Wednesday, 30 April 2014

A Bit Of Culture

We've had a bit more culture since King Lear at the National last week. After a few weeks without a cinema visit we found time to head to the coast on Saturday afternoon for The Past another excellent film from Iranian director Ashgar Farhadi. We loved his A Separation and so were delighted to find his latest showing at the excellent Aldeburgh Cinema. We were not disappointed with another tale of marital disharmony - this time set in France. An Iranian husband Ahmad is invited back to France by his estranged wife Marie to complete the divorce legalities. 

He finds her involved with Samir a new lover whose baby she is carrying and who she hopes to marry shortly. The young lover and his little boy are living in the family home along with Marie's other daughters by an earlier marriage - complicated eh? She hasn't booked a hotel room for Ahmed so he has to bed down in the family house. Throw in the fact that Samir's wife is in a coma and add Marie's troubled teenage daughter to the mix and it's a recipe for a tense and emotional couple of hours of tremendous drama - highly recommended.

Having whetted our appetite for subtitled movies with The Past we planned to try The Lunchbox which is showing in Ipswich but after a glance at our schedule and the cinema's timings we realised we were not going to make it. But all was not lost when we realised it was showing on Sky. It's another relationship movie but far gentler than The Past. Set in Mumbai it tells the tale of Saajan a widowed insurance claims clerk on the verge of retirement. Every day he has his lunch delivered by one of Mumbai's hundreds of Dabbawalas - an army of men who deliver hot meals to thousands of office workers every day. In the suburbs Ila a young woman is trying to spice up her marriage by making more adventurous concoctions for her disinterested husband and uses the Dabbawala service to deliver his lunches. A mix up ends up with the lunches arriving on Saajan's desk (he uses the same delivery service for his meals from a caterer). Within a few days, notes are being passed between the two and a romance by letter develops. It's a very wistful, warm and pleasant love story a bit of a Mumbai Brief Encounter. Lovely.

 And that wasn't the end of the week's culture as today we headed back to London to see A Taste Of Honey at The National Theatre. Lesley Sharp and Kate O'Flynn were both brilliant as a mum and daughter living in a run down flat in 1958 Salford. When it was first performed the play caused a sensation with it's depiction of inter-racial sex, homosexuality and a man who baked cakes. Today it's a fascinating insight into how things have moved on - none of the shocks would raise an eyebrow with a modern audience - so it's a great credit to the cast and the theatre for creating a production that was dramatic, funny and very entertaining.

We've had a busy week on other fronts too. On Monday night we headed up to the college for a fascinating talk about its 150 year history. The castle looked wonderful from the school in the early evening light.

We also found time to check out a few local places that we hadn't yet visited and had a look at Blythburgh church. With its rare 15th Century Jack O' The Clock, ancient pew carvings and spectacular nave it's a true hidden Suffolk treasure.

Monday, 28 April 2014

More Treasure

I went out with the detector again yesterday. I've been putting a few hours of detecting in as the farmer is going to be planting the field soon and it will be out of bounds until harvest. This is what I tipped out of the finds bag when I got home. Again it doesn't look very spectacular.

But once all of the shooting detritus........

...and fifteen or so buttons were removed. I was left with some quite interesting stuff. I'm really interested in the stuff I find and don't just chuck what looks like junk into the bin.

I'm sure that many would throw this lead fragment away but I think that it is a lead window came from the post medieval period. This would have been used to hold glass window panes and is perhaps a sign of habitation of the field at some stage.

Here's another tiny lead fragment with what appears to be medieval script on it. I'm unsure of what this is - perhaps a cloth seal fragment - the archaeologist will no doubt know.

I think that this stud is from around the 1600's and would have probably decorated some leatherwork.

Then we come to the treasure.Don't laugh but this is silver and part of an inscribed Medieval Annular brooch. It's a tiny fragment of less than a quarter of the brooch. I can make out the letters SEX (typical) on one side but rather than the brooch belonging to a medieval pervert I imagine that the letters were part of a Latin inscription.

This is the sort of object that it was once part of.

There were plenty more bits and pieces like this old tap. It's not ancient but it's an interesting  example.

Finally my favourite find of the day. I found this just as I was planning to head back home. It's a Sovereign Penny from the reign of Henry VIII minted in Durham c 1540. If you look closely you can see Henry sitting on his throne. It's a nice and interesting coin - a good end to a fascinating day.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Life Is Sweet

Although I sometimes grumble on this blog about being too busy, when I reflect on our life at the moment I realise that we're leading quite a privileged existence. After a pleasant Easter Weekend when we managed to cycle to Orford and back, it was a quiet start to the week on Tuesday when I took the car to Bury St Edmunds for a service and then took my recent finds to the County Archaeologist for recording (the silver tag is going to the Treasure people at the British Museum). 

I got back early enough to spend a couple of hours out in the fields again and found this tiny Elizabethan silver half groat dating from around 1590 as well as a number of other interesting bits and pieces.

It was then off to London on Wednesday for King Lear at The National. I bought the tickets as a surprise for Marion who loves the play. I loved the meal at The Terrace restaurant but , although I could appreciate Simon Russell Beale's bravura performance I can't honestly say that I enjoyed the show - it could have been in Polish for all I got from it. But it wasn't my night and I'm pleased to say that Marion was totally moved by it. We're going to The National again next week and I expect that A Taste Of Honey will be more manageable for a Philistine like me.

We stayed overnight at the Ibis near Blackfriars Bridge. It's just a chain hotel but it's near the theatre, the bed was comfortable, the room was clean and the service was very efficient - recommended for an inexpensive stopover.

Yesterday we headed for the British Museum for The Vikings exhibition. Despite the crowds it was a fascinating exhibition and well worth seeing. We got to the museum an hour before our slot and, as a metal detector user, I was delighted to see the Crosby Garrett Helmet (above) one of the best detecting finds in recent years on display. It's even better in the flesh than in the photos - a truly magnificent object. I can always live in hope of matching it. When we got back home there were three certificates from the Scottish Treasure Trove unit thanking me for donating my somewhat less significant recent Scottish finds to St Andrews Museum.

After the museum we met up with son Paul and took our granddaughter Catherine to the super playground Coram's Fields which is a short walk away. After an hour's play we ended the day at Spitalfields Market where we had a good meal at Canteen before heading back to the station and a train back to Ipswich.

With another relaxing weekend around Framlingham planned and plenty of things going on again next week, life really is sweet. 

Sunday, 20 April 2014

A Good Week

It was nice having my mum come to visit us here in Framlingham this week. It was her first trip to Suffolk in many a long year and we had a busy week ending with a trip to Rochester to see our son and family before dropping Mum off at Gatwick for a flight to Alicante to see my sister who lives in Benidorm. Although Mum is a very fit 88 year old, negotiating an airport like Gatwick was a bit daunting but Gatwick had a great assistance service which helped her to get through security and to the boarding gate more easily. My sister Julie emailed this photo to show that she arrived unscathed.

Our week of Framlingham dining out continued on Thursday when we joined some friends for a meal at The Station. It's not as formal as The Crown but the pub was very busy and everyone enjoyed the food which was reasonably priced, well cooked and very tasty. The same went for The Lemon Tree where we had a pleasant meal last night. We were trying out their new Suffolk Supper Club. It was a great idea - one long table and one set meal so that everyone could eat together and talk to new people. The only snag was that, sadly, too few people joined the party and we ended up with just two groups of four on one very long table and one group left a large gap between the other. The food was good and we enjoyed the conversation with another couple we had never met before but another twenty diners were needed to make it a success - a pity.

After all the driving around with Mum and to Gatwick and back we found time for a bit of relaxation over the last couple of days and I managed to get out in the fields again with my metal detector. I took a friend onto one of the fields that I have permission to search and he was delighted to find this medieval heraldic pendant. This is a lovely find dating to c1200-1400. There is still plenty of detail and perhaps we will be able to find the family that the pendant represents.

I didn't come away empty handed and along with about forty shotgun cartridges I found over twenty buttons.

Including this Dandy Button from the 18th century.

This good pewter globular button from the seventeenth century.

And these nice early buttons from around the same period.

I also found this cloth bag seal dated 1590.

And this interesting harness decoration which I think may be medieval (I'm checking with the local archaeologist in Bury St Edmunds).

There was a decorated buckle from c1600 too as well as the usual couple of musket balls.

And finally a large hammered silver coin.

Unfortunately it has been folded in two. Tantalisingly there is writing inside and it is tempting to try and unfold it to try and find out what reign it is from but I am sure that would just end up with it snapped in half. I'm sure that the archaeologist will be able to identify it. My best guess is Tudor. The field will be planted up shortly so I'll have to wait until harvest time to see what turns up next.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

A Welcome Visitor

My mum's staying with us this week so we've taken advantage of the fine weather and done a bit of sightseeing. On Monday we headed towards Bury St Edmunds and had a look around Ickworth, the National Trust's showpiece Suffolk property. It was our first visit to the house and we were very impressed. 

Although Mum is very sprightly for 88, walking around the grounds would have been a bit too much for her so it was good when a bloke pulled up alongside us in a motorised trailer and offered to give us a quick tour. He drove us through the parkland and then dropped us back right at the car - excellent service.

And speaking of excellent service, I must mention Luke of Framlingham Greengrocers. When we went into the shop for the first time since getting back from Scotland he told us that he had charged us for the previous customer's grapes about three weeks earlier and insisted on refunding us. We buy almost all of our fruit and veg in his shop and his prices are so reasonable that we hadn't even noticed the overcharging - thanks for your honesty and the complementary bananas Luke.

Mum treated us to a very good meal at The Crown on Monday evening. Marion had a lovely truffle macaroni cheese and my liver starter and pork chop main course were delicious. Mum and Marion both said that soup was perfect and Mum's fish and chips were good too although the portion would easily have served three. 

It's a pity Mum didn't arrive in time to have a look at the Framlingham Show. It was another good show this year with plenty of different things to look at. We heard a talk on wine tasting and a talk on antiques. We missed the sheep racing but were very impressed with the prize specimens on display. Today it's time for a bit more Suffolk sightseeing for Mum before we take her down to see the family in Rochester and then on to Gatwick where she's jetting off to see my sister in Spain.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Still Keeping Busy

You know how it is when you speak to retired people and they tell you that they don't know how they ever found time to go to work? You probably raise your eyebrows yawn and think to yourself  "yeah sure". Well I'm afraid that it's exactly how things have been for us recently and we've found ourselves writing "to do" lists to make sure that we've not forgotten anything - writing this blog features somewhere towards the bottom of those lists.

On Friday night we went to The Lemon Tree here in Framlingham for an evening meal for the first time since it reopened. There was a wide selection of tapas on offer and we really enjoyed the meal which put an emphasis on local produce. The Lemon Tree is not opening every night but look out for the adverts for when it is open and give it a try. We think you will enjoy it.

I did some more detecting on Tuesday morning. I've not had time to sort through all the finds yet - it was mostly buttons - but I did find an interesting little silver coin from the reign of Elizabeth I.

Son Paul wasn't working yesterday so we headed down to Rochester on Tuesday evening and spent a night there. The weather on Wednesday was glorious so we took advantage of it and drove a few miles down the road to farm attraction Kent Life near Maidstone. It's a good family day out and we had a lovely day with Paul and our toddler granddaughter. 

There was plenty to see including animals like these rare breed pigs.

As well as a petting zoo, donkey rides, big playgrounds (both outdoor and indoor) there were museum exhibits explaining the history of hop farming and farm life in the early to mid 20th century - we both remember many of the featured exhibits like outside toilets and tin baths and it was a little disconcerting to find that things from our own past have now become museum pieces.

At lunchtime we left the farm museum briefly and walked along the banks of the Medway where we had the only poor experience of the day. We went into The Beefeater pub for a snack but having spent a lot of time scanning the menu and queuing to order we were told that the menu wasn't being served in the area we were sitting in and we would have to order from another menu or wait half an hour to go where that menu was being served. It was a case of very poor management and we ended up back at the museum cafe after a wasted journey.

On Monday I had a fascinating day out at the Clarke And Simpson weekly auction at Campsea Ashe. There was a huge crowd there and the auctioneers were running three auctions simultaneously in different rooms. I bought three or four interesting bits and pieces.

I particularly like this colourful bowl and stylish tankard. I'll have to make sure that I don't go too often or I'll end up with a house full of clutter. I've put another five bits for sale on eBay today. I really enjoy doing it but it takes up too much of that precious time that's in such short supply and I think I will have to give it up.

Tonight I've been busy making pasta for tomorrow night. Okay it doesn't look like the neat stuff you find in a packet in supermarkets but I'm hoping it's going to taste much better.

Next week we've got a V.I.P guest. My Mum is visiting Framlingham for the first time. We're looking forward to showing her around our new home, new home town and new home county. We've plenty planned including a meal at the Crown and trips to Ickworth, Aldebrugh and Southwold.