Sunday, 30 December 2012
Christmas seems to have gone on and on this year. It started with a pre Christmas supper at Brenda and Warren's on the Friday before Christmas, and ended yesterday morning with a breakfast at Hollow Trees farm Shop for five of us:- Ann and I , Hilary, Gloria and John.
The day after Boxing Day (Thursday) our friend Audrey had open house for about twenty people and provided 'drinks and nibbles' - and pretty solid nibbles they were too - mainly leftover Christmas fare I should think - excellent.
The next day, Friday, Hilary had an 'At Home' and absolutely excelled herself, providing drinks, mince pies, then a very good, hot, lunch (Hilary described it as a 'light lunch' which didn't do it justice). Lunch went on till just after three, when the party started to break up. Ann and I had been helping to ferry some of the older guests to and fro, and, while this was going on, Hilary hissed at us to come back when we'd done ferrying, and we'd have a three handed game of scrabble to end the party. We accepted and Ann won the first game and I the second. I told Hilary I was lost in admiration of her sense of duty as a hostess in letting her guests win, at which she burst out laughing, and confessed she'd had rotten hands in both games.
Today, after morning service (which was a fiasco- don't ask) then lunch, we motored across to Risby, where there is an Antique Centre, at which I purchased a rather nice pewter quart measure. The top picture is of a wayside cottage on our route. The next two are of a farmhouse and barn, on Risby village green. As I said before (I think) - Been a lovely Christmas.
Good night All.
Thursday, 27 December 2012
All the photos were taken yesterday (Boxing Day). Two of our children were unable to make it; Ruth and her two girls, who live in Sweden and come home every other Christmas, and Kerry, who lives in March and had laryingitis, which meant that her two, Laura and Tom, didn't make it either. Our other three turned up, with their families, and granddaughter Amelia brought along (by invitation) her boyfriend/partner Marcus, so that we were sixteen in all (eighteen counting Ruby and Mango -Sarah's two spaniels). It was a lovely day; the table was laden with a buffet of Christmas leftovers mainly, and we spread ourselves over the ground floor to eat. I always like the way our grandchildren enjoy getting together with their cousins and swapping all the news.
Generally speaking (and not, I think, really by design) the youngsters sat round the kitchen/ dining room, and we 'grown ups' sat around the fire in the sitting room. The above photo was taken when I'd popped into the kitchen to replenish me plate, but was then called upon to answer a question about a previous Christmas, so sat down and did a bit of catching up myself.
The below picture was taken at tea time, when all the youngsters crowded into the sitting room to watch Granny cut up the Christmas cake.
This room is known variously as:- the sitting room, the drawing room, or the parlour (it was the bar-parlour we're told, when this place was an Inn).
By 6 o'clock, in view of the weather, driving rain, with some sleet, the family had headed homeward to, respectively, Wolverhampton, London, and Milton Keynes. Ann and I then sat by the fire ostensibly to read the books that son Jon had given us for Christmas, but in reality we sat and dozed, until the 'phone started ringing to tell us they were home safely.
It has been a lovely Christmas.
Tuesday, 25 December 2012
Went to 9a.m. Eucharist Service, during which heavy rain fell on Church roof with a noise like thunder. A couple sitting opposite to us in the choir stalls, told us on the way home (they live near us, so we were giving them a lift) that during the worst of the rain, it was coming THROUGH the roof onto them. Mem. must tell one of the churchwardens of this, so they can look for possible roof leakages. Got home and at ten fifteen the sun was out and the above pictured rainbow was showing (rather better than the picture indicates)over our garden. I don't ever remember seeing a rainbow on Christmas Day.
A friend of ours, Sylvia, came to lunch with us, and Ann surpassed herself with traditional Christmas fare, with, I'm glad to say, the exception of brussell sprouts, which is, I think, the one foodstuff I thoroughly dislike.
Took Sylvia home at a little after four p.m. In the evening the two of us played a game of scrabble. "How sad!" I seem to hear the grandchildren saying, "Poor old Granny and Pa; reduced to playing scrabble on Christmas Day" There are two answers to that. One is that we'll be seeing a good many of the grandchildren tomorrow, which we're both looking forward to. And the other answer is that if you look at the photo of our game, you will see something very unusual about it. Any serious scrabblers will spot instantly that ALL the triple word scores were used; and that's something else I can't remember seeing before.
Sunday, 23 December 2012
My apologies for not doing much in the way of bloggery this last week. It's not that there's nothing to report - rather the opposite, been an incredibly busy and social week. This afternoon we drove over to Bury St. Edmund's via Lavenham (see above snap through car windscreen).
Once in Bury went to the Angel Hotel where we met up with Ann's middle brother David (below snapshot is of Ann and David, taken in our usual alcove off the hotel lounge) and had tea. Half way through tea old friends Clive and Jill, who we hadn't seen for a few years, walked into the hotel lounge. They joined us at our table for a natter but couldn't persuade them to take tea with us, as they were meeting up with friends there. Still, had nicely time to pick up the threads before their friends arrived.
At 5.20ish walked across to the Cathedral for the carol service at six. Got seats towards the back of the cathedral, and listened to the service and joined in the singing of some of the carols. Their choir is magnificent, and it was a lovely service.
Got home a little after eight. Well past nine now, and I think I'm about ready to hit the sack.
Photo is of this year's Christmas cake. Made by Ann. She says it's a boiled (and baked I should add) fruit cake with chrystalised ginger , marzipaned, then iced, then turned over to me for decoration which I've just finished - different theme this year. Must cut this short, we're due at Church for short communion at mid day, at which Ann is serving, so must whizz off and change ready for it. More later, I hope.
Thursday, 20 December 2012
Took the two photies this morning just before we set off in the car. Drove into town to pick up Hilary, then motored over to a village about four miles out to attend a funeral. Thoroughly wet day. We all thought we might have problems in the lanes with flooding, but apart from splashing through an inch or so of water occasionally, got there safe and reasonably dry. Sue, whose funeral it was, and Ian her husband, live just off the High street of our town, but for the last year or so have worshipped at the village Church where Sue was buried today. Knew Sue reasonably well, Ian not so well, but as sometimes happens at funerals, learned more about Sue than we'd previously known, and ended up wishing we'd taken the trouble to get to know them better whilst Sue was still with us. But there, half of that regret can still be remedied! The lovely, plain little mediaeval Church was packed, and after the service Sue was interred in the small churchyard, with the rain still pouring down. Umbrellas everywhere. Ann and I had taken one each, and Hilary, and friend John shared the two umbrellas with us, which was about average. After the interment we all adjourned to the pub in the next village, where tea/coffee, sandwiches, etc, were served. Just before we left we chatted to Ian and learned why he and Sue worshipped in a small church a few miles from home. I learned a good deal today, one way and another. We must think about applying it now.
Sunday, 16 December 2012
Went up to supper about an hour ago, and found Ann had provided roast partridge (a favourite of mine). Sat down and started to dismember my bird (as above) and realised I had not photographed it. So seized the camera and remedied my error as seen. Partridge is one of the better game birds, and has the added advantage of size - one bird is just the right amount per person to my mind.
The pudding that followed was mince pie and custard, as shown below. Can't think of a better winter evening meal.
After the meal we had a game of scrabble at which I was thoroughly hammered, and didn't mind a bit in view of that supper.
Good night all.
Saturday, 15 December 2012
Been a quiet day. Above photo is of eggs Ann buys at a farm gate a couple of miles up the road. Lovely colour. When I was a boy I was always told that brown eggs are the best, being more nutritious. In Sweden breakfast eggs are invariably chalky white, and we were told that this is because white eggs are far more nutritious!!!!!! I wonder who starts these things?
Took the above photo of frozen silver birches on a river bank on Thursday at Nordelph (this is -or used to be- pronounced Nardle by the natives- it's in Norfolk, of which I'm a native).
Above is the clock I've been working on this week. It's an old acquaintance. It fell off the shelf where it lives (in Cambridgeshire) and sustained several minor, and one major, injury, which I've been attending to. It's now up and ticking, but I'm not altogether satisfied with it. We'll see. It's an anonymous, country made, English Regency bracket timepiece; i.e. it only shows the time on its dial - no strike work (but it has a fusee movement) . Built around 1830.
Scents of lamb and rosemary are drifting downstairs, so I'd better drift upstairs and make meself presentable for supper.
Thursday, 13 December 2012
This morning we motored across to Wisbech to see our accountant, and then to have a pub lunch with an old schoolmate and his wife. It was a gloriously sunny, but a very cold and frosty morning (really healthy weather), and as Ann was driving, I got a bit trigger happy with the camera and took the above four shots whilst driving through the Chase- Thetford Chase that is- although we went through Brandon rather than Thetford. Some places looked very wintry, then a mile further on, absolutely spring like. Got to Wisbech at about eleven fifteen, where Elizabeth (who has kept me on the straight and narrow with regard to book keeping for well over thirty years now) went through last years accounts with me. She's up to all the best wheezes with regard to keeping the taxman happy (and no one wants to give that poor chap more work than is absolutely necessary) whilst making sure that Michael is obeying all the rules. I took her a bunch of early daffs (yes, yes, I know I shall be paying her for her expertise, but these small gestures of gallantry ease the wheels of business - and we both like Elizabeth - she, in turn, does more than the call of duty demands, bless her). Left Elizabeth at around twelve thirty and drove round to the Blacksmith's Arms at Elm, where we met up with Roy and Janet. The place has been given a facelift and a new chef, and the differences are rather marked. While we were reading the menu Janet asked of a chicken dish "What does chargrilled mean?" and Ann replied "Burnt, I think." Which wasn't too far out. It seemed to mean that the chicken was cooked (probably boiled Ann said, who tried the dish) then branded on a grill. Generally the food was solid and satisfying. Nursery food, but welcome on a cold day. We left them at half past two (we left early to try and get home in daylight). Didn't succeed, but it didn't matter too much as the weather was milder and clearer than it had been for a day or so.
The below picture is of a building just outside Downham Market that has fascinated me since I first saw it as a boy, when it was in use as a barn. It is a mediaeval manor house, and is now not in use at all, which is rather a pity. It was built as a home, and should still be one. Ann's just gone up to bed after a busy day , and I feel every inclination to call it a day meself. So shall follow her up. Goodnight all.
P.s. to Crowbard.
Roy (who always asks after you) sends his kind regards.
Monday, 10 December 2012
Quick blog, really for the attention of Rog and Catherine (but especially the latter).
In view of your interest in cutlery, could you please identify the above second hand instruments which we have been reduced to using of late?
P.s. I do know what these are (more or less), and we haven't really been using them, well only the lower three, as cheese knives, etc., but thought you might be interested in seeing them.
Regards, Mike and Ann.
Sunday, 9 December 2012
Last Thursday night our friend Hilary's freezer packed up during the night and the contents started to thaw. Ann met her on Friday morning, and Hilary told Ann about the problem and gave her a couple of pork chops. Ann, of course wanted to pay her for them but Hilary said she couldn't possibly take anything for them as a week or so previously our butcher had a 'buy one, get one free' offer on pork chops, so Hilary had bought four of them at those rates, and these were the two free ones.
We had them for supper this evening, mine being pictured above. It is at the top of the picture covered in apple and onion sauce, and accompanied by mashed potatoes, boiled celery, carrots, and red cabbage. They were delicious. There is another happy ending to the story. Hilary went to our Electrical Goods shop, where they very kindly lent her another freezer whilst hers is being repaired. Both Hilary and Ann are retired nurses, one having been a Matron, and the other a Senior Ward Sister, and they both agreed that it doesn't do to refreeze some things, and "You can't be too careful with pork !"
Thursday, 6 December 2012
We walked into town this morning on various errands, and took the three photos on the way back. The above is of the King's Head, which has become almost completely a restaurant (albeit a quite good one) over the last few years.
Above is a snapshot of the George, which has remained a popular public house, although I believe bar meals are served. The pub sign ( worth enlarging) is a fairly spirited rendering of a portrait of his late Majesty King George the second- in half armour . I could quote you several derogatory rhymes about him (George the first was always reckoned vile - but viler George the second) but he does carry the distinction of being the last English King to have personally led his troops into battle (Dettingen, if memory serves - I must look it up). The building itself, of course, predates George's reign by about three centuries.
The snapshot below illustrates the character of our town. Often one of us will say "I'll just nip into town. Shan't be long", knowing that it is impossible to 'just nip into town' without meeting friends who will want to stop, chat, and exchange the town news and gossip; and this, of course, always takes longer than expected. The group in the doorway below are Ann, and our friends John and Milly, sheltering from the cold in a doorway whilst chattering happily. It's a lovely town. We've been here now for eighteen years, which is the longest we've lived anywhere, and I can quite see why.
Wednesday, 5 December 2012
Got up early this morning to go to Long Melford Antique Fair. When we were dressed and ready to start loading the car, we looked out and found that it was snowing heavily- the first snow of the winter. It had frozen slightly during the night, but the snow now falling (and settling) was composed of large, wet, clinging flakes. There was only an inch or so, but it had clung to everything, grass, trees, lawns and roads! Took the above photo, at just after seven a.m., through the nearside windscreen with Ann driving. Difficult to take a good photo in the dark from a moving car, but it gives some idea of the weather conditions.
Took the below photo fifteen minutes later, and well on our way to Long Melford.
When we got to the Fair and compared notes with some of the other dealers, we found that weather conditions varied considerably about our area. I think ours was about the worst hit area in East Anglia, although, listening to the wireless in the car, road conditions were bad in the Lowestoft area and on the A12 road, as far south as Chelmsford.
Had a pretty good fair. Bought well, and indeed sold fairly well, too (no pun intended Rog). Our good friends Derek and Cathie came in at about midday and relieved us so that we were able to go off and have a bite of lunch. Later on during the afternoon, a couple who I'd spoken to a month ago, brought in a bagful of goodies, and I was able to buy two antique pistols and a good gunpowder flask from them.
Later in the afternoon Graham, the fair organiser, announced that in view of the weather conditions the fair would close at 3 p.m.
After we'd packed up, and were driving home around the outskirts of Sudbury at about 3. 20 p.m., there was a lovely sunset, and I was able, through the offside car window, to get the below snapshot of the sun just about to sink below the horizon.
Sunday, 2 December 2012
Today, after church, Ann suggested we drive over to a couple of antique fairs about five miles from us. For once in a way I was slightly doubtful about this as we'd not been able to buy much at these two fairs of late. But, I was wrong. We bought half a dozen pieces, two of which I've illustrated here. The carved oak figure nearest to the camera (a caryatid- I hope I've spelled that right), is English, and of the early sixteen hundreds It is a 'keepy', i.e. for us. In our back hall prior to this afternoon there was the far carved figure and the framed embroidery - looked a bit lopsided, and the figure we've just bought balances thing nicely. It was just inside the door of the fair - waiting for us.
The weapon shown above is the second thing we bought today. It is a smallsword, probably English, and of the very early 1700s. It's in a bit of a mess, and needs a good clean up- so this photo is the 'before' picture. When cleaned I'll show the 'before' and 'after ' photos - if I remember.
Good Night All.
Thursday, 29 November 2012
Just had a very busy two days. On Tuesday morning at nine a.m. we set off and motored to London. Drove to youngest daughter Lizzie's home, parked the car in her spare parking space, grabbed a sandwich and coffee, then underground trained and taxied to Bonham's auction rooms in Knightsbridge, where we viewed the Arms and Armour auction. Taxied and tubed back to Lizzies, where Ann, with the assistance of granddaughter Beth, prepared the evening meal (a lasagna) that Liz had left ready for us. I took a short walk to Chiswick High street, where I purchased some roses for Lizzie, and some pudding for all of us. Back to Lizzie's where I opened the bottle of wine that I'd brought with us (and popped into the fridge when we arrived). When the rest got in (grandchildren Georgie and Matthew, and, a little later, Lizzie) got home we ate, and a very pleasant, relaxed meal it was. Crashed out a bit before ten, and we both slept well.
The following morning (Wednesday) Ann and I took a number 27 'bus to The Arms and Armour section of Sotheby's who have an auction taking place next week. It wasn't really open for viewing, but I'd 'phoned Thomas (their Arms and Armour bloke- and an old friend) on Monday, and he was as obliging as he invariably is and suggested that we pop in for a quick private viewing. Well worth it, too, and we left a few bids on some interesting lots. It saved me a trip to London next week. Then by taxi back to Bonham's, where I was nicely in time to bid for the few lots I was interested in during the morning sale. Successfully for two of them. Granddaughter Laura turned up, as arranged at about twelve thirty and, when the morning part of the sale finished we adjourned to a pub just up from Bonham's where I bought us lunch. Should explain that Laura has just moved to London, starts her new job next week, and is exploring London in the meantime, and thoroughly enjoying it. The above photo is of Ann and Laura in said pub. After lunch Ann and Laura pottered off to explore the shops in Knightsbridge (mainly Harrod's I think). I went back into Bonham's for the afternoon session of the sale, and purchased three more lots. It was for me, in some ways, the ideal sale- of the five lots I purchased three are ready (after a quick clean and brush up) for resale, one needs a bit more research doing on it, and some tidying up, and the other one is a badly restored but interesting miquelet flintlock pistol which will keep me busy doing some acceptable re-restoration during some of the coming winter evenings.
Ann and Laura rejoined me at about four o'clock, and we paid for, collected, and wrapped the goodies, before Laura left to return to her flat. We treated ourselves to a taxi back to Lizzie's, where Ann (again with Beth's assistance) prepared one of her famous (well famous in our family anyway!!) fish pies. We eventually hit the road home just after seven, had a good, clear run, and got home just after nine - and slept like logs.
I've spent a busy morning not doing much in the workshop, and Ann has just called down the cellar steps that she thinks an afternoon nap would be no bad thing. Quite agree so just off to join her. 'Bye.
The following morning
Sunday, 25 November 2012
Saturday, 24 November 2012
Last entry (you'll be glad to hear) about the problem I've been having with photographs for the blog. Ruth told me that the problem stemmed from there being too many pixies in the camera. Well, I have to believe in magic to cope with the whole thing (modern communication methods that is) but pixies! On the other hand I do remember ex R.A.F. men of WWII vintage who, if anything went wrong with their aircraft would blame "Gremlins in the works". But pixies! No. I think that Ruth (dear child) is extending one of her ancestor's nether limbs. Still, she has succeeded in getting my blog back on the road, and in working order, so I really am very grateful, and I don't grudge her her bit of fun.
I asked Ann, and she said yes, she'd heard of the pixies in the photographs. They're there to put the little tiny dots in, of which the photoes are made up. Perhaps Ruth's been pulling her mother's leg too?
The series of untitled posts I put up yesterday (with the assistance of daughter Ruth, who has managed to sort out the problems I was having with illustrating this blog) were all experimental. The one below was taken in Ruth's town in Sweden. The snapshot above is of the set of shelves in our kitchen/diner. The two plates on the lower shelf are Japanese, I'm told - but I'm no ceramicist, I'm afraid. All the other pieces of pottery are from Staffordshire - bar one. I wonder if you'd care to guess (or tell me) which one is not Staffordshire?
I'm sorry that I've not been sending blog entries of late. The problem is that the machinery has started refusing to store photographs since last Wednesday. I seem to have persuaded it to publish the above photo, but it is now sulking again and refusing to cough up any more photos. Nea is busy working on the problem, so fingers crossed pro tem. More later hopefully.
Monday, 19 November 2012
Spent the weekend near Milton Keynes with senior daughter, Sarah, her husband Mikey, and family. Took the above photo of a favourite riverside cottage in Bedfordshire, on our way over, at about midday on Saturday morning.
Stopped off at a pub in Great Barford for a sandwich lunch (in view of Sarah's reputation as a hostess, and in full expectation of a good dinner in the evening -later fully realised). Like many English villages the Great Barford pub is, as you can see, right next door to the Church.
Above photo is of Ruby (left) and Sarah, enjoying a cuddle.
Took the above photo, on Sunday afternoon, when all her family was at home (Sarah's older two daughters having left home). They are, from left to right, Guy, Amelia, Mikey, Sarah, Lucy, and Sophie. Sarah had put on her usual superb lunch. Sophie, and Amelia, with their respective partners left in the evening. We, that is Ann, meself, Sarah, and Mikey then sat down to a game of scrabble(Guy keeping score, and Lucy advising generally). I record this as the game had a very dramatic ending. Sarah had been leading in a very close game. She ended the game by going out on a seven letter word onto a triple, which scored 78 points. She scored another 52 points from the letters held by the other three of us, and which altered a score line of 107 to me, 76 to Ann, 111 to Mikey and 132 to Sarah, into a final score line of 93 to me, 58 to Ann, 91 to Mikey, and 262 to Sarah. A REMARKABLE effort!!!!!
Took above photo this morning in Sarah's kitchen, with Guy and Lucy, in school uniform and about to go off to school.
Took the below photo this morning, really for the benefit of Crowbard, who commented on the use of shells as spandrels on long case clock dials. This one has the bog standard spandrels of cabbage roses, but it does have a large seashell in the arch. It was made by John Massey of Fakenham in Norfolk, who died in 1809.
As I am sure most of my readers are aware, the battle of Trafalgar, at which Nelson, the 'Norfolk Hero' lost his life, took place on 21st October, 1805, and for some years thereafter maritime motifs were much used on Norfolk clock dials.
Being called upstairs for supper now, so - Goodnight All.
P.s. Reopen this blog entry to insert what I should have stressed before - it's been a really lovely, and very enjoyable, weekend.
Tuesday, 13 November 2012
The above are photographs of the lantern clock I have been working on (well - on and off) for the last week or so. It was made, as you can see, by Richard Weller of Eastborn (sic.) who lived from 1693 to 1765. It is a fine country clock of its period (it was built around 1730), having an hour hand only (four divisions between the hours on the chapter ring) and now appears to be going happily, although I must admit it presented me with a problem that I'd not come across before -well not to that extent, anyway. The spikes in the two pulleys (both going train and striking train) had rusted and in three cases had sheered off completely. Of the twelve spikes I have had to replace six, plus do various other odd jobs to avoid further potential problems. All very time consuming but very satisfying. I really do think that English lantern clocks are my favourite type of clock.
Good night All.
Spent most of the morning in the workshop, working on a lantern clock (will come back to that later), then, at about midday Ann announced that she was going to drive over to our favourite farm shop to buy vegetables, and would I like to go too, as there would be potatoes to carry. We motored over, purchased the vegetables, loaded them into the car, and as it was now nearly one o'clock, decided to have a bite of lunch in the shop restaurant. Had curried turkey, lingered over it, then decided to motor home via the pretty route, which we did, Ann driving and meself snapping away via the windscreen, to give an idea of how lovely Suffolk can look on a fine November day. Fairly typical Suffolk back lanes in above and below photographs.
Tributary of the River Brett shown below. Actually it's an old mill stream, that comes from, then returns to, the Brett.
Fields lying fallow in below snapshot with autumnal woods in the background.
Back in a min with photos of the clock I've been working on this week.