Wednesday, 30 October 2013


Short blog entry to record the first frost of the winter. We were up early to attend early service (7.30 a.m.) at which I was due to read the first lesson - Acts16, vs.11 to 15; and found we had to scrape a hard frost off the car windscreen.

On returning home at about nine a.m. found that the rambler, which is climbing all over our kitchen wall and is now well  above the windows,  hadn't quite given up on summer, yet.

Monday, 28 October 2013


Time for me to provide answers about yesterday's Mystery Object; and both Rog and Crowbard spotted straight away that he is a small clock jack. Rog got quite near geographically (though I think South Germany/ possible North Italy might be a bit nearer that Dutch), but didn't attempt a date, so that I think Crowbard's date of 16th century (but not Japanese !) puts him marginally nearer the correct answer. I can quite see what fogged Crowbard, so I'm going to have to do a little explaining. This little jack is from a complicated domestic clock; which probably had up to four jacks - a large one to strike the hours, two smaller ones to strike the quarters (of which this is probably one), and possibly a fourth to strike an alarm train. There was a fashion in the late 16th century for these jacks to represent stylistically the four continents, and I think this chap is supposed to represent Asia.  Mechanically he strikes by swivelling from his waist (a rod runs up  inside his right leg). His head does not swing with his trunk, but stays looking forward. It does however (his head that is) lift up as he begins his back swing, as though to focus on the bell that would have been above him, then down again as he delivers his blow.  If you examine the second and third picture you will see his head in the two positions.  I think this would have given his striking action a rather more realistic appearance. I think the clock was probably scrapped sometime in the early nineteenth century, but someone thought this jack worth keeping. I wonder what happened to the other jacks; although, it is of course perfectly possible that this one was the only jack, and therefore striking the hours. Since then, again probably in the nineteenth century he has been mounted on a green marble column.  When I first came into possession of him, I made him the hammer that he still clutches.
I think I'd better explain how I came into possession of him :-     I bought him at an oak and early metalware auction at Sotheby's  about twenty five years ago. He qualified to be in the sale, because he is, of course, early metalware, but I've always thought that he would have been more appreciated had Sotheby's entered him in an antique clock and watch sale.  He was described in the catalogue as a small bronze statuette, nicely gilded, continental and of late 16th century date. All the evidence of his mechanical past was ignored.  Still, who am I to criticise Sotheby's shortcomings of description.  I'm not complaining!

P.s. I hope I've made this all quite clear without being tooooo technical.  I'll try and answer any questions if I've not  made things clear.

P.p.s.  I think you'll agree that he's an attractive little object, which is why we've kept him all this time.

Sunday, 27 October 2013


                                The above four photographs are of this week's
                                                     MYSTERY OBJECT.

The above little chap is made of bronze, some of which (his clothing, boots, etc.) has been gilded. He is just short of four inches high, and has (probably since the nineteenth century) stood on a four inch high, round , green marble, column. He originally served a purpose.  The competition is to tell me what his purpose was, when he was made, and where. No exactness required this time.


Saturday, 26 October 2013


Not mystery objects today (although I've got one to show you next time I blog), but the photos illustrate two things I've been working on this week.  Above is illustrated one of the most complete (and original) brass chamber candlesticks I've seen for some time. It's late Georgian, and is complete with its dowser/snuffer), its side ejector (the brass knob in the centre of the picture), and its scissors type snuffer. I've had to do a fair amount of work re- rivetting it (it was fairly shaky overall, but have only had to replace one part of it- the small piece of brass that supports the pair of snuffers, and it was possible to see where that had originally been, and to work out the shape of the original piece from that. Not so complicated as some of the things I work on but satisfying none-the-less.

Above and below illustrations are of a clock movement by John Barrow  Londini Fecit. I've had to do all sorts of little jobs (too numerous to enumerate) to put this one back into decent working order.  The dial is eleven inches square. The clock normally lives in a small oak case, and is a thirty hour long case clock. John Barrow, who made it was apprenticed in 1671 to Francis Ireland, of London; became a member of the Clockmakers' Company in 1681, master of the Clockmakers' Company from  1714  to 1717 (presumed to be the year of his death). I'm glad to report that it's now back on duty, and, I'm told,  keeping excellent time again. What a difference from our present policies of 'planned obsolescence' - making a thing so that it  works only until its guarantee expires, then itself expires soon afterwards, and the customer has to buy a new one. If I allow meself to think about that one I could join Rog as a curmudgeon.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013


All six of the above photos were taken on our way home from the West Country. We made a detour via Gloucestershire. All the photos were taken in one town, Ledbury.  I have shown them to remind me (and stop me getting swollen headed about Suffolk) that we do not have a monopoly of medieval, timber framed buildings here  East Anglia.

Yesterday we had a very hospitally/medical kind of day.  In the morning I'd been asked to go into our local hospital for a check up. Saw a heart consultant. He was a man in his sixties, I should think, who was unforthcoming and uncommunicative.  He felt my pulse, then said, accusingly, "your pulse is very irregular." Then admitted,  grudgingly "But strong".  I was then sent off to have an E.C.G.  While we were waiting, Ann gave me her opinion that the consultant was "Unsympathetic - almost rude".    We agreed that it seemed a pity that a man who's spent his working life doing an interesting, well paid, job, gives barely common courtesy back to his patients.
After the E.C.G. was taken by a cheerful, and efficient nurse, I was told not to leave the hospital before the Consultant had seen the result of the test. After we'd been hanging around for quite a while, a young nurse scurried up to me and said that the Consultant had seen the G.C.E. result and didn't want to see me again. That suited me very well as the feeling was quite mutual. We were glad to get away.

Before we left the hospital we went across to a new building, where Hilary's senior stepson was. He'd  had an emergency apendixectomy (think I've got that a bit wrong, but you'll know what I mean, I'm sure) a day or so previously, and I'd told Hilary we'd pop in and see him.  Found his ward. I knew it was not visiting hours, and verging on lunch time any way. but found a nice young staff nurse, who told me where Christopher was, thought it would be a good idea for him to see someone, but asked me not to stay more than a few minutes. Found Christopher looking a bit frail, but he was pleased to see us, and we stayed about five minutes.


At five in the afternoon I had an appointment in our local surgery to see my own G.P. as I was due for a drugs revue. He is a welcoming and well mannered young man who is interested in his patients. Just before we left Ann asked him about our annual 'flu jab.  "It's due in about ten days up at the local school", he said.
"But hang on a minute, I'm sure we've got some here. I'll do it now. It'll save you a journey".
The difference between people !!!!!!

Sunday, 20 October 2013


Been a lovely weekend. Granddaughter Laura spent the weekend with us. She lives and works in London these day, so we picked her up at Manningtree station on Saturday morning and drove over to Bury St. Edmund's, where we met up with daughter Kerry, Laura's mama, and had lunch together at the Swedish Restaurant on Angel Hill. We then had a walk round the Abbey Gardens, and into the Cathedral. Where we met a lady who'd been a neighbour of ours in the early 1970s. She recognised us instantly, I'm glad to say, as, although we knew who she was (when she'd introduced herself) I'm not at all sure that either of us would have known her. Still, we had a pleasant ten minute chat with her.  Yesterday evening we had a good, three handed, game of scrabble - Laura said she was out of practice, but played an excellent game. This afternoon two of Laura's friends called (vaguely remembered them) and eventually bore Laura off on her journey back to London.

This afternoon just before four p.m. Jordan, who painted our house in the early summer, called with his family (by appointment) to show us his new baby daughter - Summer, which, they told us is the 'in' name this year. They chose it as being rather unusual, but already know of two other Summers. She's an absolute little charmer, and her brother Ryan, who is three, is a delight.

Their mother, Suzanne, was astonished to learn that we don't have a television, but, just as they were leaving (at around six o'clock) said to Ann that it had been really lovely to "just sit and talk - without the television".

As I said at the start of this entry - been a lovely weekend.   Off to bed now - Goodnight all.

Thursday, 17 October 2013


 These first three photos I took in and around town yesterday morning.There was a slight fog/mist, and I took the pictures to demonstrate the autumn colours, which the mist seemed to make, somehow,  more autumnal ?.

This morning we motored over to Lavenham. Two friends of ours are moving there (from a few miles out. They are 'downsizing'), and wanted me to set their two nice, early clocks 'in beat' in their new home,, which I did. The lantern clock which features in the next two photos is this weeks
                                            MYSTERY OBJECT.

It is an English lantern clock by John Fordham of Dunmow. He numbered his clocks (most unusually for a country maker) - this one is numbered 244.  I have known this clock for a good many years. Another odd thing about it is that the engraver of the clock used the underside of the bottom plate for practising his engraving on, and one of the things he engraved twice on the underside of the clock is the year it was made.
                                                   Please give the year in which you think the clock was made.

You should be able to get fairly near from the style of the clock and the engraving. But I don't think his habit of numbering his clocks will be of any help at all.

I wish you good guessing, and, of course, Good Night.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013


Back to normal life this blog entry. Friends of ours, Sue and Geoffrey (although they're also sort of connexions - they are son-in-law Mikey's Aunt and uncle) had lunch with us on Saturday. Soup and cheese.It was Geoffrey's first visit to Suffolk - he was pleasantly surprised.

Snapshot of fruit bowl on dining table. I know I've put up this sort of picture before; but this one is a bit special. All the fruit you can see is from our own garden. They are Red Windsors, from a small  tree we put in about five years ago, and have since fan trained.  We find that rather satisfying - home grown fruit.

Monday, 14 October 2013


 Still on the subject of holiday. Woke up about 7 a.m. Sunday, and the above scene greeted us.
Decided we would walk to church. Now, as a Norfolk fenman, born and raised, I am going to air my one objection to the West Country. It is precipitous. I remember reading, as a lad, in one of Kipling's short stories, a description of a small country in the Himalayas - the passage (according to my memory) goes something like this:- "The country was only twelve miles square, but as most of those miles stood on end, it seemed bigger."   Well, our hotel was probably less than half a mile from St. Michael's Church, but as that half mile stood on end, it seemed  (certainly to a fenman) a good deal further. There's probably a bye-law that everyone venturing from the town to the Church must rope themselves together and carry pickaxes and climbing tools.

The above picture was taken from the churchyard, and the narrow lane leading down towards the town (just to the right of centre in the photo) bears out what I was saying. It is called Church Steps. Still, we made it, and my reward is shown in the next photo.

 Saw, on entering the church, a very finely carved, and quite complete, rood screen to our right. On the right hand side of the rood screen stood the above clock jack. I thought I knew most of the clock jacks in England, but this one was a new one on me. There was a small set of old spiral stone steps below the rood screen, which obviously led up to near where the jack stood. There was a rope across the staircase and warning notices.  After the Service I approached the nearest Church warden, told him I would like to climb up the staircase, and take pictures of the jack. I agreed that this would be entirely at my own risk, and that if I fell off the rood screen and broke my neck, I gave my word that I'd not prosecute anyone. Took several pictures of the jack (with which I won't bore you- I appreciate that they're not everyone's cuppa). This one has been heavily overpainted at various periods, but appeared to be of early/mid seventeenth century date. When I came down I found the other Church Warden waiting for me. He looks after the jack, causes it to ring its bell at the start of services, and showed me a guide to the church in which there is a record of  'Jack Hammer' being repaired in 1641.
The two photos below (they are the same photo- this machine is playing silly beggars again!!!) were taken as we strolled down Church Steps.

We spent the next three days, visiting Dunster, Pat (as recorded in previous blog entry), Bishop's Lydiard (on the steam railway), and generally pottering round the area. We then spent two further days motoring home via Ledbury, Malvern (Good B.& B.), then on to Milton Keynes, stayed over with daughter Sarah, and arrived home on Friday.

                                                  Good break.   Goodnight.

Sunday, 13 October 2013


 Going to try and continue the saga of our holiday last week chronologically.  Above photo shows Ann standing in the large gardens of our hotel, which we reached on Saturday afternoon.

I think I showed the sea view from our room yesterday. Above photo shows another view from our room. To the left of the photo is the railway station, with a railway line that runs down to Bishop's Lidiard, with eight other stations  on the line, and one request stop. We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the town (Minehead, in case I didn't say), and looking round the Railway Station. Had tea at a table outside the Station canteen, watching  all the below chuffer engines (excuse the return to boyhood which these steam trains induced).

The little red (narrow gage) engine to the right of the photo above is being restored in the Station workshop. It served in Wales on the Tallillyn branch line - hope I've got that right).

We sat and watched as the engine above was turned round on a massive turntable, pushed round by TWO men.
We eventually walked back to the hotel (only about a ten minute stroll), and changed for dinner, which we took in the hotel dining room.
More tomorrow - Goodnight all.

Saturday, 12 October 2013


Set out just after nine a.m. last Friday morning to motor down to Wiltshire, where we broke our journey, stopping on our way at one or two antique shops - it has long been a belief of mine that a holiday is not really a holiday until you've bought enough stock to have paid for ithe holiday (in all  honesty that has not been really possible this last year or so,  but..... well, every little helps. Took above photo of Sillbury Hill in mid afternoon. It's the largest man-made hill in Europe (and probably the earliest. It's base covers just over five acres, and it is thought to date from around 2,500 B.C.).  Stayed at a B.and B. establishment that we've used before - as good as ever.
On Saturday morning we were on the road by just after nine, and drove to Watchet.

Above is Watchet Harbour. Below is a sign on the harbour wall that seems to me to be verging on tautology.

Arrived at our hotel, the Northfield Hotel in Minehead, mid afternoon.  Above is one view from our room.
Got in a bit of a muddle here. The above photo was taken at Watchet Harbour. I wonder if any of my readers can work out who the above character is? I managed to. He is not an historical person. If you can complete the couplet "Why look'st thou so?"  then you should be able to work out who this is a portrait of - sort of this week's mystery object. Check out his accessories.

 I seem to be tiring rapidly, typing slowly,  and making too many  typological booboos anyway. So will knock off now, and resume this tomorrow..
Goodnight all.

Friday, 11 October 2013


Well, we're back........ but do I hear my puzzled readers asking themselves if they've inadvertently  strayed  into the wrong blog? 'Surely' I hear them saying, 'that's young Pat, with Ann, on that photo, and she and her blog live down in the West somewhere ?'  And, dear reader, you are quite right in your suppositions. The explanation is, of course, that we're just back from a trip down into the West Country, on the North Devon coast to be exact; and, whilst we were down there we did ourselves the honour of calling on Pat (by appointment, of course), taking her out to lunch (although she insisted on paying for the drinks - you may have noticed how very independent young ladies are these days ?), and eventually returning to her home to take tea with her. And a very pleasant afternoon it was, too. A real pleasure to meet you, Pat.

Must close now, and get on with some work - got a busy weekend ahead of us. But, I'll put up some more photies of our trip into the West Country when I have a moment.

As always - it's lovely to be home!!!!!!

Thursday, 3 October 2013


Following yesterday's antique Fair at Long Melford Village Hall (which I must add was enlivened by the attendance  of Rog and the fair Cath, I'm glad to say - especially as I think they found one or two bits ?, as did I), I walked into town this morning, went to the bank, then had to go round to the Church to return some tea towels that Ann had laundered. Took above and below photos of the Churchyard, which still has plenty of colour to admire.

As has, vide below two photos, our own small garden.  The rose bushes are about to give a (final, I suppose) flush of colour. The apples, too, lend colour to the garden, but really refuse to be picked just yet.

Really wrote this swift blog entry to give notice to my friends that I shall be rather too busy over the next few days to blog much. Will try and catch up next week perhaps, when things may have slacked off a little.

Till then  -  Warm regards to all, Mike and Ann.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013


This implement is today's MYSTERY OBJECT. It is not really ancient - it is English and dates from the High Victorian period, which will give you a good clue as to dating. It is heavily silver plated, with a silver mount (not hallmarked) midway along it. The handle is of ivory and is heavily cracked, which doesn't stop it doing its job - usually at Christmas, when it is taken out, cleaned (at Ann's insistence), and used. It is almost eleven inches long, and,  like most Victorian objects it is well made and practical. The mechanical business end is shown in the two pictures below in their two positions.  I think these pictures should enable you to work out its purpose.

The object below is of treen (probably a pale fruitwood, or sycamore) with the business end reinforced with a plain, well made, sheet silver mount. It is earlier than the one above (dating from around 1790),much simpler, and  rather smaller (at just under eight and a half inches),  but serves the same purpose. This one is now retired.

Good guessing, as to the purpose of these two objects, and the date of the above one.