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 looking 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.

Monday, 16 February 2015


Spent the weekend with daughter Sarah , her husband Mikey, and family. Above picture shows two of our granddaughters, Lucie and Sophie.

This one again shows Sophie  pointing (how rude, and what a bad example!) at her niece (our younger Great Granddaughter) Astrid.

Above shows meself comforting Astrid, after her shock at being pointed at by her usually,  virtuous and well behaved,  Aunt Sophie.  Will try and put up more photies and information about our weekend away - tomorrow. In the meantime............................Goodnight All.

Friday, 13 February 2015


Halfway through a busy morning, with the prospect of a busy weekend coming up, I'd knocked off for a minute or two when Ann popped in and took the above snap of meself  relaxing. Good thing she did or I might have dozed off. Probably shan't have time to blog over the weekend so wish you all a very pleasant one.

Regards, Mike and Ann.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015


 As requested by Crowbard, a  further series of photographs of the English stonebow shown yesterday. The first photo shows the stonebow with the foresight erect (on the left of the picture). This would have had a horsehair tied across the fork, with a lead bead halfway across the horse hair. The bead could be slid to left or right to adjust for a cross wind. The rearsight is also now upright just over halfway along the bow stock. There are three holes arranged vertically in the rearsight to adjust elevation for distance.

In the above photo I am depressing the spanning lever which usually lies in  a slot cut in the top of the stock.

In the above photo the spanning lever is drawn about halfway back. When the lever is pushed fully down it clicks into the stock and locks into position.

A lead ball (or a round stone) is pushed into the leather pouch.  The weapon is very carefully thought out. As the string is drawn back the leather pouch tightens onto the ball, so there is no danger of it falling out before use.  When the trigger is pulled the string is released, and, as it moves forward the leather pouch releases its grip on the ball, which is released and shoots to its target. You will notice that I don't use the word 'fired' which is only properly  used to describe a firearm being discharged.

Above is a close up of the lead ball used to give some idea of scale. It is a twelve bore ball (which means that with the correct bullet mould  twelve such balls can be cast from a pound of lead to fit a twelve bore gun 'rowling', as a seventeenth century writer puts it.

Hope this helps, Crowbard. If I've still got the weapon when we next visit the Midlands (and I think it likely- it fills a space on the wall)  I'll bring it with me to make things absolutely clear (but no popping it off to see if you can hit an elder brother running. The crossbow, and the elder brother have both retired - well semi, anyway, with regard to the latter).

Tuesday, 10 February 2015


On December the 7th, 2014, I used the above stone bow as a 'Mystery Object'.  Yesterday, just before we set out for Hollowtrees farm for lunch, Bill, my barber, called in to return the stone bow which he had restrung. He'd made a thoroughly good job of it, and was of the opinion that it is probably now usable, but I think it's a bit fragile for that, so I'm afraid I disappointed him. He wouldn't accept any sort of payment for doing the job, so I gave him a bottle of 2012 sloe gin, as I know that both he and his wife have a taste for the stuff.  Isn't it  good to have friends like that?

I do think it looks better for being complete.

Monday, 9 February 2015


Been a mildly eventful day today (and it's only half past two in the afternoon now). This morning a friend came to see me and picked up three clocks, etc. for entry into a new auction he's going  to  start  in Stowmarket. We've known him since he was a porter at Bonhams, in Knight'sbridge. After we'd loaded the goodies onto his van, he had a coffee with us, and eventually got round to what I suspect was the real business of the day. In the course of conversation he told us what he considered was going up and down in the antique business. One of the things he considered was going up steadily is arms and armour. He then went on to tell me of the difficulty he's having in finding 'experts' as cataloguers and valuers. I told him that I am (I think) still registered as 'an expert witness' as far as guns (and their age) is concerned.  "Do you want the job ?" he asked, "it'll be a while until it's properly set up". Well, it was one of those "it's been a while since........." situations, but came as a pleasant surprise. Soon after that we set out along the lanes to Hollow Trees Farm for lunch. It was on the drive there that I took the above three photos (all within half a mile of each other).

At Hollow Trees we both ordered ham, eggs, and chips for lunch, and the second 'it's been a while since......' situation occurred. Ann had asked for a bottle of H.P. sauce to go with our lunch, and whilst pouring the sauce, managed to drop the bottle, which, in turn,  managed to shed a large splosh of the stuff on the floor. Ann went off to find our waitress, asked for a cloth, and apologised for the mishap. The waitress came and wiped up the mess, and said to Ann's stream of apologies, "Please don't worry about it, Mrs. Horner. Not everyone would have come and told me about it."  "No", says I "The sensible ones would have sat around the splosh, dipping their chips in it."    "Oh you !", said the waitress, and burst into a fit of giggles at the very idea; and that was the second time today an 'it's been a while since' moment occurred - I mean it's been a while since a waitress said "Oh you !" to me and burst into a fit of giggles.
Makes me wonder what the rest of the day will have to offer. If it's anything near the standard of those two, I'll reopen this blog and insert it.

Thursday, 5 February 2015


Been a good, busy week so far. On Monday Ann's older brother Michael, and his friend,  Erika (photographed above with Ann) came and had lunch with us. It was good to get to know Erika a little better, and the time flew past.

Erika (who's  a very well behaved  young lady) gave Ann the roses and tulips in the above photo, and then admired our home.  I think she enjoyed her first visit. Hope so, anyway, she certainly appeared to. They left about four p.m.

I spent Tuesday preparing for the Antique Fair at Long Melford on Wednesday, which was as good as it usually is. It was surprisingly well attended for an antique fair held on a cold day in February. Fellow blogger Rog  from Norfolk turned up and found something to buy, as did I (well two things actually - one of them stock, and one of them a probable keepie - may eventually use it as a mystery object).

Spent today pottering about the town doing necessary things. Nipped out to Hollow Trees farm shop for fruit and vegetables, and eventually had lunch there. Back in town we met Sylvia also pottering - doing her shopping. Yesterday was her ninety first birthday - she does well.

Time for an early (ish) night I think - feeling yesterday's exertions a bit, so I wish you all a very
Good Night.

Monday, 2 February 2015


We've been more or less house bound for the last few days due to the usual winter allergies (wonder if that's where the word lurgies come from ?), which is why there has been a shortage of blog entries of late. This evening I was flicking back through the photos taken last year for inclusion in the blog, and come across these (I think you may have seen them before - my apologies, but I think they're worthy of repetition). The top one is of Great Granddaughter Elsa, who was born early in July.

The one above is again of Elsa with her Great Grandmother.

This one was taken early in December, when another Great Granddaughter, Astrid was born. Elsa and Astrid are second cousins to each other. The above photo shows four generations. From the left and going clockwise they are :- Amelia, Ann, Sarah, and Astrid.

I will try and get out and about and take a few more blogworthy photos in the future.


                                  Good Night, everyone.

Thursday, 29 January 2015


As you can see from the two photographs, we finally had our bit of winter snow -it settle to a depth of ....oh, quite half an inch!  At about 3.30 p.m. today realised it was snowing quite heavily - large, wet flakes descending on me. Looked up into the sky over our garden, and found that odd phenomenon was occurring, when about a trillion large black snowflakes were swirling above me out of a dark sky, then descending. Odd thing was (and I remember noticing this as a boy) when they got down to my level they'd ALL turned white.  Now I'm sure that a scientific sort of gent could explain this, in simple words of few syllables that even I could understand, but please don't. I address this more specifically to young Crowbard. Please gentlemen, leave us more prosaic types our odd bits of magic to play with.

              It's now freezing hard!  Good night all.

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 dutifully  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.