Monday, 16 October 2017

Some Welcome Autumn Sun In Framlingham

Greetings from the Costa Del Suffolk where we've been drinking lots of coffee outside The Dancing Goat enjoying the unseasonal sunshine. Marion spent ages putting all her summer clothes away for the winter last week but has had to dig them all out again as temperatures have soared back into the twenties.

You really can't beat autumn sunshine and we took full advantage of it yesterday with a glorious walk from Snape Maltings (more coffee) to the romantic Iken church. It's a hauntingly beautiful spot standing on a promontory in the reed beds. St Botolph chose to live there in the seventh century and I doubt that it has changed greatly since then.

The area is a haven for nature and we could not have had a more perfect day for a couple of hours of walking.

It lacks the spectacle of the Cumbrian and Yorkshire fells but Suffolk has its own innate beauty and when you get to retirement age the lack of gradients in these landscapes are very welcome. 

There was not a cloud all day - fabulous.

We did a bit more walking last week when we went to Rochester for a couple of days babysitting. There's a small park called The Vines which has a long avenue of trees as its focal point. It was impressive to see how sympathetically the people who manage The Vines  handled a tree that needed to be felled.

We had a bit of a surprise last week when a squirrel hopped past the kitchen and made for the lawn where he (or she) started to dig to bury a nut or acorn it was carrying.

Here's another local lawn. I was amazed to see this huge clump of fungi which sprang up virtually overnight.

I'm sure that I could get away with telling you that this latest addition to our small art collection was bought from a posh gallery in Snape of Aldeburgh. In truth it came from an exhibition of artworks by pupils of our local comprehensive Thomas Mills. We were hugely impressed by the show put on by Nikki Sholl and hear that it (deservedly) raised a huge amount towards new equipment for the school's art department.

Now it's time for an update on how my detecting has been going for the last week or two so navigate away now if you are not interested. After the excitement of the valuable Henry I penny last month it's been quieter recently but I never go home empty handed and, although I've said "not much" when Marion's asked what I've found, there have been some interesting bits and pieces. Here they are.

One session's finds including almost twenty buttons, some furniture fittings, a couple of musket balls, a 17th century trade token, a French? military badge, a good post medieval shoe buckle, a post medieval clothing fastener, a couple of Charles I farthings, a lead seal, a tiny medieval nesting weight and a post medieval mount (with leather still attached).

Here are some more finds from the past week.

Early bag seal.


Small Tudor period spectacle buckle

Huge lead pot mend with pot still attached

Not certain but I think that this is a fragment of a medieval lead annular brooch
A trade farthing issued by Thomas Soley grocer of Mendlesham in 1663

Over three hundred years old and made of precious metal, this is officially "Treasure" and has to be reported to the coroner. It's a tiny early post medieval silver clothing fastener.

I said tiny. For scale, that's my little finger nail.

Mystery lead artefact. Looks like a bird swallowing something.

Another Tudor period dress hook or clothing fastener. This one is a lot bigger.

Silver James I half groat from c1619

Unidentified silver hammered coin - possibly Henry VII

I've been playing around with the detector set up and, as a result, been finding some pretty deep signals.

I had to chuckle after spending a long time digging this very deep hole to find a bottle cap at the bottom.

Especially as it seemed to be offering me some advice.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Much Ado About Nothing

It was my birthday last week (64 if you're asking) and, to celebrate, we headed to London (via car and tube thanks to Greater Anglia's marvellous weekend service - I know the works will bring huge improvements but travelling to London by bus is nobody's idea of fun). After an excellent pre-theatre dinner at The Swan, we went to see the highly acclaimed Much Ado About Nothing at Shakespeare's Globe. 

And was all that acclaim plus the five star reviews justified? We would say, resoundingly, yes. Despite constant rain soaking the standing audience (and some of the cast) the show was a ray of sunshine - a colourful spectacular of comedy, music and dance. We loved it. 

Matthew Needham stole the show as a loveable Benedick. I'm surprised that (apart from a few appearances on Casualty) he's not a regular in film or TV as his comic timing and interaction with the audience were just perfect. The whole cast was excellent and it was a joyous evening.

Before we went to London we found time on a rainy Friday afternoon to catch Goodbye Christopher Robin at The Riverside in Woodbridge. This is a beautifully shot film filled with glorious olde England with leafy sun dappled glades and elegant 1920s costumes. It portrayed the somewhat sad childhood of AA Milne's son Christopher Robin who was exploited by his parents to sell books and, apparently, ended up hating his parents - there must be some truth in this as he has not taken any money from the vast success of Winnie The Pooh. The film implies that he felt that the stories were written for him and were not for sale. I'm glad that they were published as I (and Marion) love the books but it's sad to think that our enjoyment was an intrusion on an unhappy boy's childhood.  

After a night in London we went to the British Film Institute where they are running a Stephen King season. I had to laugh at the Carrie themed Ladies toilets door.

We went to see Lawrence of Arabia (all four hours of it). It's a great film and fully deserving of all those awards. Of course, today, nobody would dream of blacking up Anthony Quinn and Alec Guinness to play the leading Arab roles but, that apart, it really is a masterpiece of cinematography with Peter O'Toole simply perfect in the title role. 

Still trying to come up with a witty caption to this gibbet near to The Clink Museum on the South Bank. 

Gerald Clements paid us another visit last week and painted my office. We decided to go through all the books and have a clear out - heavy work.

Marion's out at the moment at her Suffolk Angry Women's meeting. She looks good in her T-shirt but Nasty Woman? I certainly don't think so.  

Monday, 25 September 2017

A Special Anniversary

Some special friends had an important anniversary recently when they celebrated their Ruby Wedding. We've known Dave and Jane Haworth for almost all of those forty years and we were delighted when they agreed to spend part of their celebrations with us. So, in the early hours of last Wednesday, the four of us caught a flight from Manchester to Palma Mallorca.

The happy  couple raising a glass in celebration (one of many)

Jane suggested the venue. Although Marion and I holidayed in Mallorca in the 1980s when Sarah was a baby, Palma is a city we've never visited and we were very pleasantly surprised by what it had to offer.

The stunning cathedral (where I amazingly bumped into a childhood friend)
There is an abundance of art throughout the public spaces in the city

Marion worked hard before we travelled and researched all the best places to eat and drink. The excellent Ombu offers a modern twist on classic tapas in a very central location. While we ate there was a fairly large anti-tourist demo going on a few hundred metres up the road. There's quite a growing anti-tourism movement in Spain at the moment but it didn't spoil our enjoyment of the break.

Across the road from Ombu

We stayed at the excellent Convent De La MissiĆ³ , a modern boutique hotel in an old convent. 

The hotel is home to celebrated English chef Marc Fosh whose Michelin starred restaurant was one of the highlights of the break.

This was the tasting menu we enjoyed. Each course was accompanied by a paired wine and the result was three hours of gastronomic delight. So many courses suggest gluttony but each was just an extremely delicious taste. 

Marc visited our table a couple of times and explained the thinking behind several of the dishes. It was a truly memorable evening.

The city is a foodies delight. The indoor food market is one of the best we've ever seen.

Even Darren on Fram market would struggle to compete with the variety on offer here.

Marion and Jane at another of Marion's discoveries - Luna 36 in Soller 
No trip to Palma would be complete without cocktails at the amazing Abaco. It's totally over the top but a real "must see"

We didn't spend four whole days and nights eating and drinking and walked off some of those calories with long walks around Palma and the nearby marinas.
The Torrent De Sa Riera - Palma's river

Both footpaths and cycle paths are beautifully maintained
A rare photo of me at Luna 36

One of Palma's many striking buildings

We even had a rooftop pool at the hotel
We visited Nicolas twice. Fabulous fried squid and excellent service.

The marina holds more boats than I've seen in my life

More Gaudi influenced architecture

Cathedral grounds

We took the old wooden train from Palma to Soller. There's some spectacular scenery en route although Soller itself was a slight disappointment and we caught a taxi back to Palma in preference to spending over an hour on the return journey.

Hard to believe this young chap was celebrating forty years of marriage.

It was an excellent four day break and we were so pleased that Dave and Jane were able to spend the time with us. Marion's busy looking into future jaunts. What's the forty-first anniversary?