Monday, 19 June 2017

Election Over - Life Returns To Normal

So that's my first election as a political activist over. I pounded the streets of Framlingham for the Lib Dems and the Suffolk Angry Women and the streets of Cambridge for the Lib Dems.

I posted over a thousand leaflets in total and walked over twenty miles. Sadly to no avail as our candidate did not win in either seat although I was happy to see Mrs May lose her majority.

Living in a Tory stronghold, I was pleased that I was not alone and I was pretty impressed by the effort put in by some residents of Earl Soham. After staying up until four in the morning watching the election results it was time for a bit of a lie in on Friday but life returned to normal at the weekend and we decided to have a day trip.

On my drives to Lid Dem HQ in Cambridge I had spotted a National Trust sign for Anglesey Abbey. We'd never heard of it before so we headed back towards Cambridge on Sunday to check it out. It's a stunning house with a fabulous collection of antiques.

There are loads of delightful walks around the gardens.

Marion reckons I should have one of these "Sunny Old Optimist" sun dials in our garden
Thursday evening saw us heading up to the college for our regular book club.

Every time I see this view from the college drive I have to take a photo. I doubt that there's a better view in Suffolk.

Friday saw us in London to restock the wardrobe. Or rather my wardrobe this time. Marion prefers to buy little and fairly often whereas I do a splurge once or twice a year. We had tickets for the National Theatre on Saturday so stayed at a Premier Inn near Tower Bridge on Friday night.

My attempt at a different view of Tower Bridge
We enjoyed a great meal at Cantina Del Ponte on Friday night. As we were in the middle of a heatwave it was wonderful to dine outside with a brilliant view of the bridge and the lively riverside.

It was back to the riverside again on Saturday for breakfast opposite the City and then we walked down to the National.

Where, once again, the boiling weather allowed us to dine on the terrace.

They even put on a fly past for us.

As for the play, Common starring Anne-Marie Duff? Well, we had been warned by the plethora of one and two star reviews and, for once, the National auditorium was very sparsely attended with gaps all around. The play was visually exciting but totally weird and even fewer saw the second half than saw the first. It was a bit Wicker Man with odd animal masks and the language - more F and C words than an afternoon on the Kop - was quite bizarre. I can't say that I enjoyed it but I'm glad that I saw it.

The shopping trip went well and my summer wardrobe is very well stocked. It will need to be if the heat of the last few days continues - our car's temperature gauge has hit thirty degrees.

Mr Pendergast's Fantastic Find is still getting great reviews. Here's the latest.

Back home on Sunday we had some guests round for a late lunch.

On the Costa Del Fram.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

What Happened?

So what happened? I've been writing this blog religiously for five years now with no more than a week between postings when all goes quiet for over two weeks. 

Well, actually, something did happen.

The weather was glorious two weeks ago so we decided to dust down our bikes from the garage and go for our first cycle ride of any length this year. We packed our stuff and rode off into the beautiful countryside and enjoyed a stop for coffee at Snape Maltings before going on to one of our favourite atmospheric locations - Iken Church.

After a while exploring the churchyard it was time to get back on the bikes and head for home. We decided to ride a shorter distance than usual as it was our first time out for a while and we were making good time when Marion hit a pothole while coming down a hill. She ended up on the dusty track with a horrendous deep graze to her knee and another to her elbow. It was a nasty accident and it happened in the middle of nowhere. We had no option but to walk to the nearest habitation and twenty minutes later rolled up at the Glemham Crown.

The pub was shut but after wandering around the outside front and back shouting "hello", I was finally spotted and the people in the pub came to our aid. They were brilliant and patched Marion up before storing our bikes away and driving us home. I took Marion to the local surgery where she was expertly bandaged up and our friend Richard from In Da Cottage Antiques went in his van to collect the bikes. It was good to have such willing and kind "Good Samaritans". The incident showed us that even the gentlest of bike rides can be lethal. Phone reception is quite poor in the country lanes and, if we had been alone and incapacitated, it could have been quite a long time before anybody passed by.

I'm delighted to say that Marion is recovering from her nasty experience but she hasn't been able to do much since and it's probably going to be a while before she gets back in the saddle.

The fine weather was with us for a while and Framlingham looked good in the bright sunshine that marked the day of the Gala. 

No amount of sunshine could make up for the dismal Gala procession. We went early to The Railway and got prime seats outside the pub to watch the floats go past.Lots of families gathered on the grass verge opposite. This band came past.

It was followed by the Gala Princess just behind. And after the princess came a few kids and parents dressed as characters from musicals and then? Cars - lots of cars - and that was it. In previous years, the procession has taken a while to cover the route up to the Gala field but this was the most feeble parade imaginable and I feel sorry for those who took the time to turn up (both as spectators and participants). I don't know anything about the Gala organisers and don't want to level unfair criticism but something clearly went wrong and I hope that it does not mark the end of this enjoyable annual family event.


While Marion has been recuperating I've been doing a bit of electioneering for the Lib Dems whose policies and manifesto are the closest to my beliefs. Here I am out in Cambridge where the Lib Dem candidate lost at the last election by under six hundred votes. I went out in Framlingham too today but ended up with a pile of soggy leaflets as the heavens opened. I'll be off to Cambridge again tomorrow for a final push before the big day.

With Marion incapacitated I decided to have a few hours in the fields with the detector. With all the fields in crop, the only land available locally is a strip of uncultivated land alongside the road. I call it "tin can alley" as it is within easy chucking distance of passing cars.

And boy do a lot of people throw cans into that field. The problem is that, although I am ninety percent sure that I am digging a can, cans do give positive signals that might turn out to be something a lot nicer.

The usual array of buttons turned up. As well as an army cap badge, a couple of buckles, musket balls and other bits and bobs/

These are likely to be medieval.

A medieval silver cut farthing and a couple of Charles I Rose Farthings.

Plus another medieval silver farthing. Somebody identified this one for me as Henry III minted in London eight hundred years ago. It's quite amazing that this was nearer the surface than some of those cans and ring pulls.

I'm delighted with the response to the book. Sales are going okay and I've had some lovely reviews. Here is the latest. This is a genuine review, I do not know "Lauren" but I do know that she has great taste!

I had some exciting news about the book this week - I'll tell you about it when I get more details.

Until then, I hope that I'll be back blogging regularly now and that Marion will be able to get back on her bike very soon.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

A Cracking Time

We've been waiting for spring to arrive and the chance to get out and about riding down our beautiful local cycle routes for weeks now but, being fair weather cyclists, a Goldilocks day with the weather being "just right" has still failed to materialise - maybe this week will see that combination of sunshine and no wind that will stir us to action. 

We've kept going to the exercise classes to keep up the fitness and we've had plenty more to keep us busy. 

Last Saturday, Spadge and his team from Slice Of Life Fram pulled yet another rabbit out of the hat to treat Framlingham residents to an incredible evening of poetry performed by angry young man Luke Wright. How Slice Of Life manages to keep punching so much above our little town's weight is beyond me. Here, in a little youth club, on a Saturday night, was a star who could easily fill one of the top spots at the Edinburgh Fringe - performing- just for us. Luke's poetry was exceptional and deserving of the rapturous applause he received.

Wednesday saw us up and dressed at five in the morning to head down to Rochester for a spot of babysitting. We stopped outside Paul's house to take some things in and when I got back five minutes later the windscreen had a huge crack.

I know this sort of thing happens but, after two punctures and a smashed windscreen, 2017 hasn't been our best year for motoring.

While in Rochester we got an invite to the social event of the year - can't wait.

You'll start to think I'm making this up but I'm not. I've been buying and selling a bit on eBay while I'm promoting my new novel (about buying on eBay) and I spotted a nice Japanese bowl for a few pounds last week. Here's how it arrived. This is the fourth smashed item in a few weeks. I get my money back every time but it's such a disappointment.

Not every buy has been a disaster and this lovely Copeland majolica shell spoon warmer and amazing Staffordshire house (both mid to late 19th century) turned up beautifully packed.

As for the novel, I'm really pleased with the reviews that I am getting. After the excellent John Winter (that's his blog over there on the right of this page) blogged about the book, I saw a jump in sales - thank you John. And in the last few day these two reviews popped up. 

I love the thought that somebody enjoyed my book enough to slow down and savour it.

I had another go testing the new detector yesterday, I only found a couple of musket balls, a few buttons and some scrap but did find this tiny item. It is solid silver and quite crudely cast. There's a good chance that under the Treasure Act rules it might class as treasure as my guess is that it is either a medieval - early post medieval eyelet or part of an early medieval pin. My local Finds Liaison Officer will know best. He's on holiday for a couple of weeks - I'll let you know what he says.

We're having a lazy weekend. We went to The Queen at Brandeston for breakfast this morning. I don't normally photograph food in restaurants anymore (it's a bit 2015) but I had to make an exception today as the breakfast was exceptional - absolutely delicious and a bargain at £8. We'll certainly be back.

After breakfast we popped into Framlingham for another event organised by Spadge (the man gets everywhere). It was great to see so many people watching and joining in the go cart racing down Market Hill - great stuff. Time to watch the match now and see if Liverpool will get back into The Champions League.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

What A Swell Party That Was

We headed up to Ribchester on Saturday to celebrate our friend Mark (above's) sixtieth birthday (He looks much younger doesn't he?) 

This wasn't a hanging about boozing and filling our faces party as Mark led us on a five mile trek around the fields and lanes of his local countryside. But it wasn't all hard slog as we had two stops for a few pints of the local ales before returning to Mark's place where he and his wife Nita put on a fabulous barbecue and a top rate singer along with plenty of wine from the excellent Whalley Wine Shop which is run by Mark's son Tom. 

The walk even took in a few ancient ruins (and no I'm not going to try and turn that into some sort of joke).

We had a wonderful day - thanks Mark.

We didn't want to drive all that way and then just drive all the way back so, along with our old friends Dave and Jane, we booked into the nearby Inn At Whitewell where we enjoyed such great hospitality on Marion's 60th a couple of years ago.

We had a room with a real view and the weather smiled on us for our short two night stay.

We took in another walk in the rolling hills around the famous old Inn. Jane and Dave left on Monday but we stayed on for another night and had a great meal in the restaurant. We had a chuckle as two couples in their late seventies and early eighties made a fuss about having been married for forty-seven years - that's only six years more than us!

If you read this blog, you'll know that I have a few hobbies. I bought a new metal detector a month or so ago but with all the fields in crop I've been unable to use it. However, as I drove past one of the fields I like to search, I noticed that the farmer had left a wide strip all the way around the field. I didn't need any encouragement and headed out yesterday to try the new machine out.

i was happy with the results. I had two hours in the field and here's what turned up.
A cut silver quarter Medieval penny
A more recent farthing - this one dated1914
A very early buckle c1350
A couple of Charles I Rose farthings
Medieval strap fitting
Whilst on the subject of detecting I was pleased to see that a Facebook friend (we've never met) published a book recently.

It's a great aid to identifying a fairly common detecting find - lead cloth seals.

And I was delighted to see one of my own finds included in the excellent book.

With regard to my own recent publication. I sent out twenty-five copies of Mr Prendergast's Fantastic Find to winning Goodreads members last week. Here's the first review

As you might imagine, I'm delighted with the review as it captures exactly what I was hoping to achieve. Another reader John Winter deputy editor of The Searcher magazine also read the novel and wrote an entire blog singing its praises. You can read John's (unsolicited) comments here.

The novel tells the story of retiree Dave Pendergast's buying on eBay. While I'm trying to promote the book I've been busy doing a bit of eBay buying myself. If you've seen recent blogs you'll have read that I've had a bit of bad luck. The bad luck continued last week.

I spotted what I hoped might be an antique Spanish jug.

Here's how it arrived (in totally inadequate packaging).

I don't think I'll ever manage to emulate Mr Prendergast but I'll keep trying.