Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Another Wonderful Friends' Get Together - This Time At Gate House Coniston

If you've been following this blog for a few years you will have read that Marion and I have enjoyed some great weekends with our six best friends twice a year for the last few years. Last weekend was weekend get together number five and this time all eight of us made it for the third time. We were back in the Lake District and, after our last rental stay in Cumbria at Waternook in Ullswater, it was going to be extremely difficult to find a property that would come close.

But Marion is an absolute star in tracking down the best holiday lets available and she found us Gate House cottage in Coniston which is let by The Coppermines Lakes Cottages  And what a fabulous place it was. With four spacious bedrooms (each with luxurious ensuite bathroom ) and three living rooms so we weren't all on top of each other twenty-four hours of the day, this is a fabulous property and well worth the weekend rental. The property has been recently refurbished and everything is of the very highest quality. It's strongly recommended both for the quality of accommodation and the ideal location.  

A small stream flowed behind the cottage's lovely slate terrace. 
Friday night got off to a bang with a visit to Coniston's annual fireworks display. And what a display! I timed it at over 27 minutes and, whilst the first five minutes were somewhat slow, the display grew to a spectacular finale as good as we've ever seen. We returned to the house for a simple meal of homemade venison pies supplied by Leo's Deli in Framlingham.

We were fortunate to be blessed with glorious weather for both days.

On Saturday we walked to Tarn Hows 

Tarn Hows holds some extremely special memories for me. In the early 1960s when the Lakes were not as accessible as they are today, our family rented Rose Castle, a tiny stone cottage nestled above the tarn and still there today. In those days there were virtually no visitors to the tarn and my Mum would shout me back from my fishing trips from the top of the hill. It was en route to Tarn Howes that I proposed to Marion nine years or so later 

One of Cumbria's finest viewpoints

The view from the Gate House front door.
The weather was even better on Sunday than on Saturday so six of us walked up the Coppermines valley to Coniston Old Man with two of the group deciding to explore the lake.
Coppermines Valley

The going was initially easy.

But before long we found ourselves at pretty high altitude with some magnificent views.

Mark with Dave who demonstrated his map reading skills yet again.

Quite a walk for a couple of sixty somethings

Almost on top of the world
Walking this ridge was fun

While the six of us were on top of Coniston Old Man , Dave and Jane sent us this photo from their more relaxed ramble

After a great evening at Steam Bistro in Coniston on Saturday night we cooked at home again on Sunday courtesy of Leo's and the excellent Badu's curries. Although it appears in this photo that the woment were doing all the work, the men (out of shot) were equally hard at it.


Sadly Dave and Jane had to leave shortly after our curry on Sunday and head back ready for work on Monday.

But the rest of us enjoyed a bit of music and some quizzing provided by Mark whose wonderful performance of The Proclaimers Five Hundred Miles will stay with me forever.

So that's it. Six months of planning and another friends' weekend is over. Now it's time to get started on planning the next one.

For those of you interested in my detecting finds. I only had one trip out last week. Here is what turned up.

Henry III Cut Half Penny Canterbury moneyer Henri
Super medieval buckle c1350-1400 still with its pin intact
Edward III half penny
Charles I rose farthing
Spindle weight. 

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

A Grand Time With The Grandkids

Another two weeks have passed without a post on the blog. Have I lost my enthusiasm for blogging or is life simply so hectic that it's difficult to find time to write it? Definitely the latter as the weeks continue to flash by in a blur. Last week we enjoyed one of our year's highlights when we took two of our grandchildren, Teddy and Catherine, to Legoland in Windsor for two days. But more of that later.

Prior to Legoland we enjoyed another excellent day out with FramSoc who organised a trip to the Jockey Club and the Palace Museum in Newmarket. A dozen or so members enjoyed a light lunch before a guided tour of the museum.

After the museum we visited the stable yards where retired racehorses are looked after and prepared for a life outside racing.

We aren't particularly interested in horse racing but the museum has a fantastic collection of sporting art including masterpieces by Stubbs, Munnings and many more.

We both liked the more naive art which features heavily in the collection.

We weren't familiar with Frankel before our visit but we certainly are now. 

After the museum tour we enjoyed an exclusive champagne afternoon tea in the private rooms of The Jockey Club before an excellent tour of the club given by William Gittus managing director of Jockey Club Estates who has close ties with Framlingham College.It was extremely interesting to learn the history of The Jockey Club - we went thinking it was simply a club for jockeys but soon realised that it is anything but.

And so to Legoland. We took Catherine last October and she enjoyed herself so much that she wanted to return. We couldn't leave her little brother at home so the four of us drove to Windsor last Wednesday. 

Catherine is very musical and loves to dance so seized the opportunity to have a stage to herself.

Despite a park full of rides, both grandchildren were very happy to play in the hotel reception area which has an abundance of Lego bricks and kept them amused for ages.

We were blessed with fair weather on Wednesday and filled the day with rides, a show and an hour in the hotel swimming pool. Catherine chose to dine in the all-you-can-eat buffet and ended up with a dinner comprising, salami, two small roast potatoes, pasta, rice, sweetcorn and two tiny slices of pizza. That sounds a lot but she only put very small portions on her plate. It amused me to see that, despite a massive variety on offer, she went for pasta, rice and potatoes. 

The children loved meeting the Lego people and, after dancing The Time Warp with the hotel entertainers it was upstairs for a very late bedtime.

Thursday was drizzly but we enjoyed a few more rides, some shopping and snacks before the drive back via the notorious M25.

I was thrilled with the card that Catherine made for me when she got home (Marion had one with an equally lovely sentiment).

We're starting to think that we've moved to a crime hotbed - this was our big local news story last week.

We've missed out on lots of films this year so, now that the weather is getting colder and the nights are drawing in, we've started to put that right with some cinema visits.

Marion loved The Death Of Stalin. It was brilliantly acted and had an excellent script but I struggled to laugh at what was basically a true story of a heinous murderous regime. 

Despite the extremely sad subject matter, Breathe was a lovely film. It tells the true story of Robin Cavendish who was paralysed by polio in 1958 when he was twenty-eight but survived for over thirty years and spent his life campaigning for people with disabilities. He was portrayed by Andrew Garfield as a man who loved life and would never let his disability defeat him. A joyous film that could easily have been mawkish but managed to avoid being so even in the tear-jerking finale. 

Rather than a tear-jerker, today's film Thor Ragnarok, was a seat jerker as we tried out Cineworld's 4DX screening. We couldn't have picked a better film to be thrown around in and found ourselves rocking and shaking to this amazing Marvel superhero all action movie. It's great fun with plenty of humour, spectacular 3D effects and incredible CGI. We switched off the water effects in our seats but still experienced the vast majority of special effects. Will we try it again? For the right film - yes.

On Saturday evening it was time for another Slice of Life Comedy night up at Thomas Mills High School where we were entertained by three comics and MC Rob Coleman. It was a fun packed event and Spadge and his team deserve a lot of credit for continuing to bring live acts to our small town.

Now's the time that I tell you what I've been finding with the detector. I've had a few outings but not a great deal has turned up. 

Medieval Cut Half Penny Probably Edward I c1272

Medieval strap fitting

Mystery object

Medieval annular brooch

Post medieval jar knob

Farthing James I c1613-20
Part of a crotal bell and an unidentified lead ball.
Post medieval buckle c1600-1700
Jaws harp (sometimes called Jews harp) Post medieval

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.