Saturday, 25 February 2012


Yesterday morning, after cafe church, we motored to a lovely house a short distance away to look at a very handsome Irish long case clock which has been giving trouble. Found the source of the trouble fairly easily, but had to use unconventional method to put matters right. It worked though, and the clock should give its owner a few more years of service.
 Ann was very taken with an unusual winter flower arrangement made by our hostess, who showed Ann how to do it. The above photo is Ann's first attempt at the method, using hellebores, and two crocii from our garden. I think it's a very attractive result, and we're going to try and find a few more(differently coloured) hellebores before next winter.


This afternoon we went to a 90th birthday party for our friend Joyce, a retired teacher, put on by her family, who are a very talented bunch of youngsters; A grandson and a great granddaughter played duets on a flute and guitar. One grandson is an actor, another a juggler. It was a lovely, lively party. The above picture shows four generations, with Joyce holding the baby. Just been called upstairs to supper. So - Goodnight all.

Thursday, 23 February 2012


Today was our forty ninth wedding anniversary. We were in no great hurry to get up, as we'd planned a day out depending on the weather. The weather was fine (nearly 60 degrees), bright and sunny. When we eventually got ready to go out and came down we found this young lady on the kitchen doorstep.  The picture below shows what a good camouflage she'd adopted. We directed her to our tiny garden pond in the hope that she finds it sufficient for her needs, and breeds therein.

Don't quite know why I took the below picture, but I took it just as we were setting out - it shows our Tudor chimneys and chimney stack.

At the weekend we'd had coffee with our friends John and Maud, who told us that they'd just visited Anglesey Abbey (near Cambridge) and said that although the house is not yet open the gardens are, and are surprisingly colourful for February, so that's where we'd decided to go.  We  know that area, having lived in Burwell for some years in the eighties, but hadn't seen Anglesey gardens for a long time. John also recommended a pub in the area for lunch, but we'll come back to that later.
The next three pictures are of colourful trees in the Abbey Gardens.

We spent a couple of hours exploring the gardens, then drove the three or four miles to the village of Reach, and to the pub that John had recommended for Lunch (pictured below). It is called the Dyke's End Pub, and the name deserves an explanation:- The village of Reach is at the Westward end of a long defensive ditch (the Devil's Dyke) which was thrown up, probably just after the Romans left these islands, and the first waves of Angles and Saxons arrived and started chucking their weight about. Folk lore says the Devil's Dyke stopped them in their tracks, and it still looks a formidable barrier.  The pub is pictured below, and I must tell John and Maud that they are quite right about it. It's a very plain, welcoming, English pub. The grub (sorry Lori - the food) is cooked on the premises and is excellent. The landlord has a  brewery behind the pub, and I  was given a small glass of his home brewed porter to try, after which I ordered a larger glass of it to go with my lunch. Ann had a very creamy looking tortellini, with spinach, mushroom, and Italian cheese(I've forgotten the name of it), and I had pheasant leg casserole with vegetables. Both were very good indeed.

We then drove the mile or so to Burwell Hythe where we used to live in a house with gardens down to the river. The below picture is of interest to our youngsters, as on our twenty fifth wedding anniversary they gave us a silver birch sapling. The below picture shows the tree as it is now, and although it's obviously been lopped occasionally, it's now a tall, well grown tree.   Thank you, offspring, very suitable for a silver wedding anniversary. Don't know what you're going to do next year on our golden wedding anniversary. You'll think of something no doubt. God bless you.

And Goodnight All.

Monday, 20 February 2012


This morning we motored to a nearby village to fix the above clock. It is an old acquaintance of mine. I've had to set it in beat after it had been moved when the room in which it lived had been decorated, then when it had been moved to its present home a few years ago. This time it turned out that the owner's young grandson had managed to open the trunk door and had been swinging on the pendulum. Spent about an hour doing kitchen table surgery on the clock and drinking coffee. Eventually repairs were completed, all was put back back together, movement, pendulum and  weights reinstated into clock, and the clock put in beat and set going.   All now going well.

 However felt it my duty to  point out to clock owner that if grandchildren are allowed to play with the clock and manage to pull it down on top of their little selves, a severe risk is incurred - of the clock being damaged again!!!!!!  Still, it's her clock.

Thursday, 16 February 2012


This morning we motored over to Coggeshall (in North Essex), to go to a tailor's shop/gentleman's outfitters where, some years ago I purchased a shooting waiscoat which I've been wearing for most of every winter since then. They hadn't any in stock, but promised to try and obtain one (at three times the price I paid then, needless to say). They now have a ladies' section where Ann found, and eventually bought the weskit she is wearing in the picture above (taken when we got home). Ann says the correct term for it is a gilet (?). Coggeshall is a pretty little town, so we then did a bit of exploring. Before we did however we decided to have lunch at the White Hart Hotel, which we've lunched at before (and that time  ended up buying some garden furniture which we still use - wandering off the subject down memory lane now; must stick to subject).Eventually found the White Hart (got sidetracked by the fact that it was market day) and decided to have a sandwich lunch. Whilst we were studying the menu, the people at the next table were served with what looked like a jolly good lunch, so we examined the menu more closely and found they were advertising a special lunch- Two Lunches for £9.95 the two. Next table's lunch looked so good we had the same - fried haddock, chips, peas, and tartare sauce. I don't think we've ever had a better fish meal - fresh, hot, light and crispy. We'd ordered coffee, and this too was excellent. I'd thoroughly recommend the place.

As you can see, streets of medieval buildings. I know it's the fashion to denigrate Essex (do you remember those 'Essex Girl' and 'Essex Man' stories that were popular in the eighties?), but North Essex is nearly as good as South Suffolk in many ways, not least architecturally.

Above is Coggeshall Church - St. Peter ad Vincula, I think. Interesting thing is that the tower  and part of the west end of the Church was destroyed by bombing in the early 1940s, and not rebuilt until 1956. They've made a lovely job of it, and Ann says (she is better at these things than I) that the Church has a very  welcoming feel to the interior.

More ancient buildings.

And lastly a quick snapshot taken in the Churchyard to show that spring is on its way.

Goodnight all.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012


For supper Ann had made what our grandchildren refer to as 'spagblog' (spaghetti Bolognese), see above photo.

Now I've got to backtrack a little to about five p.m. when Ann called me up from my cellar to partake of a cuppa. I was also surprised to be presented with the below illustrated profiterole, of which Ann had just made a batch. She hadn't made these for some years, but with the aid of an old notebook had remembered the recipe perfectly.

Now back to supper - pudding was two of the profiteroles with orange segments arranged in a fan round them- I'm afraid I'd eaten one of the profiteroles and some of the orange before I remembered to photograph them - but I'm sure you get the idea.

Been an interesting day. Up early for morning service at which I read the first lesson (by request of Crowbard this was from the first chapter of the epistle of Saint James, v. 19 to the end).

 Earlier in the week I'd been dragooned (by the Dean's wife) into manning the Church this afternoon. As it's half term she expected an influx of teenager lads who play pool (part of the Porch Project), and who have recently come up with the sport of riding up and down the aisle on their scooters (this has caused a good deal of damage to the early tiled floor at the end of the nave). I was told off to ban all bicycle, skate board, and scooter riding.
Also, as the weather is now a little warmer we were expecting a few tourists in the Church. I wasn't too certain about the first part of my duties - Ann suggested I tell the teenagers to get off their scooters, and if they didn't do so instantly to shout at them. This worked far better than I'd anticipated, partly I suspect, because I'm blessed with a particularly raucous below of rage, and fairly colourful phraseology when necessary, although I should perhaps say that it's been a good many years since I've had to use either of these talents. It turns out that today's teenage yob is a fairly sensitive creature who doesn't at all like to be shouted at. Of the dozen or so who turned up (all on scooters) only one of them (and he the youngest - about twelve I'd think) had the temerity to say "Why?".  The answer to this, of course,  was  "Because I %&**£" well say so" with the volume notched up a decibel or so.   I then called up all the rest and told them why - damage to an ancient floor.  The only problem with this was that I'd also been acting as guide to the only three tourists who'd turned up - all elderly (well, about my vintage) English gentlewomen, to whom I'd just previously been cooing in the approved turtle dove tones one uses to tourists who may, with luck eventually stick a quid or so in the old oak chest near the door.    It turned out that I needn't have worried. Elderly English gentlewomen are much better at coping with roars of rage that teenage lads. In fact they seemed to thoroughly approve of my treatment of teenage yobs in church  on scooters. The phrase "That's the stuff to give the troops, well that sort of yobbo anyway" about summed up their attitude together with nods of approval. Later on in the afternoon I met the Dean and warned him that he'd better be expecting complaints from the lads  of having been given earache by yours truly.
Oh well,  as they used to tell me, variety's the spice of life.......

Good night all.

Sunday, 12 February 2012


Taking turns to hog the fire. Yesterday evening.

Saturday, 11 February 2012


Yesterday late after noon drove over to our local farm shop, bought several bits including a bowl of daffs   for Hilary.   Drove home via the villages and took the  photos as the sun was setting (around 5 p.m.)

Tiny cottage (for sale), chocolate box pretty, but, I should think, claustrophobicly small inside.

Thatched small farmhouse in its fields.

Took this from the Churchyard, looking down on and along Kersey village street.

The porch of Kersey Church.

Today at about 1p.m. twenty three of us sat down to Hilary's birthday lunch (her birthday is on Monday).  The catering was done by our mutual friends Ros and Simon Cook (very apt surname too). They gave us cottage pie, followed by trifle, puddings (various), a cheeseboard, and coffee. We were seated at table in  three of the ground floor rooms of Hilary's medieval townhouse. Conversation was general, loud and  very entertaining. The great thing about small town life is that everybody knows everybody else. At one point Ros (the caterer) who'd been telling some of the ladies about her eldest son (who's at university and a bit of a character)  called out to me "You know my eldest, Mike. Wouldn't you say he's got the makings of an eccentric?". To which honesty compelled me to reply "I'd say, for your family he's about average eccentric, Ros, yes. But a thoroughly good chap".    "Thanks Mike...... I think."    The party broke up at about quarter to four.    Spent the evening beside the fire Knitting (Ann) and doing the Telegraph Prize Crossword (meself, with occasional suggestions from Ann).

Should add that last night was very cold. We were told that a temperature of  minus twelve degrees was recorded in town.  This morning the downstairs  cold water taps ran dry. Consulted a heating engineer (by 'phone) who said he thought a pipe must be frozen, but advised against doing anything except turning the heat up a little; and indeed, this evening the system seems to have righted itself without damage. The central heating goes off overnight, but will make sure there's heat tonight.

Goodnight All.

Friday, 10 February 2012


Walking home from Cafe Church this morning, when I stopped and looked at the United Reform Church, the roof of which was still covered in last weekend's snow, except for an area at the very apex of the roof where the snow had melted leaving an area of slate visible. As I looked, a friend of mine joined me.
"what are you looking at Mike?" he asked.
"Hello, John" I said, "You're a scientific sort of a chap, so why is there a patch of melted snow at the point of the roof there? Is it something to do with poor insulation?"
"Well," says John "Hot air always rises....  Oh yes, I can see the answer.  That area's right over the pulpit."

I must tell Jim ( the United Reform Church Minister) when I see him........ or then again, perhaps not.

Monday, 6 February 2012


 Spent almost all day in workshop, doing restoration work to a very early carbine. Working on the stock, and using black American walnut. As I almost invariably work in metal, found it really therapeutic (I think that's the word) and satisfying,  to be working in wood for a change.

Photo above is of supper's main course, consisting of a game pie made of the remains of the weekend's pheasant, with roast vegetables (done in olive oil) a wedge of cabbage, and creamed potatoes.

Pudding is shown below- jam tart with custard. Blackcurrant jam, which Ann says is full of vitamin C and should do our colds good. A delicious winter warming meal.

Goodnight all.

Sunday, 5 February 2012


This was the scene from our bedroom window when we looked out this morning at about seven. The first snow of the winter  as far as we were concerned. We'd had about six inches overnight, but with a rather gusty wind it had drifted in places.

The next three photos are of our garden. As you can see from the last one the ferns are still green from last year. When this lot goes I'll have to trim them back hard, I think.  As we've both got sniffly colds we didn't go out today apart from a little light snow shovelling from garden paths, and spreading sand and salt in the car park at the back of us. A neighbour had done some of it, including a path to our back gate, which was neighbourly of him, and left me very little to do. As his car was out I don't think he could have seen me do my bit, and wouldn't have thought it churlish of me after he'd done our path.

Spent a quiet day in the workshop mostly. Had a fire this afternoon, which we sat beside and got on with yesterday's Telegraph Prize Crossword (eventually completed later on Sunday evening, with the help of some clue-swapping with Sheila- just along the road- who 'phoned for the purpose). Ann did  a game casserole for supper using one of pheasants Jill gave us. Very tasty dish of a winter evening. It was followed by a lemon drizzle cake she'd made earlier in the week, with custard. Oh well, feed a cold and starve a fever.

Good night all.

Saturday, 4 February 2012


Cold day today. After supper I lit the fire in the sitting room for our game of scrabble. After the fire was lit I noticed Cedric who lives in the fire place. I'm afraid he only gets noticed when the fire is lit. This was the second time this winter. Cedric was carved from granite, probably in the west country, a long time ago.  Some years ago I showed him to an old acquaintance of mine who is something of an expert in antiquities. He told me   that Cedric is 'over a thousand years old, and probably less than two thousand years old- Dark Ages Celtic in fact.'   He is a genius cucullatus - a small cloaked household god. He's a pleasant little chap. Our daughter Ruth (who blogs as Nea, and wasn't very old at the time) told me that his name is Cedric- it seems to suit him. A visitor to our home a year or two ago, a devout and rather fundamentalist Christian lady, was a bit disturbed by Cedric, and declined to hold or go near him.  She seemed to feel a little shocked that we give house room to a small pagan Deity. I told her that he was a lump of well carved stone.  As he doesn't bother us, and we don't appear to bother him, we continue to live in amity.

Goodnight all.


Thursday, 2 February 2012

Thursday 2.

Had a thoroughly busy, and reasonably successful day at Long Melford yesterday. As a result slept well and got up late this morning. Pottered into town, did a little shopping, stopped off at the library to return books, found a book, a quiet window seat in the sun, and dozed for half an hour. On return home, saw that roses which had been  looking well earlier, were now dropping petals, but doing it rather attractively so took above snapshot of them.

It's been a glorious day, with a bracing northerly wind, so took snapshot of a clear blue sky from our garden.  Been stripping down a lantern clock, and doing necessary repairs to it this evening. All done bar slapping it back together again, which operation will probably get done tomorrow afternoon, as I'm going to bed now.

Goodnight All.

Thursday 1.

Sorry Sue, I think I must have been very tired the other night. Just seen a way round it.

More in a min.