Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Birthday Celebrations

We're briefly back in Framlingham for a few days before we head to St Andrews for Easter. Last week we celebrated Marion's 60th birthday and went up to Kirkby Lonsdale in Cumbria where we rented a small cottage for a short break.

Fortunately we have stayed at the lovely Chapel Cottage before so we knew that the access would be too narrow for our other car and went in the smaller one instead. Even then it was a tight squeeze but with one of us directing each time we left or arrived at the cottage we got through the week unscathed. 

It was a quiet few days. We visited some of our old stomping grounds.

The River Walk At Kirkby Lonsdale

And The Famous Ingleton Waterfalls Walk
It's still a lovely walk around Ingleton's falls but the health and safety people seem to have gone mad with the fences. Our son Paul was an adventurous child but managed to get around the walk many times unscathed without all the (sometimes unsightly) fences.

On Wednesday, friends Mark and Nita Jones joined us and very kindly treated us to a champagne afternoon tea at the lovely old Hipping Hall hotel to celebrate Marion's birthday the following day. 

Marion's birthday was a quiet day and we ended it with some very good fish and chips from the local Kirkby Lonsdale chippy washed down with a nice bottle of white wine.

And then it was off to the famous "The Inn At Whitewell" to meet up with three couples who have been our friends for a long time. Mark and Nita (above) along with David and Janet Wareing and David and Jane Haworth joined us for dinner and a night at the lovely hotel.

The hotel put on an excellent meal

The rooms were all spacious and beautifully furnished (doesn't Marion look good for 60?)

And we certainly had a "room with a view"

Marion with best friend Jane

We blew away the cobwebs on Saturday morning with a walk of about five miles from the inn and across some beautiful countryside. 

The weather was kind to us for the whole week and we finished with a fabulous pub lunch at the Parkers Arms in nearby Newton where it was almost warm enough to dine outside. The food at this pub was excellent and we enjoyed some of their many specialities which included crispy potato skins, delicious potted shrimps, home made game pie with raised hot water crusts and a fabulous Portuguese egg custard dessert. After the fine meal at Whitewell the night before I think everyone was pretty well stuffed as we parted ways and headed back to our various homes. It was great to meet up with our friends, we miss them all here in Suffolk but plans are in hand to see them again in the not too distant future.

In other news, the eBay dabbling continues and the fabulous tureen sold for £110 and is now on its way to Australia. The original high bidder turned out to be a rogue who has been bidding on tons of stuff and not paying (and has now been kicked off eBay) but fortunately there's a second chance offer system and the underbidder was able to buy. 

I'm now selling this lovely French faience planter made by the St Cement factory in around 1900 and again found on eBay for a few pounds. I'm hopeful that this will do very well as it's completely hand painted and a very fine and pretty piece of antique French pottery.

After four gym classes in the last 24 hours I'm getting back some of the fitness lost in a week of wining and dining. Sadly Marion has picked up a very heavy cold and blocked sinuses and is having to take things easy.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Under The Weather

I've been fortunate to have been blessed with good health for most of my life so it was a bit of a shock to the system when I started to feel off colour on Tuesday - nothing serious, just a bit of an upset stomach and an extreme sense of tiredness that was enough to take blogging off the agenda for a few days. I'm pleased to report that I am finally back to normal today but it meant a week of taking it relatively easy.

As a kid I was encouraged to fight illness  and would always be the last standing when the rest of the class had succumbed to the latest round of flu or vomiting sickness even if sat alone at my desk, teeth chattering, shivering and running a high fever. My mum reckoned I would fight it off. She was probably right as times like these few days have been mercifully few and I can count the sick days spent off work in forty years on my fingers. So it was no surprise that I turned up at Fram Leisure for all the spinning and circuit training classes for the week even if I did put in a pretty feeble performance. I've no idea what caused me to be under the weather but, as nobody else seems to be affected, it may just be down to something I ate.

Before the sickness we'd been enjoying some time around Framlingham for a few weeks. We've got a few trips away coming up soon so it was good to be home for a short while. Last Saturday there was an auction at The Castle Inn. It was a small sale but I bought this piece of original artwork from one of the Postman Pat books. I thought it would be nice for the spare bedroom that we've fitted out for when the grandchildren visit although Marion wonders that it might no longer be politically correct. 

We added the final finishing touches to that room when, continuing on our mission to buy local whenever possible, we asked Emma from Esme's House in Framlingham to sort out the window blind and matching light and lamp shades. She did a great job and we are very pleased with the result. Now we're planning to redecorate the hall, landing and stairs. We ordered about twenty samples of wallpaper.

This is the one we've chosen. Let's hope it looks as good as it does on the website.

On Monday, while still fully fit, I did one of my occasional lunches for an elderly neighbour to give him a change from his regular (but very good) microwave ready meals. Sirloin steak with mashed potatoes, green beans and a red wine and mushroom sauce followed by tart au citron (bought I'm afraid) and a small cheese plate were all well received.

Again while still fit I managed a few hours out with the detector too. I've searched a small field about eight times but there are still plenty of signals even if many are rubbish. A few of the more interesting bits follow.

A Medieval Sexfoil Belt Stud

A Good Late Medieval/Post Medieval Sewing Ring Complete

My First Medieval Hammered Coin Of 2015 A Farthing Monarch Unidentified

Another Belt Stud - This One Is Post Medieval

Enamelled Badge 48th Northamptonshire Regiment 

Huge George III "Cartwheel Penny" 1797

Following the successful sale of the gnome two weeks ago, I'm selling the lovely tureen and cabinet plate I found on eBay on eBay. They finish tonight. They won't sell for as much as the tobacco box but with a few hours to go they have at least exceeded their buying cost.

It's Marion's birthday this week so we are heading to Kirkby Lonsdale for a quiet few days in a cottage before a night at The Inn At Whitewell with friends. It should be a good week and we're off to The Crown in Framlingham for dinner tonight to get it off to a relaxing start. 

Monday, 9 March 2015

Football, Films And Telly

Although it's starting to feel decidedly springlike here in Framlingham now, that wasn't the case last week so we settled down in front of the telly and binged on a box set for the first time ever.

It wasn't one that many people will be familiar with as it's only been released to download on Amazon Prime but Bosch was a big hit with us. It's an old fashioned cop thriller with an old fashioned cop with an old fashioned name "Harry" (although that is short for Hieronymous - Hieronymus Bosch, get it?). It was a beautifully filmed series full of sharp bright colours that depicted Los Angeles and its landmarks in vivid and atmospheric detail. Accompanied by a thumping but not intrusive soundtrack and great character acting by Titus Welliver in the lead role and Annie Wersching as his on/off love interest, the series intertwined two murder investigations into one, threw in some Good Wife style politics and court scenes and made for compulsive viewing. We got through the ten episodes in two days and loved it.

Although the weather had improved by Thursday I had an appointment in Ipswich so we went down to Cineworld in the afternoon to see It Follows. We may not be the prime target audience for a teen horror movie (Cert 15) but, after seeing the rave reviews on Claudia Winkleman's show and reading The Times four star review we felt that we should give it a try. The gist of the reviews was that this is a really, really scary film. I don't know if we are too old now but it wasn't very scary at all and Marion (favourite TV show The Walking Dead), who loves nothing more than a good fright, was markedly disappointed. That's not to say it's a bad film. It's entertaining and very well filmed with some brilliant cinematography. It could have been called It Borrows as it pays homage to so many classic horrors, Nightmare On Elm St, Scream, The Shining, The Ring, Halloween to name but a few. And I think this might be what made it such a big hit with the critics. Go and see it if you like the genre but don't expect to be cowering in your seats.

And so to the football. I'm a bit of a fair weather supporter when it comes to our local football team and tend to give the cold, wet and windy days a miss but the weather was more than fair on Saturday so it was good to sit in the sun drenched stand and enjoy the match. Framlingham Town are riding high at the top of the SIL Division 1 and on Saturday they entertained one of their nearest rivals Ipswich Athletic who came needing all three points to make any inroads on Fram's commanding lead (Ipswich were ten points behind but with two games in hand). 

It was a fairly scrappy match but, after Fram took an early lead with a well taken goal by Nathan Vincent from a tight angle, Ipswich threw everything at Framlingham winning corner after corner and getting a well deserved equaliser after about twenty minutes. Framlingham took the lead against the run of play when Vincent set up Danny Smith for a simple goal and the home side must have been relieved to go in ahead at half time. The second half saw much of the same with Ipswich Athletic pressing constantly and, but for a series of fine saves from Gary Rose in The Castlemen's goal, a woeful miss and what looked like a valid penalty claim that wasn't given, would have taken three points. The incessant pressure had to bring them some consolation and Ipswich scored a fine equaliser that gave Rose no chance. It was a very hard earned point for Framlingham but a good result against a very strong and impressive Ipswich Athletic team. With five games to go, Framlingham still head the league and, with such a battling team spirit, I think they will go on to become champions.  

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Gourmet Food, A Minor Flood And The Gnome Finds A New Home

You would have thought that after our fabulous Italian dinner at The Crown And Castle in Orford on Tuesday we would have had had enough fine dining for one week but on Sunday we headed twenty minutes down the road to Woodfarm Barns near Stonham Barns. Owner  Carl turns his property into a pop up restaurant on two weekends each year and what a wonderful experience it is.

Here is the menu that was on offer on Sunday and no, you didn't have to choose, everything above was included in the very reasonable cost. The Thai Green Dover Sole Mousse was a big favourite among the diners in our room but I can honestly say that each course, right down to the cheese, was delicious. Look out for the next event which is planned for November. Full details can be found by clicking here.

In other news, the first day of spring brought us snow. We were sitting in The Crown enjoying a coffee when the doors blew open and there was a five minute blizzard outside. Fortunately the snow disappeared as quickly as it arrived and we ended the day in sunshine.

It's taken my sixty one years but I finally put up a shelf at the weekend. Now that my neighbour has given me his old drill I have no excuse for asking his help. It went up quite successfully. I haven't got a spirit level but I think it's straight enough. It's unlikely that I will be making a habit of this DIY lark but I may have another go one day.

We told our plumber that the immersion heater had tripped the electrics in the house on about 3rd January. Since then we have chased and chased and chased. He finally turned up yesterday and when we removed all the suitcases stored in the airing cupboard we discovered the cause of the problem. The heater had been leaking and had wrecked the carpet and soaked the floor. We have been told that the damage to the flooring is not as bad as we feared and all will be well when it dries out. The carpet is wrecked though and I am faced with the bill to replace the immersion heater when, in all probability it was simply a faulty washer.

On a more positive note, the super gnome tobacco box that I bought on eBay sold for £170. I've just written the listing for the beautiful old sauce tureen now. Although it won't reach the heady heights of the gnome I hope that it does well.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

La Dolce Vita In Orford

We had a short break this week. I follow lots of local businesses on Twitter and am always looking out for what's happening. So when I saw a tweet from The Crown And Castle in Orford advertising an Italian themed dinner on Tuesdays from Feb through into March I checked it out. 

We've cycled to Orford quite a few times since we moved to Framlingham and have always liked the look of this hotel which stands just across the road from the castle. But we've normally been dressed in cycling gear which wouldn't be quite right for their stylish dining room and bar. Here was a chance to dine there in normal clothes. 

It's only fifteen miles down the road from home but driving home after a four course dinner with a different wine accompanying each course was out of the question and a taxi would put a bit of a dampener on the evening so booking an overnight stay was the best solution.

I booked a "best" room and we were in the large room on the first floor to the right in this photo borrowed from Orford's website. 

This was the lovely view from our room across Orford Ness and towards Havergate Island Nature Reserve. We arrived at three and enjoyed a pot of tea while reading our books downstairs in front of  a roaring fire before getting ready for the meal. The room was spacious, very comfortable and stylishly appointed. The bathroom was luxurious with both a large shower and a super deep bath.

The Italian meal was a great success and we enjoyed, antipasti, scallops risotto  venison, and cheese/dessert with four generous glasses of delicious wines. Marion doesn't drink as much as I do so I was more than happy to finish off the wines that she couldn't manage. The food was excellent as too was the freshly cooked breakfast in the morning. It just shows that you don't have to travel miles to enjoy a short break.

After breakfast we checked out and then had an enjoyable morning exploring Orford's church. 

There are some really interesting and rare brasses on tombs in the church.

The nave is spectacular. 

And there are many more treasures. I couldn't find out anything about this painting but its in the renaissance style and its frame is quite spectacular.

Marion outside the church.

Leaving Orford we headed to Woodbridge, had a stroll round the town and a coffee in the excellent Firestation Cafe and then went to the matinee performance of Whiplash at The Riverside. Phew! What a film! It's extremely tense and brilliantly done. You will already have heard all about it but J K Simmons' bullying music tutor is one of the best characters I've ever seen on screen. It's no wonder that you couldn't get any odds at all on him winning the best supporting actor Oscar - he is that good. (It is a dream part mind). Miles Teller in the lead role is dwarfed by Simmons but that's basically the gist of the story and, as Teller's character grows in confidence, his role in the film does too. This was another Best Film nomination. We've seen five of the eight nominations this year and, although they were all different, the standard has been very high.

We got back home in time to head out to The Railway in Framlingham where we enjoyed fish and chips before competing in the quiz. Our team "The Runners Up" were the runners up (again). It was a good night and a great way to end our short holiday.

This morning we went up to the gym for spinning and "body blitz" to counter the effects of Italian dinners and fish and chips. On the way home I popped into the Post Office to pick up another eBay buy. 

This small tureen from c1825 is beautifully hand painted and elaborately gilded. At the moment I can't identify the maker but if I can pin it down to a top factory (and the quality suggests that it is a top manufacturer's piece), then it should be worth a fair bit more than the low price that it cost.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Busy Days

It's been a whole week since the last blog and that old retiree's cliche about never having enough time to do everything has certainly rung true. That's despite our now having seven days a week at home and not five due to the Rochester childcare situation being resolved.

So what exactly have we been doing to keep us so busy? Well, seven spinning and circuit training classes a week fills in a fair bit of time and, now that the weather has started to improve, our thoughts have turned to the garden.

You may remember me writing about John Ball the local blacksmith designing a garden arch for us. It didn't run exactly as planned for John as the gauge of metal that we chose on his suggestion turned out to be too flimsy and he had to go to a heavier gauge which was difficult to work with.

However, John put in a great effort and yesterday the arch arrived. We need to have it cemented into position but it's going to be a great feature for the garden once the climbing plants start to grow.

We've also been working on getting our spare bedroom fitted out in readiness for the grandchildren visiting us one day. We've got the furniture and now Emma at Esme's House in Framlingham is preparing a blind and some light shades to finish things off.

I am extremely grateful to our neighbour David from across the road who helped me to put up the bookshelves (well, in reality, put the shelves up for me). 

He was so surprised at my lack of tools that he came back today and gave me this. Thank you very much David (although, to be honest,I was very happy having you do it for me). We'll find out if I have learnt any of David's DIY skills later this week when another shelf arrives for the room and I no longer have an excuse to seek assistance from someone with the right equipment.

I have to finish now as I've booked a surprise night away for Marion. Better get packing.