Saturday, 28 March 2015


 I mentioned earlier in the week (Monday, 23rd March, previous blog entry)  that Ann's idea of a birthday present was to take as many of our family as were available out for a meal. So this morning at 10 a.m. we set our from home and motored to Ely, where we went to our favourite eating out place (leaving aside the Hollow Trees Garden Centre restaurant) the Fire Engine house. All our family attended save granddaughter Lucy (who couldn't get time off from her weekend job), step granddaughter Tia, and the Swedish contingent, Ruth, Lasse, Tuva, and Freja.  The above photo shows the private dining room at the Fire Engine House, before the ravenous hordes of Horners (etc.) descended on it. In the end there were twenty of us.

The above photo shows our two Great Granddaughters, the placid Astrid, and the happy Elsa. Elsa  (about four months the elder) appears to be fascinated by Astrid, and can't decide whether she is a toy or another small person. She keeps trying to make experimental advances to solve this problem, and Astrid continues to be placid and doesn't object to these advances in the least.

The above photo was taken from the same spot as the first one by one of the very obliging waitresses, and shows all twenty of us, just before the meal was served.

This  photo shows Ann and meself at our seat in the bow window of the room. Astra has by now become so placid that she is flat out asleep in my arms, whilst Ann is having to restrain Elsa from making further advances to solve the problem of who, or what, Astrid is. Elsa is, however, still quite happy about the matter; she follows her usual procedure of smiling at everyone and everything.

Above shows Ann's younger brother David, and his wife, Mo (Maureen). They arrived a little late, full of apologies, and, being senior of our guests, joined us at the top table.

The food, I am happy to report, was up to the Fire Engine House's usual high standards, and an excellent time was had by all.  We broke up at about three twenty  p.m. (which demonstrates how patient the staff at this establishment is - they were still offering us fresh coffee at this point). It was a lovely day out, and was, according to Ann, just the birthday present she'd wanted.

          Got to put the clocks on now, so Good Night All.

Monday, 23 March 2015


This morning, and part of this afternoon, I have been busy decorating Ann's birthday cake. The birthday is on Wednesday, and when I asked her what she would like for her birthday (not an easy question to answer, in that at our age, we've got more or less everything we'd like), Ann thought for a while and then said that what she'd really like would be a get-together of all our offspring who could get to it. Ann made the cake, and I iced it. I've iced our annual Christmas cake for some years, and I'm now reasonably good at doing holly and its berries. I can also do (thanks to restoring many clock dials) Victorian cabbage roses and drooping tulips; none of this however is of much use for birthday cakes. However, it seemed to me that wishing the usual birthday wishes, surrounded by all Ann's family names ( Ann, Mummy, Granny Annie, and now Great Granny) would about meet the case. It's not, I'm afraid, the best cake decoration I've ever done (which really, given the circs, that should oughter hev bin, as we say in Norfolk). But, having had no practice since before last Christmas, it's the best I could do.

                                    Happy Birthday on Wednesday, Darling.

P.s. The get together family do is planned for this coming weekend. Will try and take photies and record it on the blog.

Sunday, 22 March 2015


Answers to the Mystery Object :-  It is, as you can see (and as Crowbard guessed, after some heavy fraternal hinting) an  early form of pocket watch. It would have been carried by either a male or female owner, although there are one or two very tiny watches of this period, which we assume were made for ladies.They are very rare though, and I'm inclined to think that this one was made for a man. It would probably have been, when made, a single handed time piece. It is of a type called by collectors 'a form watch', this one being in the form of a fritilary flower, which is one of the known motifs. This kind of watch would have been made probably in the first quarter of the 1600s. The present movement is probably the third  movement the watch has had. The original movement would have been a verge movement with a fusee, but with no balance spring, so not a particularly good timekeeper. The above and below photos show that the watch would have been viewed by folding back one of the three petals; the other two petals could also be folded back, as a stand, thus enabling  the watch to be used as  a small bedside clock. It was probably made in Holland as several of you have guessed, but possibly in Germany, or even in England (being rather a plain, functional item. The original movement would have been a good deal deeper than the present one, which is illustrated in the lower picture, and has been in the watch for some fifty or so years.

The below picture shows the watch completely open, with the present movement as it is today. When being worn now, I am told; it is carried as a pendant, and hung on a chain made from two silver watch alberts, and shown to the left of the watch.

Had the watch retained its original movement, it would have been of considerable value. As it is however, it is a nice piece of unusual jewellery, but of no great value. The present winder is shown below the dial in both top pictures, and is quite difficult to operate. It would have originally been wound with a key.
I think I've about covered all details, but if anything is unclear, please ask and I'll try and give further information.

Thursday, 19 March 2015


Just realised it's been a while since I put a Mystery Object on screen. All  three photos are of this week's mystery object.  Please give your opinion of the material of which it is  made, the object's purpose; when it was made, and where (no need to be too exact about the latter - there are two possible answers, perhaps three).

          Good guessing, and my warm regards,

Tuesday, 17 March 2015


Yesterday (Monday) youngest daughter, Lizzie, and her son Matthew, turned up just before midday to spend  the day, slept here overnight,  and spent most of today with us. For lunch Ann gave us roast chicken, and I opened a bottle of  Piesporter to go with it. The ladies had a glass apiece, but although they said how nice it was - couldn't be tempted to more.

For our evening meal we had a salad and left overs meal (very good it was, too - I do enjoy foraging for left overs). Grandson Matthew and I finished the Piesporter between us (we'd left a glassful apiece from lunch).

After supper we played two four handed games of Scrabble. I won the first game and Ann the second. Both youngsters said they were thoroughly out of practice, as they only play the game when visiting us. They both played well though, and made us exert ourselves to win.

Early this afternoon the four of us went for a walk into the town, as we all had bits of shopping to do. Lizzie was intrigued to find a 'junk shop' had opened in the town centre since her last visit. I told her I didn't think she'd find anything worthwhile there, but she DID! -  the above photographed wall cupboard. She haggled a bit, just to be polite, but eventually bore it off in triumph. As it needed a bit of tidying up doing, she left the item with us for me to carry out the necessary minor surgery (which I've mostly now done - glue drying as I write). Liz wanted the cupboard to keep part of her collection of odd bits of early porcelain  ( I think they'll look well therein).  They left for London early this afternoon.

Ann's just gone upstairs to bed, where I must now join her - Good Night All.

Thursday, 12 March 2015


This afternoon we motored over to Sudbury as Ann wanted to do our fortnightly (more or less) big shop at Sudbury's Waitrose.  On our way we decided to make a detour through the village of Boxford. The above photo shows Boxford's main street. The cream building on the left, and the white building on the right are both ancient inns, which shows, I think that in the past this must have been  a busy market town.

On the oposite side of the road is a large handsome house. The red car to the left of the photo, by the way, is our new car.

Almost opposite to where we'd parked is an antique shop which is the real reason for our visit to Boxford. It was  opened last Saturday by our friend Hellen, who is an antique dealer of long standing. Given the way that antique shops have been closing down over the past ten years, I find it very reassuring that a dealer of Hellen's long experience should consider it worthwhile to go against the trend and OPEN an antique shop in the middle of a village. From the 1960s onwards most reasonably large  villages boasted one or two antique shops, so that a day spent motoring round half a dozen or so villages and small towns was almost certain to yield treasure trove.   Oh well - happy days; and, as I say, I find it cheering that, perhaps antique dealers are beginning to find shops worth opening again. I do wish Hellen good luck with  her venture, and hope that she is starting a new trend in real antique shops.

The above photo was taken from outside the new shop's doorway, and shows the almost entirely medieval main street leading up to the church, which is itself well worth a visit.

I should have said that Hellen specialises in small, pretty ANTIQUES!! (which means :- NO JUNK! ) She  is also trying to build up a stock of early furniture on which to display her smaller pieces of stock .

I think the new antique shop will add to the attraction of this very pretty village.  Should have said that Hellen's shop will be open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.


I think we must live in a fairly sheltered spot here, because, generally speaking, it's been a nice mild winter; BUT, today was the first day we've been happy to have our mid morning coffee and biccies outside in the spring sunshine, and very nice it was, too.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015


The two clocks illustrated here are the two clocks I have been working on today. Actually I started work on the wall clock shown above yesterday evening.  I stripped it down completely, found the problem, then left it overnight, solved the problem, and put the clock back together this morning, since when it's been behaving itself perfectly. It is a typical English fusee wall clock, with a twelve inch dial. It lives in a large kitchen and hangs right over the Aga, which had caused the clock oil to more or less solidify. I'm going to have to persuade the clock owner to relocate the clock to somewhere more suitable (hopefully still in the kitchen).

The long case clock illustrated above and below started life in around 1820, and was made by Thomas Dickinson of Boston (the Lincolnshire one, not the American one).  I found it in a dry garden shed in Ely in 1978/9, purchased  it, and took it home, where Ann fell in love with it. I cleaned it, and it's been going and keeping reasonably good time ever since then; until I found a few weeks ago that all the glue in the case had dried out alarmingly, so that the clock had become quite shaky in its old age. I think this was probably due to the clock having lived in centrally heated homes for the last few years. This time I took the case to a friend of mine, a furniture restorer near Cambridge. He's done a good, sound job on the case, and this afternoon I did the few necessary repairs on the movement, and put it all back together. It's now running well again. Mell, the furniture restorer, told me he'd never before noticed a long case clock with only two feet to the base. I told him that it's fairly unusual, but I've had several through my hands over the years, and that it is a good practical design, in that with two front feet only, the clock case is braced firmly against the wall behind it. The few that I've noticed all dated from around the first quarter of the nineteenth century.

It's a rather attractive clock, and it's good to have it going again. We've both rather missed it.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015


Ann was working in the garden this afternoon and showed me the above double hellebore. Can't say I remember seeing it before, so perhaps it's something new. Must check.

Above and below are two more photos of hellebore. Beautifully marked flowers (inside).

Usual snapshots of 'corners of the garden'.

A nicely marked Auricular, which was rather a favourite flower of Victorian days, and I can see why.

Been busy this week - bought a new car, well it's  another Honda Jazz (our fourth in a row -over the last ten years).

Ann went up to bed about ten minutes ago, so it's apples and pears time (cockney rhyming slang, Lori :- 'apples and pears, up the stairs') for me, too---- so, Goodnight All.

Sunday, 1 March 2015


Took the photographs today in and around Aldham Church, where we went to morning service. It's about a mile or so away from Highdale. It's a lovely little church, mainly of 14th century date, although the round tower is a good deal earlier, and was probably built for defensive purposes, against the Danes, we are told. We are also told (by the local people, who have had the information passed down by word of mouth since time immoral, as one of them used to tell me) that the tower is about a thousand years old. Actually, parts of it are rather older than that, as you'll realise when you come to look at the third photo.

Above photo is of what's left of the old duck decoy near the Church.

Inside one of the windows is the above celtic strapwork stone. Another similar piece of stone is built into the outside of the tower. Don't know when this stone was cut; probably somewhere between the seventh and ninth centuries we are told (by the same well informed  locals). It's obviously a piece of reused stone from an earlier Church. After Church we motored over to Copdock where a couple of antique fairs are held on the first Sunday of the month. Combed both of them (one in the village hall and the other in a nearby hotel).  Made only one purchase, a piece of late eighteenth century pewter; but I am very pleased with it.  Home and a late lunch.  Spent the rest of the day in my workshop, getting a few more pieces ready for Wednesday's Long Melford Antique Fair.  Got another treen bowl to wax polish, then it's bedtime.

                                              Goodnight All.

Thursday, 26 February 2015


Been a fairly busy day today. This morning I was cleaning,  preparing, and labeling some metal ware and treen that we shall be showing at Long Melford antique fair next Wednesday. Lunch, quick zizz, then got stuck into the above and below illustrated dial clock (fusee). It had problems on both the mainspring setting up ratchet, and on the winding stopwork, both these jobs necessitated stripping the movement down completely, locating the problems, repairing the problems, then putting the clock back together. All of this took until our evening meal, so that just before seven p.m., I hung the clock on my workshop wall, wound and started it, and it's been running ever since (and keeping reasonable time). It was made by Charles Smith Burgess, who worked in Tavern Street in Ipswich, in circa 1850. He was born in 1807 and died in 1886. The clock is rather smaller than is usual. An English fusee wall clock usually has a twelve inch dial. This one has an eight inch dial. It's an attractive little wall clock.

At about seven, Ann called me upstairs to her sewing room, as she wanted me to try on something she'd made. I've been trying to find a good, stout work apron lately, with a total lack of success. Ann succeeded in finding some calico she'd had by her for years, and had made me a work apron from it, which I am modelling in the picture below. It's a good, solid, job of work, and I'm very pleased with it; learned something , too.  Looked up the word calico, and found that it's a sort of solidly well woven cotton twill, and named after the town  - Calicutt (Calcutta, as we called it) - whence we originally bought the stuff.

I think this particular pinny should last me a good many years.

Good night All.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015


Above is today's lunch - pheasant casserole (with mashed potatoes, mashed celeriac and carrots). We had the bird roast for Sunday lunch, and Ann made soup for supper this evening with the last of the bird. The odd thing is that Ann bought the bird on Saturday from our butcher. In the dim and distant I'd have shot the bird. During the last few years friends who still shoot would give us the occasional brace. Since then, we've one friend who beats, and was paid in kind so let us have a brace or so every winter.  This one Ann,as I say, bought from our butcher, and at Sunday lunch time I found (rather to my surprise) that the bird was perfectly hung. Given the fairly cold weather at the weekend, I would judge it to have been hung in an outhouse for six to eight days, which is nicely enough to make it taste pleasantly 'gamey' without being at all 'over the top'. I must make a point sometime this week, of popping into the butcher's shop and congratulating him on his skills.

This afternoon we both had a quick 'nap' in our bedroom. When I woke, I found the weather was sunny with a dramatically stormy backdrop to the north. Took the above photo looking north from one of our bedroom windows along our street  towards Highdale High Street.

Still got one or two jobs to be done in my workshop before I retire to bed. In the meantime I wish all my readers a good night's sleep.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Saturday (2)

Today's been much as usual (for a Saturday). Spent this morning pottering in the workshop (meself) and in the garden (Ann). After lunch tidied meself up and went to Scrabble Club. Three good games, enlivened by the organiser (a lady in her mid eighties) collapsing when we were setting up. She seemed to go down joint by joint, so I was able to get to her before she actually hit the deck. lowered her to the floor, and made her stay there for a couple of minutes whilst she got her breath back. One of the other scrabblers (of much the same vintage) helped me hoist her to her feet, and lower her into a chair. This sort of thing has happened several times before, and she seemed to be suffering no ill effects.
 Ann did a little grocery, fruit, and flower shopping, whilst I was scrabbling. The bunch of red roses shown above Ann purchased to celebrate our fifty-second Wedding anniversary on Monday. My job really, I suppose, but Ann thought of it, and got to it first.

The above photo is of hellebores, which Ann brought in from our garden. They seem to diplay best floating, as here, in a bowl of water.

The above is cheating a bit. It's the same bunch of roses as is shown in picture number one, but this time it is displayed in one of the front windows.

Another hellebore, this time on the dining table. The garden is already showing the odd splash of colour in it.
I think this might be an early night, so I wish you all a very good one.

P.s. Ann says that although they are the same roses, the bright red ones in the kitchen are the real colour of these flowers.


Hello Crowbard. Here is a further illustration of the last mystery object, showing the lock of a wheel lock gun. Given your adjustment of a guess at the date of the item (I would personally have guessed it to have been made between 1680 and 1720) I think you have scored 100%. Well done!  It is a beautifully decorated item and handles well - in other words once you've mastered the trick of not shouldering the weapon, but pressing the cheek piece under the right cheek bone, it 'comes up' perfectly. There is, as you can now see, a 'set' trigger, and every piece of metal on the item is well engraved.

Thursday, 19 February 2015


                                         Mystery Object.

This is only  really a 'mystery object' in that the above two photos are of an important part of the mystery object. The details of the engraving, though, should be enough to give some of my readers a pretty good idea of when and where the object was made. I think most of you will spot at once the purpose of the object. Give it a try anyway.

Spent this morning showing a prospective buyer my stock of antique weaponry. I usually have a pretty good idea if any business will result; but this morning's customer gave me no idea whether he will or won't. We'll see.
This afternoon we took a clock movement,  which I'd repaired,  back to friends of ours in Lavenham. After I'd reinstalled the movement (a Suffolk made long case clock) into its case, set it in beat and started it, they told me that a lantern clock (another old friend of mine) had developed a fault. This time did 'kitchen table surgery' on the clock. We then had coffee and home made flapjack with them for a while, to see that both clocks were running (which they were). Then looked at (and advised on) a 'Grande Sonnerie' Carriage clock, and an Edwardian bracket clock. Got home just after five. Being called up to supper now, so - Goodnight All.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015


More family snapshots taken during our weekend with senior daughter Sarah. We came home yesterday (Monday). Stopped off in Ely, gave  the Waterside Antique Centre a thorough once-over and purchased half a dozen bits of pewter, then on to the Fire Engine house for lunch with Ann's brothers and their partners.  Home about four p.m.  Spent today mostly in the workshop - got quite a lot done.

                                       Good Night All.