Sunday, 19 June 2016


Yesterday afternoon we motored over to Shelley, a village some miles from us, where an art exhibition was being held in the Church, and in the village four houses had opened their gardens to raise money for the church building (almost exactly what we did last Saturday in Highdale).  The Art exhibition was small but good, and all the artists were from the small village. Of the four  houses whose gardens had been thrown open, three were of the Hall, Shelley House, and Shelley Manor type (I've already forgotten which was which) and the fourth was a big converted barn. All the gardens were very large, nothing of the 'hidden gardens' type about them, except that they were all well away from a road, thoroughly excluded.

 The one above (and below) was probably pre Tudor.

The same house, but a lovely mix of the old and the High Tech new.

The one above, and shown in the next few photoes, was a lovely old house, built in 1520 (with a good many additions, I should think, had, about fifty yards from the house, a large moat. It was always thought that the previous manor house had been surrounded by the moat, but aerial photoes and examination seemed to show that a large garden had stood on the moated area, so the present owners have tried to restore what had been there.

The photo above is in the wrong place. It is the restored barn. The owners are professional plant breeders and showed irises, successfully,
 at the Chelsea Flower Show this year!

This last photie is back to the moated garden next to the Manor House, which can be seen in the background.

It was a lovely afternoon out, and we rather wished we'd made a day of it rather than just an afternoon.

P.s. Would just like to record that  the people at the gardens we visited yesterday, told us how much they'd enjoyed their visit to our garden the previous weekend. In view of the fact that ours is a pocket handkerchief of a garden in comparison to the Shelley ones, we found this reassuring!!!!!


Friday, 17 June 2016


This week's 'Mystery Objects' are shown in the four photographs here. They are snuff boxes in the shape of shoes, made in brass and copper. 'Shoe' snuff boxes are not in the least unusual; they are, in fact the most common of 'form snuff boxes'. These are unusual in being a bit bigger than most, being around five inches long. I think they are probably table top snuffs as opposed to pocket snuff boxes.

Here (above) they are shown with the lids open.

Above they are shown with the lids closed, so that the devices on the lids can be seen. The shoe on the left shows a 'crest' like device of a hand holding a dagger.  The top man on  the right box appears to be  a cricketer (batsman). Whilst I'm not sure of the one below, Ann thinks it shows a fielder taking a low catch off the batsman, and looking at it, I think she may well be right (?)

They are, I think, English. They are not a pair (slight differences in the size, and decoration).

The question is when were they made, to celebrate which event, and what the decoration is intended to mean?
Any serious answer would be appreciated and would add to my knowledge about this interesting pair (sorry - couple) of boxes. To help the matter,  in my opinion (founded on the style of the boxes, and their decoration)  I would guess that they were made in the same workshop around the dates 1840 to 1860.
Over to you.
Thanks- any suggestions gratefully received.

                                Regards, Mike  and Ann.

Monday, 13 June 2016


Heavy showers turned into torrential rain for a short time this morning, with water flowing down our central garden path.

Rained several times today - heavily.

It stopped by evening, but when I went outside about eight o'clock, it certainly hadn't all drained away.  As a direct result of the weather spent most of today pottering and catching up in the workshop.

Off to bed in a min. Goodnight All.

Saturday, 11 June 2016


Today Highdale has had its 'Secret Gardens of Highdale' exhibition, in which we were persuaded to enter our garden. It has been a long day, the gardens opening at 11 a.m.  All went well until about two p.m. when we had a violent thunderstorm, which lasted for about forty minutes. We took advantage of this break in visitors, to eat the sandwich and salad lunch, which our friend Hilary (who was helping us with the open day) had provided. When the storm was over we found that the garden was again becoming crowded. Things dried off surprisingly quickly. Although it was supposed to end at 5p.m. in fact the last visitors finally left at about five thirty. At Hilary's suggestion we'd kept a list of guests (216 of them) and where they'd come from; these included  an Australian, a South African, an Indian young man from Lahor, and a couple from Stafford.  Hilary stayed on to help us tidy up, and eventually Ann provided an evening meal for the three of us (a chicken casserole with rice and vegetables, followed by  various fresh fruits). We finally ran Hilary home at about eight o'clock.
It's been a tiring, but satisfying day. We've enjoyed it more than we expected, but I think we both feel that it's nearly bedtime, so -   Goodnight every one.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016


The tiny thatched building in the centre of the above photo stands at a crossroads just the far side of Lavenham, and was built for a very specific, but, to my mind, a rather enexpected - purpose; so that this is an architectural  'Mystery Object'. Can you guess what it was built as?

I really reopened this blog, because I had forgotten a small piece of news I'd intended to put in my last blog entry.  On Sunday, as we were coming out of Aldham Church, a lovely great barn owl - a white owl that is, flew over the duck decoy near the church. We all saw it, and one or two of the locals explained that three large nesting boxes have been installed in the area with the express purpose of encouraging barn owls to breed. They were obviously successful, but another lady in our group said that another pair of barn owls were breeding in her barn - these, I suppose were more tradionally minded barn owls. Anyway, it was good to know that white owls will be around in our locality again- it's been a few years since we've seen one of these beautiful birds in this area.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Monday (2).

 Back with you. Top photo is of Ann in our garden. I think I've mentioned that in a few days time we shall be showing our garden in 'Hidden Gardens of Highdale'. Still got quite a bit to do to the garden but tomorrow our (professional) gardeneress, Tessa, is coming to sort out our box hedge. For pedants, I know it won't be on Derby day, which tradionally is the correct day to trim box, but I'm hoping it will be near enough - needs doing, anyway..

We motored over to Ely this morning to join two of Ann's siblings and partners, for our more or less monthly meeting and natter. Middle brother David has a nasty cold, so couldn't join us -there's a lot of it around.  We met up and lunched at - yes, you've guessed it- our usual, the Fire Engine house.

Almost opposite the Fire Engine House is the above house, which, for a while (in the 1630s)  housed our then tax gatherer, a certain Mr. Oliver Cromwell, who, a few years later topped Charles I (January of 1649, if I remember) then took on an even more important job, i.e. replacing the King (pro tem).

Next to the above ex Cromwell's dwelling, and about two hundred yards from the Cathedral, is the above Saint Mary's Church. You would hardly think two churches were needed in such close proximity, still, I suppose they knew what they were doing..


Having tried to catch up a little on the blog front, I think it's nearly time for bed - so-
                                      Goodnight all.


Firstly, I must apologise for my tardiness over the last week. I can only plead being extremely busy. The week has included taking part in an antique fair at Long Melford, attending an antique fair at Lavenham, viewing an auction at Stowmarket, and leaving bids on said auction, plus the usual weekly activities. Backtracking slightly, early last week we were looking at a calendar that a friend makes yearly, featuring East Anglian scenes, and found that in this year's calendar a village called Hawkedon keeps recurring - mainly Hawkedon Church, which has lots of early carving, bench ends, and stained glass. So we decided (having consulted a map, and found Hawkedon was about ten miles or so the far side of Lavenham) to go and have a look  at it. The top photo is of Hawkedon Church.

Above photo is of  an elderly, well whiskered gentleman, taking his ease on a gravestone, in front of the church.

Above photo shows three more (even older and more bewhiskered)  gentlemen taking their ease  on a carved bench end, dating, we're told from the mid fourteen hundreds, inside the said church.

Think I'm going to leap forward to this week now- back in a minute.