Wednesday, 28 April 2010



Got up early today for early service at 7.30 a.m. Breakfast in church then had a potter round the Art Exhibition, which opened last Friday. Not (very) tempted by anything in the exhibition, as I suppose the best bits have been sold. We certainly didn't buy anything, which is the first time we haven't. Motored over to the Manger pub in Burnt Bradfield (Bradfield Combust on the map) but Suffolk people have long memories. In 1327 riotting broke out in nearby Bury St. Edmund's, which eventually spread to Bradfield and culminated in the Priest's house being burnt down, among others. Ever since then the village has been Bradfield Combust, or Burnt Bradfield to the locals. Met friends Terry and Diana, and Derek and Cath, for lunch at the Manger pub, which has a good reputation for food. As we haven't seen any of them for a while it was socially a good, enjoyable gathering. Ann and I had eaten there one evening some months ago and had had an excellent meal, and had suggested it for today's gathering. As we were motoring home we agreed to being slightly disappointed at today's lunch. Nothing specific, but generally a bit bland. Ann had fish cakes and indigestion on the way home and since. Everywhere is allowed an 'off day', so shall probably try it one more time to see. Got a wedding in Wiltshire this weekend so may not blog for a day or two.
Oh, should have said earlier - the photo is of Ann dressed to go out to lunch.
'Bye for now. More next week. Cheers, Mike.
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Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Tuesday 2.


To continue recounting busy weekend. Left Leicester at eight on Monday morning, motored down to London, wasn't a bad journey but took almost three hours. To Lizzie's, had cheese sandwich and a cuppa (tea, Lori), then Matt and I took tube to Bonham's Auction rooms, and started to view their Arms and Armour auction. At a quarter to two we decided it was coffee and sticky bun time so adjourned to coffee house opposite the auction room, and refreshed ourselves, whilst keeping an eye out for 4Dinners. Had decided to introduce him to anyone of importance in the Armour world, as "My friend Mr. Ford-Innes". Sounds rather distinguished I thought. Matthew had bagged us a table on the pavement outside the coffee house, and as I came out of the shop door 4Ds walked past. Not past actually, as we both recognised each other and stopped. We all had coffee, Matt took the above photo, then we went back into Bonham's and spent a happy couple of hours examining the goodies. I'd contacted 4Ds at very short notice, I'm afraid, but I always think that the best parties aren't the ones that are carefully arranged weeks beforehand, but the ones that occur spontaneously; and so it proved on this occasion. 4Ds has a pretty fair general knowledge of the subject, asked all the right questions, and very sportingly allowed me to waffle on shamelessly with the answers. A captive audience on your own subject is always good. When the view was about to end Matt went and got me a bidding form, and I left eight bids on different lots. Seven of them fairly optimistic, and the bid on the lot I really wanted a realistic one. When we left Bonham's 4Ds told us of a bar he'd spotted nearby (he seems to have an unerring instinct for spotting promising hostelries) so we strolled round to it, had the bar parlour almost to ourselves, relaxed and became better aquainted. Altogether one of the most pleasant afternoons I can remember. Matt and I then walked through to South Kensington, took a tube back to Lizzie's where she and Ann had prepared a light supper. Ann and I then drove home, arriving at ten p.m. Altogether about as hectic a weekend as I can remember (in recent years, anyway). Bit early for it but I've got some catching up to do in the sleep department, so :- Goodnight all.
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Tuesday 1.


Must just precis last weekend, as it was pretty hectic:-
Friday morning - We met up with friend Jenny from Bedfordshire at cafe church. Had coffee and croissants, and nattered for an hour and a half (not really enough). Then Jenny continued her journer to North Suffolk, and we climbed into the car and drove over to the midlands, and stayed with Carl and Judy. Saturday morning to old friend's antique shop, and did small amount of business. On Saturday afternoon, Ann, Judy, and meself, in car and drove to Wolverhampton. To son Jonathan's. His partner Jude had arranged a party to celebrate his fortieth birthday, together with the twenty first birthday of her daughter Margaret, and the eleventh birthday of her daughter Tia (all the birthdays having fallen in the previous week). Out for a meal at a huge old pub called the Oddfellows, where we met lots of Jude and Jonathan's friends, and also, some of our youngsters. The above photo shows the back view of senior daughter Sarah, then left to right, Lucy, Liz, Judy, Jonathan, Ann (with Jonathan's Jude behind her, and Mikey. It was a lovely evening. On Sunday slacked about, did the Prize crossword in the Telegraph, then in the evening made a last minute bid (at very short notice) to contact fellow blogger 4D's to arrange a get together, and by a miracle, succeded. Results of this will be detailed in our next.
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Thursday, 22 April 2010



We had a meal in the above house yesterday. It was somewhere between a latish high tea, and an early supper. We lived there for a while in the seventies, and when we decided that we needed somewhere larger in 1977 our friend Judy bought it from us. She must have thought it was a good buy because she still lives there with her husband David. They asked us for the meal a week or two back, but David (who is a keen amateur photographer) warned me that it came with strings attached. He said that the local photography club, of which he is a keen member, meets on Thursdays in the local Church Hall, which is almost next door to their home, and would I be willing to be a model for them? He said they usually had two models per session, a 'character' and 'someone young and attractive, usually a dolly bird'. Of course I didn't feel the need to ask which model I was needed as. So after an excellent hot supper provided by Judy, David and I wandered round to the Church Hall. It was an interesting evening. I had a couple of 'props', a leather bound volume of Victorian poetry supplied by Judy, and a long flintlock holster pistol of me own. They gave me an oak ladder backed arm chair to sit in. The club members took turns to arrange the models and take their photographs, then seemed to take ages to actually snap us. The easiest part was when I found 'the Jackdaw of Rheims' in Judy's book, so could sit and read whilst they snapped away. The only awkward part came when I was posing with the pistol and the photographer asked me to point it straight at him. "I'd much rather not" I said "Oh, why?" he said, so I gave him the verse of an old poem I'd been brought up on - "Never, never let your gun, pointed be at anyone. All the pheasants ever bred- won't make up for one man dead". Doggerel I know, but it puts a very valid point quite neatly. Anyway, when the photographer realised I wasn't going to comply with his direction, he asked me to point the pistol at an imaginary target, which I did.
On the other side of the room the 'dolly bird', an attractive and friendly child in her late teens and accompanied (chaperoned I think the word is) by her mother, appeared far more used than I to the business, and was very relaxed about it. Generally speaking the photographers were quite clear about telling me what they wanted, and explained about their equipment and the lighting. Altogether it was a very interesting couple of hours or so, although surprisingly tiring.
Must go and clean some shoes (and boots), ready for the weekend.
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Monday, 19 April 2010

Monday 2.


And the 'After' picture of the same clock. Still need to clean, polish, and do a few minor repairs to the case, and then it will be fit for another fifty years or so, before anything else major needs to be done (in all probability). And by that time it won't be me doing it. According to the repair marks on the back of the dial this is the third major overhaul it has had, and the last one was in 1876. Working with old clocks gives us a pretty fair idea of our own mortality. Good night all.
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Monday 1.


This is the 'before' picture (taken early this month) of the clock I have been working on for a few days. It is a long case clock built in about 1790 by Richard Cole of Ipswich.
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Sunday, 18 April 2010




Pleasant, fairly uneventful, weekend. Yesterday, at scrabble club, our usual table of four people managed to fit four games into our two hours, and, rather unusually, we also managed to win a game each! I've been working on a grandfather clock this weekend- I think I've mentioned this one before - by an Ipswich maker - well, with a bit of luck and a tail wind, I think by the end of the week, I'll be able to take the 'after' photograph of it. This morning our usual choirmistress was off sick with a sore throat, so our organist (an octogenarian of very uncertain temper) took the practice, which is a rare event and is generally rather dreaded. It went fairly well (indeed at one point he even said we were "not too bad", which is high praise from Michael). Then during the practice of the last hymn he suddenly roared with rage, and gave us a long diatribe on our 'dreadful East Anglian diphthongs'. "But we are East Anglians" reasoned our one tenor (I am the one base). This only brought down further invective on his head, but after practising the offending passage four more times, the organist pronounce our diphthongs improved, and asked us if we felt more confident about the matter. We all assured him that we now had our diphthongs under control, and retired to the vestry to robe. The tenor came over to me (as a delegate from the rest of the choir, I think) and said "Mike, what's a diphthong?"
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Friday, 16 April 2010

Friday 3.


Been an unusual Friday. Went to Cafe Church this morning much as usual. Our Dean's wife, Pauline came along and asked if anyone could help at the Porch Project this evening, as only one lady helper was available. Should explain that this project was started in the winter to help the youngsters who hung out in the church porch of an evening, usually because they had nowhere else to go. the idea being that we opened the church for them and served coffee, cakes etc.
As no one else was available, I said I would go in and help (8p.m to 10 p.m.). Ann later decided that she would go with me, and I eventually agreed to this (reluctantly, because I know that some of the youngsters are a bit rough- not to say thoroughly near the knuckle). In the event half a dozen senior helpers turned up. I found the youngsters better company than I expected, and, looking back thoroughly enjoyed the evening. Two of the boys were in work (both had apprenticeships- and were finding them very satisfying). One of the girls at my table was trying very hard, and obviously, to shock the grown-ups (in this case your blogger) but in the end the silly baggage got bored with the effort and wandered off. Generally speaking they were nice youngsters and I talked and listened to them as if they were my grandchildren. Afterwards Jimmy (another of the helpers, and much my vintage) said to me "It was really funny, Mike. I was looking at your table, and everytime you joined in the conversation they all shut up and listened to you. What were you saying to them?" And I couldn't remember saying anything in particular. It was just interesting hearing their views ( some of which were refreshingly different). A much more enjoyable (and interesting) evening than I had expected. Might do it again sometime. We'll see.
It's late now, so Goodnight all.
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Friday 2.


I've just got the above photo from granddaughter Sophie via facebook. It was taken by Godson/Nephew Edward at Great Gran's 100th birthday celebration party about eighteen month ago. I should stress that Edward is a professional photographer and was taken whilst I was taking a photo of Edward (who, it turns out was taking a simultaneous photo of me). He was the better photographer of the two!!!!!
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Thursday, 15 April 2010

Friday 1.


Above photo is of a pulsitilla which is flowering profusely in our herb garden (don't quite know why it's there; I don't think it's a herb. Just checked it in Nicholas Culpepper's English Physician and there's no mentionof it there).
Walked into town this morning, posted a letter, then to bank, then home. Early afternoon motored over to Manningtree and put grandson Matthew on train to London (home). Then home and out to tea with Sylvia, who we've known, to nod to, all the sixteen years we've been here. Then, some weeks ago, sat next to her at lunch at Hilary's. Since when she has issued us an invitation to tea with her. Very good tea - egg and cress sandwiches, fruit cake, and chocolate sponge cake. And, of course, tea. She's very good company, good conversationalist, with a pleasant, dry wit. Must make a return invitation, probably to lunch. Choir practice this evening. Went well. Just checked with Ann and pulsitilla IS a herb. It' used in homoeopathy. It's also known as the pasque flower.
Ann's just gone up to bed, so I must follow. Goodnight all.
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Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Wednesday 4.


Apple cobbler and custard. Lori- Ann says that a cobbler is like a pie but using a scone mix.

Been a long day, been up since before six a.m. and it's now twenty to ten (p.m.). So - Goodnight all.
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Wednesday 3.


Dinner/supper this evening. As I was about to take this photo Matt said "If I'm going to be in it, how do you want me to look?"
"As if you're about to enjoy the food", I replied. Which is why he is leering lustfully at his plate, which contains beef casserole, boiled potatoes, and broccoli. And for pudding.......see our next.
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Wednesday 2.


Been another quite busy day. Ann was 'Deaconing' at early service and I was reading the lesson. Got home at about nine a.m. to find Matt had made the porridge, laid the table and had breakfast ready for us. After breakfast put away the goodies I'd used to illustrate last night's lecture,then pottered in the workshop till noon, when we had an early sandwich lunch. At one p.m. we got in the car and drove over to near Newmarket to attend to the above illustrated long case clock, which had developed an intermittent fault (it had started to stop- if you see what I mean). It is a handsome black laquer clock by Thomas Moore of Ipwich, made about 1745. Over the years I must have dealt with about a dozen clocks by this maker. It took me about thirty seconds to find the problem, and about thirty minutes to fix it. I also showed the owner where to look if it recurrs (which I don't think it will). Pottered home via Claire and Long Melford. Being called for dinner.
More later perhaps.
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Wednesday 1.


Good, busy day yesterday. Drove over to Colchester Hospital in the morning (blood test- fairly routine). Came back cross-country through the lanes, and took above photo of cottage on the way home. In the afternoon Matt helped me put together all the bits and pieces for my lecture in the evening. I was booked to give a talk to the Yaxley Antique Collector's Club, in the village hall. It's the third one I've given there over about five years. This one was entitled 'The History of Base Metals', and covered the copper age, the bronze age the iron age, and also a brief history of pewter and brass. It went quite well, I think.
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Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Tuesday 2.


Snakeshead fritillary in flower in the garden.
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Photo is of small corner in our small garden, which is already showing colour, with promise of more to come.

Really reopened blog to record that last night grandson Matthew WON at scrabble (for the first time, as he pointed out gleefully). He scored the only seven letter word in the game (the extra 50 points always helps). The final score was Matt - 225 points, meself 196 points, and Ann 168 points. Well done Matt. Pretty good going against two such seasoned scrabble sharps as Ann and meself.
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Monday, 12 April 2010



Set out a bit after nine this morning to drive to Great Gran's. Broke the journey at Ely to have a quick potter round the antique centre (no business resulted) then on to Welney, where I took the above photo of the wash road to remind Nea of her origins. On to Wisbech and to Gran's flat. Had cuppa (tea Lori) then Matt and I drove into town to buy fish and chip lunch. Purchased two haddock, one cod, one battered sausage (Matt's choice, but in the event he had part of Great Gran's haddock as well) one portion of mushy peas (to go with my cod and chips) and two portions of chips (which we knew, from previous experience would be quite enough for the four of us - Frank's fish shop is notoriously generous- and our choice was wise - good many chips left over). This little lot came to just over eleven pounds, very good value for money these days. Drove back to flat where Ann had prepared the traditional accompaniments of tea and bread and butter. Excellent meal. Left Gran at about 3.30 p.m. and drove to Littleport, where we called in to see Ann's brother Michael, who wanted my advice on a large striking carriage clock that needs attention. Finally got home at six o'clock.

P.s. I am directed/requested by Ann to convey a message to our good (but at present poorly) friend Dr. Terry Turk that the amarylis which she gave Ann last year has survived the winter, developed into two corms/bulbs, and that both of them are bearing buds from which we confidently expect offspring to flower within the next week or so. Many thanks Terry, we've never succeeded in doing this before, and will keep you posted. Much love, Mike and Ann.
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Sunday, 11 April 2010

Sunday 3.


View of Polstead Hall from the churchyard. On the way to Polstead I told Matthew about Polstead Church, which is a very interesting one, built partly of Norman bricks, with a good deal of reused Roman masonry, and whilst I find it fascinating, I didn't really expect it to interest a sixteen year old boy much. When we got there we parked near the churchyard, where our planned footpath walk begins, and rather to my surprise Matt asked if we could go and look round the church first. So Ann sat outside on a bench in the sun and Matthew and I had a quick look round inside the church. We then walked over the meadows and along the lanes to the water mill, then back by the road to the village. Got home about four. After dinner we played scrabble. Another very good game in that FOUR seven latter words were laid down. Ann had two and Matt and I one each. The final score was Ann had 286 points, Matthew had 219 points, and I had 217 points, which gave us a combined score of 722 points, which is quite good.
Matt has a bit of a sore throat, probably due to the gloss paint he was using in the scullery yesterday, so I am going upstairs now to make him a hot toddy (with Ann's approval). Goodnight all.
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Sunday 2.


Nice looking cottage we passed during our walk.
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Sunday 1.


Went for a good walk round the Polstead area of Suffolk this afternoon. Suffolk's mediaeval wealth was built on wool. All Suffolk's large old Churches (including ours) are known as 'wool churches' because they were funded by people who got rich on wool. Nowadays however, most Suffolk farms are arable - not many sheep to be seen. So it was a real pleasure to be able to snap these ewes and lambs this afternoon.
Near Polstead Church we met an old couple out walking; it was a fine sunny day with a North East wind that kept things cool, so of course we chatted about the weather and the late spring, and the old lady said (in a lovely Suffolk accent) how good it was to see the peggles out at last. Ann looked blankly at me. I said to the old lady "In Norfolk we call them paigles". Ann still looked blank, and Matthew seemed to think we'd lapsed into a foreign language. I explained to them that we'd been using the old East Anglian word for cowslips. Ann said she'd never heard the word, and I must admit it's a good many years since I had. The old couple then told us they'd been married for sixty eight years, over twenty years ahead of us. They were a lovely couple. More later.
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Saturday, 10 April 2010

Saturday 2.

Quick end of day blog. Just had a lovely supper -roast chicken, new potatoes, french beans and broccoli, followed by an apple and apricot charlotte ( dried apricots and apple, covered in breadcrumbs, with knobs of butter and sugar on top, then baked in the oven)with custard, of course. You'd love it, Lori. I think the name is supposed to have something to do with George III's Queen (Charlotte). She's thought to have brought it over from Germany with her.
Had a very good, close, game of scrabble after supper. Scored just over 600 points between us, but the nice thing was that at the end of the game there were only eighteen points between us, top to bottom.
Bedtime now, for me. Goodnight all.

Saturday 1.


Favourite cottage of mine, though I think I wouldn't like to live in it - very small and poky inside I should imagine. It's really a massive mid tudor chimney with the cottage built round it. I took this snapshot about this time last year. Matthew has spent the day painting the scullery (a mixture of utility room / downstairs loo). He's made a good job of it - put two coats of paint on the walls and ceiling, and gloss paint on the doors and skirting boards. He's a good worker; don't quite know what to pay him - about twenty quid, I should think, these days? No scrabble club today. Ann and I were singing in St. Mary's Choir at a wedding this afternoon. The choir fees have just been put up. We got nine pounds each, which seems generous for practising and singing three hymns and an anthem, compared to what Matthew's spent the day doing. It's a problem keeping up with monetary values these days. Perhaps we should give him a bit more? Supper's cooking; smells good; chicken I think. I'd better go up and ascertain. Might get a game of scrabble after supper, though the other two might be reluctant after last night's performance. We'll see.
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Friday, 9 April 2010

Friday 2.


Our Christmas cactus seems to have gone haywire. It flowered last November and was over long before Christmas. Now it is flowering again in April. At these rates of flowering it should open up actually at Christmas somewhere around 2016. If I could remember where I bought it, I would take it back and complain!!!!!!
Just had a three handed game of scrabble, and, for the second time in my life, put down all seven letters across TWO triple word scores, totalling 122 points in one go. This was the second highest score in a single go I've ever made. Time for bed - Goodnight all.
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Friday 1.


Photo is of Ann and Grandson Matthew on our walk yesterday.

Very fine morning, clear blue skies. So I decided that it was linen jacket and flannels weather and dressed accordingly. Ann and I went out to Cafe Church (as it's now known). Had our usual black filter coffee and croissant. Chatted with a good many of our friends. Matt stayed at home and got on with some work I'd given him to earn pocket money, mainly cleaning brass, copper, etc., ready for a lecture I'm giving on Tuesday Evening to the Yaxley Antique Collectors' Club. It's entitled 'The history of base metalware' and I've given it a good many times. Still, it usually seems popular. When we got home Matthew had cleaned everything I'd left out, and asked for more. When in the right mood he's a good worker, and can always be relied on to see a job that needs doing. After that he packed a good many of the bits I'd left out to illustrate the talk. He assures me he knows where everything is packed. Nephew William called in at about 4 p.m., as did neighbours Ian and Marie. Ann produced tea and cakes (and one coffee by request) and it turned into a very pleasant impromptu gathering. Yesterday our retired Dean and his wife were due to come to lunch, but 'phoned in the morning and cried off -both had streaming colds and sounded very croaky. Ann had planned to give them her fish pie (now well known and deservedly popular in the area). So we went for a walk and had a pub lunch instead, as per yesterday's blog. That of course left us with the ingredients (or ingreediments as Nea used to call them) of a fish pie, which we are having this evening. Matt's just been down to ask what I'd like to drink with supper, and I've sent him off to select and open a bottle of white wine. Be interesting to see what he chooses. Nearly supper time, so I'd better get meself upstairs and cleaned up ready. More later perhaps.
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Thursday, 8 April 2010

Thursday 5.


View walking out of Kersey. Walked up to, and through, the churchyard, then across the fields (footpaths) and back to the car. When we got home I got out the ordnance survey map of the area and a pair of dividers, and found that we had walked rather more than SIX miles. Easily the longest walk I've done this year. Had rack of lamb for supper - very good indeed. Then played a three handed game of scrabble. Scored just short of 650 points between us. Modesty forbids...... but it wasn't by much. Been a lovely day off. Must get busy in the workshop tomorrow. Goodnight all.
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Thursday 4.


Matt took this one of Ann and meself in the lounge bar of the Bell, after we'd ordered lunch, which was excellent. Ann had salmon, Matt had cajune chicken (sort of spicy chicken dish - not tried this , but Matt seemed to know all about it - he gave me a piece of it to taste - alright, but I prefered my own dish, which was fried haddock with chips and peas). Generally very good. Not fancy, but top end of the pub-grub market, very well cooked and served, and plenty of it.
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