Saturday, 28 November 2009
Saint Nicholas (Santa Claus). Although an impressive figure, it seems to me that it says a lot for the courage and hardihood of the younger generation, that they don't flee on sight from this strange figure; but a good many of them stayed and chatted quite politely to him, I suppose in the hope of getting something decent from him in their stockings on Christmas morning. Shows, as I say, courage, and also good sense, and proves that there is hope yet, for the future of Britain.
Good night all.
The bric a brac stall. To be avoided if at all possible. The danger is that it is possible to have a brain storm, and in a moment of madness purchase something perfectly ghastly. The only thing to be done then is to keep the purchased object for a year, then hope that the person running the bric a brac stall next year can be persuaded to accept the ghastly object as a donation, and foist it onto yet another weak willed recipient.
Been a busy day today. A bazaar was held in church. All the ladies have been cooking and baking, partly for the cake stall, and partly for the lunches that were served in the church. Ann baked six small Christmas cakes (all of which sold) and made three large dishes of chicken and broccoli bake, and one of a tuna bake (all of which, again, sold). My job was to get Ann and the Christmas cakes to the Church by ten a.m., and then to return home and get the dishes of savoury bake into the oven, cook them, and get them to the Church by noon (piping hot). I then whizzed round the book stall, bought three books, tried one or two of the other stalls, had a bite of lunch, then gathered round the piano, where we (the choir) sang carols. At the second carol, our choirmaster was approached by two young mothers, who explained that their daughters had been learning carols at school and wished to sing them with the choir. The daughters -both about six- then stood on the stage in front of the choir and sang all the rest of the carols with us, and - naturally- were the hit of the day!!!! Hopefully it may mean we eventually recruit two more young choir members - which we need. Back in a minute with more photoes. Oh, the one above shows part of the churchyard with brambles sporting not only late blackberries, but some very brave flowers. I do admire optimism (however misplaced!
Thursday, 26 November 2009
This, believe it or not, is all that's left of the medieval kitchen of the guildhall. It's separate from the guildhall, so I should think that the food for the Guild Banquets was, at best, lukewarm by the time it reached the tables. All that's left is a massive open fireplace and flooring, and that's fast sinking into decay. The Guildhall itself, though is a glorious early building that is well looked after. More tomorrow, perhaps. Goodnight all.
Locked Church office at 11 a.m. (funeral at 11.30) and walked home the long way. We've lived here for fifteen years now, and still havn't explored all the lanes in the town centre, largely because I think some of them (including the above one) are probably private driveways. But they do look tempting.
Wednesday, 25 November 2009
P.s. to below blog. She is known as a 'Spinning Jenny'. There is a very good collection of bone prisoner of war work in Peterborough Museum. Hope this is of general interest, rather than minority interest, and not too specialised.
Above photo is of a Suffolk road, taken this morning (a lovely,sunny morning) on our way into Ipswich to look at a large, handsome, North Country, long case clock, which needs attention. Have booked it in. Had a very good, sandwich, lunch in a redundant Church in Ipswich. Good to see the place in use, and still serving the community. Just been chatting, on 'phone, to youngest daughter about Christmas, and it really is time for bed now. Again :- Goodnight All.
The little lady in the photo above is over two hundred years old. When the handle at the base of the mechanism is cranked she turns the handle of her spinning wheel (which then spins) with her right hand. She then turns her head to the left, lifts the thread to her mouth with her left hand, and appears to bite off the thread. She was made about the year 1800, and probably at the prisoner of war camp at Norman Cross near Peterborough. She was made by Napoleonic French prisoners of war, from the beef bones of their meals. The whole mechanism is three and a half inches high, and two inches wide. It is a fascinating little automata. It came to me shattered and in pieces. I have tried to conserve as much of the original as possible, but some pieces were beyond repair, and others missing. I have made five of the parts (from two old bone dominoes- long hoarded) and an inch long light return spring from a thin sliver of cow horn. Been very satisfying doing it, but I'm now looking forward to getting on with some real work- a grandfather clock which is awaiting my attention.
Monday, 23 November 2009
This morning Ann motored over to Wisbech to see her mother. She intends staying over tonight at her brother Tim's, and return tomorrow evening. I've been busy in the workshop all day doing odd jobs. One of them I intend photographing before returning it to its owner; partly because it's something I want to keep a record of, and partly because it's interesting enough to include in a blog. The photo above is Saturday evening's supper. I only remembered to photograph it after we'd started to eat. It is a kedgeree (rice, smoked salmon, haddock, cod, seasoning- a little curry powder), together with fennel (which always goes well with fish) and steamed spring onions. It's odd to think that our Victorian ancestors liked kedgeree as a breakfast dish. Now, it's a light supper dish. I think our ancestors had more rugged stomachs and heartier digestions than us, their descendants.
Friday, 20 November 2009
Met friends for coffee and croisants in town this morning. After lunch worked in workshop making bone parts for small georgian 'spinning Jenny' automata. at 3.45p.m. we drove into Colchester, and took the above photo from moving car as sun went down. To Colchester Hospital, saw surgeon, who decided that further minor op would probably be advantageous. Probably in January/February. Early supper tonight as we're going to the cinema club to see 'The young Victoria'. Seen the adverts for it showing a swan necked young actress playing the part. Can't think it's good casting, as her late Majesty, even when young, was rather short necked and dumpy- sorry, that's ungallant. But truthful. Being called for supper. May report back on the film later.
Thursday, 19 November 2009
Just had supper. Tuna pasta bake with a colourful salad. Very healthy. And, in fact, very tasty, too, which isn't always the case with 'healthy' food. Ann's trying to lose 'a little weight' and has in fact succeeded to the tune of half a stone over the past three weeks. Looks well on it, too.
Worked in the Church 'office' this morning. Had lunch with friends in the next village (who wanted me to value two old pocket watches for them; they'll be pleasantly surprised by one - slightly disappointed by the other), dozed when I got home after lunch, blogged before dinner, and now really must do some work (in the workshop) before bed. Goodnight all.
Ann's brother, David, motored over to join us, so that the four of us on the above photograph (David, Ann, meself, and senior daughter, Sarah) went to the memorial service after the funeral (the interment was for family only). It was a good service to celebrate a long life, well spent. I perhaps aught to add, for the benefit of family members who may read my blog and would have known him, that the service was for our old friend Eddie Geary.
P.s. Should further add that the above photo was taken by granddaughter Lucy, who is eleven, and a very competent photographer. She says she wants to be a newspaper reporter. Shame, we've always been a fairly respectable family.
A mahogany Norfolk, long case clock.
On Tuesday we motored across to Buckinghamshire to install the above grandfather in his new home. stayed over at Sarah and Mikey's, to go to a funeral of an old friend on Wednesday afternoon. 'Old' friend in every sense of the word. He was well into his hundredth year. More in a min.
Sunday, 15 November 2009
Just before we went to church this morning we had a 'phone call from a friend to warn us that we would be unable to park in our usual car parking space, owing to large areas of the churchyard being taped off as unsafe because further large areas of the church tower flint cladding had fallen off during the night. We usually walk to church, but this morning we had offered a lift to our senior choir member (who is 94), so we had to park in the market place and walk to church. Yesterday's wind and rain had indeed done further damage to our church tower. The bell ringers were not allowed into the tower to ring the bells. Our newish Dean told us that as he had walked the few yards from his Deanery to the church door this morning, more chunks of masonry had fallen from the tower. I think he now feels cautious about going near his new church in case it throws rocks at him!!!!!!!! The tower looked dreadful with large areas missing, scaffolding-clad, and even the scaffolding bent and damaged by this latest fall. Senior choir member said she'd seen the tower scaffolding-clad before, and it had all been put to rights then, thank God. This turned out to have been in 1928, only a few years after she'd first joined the choir !!!!!!!!
To more cheerful things - this afternoon two friends of ours came to us for a scrabble tea. Had two good games, then ajourned to the above tea table for refreshment. We had provided tea, smoked salmon and caper sandwiches, raspberry jam sandwiches (had my doubts about this nursery fare- but they were, in fact, delicious, and I did justice to them), apricot flapjack, and lemon drizzle cake. All of it made by Ann- no, in fact I made the tea (made it rather too strong,I'm afraid, but as I'd put the kettle back on, in case refills were needed, was able to remedy this defect). All in all, an excellent meal. Then back to the scrabble board for a further game, and our guests left just before seven, thanking us for 'a lovely afternoon'. I must say we'd enjoyed it quite as much as they had. Time to knock off now. I wish you all a good night.
Saturday, 14 November 2009
Above snapshot is of Suffolk countryside, taken on our way over to friend Terry's this morning. Had coffee and cake with her. Just before we left home, Terry 'phoned and asked us to take her a copy of the Times, so called in at Vishnu's on the way and got one. Also called in at farm shop and bought eggs and vegetables. Terry's garden looked very well cared for - roses already pruned hard back. Weather very wet and blustery all day. Heavy clouds of all shades of grey scudding along before a boisterous South West wind. When it rained the rain was horizontal and occasionally sheeting down, but not at all a cold day. Rather mild in fact. Got back from Terry's just in time for a quick lunch(mainly ham sandwiches, and a bit of wedding cake from last Saturday's do) then out again to walk to scrabble club. Given the weather, rather surprised that eleven of us turned up. Had three good games - won the first two- got good letters. Walked home - rain had stopped, but a lot of puddles on road.
Just had supper - pork and prune casserole with roast vegetables, followed by a fresh fruit salad in grape juice- with cream. More in a minute - blog, not supper.
Tuesday, 10 November 2009
I'm going to have to return to Sunday's blog, which was largely about the wedding on Saturday (because I missed a most enjoyable part out). The above photo shows a small part of our table at the reception. In the lower centre of the picture is a linen table napkin, which is held by a conker on a shoestring. There was one of these beside every place setting. I should perhaps explain to our colonial readers that the conker is the nut of the horse chestnut tree, which when properly dried, pierced and threaded with a shoestring, can be used to play the time honoured adversarial game of 'conkers'. Well, halfway through the reception, when coffee was being served after the meal, and speeches began to look imminent, your blogger stepped outside for a breath of air. Outside the main door, on benches sat the mother of the bridegroom, a matriarchal looking Grandma, surrounded by members of her family. They too, had stepped outside for a breath of air, or, to be more accurate, mostly for a quiet smoke. Two conker matches were also in progress, so I slipped back inside, chose the oldest and hardest looking conker on my table, and pausing only to enlarge the knot that held the conker on its string, went back outside. I should mention that the groom's family are all Londoners. I should also mention that most of my daughters won't let their children play conkers with me on the grounds that "Your Grandpa's vicious at conkers". A conker game between two ten/twelve year old boys had just come to an end, so I said to the winner "Will you give me a game?" He agreed, but his granny called out to him "You be careful, 'e's a expert, you can tell by the way 'e 'olds 'is conker". I agreed that I'd been playing the game for about sixty years, winked at Grandma to reassure her that I'd make sure her grandson didn't get hurt, let the boy have several strikes, then smashed his conker at my second strike. Two of Grandma's grown-up sons were also playing conkers, and looked fairly serious competition. As their game drew to a close (one of the conkers had had bits knocked off it and was weakening rapidly) I said "Play the winner ?", got a nod of agreement and the end came two strikes later. My new opponent was a pleasant young sportsman of about thirty summers. I won the toss, and knocked his conker in a circle three times. His very first strike was viciously fast and accurate, but proved his undoing. It knocked a chunk out of my conker, which stayed on its string, whilst his flew off its string and shattered on the stone courtyard of the Inn (demonstrating the wisdom of tying a large flat, cushioning knot under the conker). The young man gave my conker best, shook hands, and introduced himself and his family - he was the groom's brother. Grandma, who was a nice old lady, kept repeating "I told you 'e was a expert. I could tell by the way 'e 'eld 'is conker string". The one sad note of the story is that, when I re-entered the dining room, the speeches were only just beginning.........
Monday, 9 November 2009
We had the first frost this morning. People had to scrape their car windscreens, we're told. However, as you can see from the above photo, two hours later it was a fine warm morning, with, Ann tells me, a good 'dry out'. Worked in the workshop and forge this morning, and completed a job I'd been dreading- silver soldering a broken flintlock gunpart together - managed to do a sort of scarf joint, seems strong and preserves an original part- otherwise I would have had to make a replacement part. A friend of ours (a young furniture restorer) delivered some of our dining chairs he's been firming up for us (they were getting very creaky in their joints- every sympathy for them) and stayed for a sandwich lunch with us. Had to nip into town this afternoon to post letters, then motored over to see our friend Terry, who lives a few miles out of town. Had tea with her, then spent a very pleasant hour chatting and catching up on the local news. Then home, supper, and a good, stimulating, two handed game of scrabble. Time for bed now. Goodnight all.