Tuesday, 4 July 2017


This little bundle of coloured fluff  has been haunting the garden, tamely scrounging for crumbs, for about a week now, and has almost NO  fear of humans at all.  He will come within a couple of feet of Ann or meself, provided he is convinced we are carrying edible offerings for him.

Sunday, 2 July 2017


Took above photograph this morning, of a pair of  green finches.  Haven't seen many of these this spring, so it was good to see these two.


                                         Mystery Object.

Above item is blacksmith- made of  wrought iron. It was last used in the mid 1950s, and very effective it was, too. 

Can you tell me  when it was made, roughly  where, and for what exact purpose ?????

Thursday, 22 June 2017


Mystery Object. What it is, and what it was made for are reasonably  obvious (but  please state the  obvious).  It is  to serve a specific purpose. When and  where was it made?  The  item  and  its  action are very rare - so much so that it has never (in my opinion) been satisfactorily named. Good guessing, especially  from  Crowbard, who has  seen the item a good many times over  the  last forty years or so.

Saturday, 17 June 2017


Early this morning father  blackbird  is still feeding  his brood.


The two above photos show the annual  Blog Party held at Zoe's lovely home just over the border in Norfolk. It was, as always, a lovely party; this time with a strong element of a garden party, largely due to the  perfect weather.  I think there were about seventeen or  eighteen  of us (or as Zoe put  it -  slightly more select than usual -  or  smaller).  Whatever -  it  was, as always, great fun, and enjoyed by all. Zoe says it is the  SEVENTH Annual Blog  Party; and I say "Long may it continue".

                                         And  we all say :-   Many Thanks Zoe.

Friday, 16 June 2017


View of the West front of Ely  Cathedral, and the old Bishop's Palace, Ely, taken last Monday, when  Ann, her three siblings and  their partners met up at the Old Fire Engine House, in Ely, for lunch. The lunch was as good as it always is at this establishment, and a good, sociable time was had by all.  A virtue of this establishment that I've  not  mentioned  before is that if we've  booked a  table, and (given the distances involved - turn up early, coffee is served (on the  house) until all the  others get there). It's these little touches, that all the older customers are aware of, that makes this such a popular house of refreshment. Should stress, too, that Ann and  I have been using this restaurant for somewhere between forty and fifty  years, and have invariably enjoyed it.  A lovely day out , as always.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017


Just before breakfast this morning I went out to feed our remaining gold fish, and saw our very devoted father blackbird busy feeding two of  his  daughters.  Whizzed in , grabbed camera, and by sheer good luck was able to photograph all three of them. I  think  this must be the third brood he's raised this  year. The two young female birds are very well camouflaged, aren't  they?

Sunday, 11 June 2017


By special request of Crowbard, here  are  a few more  photographs  of  our  garden. The first one was taken  outside my forge,  the   second one through  the kitchen  window, the third one  on  a  raised area near Ann's shed (containing mainly garden tools) . The  fourth one centres around an  urn (one of three or four).  The last photograph is of  the box edged (or hedged) rose bed (contains eight large rose bushes).

Hope this gives Crowbard a fair idea of our  cottage garden. It's nowhere near as formal a garden  as yours, Carl and Jude, but  it  gives us  a great deal of pleasure. The open garden day yesterday was much enjoyed by us, and I've every reason to  believe by  the  three hundred and ninety visitors that friend Hilary counted in and out.

Warm regards, Mike  and Ann.  

Saturday, 10 June 2017


Today is  open day for  a good  many gardens in town  (including  ours). They vary  from two/three acre grand gardens along  the river down to tiny 'secret gardens' like ours (these are mostly small courtyard gardens attached to medieval houses/cottages).  Ann's  just nipped into town to get a few last minute groceries, and to pick up Hilary to help us - Hilary being a very knowledgeable gardener, and she also knows everybody (?) about town, which helps. 

The top picture shows the length of our little garden; and the lower picture  shows a few 'Bonsai' trees, which I enjoy growing, and which I  always think, by comparison, makes the garden appear  rather bigger than it is.
If you're anywhere near Highdale today do come and have a look at our gardens, id est, Ann's herb garden, our rose garden, the water garden (made from an old horse bucket), my  forge, et alia.

Thursday, 8 June 2017


We went into  town this  morning in order to vote. In town we met a friend, and  stopped to have  a moan about the difficulty of  deciding who to vote for - who was the 'best of a bad lot' . I'm afraid that I was having a real moan about this. Our friend pointed out the one good point about our choice -
"Look on the bright side, Mike. At least this side of the water we don't have to  think about Trump as one of  the possibilities!"

Oddly enough I found this reflection really quite cheering.

Monday, 5 June 2017


More corners of the Garden.


Delphiniums (delphinia ?) above.

French 'striped'  rambling rose. Something Pichard, I think (Might be Henri P...........) Must look it up.
It always looks to me very similar to the  old Rosa Mundi but with one or two minor improvements. Must go and do some work.

Have been busy repairing and restoring an old matchlock key pistol in any  spare time  this last  couple of days.  Probably a jailor's badge of office.

Sunday, 4 June 2017


When we moved to Highdale - twenty some odd years ago, the above  illustrated house was a lovely, distinguished looking tumbledown wreck of  a place. It is, as you can see, a very early brick built house, just pre- Tudor, circa 1490 ish, I should think., and very conveniently located near the town centre.  After we'd been  here a few years it was up for sale, needing complete restoration, and, eventually, it sold. It was bought by a family who had a connexion with the town, and eventually all the work was done, and the new owners  moved in about three years ago.  It is now up for sale again; and before anyone asks, no we cannot afford to buy it, and don't   have  much  inclination to think  seriously about  doing so.  The asking price is  now about three times what our, much earlier, and probably more convenient home, could be expected to fetch; and anyway we like our own home very much. But isn't it odd how these things seem to go round, especially if   you have a good memory.

Thursday, 1 June 2017


Bit of good news! Took a photo of   this  little chap yesterday evening. He is  a  very young goldfinch, but  good evidence  that the goldfinches have been breeding once  again in   the area. They really are the prettiest small, native,  wild birds in England, in my opinion.  

Wednesday, 31 May 2017


Last week we spent an hour or two in Bury St. Edmund's, with friend  Hilary, who  knew  of  an
'Aquatic Centre' there. Hilary's  garden is  in Highdale  town centre and is much the same  size as ours (i.e. miniscule). However her garden pond is rather larger than ours. Ours is about  eighteen  inches across, and  is in fact, an old horse bucket sunk into the ground, and surrounded by stones. To cut  a  long story reasonably  short, we both  bought a water hyacinth and  some small goldfish. Hilary also bought a small electric powered fountain. The  young man in charge (knowledgeable and obliging young chap) gave us a 'special price' on five small goldfish, and  in  view of Hilary's rather  larger pond, she took  three of the fish and we took two. Portrait of  new residents above. They seem to be settling in quite well. We think  they add a bit of interest  to the garden, and I'm sure  the  Great grandchildren will love  them.   

Tuesday, 30 May 2017


As life is  fairly quiet at the  moment, I am, once again, reduced to accompanying these blog entries with snapshots of  'corners of the  garden'. The top three are of roses (of which we have a good display this year), and the last one is  of the  fig tree which I've been 'espaliering' against the garden fence - with some success.  It is full of  half grown fruit at the  moment and looking good for 'high summer' produce. Hope so anyway - we both love  the  idea of  fresh, home grown fruit. The  fig tree is a 'Brown Turkey' which used to be thought of as the  only breed of fig tree that would produce figs reliably, and regularly, in our climate.  So far it's given us a few fine fruit every year since  I planted it four years ago. I think though, that later in the year I'm going to have to cut it hard back in order for it to remain properly espaliered. If I don't, I think  it   could well turn into a thug of a tree dominating its immediate surroundings. Oh well! We'll see later in the year. I rather fear that if I cut it back hard enough to keep it in its proper area, it could well retaliate by giving us very few fruit for a year or so. Should any of my readers be more  knowlegeable figologists than I am (which wouldn't be difficult) could you please give me any useful tips regarding keeping fig trees happy,  and in  their proper place.
Warm Regards to all.

P.s. Halfway through this blog entry the  machine decided to use only italics. Anyone know any cure for this aberration? 

Sunday, 28 May 2017


Spent a  morning earlier this  week rebuilding last year's runner bean obelisks(hope that's the right  word). All  that is  needed for two of them are two square (that's important) terra cotta flower pots as bases, eight (four each) six foot bamboo poles, a wooden cross piece to spring the bamboo poles apart, and some green garden string to bind the four poles together at the top. Very easy to make, and when the beans are full of beans (if you see what I mean) they give a good supply of vegetables all summer and into the autumn; and they also look well when they are full of scarlet flowers in summer. Must try and remember to take photos of them when the beans are flowering. I'm told that runner beans were grown for the  flowers long before their value as a vegetable was realised (?). Don't know  if anyone can confirm that?

P.s.Fill the two terra cotta pots to within an inch or so of the top with multi  purpose compost the Head Gardener ( a.k.a Ann) tells me.  This is called 'missing the obvious' and I  am frequently  guilty of  it.  

Friday, 26 May 2017


Took this  photo of an 'inverted' rainbow (dead centre of picture) over our garden, yesterday. I  do remember that  the  last one of  these I spotted Crowbard was able to tell us all about  - over to  you Brother Crowbard.

Thursday, 25 May 2017


With reference to the clock dial I was writing about yesterday, the point  is  that if the  'minute divisions' between the hour numerals are examined carefully, it will be  found that  there are four  of them between each hour numeral and the  next, and this is because the divisions are NOT minute divisions but quarter hour divisions, and this in turn indicates that the clock was originally  a 'single  hander' rather than having an hour and a minute  hand.  It is surprising how quickly the  eyes get used to a single handed clock dial, and how easy it is to judge the time accurately with only an hour hand.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Wednesday 3.

Ref previous  blog  entry - wasn't very pleased with the  photograph of  Sweet  Cecily (don't think Cecily  would  have been either) so here's a rather better picture of the lady.

Wednesday 2.

This is  a  photograph of  Ann's  herb garden. The white flowered plant to the centre right of the  photo is (in my opinion) one of the most useful herbs in the garden (bar possibly mint). It is  Sweet Cecily. If chopped and mixed with rhubarb, and cooked, the  mixture  needs very little sugar to make it palatable. Our good friends Jonathan and Jo came to lunch today, had rhubarb and Sweet Cecily as a pudding, and were astonished at what a good mix this is. The Sweet Cecily, when first gathered (and before cooking) has a not unpleasant liquorice scent and flavour, which doesn't seem to survive cooking, but sweetens rhubarb most pleasantly. Don't know   why it's  not more  widely known and used. 


I've been working  on  the above illustrated clock for the last day or so. As you can see if you examine the dial carefully, this clock started life as a single handed clock.  Any ideas as to how we can KNOW this?  (Equivalent of a MYSTERY OBJECT, but simple enough when you think about it). 

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Tuesday 3.

With regard to the previous blog entry (Tuesday 2) here is the  photo I took this  morning  of  a male blackbird, who  is  nesting in the vicinity and a young female bird, who is  one  of his first brood this year, and who is  now  helping to feed what is the second brood of this year.  We are putting out mealworms for their main course, and dried currants for their pudding. Father and daughter are now working very hard scavenging for the present brood. It is, I think, not  at all an  unusual arrangement for members of the first brood to work hard feeding the second brood. Interesting though!

Tuesday (2)

The chap above is now busy raising his SECOND brood  this year. He is being assisted (in gathering food for the brood) by a young female from the first brood -  I think I got  a  shot of the  two of them them this morning; whilst the hen  bird is presumably sitting on  the eggs.

Aquilegia, or, if you're of  Norfolk origin, Granny's  Bonnets. 


Finally managed  to make  some sort  of   'break-through'  - been fighting this  machine for about  a  fortnight- then this morning it decided  to cooperate to some extent, so I seized the moment, and, pausing only to  insert of couple of foties  that were handy,  I leapt into action and  inserted this blog entry. Hope all goes well.  Feels good  to  be back (I hope) in communication with my readers. Warm regards anyway! - Here goes.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017


The above  two  photographs are rather fuller ones of yesterdayday's 'Mystery object', which were taken from a rather different angle. It is, of  course, an English coaching blunderbuss with a spring bayonet along the top of the barrel. It was made by J.Wright, of  Weymouth, circa 1790 to 1810. I've  always liked the engraving round the muzzle, Fly or Dye; in that, if you're close enough  to  read it, then you've  already lost the  choice it gives .

Monday, 8 May 2017


                                            Mystery Object.

                                  What is it? Where was it made? And When?

Saturday, 6 May 2017


The garden is beginning to  look quite festive with  the aquilegia (or Granny's nightcaps, or granny's bonnets as we call them  in Suffolk and Norfolk) now  bursting into bloom.  They are  of  all  sorts  of  colours and quite a variety of shapes.

Having  developed the top picture I found that there was a bumble bee in the bottom right of the picture, so I enlarged him  for  the above  picture. He was very active and  industrious.

We also seem to have quite a collection of bonsai (or potentially  bonsai) trees taking up the space on the garden tea table. They are not 'bought' trees, but raised from tiny seedlings  we've found.  The  yew  tree at the back has taken me around ten years to raise. Mostly they  are native trees, so they live outside all  year round.  I  must find  somewhere permanent (preferably  at eye  level, more or less)  for them. Shelves on a fence or wall ?

Suggestions would be welcome (remembering  that it  is  a very  small garden).

Friday, 5 May 2017


On Thursday we motored over to a small  village a few miles away   to look at a 'Banjo' barometer which needed work - so much so that the visit turned out to be somewhere between a complete washout and a dead loss. However we  made a detour on the  way home (as is our wont - in this case  won't go straight home) and  went to look  at a village church in Little  Waldingfield. This  is  one of those strange places - common enough in Suffolk- where Little waldingfield is now a much larger village than Great Waldingfield.    I  should  perhaps explain that the top picture is of three early buildings which appear to constitute a small, early, industrial estate. The one to  the right of  centre obviously having  started out as a  roadside forge.

The next three pictures are of Little Waldingfield Church, and its contents. The Church is a beautifully proportioned, mainly 14th/15th century (?) building.  The font is probably of  much the same date, and although the figures on it have been ( literally) defaced during the Civil War, the font can quite clearly be seen to have been a lovely piece of work in its day. The oak chest in the fourth  picture is a very fine piece of work, also dating from the 14th/15th  century, and English. 

I know I've said this, or something  like it, a good many times before, but I'm still amazed at the number of village churches we have in East Anglia,  all  of them  with a good number of  interesting,  or indeed fascinating, contents.

Good Night All.

Thursday, 4 May 2017


Photographs of cottages and  farmhouses by the roadside, taken through the car windscreen whilst motoring home from Stowmarket yesterday. One of them managed to get its photie took twice, though.