill commissioned me (posh way of putting  it) to make a fire steel to fit  a tinder box she's just  sold, so must stop  waffling and get on  with it.

Will try and write a bit more a bit  later in the  week.
Regards to all,  Mike and Ann.

Friday, 17 February 2017


This is one of the misericords beneath a seat in the choirstalls at Saint Andrew's Church , Isleham. It's a nice bit of carving, but it  seems a bit perverse to me. He has the beginning of a nice  set of whiskers, but he's got it on upside down!!! That is, droopy instead of bushy and upstanding. Pity.

All the misericords are quite restrained - just the one portrait per seat - all dating from circa 1450.

Thursday, 16 February 2017


This morning we motored over to Littleport in Cambridgeshire, where we picked up   daughter number three , Kerry. and drove on to  our native village, Welney. We went to the  one remaining hostelry, the Lamb and Flag, where we had a basic, but very pleasant, lunch,  caught up on all the family news, and swapped Christmas presents. This was because Kerry was poorly over the Christmas season and had to cry off the boxing Day family do. She is now much better, I'm relieved to say,  and is more or  less back in mid-season form, so that  we all three enjoyed a drawn out lunch and a VERY drawn out natter. After lunch we had a short walk to the Welney Churchyard, where we visited  the family graves (which Kerry had been keeping in good order, bless 'er).  

We then ran Kerry back to Littleport nicely in time to meet her son out of school, then drove home via Isleham. This  is a small village set in the fen - the name tells  it all - Isle Ham. It still has  the feeling  of an Island set in the  fens. It's a pleasant little village with two churches, well within a couple  of  hundred yards of each other. One of them (the lower photograph) is the Priory Church of Saint Mary of Antioch, which is  a small plain (but apsoidal) building, dating from around the year 1100.  By the 16th century it  had been made into a tithe barn, as it remained  until around the year 1810.

A short distance along  the same road stands  Saint Andrew's Church (upper picture). Most of the present church dates from  the 1300s, but there are a good many traces of  several earlier buildings.  The Church has a lych gate that dates from the late 1400s and is  probably the earliest standing lych gate in East Anglia. 
The inside of  the church is fascinating. There is some  early glass and rather nice wall  painting in the porch, in the church is a fine angel  roof, many lovely bench ends,  memorial brasses, a fine brass Flemish lectern  dating  from the late 1400s, and the 'Peyton Tombs' dating from 1518 and 1550. I  spent about twenty minutes taking photographs,  and wished that I could spend a day there. Nothing to stop me going  back there, of course, and I've got lots of photos for future blog use.

The problem between the two churches was that Saint Mary's of Antioch was endowed, soon after the conquest, by Alan, Count of  Brittany; whilst Saint Andrew's Church has been there since Saxon days (over a thousand years).  In other words one of them was seen as French and the other as  English. We all know how difficult the French have always been for civilised people like us to  get on with, and I  think  that was the basis of the problems between the two churches in Isleham (although I may be over simplifying things a touch. Anyway -  there they both still are, glaring at  each other in a small village  out in the middle of the fens, and not on the  way to anywhere very much. They really are well  worth a visit. I've not  been to Isleham for  about thirty years (can't  think why not, and anyway that's a mistake that   I intend righting quite soon - if  spared).

Wednesday, 15 February 2017


This morning our Scrabble Club met at Hilary's. Only four of us, but that's a complete table. Three good, close games.  Home to lunch. Last Friday our butcher was selling pheasants at just over four  pounds each. We bought one - a decent looking cock bird, and it's given the two of us three  decent lunches - roast pheasant on Sunday,  pheasant hotpot on Monday and pheasant casserole today. The carcasse may furnish us game soup later in the week.. On Tuesday our fish merchant delivers very fresh fish from Lowestoft, and Ann bought enough fish to make a  decent fish pie with capers in it (which adds interest). We neither of us eat heavily, but we do seem to have  a varied and interesting  diet.  I've got to get on in the workshop now. I've a clock hand to make for an early eighteenth century, single handed, wall clock.   

Monday, 13 February 2017


Ann was wearing the above photographed brooch  a weekend or so ago, and reminded me of an incident when she wore it some years ago at a major sale  room. It's  a big old clunk of  a brooch, of a type known as 'silver on russet iron'.  We were viewing an Arms and Armour sale at (Ann tells me) Sotheby's of Billingshurst, when one of the Directors with whom  we'd been chatting spotted the  brooch, took Ann by the coat lapels and said in  a tone of astonishment "But that's seventeenth  century!"

Ann got  the  answer absolutely right. She said "I know it is. Put me down please."

It was pretty to see his embarrassment "Oh, Mrs. Horner. I'm so  sorry, I forgot meself,  but  it's such a lovely thing........."

I could sympathise to some extent.  It's the sort of thing you see in a museum cabinet, rather than still in use.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Sunday (2).

Mystery object - well - fairly mystery object. Please guess :- Where was this  object made? when was it made and the usual name for it.

I've spent most of today tidying up the case and restoring  the innards (technical term) of the case. It's an attractive little object - well I find  it so. For  a real bonus point, what did Mark Twain say of  the American built equivalent ? and why?

Good guessing.


Still having problems with  photos, so here is  one taken at Christmas. It is  of  grandson Matthew and his  lady friend Mary. She is  a  quite charming  Portugese young lady living and working in London. 

Now for my bit  of news -   which is that at the end of my financial year (March 31) I am going to retire - Doctor's  advice in that my heart is still playing  up  a bit (angina). Doctor  says  he cannot order me to retire - he can only strongly recommend it.  I don't want to, but I've already carried on ten years beyond the usual retiring age, so I'm going to stop work in order to concentrate on improving my collection.  That  should keep me  busy!

Warm regards to all - Mike.

Saturday, 4 February 2017


You really will have to enlarge this one .  It's a sort of mystery object. It's a  small Early Victorian picture frame made of mother o' pearl with many small birds made from (I think) humming bird feathers. It is contained in a rather larger (and later) picture frame. The question I'd like you to answer is How many birds are there in the picture frame. It's not a trick question. I think I know the answer, but it'll send you mad trying to count them. Must go now, lunch looms, as does Scrabble Club this afternoon.

P.s.  The size of the mother o' pearl  inner frame is  three and a half inches by four and a half inches.

Thursday, 2 February 2017


Earlier this morning Ann called me into the garden, where the washing was blowing briskly in the sun. "Isn't that a lovely sight?" she said.  It was . It didn't feel a bit  like February.

About ten minutes or so later Ann called me back into the garden.
"Isn't  that a  tragic sight?"   she said.

"Partridges!"  we both said. Partridges  is our old established (1829) hardware shop in town. Ann's just come back from town with the good news that Partridges did  in fact have a similar   replacement  washing  line in stock.  Must go upstairs and effect the necessary replacement. 

Went upstairs and Ann had already done the necessary replacement. Should have known!

Tuesday, 31 January 2017


Granny Sarah, Great Granny Annie, Great grand daughter Astrid, and her mother (our grand daughter) Amelia, in  Granny Sarah's kitchen last weekend (left to right -  of course).

P.s. If  you look at Ann's  right elbow (and embiggen the picture a bit)  you  will notice a nicely embroidered flower on her grey jumper. It's  a long story  but to cut it short Ann noticed that  a very favourite woolly jumper had moth holes in it. Ann killed the moth by washing the garment  in a special wool detergent, and was mourning over it at Christmas to the Swedish grand daughters.  The  senior one said she thought she might be able to help, and worked on it that evening.
 She embroidered flowers over the ex-moth holes in similar coloured wool, and it looks really good again  - even better as far as Ann's concerned, in that it was done (with love) by a granddaughter.


P.s. Ann says people now think  it's  a 'designer garment'.


Monday, 30 January 2017


I think I mentioned last week that we motored over to Aldeburgh. It was a nice morning - hard frost and bright sunshine. Came back via Snape, and took the above photo in the Snape area. Reed beds in the  sunshine. Slightly  misty. Looked well.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

No Curser - well, me perhaps.

Sorry, readers,  to  have to report a further fault  on my 'new'  computer- the  curser has disappeared. The engineer on 'Knowhow' has done various tests and tells me that the mouse is  at fault. There are, he is  sorry to  tell me, no replacement  mice  in store, but he will  order one for me, which  should  be  with me within twenty eight days. Oh $£%^&**)(+_ dear me. I  cancarry on blogging to  some  extent by scribbling on, and jabbing at, the screen with a finger, but it's  a slow business

Saturday, 28 January 2017


Last Monday we motored home from Sarah's in Buckinghamshire. We took  our  time  about  it, stopping off  for a light lunch at Quy  Mill  restaurant, and  eventually  arriving home  at a little after four p.m., and to the accompaniment of a  fine, dramatic sunset, as we motored downhill into Highdale. I  managed to get a snapshot of  the sky as  we ran  down into the  town.  It's shown above just in case any 'furriners' still believe Suffolk is very flat and undramatic. 

We do have  our moments - Good Night All. 

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Tuesday (2)

More about the wall paintings in Saint Lawrence's Church, Broughton, Buckinghamshire.
The painting above is over the North doorway, and is  a 'Doom' or a painting of the 'Last Judgement'. It is  rather  like, but much smaller than, our Suffolk 'Wenhaston Doom', but has a good many similarities like the Jaws of Hell at the bottom right of the picture.

Above picture shows Saint George destroying the dragon.

Above is the one that fascinates me. According  to  the booklet on the subject it shows 'a collection of blacksmith's tools and products' and I couldn't better that as a description, but it does leave a good many questions unanswered. Why should an English Church be decorated with a collection of a blacksmiths tools and products ?  Very odd.

The above picture shows the  dead Christ in the arms of his mother, surrounded by nine men, including  two who are playing backgammon, both with drawn knives.  The other men are holding parts of the body of the dead Christ. All the standing men are very similar. It has been suggested the pictures are a warning against the worship of religious relics, and also a warning against swearing oaths on body parts..........all  very odd, as indeed are all their legs, which all end at the knees, and are equipped with very large feet. The whole picture is very odd, and probably full of hidden meaning???

Like a great many of our smaller and more remote churches, Saint Lawrence's  should be better known than it is.

Good Night All.


About ten years ago when staying with eldest daughter Sarah and her family, she took us to  a carol service at a village nearby in an otherwise disused Parish Church. The church was full of nice early wall paintings, all of circa 1480. One of the paintings appeared to show the contents of a village forge  (as far as I know this is  unique) and Sarah promised to go back when we could. She was a s good as her word, we went back this last weekend, and Sarah had spoken to  one of the Church Wardens and had got me permission to take photographs. Above is the painting of the produce of the village forge, with a close up below it.  There are more photos, which I'll endeavour to put up later. These two show horse shoes, hammers, locks and keys. Just to the left of centre is what appears to be a canvas tool bag, of a type that blacksmiths carried to outlying farms in my boyhood !!! How little things have changed, and in  the last few years, HOW  MUCH!!!!!

Monday, 16 January 2017


Herewith (good word) photograph of the knife from a chatelaine (?) with the blades open. The upper blade would be the pen knife, for reshaping a quill pen, and the lower blade a fruit knife for peeling pears, peaches, nectarines, etc. Altogether a useful little item for a lady. The knife is  shown  in  the blog entry for Friday, 13th January, 2017.

Saturday, 14 January 2017


Above are photographs of another 'Mystery object'. I first put up a photograph of this item on my blog entry of Saturday, 19th November, 2016,  but then changed my mind and did the necessary restoration of this  item, which  I finished this afternoon. In the second picture is a foot ruler to try and give an idea of the  item's size ( bit of a giveaway). What is it, when was it made, and  for what purpose was it made? It is a very attractive little item (if you like that sort of thing).

P.s. I do, and Ann does,too.  Like that sort of thing, I mean.

Friday, 13 January 2017


The four  photos shown here are of this week's  'Mystery Object'. It was purchased at last week's Long Melford Antique Fair. It is a little under two inches long, and on a chain that is seven inches long.   

Can you guess what it is, where and when it was made, and where the chain would hang. I think it would be only fair to add that it is made of polished iron/steel.

Good guessing regards, Mike.

Thursday, 12 January 2017


Last Christmas photo (promise). It was taken on Boxing day, and all are offspring, save the lady in the armchair (Jude) who is our son Jonathan's ( the tall bloke standing beside her) long term partner. They've moved (fairly recently) to a village near Cambridge, which is a great deal nearer to us than Wolverhampton, where they lived previously. Ann is at the front of the photo, and all others are our descendants; children, grandchildren, and a great grandchild in the centre of the photo. It was a good day.  Must knock off now - got friends coming to lunch, and I can hear the two who haven't been here before, are on the 'phone getting directions from Ann. So must now go upstairs and get into my convivial Host act- not really an act, I'm looking forward to it.

More later perhaps.