Wednesday, 29 January 2014


Still not much in the garden - snowdrops, crocii,  hellebore, and a few primula. So above and below are snapshots of flowers in the house. Above is a bunch of daffs I bought Ann about ten days ago, when they were  in bud. They are lasting well, and the scent is lovely.  Below is an orchid that Ann was given in December - they always seem to flower for a long while.

Having done a good deal of restoration in the workshop earlier this week, we now seem to have entered the socialising part of the week. Today Ron and Sue (whose home we visited last Wednesday with the U3A Collectors' Club) came and had tea with us. Ann gave them fruit cake and biscuits. Hadn't really met them before, but we seem to have a good deal in common. Tomorrow we're going to a charity tea at Stoke by Nayland with John and Gloria. Hilary is coming with us. Tomorrow evening we're having dinner with Jordan and Suzanne, they've recently moved house (within Highdale) and I think it's going to be a sort of house warming party. Plan to take them a pair of candlesticks (and candles) as a house warming (or rather house lighting) present. Must also buy Suzanne a flowering plant, if I can find one (or a bunch of daffodills if I can't). Ann says she will find something for the children (each).
As it's Wednesday it's been a long day;  and  I think we're going to have a reasonably early night.
                                                                    So -
                                                               Good Night All.

Saturday, 25 January 2014


Been a fairly busy day. Workshop this morning, mainly oddjobs. This afternoon Ann went shopping with friend Sue, and I went to Scrabble Club. Took car and picked up Julia and Rhona, fellow Club members who live on outskirts of town. Three good games. Played with Phylis, Hilary, and Kevin. Won the first game, mainly because I got out first, and Kevin had just draw the Z, which meant I got an extra six teen points from him all told, and still only won by four points. Kevin, who is the youngster of the Club (being only in his forties) won the next two games quite decisively. At the next table four ladies were playing, loudly and passionately. It sounded as if every point was being disputed. Two of the ladies are in their mid eighties, and the other two in their nineties. The games seem to do them a world of good, keeps them on their toes, although at times it sounded as if it might end up with 'handbags at dawn' for two of them.  Ran Julia and Rhona to their respective homes, then drove home myself.


Supper (above) consisted of salmon steak with crushed fennel seeds (we grow bronze fennel in our herb garden - it looks well as a tall plant at the back of the garden, and the seeds are good for flavouring fish), with creamed potatoes and stir fried vegetables (mainly red peppers and leeks). A lovely supper - subtle and flavoursome.   Followed by a fresh fruit salad with yoghourt.

Early night soon, I think.    Goodnight all.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014


Both the above photos are snapshots of Lewes Castle taken last week.

Today has been a busy (and a long) day. Up just after six to attend early service, then into town to pick up parcel - well two parcels in fact. Both snuff boxes bought on ebay, both quite nice ones. Then spent a couple of  hours in work shop repairing tinder box. Now in good working order (had to re- case harden fire steel, among other minor repairs. Then changed, motored   a couple of  miles to favourite farm shop, quick hot lunch (met several people there we know, including young Matthew my tailor, and his wife), back to town and to a house in the High Street, where we (the U3A Antique Collectors' s Club) were shown a collection of interesting clocks. The owner was aware of my job (?) and hoped  'our resident expert wouldn't be too harsh on him'. He soon relaxed when he found I wasn't going to correct him as he went along, and we were soon nattering like the  two fellow enthusiasts that we are.  His wife provided a very good tea that included scones with cream and jam, and conversation became general. Got home about four and spent the rest of the day in workshop. Ann has just 'phoned this afternoon's clock enthusiast's wife to ask them along to see our clocks and workshop and have a cuppa with us next week. A captive audience on one's own subject is always welcome.  Clocks are just striking nine, and it's beginning to feel like a long day- So -                           Good Night All.

Saturday, 18 January 2014


Been a busy weekend. Yesterday went to a funeral. Sheila's husband George. He was in his early eighties. It always surprises me how much you learn about people, even ones you think you know quite well, when you attend their funeral.  George, I learned, started life as an East End Cockney, and became a carpenter, who did very well for himself. He married three times, and had a good many children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, all of whom attended the funeral, and were obviously very fond of him. All I really knew of him (before his funeral) was that he was a nice, restful sort of chap who it was pleasant to spend time with. He will be missed in Highdale.

The funeral Service was held in Saint Mary's Church here in Highdale. The picture above is of the South door of the Church (the main doorway). It was built in the 14th/15th century, as was the door itself. It's worn well, although there's a good deal of graffiti  scribed into the door, initials, dates, etc., some of it from the mid 1700s.


Today we have been to the annual lunch of the Mothers' Union, to which the members are expected to take their husbands.  It's usually  held in early January, and there's a feeling that it tends to mark the end of the Christmas season. It was held a little later than  usual this year. It is held in the dining room of the Stoke-by-Nayland Golf Club. For the main course there is a choice of turkey or beef or both, followed by a good choice of puddings, and/or cheese, then coffee (or tea). I had the beef, Ann had both, then Ann had pudding and I had Stilton (and a good, mature, Stilton, it was, too).  We both had coffee (one small cup thereof in my case). It was the first time since last March that I'd had caffeine.  Enjoyed it, and, so far, no ill effects.   It is always a good do, the post Christmas Mothers' Union Lunch. Everybody knows everyone else, there is good solid, well cooked grub, and excellent wine. Who could ask for more?

                                                                Good Night All.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014


I know I do this most years, and as I've not checked last year's photo,  I don't know whether they are early or late this year, but this morning I took this photograph of the first snowdrop fully out in our garden.  I'm not even saying that spring is on its way (although I'm sure it is) just that this is the first sign of  it - always a cheering thought, I find.

Monday, 13 January 2014


 By special request of Crowbard, I've put up a further blog entry on Saturday's Mystery Object, to illustrate the fabric outer case (or bag) for the Japanese tinder lighter. I've consulted Ann on this, and she says that the material for the bag is woven, with some embroidery in metallic threads. The material from which the bag is made, is very old (and now very fragile) silk. The above photo shows the back of the bag which would have rested against the quilted armour.

The above photo shows the front of the bag with its protective iron work showing.

The above photo shows the back of the bag again with the tinder lighter above it, attached to the bag by an articulated silver strap (almost like a modern watch strap).

Two further points, Crowbard :- I'm not at all sure about your description as the rarest known specimen. I think it's possible, even likely, that there are as good,  if not better ones known in Japan. You know how the French keep their better wines to themselves, and export the lesser ones to us?  Well, I should think the Japanese may have done  much the same with their antique artifacts when there was such a craze for them following the publication of The Mikado.

My other point is dating the item. You could well be right about it being a little earlier than eighteenth century. The problem is that they are not well known (or illustrated) in the books on the subject., and when one is illustrated in a reliable book (see Caspall's  Fire and Light in the home, page 37) whatever date the writer decides to give to the illustration (in this case late 17th/early 18th Century) is then copied into subsequent books, regardless of more recent information. This, coupled with the well known conservatism of Japanese artisans before Commander Peery reopened Japan to the West in 1852 (I think), makes the dating of Japanese antiques problematical at best .

I hope this helps.  Warm Regards, Mike.

Sunday, 12 January 2014


This is the answer to Friday's 'Mystery Object' question. When the smaller left hand button is pressed, the case springs open (rather like a hunter watch). Inside is a small, but very effective snaphaunce  tinder lighter. When the cock gripping a flake of flint in its jaws is pulled back, the action cocks. Then the larger button to the right is pressed, and it acts as a trigger, the cock falls and the flint strikes a spark against the steel to the left of the picture. This lights the tinder, which in turn can be used to light a fire. The fabric and iron outer case was made as an en suite accessory to one of those strange Japanese quilted armours. It's a surprisingly complete survival.  I must record that between you, you got it almost completely right. Crowbard spotted its purpose, Kippy and Maggie got the date right as eighteenth century. Well done, all of you.

Friday, 10 January 2014


                                        Mystery Object.

I think I'd better start by giving you a HUGE clue.  The illustrated item is Japanese. I am not an orientalist but I do admire craftsmanship. It is sometimes difficult to get out of our own artistic culture and admire other cultures and crafts. It is not difficult in this case. In its way it is exquisite. The outer case is of  embroidered fabric reinforced with iron plates and a form of chain mail (tautology those last two words). The object inside the case is mainly of brass with flower head decoration in more valuable metals, and is the size of a walnut. It has a function.  The outer fabric case (the bag) measures  four and a half inches by three inches.

Could you give me, please, the item's purpose (i.e. its function) and a guess at when it was made. I couldn't get closer  than the century in which it was made, and I don't expect anyone to get (reliably) closer than that.

When you've had a go, I'll put some more photies up to illustrate its purpose. It's possible that someone has seen a similar one and will know what it is, but they have always been fairly rare items; So - good guessing,
                                and Good Night.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014


Been away for a day or two to an auction sale.  On Monday we drove down to Sussex. Above photo shows us driving on  the bridge over the Thames at Dartford on the M25.

South Downs above, M23.

The High Street in Lewes. Little medieval building being held up by a modern building on the right, and a late Georgian building on the left.  Viewed the sale on Monday afternoon. Returned to the saleroom on Tuesday  to bid at  the sale.

During the lunch break I had a wander along the High Street and up to the castle, mainly built in the early 1300s, with earlier (and later) bits around it. Didn't go into the castle, but pottered around the lanes through the castle.

The Green shown below is exactly that - a bowling green, which it has been since 1640. Before that it was the Castle tilting yard.

Another shot of the Castle, then back to the Sale Room (Arms and Armour sale) where I was successful with nine of my bids. Three guns and seven swords, and if you think that adds up to more than nine lots, the answer is that there were two swords in one lot (see, I can add up - sometimes).  Paid and left the goodies at the Saleroom, as being safer than leaving them in the car or our room.   Called back at the saleroom just after nine this morning and picked up the goodies - not literally - the two most senior porters (bless 'em)  wrapped all the stuff up, then carried it to the car for us. Drove home 'the pretty way' via Tunbridge Wells.

 Having shown several shots of medieval architecture, above is one of twentieth century architecture, which I think is very graceful, well this bit is anyway. It's a bridge over the M25, travelling anti clockwise towards the Dartford Tunnel.  Got home just after mid day. As always it's good to be home, and we'd both enjoyed our trip.

Saturday, 4 January 2014


Sorry that I haven't blogged since Monday.  Been a busy week, and also a lovely week weather wise for January (see above photo). Did the Long Melford Antique Fair on Wednesday. Did very well. Only bought one item, but might well use that as a mystery object in a week or so. Sold  rather better that I'd expected though.  One thing rather spoiled the fair though, which was that at about midday, whilst  Kath and Derek  took over for us, we went back to the car to get an umbrella, intending to go for a walk, and Ann shut a finger in the car door. It looked a mess, so took her through to the kitchen, where Ros took down the First Aid kit, and she and I bandaged the finger. I wanted to run Ann up to Bury St. Edmund's Hospital to have the finger looked at, but Ann wouldn't wear it at any price. In fact the following morning I took Ann  along to the Highdale Surgery, where the on duty nurse agreed with Ann, rebandaged the finger, and said it was "going on nicely".  On the other hand (sorry for bad pun, Rog) it does rather explain why it's been such a busy week, in that it's meant that I've been doing the majority of the cooking, with Ann directing operations. She's a great deal better now though, and says it's amazing what you can get done with a plastic bag over the left hand, with a rubber band to keep it in situ.  My duties are  now reduced to peeling and preparing the vegetables, which Ann still finds difficult (I knows my place).

If Rog and Paff think the above (now much photographed) azalia looks vaguely familiar - they are right. It's looked lovely now for two months, and is still thriving.

                                     Good night All.