Friday, 30 May 2014

A Dedicated Follower Of Fashion

We're off to France next week for a well earned holiday (okay I know that we always seem to be on holiday but we haven't had a real vacation abroad for several years).So it was time to top up my summer wardrobe before setting off. Sadly there's a dearth of men's clothes shops in Framlingham so we headed down to London for a couple of days. I tend to only shop for clothes two or three times each year so we took an empty suitcase with us to save struggling around the city with carrier bags on our second day.   

I'm not over keen on traipsing around a lot of shops so we headed for Selfridges - thank heavens for Ted Baker: their clothes fit me, I know their sizes and they are fashionable without being too young for the older bloke. The helpful young assistant must have seen his sales targets coming within reach as he brought me shirts, t-shirts,trousers, shorts and jumpers over a frenetic hour and I liked and agreed to take almost all. With the back of the planned shopping broken in that short time, we were able to take a leisurely lunch in the Selfridges wine bar and spend the rest of the afternoon looking for the few extras on the list. I managed to buy a couple of jackets, a scarf and some shoes before heading to John Lewis for a dinner suit and some undies and to M&S for some t-shirts for cycling and swimming shorts for the hols.

Thanks to Trivago we got a good deal at Flemings Mayfair which was handy for the shops. The room was fine and the service was very friendly but I wouldn't have been happy paying full price as the dinner, whilst a reasonable meal, took so long in arriving that we asked to have the dessert course in the room plus two complementary glasses of wine and the removal of the discretionary 12.5% service charge. I'm a very reluctant complainer but booking a table for 7.15 and eating your starter at 8.20 is far from the perfect dining experience.

Since I last blogged we managed to help our neighbour get to Ipswich to visit his wife who is in a care home and isn't well enough to return to Framlingham at the moment. He's in his late eighties and hadn't stepped over the doorstep for a couple of years due to his own poor health so the journey was a worry for him. After the minor struggle of getting him into the car, I'm pleased to say that the trip went well and we will hopefully be able to repeat the visit again when we are back from France and now that he has found that he is able to go outside perhaps we will be able to wheel him into town for a coffee one day.

We also experienced the Framlingham Gala for the first time. Our son Paul and granddaughter Catherine came to stay for the weekend and I'm pleased to say that the weather held up for the event. After a tasty lunch at The Lemon Tree we watched the colourful procession pass up towards the Pageant Field.

It was great to have family visit us for the weekend and to have plenty to do.

Catherine managed to hook a duck at the funfair. 

The funfair was quiet when we went but she enjoyed half a dozen rides before we had a look around the castle.

We'll miss seeing the family while we're in France but before we head there we've got the Opera In The Barn at Crows Hall (above) tomorrow. I had to buy a new dinner suit for this event as my old suit (worn just once) was bought before I dieted - the weather forecast is reasonable so we should have a pleasant evening.

In between all the activity I've been working on finalising my novel for self publishing. Thanks to a lot of help from Caroline at Red Button, it's all edited and formatted and now I just have to put it onto Amazon (and wait for the one star reviews). 

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Living It Up On The Costa Del Suffolk

What a weekend it's been! Apart from our son's creation winning a BAFTA, (see my last blog post) we've had plenty to keep us occupied.

On Friday evening we made the short walk up to the college for FramSoc's supper. FramSoc is an excellent society run by the college and open to those with connections to the college such as parents and teachers but also, importantly for us, to residents of the town. Regular talks and outings are held and as well as being educated and entertained by these it's also  a great way to get to meet people. The supper, served in the college hall, was excellent with four delicious courses each accompanied by a glass of fine wine. 

There was more excellent food in store for us on Saturday night when friends Mark and Nita Jones from Ribchester joined us. After Mark and I watched the Cup Final (an entertaining match for the neutral), we enjoyed these super fish platters prepared for us by Maximus Fishing of Friday St in Saxmundham. Chris from Maximus couldn't have been more helpful, we gave him a budget and a few ideas of what we did and didn't want and these were the result. Thanks Chris - it was a lovely meal with no work involved for us.

The weekend weather was perfect and we were able to show Mark and Nita the delights of our new home county in glorious sunshine.

We visited the beach at Walberswick after a good snack at the lovely Anchor.

Experimented with the new selfie craze.

Travelled to Walberswick from Southwold via the ferry.

And had a quick look at the outside of our own magnificent castle. It was a great weekend and we really enjoyed the company. Thanks to Mark and Nita's generosity we may have to travel to the bottle bank under the cloak of darkness this week to keep our reputations intact.

The glorious weather continued yesterday so, with a cycle tour of Provence coming up in under three weeks time, we thought it best to get on our bikes and get some practice in.

We headed to Orford via the beautiful Iken.

Although we've been to Orford many times, we hadn't ventured inside the castle until yesterday. The weather was too good not to climb the steps and take in the magnificent views.

The castle is an imposing edifice but inside it's surprisingly cosy. The audio tour is extremely interesting and it was well worth the visit.

I reckon that we rode over fifteen miles to get there so we earned the sandwich in the harbour side cafe. A thirty plus mile ride was a good start for the preparations for Provence - thank heavens for the new padded underwear.

In A League Of His Own

If you know us you will know that our son Paul works in television. He's loved tv since he was a kid and our house was full of his friends acting out his latest gameshow in front of his video camera so it was no real surprise when he wanted to make a career of it.

He's been in the business for some years now and has created a number of shows such as The Colour Of Money, Magic Numbers and Beat The Pack. In 2009 Sky put out a brief for a sports quiz show and Paul, working for CPL Productions, devised A League Of Their Own. CPL was successful in pitching the show and the rest, as they say, is history. So far seven series have been broadcast and in April 2014 Sky announced that they have contracted further series that will see it air until 2017. 

Marion and I are so proud of his achievement in creating such a popular format and his hard work and originality were awarded on Sunday night at the BAFTA ceremony when A League Of Their Own won Best Comedy Entertainment Programme. Paul wasn't able to attend the ceremony but to think that our son has gone from videoing his own Marble Maze in the garden when he was ten to creating the highest rated entertainment show on Sky1 makes us incredibly proud. Well done son. Can't wait to see you.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

I'm So Excited

On the long long journey back from Scotland last night I turned to Twitter while it was Marion's turn to drive to see if I could catch up on what's been going on in Framlingham while we were away. A tweet from the excellent @aboutfram girls Sarah and Kathy caught my eye - something about a cinema in Framlingham. A cinema? In Framlingham? If you know me and Marion you'll know how much we love going to the pictures and how we travel regularly to Aldeburgh, Woodbridge and Ipswich to get our fix of the big screen. 

A cinema in Framlingham would be a dream come true. "What about film@fram?" I hear you ask. Well, I know that our local film society has been going for a long time and shows some fairly decent films but let's face it, Framlingham Conservative Club is hardly a theatre of dreams or electric picture palace. It has the atmosphere of ..........well, a Conservative club. We tried it once, great film, shame about the place.

A bit of further investigation led us here , a site proclaiming "Soho Arthouse Cinema Comes To Framlingham". Okay so there may perhaps be a bit of poetic license in that but anyone trying to show decent films in Framlingham has our backing to the hilt. We logged onto the site and checked out the films that they are planning to screen. We've seen most of them but that doesn't mean that we won't be supporting the venture and we've already booked our tickets for Cinema Paradiso on 19 July - it's a brilliant film but we haven't seen this director's cut which runs for almost three hours. For the very reasonable price of admission the organisers are including a glass of fizz AND a simple Italian meal. That's a bargain. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this venture will be supported by the people of Framlingham and that Cinema Paradiso is the first of many films screened in this, yet to be announced, secret barn location. 

It was almost 1.30 a.m when we arrived home from the drive (thanks to roadworks shutting the A14 and giving us a twenty minute diversion) and we didn't wake up until 9.40 this morning. But we've managed to catch up and I found time to collect our seagull sculpture from near Woodbridge. The Art For Cure event was a huge success and raised £101,300 for Breakthrough Breast Cancer - we're delighted to have made a small contribution to that success and are very pleased with the sculpture.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

On The Road Yet Again (Almost)

It only seems like five minutes since we arrived here in Scotland and today we’re packing up in preparation for the drive back to Suffolk tomorrow evening. It’s been very much a family week and we’ve seen a lot of Sarah, Rose, Melody and Duncan.

The weather has been a bit grim in the main but we did manage to get out on our bikes once. The St Andrews area is perfect for cycling and we visited all the familiar landmarks that help to make it such a fabulous place. We’ve been out for lunches with the family at Kellie Castle and in Dundee and to Zizzis and Balgove Larder here in St Andrews and this afternoon we’re going to head down to the new Hotel Du Vin on the seafront to see what that’s like. I’m not expecting any miracles in the football so won’t be seeking out a bar showing Liverpool’s game but if by any chance West Ham take a miraculous lead in Manchester I may be tempted to change my mind.

We won’t be back here until July so I imagine that there will be more huge changes in Melody by then. She’s changed so much since we were last here just a few months ago.

Here’s a selfie she took on my phone.

The playground here at the caravan park is perfect for little ones. Perhaps when we return in the summer one (or even both) of the girls will be able to sleep here for a night or two and give their mum and dad a well earned rest – they certainly deserve one.

We’ve another busy schedule ahead when we’re back in Suffolk. We’ve got a bit of babysitting to do in Rochester on Wednesday and then we’ve got the FramSoc supper at the college on Friday and friends visiting us for the weekend too. Their last visit in May 2013 was aborted at the last minute due to a crisis – let’s hope that we can enjoy their company this time and that the weather allows them to see our new home county at its best.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Life In Fife

After a bank holiday weekend that saw almost every caravan here at Craigtoun Meadows full and the park echoing to the sounds of children at play, we’re alone again now. I don’t want to sound like an anti-social old man but I prefer it this way – peaceful. Another advantage is that there is some vestige of an internet signal although even now I have to write this in a word document and upload it when we go to Sarah’s.

It’s been a nice couple of days with the family. I’ve said it a hundred times but buying the caravan was such a good move and has meant that although we have not seen our daughter and family as much as if we lived around the corner we are at least managing to see them for a good couple of months each year; life is so complex in the twenty first century with families spread hundreds (and thousands) of miles apart resulting in so many grandparents missing out on their grandchildren’s childhood so we’ve been lucky.

Little Melody is now almost eight months old. She isn’t crawling yet but she’s extremely interested in everything that’s going on.

Her big sister Rose is so grown up. She’s almost three and we’ve had a great time with her. On Monday she helped us to cut the rhubarb in Duncan’s vegetable plot and yesterday I looked after her while Marion and Sarah did some shopping in Dundee. She was very good while I read to her but she also enjoys exploring and when she decided to run around and explore the shopping centre it was quite hard to keep up with her and, loaded down with a colourful rucksack full of baby paraphernalia I became a bit of a cartoon granddad chasing her around the displays to make sure I didn’t lose sight of her. Oh well, I needed a bit of exercise.

Monday, 5 May 2014

On Art For Cure And A Return To Scotland

Last Wednesday I wrote about a bit of culture and on Friday evening we had a bit more. Marion managed to get hold of two tickets for the opening night of Art For Cure a charity event held just outside Woodbridge in support of Breakthrough Breast Cancer. It’s a very popular event and tickets are hard to come by but Marion was able to secure a couple of cancellations and I’m delighted that she did. The event is held in the lovely Bredfield House which is set in acres of parkland. The house and surrounding outbuildings and gardens were crammed full of artworks by leading artists including Maggi Hambling, Jason Gathorne-Hardy and many more. All were for sale in aid of the charity. The wonderful paintings and sculptures would have been worth the cost of admission alone but the event was made more special by the addition of live music along with champagne and canapes.

There were a dozen pieces that would have looked great at home but most of our favourites had prices that were well beyond a spur of the moment purchase. However we did find two pieces that we felt comfortable with and bought this fabulously quirky seagull on a perch by Leiston sculptor Paul Richardson that should look good peering over the hedge in the garden and will give the local cats and pigeons something to think about. We also bought a great and inexpensive driftwood art whale by Andrew Ruffhead for the spare bedroom we’re planning for the granddaughters’ visits. The event runs until 5pm today and admission is now free.

On Saturday we headed up to the caravan in St Andrews. We enjoy our Framlingham Saturday mornings so, before we hit the road, we did our usual weekend’s shopping and stocked up with some savouries from Leo’s Deli and bought our regular chocolate fix from In Da Cottage before tucking into an excellent and very hearty breakfast at the Lemon Tree to set us up for the very long drive.

It’s wonderful seeing the Scottish branch of the family again. Today we went to nearby Kellie Castle and Gardens.

Rose is growing up so quickly. She loved the bird watching hide in the grounds.

Today I’ve been busy cataloguing the finds from my last metal detecting trip for the county archaeologist and Finds Liaison Officer in Bury St Edmunds. The field is being planted now so I won’t be able to go back for some time but once again I found some extremely interesting (at least to me) finds.

Like these medieval buckles and strap guide.

I wonder if these lead and copper alloy items might be medieval styli.

I found another fragment of a bronze vessel.

And this cut quarter penny from the reign of Henry III dating back almost eight hundred years. I love these tiny coins and can’t imagine how they managed to circulate. Medieval traders must have had incredible eyesight.

Along with the usual pile of buttons and shotgun cartridge cases I also found these other bits and pieces including a very early sewing ring (or thimble) and a few as yet unidentified items that may or may not date back to the middle ages or Tudor periods.

Now I need to find another field to keep me occupied when I get back to Suffolk.

I got a blank look when someone asked what we were going to call the seagull and I said "Jonathan Livingston" ...... here's an explanation