Thursday, 29 January 2015


As you can see from the two photographs, we finally had our bit of winter snow -it settle to a depth of ....oh, quite half an inch!  At about 3.30 p.m. today realised it was snowing quite heavily - large, wet flakes descending on me. Looked up into the sky over our garden, and found that odd phenomenon was occurring, when about a trillion large black snowflakes were swirling above me out of a dark sky, then descending. Odd thing was (and I remember noticing this as a boy) when they got down to my level they'd ALL turned white.  Now I'm sure that a scientific sort of gent could explain this, in simple words of few syllables that even I could understand, but please don't. I address this more specifically to young Crowbard. Please gentlemen, leave us more prosaic types our odd bits of magic to play with.

              It's now freezing hard!  Good night all.

Sunday, 25 January 2015


This for the benefit of commenters on my previous blog entry. The maker's mark on the base is too faint to photograph well, but is Dixon and Son. The engraved monogram is, I think J (or possibly G) S, with the date 1827. Although, technically, this is in the reign of George IV, it's near enough to Crowbard's guess of Regency to be correct. I think all of you did remarkably well, and got this completely right ( I could be accused of pedantry in the one or two very minor corrections I've pointed out).  In general you are all becoming very scholarly in your answers. Skippy was, as usual, very good indeed. Rog spotted my quote from the Gondoliers and looked it up to get pewter.  Very impressive - all of you.

P.s. I should have said that the 'presser' is kept inside the jar, as Crowbard says, to keep the tobacco compressed. This keeps the tobacco from drying out (just moist). It works, too. When the medical profession allowed me to smoke a pipe, I kept the baccy in a similar jar with a lead presser, and this kept the tobacco nicely fresh.

Saturday, 24 January 2015


 The object photographed above and below is this week's  MYSTERY OBJECT. It measures just shy of four and a half inches long, is four inches high, and three and a half inches deep.  What was it made for; what is it made of; where and when was it made ?   The maker's name is on the base, the owner's monogram and date is engraved of the side (not the side shown), so you can be quite specific about the date - guess the year when you think it was made.

In this picture the lid has been removed and the object to the left is usually kept inside (again it's there  for a purpose).

                                      Good guessing, although I think some of you may know what it's for.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015


As you can see, Ann's amarylis is now approaching its prime. Today has been a fairly restful day. Walked into town this morning, to Hilary's, where the scrabble branch of Highdale's U3A was holding its monthly Scrabble morning. Played, with Hilary and Jenny, three very good games. Won a game each, all of well over a combined score of 600 points.  Walked home through our first flurry of snowflakes this winter (didn't settle though). Had a quick lunch, then to a commemoration service for Priscilla (a friend of ours)  at Aldham Church. As we filed out after the service, our eyes were caught by a very elderly lady in the opposite back pew. She was clad for the cold, but on top of the layers and around her neck, was what I think used to be called a fox fur tippet. When I was a boy many old ladies wore the things. It was a scarf sort of thing made of fox fur, about four foot long with two feet and the fox's mask (complete with malevolent glass eyes inset) at one end, and the brush (or tail) and two more feet at the other end.  "Haven't seen one of those in years" whispers Ann. "No thank God" I reply. As I said, when I was very young they were not uncommon, were always worn by Great Aunts (who had to be dutifully  kissed - and when you got that close they, the fox furs that is, were usually fragranced with moth balls - the great aunts were scented with Parma violets - not a good mix!). Whenever I encountered one of them, as a small boy,  I always thought that the fox must have been run over on the road, probably by a steam roller - to give the animal its unusual length.  The one we saw this morning must, I think, be the last one of those in captivity!  Hope so anyway, although, in fairness, as far as I could judge, this afternoon's specimen hadn't been subjected to the moth ball treatment.

Good Night All.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015


Been a busy day. Had to drive across to our furniture restorer with a long case clock , the case of which (largely because of modern central heating ) has been drying out so badly, that it has become a major job. I like to think I can do anything to the insides of an ancient clock, that needs doing, but a clock case needing major work is a job for a joiner. Melvin lives near Newmarket - we hadn't seen him for some years. He hasn't changed a lot though, apart from greying a good deal at the edges, and that of course can happen to the best of us. Chatted for a while then drove on to Cambridge. Took the above photo of a small church in a field at the edge of Cambridge. It looks sweet, but is, in fact, the old leper Chapel, and dates from late Norman days.

Went to the only shop I know of in East Anglia which sells brass and iron rod and sheet in different sizes and thicknesses. Just before I left I said to the efficient type who was serving me "It's a long shot but do you have any piercing saw blades ?" and to my utter surprise he said he thought they did through in the main shop. Went through and they did, in the sizes I needed ! I then found they also sold silver solder rods and flux, and buffing wheel mops and brushes.  Most of these things, over the last few years, I've had to 'phone jewellery suppliers all over the country to obtain!  Then found a vacant parking place (it's been that sort of day) near the Fitzwilliam museum, where we had a light lunch, and popped in to see an old friend, David, who keeps an antique shop right opposite the Fitzwilliam, and is always worth a visit.

Motored home, and took above snap of the cottage above, it's the last house coming out of Lavenham. The trees to the left of the photo stand on a small hill which is claimed by the locals as the highest point in Suffolk (as do two other places - all of them claim to be just over 300 feet above sea level).

The above building is, or was, Monks Eleigh Guild Hall. It's as well to remember that, in Suffolk, the place you are in may look like  a small village now, but was probably (before the black death hit us in 1349/1350) quite an important market town. I have known elderly gentlemen to become markedly narked (I should perhaps have expressed that as 'highly indignant') at hearing their main  shopping street described as 'the village street'. "This is not a village " they reply, "It is a market town"; and in the case of Highdale "It was once the capital of the kingdom of East Anglia". It doesn't matter a bit to said elderly gentlemen that this was a thousand years or so ago, it is still not a village street you are occupying! so tread warily when you describe the place.

Saturday, 17 January 2015


The photographs are of one of the more interesting houses in our town of interesting buildings. It has recently had all the carvings stripped of many layers of paint to show the fine detail.

As you will be able to see, if you enlarge the pictures, not only is the carving  very confidently and well done, but at one stage all the plaster work of the house has been very competently pargetted.

I managed to get a close up photo of the date carved over the window photographed above. I find the date intriguing - 1653 would be right in the middle of the Commonwealth period, when the puritans were very much in power, and I can't imagine they'd approve of some of the carvings, or of the amount of sheer decorative work in the pargetted (and probably at one time painted) plaster.

 Almost all the busts (please excuse the obvious pun) are equipped with beards and bosoms! It is sometimes known locally as 'the beards and boobs house'.

A stream runs under the road and past this end of the house. It used to be an Inn. Its original name was 'the Flying Chariot'.  I find it one of the most fascinating buildings in our town.

Friday, 16 January 2015


Hit a snag on the computer yesterday, so was unable to publish blog entry. At just after four o'clock this afternoon 'phoned daughter Ruth in Sweden. A good deal of thought went into the timing - Swedish time is an hour ahead of ours, and as Ruth teaches (and the Swedish school hours too are rather ahead of ours, I think) I got the timing about right, and Ruth was happy to spend an hour on the blower; so that, with the occasional helpful interjection from her husband, the three of us were able  improve matters on the blogger a good deal - many thanks to both of them.


I bought the above amarylis in Highdale sometime last November.  Most weeks I manage to find flowers for Ann, but last November  decent flowers seemed in short supply here, so in the end I found a shop (the Co-op I think) selling amarylis bulbs, which looked healthy, so I bought her some potential flowers, which are now, as you can see, just beginning to reach their potential.

I am really just waffling now to see if the computer (when I press the 'publish button') has now fully resumed its duties........... here goes!


We've been having our bedroom redecorated over the last few days (and it needed it - only really was aware of that when young Jordan, our decorator, announced the job was finished, yesterday).

Have a feeling that I may have used the above group of photies as illustration to the blog previously.

This is photo one again, but to the extreme right of the picture the object on the wall is a patchwork quilt which we've been meaning to hang over the bed since we moved here eight years ago. Finally got round to it.


Saturday, 10 January 2015


 On Thursday last Ann began to show signs of a streaming cold developing; On Friday there was no doubt about the matter, so Ann (who was a senior nursing sister before she retired) decreed that it would be a good idea to 'batten down hatches' until we are no longer infectious. This involved cancelling a number of social engagements (on the 'phone so as not to infect anyone), and making sure that we have enough supplies in the house. We've  lived on leftovers since. Today for lunch I made squubble and beak (a la Rev. Spooner), served up with a fried egg on top. Ann's been having her coffee with a shot of brandy in it, and I'm about to make meself  a hot toddy (equal quantities of scotch and water, with a squeeze of lemon, and honey to taste). Neither of these two drinks do much to cure the cold, but they do cheer us up a bit.

 The top photo was taken yesterday from our kitchen window when FIVE goldfinches were congregated on the bird feeder - well actually it was taken a split second after there were five goldfinches on the feeder. As I pressed the camera bulb three of them flew (of course)


This morning I found that we had snowdrops in flower in the garden, which was a nice surprise. As I bent down to get a good picture of the snowdrops, I had even more of a surprise - behind the snowdrops  were some purple hellbore, also in flower.

The folk name for these used to be Christmas Roses, and I should think that these were showing colour at Christmas. Must try and remember to check next year.

I've a date with a hot toddy now, followed by  an early bed (probably with a hot water bottle).

Good Night All.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015


Spent most of today getting ready for tomorrow's antique fair at Long Melford, but at around four o'clock Ann suggested a quick walk down to the river, then back via the town. The wind had just swung Northerly, so with a clear sky it was a good fresh walk. The river, as you can see, was high. We had two pleasant surprises.

The first is shown above - the first wild flowers of the year, aconites, were in bloom;

And in the Churchyard we found snowdrops in bloom. Always enjoy the first flowers (it's tempting to refer to them as the first Spring Flowers, but I think that might be tempting providence, alias the irony department).


Above is an item I purchased on EBay last week with a part missing. I've a feeling I've used a similar one as a MYSTERY OBJECT  before, so this time, it might be interesting to see if you can remember what it is. Also, earlier in the week, I had to make the lock part that was missing. See, if you can guess which part has been replaced.   Mark you, if you can; it means I haven't made a very good job of it.

Saturday, 3 January 2015


Yesterday our good friend Sue Parker told Ann of a new 'Antique Centre' which has opened recently in Woodbridge, so this morning we motored over to Woodbridge to inspect it. Moderately successful in that I purchased a small late eighteenth century leather snuff box there. We did a bit more pottering around various shops in Woodbridge, then decided we needed a coffee, and found that all the coffee shops appeared to be full! In fact when we checked the time it was fully lunch time (if not a bit later than that). We then decided to drive home via Martlesham, to call in at the Red Lion for lunch. This is a lovely old Suffolk coaching Inn which we'd not been to for some years. It has recently been taken over by a firm called the Chef and Brewer, and was still fairly crowded. We were given a table after a short wait; there followed a rather longer wait  until we were able to order. There appeared to be only three serving staff waiting on a very full old Inn. We eventually were able to order our choice which was venison with vegetables and dauphinois potatoes (rather a favourite of ours), which was eventually served up at nearly two o'clock. Ann took a forkful of the dauphinois potatoes- then put her fork down and waited whilst I did the same- they were only half cooked, in fact the potatoes were  crunchy- quite inedible. I called over our waiter and explained the problem to him. He didn't seem altogether surprised, but said that if we'd care to carry on with our meal he'd try and get some ordinary mashed potatoes to go with it. We did as he'd suggested and carried on eating the venison (which was excellent). After about another ten minutes a rather more senior waiter (probably the manager). dashed over to our table with two small bowls of mashed potatoes, apologised for the mistake, thanked us for our 'patience' (which by this stage was wearing thin, I'm afraid), and hoped we'd enjoy the rest of our meal. When we'd finished eating the manager came over, asked if we wanted pudding, then  offered us coffee "on the house" - to try and make up for the 'dauphinois' half cooked potatoes.  We decided to have coffee, after which we paid the bill and left. The waitress presented us with 'a voucher' for ten pounds off our next meal there (these were being presented to all the customers). I left ours on the table, having resisted the temptation of scrawling 'not necessary - we shan't be coming back' on it.  We shall certainly not eat there again.
Having got home I've looked up Ann's recipe for potatoes dauphinois, and we are pretty certain that apart from being badly undercooked, several ingredients (crushed garlic clove, ground nutmeg, mature English cheddar, fresh double cream) were missing from the dish. The real problem, I think,  was that the place was badly understaffed. I would be interested to know what others do in these circumstances (apart, that is, from 'voting with their feet' as we intend to do.

The place is worth a look, it's very picturesque. But if you think of eating there - YOU HAVE BEEN FOREWARNED !!