Friday, 30 November 2018


Largely for the benefit and information of Crowbard, although some others of you may find it interesting.


Dear Crowbard, reference trip to London last Tuesday; I promised to send you pictures of this Spanish  'fulminate lock' pistol if I purchased it. Well I  haven't as yet purchased it, as it comes up next  Thursday, I think. But then the old grey matter stirred, and I remembered that the item was illustrated in the sale catalogue, and, so long as no one objects to a minor infringement of  the  copyright laws (and I'll bet there might be - no no , nobody could be  so small minded as that when I'm trying to spread  knowledge) therefore I've taken a photograph of the illustrations of the  pistol in the  catalogue,  which I  hope will give  you  a clearer idea of the pistol.

Warm regards, and love to  young Jude,  Mike  (and Ann).

Wednesday, 28 November 2018


Yesterday daughter Liz drove me to London, in order that I might  view  Sotheby's forthcoming Arms and  Armour  Sale, and Bonham's Arms and Armour sale.  It wasn't  really Sotheby's viewing day, but Ann 'phoned Thomas Delmar and arranged a 'private viewing'  for me; he is a  good chap! Grandson Matthew joined me there to help (which he did, bless  him), and after being offered,  accepted, and imbibed a cup of  tea, sat down to serious viewing. Must ask Tom what the tea was. It was delicious. Matt thought it was a red bush tea, but I drink that regularly, and I never had it so good as that!  Eventually left a telephone bid on one lot - a rare Spanish 'fulminate lock' pistol, dated 1821. Hope we get it, but shan't be heartbroken if we don't - v. spensive.  Had lunch at a nearby pub, then took a taxi over to Knight'sbridge, and viewed Bonham's Arms and  Armour  sale - massive - three major collections being broken up. Eventually  left  six (fairly optimistic) telephone bids.   Hope to  get one or  two of  them.  Then back  to Lizzie's old house (now occupied by  two  of her daughters and her  grandaughter), where  we had  tea and a  sandwich. At six thirty  p.m. Lizzy  drove us back to  Suffolk. Rained  all  the way, but we made reasonable time, getting  home at nine p.m.   Found the viewing rather more tiring than of yore, but managed reasonably well to survive it!  Very satisfying day. Slept well.

Saturday, 24 November 2018


Above photo  is  of youngest daughter, Lizzie. She is spending a week with us, and generally helping about the  place. She has  recently remarried, and now lives in Spain, on the south coast; so  popping over to England for  a week to look after the 'oldies' is quite an undertaking, and we are very grateful for her efforts.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018


Noticed this  in the car park beyond the   garden this  afternoon. Ann says it's  a sunflower, and (by a process of ellimination) I don't see what else it can be. It's about eighteen inches high, and  I do admire its optimism, however  misplaced.  I wish it well, but I  think we're going  to have a hard frost tonight -we'll see.

Monday, 19 November 2018


I remember, a few weeks ago in this blog, talking about guildhalls in Suffolk  Villages. I was comparing our  Guildhall, which is still in use, with Lavenham's Guildhall, and saying  how many Suffolk Villages have 'Guildhalls', 'Old Guildhalls', etc. usually  somewhere in the Village Centre. Often this occurs in a quite small village, and this  usually indicates that when the Guildhall was built, the quiet little village in which it now stands was a quite important town. The large, and obviously ancient, building to the left of centre in the above photo, is the  Old Guildhall in the  village of Monks Eleigh, about five miles or so from here. Monks Eleigh has a small river (the Brett, I think) running through it, a fine Church, a large old pub; and a shop, a general stores, which is run by local volunteers. And not much else. It's strange to think that five or six centuries ago it was a quite important, and probably prosperous town (a 'wool Town' in all probability). Somehow it  manages to give an impression of being a thriving little place still.

Sunday, 18 November 2018


Photos of figs taken two days ago. Finally  forced photos of  figs (note alliteration) onto blog entry.


Pleasant surprise in the  garden yesterday morning. Still working on a small lantern clock, and had got to the  stage of 'aging' several bits  of brass replacement parts (side doors etc.), in my forge and needed to leave them to cool for ten minutes or  so. So went and  dead headed the roses, then  tidied the fig tree.  This is  'espaliered'  on the side fence, and earlier in  the year I'd cut  it hard back, which it stood well,  and proceeded to grow dozens of tiny   figs (on second thoughts  not dozens but hundreds). These obviously weren't going to be edible this year, but given a reasonably mild winter should  have grown to edible size next summer.  Yesterday morning  I tidied the fig tree up for the winter, and found, to my surprise, several  good, ripe, figs!  To be exact seven figs, which we proved to be edible by  eating one or two of them each. Delicious -  ripe and sweet. Took photos of them on a plate, but the blog refused to cooperate and print the photo. I may  try again later today, but probably  shan't. Beneath a chap's dignity to remonstrate with a recalcitrant plateful of  uncooperative figs.

P.s. See Blog Entry for Sunday - for photos of figs.

Thursday, 15 November 2018


Ann and Sarah in the kitchen on Tuesday morning. Sarah  had motored over from  Milton  Keynes to spend the day with us, as she does on most Tuesdays  to keep  a watchful eye on 'the Oldies' these days. Our children have been  most  touchingly attentive  over these last few months, and  we are  well aware that  they have their own lives to lead, and their own work to do Sorry- made a muck of  this  one -  will try again later.


On Tuesday morning senior daughter, Sarah, motored over from Milton Keynes and spent the day  with us, as she has done every Tuesday for  a couple of months or so. All  our five youngsters have been visiting us regularly, lately, and it's lovely of  them all. I've not been too  well of late, which means that  things  have been heavy  for  Ann, so it's  been brilliant of the  brats to rally round  in this   manner -  eased things tremendously  for both   of   us.  Most Tuesdays Sarah coaches me in  the art of getting photos onto my blog, and I seem to spend the rest of the week forgetting these skills. When Ruth comes over (from the  North of   Sweden I'll  trouble you)  she too gives me lessons in the latest ideas on computer communicating. My skills in this field do seem to be improving somewhat.  See the two photos in this, my latest effusion in this  direction.  I'm quite pleased with them.

                                         Good Night All.

                                          Mike and  Ann.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018


Above are the two books I mentioned in my last. Found my old ration book and identity card in my  bureau. The  Ration Book dates from 1953/4. Rationing , on some  things, lasted until  the mid 1950s!

This chap/glove puppet was made by daughter Ruth at Stockholm  Art School / Uni.   Ruth is, as you  can see, quite an artist, or rather, quite a  good cartoonist.

Sunday, 11 November 2018


Went to Aldham Church  this morning rather early. Partly because it was  the Remembrance Day Service;  and partly because I was reading the  Old  Testament Lesson, and I  do like to have a quick pre service read of the lesson to refresh my memory. The reading - this  bit is for Crowbard as he likes to know these  things- was from the sixty  first chapter of Isaiah.  All went well through the service. Felt just a bit wobbly  towards the end of the  two minutes silence- slight balance  problems these days -  Ann noticed, and braced me up a bit - all then went well again. At the end of the service our organist John Smith (who does everything else as well (our new Rector has five parishes to serve- which means he gets to ours roughly  once a month). This means that john (who could give me about ten years or so) does most things at least three Sundays per month, and this Sunday at the end of  the  Service John announce that we would now, as per usual on Armistice Sunday, sing the National  Anthem, which is in the back of  our hymn books. John pointed this out and then said "It says omit verse two. But we're not going to this morning. We're  Jolly Well  Going to Sing it ALL."  which we did. Verse two is the one that goes  :-

Oh Lord our God  arise,
Scatter her enemies,
and make them fall.

Confound their politics,
Frustrate their knavish tricks.
On Thee our hopes we fix.
God save us all.

John played the organ with great gusto. We all  sang all  three verses with similar gusto; and a jolly  good time was had by all.

I  thanked  John after the service  and said :- "As far as I can remember, John,  I haven't sung  ALL  three verses of the Anthem since I left School;   But I've often wanted to."  David, another parishioner, said something like "Politically it seemed a jolly  good and apt  time to  sing  that verse", and everyone in earshot agreed with  us......................So There!

Saturday, 10 November 2018


Autumn colours  at the  bottom of the garden. Taken earlier this week. Just got called upstairs for coffee.  Whilst drinking it I turned out a drawer in my  bureaux looking for a list I  made a while back.  I  didn't find  it, I'm afraid; but on the other  hand I DID find my Identity Card and Ration Book.  Can't think why I've  kept them so long, but there are some unused coupons in the ration book,  so in the event of   another war I should at least be able to claim some tea and sweeties, from my ration book??????

P.s. Although I  suppose the  price will  have gone up?

Tuesday, 6 November 2018


Will complete this blog entry on the  morrow if all goes well - might even do a short history of  the blunderbuss -  at  the moment  all  I  really need  is   me eight  hours. Goodnight All.

9.20 a.m. Wednesday.  A day or so ago I was looking at the  three blunderbusses (blunderbii ? no -  looks pretensious!) photographed above. Among collectors of weaponry these are usually  the  most popular, and, I think, probably  the most effective of muzzle loading guns. There are though, various  "urban myths" surrounding them.  The worst concerns the projectiles with which they  were loaded. It was not, despite the boys' comics, scrap iron and  broken  glass ; this would have resulted in (at best) badly damaged barrels, and (at worst) burst barrels and dead or wounded, users of  the weapon. It would have been loaded with a measured charge of black powder and fifteen or twenty lead pistol balls. This  would  have been sufficient to take out the most determined highwayman and his horse. Another 'urban myth' dating from the days of their use (and continuing today) is  that the  flared muzzle of the weapon encouraged the spread of the shot.  It has been shown by modern experiment that the flared muzzle has little or no influence on the spread of the projectiles. It does, however, have two advantages :-  one is that anyone looking into the business end of  a blunderbuss cannot really see whether the weapon is pointing accurately at him; and  the second is that  when reloading, a flared muzzle makes the job very much easier. When you think  that often these weapons were used from the higher rigging of a ship, or from the top of a careering,  swaying, stage coach, ease of reloading is an important consideration.  "Ah" do I  hear someone say ? "but it took  ages to reload them!  I have read this one in otherwise quite respectable publications, and it's tosh!   I have, in the dim and distant  past fired these weapons, and, when properly   equipped  (i.e. with a powder flask fitted with  a  proper  measuring device,  a  bag  of  lead pistol balls, and properly sized wads in a weskit pocket) I found meself able to reload  (steady  and careful)  in twenty seconds flat. Mark you, if  you're out with a flintlock sporting gun or fowling piece,   a surprising  amount of game can go over in twenty seconds.


Got to  go  out  to a funeral, so will try and write more  on the subject later.


Just got back.  Good Funeral,  as these things go.

Back to blunderbusses . From, I'm told 'donderbusche'  (thunder gun), although I  find  the English version of  that - blunderbuss - a perfectly expressive word.  Historically the weapon we recognise as a blunderbuss appears early in  the  second half of the sixteen hundreds, and had developed into the item we recognise as the weapon carried on stage coaches around the middle of  the seventeen hundreds.


Motored  over to Ely yesterday, and met up with Ann's three brothers and partners at the Fire Engine  House for lunch, which was quite up to the usual high standard of this  establishment. I had the 'partridge casserole' knowing that I'd get a complete partridge. Good young bird it was, too.  Ann had the haddock and said it was very good.   The staff made the usual offer of more vegetables, and meat. They are so welcoming it's  like having lunch with old friends, although as we've been lunching there for over fifty  years now, that's not surprising, I  suppose.  I do  wonder, though, if I aught to stop telling my blogger friends how good the place  is, in case you all  turn up there and we begin to find difficulty in getting a table. Only joking - we'd love to meet you all there!

Must knock off now, we're expecting vistors for coffee at any moment.

Friday, 2 November 2018


This evening I was working in  the  undercroft when I heard fireworks , called upstairs to Ann (who  had heard them as well) and we went upstairs to one  of the   spare bedrooms (in the front of the house) and got a very good view of  the  firework display which was taking place on the football  field, about two  hundred yards away across the river.  We do this  most years and got about twenty minutes display  of very good fireworks. We both enjoy fireworks very much (I think perhaps I enjoy them  even more than Ann does); my late mother-in-law used to say  that  "men never grow up!" I think she thought it one of the major parts  of  our  charm. She was a wise woman; she  and I  were  good friends.

Good Night All.


Ann in funerary subfuscs. And just to record another  frost  this morning - not quite as sharp as the one recorded earlier this week.  Got  to  go out (early Service) in a  min.  More later perhaps.