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.

Sunday, 29 May 2016


Our High Street here in Highdale is full of lovely old buildings. The one pictured above is nowhere near the oldest of them, but it does retain a lot of original features. In the glass of one of the first floor windows there is a date in part of the lead work. It is, I think 1657 - I don't quite trust my memory and will check this. The ground floor is, as you can see, now four separate shops. All the innards are surprisingly ungot at; i.e. quite fairly original. An old building is usually worth walking right round, if possible. Well, it's impossible with this one- as you can see (top picture- it is now part of a long terrace of buildings, so the ends of this one are invisible now.

However, it struck me that the rear of the building is still on view, partly because one of the four buildings is now a coffee shop, with seating in the rear garden. Also, from the street at the back of the building, which runs parallell (think I've got the 'l's right. The word 'parallellogram' always gave me problems at school -it's one of those words that look wrong however you spell them). Point is, that from a gate in the back street a photograph can be taken of the rear of the building. If you look in between the three 'pointy' roofs  at the top,  you can see two small doors that give on to the 'leads' between the dormers. Don't know what the doors were for, but no doubt they had a purpose. From the back of the building it looks as if the building dates from the sixteenth century.  Our town has lots of little lanes behind both sides of the High Street, so it's often possible to view the rear of most buildings, and I can think of quite a few that have had new facades put in, but usually the rear view is rather more original. Must start looking closer.

Goodnight everyone.

Thursday, 26 May 2016


Dear Crowbard, herewith, as promised, photographic details of a silver coin I purchased about fifteen years ago. It was sold me as a coin of Queen Boudicca (boadicea), of about 61 A.D.  It is an attractive coin of  a slightly greyish silver,  just over half an inch across. The vendor, who I've rather lost touch with over the last five years or so (the last I heard from a mutual friend was that he was a sick man). I was sorry to hear it as he was a fount of knowledge in the field of antiquities.  I hope this is of interest to you; please let me know if you can add to the details I have of the coin.

Warm regards, Mike.

Saturday, 21 May 2016


 On Thursday of this week, we, together with about forty other people of this area (including friend Hilary), set out at about ten to seven in the morning, and went, by coach to Stratford on Avon, to see the afternoon performance of Shakespear's Cymbeline at the Royal Shakespear Theatre (see above photograph). Most of us had never seen this play before, and although I read it before we set out, at the end of my reading, the more confused both the play and I seemed. It is a complicated play set in Romano British times. A good many liberties had been taken with the plot, which probably didn't really help (to my mind they never really do). King Cymbeline had become a Queen instead. The King's two young sons had been kidnapped in early childhood (in the standard plot) but in the version we saw, these were a boy and a girl, and when a cave/hole in the ground was opened, the two missing children, a boy and a girl, came out, and this gave the play (for me) a similarity to the Suffolk tale of  'the green children of Woolpit'.  Very confusing, but really quite enjoyable in its way.

We got back into the coach at about five p.m. and I took the next two photos  (of Stratford on Avon) through the coach windows.  A pretty place - lots of half timbered buildings - but I can think of a good many places in Suffolk which are just as  good.

We slept, on and off, in the coach most of the way home, and got home at about ten p.m.   We all quite enjoyed it, but if we do it again  we'll try and make it a play we know (Quite fancy 'The Tempest' which is one of my favourites) and if we know it, I could hear it rather better, if you see what I mean.

We don't seem to have stopped this week, and as it's approaching nine o'clock  I think I'm going to have an early night.  I bid you all a very good night.

Warm regards, Mike and Ann.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016


Here is a picture I was able to take last week, which I think amply demonstrates the difference in size between a muff pistol (top) and a standard size pocket pistol. The mechanisms of the two are surprisingly similar, despite the lower one being French, and the upper one English.  Great copy cats those French.

Going now to our garden, here is a photo of the first clematis in bloom .

Today we motored over to the Manger Inn at Burnt Bradfield, where we met up, and lunched with our friends Derek and Cath. We normally meet them at Long Melford antique fair, so it was good to meet up for lunch and an uninterrupted natter. To anyone interested in place names, you will find Burnt Bradfield (the country name) on the map as Bradfield Combust. Both these names refer to the rioting that went on here in 1327. It started in Bury Saint Edmund's, and ended in Burnt Bradfield when the rioters burned down Bradfield Hall.  It is now an area of peaceful countryside and the occasional old thatched farmhouse (see picture above), and it is difficult to imagine the scenes of rioting and arson that took place here nearly seven hundred years ago.

In the words of the dreadful old music hall song 'I'm one of the ruins that Cromwell knocked about a bit ':-

In the good old days there really were some doings;
It's no wonder that the dear old Abbey fell to ruins.

Friday, 13 May 2016


This week's Mystery Object.  This was one of the six lots I purchased on Wednesday at Bonham's Knightsbridge saleroom. I've photographed it on the palm of my left hand to give some idea of size (I think my hands are of the average male size). The pistol is just over four and a half inches long. the turn off barrel is just under one and a half inches long. The bore of the pistol is just over three tenths of an inch, and the barrel is chambered to take a very slightly larger ball than the bore, so that the muzzle velocity would be good.  It would be interesting to see what you can tell (or deduce) about the  pistol from the photographs.

P.s. I have several more photos of the pistol, if more details are required. The pistol  has already been  sold to a keen local collector.

Thursday, 12 May 2016


Been a good, busy week this week. To London on Tuesday to view a sale - Bonham's of Knightsbridge, Arms and Armour, to be specific. Stayed over at youngest daughter, Lizzie's. Went to the auction on Wednesday afternoon, and eventually bought six lots. Didn't buy the lot I really wanted, though - for the very good reason that it eventually sold for over twice the upper estimate. Still six lots, all fairly decent, isn't bad. Got home just before eleven yesterday evening,.

The top photo is of a rose bush in Liz's garden. It flowers very early every year. Lizzie lives just off Chiswick High Street,  which I think must be a very sheltered area. Liz says this rose was still carrying flowers in February, then flowered again in early May. I've a feeling I showed the same bush, on blog, two or three years ago. Liz says she prunes it back fairly hard every year, but this treatment seems to suit it well. As you can see, it's full of buds.

The above photo shows Ann, Liz, and Liz's granddaughter, Elsa (our senior great-granddaughter) yesterday evening, in Liz's kitchen.

Spent a fairly lazy day pottering today (most energetic thing I've done is unwrapping yesterday's six lots).  Must be strong minded now and get on with some work.

                                       Warm regards to all readers, Mike.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016


Today we took Hilary out to lunch at the Ramshold Arms, just North of Woodbridge, on the North bank of the River Deben. We'd booked a table, but, as we were well ahead of schedule we motored down to Bawdsey, and parked on the car park next to the Deben Ferry across to Old Felixstowe. The above photo is of a little fishing smack passing one of the two Martello Towers at Old Felixstowe. These were built just over two hundred years ago, in case Boney was  so ill advised  as to try and invade us. The idea was that heavy artillery would be mounted on these towers to actively discourage any approaching Frenchmen. It seems to have worked.

The above picture shows half the crew gutting a flatfish which had been  the wrong plaice at the wrong time - the other half of the crew, presumably the captain, was in the deck house navigating and driving (I know that's the wrong term, but my use of maritime expressions is a bit shaky).

The first mate was on the aft deck (that sounds better) getting rid of the bits of fish that the fish could not reasonably hope to use again, and throwing them to the pursuing seagulls, who were eager to prove that they could use these bits of fish to some advantage. As you can see it was a lovely sight, except perhaps if you were a fish.

It was a good way to spend half an hour on a fresh, but sunny, spring morning. We then motored back to the Ramsholt Arms and eventually had lunch - mainly fish - knew just how those gulls felt.
Had lunch at a reserved table in the window of the dining room overlooking the river Deben and watched the tide turning and running out as we ate. Had a lovely day out, but had to get home in time for me to complete preparations for tomorrow's antique fair at Long Melford, which means a very early start...... So, Goodnight Everyone.


With reference to my previous blog entry on Sunday, the connexion between the two items is that they were made probably around the same year. The English oak joined stool gives every indication of having been made somewhere between the years 1660 and 1680. The large treen bowl (it measures 17 inches by fifteen inches) has a good deal of carving beneath it, including the date of its manufacture - 1670, as seen above. Despite the difference in location of manufacture, and the difference in wood, they look well together, presumably because of the similarity of period.

Sunday, 1 May 2016


Bunch of unusual carnations (Dianthus) which we saw in a local florists and which I bought for Ann (as part of my husbandly duties).

Above is a painting by daughter Ruth, which hangs in our hall. We holidayed with she and her husband Lasse in a ski cottage in the hills/mountains of Norway, which we hired in the SUMMER of 1991. There was a waterfall which we could hear from the cottage. Ruth painted a picture of it on a sheet of copper, which seemed to work well (look at the reflection of the water below the fall). I swam in the pool near the fall - this was a mistake, though. It was snowmelt water, and heartstoppingly cold!. I did one quick circuit of the pool, and was glad of a hand from the youngsters to climb out!

Above are shown two items, also in the front hall. Not mystery items; one is a large, Swedish, treen bowl, the other an English  joined stool. But they do have something very much in common. See if anyone can guess what it is.