Sunday, 22 May 2016

Swine Flu Fall Out

I thought that we'd heard the last of Marion's nasty encounter with the H1N1 virus (otherwise known as swine flu) as she has been making good progress since late April. It was way back in February when she first showed signs of being unwell and her health deteriorated rapidly before she started to improve. She was still a bit tired and run down at the beginning of May but she was taking things easy and we were happy that the swine of an illness was behind us.

Until recently that is. We started to notice it just after Sarah and Rose and Melody visited us a few of weeks ago. When Marion showered or washed her hair, large clumps of hairs filled the shower plughole and her hair brush. She recently changed hairdresser and we thought it was perhaps a short term reaction to new products. But it wasn't short term and the volume of hair on her brush and on her clothes and shoulders started to increase until she got to the stage where she began to worry -and worry, is the last thing you want if your hair is starting to fall out.

We booked an appointment at a specialist in Ipswich and we visited him on Thursday. It seems that poor Marion has something known as Telogen Effluvium and it is a known after-effect of swine flu. It appears that the virus somehow upsets the hair growth cycle and causes a well above average number of hairs to move to the dead or dying stage in their cycle. On the positive side, he can see new growth on her scalp and the condition is unlikely to be permanent. On the negative, it is possible that she may lose up to 40% of her hair before things start to improve and that's difficult for someone who takes such pride in her appearance. 


We visited Seckford Hall Hotel on Wednesday for a very nice afternoon tea that my brother Pete and his wife Val had bought us for Christmas. As you can see, Marion's hair looks fine but she've very conscious of it and we'll both be very happy when things start to improve.


Four of Framlingham's biggest Liverpool fans came round to our house on Thursday night to join me in watching the Europa League Final. With Liverpool coasting at half time I decided to show them the banner that Paul and I took to Athens with us for the disastrous Champions League Final. I then somehow managed to switch channels before the start of the second half and, two minutes later when we realised the mistake and put the match back on, Liverpool's lead had disappeared and we were heading for a miserable night. That banner brought us no luck in Athens - I should have kept it locked up.




On Thursday evening we went to the college for a very interesting talk by Darren Tansley (above) about the mammals of Essex and Suffolk. I was amazed at how many mammals we actually have in the county and really enjoyed this very informative evening.


It's been a quiet few months on the metal detecting front as most of the fields are full of crops but I managed a couple of hours out on Friday. I didn't find very much but this decorative mount from a huntsman's powder flask is a nice item. I probably won't get out again until after the harvest.

While there's not detecting there will be time for my writing. I got my manuscript back for the editor on Friday and have set aside this week for going through his views and revisions. Exciting times (I hope).

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Sun And FramSoc

The sun has been shining this week so we've made the most of it and spent plenty of time at home keeping on top of the garden. 


When we've not been working in the garden we've been doing a bit of voluntary work counting cars for the town council's parking survey and helping some elderly people for the Framlingham Hour Community. The rest of the week has been involved with Framlingham College. We've done about eight classes at the Leisure Centre and FramSoc has had no less than three events.


Photo copyright EADT website 
On Wednesday we went to a talk by photographer Tom Murray (above) who was the very first Sunday Times Magazine photographer way back in the sixties. Tom, who now now lives locally in Bury St Edmunds, gave us a fascinating insight into his jet-set career photographing Royalty and some of the world's most famous people such as The Beatles and Dustin Hoffman. He also gave us some helpful hints on taking photos and I hope that the standard of photos on this blog will improve as a result.


Tom stressed the importance of light in his pictures and the late evening light on the castle was perfect when we walked up to his talk.


On Thursday morning we headed to Snape Maltings for a FramSoc tour of the concert hall and the other music facilities. It was a fascinating couple of hours and we left with a far better understanding of the ethos behind the venue.


After the tour we had some time to look around the maltings and took the opportunity to check out the newly installed Henry Moore sculpture before enjoying an excellent lunch at The Plough & Sail. 


After lunch, our party moved on to The Red House in Aldeburgh which was Benjamin Britten's home and studio. There was an incredible archive display, a brief tour of the house and a beautiful garden.


Almost as soon as we were home, it was time to head back to the college for this month's book club. It was another glorious evening.


The Headmaster's garden must have one of the nicest views in Suffolk.



This month's book was The Loney. Although none of us considered it a classic, everyone enjoyed the book and we found plenty to talk about in a very enjoyable hour's meeting.



Saturday, 7 May 2016

A Pox On Our House And Some Holidays To Look Forward To

It's been a long time since the last blog but that's hardly surprising in view of how busy things have been. Last Thursday our daughter Sarah travelled all the way from St Andrews by train with four-year-old Rose and two-year-old Melody to spend a long weekend with us here in Framlingham and get to see our Rochester family and meet our grandson Teddy for the first time. All went well on Thursday as we met the family at King's Cross and spent an hour playing with them in the nearby Coram's Fields.


On Friday evening we left the kids with their Mum and went to the opening of the Art For Cure exhibition at Glemham Hall. This is a huge art sale held in support of Breast Cancer research and it has grown massively since we visited a couple of years ago and bought our super seagull sculpture. It was a very pleasant evening - despite the chill, the sun shone and there was some fabulous art on view. We didn't buy anything this year (apart from raffle tickets) but we enjoyed the viewing and the plentiful supply of canapés and fizz.



Rose and Melody enjoyed Saturday here in Framlingham and had ice cream at Simpsons and Scotch pancakes at Over The Moon at the market and were excitedly looking forward to meeting cousins Catherine and Teddy on Sunday when the pox of today's headline appeared (and, okay Shakespeare purists, I know it's "A plague on all our houses" but that wouldn't work). Melody came out with chickenpox and our trip to Kent was abandoned. 

So Teddy will have to remain an unknown quantity to our Scottish family (this is the second thwarted visit - last time a bereavement ended in cancellation). Let's hope it's a case of third time lucky (they're trying again in October) or our daughter Sarah will never see her nephew as a baby.


So instead of Rochester Sweeps Festival , Sunday saw us at Framlingham castle where they were holding one of their regular re-enactments. It's quite amazing how violent thirty little kids armed with foam batons can be.



They put the medieval knights to the sword. It was a sunny day and, although they didn't join in, Rose and Melody found the proceedings quite hilarious.



We took them to have a look around Sutton Hoo on Monday and on Tuesday it was time for them to travel back to Scotland.



They broke the journey in London again and this time went to the Diana Memorial Gardens in Kensington Gardens, It's a fantastic playground and we were lucky enough to visit at a relatively quiet time. After seeing them off we spent a few days at home catching up with housework before enjoying the spring weather that has finally arrived here in Suffolk.


It was glorious with a very cosmopolitan feel outside The Dancing Goat on Market Hill this morning.  

Our friend Jane was telling me off a few weeks ago for not sorting out a holiday for Marion for the last two years- holiday? When do we have time for a holiday? So I've taken her words on board and we've booked this little cottage on a tiny Caribbean Island called Bequia for two weeks in January. It should be two weeks of total relaxation.





And we've booked a place in The Lake District too to celebrate our Ruby Wedding anniversary with friends.




It promises to be an enjoyable break. Am I back in your good books now Jane?

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Multi-Tasking In Framlingham And Kent

It's been quiet on this blog for the past week as we've been keeping ourselves very busy and time has been in short supply. We've been doing a bit of voluntary work in Framlingham helping some elderly people with form filling and shopping. The shopping is easy but the form filling can be extremely complicated. We've got to the stage where we could almost call ourselves experts in Powers Of Attorney, Attendance Allowance and various other bureaucratic paperwork. Powers Of Attorney are brilliant things and really help the partners of  those with dementia - ( A word of advice; make sure you sign one as early as possible as you never know when memory loss can turn into something much worse and by that time it may be too late to sign). We've done ours so we can relax knowing that if we lose our marbles our kids can take over managing our affairs for us. Form filling is fine but the human story behind each form is often difficult to handle and not every decision goes the way that you would like it to.

Last weekend we drove down to Kent to look after our granddaughter Catherine while her mum and dad and baby brother went to a wedding in Lancashire. We had a great weekend babysitting and the time simply flew by.


On Saturday we took her to the English Festival near Chatham. The Riverside park was filled with stalls, and there was live entertainment and, of course, a funfair. Catherine had a wonderful afternoon and I was even roped into going down the helter skelter with her.


On Sunday she had a horse riding lesson. She was given her favourite horse (Jacket Potato) to ride and she loved her half hour of trotting quickly and slowly around the paddock.


We bought her a bubble gun at the English Festival and she had hours of fun with it (well, minutes really as the bubble solution doesn't last too long at the rate she was using it). We took her to school on Monday morning and then had a day in Rochester before driving back to Suffolk when the family got home. 

Although she's only three Catherine is extremely grown up. When we told her that she couldn't do two things at the same time, she disagreed. "I'm multi-tasking" she said. 


Tuesday, 19 April 2016

A Derbyshire Reunion

When Marion had her 60th birthday last year, we and a group of friends (four couples in total) got together and celebrated at The Inn At Whitewell. We got along so well that we suggested that we should make such reunions a regular event and six of us were able to meet up again in November in Yorkshire. Last weekend saw our third gathering and I am delighted that all eight of us were able to make it this time as we rented a big house in Matlock in the Peak District. 

We got there on Friday night and enjoyed a good meal (I would say that as Marion and I cooked it) with plenty of fresh Suffolk produce from Leo's Deli, Hall Farm Butchers and other local stores. Our friends Mark and Nita, whose son runs the fabulous and multi award winning Whalley Wine Shop, took charge of the wines for the weekend and supplied us with an excellent range to complement the meal. With such good wine and conversation it was well into the early hours when we got to bed.

With unpredictable weather forecast for Saturday we played safe and went to nearby Chatsworth House where we could keep ourselves occupied rain or shine.

Friends Dave and Janet Wareing brought their three King Charles Spaniels with them. Nita adopted one of them.


Marion and her dearest friend Jane

Chatsworth's parkland and gardens are full of interesting sculpture.


And beautifully landscapes.

A fascinating mechanical sculpture that opens and closes with water pressure.


There's a real mix of the old with the new in the house.

Nothing illustrates that point better than the chapel.
The ceiling in Chatsworth's entrance hall is not quite Michelangelo but still pretty spectacular.

More sculpture combined with landscaping.

Being rich sometimes has its drawbacks like having to dress like this.


Our dining room in the house wasn't quite like this but it was extremely good.
After a good day at Chatsworth we returned to the rented house before enjoying a good meal at a cheap and cheerful local Italian in Matlock called Viva. The service was friendly and the food tasty. 

On Sunday morning we had to have a look at what was waking us up at six in the morning. The bells on this clock were the culprit. 
We carried on from the church for a walk to Matlock Bath
A rare photo with me on.
The route passed some spectacular scenery and the famous cable cars (above) at the Heights Of Abraham
We didn't stay long in Matlock Bath as it was overrun by motor cyclists and resembled the pit stop at the Isle Of Man TT
We walked to The Barley Mow in Bonsall for a good pub lunch

It was quite a crowd for a small pub to fit in at short notice but the food was excellent and worth waiting for.
Duly refreshed with plenty of local ale and Sunday roast we walked back along the Limestone Way to Matlock
It really is an ideal base with lovely countryside but also plenty of local amenities.
It was lovely to receive this thank you from friends Mark and Nita for our organising the weekend - it really wasn't necessary

Mark also sent some of his photos of the weekend.

Dave surveying the landscape.
En route
East? West? This way's best
The weekend seemed to be over before it had begun and Dave and Jane and Dave and Janet had to leave on Sunday evening due to work commitments. Marion and I and Mark and Nita spent Sunday evening lazing in front of the TV and enjoying what was left of the food and wine. 

It was a great weekend and we're now planning the next.