Wednesday, 22 March 2017


We took these  two photographs  on Monday morning  before setting off for Ely. This morning I'm in the middle of a  pig of a  job  I'm doing  for a neighbour on  his rather nice long case clock. It looks and sounds easy enough - the  hand beating seconds and its  arbour has come apart. Sounds easy BUT.... it has been mended (soft soldered) twice already, so I am fast coming to the conclusion that the easier way to do  the job might well  be to make a complete new arbour  for the  seconds  hand to ride on.  Whilst making up my mind about the job I've knocked  off for a few minutes to do a quick blog entry whilst I calm down and make my mind up.  Back to the workbench now - I'll report back on progress re the clock later today.

P.s. before anyone else reminds me - yes, I know I'm  supposed  to be retired, but it's  a neighbour, asking  me to do a  simple  little  job (tee- hee).

Monday, 20 March 2017


Motored over to Ely  this  morning for a sibling lunch with  Ann's  three brothers and their partners.
Lunched at the Fire Engine house -  the meal  was  as good as ever- in  one sense rather better, in that when the time  came to deal with  the bill, Michael, David and Tim refused to let me pay our quarter on the grounds  that it was Ann's birthday (her 77th !!!!!)  later in the week, and  this was their joint birthday present to her- very  civil of them and much appreciated. After lunch we  set out from Ely at  about 3.30 p.m.

Turned off the  A14 this  side of Bury Saint Edmund's and  came home by the back roads and lanes.  Somewhere near the  village of  Drinkstone  (strange name for a village- must look it up) We saw an early (well, 18th century, anyway) post windmill,

and, about 100 to a 150 yards from the post mill, a rather rarer (but slightly later)

smock mill. Why they should have been built so near to each other, I don't know  so can't  say -   but interesting.

A few miles further we came across Saint Mary's Church Gedding, which dates from the  12 century. It's a pretty little  church, with some 15th century pews inside. It's  a  bit of  a job to find this church, but it's well  worth  the effort. 

Fom the Churchyard can be seen, about half a mile or so away, the below photographed, Gedding  Hall.  It was built around the middle of the 1400s.   

As I  believe I may have said before - full  of surprises, Suffolk.

Friday, 17 March 2017


We have had hellebores (Christmas Roses) in bloom in the garden since the middle of December. Last Wednesday we gave a small dinner party for three friends and Ann wanted to make a floral table centre using flowers from the garden. The problem  with hellebore is that they are modest flowers which hang their heads humbly so that  the faces cannot be seen. Ann gets over this by cutting  off the flowers leaving about a third of an inch of stalk, and then floating the  flowers (face up) in a bowl, see the two illustrations. The flowers can be arranged on the surface of the water (they'll float). They will  last like this  for three or four days, and make really  attractive and unusual table decorations, as I think  you'll agree. 

P.s. The glass bowl shown is about six inches in diameter.

Thursday, 16 March 2017


This morning we motored over to Bury St. Edmund's, as the  car needed seeing to (one minor problem righting and a service). Took  the  car to the garage, then one of the  mechanics drove us into the  town centre, dropped us off near the Angel Hotel, and arranged to pick us up at two pip  emma. This gave us four hours (more or less) to explore a lovely old town, take some photographs, do a little shopping, then have lunch.  The photo above shows Moyse's  Hall on the Market Place, and is, as far as I know (and Churches aside), the only Norman building in Suffolk. It's now  used as a museum (with an entrance fee of FOUR pounds, which rather shocked me).

The building, above centre,  is The Nutshell,  which was known for many years as the smallest pub in Great Britain. I think a building somewhere in the West Country now  holds  this title (after a good deal of work with a tape measure, and long  discussions,  I should imagine).

The above building is a non-conformist Church of  some description (sorry, I forget exactly which sort). It was raised in the  time of Queen Ann (1702 - 1714) I think, and is a very pleasing  building (easy on the  eye, I mean).

The building above is a campanile (a bell tower), which is of pure Norman  work. We thoroughly enjoyed our morning. Bury is a lovely  town. In the year 630 A.D. Sigeberht, the King  of  East  Anglia, founded a monastery here. Some centuries after that a good deal of plotting and arguing about the form of Magna Carta took place in Bury Saint Edmund's, so that although it's now considered a country Market Town, in its day it's been deeply involved in English history.

P.s. As you can see from the photies, this morning was a fine, sunny one, and walking round Bury in the mid- March  sun was a great pleasure.


Above picture shows yesterday's 'mystery object' with the door open. It is, of course, an English spice chest. It is of oak, with wrought iron hinges, etc.    It was made in England, circa 1680. It is at present in daily use by the senior medical adviser (Ann), as a medicine store. Thank you Crowbard and Rog. Between you  I think you got all the relevant points. Well done.  

Wednesday, 15 March 2017


                                                   Mystery Object.

Haven't had one  of these for a while, mystery object that is. What is the above? When was it made, where, and for  what purpose (quite a specific one).   Eggs should  give a  fair idea of size. They are ordinary, standard, chickens' eggs.    Good guessing. You'll probably all know, anyway.

Saturday, 11 March 2017


Took  a few snapshots of  corners of   the  garden this morning. Much as in previous years.  I  hope that  our resident goldfinches are thinking  of breeding  again this year. They give every indication of being in the mood for raising another family. Most  years  they raise a brood of four or five youngsters.

Above photo shows  our quince tree climbing all over our older garden shed. We put the  tree in four years or so ago, and although it has loads of flowers and small fruit, so far the fruit have always been shed long before they are of a useable size.  We'd both like to make quince jelly later in the year, but we've been unable to do so as yet.

We have a good many flowers in bloom in the garden, looking very spring - like.

Scrabble club is now  to be  held in Hilary's house every Saturday afternoon. We both  went there this afternoon, but  played at different tables (three players at each table). I won the  first two games at our table, but Doris, who tells me she will be ninety- seven a little later this year, won the third game. All three were good, close, well fought games.

Friday, 10 March 2017


This afternoon we motored over to Sudbury to do what Ann calls 'a big shop'. We came home a different way to our usual, and a  back road out of a small village (off the beaten track) awarded us with-  not another  village, but an even smaller hamlet. It had about a dozen small  cottages in it.

All  were of ancient date; most had been repaired, or restored at various dates, and all were quite charming.

It's what we most love about Suffolk (and remember that we are, by origin, Norfolk people) - that  if you can take a small back road out of a little  known village, you will  often find yourself in an  early settlement that you   had  no idea was there - and usually  with delightful discoveries to  be made.

Like, say, for instance, the above.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Murals on the wall of Broughton Church in Buckinghamshire.

Monday, 6 March 2017


The three  photographs shown here are all  of  old parts of  Wells  next the sea taken the week before last, and all show windows onto the street which have obviously been built as  shop windows, and are now  windows in the fronts of domestic residences (homes). They are all of  late eighteenth century through to early/mid nineteenth century appearance. This would  appear to indicate that Wells next the sea was (at the  period mentioned) a much busier market town than it is now. A small fishing   village would be a more apt description of the town now.


This last weekend we drove down to Hampshire to attend a meeting of  the  Early Metalware Society. We stopped over on Saturday and Sunday nights  at youngest daughter, Liz's  home; slept  there, and drove home this morning.  Good, informative (and rather tiring) weekend.

Friday, 3 March 2017


These three photos were all taken last week at Wells-next-the-sea on the Norfolk coast.  The above photo of  a very fresh looking  rose  and  rosebud, taken in a  very sheltered spot, was taken on 23rd February, which seems very early  indeed for roses ????

The above picture is  of a 'green lane' very near the town centre.

Above shows a cormorant hanging out his wings to dry. Again very near the town centre (just across 'the  Creek')

The computer is still, I'm afraid  playing  up. I don't think it's  just this one, but is general to  the  area, I'm told. Still, we'll keep trying.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Shrove Tuesday.

Picture of a rather pretty little pub a few miles  up  the road,  called (I think) the  Wheelrights' Arms.

Been busy today preparing for our last antique fair (at Long Melford), before  our retirement.

As it's Shrove Tuesday today, we had pancakes for pudding. I made (and tossed) the first two for  Ann's  consumption, then she did the same for me. Ate them, as always, with lemon juice and dark muscovado sugar, rolled them up, and dusted the top with caster sugar - delicious!!

Good  night  All.

Saturday, 25 February 2017


Rather a nice bench end in Isleham Church. I think  he's meant to be a feerocious lion, but he looks as if he's rather enjoying life.

We have spent most of this last week in an apartment in an old building just off the quay in Wells-next -the- Sea on the Norfolk coast. The apartment was lent to us for the week by our good friends Jon and Jo. The weather has been bright, mild, and and sunny most of the time. Not a bit like  the usual February weather in Norfolk (I'm a Norfolk man by birth so I can be rude about my native county).  We'd both rather forgotten what a lovely little town Wells is. Taken loads of photies, but having problems developing them. Will put  them up when I can persuade them to look pretty on screen.

Yesterday morning  drove from Wells down to middle of wildest Suffolk. There'd been a storm on Thursday night, so there were lots of trees down. I don't believe in giving storms names. It brings out the worst in them and they chuck their weight about.  Stopped off about  fifteen miles from home and had lunch with friends of ours, Jill and Keith. Also present were our  mutual friends, Angela and Leigh. Very pleasant meal and relaxed  couple of hours generally. A lovely ending to a good week off.
Jill commissioned me (posh way of putting  it) to make a fire steel to fit  a tinder box she's just  sold, so must stop  waffling and get on  with it.

Will try and write a bit more a bit  later in the  week.
Regards to all,  Mike and Ann.

Friday, 17 February 2017


This is one of the misericords beneath a seat in the choirstalls at Saint Andrew's Church , Isleham. It's a nice bit of carving, but it  seems a bit perverse to me. He has the beginning of a nice  set of whiskers, but he's got it on upside down!!! That is, droopy instead of bushy and upstanding. Pity.

All the misericords are quite restrained - just the one portrait per seat - all dating from circa 1450.

Thursday, 16 February 2017


This morning we motored over to Littleport in Cambridgeshire, where we picked up   daughter number three , Kerry. and drove on to  our native village, Welney. We went to the  one remaining hostelry, the Lamb and Flag, where we had a basic, but very pleasant, lunch,  caught up on all the family news, and swapped Christmas presents. This was because Kerry was poorly over the Christmas season and had to cry off the boxing Day family do. She is now much better, I'm relieved to say,  and is more or  less back in mid-season form, so that  we all three enjoyed a drawn out lunch and a VERY drawn out natter. After lunch we had a short walk to the Welney Churchyard, where we visited  the family graves (which Kerry had been keeping in good order, bless 'er).  

We then ran Kerry back to Littleport nicely in time to meet her son out of school, then drove home via Isleham. This  is a small village set in the fen - the name tells  it all - Isle Ham. It still has  the feeling  of an Island set in the  fens. It's a pleasant little village with two churches, well within a couple  of  hundred yards of each other. One of them (the lower photograph) is the Priory Church of Saint Mary of Antioch, which is  a small plain (but apsoidal) building, dating from around the year 1100.  By the 16th century it  had been made into a tithe barn, as it remained  until around the year 1810.

A short distance along  the same road stands  Saint Andrew's Church (upper picture). Most of the present church dates from  the 1300s, but there are a good many traces of  several earlier buildings.  The Church has a lych gate that dates from the late 1400s and is  probably the earliest standing lych gate in East Anglia. 
The inside of  the church is fascinating. There is some  early glass and rather nice wall  painting in the porch, in the church is a fine angel  roof, many lovely bench ends,  memorial brasses, a fine brass Flemish lectern  dating  from the late 1400s, and the 'Peyton Tombs' dating from 1518 and 1550. I  spent about twenty minutes taking photographs,  and wished that I could spend a day there. Nothing to stop me going  back there, of course, and I've got lots of photos for future blog use.

The problem between the two churches was that Saint Mary's of Antioch was endowed, soon after the conquest, by Alan, Count of  Brittany; whilst Saint Andrew's Church has been there since Saxon days (over a thousand years now).  In other words one of them was seen as French and the other as  English. We all know how difficult the French have always been for civilised people like us to  get on with, and I  think  that was the basis of the problems between the two churches in Isleham (although I may be over simplifying things a touch). Anyway -  there they both still are, glaring at  each other in a small village  out in the middle of the fens, and not on the  way to anywhere very much. They really are well  worth a visit. I've not  been to Isleham for  about thirty years (can't  think why not, and anyway that's a mistake that   I intend righting quite soon - if  spared).

Wednesday, 15 February 2017


This morning our Scrabble Club met at Hilary's. Only four of us, but that's a complete table. Three good, close games.  Home to lunch. Last Friday our butcher was selling pheasants at just over four  pounds each. We bought one - a decent looking cock bird, and it's given the two of us three  decent lunches - roast pheasant on Sunday,  pheasant hotpot on Monday and pheasant casserole today. The carcasse may furnish us game soup later in the week.. On Tuesday our fish merchant delivers very fresh fish from Lowestoft, and Ann bought enough fish to make a  decent fish pie with capers in it (which adds interest). We neither of us eat heavily, but we do seem to have  a varied and interesting  diet.  I've got to get on in the workshop now. I've a clock hand to make for an early eighteenth century, single handed, wall clock.   

Monday, 13 February 2017


Ann was wearing the above photographed brooch  a weekend or so ago, and reminded me of an incident when she wore it some years ago at a major sale  room. It's  a big old clunk of  a brooch, of a type known as 'silver on russet iron'.  We were viewing an Arms and Armour sale at (Ann tells me) Sotheby's of Billingshurst, when one of the Directors with whom  we'd been chatting spotted the  brooch, took Ann by the coat lapels and said in  a tone of astonishment "But that's seventeenth  century!"

Ann got  the  answer absolutely right. She said "I know it is. Put me down please."

It was pretty to see his embarrassment "Oh, Mrs. Horner. I'm so  sorry, I forgot meself,  but  it's such a lovely thing........."

I could sympathise to some extent.  It's the sort of thing you see in a museum cabinet, rather than still in use.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Sunday (2).

Mystery object - well - fairly mystery object. Please guess :- Where was this  object made? when was it made and the usual name for it.

I've spent most of today tidying up the case and restoring  the innards (technical term) of the case. It's an attractive little object - well I find  it so. For  a real bonus point, what did Mark Twain say of  the American built equivalent ? and why?

Good guessing.


Still having problems with  photos, so here is  one taken at Christmas. It is  of  grandson Matthew and his  lady friend Mary. She is  a  quite charming  Portugese young lady living and working in London. 

Now for my bit  of news -   which is that at the end of my financial year (March 31) I am going to retire - Doctor's  advice in that my heart is still playing  up  a bit (angina). Doctor  says  he cannot order me to retire - he can only strongly recommend it.  I don't want to, but I've already carried on ten years beyond the usual retiring age, so I'm going to stop work in order to concentrate on improving my collection.  That  should keep me  busy!

Warm regards to all - Mike.

Saturday, 4 February 2017


You really will have to enlarge this one .  It's a sort of mystery object. It's a  small Early Victorian picture frame made of mother o' pearl with many small birds made from (I think) humming bird feathers. It is contained in a rather larger (and later) picture frame. The question I'd like you to answer is How many birds are there in the picture frame. It's not a trick question. I think I know the answer, but it'll send you mad trying to count them. Must go now, lunch looms, as does Scrabble Club this afternoon.

P.s.  The size of the mother o' pearl  inner frame is  three and a half inches by four and a half inches.