Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Shrove Tuesday.

Picture of a rather pretty little pub a few miles  up  the road,  called (I think) the  Wheelrights' Arms.

Been busy today preparing for our last antique fair (at Long Melford), before  our retirement.

As it's Shrove Tuesday today, we had pancakes for pudding. I made (and tossed) the first two for  Ann's  consumption, then she did the same for me. Ate them, as always, with lemon juice and dark muscovado sugar, rolled them up, and dusted the top with caster sugar - delicious!!

Good  night  All.

Saturday, 25 February 2017


Rather a nice bench end in Isleham Church. I think  he's meant to be a feerocious lion, but he looks as if he's rather enjoying life.

We have spent most of this last week in an apartment in an old building just off the quay in Wells-next -the- Sea on the Norfolk coast. The apartment was lent to us for the week by our good friends Jon and Jo. The weather has been bright, mild, and and sunny most of the time. Not a bit like  the usual February weather in Norfolk (I'm a Norfolk man by birth so I can be rude about my native county).  We'd both rather forgotten what a lovely little town Wells is. Taken loads of photies, but having problems developing them. Will put  them up when I can persuade them to look pretty on screen.

Yesterday morning  drove from Wells down to middle of wildest Suffolk. There'd been a storm on Thursday night, so there were lots of trees down. I don't believe in giving storms names. It brings out the worst in them and they chuck their weight about.  Stopped off about  fifteen miles from home and had lunch with friends of ours, Jill and Keith. Also present were our  mutual friends, Angela and Leigh. Very pleasant meal and relaxed  couple of hours generally. A lovely ending to a good week off.
Jill commissioned me (posh way of putting  it) to make a fire steel to fit  a tinder box she's just  sold, so must stop  waffling and get on  with it.

Will try and write a bit more a bit  later in the  week.
Regards to all,  Mike and Ann.

Friday, 17 February 2017


This is one of the misericords beneath a seat in the choirstalls at Saint Andrew's Church , Isleham. It's a nice bit of carving, but it  seems a bit perverse to me. He has the beginning of a nice  set of whiskers, but he's got it on upside down!!! That is, droopy instead of bushy and upstanding. Pity.

All the misericords are quite restrained - just the one portrait per seat - all dating from circa 1450.

Thursday, 16 February 2017


This morning we motored over to Littleport in Cambridgeshire, where we picked up   daughter number three , Kerry. and drove on to  our native village, Welney. We went to the  one remaining hostelry, the Lamb and Flag, where we had a basic, but very pleasant, lunch,  caught up on all the family news, and swapped Christmas presents. This was because Kerry was poorly over the Christmas season and had to cry off the boxing Day family do. She is now much better, I'm relieved to say,  and is more or  less back in mid-season form, so that  we all three enjoyed a drawn out lunch and a VERY drawn out natter. After lunch we had a short walk to the Welney Churchyard, where we visited  the family graves (which Kerry had been keeping in good order, bless 'er).  

We then ran Kerry back to Littleport nicely in time to meet her son out of school, then drove home via Isleham. This  is a small village set in the fen - the name tells  it all - Isle Ham. It still has  the feeling  of an Island set in the  fens. It's a pleasant little village with two churches, well within a couple  of  hundred yards of each other. One of them (the lower photograph) is the Priory Church of Saint Mary of Antioch, which is  a small plain (but apsoidal) building, dating from around the year 1100.  By the 16th century it  had been made into a tithe barn, as it remained  until around the year 1810.

A short distance along  the same road stands  Saint Andrew's Church (upper picture). Most of the present church dates from  the 1300s, but there are a good many traces of  several earlier buildings.  The Church has a lych gate that dates from the late 1400s and is  probably the earliest standing lych gate in East Anglia. 
The inside of  the church is fascinating. There is some  early glass and rather nice wall  painting in the porch, in the church is a fine angel  roof, many lovely bench ends,  memorial brasses, a fine brass Flemish lectern  dating  from the late 1400s, and the 'Peyton Tombs' dating from 1518 and 1550. I  spent about twenty minutes taking photographs,  and wished that I could spend a day there. Nothing to stop me going  back there, of course, and I've got lots of photos for future blog use.

The problem between the two churches was that Saint Mary's of Antioch was endowed, soon after the conquest, by Alan, Count of  Brittany; whilst Saint Andrew's Church has been there since Saxon days (over a thousand years now).  In other words one of them was seen as French and the other as  English. We all know how difficult the French have always been for civilised people like us to  get on with, and I  think  that was the basis of the problems between the two churches in Isleham (although I may be over simplifying things a touch). Anyway -  there they both still are, glaring at  each other in a small village  out in the middle of the fens, and not on the  way to anywhere very much. They really are well  worth a visit. I've not  been to Isleham for  about thirty years (can't  think why not, and anyway that's a mistake that   I intend righting quite soon - if  spared).

Wednesday, 15 February 2017


This morning our Scrabble Club met at Hilary's. Only four of us, but that's a complete table. Three good, close games.  Home to lunch. Last Friday our butcher was selling pheasants at just over four  pounds each. We bought one - a decent looking cock bird, and it's given the two of us three  decent lunches - roast pheasant on Sunday,  pheasant hotpot on Monday and pheasant casserole today. The carcasse may furnish us game soup later in the week.. On Tuesday our fish merchant delivers very fresh fish from Lowestoft, and Ann bought enough fish to make a  decent fish pie with capers in it (which adds interest). We neither of us eat heavily, but we do seem to have  a varied and interesting  diet.  I've got to get on in the workshop now. I've a clock hand to make for an early eighteenth century, single handed, wall clock.   

Monday, 13 February 2017


Ann was wearing the above photographed brooch  a weekend or so ago, and reminded me of an incident when she wore it some years ago at a major sale  room. It's  a big old clunk of  a brooch, of a type known as 'silver on russet iron'.  We were viewing an Arms and Armour sale at (Ann tells me) Sotheby's of Billingshurst, when one of the Directors with whom  we'd been chatting spotted the  brooch, took Ann by the coat lapels and said in  a tone of astonishment "But that's seventeenth  century!"

Ann got  the  answer absolutely right. She said "I know it is. Put me down please."

It was pretty to see his embarrassment "Oh, Mrs. Horner. I'm so  sorry, I forgot meself,  but  it's such a lovely thing........."

I could sympathise to some extent.  It's the sort of thing you see in a museum cabinet, rather than still in use.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Sunday (2).

Mystery object - well - fairly mystery object. Please guess :- Where was this  object made? when was it made and the usual name for it.

I've spent most of today tidying up the case and restoring  the innards (technical term) of the case. It's an attractive little object - well I find  it so. For  a real bonus point, what did Mark Twain say of  the American built equivalent ? and why?

Good guessing.


Still having problems with  photos, so here is  one taken at Christmas. It is  of  grandson Matthew and his  lady friend Mary. She is  a  quite charming  Portugese young lady living and working in London. 

Now for my bit  of news -   which is that at the end of my financial year (March 31) I am going to retire - Doctor's  advice in that my heart is still playing  up  a bit (angina). Doctor  says  he cannot order me to retire - he can only strongly recommend it.  I don't want to, but I've already carried on ten years beyond the usual retiring age, so I'm going to stop work in order to concentrate on improving my collection.  That  should keep me  busy!

Warm regards to all - Mike.

Saturday, 4 February 2017


You really will have to enlarge this one .  It's a sort of mystery object. It's a  small Early Victorian picture frame made of mother o' pearl with many small birds made from (I think) humming bird feathers. It is contained in a rather larger (and later) picture frame. The question I'd like you to answer is How many birds are there in the picture frame. It's not a trick question. I think I know the answer, but it'll send you mad trying to count them. Must go now, lunch looms, as does Scrabble Club this afternoon.

P.s.  The size of the mother o' pearl  inner frame is  three and a half inches by four and a half inches.

Thursday, 2 February 2017


Earlier this morning Ann called me into the garden, where the washing was blowing briskly in the sun. "Isn't that a lovely sight?" she said.  It was . It didn't feel a bit  like February.

About ten minutes or so later Ann called me back into the garden.
"Isn't  that a  tragic sight?"   she said.

"Partridges!"  we both said. Partridges  is our old established (1829) hardware shop in town. Ann's just come back from town with the good news that Partridges did  in fact have a similar   replacement  washing  line in stock.  Must go upstairs and effect the necessary replacement. 

Went upstairs and Ann had already done the necessary replacement. Should have known!