Saturday 31 December 2011

Saturday 2.

Herewith, as promised, photo of sunset on way home. Taken through car nearside window (Ann driving).

Saturday 1.

In yesterday's blog entry I showed the interior of the Wheatsheaf  where we ate (showing the fireplace). Today inside Colchester Castle I took the above photo of a very fine mid Tudor Fireplace (cica 1550). This is a little larger than the one in the Wheatsheaf, but if you compare the two photos you'll find they are very similar. Odd coincidence.

We (that is Ann, Ruth, meself, and the two girs, Tuva and Freja, drove over to Colchester this morning and spent the rest of the day till 4p.m. exploring the castle there. It was built on top of the Roman remains of the temple built to the glory of the the recently deceased Emperor Claudius (having died, he'd become a god, of course, so had to have a temple built to him). The building  of the present castle started in 1074, just after the White Tower (the Tower of London) was completed.   The good lady who showed us round the castle reckoned that the building materials were about eighty per cent re-used Roman brick, stone, etc.   and I should think that her guess is on the conservative side. It's a fascinating old building and well worth a visit. The girls loved it.
Got home a little after five, accompanied by a glorious sunset. Took a photo and meant to show it. Hold on and I'll remedy that defect.

Friday 30 December 2011


Only a quick blog this evening.  Liz set off home mid morning and  we asked Ruth what  the girls would like to do today, as they'd only three days before they fly home on Monday. Ruth discussed it with them and they came up with the answer that they'd like to see an English Castle. We  racked our brains and I eventually came up with Castle Hedingham  today, and Ann suggested Colchester Castle tomorrow. Mine proved a bit of a washout as Castle Hedingham is closed for the winter (I know - should have checked it on Google first). Even then it wasn't too bad as we showed them one or two interesting places on the way, we saw the Castle from a short distance, they enjoyed the town of Castle Hedingham (fascinating Church) and we had an excellent sandwich lunch at the Wheatsheaf in Castle Hedingham, photographed above. It is a standard village pub, but very welcoming, and the interior is a delight - unspoiled 15th/16th century. The landlady made us fresh sandwiches to order, a pot of coffee for Ann and meself, and cold drinks for the girls. We were given the table by the fire and we relaxed in the friendly warmth of a typical English pub for nearly an hour. Home by teatime, and after supper enjoyed a couple of five handed games of scrabble.
Really must knock off now. Ann went up to bed about half an hour ago, and I don't want to wake her when I go up, So -Goodnight All.

Thursday 29 December 2011


Two more family members spent the day with us, youngest daughter Elizabeth, and Ann's middle brother, David. Above photo shows Ann with Ruth's two daughters, Tuva and Freja (in front of her), two of our daughters Liz and Ruth (behind her),  and David in the foreground.

Yesterday's alternative pantomime - Round the Twist- at the East Angles Theatre went rather well. Fifteen of us went (been counting on my fingers, and I'm sure that's right). It was a sort of spoof of all the Dickens books, a little Trollope (no, I'm not getting at any of the actresses - I meant Anthony Trollope, the author), a touch of Oscar Wilde (I think), and a little G. and S.   All this by a very talented cast of five people. I couldn't hear very much of it, but all our youngsters seemed to think very well of it, so I imagine we'll do it again next year.There was a certain amount of audience participation called for- at one point I was asked to read out a "What do you call........?" cracker joke I'd been given by one of the cast. So I gave it lots of wellie, and all the family bellowed back the very obvious answer. In one way it wasn't a particularly 'alternative' pantomime - there was lots of 'Look Behind You' and 'Oh, no it isn't' - 'Oh yes it is!'- tradional panto stuff.  Looking back on it, I'm sure a good time was had by all.
Liz and Ruth have nipped into the town to do a little shopping - the Co-op stays open till late- and I think they intend to sample the night life of our town on the way back - that should take all of seven minutes I should think.  We've been left in charge of Ruth's two girls, so I suppose I'd better nip upstairs and help Ann fulfil our grandparently duties.
Goodnight all.

Wednesday 28 December 2011


Yesterday (Tuesday, I think, but I'm getting a bit uncertain on the days of the week - as I seem to do most Christmas Weeks), Sarah, Mikie and their four came over from Milton Keynes and spent the day with us. Lovely day again. Cold lunch - One of the best parts of Christmas for me is foraging for cold leftovers after (or sometimes on) Boxing Day. It was not quite a cold lunch as Ann fried a big pan of  cold potatoes to go with the cold meats, pork pie,  and pickles, various. Sarah had brought her two dogs (loopy cocker spaniels) so after lunch we went for a long walk with them. When we returned home, exhausted and muddy (and the dogs weren't in much better shape- or cleaner) we had a pot of tea, mincepies, and cut into the Christmas cake which had been decorated on Christmas Eve by Tuva and Freja. After tea Ann took the above photo in the kitchen. I'm on the right of the photo, son-in-law Mikey is on the left.  The eight people between us are half of our direct descendants, i.e. Sarah, Ruth, and six of the grandchildren.  Lovely day.

Today we have had a similar cold lunch- followed by profiteroles. We've had the rest of the family here (except Laura - who is a nurse, and on duty). We're off to an 'alternative pantomime' in Ipswich in an hour or so.
Lunch was a little late due to a road accident almost outside our home. Ended up with Ann providing blankets and first aid (together with medically qualified neighbours), whilst  son Jonathan and I directed traffic round opposite ends of incident with ambulance in the middle. When all was done we were glad to come into lunch, which our daughters had laid out and generally prepared.  Just begining to wonder if I've time for a quick zizz before setting off to pantomime.   More later perhaps.


I was sorting through my pictures a few minutes ago. Couldn't find the one I was looking for (taken yesterday) but found this one, which is of your blogger and bloggeress (it would be obliging of you, at this point, to murmur - " You've neither of you changed a bit"- although not perhaps strictly accurate). It was taken, I think, by brother-in-law Tim, on King's Lynn Market Place, in about 1970 or 71, and is of only historic interest........  we  (that is Ann and meself, Tim and Sue) were on our way to an evening out at King's Lynn Jazz Club.

Monday 26 December 2011

Boxing Day.

This morning we all walked down to a field just across our  the river where our local foxhounds were meeting and took the pictures below. 
 Hairy hocked beggar (the nearest horse that is) but good enough for a child to hunt on. And appeared to be reliable, too. A good, steady 'oss.
The only member of the hunt riding side saddle, and very steady and secure she looked, too.
M.F.H. (Master of Foxhounds, Lori). He told us that the hunt takes an eagle owl with them these days. Since hunting with hounds has been banned, and  various silly rules imposed, the hounds are allowed to chase a fox, but not allowed to kill it; but it is perfectly legal for the fox to be despatched by a bird of prey after it's been located by hounds - hence the Eagle Owl.  Hard to believe, I know, but as M.F.H. assured us , it is true. As he said - he couldn't have made that one up. Not sure I'd back an eagle owl against a good big dog fox, but he seemed to think the owl would come off best.
The hounds moving off. I don't know if they found, but I think it probable, as there's been a vast increase in foxes since hunting them with hounds was banned!!!!!!!

As you'll have worked out Ruth has been trying to make both the machine and me behave better, and I'm doing these long blog entries for practice.  Just hope I can remember it all.

Boxing Day.

Three photos (taken this morning)  of  Freja and Tuva playing in the garden with their favourite 'stocking filler' presents which Santa had brought them.  Season of peace and goodwill  (and all that.)

Boxing Day.

Granddaughter Tuva.

Sunday 25 December 2011

Christmas Day.

This is the point at which we realise that youngest grandchild is as tall as her Granny.
Been a lovely day. Woke up about 8a.m., came down in dressing gowns, and sat round opening presents from stockings. Breakfast, pork pie, etc., then had to really rush to get ready for Church. Got there in time (but only just), Family Service (Ann read a lesson) then walked home, the  long way though town, and spoke to everyone we met, including a couple who'd rented a cottage near the Church to spend Christmas. Very light lunch, quick zizz, Queen's speech (can't remember her making a better one - ever). Then dinner just before 5p.m. Roast beef, roast vegetables, and yorkshire pudding, followed by Christmas pudding flamed with scotch (in my experience - burns better and longer than brandy). Coffee, then down to cellar for quick blog, and to wish everyone of my blog friends as good a Christmas as we're having. As the young character in a Christmas Carol said :-

God Bless us, every one.

Saturday 24 December 2011

Christmas Eve

Hello, as Ruth is here we're back in business to a small extent. She is trying to make my blog behave itself.
The last week or so have been very busy, although that isn't why I've not been blogging. The reason is that my computer has been playing up very badly again, and refusing to let me into the Armoury dashboard, so I've not been able to blog.  I know the real reason isn't the computer itself but my lack of knowledge of it. I've had it six years now, and I know that I'm still only semi (computer) literate.  If it weren't for enjoying the bloggery and the fact that I can still buy quite well on Ebay, I'd have booted the damn thing off the end of Southwold Pier by now. We don't seem to have stopped in the past few days. Twice in that time we've motored to Stanstead Airport, and last Wednesday we went (via March to pick up daughter Kerry) to South Leicestershire to attend a family funeral, then back again via March to drop Kerry off, and then home. Ann had set the mileometer on the car, and when we checked it we found we'd done just shy of three hundred miles that day.

Just to end on a lighter note, at breakfast earlier this week Ann was reading the newspaper. She said to me "You remember that chap who wrote Watership Down, about a rabbit warren a few years ago? Well somebody has purchased the land area which inspired the book and is going to build houses on it. The author of Watership Down is protesting about it. He's not at all a happy bunny."     At which point I started snorting into me porridge, Ann looked at me in puzzlement, worked out what she'd said, and went on "Oh yes! That was better than I'd intended."

We wish you all a very happy Christmas.
Mike and Ann.

P.s. the picture above is of Strawberry, Ruth and Ann, taken in out kitchen just after we'd got back from Stanstead yesterday evening.

Friday 16 December 2011


Took above photo earlier this week. I've always admired this yew hedge just outside Long Melford. The hedge is in front of a georgian house, the archtecture of which is reflected in the style of the hedge.
This morning the weather was grey with intermitent rain, which, just before ten a.m. turned into quite a heavy snow storm. Didn't last long, and didn't settle. By the time we walked into town to cafe Church (just before 10.30a.m.) it had subsided into light sleet, then back to rain.
Tomorrow morning half a dozen or so of us will  be singing carols (D.V.) in the town centre,  accompanied by the same number of instrumentalists from the town's Salvation Army Brass Band, and collecting for charities.
Been a busy week, and next week looks like being busier. We've got to fit in a day spent driving across to the midlands, for a rather unexpected family funeral. The lady being interred was, I think, about ninety, but was of the small, wiry, active type who, without really thinking about it, we all expect to go on forever, and it comes as rather a shock when, without warning,  they suddenly decide not to.
Oh well. Ann's just gone up to bed, and I must join her.  Good night all.

Tuesday 13 December 2011


I said on yesterday's blog entry that we were going to look at a clock that needed fixing. The clock is illustrated above, and I have to say that it's one of the nicest clocks I've been called out to in some years. It was made in London by a good maker around the year 1690.  Not only is it an extremely good looking clock but I found it to be a nice natured clock to work on, too.  It yielded to my ministrations in around ten minutes flat, and is now doing its duty again, going and striking reliably.  A very real pleasure to deal with.
We then made  quite a detour home, in that Ann wanted to go to the Sudbury Waitrose to do some pre Christmas shopping.  Ann said she wanted to do some thoughtful, slow, shopping, and didn't want to be hurried, so I was dispatched to the Waitrose Coffee bar, where there is a rack of newspapers to read, and I spent around forty minutes imbibing coffee and the Times (take the Telegraph so the Times was a nice change - letters not so good, though; and you'll be shocked to learn that the Times is now a tabloid sized newspaper, although I suppose this is a handier size at a small coffee bar table). Ann then summoned me to help unload a large trolleyload of goodies into the car, and we drove home. Very satisfying morning.

We've just had dinner/supper and a good game of scrabble, and as we've the lessons to read at early service tomorrow, I'm off to an early bed.   So - Goodnight all.

Monday 12 December 2011


Took the above photo through the car windscreen a few weeks ago. It's an old farmhouse I've always liked the look of, two or three miles from here.
Been a quiet day spent mostly in the workshop doing odd jobs, and getting on with one big one. I've now got to get my tool box ready for the morning. Going to look at what sounds quite an important long case clock. I might be able to fix it in situ. Hope so, as the owner of the clock would like it going again  by Christmas. We'll see.
Going to knock off now, so - Goodnight all.

Saturday 10 December 2011

Saturday 2.

Just got back from the Choral Society's carol concert in the Church. When we set out to walk to church there was already a slight frost. There was also a big full moon with a very large and complete circle round it, almost like a complete, pale rainbow. If folklore is to be believed a ring round the moon means rain is on its way, and the further away from the moon the ring is, the further away the rain is. It should mean, if this is to be credited, that we shall have rain in the next two or three days.
The concert was excellent. More than half of it was sung by audience and choir. I do enjoy singing 'While Shepherd's watched their flocks by night'  to the tune of 'Ilkley Moor'. A good deal of improvisation can be indulged in - great fun.
A rather good light supper with mulled wine was served afterwards. During this supper Hilary told me of an adventure she had yesterday evening. After she'd left the cinema club she walked home to Church Street (where she lives) and was stopped by a policeman and told she couldn't go down it, because there was a serious fight going on.  Groups of youngsters were fighting. One group had downed an opponent and was kicking him in the head. She told the policeman where she lived - a few steps away- and he escorted her to her door, and later checked that she was still safe and unmolested. 

Things have come to a strange pass when an elderly widow of a Canon of the Church has to be escorted to her home in a normally quiet street of a small country town by a police officer.

Goodnight All.

Saturday 1.

Spent this morning rebuilding a pendulum for an eighteenth century wall clock. Went well. One more job left to do on it - lead soldering the shaft of the brass pendulum bob to the pendulum rod- should be a five minute job.

This afternoon we walked into town and photographed the above two buildings on our way. The one at the top is the only hotel in town still functioning as a hotel. I'm told it's quite a good one to stay at.  The house photoed  below is called (and it's well named) the Crooked Cottage. To get the full effect of the place it has to be seen at night with the lights on inside. The top window has a very fine crown post roof. The heavily beamed inside walls lean in all directions, and on the ground floor is a fine eighteenth century window. The crown post appears to be fourteenth century, much of the timbering is fifteenth and sixteenth century, and it's complemented by the eighteenth century bay window. The whole thing is a muddle of various periods which blend together very attractively.

The last few days have started off with sharp white frosts, followed by bright sunny days - ideal weather - long may it last.

When we reached  town I went off to scrabble club and Ann went to do some shopping. Mainly wool, I think; she's knitting herself a waistcoat in autumn colours.

One thing I should have recorded last monday in London :- in the afternoon we boarded a crowded tube train, and as we got on and the train moved off, a youngish woman got up and gave Ann her seat. Almost immediately, a little further along the carriage, a young man - no, a young gentleman- of West Indian parentage, very brightly dressed, with dreadlocks and a 'beany' hat (hope I've got that right) got up and gave me his seat. Both the young people also possessed the - increasingly rare - social skill of being able to smile (charmingly at that). Although (as Ann said) it has become quite obvious that we are now seen as senior citizens, it is very reassuring that some young people are still thoroughly well mannered.  It was the nicest incident in a very busy and enjoyable day.

We plan to go out later this evening to a concert given by our local Choral Society. Will probably report back later on it, if worthwhile.

Thursday 8 December 2011

Thursday 2.

The above photo is of the end of Sudbury Market place. I don't think today is Market Day in Sudbury, but the market,  and indeed the town as a whole, seemed to be thoroughly busy - run up to Christmas I suppose. As we shall be setting out very early in the morning to catch Amelia's plane; and as we plan to have an early night in preparation for an early start tomorrow, I take this opportunity to wish you all a very good night's sleep.  

Thursday 1.

Been a fairly busy day. This morning drove into town, did odd bits of shopping and went to bank. About midday drove over to Sudbury and met up with Ann's brother David and his wife Mo. They'd been to Milton Keynes,  picked up Granddaughter Amelia, and driven her over to us. In the morning we plan to drive over to Stanstead Airport, and put Amelia on the plane to Spain, where she has taken a job with a family. The five of us had lunch together in Sudbury, then split up - Amelia to do a little last minute shopping, Ann and Mo to go shopping, and David and I went off to meet the grandson of an old friend of ours who runs a gent's clothing shop in Sudbury where I buy most of my clobber (Clothes Lori). The grandson (not the old friend - he's been dead some years) runs the shop. I've been buying from him for fifteen years or so, and earlier this year Ann, triggered by seeing his rather unusual surname  on a bill said to him "Were you any relation of Edwin W......?"    "He was my grandfather", replied my tailor. Looking at him I realised that I should have worked out who he was years before. Oh well - small world.

Then took David on a lightning tour of Sudbury, during which I took the above snapshot of the house where Thomas Gainsborough, the artist, was born.  David couldn't recall ever having been to Sudbury before, but as I said to him, it's not really on the way to anywhere much. David pronounced it to be, in his opinion, a nice little town. I quite agree with him, and this will, no doubt, be a source of great satisfaction to Sudbury when it hears of it.  

Monday 5 December 2011


You may remember that we had a dinner party last Thursday. One of our guests bought Ann the above potted miniature daffodills. Ann put them on our kitchen windowsill where have been perfectly happy to the extent that they appear to have taken a shine to one of Ann's orchids, and are necking- or rather appear to spend their time canoodling with them - whatever - the two plants make a very attractive couple ( Mem. mustn't be over imaginative Michael).

This morning we drove to Manningtree Railway Station and caught the ten a.m. train to Liverpool Street (our London Station, Lori). From Liverpool Street we caught a tube train to Hammersmith, then a 'bus to Olympia, then walked to Sotheby's to view their auction of Arms and Armour. They always send me a buckshee (free Lori) catalogue, from which I form an idea of the lots for which I intend to bid. More often than not, when I see the lots I tend to change my mind, and it was so today. Ann took agin one lot, a sixteenth century breast plate, which was of seige weight, and far too heavy to think of carrying home, two guns were in much worse condition that was shown in the catalogue (with the best will in the world it's still  possible to get a wrong impression from the best of coloured photoes - much better to get your hooks on the item before bidding); and the fourth piece I fancied was an early seventeenth century crossbow which had had a major rebuild at some time in the late eighteenth century - catalogued as such- but with far too high an estimate for such a heavily restored item. In the end I found meself leaving a thoroughly optimistic bid on a very attractive Liegeoise flintlock pistol - Oh well - we'll see.

We then took a 'bus to Green Park, and a taxi to Knightsbridge- where we adjourned to our usual coffee house for a light - but excellent-  lunch, then went to Bonham's where I'd purchased two items by leaving bids on their last Wednesday's sale. Collected items then took a taxi to South Kensington tube station, which was a complete waste of time as  it was closed because of  'a smell of smoke somewhere'. We then took a 'bus and a couple more tube trains back to Liverpool Street Station, and were just in time to catch the four p.m. fast  train back to Manningtree. Been a nice, but slightly breathless day out, and we've promised ourselves a day in London after Christmas just pottering wherever we fancy - Ann, for instance fancies a visit to Covent garden and lunch in her nephew William's wine bar. Not sure where I fancy - the Wallace Collection perhaps. Not been there since we were asked there by the Meyrick Society to partake of an excellent supper with them, and to show them an English (?) wheel lock from my collection about, eight years ago.

  Being called up for supper now so will bid you all Goodnight. 

Sunday 4 December 2011


Been a nice relaxed day. We  both sang  in the choir at morning service. Home, sandwich lunch, then walked into town at 3p.m. for a scrabble tea at Hilary's, in Church Street near the above Church. Four of us, Hilary, Eileen, Ann, and meself. Two games (Eileen won both of them) then tea. Hilary gave us smoked salmon sandwiches, mince pie, Christmas cake, and of course tea. We had crackers with sensible things in them with  very silly jokes (i.e. What do you call a man with his head in a paper bag? - Russell) and paper hats.  Then back for another game of scrabble, which I won, although we all had  fairly close scores. Walked home, getting in at about six. We both agreed we'd spent a very pleasant afternoon. Being called upstairs now for a very light supper (boiled egg and bread and butter soldiers, I think)
So - Goodnight all.

Saturday 3 December 2011

Saturday 2.

Choir practice this morning. On way to Church stopped and took the above photo. I know I've shown pictures of this area before, but I don't think I've shown a picture of all three of the buildings that surround our churchyard. From left to right they are the guildhall, the Deanery Tower, and the church. Apart from the fact that all three were completed in their present form well before the year 1500 -the central one, the Deanery Tower- is the most recent, being completed in the yeaar 1495- they do have another claim to fame. They are built with the three main building materials : - The Guildhall is of oak beams and plaster, the Deanery Tower is of pre Tudor brickwork, and the Church is of stone. I know of no other example of all three medieval building materials surrounding the same square.

Goodnight all.

Saturday 1.

Yesterday, on our way home from Ipswich we did a slight detour through a village we lived in thirty some- odd years ago, Bramford, and popped into the church to see if it was as pleasant as we remembered it. One thing I'd almost forgotten was the above inscription in the face of a pillar just over the poor box. It reads :-

Remember Ye Por,
The Scripture doth record
What to them is geven
Is lent unto the Lord.

This charming little verse is inscribed into the plaster and painted, and although now very faded is still perfectly legible.

Must stop and do some work now.

Friday 2 December 2011


Snapshot taken from the back bedroom window yesterday. Shown to prove that even in December some autumn colours remain.

This morning we drove into Ipswich where Ann had to have a test in our local hospital. Test went off alright, but as it had been a 'fasting test' Ann was very thirsty and hungry so we went off after the test to the hospital canteen and had a hot drink and bun apiece, and very refreshing they were. The bill however came to £9.10, yes nine pounds and ten pence!!!!!!!  We then did a bit of thinking and worked out that about two years ago, a decent, light, hot lunch could have been eaten by the two of us (and was occasionally when I was in hospital there) for the same sum, or slightly less, that I'd just paid for a very restrained elevenses.   The moral of this is that when you read the official figures on inflation rates  -

                                             DO NOT BELIEVE A WORD OF IT.

Goodnight all.

Thursday 1 December 2011


Today is the first of December. It doesn't feel like it, it's been a nice mild day, and I really can't remember a lovelier autumn than this has been - not just autumn colours, which have been, and to some extent still are lovely, but for nice, mild weather. As you can see from the garden we still have some splashes of colour. I know we should have pruned the roses by now, and I shall do so soon, but when I do there'll be a few roses for the house; and I do dislike cutting them back when they're still flowering.


I must knock off now and go upstairs to help. We've got friends coming for supper. I've got wine cooling (White wine-  Pinot Grigio- I planned to open a Gewurztraminer or so, but Ann said to leave that for when we have some game to give people- good point) and I'd better go and open it to let it breathe for a while before they get here. I don't know that that's really necessary for white wine, but it'll do it no harm.

Good night all.