Monday, 29 July 2013


This year's hanging baskets are beginning to look well on our Guildhall.  Spent today very restfully completing odd jobs in the workshop, doing one job in the forge (case hardening a fire steel), and generally pottering. Friend Martin called in this afternoon with a bottle of our favourite Madeira as an extra 'thank you' for making the silver key for their grand daughter - very thoughtful of them, especially to remember the sort we like so precisely.  Just off now for a quick shower and what's left of an early night - got a fairly busy day planned for tomorrow.      So - Goodnight all.

Sunday, 28 July 2013


Spent this morning straining and bottling last year's sloe gin. Bit of a thin year for sloes last year, so only ten and a half (half bottles) if you see what I mean, but it's quite good stuff. Should be drinkable by Christmas.......... WHOA Horner! It's drinkable now (been doing a quality control test): I mean - should be even better by Christmas.  I don't seem able to build up a supply of the stuff these days - only three bottles of the 2011 left.

The photo is of a decanter of sloe gin and glasses ready on the sideboard.  In case of visitors that is.

Must now nip up and make meself respectable for Church.
More later perhaps.

Friday, 26 July 2013


Very short blog entry today. Photo is of a young gentleman enjoying a shady spot in our churchyard to make telephone calls. This blog entry  is for the benefit of a gentleman in Australia. And I DO have the approval and permish of the Australian gentleman's Mama (and the young gentleman's maternal Grand Mama - same lady) to publish this.

Warm regards to the Australian uncle from Mike, the blogger, and your family and friends in Highdale (note attempts at discretion, which one of my daughters insists I use when blogging, though I don't really see the point - sorry Nea).

Thursday, 25 July 2013


I said earlier this week that I was working on a piece of silver. This is rare for me (although I consider silver is money for jam -it's  a lovely metal to work on). This started with the silver clock hand above, which |I made for Ann in 1978. She'd seen several clock hands I'd made in iron, and said they'd make a nice pendant; so I bought a piece of sheet silver and made the above pendant. A few years later when Ann  had become a Ward Sister, she expressed a wish for a nurse's belt-buckle in silver,  so I made the silver buckle above the pendant. Since then I've made three more clock hand pendants, all of different designs, for family members. Then, earlier this year a good friend of ours, who has always admired Ann's pendant, told us that her grand daughter was coming of age in October, and could I make a key in sheet silver?  The answer, of course, was "I don't know, I've never tried."
Well, I've tried now, and it turns out that I can.

These next few pictures show the various stages of making said key. As above, obtain a piece of sheet silver of the required thickness (having a brother-in-law who is a silversmith helps here).

Next stage (as above) draw out the pattern of the key on tracing paper, then glue the paper onto the sheet of silver. Then drill through the silver sheet into all the places which are to be sawn out (in this case fourteen - well count them) and start cutting using a jeweller's piercing saw. Then saw round the outer shape of the key.  Then file up (tiny needle files required for some of  this). Then do any slight engraving that needs doing to accentuate some points.

 Above photo shows key about two thirds of the way through.

 Above and below picture show the key almost complete. At this point I should make clear that I've included a  pound coin in the picture to give some idea of the size of the key. I must stress that it is the same pound coin in all the pictures in case you think your blogger is made of money!!!!

Below is the key complete. The little doofah at the right hand end of the picture is for the recipient to put a silver chain through (which the recipient's Grand Mama is also supplying for her). I used rather thinner silver to make this part, which in a slightly earlier incarnation was part of a damaged Victorian silver mustard pot. The motto of this part of the blog entry is - never chuck out Victorian silver mustard pots, however damaged -  they may come in useful next time your're asked to make a silver key for a friend's grand daughter's coming of age.

                   Good Night All.

Monday, 22 July 2013


This morning, as we had to nip into town anyway, and as it was a lovely morning, we decided to walk along the river.  The River Walk, from our home, along the river, then back through the town is about a mile and a half, which we took at a nice, restful, pace; eventually stopping off for a cool drink when three quarters of the way round. The above tree (and, indeed, the below tree - being two photos of the same tree) is a Black Poplar, although any tree less like the usual Lombardy Poplar would be difficult to imagine. As you can see from the second photo, it was heavily pollarded last year, but seems to be recovering.

The below photo shows Ann walking over Toppesfield Bridge, which is said to be the oldest bridge (still in use) in Suffolk.

The snapshot below, shows a view of Highdale Downs, although why the tops of our low hills should be called Downs is beyond me. Somebody knows I suppose, and if you do, please let me know, too.

Even the humble white bindweed shown below, can make the riverside path look nice and cool. About twenty yards further along the footpath, we had our small adventure of the morning. Ann spotted what appeared to be a snake lying in the sun on the path. "It's not a grass snake, is it?" she asked. "Nor an adder?"  It was about eighteen inches long, and a bright coppery brown.  "No, I'm fairly certain it's a slow worm, but I want to check that. It's about fifty years since I've seen one, and that was in North Suffolk."  With a speed which belied it's name, the slow worm wiggled its way across the footpath, then slid into the grass to our right.  Since then I've checked up on it, and it was a young slow worm, which isn't a snake or a worm, but (technically) a legless lizard.

The one thing I haven't shown a photo of yet, and as I started this blog entry by talking about our River Walk, is of course the river.  It's the River Brett, illustrated on this  last photo and shows a mother mallard and her six, half grown youngsters.

Now I'm off to do some work on a small piece of sheet silver. I'm not often asked to work on silver (which is a lovely metal to work with; but it's expensive, so I mustn't spoil it). In fact, provided I don't make a mess of it, I may well make it the subject of a blog entry later in the week. If I do (make a mess of it that is) this is the last you'll hear of it.

Friday, 19 July 2013


Yesterday the scaffolding blokes came to take down the scaffolding from our Tudor chimneys. Ann made the three of them a quick cuppa, and then they got on with the job, and made a good quick job of it, too. I offered the senior man a tenner tip, which to my surprise he turned down flat (but very politely). He then went on to say, that as far as he could remember, this was the first roof they'd ever scaffolded, then unscaffolded, without breaking a single peg tile.  We are very grateful, gentlemen.

The above chimney on the left has always leaned drunkenly, and still does. David has put a new chimney pot (well aVictorian one - Doulton) on, straight and upright; which has had the odd effect of making the chimney look even wonkier. Still David says the chimneys should now last us out, and I can live with that........... if you see what I mean.

 The above and below pictures are really to demonstrate that it is a lovely year for roses, and that the  garden is now a mass of colour.

                          Good Night All.

Thursday, 18 July 2013


The 'mystery object is, as Sir Bruin says, a brass case for holding wax vestas or friction matches. These were patented in 1827 by John Walker (not the Johnnie Walker who invented Scotch) but did  not become  really popular until the 1840s, when this vesta box was probably made (well, circa 1840 to 1860). It must be remembered that this was long before the invention of electric light, and this box was made to be kept in a familiar place with one match in the holder at the top, so that if a light were needed, the match could be found in the dark. The match would be then taken from its holder, the holder turned upside down, and a light struck on the serrated base of the box, shown in the photo below.  Then a candle, or a laid fire, or the gas light, could be lit by from the match. It still works very well with Swan Vestas or any red topped match (but not safety matches). It is, as I said in one of the comments, a very well thought out piece of equipment).

P.s.  Well done, Sir Bruin!

Wednesday, 17 July 2013


Made up a new word today. Don't want to go into details -discretion involved. But the word was 'lachrimonious'
and it means halfway between 'lachrymose' and 'acrimonious'. It came to me when I needed it (instead of the usual twenty minutes after I'd felt the need for it); and when I thought about it afterwards it was even better than I'd thought it at the time. 

Now to more important things. The two below photos are of this week's

Mystery Object.

It is made of brass, is just under three inches in height and an inch and a half across the body. What and when please.

If Z reads this, I think you should show it to the Sage. I'm sure he will know what it is.

                                    Good Night All.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013


Been a fairly busy couple of days. On Sunday we had lunch on the lawns of the above house, a fairly typical Suffolk hall, in a sort of open sided marquee. We met Hilary there and a good may people we know, as well  as making one or two new aquaintances. A very pleasant lunch and afternoon - we broke up a bit after three, which is about right I think.

Yesterday we motored over to Quy Mill near Cambridge where we met up with Ann's three brothers for our usual 'sibling lunch'. This is rapidly becoming a monthly occasion.

Yesterday evening Ann called me out to the garden because she thought she'd seen a frog. It turned out to be the above young toad (last year's vintage I should think). I took the above photo then tried to get a bit nearer. He bristled a bit at this idea and gave us the brush off by climbing over the garden broom (almost worthy of Rog - no, that's not quite fair. His are usually a bit more subtle than that) and vanishing into the garden border. See  photo below.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Friday 2.

                                    Mystery object.

                                    This is the object I was working on earlier this week. It is just over eight inches long. The above and below photos are, of course, of the same object.
                                    What, and why, and roughly when, please.


Went to cafe Church this morning. Sat drinking coffee with friends John and Gloria, when Hilary came and joined us. "After we've had our coffee", says Hilary, "I want the four of you to come and look round my garden". A fortnight ago we had our annual 'Open Gardens Day' in our town, and owing to a very important prior engagement, we hadn't been able to go and see Hilary's garden, and neither had John and Gloria. Hilary lives about a hundred yards from the Church in a rambling medieval house, with a tiny walled 'courtyard' garden at the back. It is South facing, completely enclosed, and quite charming. Three of the walls have old fruit trees espaliered to them, a huge fig tree (laden with fruit), a peach tree, apple trees, and a young apricot tree Hilary  put in last year. It has a very comprehensive herb garden, and a small brick built pond. Hilary's late husband John was a retired Canon of the Church, and also a very skilled 'Do it yourself' workman. He built the heavy frame which now supports the ancient fig-tree. Not ancient in the sense of centuries old; I think John put it in about fifty years ago.

Hilary showed us the corner pictured above, and said "This bit's called Babylon". "Why ?" I said, knowing I'd regret it. "The hanging garden", says Hilary with a sort of quiet triumph.

Above photo is of the fig tree, which has a large timber frame above it supporting the whole canopy of the tree. This is, as I said, laden with fruit. As Hilary had provided a bottle of wine (from her fridge), a large bag of potato crisps, and the requisite number of glasses and garden chairs, a very pleasant time was had by all.

                                                     More in a min.

Thursday, 11 July 2013


On Tuesday afternoon we took Ruth and the girls to Stansted, to take a homeward bound plane back to Sweden, via Germany for a couple of days. Freja is learning German at school and wanted to practice it. Yesterday we got up early for early service at which I read the first lesson, a long, but interesting chunk of Genesis when Joseph was chief officer for Pharoah, and his brothers needed to buy grain (detailed  account of life in the bronze age).   Spent the rest of the day doing a fairly major rebuild on what may eventually be used as a mystery object on this blog, so won't say more.

Today went with the U3A collectors club to have a look round  the Yoxford Antique Centre. Ann didn't come because she had a prior engagement (tea with Helga). The Yoxford Antique Centre has recently changed hands and was a bit disappointing. The six of us had a cuppa and a bite to eat at 12.30p.m. and discussed what was to be done next. I suggested that there were three antique shops in /near Yoxford so we drove back into Yoxford village. The first antique shop was very CLOSED! (so there!). We went onto the second, much smaller shop, which was very much open, and we all made hay. This shop has  four rooms and, I would think,  three or four dealers who take turns to man the shop. Contents are a real mix, as were the six of us, and we mostly found something to suit our various tastes. Your blogger bought three pairs and one single brass candlestick (all reasonably early), a brass puzzle padlock (minus its key - which I'll have to make) and another small item which may well reappear here as a 'mystery item', as well as a rather handsome copper kettle.

The picture above is really for practice and is of a bonsaied yew tree, which has taken ten years to reach its present nine inches high, but is beginning to look like a tree; which, on exerting the memory, I think I may have told you before.

Before closing I must tell you a rather good story that Ann told me after church yesterday morning. A good friend of ours has a granddaughter who has just taken a job at a 'call centre'. Her job consists of selling, over the 'phone, a small gadget that is kept beside the telephone and then informs the buyer of any incoming nuisance telephone calls trying to sell them something. Lovely bit of irony, but makes me think our world is getting dafter daily.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Still Tuesday.

Roses through the kitchen window.

Roses in the rose garden..

I think I've got it!!!!!

Tuesday 5 (I think).

David at work!

At this point Ruth ran out of pictures so she took this picture of a picture. If I still retain any poor, puzzled readers by this point, please let them be assured that I shall delete a good deal of this morning's hard work. I am expecting at any moment to receive comments along the lines of "What the Hanover's  going on, Horner?"

Tuesday 3.

David (our specialised builder- specialises in early properties) and Ann, coffee break  in garden.

The Doulton chimney pot David has found us.

I am aware that this blog has broken out in a profuse rash of blog entries. Please do not fear that this will become a daily thing. It is because I need to practice the new method of getting photies on blog. Please bear with me. Ruth and Ann have just rushed in with a new batch of photies.

Tuesday 2.

Repair work going on to chimneys.

Ruth writing out instructions to me  re blogging photos.


On Sunday afternoon granddaughters T..a and F..a (from Scandinavia) were delighted to find evidence of  high tech civilisation in our town of Highdale, in the shape of a public telephone kiosk still in use.

Monday, 8 July 2013


As you can see Ruth and the girls are staying for a very short time. They came over on Saturday just in time to join us on the Cam.

The journey was obviously very tiring. I came into the kitchen?dining room on Sunday afternoon, and found Tuva flat out under the dining table (she will be sixteen next month).

After I gave a series of taps on the table top (of steadily increasing loudness!!!) Tuva emerged, as shown, looking sleepy and puzzled (as in -Where am I?????).

Since then Ruth has been heavily engaged in trying to sort out my blog illustration problems. Which is why I am putting up a series of experimental blog entries. I think we are getting there.

Sunday, 7 July 2013


All the photos were taken yesterday- Saturday.  Set off fairly late  in the morning to motor to Cambridge. Stopped a mile or so from home to take the above photo. It's not been a particularly good spring or early summer this year; but what has been good is the display of poppies, I've noticed. I've also noticed that where there's been such a good display of poppies is usually in fields of  oilseed rape (as in the photo). Can anyone suggest a reason for this?   Went on to Cambridge where we were to meet the family, take them on the river and then to tea.

Took this  (and the next few) being quanted along the Cam by the very confident young gondolier above.

The photo above shows the same young gondolier, having been dragged back aboard by Ruth, having caught his quant  pole in the low arch to the left of the bridge above, and been shoved overboard by the pole. He took it in very good part, having gone in only chest deep.

King's College Chapel right of centre in above picture.

Outboard motor drying off nicely in above photo.

Tea with family in the old Garden House Hotel. Twenty three of us , to include two of granddaughters' boy friends and one recently acquired fiance (sorry my machine doesn't do foreign accents).  Gave the engaged couple a pair of early Victorian brass candlesticks as an engagement present.

Been a lovely day out, and some of the grandchildren have been thanking us on Facebook today.

                           Goodnight All.