Monday, 31 March 2014


 Typical Suffolk village street scene.  The four pictures shown today were taken within a few miles of here a few days ago.

Today we had lunch with Hilary, as also did John, Gloria, and Jane. Very pleasant lunch. Hilary was aware that we would have to leave early, so excused us just before two, as we had to motor over to Saint Leonard's Hospital in Sudbury to pick up (and be instructed in the use of) my new and more powerful hearing aids at two thirty.  Then walked from the hospital to meet Ann at  (fairly) nearby Waitrose shop. Found meself stopping under a tree to listen to a blackbird singing....................................................

Saturday, 29 March 2014


                                          MYSTERY OBJECT.
I took the above photo a few days ago. The blue eggs are, of course, duck eggs, with which Ann made a very good sponge cake. The 'mystery object' is the treen (wooden - tree-en) container in which the eggs are nestling.

I bought it some years ago, when we were paying our usual summer visit to second daughter, Ruth, who lives a long way North (well over half way up) Sweden. The object was made, a long while ago, from a burr growing on a silver birch tree.

The base of the object has  various carvings on it. The top one starts off  A P D (A.P's Daughter) who was probably the recipient of the object in 1729 (or possibly 1799). Then in 1832 it belonged to O.S.S (O.S's Son).

The above picture shows the purpose to which we put it - keeping eggs in it.  The 'mystery' I would like you to solve is :- for what purpose was it originally made ?

                                           Good guessing.

Thursday, 27 March 2014


Yesterday was a very busy day. Early Service as per usual on Wednesday. Then, late morning to a friend's  new house in the area (although the 'new' is a misleading adjective in this case), where we'd been asked  to make sure that two of the clocks very recently put up in the house were 'in beat' and happy (the one above is rather a lovely, locally made long case clock of about 1730). Next we were to  see the new home, then have lunch with them. The one drawback was that we had to be back in Highdale well before 3 o'clock, when the funeral of a friend was to take place. In fact when we first received the lunch invitation, we felt we had to refuse it to be back in time for the funeral. Angela immediately (and very decently) offered to make sure that the lunch was held rather earlier than is usual in order that we could get back to Highfield in time for the funeral. So we accepted gratefully. In fact both clocks needed very little attention, so we were then given a tour of the house. It is a lovely home, built (at different periods from the 14th to the early sixteenth century) around four sides of a court yard.

Above is shown one side of the courtyard, built in the late 1400s.

 Above is a close-up of carvings on the beams, taken from the same position as the previous photo. It is odd to think that the carving was completely covered with plaster for a century or so, being uncovered around 1905, and the richness of the old carvings again revealed.

Above photo shows the opposite side of the same courtyard.  Angela was as good as her word, and was insistent that we return for a better look when, (a) we have more time for a proper look at the place, and (b) when it is more completely  furnished.  I look forward immensely to our return visit, as it's a magnificent, un-got at and  complete early home, even for this area.
Got back nicely in time for the funeral, tead afterwards in Saint Mary's, home again and changed me tie yet again in time to go out to a Lent discussion group that's taking place in the run up to Easter. We got home from that at about nine thirty,  and were both quite glad to hit the sack shortly afterwards. We both slept well.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014


I'd no real intention of doing a blog entry today, but walking through Lavenham this afternoon we spotted the above notice pinned to the front door of Tickle Manor, and thought you would like to see the correct and proper way in which things of importance are announced in Lavenham (or perhaps in the whole of South Suffolk).
Shortly afterwards we were looking round the bookshelves of a small antique centre a few doors away from the photo'd door. I'd picked up a book about Suffolk buildings (with no intention of buying) opened it at random and showed the pictures on the page I'd opened,to Ann, remarking on the coincidence. "What coincidence?"said Ann. "Well" I said, "We're going there to lunch tomorrow".  "Oh", says Ann "Is that Angela's new home?"   "Yes" says I. And it was, so we bought the book.

Sunday, 23 March 2014


At midday today, we went to a village hall a mile or so up the road, where the  ladies of the Church put on an excellent three course lunch about once every two or three months, the proceeds of which go towards the upkeep of their church. At our table were Gloria, John, David, Wendy, Philip (David's son),  Hilary, meself and Ann.. John and I take it in turns (as far as we can remember)  to buy a bottle of wine (my turn today). Usual good, solid lunch, and excellent company.  Took the above and below photos just before we set out.


The photos below show this week's mystery object. They are two swords, very similar in design, but one is much smaller than the other, but nicely in proportion to it. Why do you think this should be?

The photo below shows the hilt of the larger sword in detail. You may well be able to work out the date the sword was made from the details of the hilt, probably to within five years.

                                                    Good guessing.

Thursday, 20 March 2014


 Lovely day again, and the garden is starting to look well. Even the Hellebore s are starting to lift their heads and look a little bolder.
 And the primulas are really starting to show colour.
 Mid morning I walked to the nearest pillar box to post a letter, so took a couple of photos on the way of early buildings near us. The one above is, I think, quite early Tudor.
 The one above is probably a little earlier, but was given a facelift in 1714, and redated to that year, with a little pargetting work around the date (you'll probably have to enlarge the picture to see the date).
We had guests to lunch, our friends and fellow dealers, Keith and Jill. Ann gave us  chicken with dried apricot inserts - recipe from friend Margaret - a great success, followed by cherry pie and cream, then a cheeseboard and coffee. Then Jill begged to go down to the undercroft (which she loves) and to see any fresh stock we had, after which a neolithic axe head (rather to my surprise) and a 'tithe pig' brass snuff box changed hands. I must say a business lunch is a nice, civilised way of trading.  Should add that Ann had picked a few flowers from the garden for the above table decoration.

                                  Got one or two jobs to do before bed time, so will close down now and wish you all a very Good Night.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014


At about nine thirty this morning Ann asked me if I had anything planned for today as she needed to do  some grocery shopping, preferably at Waitrose in Sudbury, and did I fancy a ride over that way? In fact I needed to take some snapshots for bloggery purposes; so with the proviso that we'd come back by a different route than usual, we set off. It was a dry but rather grey day with high cloud. As the above and below photos demonstrate,  many of the dyke sides and road verges were thick with primroses.
 In the above photo not only are there primroses beside the road, but, as you can see there is grass growing in the middle of the road, thus proving we are still in Suffolk.
The above tiny cottage has a very fine Tudor chimney leaning against it. We've seen this one before, and I think it's called something like Pepper Pot Cottage. It's rather a favourite of mine. Soon after that we took a quite deliberate wrong turn, and the rest of the cottages and small houses are all fresh ones to us.
The above one is called Priory Cottage and probably had connexions to a local Priory.
 The small farmhouse shown here probably has a late medieval timber framework under the thatch; speaking of which, the bird (a pheasant) perched on the right hand end of the roof is also made of thatch, and is probably the trademark of the thatcher.
The rather larger farmhouse in the last photo is pure John Constable (think 'the Hay Wain' and 'Willie Lott's Cottage', and you'll get the idea). It's probably much the same age as the previous cottage, or even possibly a little earlier, and, as you can see, there's part of a moat showing, which doesn't really fit the cottage, so there's  been a habitation on this site for a good many centuries.  A few miles after this we found ourselves running into Kersey, so knew we were only a few miles from home.  Exploration in our area  nearly always yields  pleasant  surprises.

Saturday, 15 March 2014


On Thursday morning we motored across to Hertfordshire to visit Ann's middle brother (David) and his wife Jo. We arrived at just after mid day, all climbed into David's car, and drove to thier favourite 'eating out' place, where they'd invited us to lunch.  This was the Stratton arms Hotel in Biggleswade. It had the look and feel of a late Georgian Coaching Inn. It's a lovely, clean, welcoming place, where we had a good lunch, served by the cheerful, young helpful staff, and was excellent.  After lunch the ladies decided that they needed a little restful shopping, so David and I set out to explore the town.

Nearly opposite the Stratton House Hotel, was another old Inn, the Red Lion. It's a lovely looking place, although fairly heavily restored over a good many years.

In the Market place we came across another old Inn, the White Hart, which claims to be the oldest building in Biggleswade, bar the Church.

 Talking of which, the Church was our next stop, and well worth exploring. Above is a snapshot of David in the Church porch. The oak door (above) is the same age as the lovely old arched doorway in which it still stands.  When we met up with the ladies, David told us that he now wanted to show us another early Church that he'd told us of some time ago. So back into the car, drove deep into the countryside nearly back to their home, and saw the below tiny church, which we had to walk across a meadow to get to, and well worth the stroll it was, too.

It is Saint Guthlac's Church, in Astwick, and is probably the remnants of a much larger Church, which was  altered to its present size sometime in the 15th century. It appears to be composed of bits from the Conquest onwards, and is absolutely charming.

 David had taken the precaution of borrowing a Church key from a friend, presumably one of the Church Wardens, so that we were able to explore. Above is a snapshot of Jo standing just inside the back door of the Church.

Inside the Church, too, the seating is composed of pews of different dates  from medieval benches onward. The above photo shows some of the Georgian box pews, with inside seats on three sides, which meant that when the Church was full, some of the congregation had to sit with their backs to the pulpit!

Then drove the mile or so to Dave and Jo's home, where Skip, Jo's dog begged very hard to be allowed to join us for tea, which his mistress eventually allowed. After the lunch we'd had, whilst we were ready to drink tea, we really didn't need to eat, but having seen the trifle Jo had made, decided that it would be churlish to refuse so we both 'toyed' with a small helping. It was a traditional trifle and delicious.

It had been a lovely day out, and we both thoroughly enjoyed it.

As you will probably have gathered, my computer played up quite badly yesterday evening. It generally had a fit of the vapours, dug its heels in, laid its ears back and refused to comply. In the end, after tinkering with it  I cancelled Thursday's blog entry an hour ago, and tried again. Hope things work this time.

Here goes !

Tuesday, 11 March 2014


Took the above photo of an odd, man made water feature on Sunday morning from the edge of a Churchyard a couple of miles from Highdale. About a hundred yards to the right of the photo is the village Manor House. It's always fascinated me. It is very obviously a man-made  long pond, fed from the left by a small stream, and draining into another long pond  which you can probably see if you enlarge this picture above the artificial pond/lake. It has a horseshoe shaped small island in the centre. Anyway - on Sunday I suddenly realised what it was originally made for, and later confirmed my guess with a friend who studies local history. It's an old duck decoy, and I should (as a Norfolk fenman by origin)  have realised that when I first saw it.
It would have been used with a long wickerwork or net funnel shaped tunnel, in the water leading up to the mouth of the horseshoe shaped small island, which, in turn would had been covered by a netting cage. It would have been used with a small reddish (or gingery) specially trained dog, which ducks always mob, suspecting it of being a fox, who would have led the ducks into the tunnel and eventually into the cage, the dog staying just outside the netting all the time. When all were inside the cage would have been sealed off with further netting, and the ducks would have had their necks rung.  I wonder if anyone remembers the old song, the chorus of which goes "Dilly dilly.  Dilly dilly. Come and be killed. For you must be stuffed, and my customers be filled."
If this all sounds a bit barbaric, only vegetarians and vegans have any real right to object. The ducks involved would probably have had a better, and more natural life than almost any creatures reared for human consumption today.

Good Night All.

Saturday, 8 March 2014


Earlier in the week we went to a church in this area (well, a few  miles from Highdale) that I'd not visited previously (and we've lived here twenty years come November), although Ann says she went to a concert there with the W.I. or the Mothers' Union some years ago. It is well off the beaten track and only visible from the road in winter, and then only a quick glimpse in passing. It is a pretty little church, mainly early 14th century, with a couple of late Norman doorways (one shown below).  Well worth a visit - sorry, should have said - it's Nedging Church.

 Drove back via previously unexplored lanes, and took photos through the car windows of early cottages. The one below is an early single storey farm cottage. Probably originally two or three cottages, now knocked into one, and very well cared for.

The cottage above is a little beauty of a small  farmhouse, built around a pair of Tudor chimneys, and with that odd air I've mentioned before of having grown into its surroundings. It's reassuring to know that there's still bits of Suffolk to explore.


This morning went to the funeral of an old friend, Terry. Known him for forty years or so. He was a dealer in antique weaponry (should perhaps add : - etc.).  The funeral was held some miles away at Hitcham. Nice service - well attended - in  lovely Church. After the service and interment we went on to the White Horse, where refreshments were laid on. Met a good many old aquaintances. Got home just in time to attend scrabble club - but not time enough to change out of me subfuscs (funeral clobber). When I got there Hilary looked at me and said "No need to ask where you've been. Anyone I know ?"  Which of course Terry wasn't - so explained that he was an old friend and business aquaintance.  Usual well fought three games, Hilary won the first, I the second, and Kevin the third.  Just had dinner/sorry - supper nowadays. Ann nipped into the butcher's this afternoon and bought a chicken, which she roast and served up with a lemon and garlic sauce - recommended by our butcher. He's a good cook and he and Ann often swap recipes.  Don't know why, but we always seem to feel very tired after a funeral.  

So we're going to have an early night.

  Good Night all.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Shrove Tuesday.

Today is Shrove Tuesday, so this evening we rather swapped places; that is, I made and cooked the pancakes, and Ann took over the photography department. I'd just tossed (and caught) the first one when Ann took the above picture, and in the photo below, I'm tucking into the  fourth one. I must confess  that for the first time I can remember,  when I tossed the third one - I DIDN'T catch it - it went on the floor (Oh the shame of it !!!!)   I think I must be skidding a bit. All the rest went allright. I suppose that we get out of practice when we only excercise a skill annually. I think a new Act should be passed proclaiming a Shrove Tuesday every threemonths, so that we all get more practice (and MORE pancakes). We eat ours the traditional way,  i.e. with a squeeze of lemon, muscovado sugar, then rolled up and a little castor sugar sprinkled along the top. I don't think it can be improved on.


Now to the answer about yesterday's mystery object. The point about the object illustrated yesterday is that it is a sturdy, reliable pistol;  BUT, if you examine the lock closely, you'll find it has  a plain, unsophisticated  (albeit workmanlike) lock. The only real outward sign of this is the lack of a bridle to the frizzen (i.e. the steel), but there are several other small signs of a lack of refinement that usually went into officers' or duelling pistols. This one was made for the protection of a gentleman's coach. The coach guard was usually armed with a blunderbuss, more often than not a brass barrelled one. The point about the brass barrel, as most of you spotted, is that travelling  in English weather, they were less subject to corrosion than iron. This led to brass barrels being used at sea or when travelling in a horse drawn carriage. They were issued  (as anti highwayman devices) to a liveried footman, or more probably a liveried outrider to a private carriage. In other words it was a servant's pistol. The usual name for them, and they are fairly rare items, is therefore 'livery pistols'.  When they were made they probably cost about a quarter of what would have to be spent on duelling pistols. The same is still true. When such a weapon comes up for sale it probably makes between a third and a quarter  the price of a good dueller.  For me it is a part of our social history.

Monday, 3 March 2014


 The first three photographs are of this week's  MYSTERY OBJECT.   We went for a drive this morning (with a purpose, but found ourselves on a slightly unusual route so I took lots of photies, meaning to show you old buildings, but then thought  I might have been overdoing suffolk scenery of late, so decided that it was a while since I showed a 'mystery object', so showed this one instead). It isn't strictly a mystery object in that there's no mystery about it. It's a flintlock pistol, but made for a fairly specialised purpose, and it's your job to see if you can work it out.  I think to do this, you'll have to ask yourselves questions.

Above photo shows the brass barrel of the pistol. Why a brass barrel ? It has one major advantage over an iron barrel, and is used in two fields of use. which you may be able to work out. The stock, as is usual, is of walnut.

The above picture of the lock is the giveaway. Suggest you enlarge it and look closely. It's not quite what you'd expect for it's date. I think I'll give a clue here. It dates from around the year 1800.  See what you can do with this. As per usual - no prizes. Good deal of kudos though, if any one gets it.  I do realise that this one is quite highly specialised. I'm not cheating - it really is a lethal weapon of its day, but for a special purpose.As that might mislead you, I'd better say - it's emphatically NOT a duelling pistol.


This bit has nothing to do with mystery objects.  I found meself thinking that I sometimes put up a photo of the evening meal. Well this is today's light lunch. Gammon sandwiches, the gammon cooked by Ann and cut into quarter inch thick slices (with a little mango chutney in them - I prefer a smear of English mustard, but this is more subtle, I agree).  Celery and red pepper as a relish. The olives are prepared and bottled by our friend Millie. They are bottled in olive oil with fennel seeds  and, I think, a little garlic. We plan to try and bottle some ourselves later in the year if our bronze fennel produces a decent crop of seed. With grapes and apple. A very tasty lunch, although I think that celery does need a little salt (although I'm not really supposed to - bad for the ticker, I'm told).
Oh, and a cup of Red-bush tea (ruibos tea), which fortunately I like!  People either love this stuff, or can't take it at any price. The point is it contains no caffeine or tannin, so it's lucky I love the stuff.  Being 'GOOD for you' and 'liking it' don't necessarily run together, but this time they do.

Sunday, 2 March 2014


 Last week was a good, busy (and very social) week. Therefore shan't bother you with details, but will put up the few (printable) photos taken this week. Above is a snapshot of a moated (probably pre- Tudor) manor house taken on our way back from lunch with friends John and Margaret. Also repaired their slightly ailing long case clock, whilst there. It's now going well again, having suffered a minor mishap whilst being regulated by John.

Took the above photo of early bow window in Bildeston.

Also in Bildeston, an array of shop frontages that have changed little over the centuries.

Will try and keep a better photographic record of our travels over the next week (which looks like being a fairly busy one.

In the meantime - wish you all a very Good Night.