Sunday, 25 January 2015


This for the benefit of commenters on my previous blog entry. The maker's mark on the base is too faint to photograph well, but is Dixon and Son. The engraved monogram is, I think J (or possibly G) S, with the date 1827. Although, technically, this is in the reign of George IV, it's near enough to Crowbard's guess of Regency to be correct. I think all of you did remarkably well, and got this completely right ( I could be accused of pedantry in the one or two very minor corrections I've pointed out).  In general you are all becoming very scholarly in your answers. Skippy was, as usual, very good indeed. Rog spotted my quote from the Gondoliers and looked it up to get pewter.  Very impressive - all of you.

P.s. I should have said that the 'presser' is kept inside the jar, as Crowbard says, to keep the tobacco compressed. This keeps the tobacco from drying out (just moist). It works, too. When the medical profession allowed me to smoke a pipe, I kept the baccy in a similar jar with a lead presser, and this kept the tobacco nicely fresh.

Saturday, 24 January 2015


 The object photographed above and below is this week's  MYSTERY OBJECT. It measures just shy of four and a half inches long, is four inches high, and three and a half inches deep.  What was it made for; what is it made of; where and when was it made ?   The maker's name is on the base, the owner's monogram and date is engraved of the side (not the side shown), so you can be quite specific about the date - guess the year when you think it was made.

In this picture the lid has been removed and the object to the left is usually kept inside (again it's there  for a purpose).

                                      Good guessing, although I think some of you may know what it's for.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015


As you can see, Ann's amarylis is now approaching its prime. Today has been a fairly restful day. Walked into town this morning, to Hilary's, where the scrabble branch of Highdale's U3A was holding its monthly Scrabble morning. Played, with Hilary and Jenny, three very good games. Won a game each, all of well over a combined score of 600 points.  Walked home through our first flurry of snowflakes this winter (didn't settle though). Had a quick lunch, then to a commemoration service for Priscilla (a friend of ours)  at Aldham Church. As we filed out after the service, our eyes were caught by a very elderly lady in the opposite back pew. She was clad for the cold, but on top of the layers and around her neck, was what I think used to be called a fox fur tippet. When I was a boy many old ladies wore the things. It was a scarf sort of thing made of fox fur, about four foot long with two feet and the fox's mask (complete with malevolent glass eyes inset) at one end, and the brush (or tail) and two more feet at the other end.  "Haven't seen one of those in years" whispers Ann. "No thank God" I reply. As I said, when I was very young they were not uncommon, were always worn by Great Aunts (who had to be kissed - and when you got that close they, the fox furs that is, were usually fragranced with moth balls - the great aunts were scented with Parma violets - not a good mix!). Whenever I encountered one of them, as a small boy,  I always thought that the fox must have been run over on the road, probably by a steam roller - to give the animal its unusual length.  The one we saw this morning must, I think, be the last one of those in captivity!  Hope so anyway, although, in fairness, as far as I could judge, this afternoon's specimen hadn't been subjected to the moth ball treatment.

Good Night All.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015


Been a busy day. Had to drive across to our furniture restorer with a long case clock , the case of which (largely because of modern central heating ) has been drying out so badly, that it has become a major job. I like to think I can do anything to the insides of an ancient clock, that needs doing, but a clock case needing major work is a job for a joiner. Melvin lives near Newmarket - we hadn't seen him for some years. He hasn't changed a lot though, apart from greying a good deal at the edges, and that of course can happen to the best of us. Chatted for a while then drove on to Cambridge. Took the above photo of a small church in a field at the edge of Cambridge. It looks sweet, but is, in fact, the old leper Chapel, and dates from late Norman days.

Went to the only shop I know of in East Anglia which sells brass and iron rod and sheet in different sizes and thicknesses. Just before I left I said to the efficient type who was serving me "It's a long shot but do you have any piercing saw blades ?" and to my utter surprise he said he thought they did through in the main shop. Went through and they did, in the sizes I needed ! I then found they also sold silver solder rods and flux, and buffing wheel mops and brushes.  Most of these things, over the last few years, I've had to 'phone jewellery suppliers all over the country to obtain!  Then found a vacant parking place (it's been that sort of day) near the Fitzwilliam museum, where we had a light lunch, and popped in to see an old friend, David, who keeps an antique shop right opposite the Fitzwilliam, and is always worth a visit.

Motored home, and took above snap of the cottage above, it's the last house coming out of Lavenham. The trees to the left of the photo stand on a small hill which is claimed by the locals as the highest point in Suffolk (as do two other places - all of them claim to be just over 300 feet above sea level).

The above building is, or was, Monks Eleigh Guild Hall. It's as well to remember that, in Suffolk, the place you are in may look like  a small village now, but was probably (before the black death hit us in 1349/1350) quite an important market town. I have known elderly gentlemen to become markedly narked (I should perhaps have expressed that as 'highly indignant') at hearing their main  shopping street described as 'the village street'. "This is not a village " they reply, "It is a market town"; and in the case of Highdale "It was once the capital of the kingdom of East Anglia". It doesn't matter a bit to said elderly gentlemen that this was a thousand years or so ago, it is still not a village street you are occupying! so tread warily when you describe the place.

Saturday, 17 January 2015


The photographs are of one of the more interesting houses in our town of interesting buildings. It has recently had all the carvings stripped of many layers of paint to show the fine detail.

As you will be able to see, if you enlarge the pictures, not only is the carving  very confidently and well done, but at one stage all the plaster work of the house has been very competently pargetted.

I managed to get a close up photo of the date carved over the window photographed above. I find the date intriguing - 1653 would be right in the middle of the Commonwealth period, when the puritans were very much in power, and I can't imagine they'd approve of some of the carvings, or of the amount of sheer decorative work in the pargetted (and probably at one time painted) plaster.

 Almost all the busts (please excuse the obvious pun) are equipped with beards and bosoms! It is sometimes known locally as 'the beards and boobs house'.

A stream runs under the road and past this end of the house. It used to be an Inn. Its original name was 'the Flying Chariot'.  I find it one of the most fascinating buildings in our town.

Friday, 16 January 2015


Hit a snag on the computer yesterday, so was unable to publish blog entry. At just after four o'clock this afternoon 'phoned daughter Ruth in Sweden. A good deal of thought went into the timing - Swedish time is an hour ahead of ours, and as Ruth teaches (and the Swedish school hours too are rather ahead of ours, I think) I got the timing about right, and Ruth was happy to spend an hour on the blower; so that, with the occasional helpful interjection from her husband, the three of us were able  improve matters on the blogger a good deal - many thanks to both of them.


I bought the above amarylis in Highdale sometime last November.  Most weeks I manage to find flowers for Ann, but last November  decent flowers seemed in short supply here, so in the end I found a shop (the Co-op I think) selling amarylis bulbs, which looked healthy, so I bought her some potential flowers, which are now, as you can see, just beginning to reach their potential.

I am really just waffling now to see if the computer (when I press the 'publish button') has now fully resumed its duties........... here goes!


We've been having our bedroom redecorated over the last few days (and it needed it - only really was aware of that when young Jordan, our decorator, announced the job was finished, yesterday).

Have a feeling that I may have used the above group of photies as illustration to the blog previously.

This is photo one again, but to the extreme right of the picture the object on the wall is a patchwork quilt which we've been meaning to hang over the bed since we moved here eight years ago. Finally got round to it.


Saturday, 10 January 2015


 On Thursday last Ann began to show signs of a streaming cold developing; On Friday there was no doubt about the matter, so Ann (who was a senior nursing sister before she retired) decreed that it would be a good idea to 'batten down hatches' until we are no longer infectious. This involved cancelling a number of social engagements (on the 'phone so as not to infect anyone), and making sure that we have enough supplies in the house. We've  lived on leftovers since. Today for lunch I made squubble and beak (a la Rev. Spooner), served up with a fried egg on top. Ann's been having her coffee with a shot of brandy in it, and I'm about to make meself  a hot toddy (equal quantities of scotch and water, with a squeeze of lemon, and honey to taste). Neither of these two drinks do much to cure the cold, but they do cheer us up a bit.

 The top photo was taken yesterday from our kitchen window when FIVE goldfinches were congregated on the bird feeder - well actually it was taken a split second after there were five goldfinches on the feeder. As I pressed the camera bulb three of them flew (of course)


This morning I found that we had snowdrops in flower in the garden, which was a nice surprise. As I bent down to get a good picture of the snowdrops, I had even more of a surprise - behind the snowdrops  were some purple hellbore, also in flower.

The folk name for these used to be Christmas Roses, and I should think that these were showing colour at Christmas. Must try and remember to check next year.

I've a date with a hot toddy now, followed by  an early bed (probably with a hot water bottle).

Good Night All.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015


Spent most of today getting ready for tomorrow's antique fair at Long Melford, but at around four o'clock Ann suggested a quick walk down to the river, then back via the town. The wind had just swung Northerly, so with a clear sky it was a good fresh walk. The river, as you can see, was high. We had two pleasant surprises.

The first is shown above - the first wild flowers of the year, aconites, were in bloom;

And in the Churchyard we found snowdrops in bloom. Always enjoy the first flowers (it's tempting to refer to them as the first Spring Flowers, but I think that might be tempting providence, alias the irony department).


Above is an item I purchased on EBay last week with a part missing. I've a feeling I've used a similar one as a MYSTERY OBJECT  before, so this time, it might be interesting to see if you can remember what it is. Also, earlier in the week, I had to make the lock part that was missing. See, if you can guess which part has been replaced.   Mark you, if you can; it means I haven't made a very good job of it.

Saturday, 3 January 2015


Yesterday our good friend Sue Parker told Ann of a new 'Antique Centre' which has opened recently in Woodbridge, so this morning we motored over to Woodbridge to inspect it. Moderately successful in that I purchased a small late eighteenth century leather snuff box there. We did a bit more pottering around various shops in Woodbridge, then decided we needed a coffee, and found that all the coffee shops appeared to be full! In fact when we checked the time it was fully lunch time (if not a bit later than that). We then decided to drive home via Martlesham, to call in at the Red Lion for lunch. This is a lovely old Suffolk coaching Inn which we'd not been to for some years. It has recently been taken over by a firm called the Chef and Brewer, and was still fairly crowded. We were given a table after a short wait; there followed a rather longer wait  until we were able to order. There appeared to be only three serving staff waiting on a very full old Inn. We eventually were able to order our choice which was venison with vegetables and dauphinois potatoes (rather a favourite of ours), which was eventually served up at nearly two o'clock. Ann took a forkful of the dauphinois potatoes- then put her fork down and waited whilst I did the same- they were only half cooked, in fact the potatoes were  crunchy- quite inedible. I called over our waiter and explained the problem to him. He didn't seem altogether surprised, but said that if we'd care to carry on with our meal he'd try and get some ordinary mashed potatoes to go with it. We did as he'd suggested and carried on eating the venison (which was excellent). After about another ten minutes a rather more senior waiter (probably the manager). dashed over to our table with two small bowls of mashed potatoes, apologised for the mistake, thanked us for our 'patience' (which by this stage was wearing thin, I'm afraid), and hoped we'd enjoy the rest of our meal. When we'd finished eating the manager came over, asked if we wanted pudding, then  offered us coffee "on the house" - to try and make up for the 'dauphinois' half cooked potatoes.  We decided to have coffee, after which we paid the bill and left. The waitress presented us with 'a voucher' for ten pounds off our next meal there (these were being presented to all the customers). I left ours on the table, having resisted the temptation of scrawling 'not necessary - we shan't be coming back' on it.  We shall certainly not eat there again.
Having got home I've looked up Ann's recipe for potatoes dauphinois, and we are pretty certain that apart from being badly undercooked, several ingredients (crushed garlic clove, ground nutmeg, mature English cheddar, fresh double cream) were missing from the dish. The real problem, I think,  was that the place was badly understaffed. I would be interested to know what others do in these circumstances (apart, that is, from 'voting with their feet' as we intend to do.

The place is worth a look, it's very picturesque. But if you think of eating there - YOU HAVE BEEN FOREWARNED !!

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Wednesday (New year's Eve).

The above photograph was taken at the family get-together held at Sarah/Mikey's  home on Boxing Day. It shows :- at the ends of the sofa, Amelia and Georgia (the two new mothers), the two new Grandmothers, Sarah and Lizzie, holding their respective granddaughters, Astrid and Elsa; and in the centre Mater Familias Ann, or Great Grannie.


We take this opportunity to wish all our readers/ friends, a very Happy New Year.
Warm Regards to All, Mike and Ann.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Christmas Day.

Been a nice, quiet Christmas day- blue sky ALL day. Motored over to Aldham Church for Family Service/Communion at 10 a.m. - Church full!  At 12 Noon picked up friend Sylvia, who had lunch with us. Lingered over lunch, then listened to the Queen's speech at three p.m. Then all three of us stood to attention (and Sylvia, God  bless her, is in her nineties)  whilst the National Anthem was played. Ran Sylvia home about four p.m.  Spent most of the rest of the day preparing for a Family get-together tomorrow. Looking forward to it. Goodnight.

P.s. Incredible flowers, roses.  These have been in flower since late April and are still flowering on Christmas Day.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014


Just finished decorating the Christmas cake. As per usual, Ann made and iced the cake, then I decorated it. Kept it fairly simple this year, but Ann says it's effective. Any of our readers who wants to pop over for a slice of above cake and a coffee (and/or a sloe gin) will be very welcome.

                                         Happy Christmas, Everyone.

Monday, 22 December 2014


Yesterday (Sunday) Ann surprised me by producing for lunch the above Swedish dish from a recipe that Ruth gave us a while ago. It's called Jannson's Delight. It is very light, tasty, and filling. The ingreediments are :- potatoes, onions, anchovies, and cream. It was served with fennel and carrots. Spent the rest of the day in the workshop repairing a small (probably child size) brass tinder box and contents (flint, steel, and damper).

Had to nip over to Sudbury this morning to pick up a jacket and a pair of trousers. Bought them a few days ago, but they both needed slight alteration. Tailor Matthew made his usual good job of them.  On the way back called in at the cobbler's to pick up a pair of shoes he'd repaired. This afternoon friends Hilary, John and Milly, came to tea. Ann gave them Egg and cress sandwiches,  cheese scones, orange cake, and chocolate and orange cake. Wish I'd taken photos - SORRY.   Discussed Highdale's recent history, news, and general health and well being over tea.


                                       Good night all.

Sunday, 21 December 2014


The above photograph, on which you are no doubt pondering, and wondering what's going on here? was taken yesterday morning and shows  various Highdale characters about to sing Christmas carols in the  Co-op for charitable purposes. We were well supported by a section of the Salvation Army brass band as usual.  We do this every year on the Saturday morning before Christmas, and usually the said charitable purposes do quite well out of it. I must admit though, that those of us who perform also do quite well out of it, as the employees and management of the Co-op press hot mince pies upon us, and very welcome they are, too.
One other minor incident I'd like to report, that happened yesterday evening. Our youngest daughter telephoned us to ask if we had anything planned for New Year's Eve. She knows perfectly well that we tend to have an early night on New Years Eve to try and get a bit of sleep in before  the Church Bells and Fireworks wake us up at midnight welcoming the New Year in. We reminded her of this, and she said that was all to the good as we would be free to babysit our Great Granddaughter Elsa, so everyone else could go out and welcome in the New Year.  We agreed to this and both felt more than a little chuffed to be asked. If any other Great Grandparents are reading this, it just goes to show that if you hang around long enough, you may well still come in useful for baby-sitting purposes.

I take this opportunity to wish all my readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New year.

Saturday, 20 December 2014


This is the answer to yesterday's Mystery Object:- It is a skewer holder, which is, as you can see, what we still use it for. According to E.H.Pinto's book 'Treen and other wooden Byegones' it would have been made to hold beechwood skewers. It is Welsh and two other similar ones are illustrated in Pinto's book. All were made in the eighteenth century. There are, as Crowbard points out, a good many Welsh treen spoon holders, but these are much bigger than the rarer skewer holder. This one is, as I said, just over 6 inches tall. Any further questions or comments would be welcome, and I shall try and answer them.

Thursday, 18 December 2014


Couldn't think of a mystery object, then realised there was a rather good  one about a yard away from me in the kitchen.  So all three photographs are of today's  MYSTERY OBJECT. It is hewn from a solid block of walnut. Quite crudely made, probably with only a knife (and, I should think,  a hand drill to drill the holes in the flat section towards the top. The item is just over six inches tall.

The back view, which does show what a lovely piece of well figured wood was used. Can you tell me please, what service(in your opinion), the item was meant to serve,  when, and where (be specific) it was made. I think some of you will be able to name the generic term for wooden objects of this type, as they are very collectable.  Ann and I bought this object about thirty five years ago at an antique fair just outside Peterborough. It cost us three pounds, and as we both liked it, we decided we could afford to keep it, and have done.

One large (and I hope) helpful hint :- Pinto (where two similar ones are illustrated).

Good night all.

Monday, 15 December 2014


Been a busyish day. Last week sister-in-law Jude told Ann how very good she always found shopping at the Aldi store in Oadby(?), so Ann decided to shop at the Aldi in Sudbury today. Told her I'd like to complete a job I was doing in the workshop this morning,  so we decided on Sudbury in the afternoon. Made something of a 'pig's ear' of the workshop job at first (wonder by the way where that expression comes from - sounds like rhyming slang, or possibly it's simply a pig's ear as opposed to the silk purse from the other saying about them). Anyway at the second attempt the job went well, so had a quick lunch then motored over to Sudbury. The top photo shows a fairly dramatic sky as we approached Sudders. Went to Aldi's. Ann was a little dissapointed she said, although she bought quite a bit of Christmas stuff, and I bought some wine which, if it comes up to the label, we will enjoy (well, I will anyway).

Parked on the Market Place, where I took the above photo of a dramatic Sudbury sunset, and went into my tailors where I bought a tie, well that's what I went in for, found and bought; but then Matthew (my tailor) and Ann, ganged up on me, and, rather to my surprise found meself purchasing a new check sports jacket for, Ann says, next winter.  It will be no ill store, I suppose, but I do feel I should have been more strong minded, and left a new jacket until next winter when I quite see that I might well need one. Both Ann and Matthew assured me that it will be even more money then, so I've saved a good deal by buying it now. Not sure about the logic of that, but the motto seems to be 'avoid tailors' shops until you need something'.

Good night all.
P.s It's a nice jacket though.

Sunday, 14 December 2014


First of all, my apologies for my delay in writing up my blog. We seem to have been very busy during the last week. On Wednesday last we motored across to the midlands to stay for a couple of days with Crowbard and sister -in-law Judy, which was, as always, very relaxing. On Thursday evening we called on niece Jessica, by request,  as Jess's daughter is now nearly four and has lots of stuff which they asked us to take over to our granddaughter Amelia's new baby, Astrid.  I do like the way all the cousins swap goodies as their children grow. Very civilised.  We returned home on Friday, stopping off at Wisbech to pick up the books from our accountant. We paused to take the above picture of Ann's Childhood home, Welney House, which is about a mile north of Welney. It also became the childhood home of our children, in that when Ann's parents decided to move into a bungalow in Wisbech, we bought the above home (plus a couple of acres of lawn and garden) from them. This would have been in 1977, I think, so our children spent most of their teenage years there.  Very happy years they were, too.
Being called upstairs to supper.
Will try and write up  the blog a bit more frequently, in future.
Goodnight All.

Sunday, 7 December 2014


 This last week was an extremely busy one, with the Long Melford antiques fair on Wednesday. So busy that I can't remember much of it. However the two photographs here are of one of the items I purchased at Bonhams, on the Wednesday of the week before, and I think it will make rather a good

                                     MYSTERY OBJECT.

It's not quite as easy as it looks, and I shall be pleasantly surprised if anyone can give me the proper name for the item (there are at least three), the country of origin, and the date it was made, within about twenty years. The top picture shows it with all the parts folded away. The lower one shows it with various bits unhooked, so they can be seen. One part of the item is missing.

                                         Good guessing, and Good Night.