Thursday 31 December 2015

Thursday, New Year's Eve.

Just nipped upstairs from my workshop and found Ann busy finishing off a woolly jacket for Great Granddaughter, Elsa; so I took the above snapshot - looked very domestic.

This blog entry is to wish all our readers a very Happy New Year - 2016  from us both.


Sunday 27 December 2015


These four photos were all taken on Boxing day, when Sarah, her husband Mikey, their four children, and one grandchild, spent the day with us; as did our son, Jonathan, and his partner Jude. Lunch was a cold meal, consisting of cold meats, cooked by Ann, and carved and arranged by me. They consisted of baked gammon, sausages in sliced bacon, and roast turkey breast. There was also roast vegetables, salad, and a large cheese board. Together with puddings, and fruit. As our table couldn't take eleven of us, everyone was given a plate, and expected to help themselves, which they did, and find somewhere to sit and eat. Actually things organised themselves to some extent, in that the teenagers took over the kitchen, and the adults gravitated through to the sitting room. The baby, great granddaughter Astrid, seemed to be able to go where the pickings were richest. As she doesn't yet walk, or crawl to any extent, I'm still not sure how she managed this - probably hitched lifts from whoever was going for refills.

Above shows senior daughter Sarah, with three of her four, left to right, Lucy, Guy, and Sophie.

Above is Guy ensconced in a corner of the kitchen, and obviously feeling that he's made a good choice of venue, and is about to make a good choice of provender.

Sarah took the above snapshot of Ann and meself, the senior generation.  It was a very pleasant day, enjoyed by all (certainly by us).

Friday 25 December 2015

Christmas Day.

Christmas Day. Went to Family Communion in Aldham Church, this morning. Took the above photo from the car. A farmhouse we've always admired. The Church was nearly full, and about fifteen children, with their parents, and grandparents, which was nice. Then home to lunch, picking up our lunch guest, Sylvia, on the way. Excellent lunch, then coffee/tea in the sitting room, until the Queen's speech at three p.m.  Then ran Sylvia home, about four p.m.

This evening I went out to check the car before locking up, and realised (remembered) it was a full moon on Christmas day, so went and got the camera and took the above photo. Thin clouds driving across the moon  ( west wind), but the photo was reasonably clear. Pleased with it.

                                         Good Night, Everyone.


Thursday 24 December 2015

Christmas Eve 2015.

                                             Mystery Object.

Not really a mystery object, although it's a bit larger than usual - it's a good four inches long.
Please tell me what you think it is for; when, and where do you think it was made, and (this is the mystery bit) of what do you think it is made  (please be specific here)?


We wish you all a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year, and send our warm regards to all our readers -
                                       Mike and Ann.


The run up to Christmas has been a thoroughly sociable one (including being asked to swell  the choirs at THREE carol services in our immediate area). Motored over to Monks Eleigh this morning and took the above snapshot of a dew pond beside the road. As you can see, it's a lovely, bright morning, considering today is Christmas Eve.

We've three different coloured Hellebore in flower, including the one photographed above. They really are justifying their old name of Christmas Roses this year.

There are also a good many periwinkle in flower.

Going to have to knock off now, as the computer is playing up. It only seems able to handle about three photoes at a time. Hopefully I'll be back in a minute with this week's Mystery Object.

Thursday 17 December 2015


Above and below are photographs of this week's  MYSTERY OBJECT. It is made in three parts, all of them cow horn, which screw together. Can you tell me please - what the object is, its purpose, when and where it was made (please be specific about 'where' - I do know where experts say these specific items were made, but I wonder about it a bit).  The below photo shows the item disassembled into its three component parts, which should make the guessing about its purpose easy, I think.

P.s. I bought it on EBay yesterday, and it was delivered today, which is good going I think, or rather good and speedy coming/delivery.

                                         Good guessing, and Good Night All.

Tuesday 15 December 2015


Been waffling lately about the number of unusual wildflowers to be seen in bloom in mid December; so, just for a change here are some garden flowers that are at present in bloom in the garden. Above, in a small, raised bed in the centre of our garden is a group of primula of different colours that we planted some few months ago, and which are still in full  flower. In the ground beneath them are tulip bulbs, which next March should give us a bed full of scarlet tulips.

Realised, yesterday evening, that growing over a low wall, is a clump of dianthus (carnation) which is still trying to flower. Took a shot in the dark, which flashed, and worked. Must check in the morning if they have scent.


I've shown pictures of this building before. It is our 'Row Chapel'. It was built, circa 1450, to serve the inhabitants of a nearby row of Almshouses, which it still does. This morning at eleven o'clock a service of nine lessons and carols was held in the Row Chapel. It was full to capacity, which turned out to be 52 people. No one could remember it ever being so full, and we all sang lustily (and were served mince pies and mulled wine after the Service).

 Below is a photo of  part of the row of Almshouses which the Chapel was built to serve. These, however, were largely rebuilt in the 1870s. It's nice that both the Alms Houses and the Chapel are still serving their original purpose.

                                                      Good Night All.

Saturday 12 December 2015


This morning we, together with friend Hilary, motored over to Hollow Trees Farm Shop (the restaurant) where we met up with Jill and Ruth) for breakfast, which was, as usual, excellent. We rather lingered over it catching up on all the news (gossip). Took a slight detour on the way home to take snapshots of flowers I spotted earlier in the week (but was unable to take photos then owing to the fact that I'd left my camera on the kitchen table. The top photo is of primroses in flower, and the lower one of daffodils/narcissi.  Hilary told me that the latter flowers were not daffs but Jonquils, which are known to flower early. I'm about to google Jonquils and if I find that Hilary is right (she usually is) I'll add to this blog entry and confirm (so more later, perhaps).

P.s. Hilary appears to be right that the above flowers are Jonquils. However, I've just been searching Google, and can get no answer to a query about early flowering. In fact the only reference to their flowering period states that they flower in late spring. It seems strange, therefore,  to see them in full flower in mid December. Any comments about the usual flowering period of Jonquils would be gratefully received.

Sunday 6 December 2015


Been a good, busy week (so far). On Thursday we lunched with old friends of ours who live near Lavenham. Telling John (who is a keen gardener) about the wild violets in flower in our garden. John then took me into his garden and showed me, in a sheltered corner, primroses in flower !!! It's been a weird autumn.

 On Friday morning, which was a lovely, mild, sunny  morning had a walk through Saint Mary's Churchyard, and took these three snaps.

The Church above has the second longest nave in Suffolk (which is a county of fine, large churches). The longest nave in Suffolk beats us by about three and a half inches (I'm told - I've never measured them!)


                                                  MYSTERY OBJECT.

The above and below object has TWO commonly used names, one of them is rather misleading. Can you tell me both of them, please. And also, what it is,  where it was made, when it was made, and any other details you can see from the two pictures.



I foresee rather  a busy few days ahead, but I will answer any comments on the 'Mystery Object' whenever I find a few minutes to spare.

Goodnight All.

Wednesday 2 December 2015


Took this picture back in September. Don't know why I didn't publish it at the time - perhaps it  didn't fit in with the narrative of that day. Anyway, I think it's a lovely picture of Granny Annie being enthusiastically hugged by Great Granddaughter Astrid, so here it is now.

Been a busyish week so far, mainly getting things ready for today's Antique Fair at Long Melford. Much the same yesterday morning, but in the afternoon went into Ipswich to have a back tooth out. My own dentist didn't want to do the job because of the various medications I take for blood pressure and so on. He is a big custard and an utter wet!!  However I was eventually sent to a lady dentist in Ipswich who did the job with no trouble, little fuss and less blood. Ann was very impressed with her. So was I.

Today to Long Melford. Bought one or two bits, and sold a couple of guns, a sword and various bits and bobs.
Being called up to supper now, so Goodnight All.

Thursday 26 November 2015


Had a very busy week so far.  On Monday we set out to drive to London, Parked at Lizzie's, then took a 'bus to Sotheby's, where we were allowed to view the forthcoming Arms and Armour Sale -the sale is early in December, but as I was only really interested in one lot, didn't fancy TWO trips to London in quick succession, so viewed the lot I was interested in and left a bid (Sotheby's are very obliging about this sort of thing). Then by taxi to the South Ken Christie's, where a friend had asked me to check out a piece of bronze (discretion!!). Did this then walked round to Bonham's in Knightsbridge to view their Arms and Armour sale. The sale was due to take place on Wednesday. Viewed part of it on Monday afternoon, then we took a tube back to Lizzie's house. As Parson Woodforde would have said - "dined, supped, and slept there."

On Tuesday grandson Matthew called and we tubed and walked back to Bonham's and resumed viewing Bonham's Arms and Armour sale. When Matt goes to a sale in London with me, Ann always tells him to look after his grandfather -  This always seems to me to come over as an instruction to keep an eye on his grandfather and don't let him commit any excesses when off the lead and out in London. Can't think what she means!!! At lunchtime Matt and I walked back to the South Kensington Museum (the V.& A.) and had  lunch there (this is as near these days to committing any excesses as I get - well and perhaps a glass of claret  to go with it). It's worth knowing that a good meal can be had there, and it's not crowded at this time of year. After lunch walked back to Bonhams and completed our viewing.  I had a commission to advise on three lots for collector friends. Two of them, after I'd made notes then boiled them down, could be summed up as 'leave it alone' and  'not with a barge pole', but the third lot, for which I was able to  sum up quite a lot of boyish enthusiasm,  my friends decided to have a bid on.
Communication can be incredibly easy these days (providing the chap at the other end knows a good deal more about it that I do).
The  sale didn't start until two p.m. (and my first lot came up at just after three) So that we were able to meet up with granddaughter Beth about mid day, and gave her lunch at Saint Martin's in the Fields (in the crypt, where again a good lunch is served, as is a very good apple crumble for pudding). It is Ann's favourite church, and Beth says it is hers too.Took a tube back to Bonham's (the Tube Station that comes out at the back of Harrod's is the nearest). Eventually was able to buy five lots, one of them being Jon and Jo's, on whose behalf I was bidding, and part of one of the other lots is the long sporting gun in the three photographs. .
The sale ended after five p.m, so by the time we'd payed and collected them, and got ourself back to Lizzies, the rush hour was in full swing. At Lizzie's suggestion, we got our heads down for an hour, got up, had supper with her, then loaded the car and hit the road. Took us just less than two hours, and we got home at eleven o'clock - Slept well.


                                    Mystery Object.

The below object was, as I've said,  part of one of the lots at Bonhams. My two regular mystery guessers (Rog and Crowbard) should be able to look at the details of the above and  below three photos, and then tell me the exact date (the year that is,  in  which it was made) together with any other facts for which they can see evidence. Be interesting to see what they come up with and why.

Sunday 22 November 2015


This blog entry is really to record that we had the first frost of the winter last night 21st/22nd November, with ice hard on the car windscreens.

The top picture is of  Holy Trinity Church, Long Melford, which we explored earlier in the week. The interior of the church is an absolute treasure house! Medieval glass, brasses, and memorials, mostly with a story to be told (and all  well labelled with their stories).

Above church brass - I forgot to get his details, but he is obviously of the XV/ XVIth century.

The above knight reclines, clutching a red rose. His story is told in the next picture.

See what I mean.

The above picture is of Saint Andrew (you can tell from his fiercely curling beard that he is Scottish (with apologies to my Scottish friends).

I've still got enough pictures from Long Melford Church to keep some in reserve for when I've not taken any photographs lately.

                        Must get on, out to lunch, and work waiting here in the workshop.
                                         Wish you all a good day.

Wednesday 18 November 2015

Wednesday (2)

Yesterday we motored over to Long Melford to deal with several birds with one stone (mainly horological). We had a very good lunch at the Black Lion, and I recommend the place. After lunch we had half an hour to spare before the next clock stop, so, as the Black Lion is near the Church in Long Melford we awarded ourselves a potter round the Church. We'd been there before, a good many years ago, but I'd forgotten the incredible stained glass  there is in Long Melford Church. It is said to have the finest display of early glass in the country, and I certainly don't know of a better one.  The lady in the stained glass window shown in the photograph above seemed vaguely familiar, as I'm sure she will to several of my readers. It turns out that this portrait was used as a model by Tenniel to illustrate the Duchess in 'Alice in Wonderland'. Tenniel decided that she was a perfect model for the Duchess. Louis Carol credits the lady with that sublime piece of poetry sung by the Duchess  ( quoted from memory, but I think it's about right) :-

'Be cruel to your little boy,
and beat him when he sneezes.
He only does it to annoy;
Because he knows it teases.'

P.s. Didn't trust my memory on that verse, so checked it, and it starts -
"Speak harshly to your little boy........."   Sorry.


                                    Good night, Everyone.


I took the above photograph this afternoon in a sheltered spot in our garden. It is a wild violet. They bloomed prolifically there this spring, as they always do. Very occasionally, if we have a mild autumn, they will bloom again a second time; but it's very unusual, and this is the very latest I've ever seen a wild violet bloom - the 18th November!!!

I'd be interested to know if anyone else has noticed wild violets in flower this late in the year?

Tuesday 17 November 2015


The above picture has nothing to do with the narrative of this blog entry. It's just that I spotted the above fruit bowl and contents, and realised that fruit can be easily as good-looking and  colourful as flowers; so I took the photo and used it to start this blog entry.


Been a good, busy week so far. Starting (as the week does traditionally) on Sunday, we motored over to Welney,  a village in  the Norfolk fens, and where we both grew up, for a family get-together. It wasn't quite so numerous a gathering as was originally intended. There seems to be a tummy upset in our area, and just less than half of us had to cry off. However, in the end well over twenty people attended. We'd hired the village hall on the bank of the Old Bedford River; niece  Naomi had arranged everything with her usual skill and efficiency, and we'd all chipped in to share the costs for the hire o the hall and refreshments.

 All age groups were represented,  from eleven months to eighty odd years.  The group above are great granddaughter Elsa, granddaughter Georgia, Great Granny Annie, and great granddaughter Astrid. Elsa has recently learned to walk and toddles everywhere, very straight backed and upright, occasionally breaking into a surprisingly fast trot. I took a photo of her heading towards the refreshment table at top speed, but I seem to have lost that photo.  In fact, as it's been a busy day today, I think that I'll knock off now (once I start losing things on this machine, I'm afraid I carry on losing them) so better to leave it till tomorrow, I think.

Goodnight all.

Thursday 12 November 2015


This morning we had to motor over to Bury Saint Edmund's, to kill several birds with one stone.After we'd done the necessary business we decided to have a look at Risby Church, another of Suffolk's round towered churches. We'd not seen it before and it came as a pleasant surprise, and a larger church than we'd expected, as per the above picture. We had the added benefit of sun in a mid November day.

I almost don't know where to start. Once again the round tower is the oldest part. It's said to have a good deal of Anglo saxon work still evident. There are two lots of wall painting, in places with one lot overpainted by the other. The pews are largely early, and where there's been restoration it's been sympathetically done, with as much early work retained as possible.

 The same is true of much of the glass. The above window (the East window) is of largely 14th/ 15th century work, restored in the 19th century.

The rood screen is pictured above. It is small (about nine feet wide) but  exquisite!

 Being called up to supper, so must hurry this. Above shows Ann looking at some of the murals.

Above showing the lychgate, with seats inside it. I should think a lovely place to spend a summer evening.  Got to go now.  May put more down later. In the meantime recommend a look round St. Giles' Church, Risby. It is like an amalgum of the best from several good country churches mixed together.

Ann is much better than I at perceiving 'atmosphere' in a church. Over supper I asked her what she thought of Risby Church. "It's lovely" she said, "It's still a well-used Church. It's been well looked after, and cared for. And it's still a very active church."  I think I knew what she meant.

P.s. Just been re-reading yesterday's blog. The truth of the last paragraph assuring us that there are still  'fine things to be seen' has been confirmed today in a Suffolk village church.

Wednesday 11 November 2015


I am presenting the photograph of the above goodies  not as any form of 'mystery object' but as the sort of work that I have been doing lately.  I am, as you know, by profession an antiquarian horologist, but lately the dozen - no!- twenty or so good antique clocks that I keep in good running order in the area have been behaving themselves beautifully, and have been in no need of Michael's attention; so that I have been spreading myself a bit work wise - broadening my horizons you might call it, and turning my skills to all sorts of other things. As above, a flintlock musket that I purchased whilst on holiday in the West Country. It had not worked for some years, and I spent about three days putting it back into good working order. It is, as you can see, a military musket of circa 1750-1770, and originally of French/German origin. I've enjoyed playing with it, and it's now in good working order. The sword is a massive 'hand and a half sword' of German make (probably Solingen) and XVIth / XVIIth century date. When I was first shown it, most of the grip, and all of the grip binding, were missing, or to put it another way  - most of the hilt (or what was left of it) was clattering around.  Anyway, another two good days work did the trick, and I was able to , at least, FEEL busy.  This last few years I've survived in business by having turned meself into an antique restorer/dealer.

Then yesterday we took two telephone calls, both from owners' of antique clocks (both clocks date from the first half of the 1700s)  and both are beginning to feel their age a bit (yes gentle reader or rather Crowbard and Rog - I do know how they feel). The point of this  blog entry is that, however slack things seem to be, there are always jobs to be done:

  "For there is good news yet to hear and fine things to be seen,
Before we go to paradise by way of Kensal Green."

G.K. Chesterton- The Rolling English Road.

Thursday 5 November 2015


This week's Mystery Object. It is four inches high overall. The middle section is about three inches high. The mounts are of silver (not hallmarked, but this was not unusual for small bits of silver at the time this was made). It has much the shape (and indeed the capacity) of an old fashioned sherry glass. The coin is included to give some idea of scale. It is a twenty pence piece, which will give some idea of the state of the Horner pocket. It sounds more if you call it a four shilling piece, or a double florin (yes, there really were such things late in Victoria's reign)  but isn't really, in fact it is worth a great deal less than the so called 'Bar maid's ruin'  (but that's another story). Your opinion of the illustrated item if you please. Of what is it made, where and when? There are a couple of points about it that puzzle me slightly, so this is a serious enquiry.  Thanks.

Sunday 1 November 2015


As you will have gathered from the previous blog entry, we got back yesterday from nine or ten days holiday in the West Country. The photo above shows Ann in a piece of topiary work in the garden of friends of ours in Honiton. They are dealers, so we did business with them and had coffee.
On our way there many of the countryside trees were changing colour to yellows and russetts, so that parts of Somerset, seen from the tops of hills, looked as if they were made of gingerbread. Then on to South Devon. Senior daughter Sarah usually takes a cottage at half term, and this year she'd taken a rather larger one than usual and asked us if we'd like to take the spare bedroom (on arrival, and when the youngsters had unloaded for us, we found that the 'spare' bedroom was easily the best bedroom).

Just to prove the point, the above picture shows the view from our bedroom window.

The following morning we went down to the beach, and above snapshot is of grandson Guy.

 Glorious sunrise the following morning, taken from another of our bedroom windows.

Another family photo showing four generations - Amelia, Sarah, Ann, and Astrid, just before going down to the beach.

On the beach, going down to the sea. Must make a point here - if we're lucky with the weather it's not a bad thing to go to the sea in late October - the beaches are not crowded.
Must knock off now - Church, and I'm reading the lesson (out of Revelation !!!!)  I'll probably put more holiday snaps up later in the week (be warned !!!)