Saturday, 3 October 2015

A Sunny Birthday Week

I can't believe that a week has passed since I blogged about our trip to the Aldeburgh Food Festival at Snape Maltings although so much has happened it should really be no surprise. On Sunday I did something I've never done before and attended a metal detecting rally. Those who are familiar with my blog know that detecting is on of my hobbies but I've always felt that there's little point in travelling miles to join hundreds of others detecting in a field when I've got plenty of fields that I can walk to and search on my own. But the Worlingworth rally was local, in support of their Local History Society and my gardener is friendly with the organiser and asked me if I'd like to join in.

So, on a perfect Sunday morning I found myself in a huge field with about a hundred and thirty other enthusiasts. My celebrity as a local detectorist resulted in me being asked to judge the best find of the day. Sadly, there were only in the region of eighty finds on the table at the end of the rally so the judging was not overly difficult and I selected a beautiful and rare coin from the short realm of Queen Mary. Like most of the others, I found very little, with a musket ball, a button and a Victorian penny being the highlights of my day. However, I did meet a few nice blokes and enjoyed their conversation and some excellent bacon and sausage butties from Framlingham favourites Friends Farm.

I've started searching a new field that turns out to be full of rubbish and could well have been the site of an old rubbish dump. However, amongst this trash (over 140 signals) there were four hammered silver coins ranging from Medieval through to Queen Elizabeth.

 This was the nicest one. A penny from the realm of Edward II - over seven hundred years old.

It was my birthday on Tuesday and we decided to explore some areas of our new home county that we haven't visited yet. We headed to Dedham Vale which is classed as "Constable Country".

Here, like millions before us, we had a look at the site of The Haywain.

The painting was painted here at Flatford Mill. We were blessed with glorious weather as our Indian Summer continued through the week.

From Flatford we drove to East Bergholt and visited a fabulous plant centre and arboretum where we bought a few plants for our garden before driving to our hotel for the night, Maison Talbooth (above), back in Dedham Vale.

On arrival we were pleasantly surprised to be greeted with an iced bottle of champagne courtesy of our daughter Sarah and her partner Duncan. It was an unexpected birthday treat that ended the afternoon nicely.

After the champagne I got dressed up for dinner (following Robert Peston's tieless style), although the other diners in the restaurant were dressed quite casually. It was a very good meal although service was a bit slow and, after downing half a bottle of champagne each before heading to the restaurant, we could have done with the food arriving a bit faster. That's the only criticism as the room was excellent,  the food, including the breakfast, was great and the staff were all extremely welcoming.

After leaving the hotel we drove to Saffron Walden and visited Audley End House. It's a fantastic old building jam packed with art and interesting artefacts with a fabulous garden and decent tea room. Well worth a visit.

We got home in time to join fellow Framlingham wine lovers at Framlingham Wine Shop for another monthly tasting. Once again we enjoyed half a dozen decent wines, some nice cheese and good company - a very pleasant evening.

Thursday evening found us at FramSoc's book club where we discussed The Free by Willy Vlautin. Centring around a solider injured in Iraq, this American novel was loved by all the members for its warm and upbeat characters despite the dire circumstances they found themselves in. It's highly original and interspersed with comatose Leroy's Sci-Fi dreams along with the difficult lives of his carers. We had a great discussion and will be sorry to miss the next event in November.

I spent hours on Thursday trying to resolve a problem with some tickets we bought at hugely inflated prices for our son and me to go to see New York Jets play Miami Dolphins at Wembley. The agents, Viagogo advised us at the last minute that the tickets were not available and offered us inferior seats with a small credit note. This was a huge upset and, due to the lack of a telephone help desk, we had to resort to Twitter to finally get in touch with someone from Viagogo. We ended up cancelling the purchase. All credit to the employee I dealt with as they gave us a refund plus a £200 credit note but that doesn't make up for the disappointment of my son's birthday present ruined. The match is sold out but I was determined to get him tickets. Somehow, at the final hour, two turned up on Ticketmaster. They were better than the original seats and were at face value plus £10 booking fee each (the originals were at least double face value). We have to pick them up from Wembley but, if all turns out well, we are £230 in pocket, have a £200 credit with Viagogo and better seats - result (I hope).

In other news my 89 year-old Mum's modelling career continues to flourish as she turned up in some higher education promotional material this week. 

And I had a stroke of luck when my copy of More Letters Of Note turned up. It's a wonderful book funded by crowd sourcing publisher Unbound. We bought four copies of the first book for ourselves and for Christmas presents and the new edition is equally beautiful. What's more, I was lucky enough to find one of only 50 Golden Tickets with an additional letter. You really should consider this book for a present. It's full of brilliant facsimiles of letters from the great and the good - one to dip into again and again.

Today we've been to the excellent Farm Cafe on the A12 at Marlesford for breakfast. We like to have a cooked breakfast on a Saturday accompanied by The Times Jumbo Crossword. This is our second outing to Farm Cafe and, I have to say, it's the best local breakfast I have eaten in a long time - we'll be back.

Better finish now. Got a couple of great lobsters from Darren at Framlingham market this morning. We could have eaten them watching X Factor but it's not on due to the ****** rugby. Now I know how Marion feels when the Football World Cup is on.