Thursday, 16 April 2015


Been a pleasantly busy week so far, but I've been snapping away whenever the chance presented itself, and got the odd printable photograph  ..... so here goes.... On Monday we motored over to Ely. Took the back lanes to Bury Saint Edmund's, got a bit lost, and came across the above thatched cottage, with a pond (surrounded by daffs) in front of it. A hefty chain link fence has been erected between the cottage and the pond, which seemed rather a pity until the thought came to me that the people in the cottage  had probably recently started a family and the fence had been raised to prevent the children falling in the pond. Nice to think, if so, that children were still being raised in such a pretty cottage!

Had coffee in the gardens most mornings, and realised that the tiny plants in with the bonsaied yew tree were again in flower- they match the size of the tree. The tree is less than a foot high, and the pink flower shown is about a quarter of an inch in diameter.

The small apple tree espaliered along the fence is once again in flower. It has a small, crisp red apple. Can't remember the name of it- something like a Winchester red ??? (but don't quote me).

Same tree again, but from a bit further away.

The above orchid has been in bloom since before Christmas, and is now showing new buds, whilst the old flowers are still blooming.  I grew up believing that to grow orchids needed a heated greenhouse as they were supposed to be very difficult, sensitive plants. No such thing though - they are as tough as old boots,  flower for months and  then start all over again.

Must knock off now - and  get on with the  loads of work waiting for me in the workshop.

Monday, 13 April 2015


With reference to the mystery object shown in the previous blog entry, the above and below picture shows the mystery object with the cover beside the brass nozzle (which has NO adjustment for the powder measure) open. This round opening in the top plate is to keep pistol balls in.  The object which Crowbard (and, I think, Roger) spotted as being a gunpowder flask. The point is that it is rather a specialised gunpowder flask which would have been cased up with a pair of duelling pistols. I did in fact spell 'dual purpose' as 'duel purpose', which was intended as a clue.

As Crowbard mentioned (but didn't really apply) there are double purpose and triple purpose powder flasks. This one is a triple purpose flask, with a nozzle to release, when the release lever is pressed, a set measure of gunpowder. The other hole in the top of the flask, when the cover is swivelled, contains spare pistol balls, if both the first exchange of shots is ineffective.

The third purpose of the flask, is shown below. If the base is unscrewed, a further space is revealed which would have held spare flints (or spare percussion caps after about 1820).

The object is English and would have been made around 1800 to 1820. It would have been carried in the duelling pistols' case, so that the seconds could have loaded, and if necessary,  reloaded the pistols with which the duel would have been fought to decide who of the two duelists was in the right (the one who was still upright at the end of the affair, of course). If I've not made anything clear I'm sure I can rely on one of you to inform me of the fact...... and then, if I disagree with you, we can settle the matter the traditional way - with a duel!

Saturday, 11 April 2015


I don't know if anyone else has noticed (or whether it's just in this area) but I don't think I've ever seen such a profusion of wild violets (or dog violets) as there is in this area this spring.  There  seem to be clumps of them springing up in all areas of the garden. They are a lovely flower with glorious scent. Last year we had another flush of them in October - not so profuse as in the spring, but it seemed an unusually late blooming.


The above item is this weeks 'mystery object'.  It will, I think be easy enough to guess what it is, but it has a very specific purpose, or use, or place; and it would be nice if you could also guess its place and date of manufacture as well.
P.s. I bought it late last week, and haven't cleaned it yet, but it's in good working order.

                                                   Good Night, All.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015


This morning we went to friends', John and Gloria, for coffee, simnel cake, etc. Also present were Hilary, and Ruth; and as we hadn't met up as a group since the last time we breakfasted together at Hollow Trees Farm shop restaurant, we had quite a bit of catching up to do.  Rather later in the day, having got home at about one thirty p.m., Ann and I decided to go out for a light lunch; so motored over to Kersey, and lunched at the Bell Inn (pictured above). Don't read this next bit Lori, but it was  such a lovely day, and the garden behind the Bell is such a sun trap, that we ate outside in the sun.

After said light lunch we had our usual walk around Kersey. The above photo was taken looking over the ford and up the hill (well it is quite a hill - or counts as one in Suffolk) towards the Church.

The above end cottage claims to date from the early 1300s, and looking at this end of it, quite probably does.

Around a corner in the back lane is this very tiny cottage - looks very small and cosy (probably quite poky inside, but looks lovely).

Eventually home, changed into scruff and both spent the rest of the day working - in the garden:- (Ann) and in the workshop:- (Mike). Both got quite a lot done, too.

Off to bed now - Goodnight everyone.

Monday, 6 April 2015


Been a busy day - working on a long case clock that was originally built in Stowmarket in about 1740.Single handed clock. I'm having to have a new 'scape wheel cut. I think I completed  most of the other work necessary on it today. Shan't know until the new wheel gets here. Took a few photos in the garden this morning. The primulae and auricular are still looking well - been in flower for a while now;

but not as long as the above purple hellebore. This one was showing colour at Christmas, and has been in full flower ever since (well over three months!!).

As I said above, been a busy day, and I'm about ready for bed,   so Good Night All.

Thursday, 2 April 2015


Today we were taken out to lunch by our good friend Sylvia. She took us to her favourite restaurant at Hall Farm, Stratford St. Mary, which started in business a few years ago as a farm shop, but is now best known for the restaurant. We had an excellent lunch, then decided to go for a stroll, and to admire the stock. They seem to specialise in various breeds of sheep ; some of them I think are probably cross breeds (you know what rams are like - a bit sheepish, but effective at their job).

Don't quite know what breed these are, but Mama seems to have got the colours of her offspring a bit wrong.

It was a lovely day, mild, and sunny in patches.

Then - "Oh look" says Ann, pointing across the meadow, down towards the stream at the bottom of it.
"It's a Nessie".
"I've never seen one of those in Suffolk!" says Sylvia.  We agreed. Neither had we.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015


Found meself wondering, over the last few days, why the place has such a hot house feeling to it, and realised it is because of the flowers given by our youngsters to Ann to help celebrate last week's birthday. They look , and smell, wonderful; and appear to be lasting well.


Once again, I must stress that the item shown in the two photographs below is not, strictly speaking, a mystery object;  but it might be interesting to try and decide when it was  made, and where. This is not quite as simple as you might think. Even the 'experts' have been discussing the when and where of them for years now, so if you'd all contribute your two penn'orth, it would be interesting.

The picure below shows how the two parts of the item are joined together, i.e. by a very coarse threaded, and somewhat tapered screw.  So fire away chaps (and chapesses) and lets see what light (tee hee) you can throw on the subject.

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 bay 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 right 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.