Monday, 29 August 2016

Now That's What I Call A Good Week

If I'm honest, every week is a good week for me. I've been very lucky and I hope that my luck continues for my remaining years. So what made this week special? 

Well, firstly, there were two very nice envelopes received from the tax man. Many thanks to Ian our accountant from Turner And Ellerby for completing our returns so quickly. We knew that refunds were due but didn't expect them for another month or two. 

On the writing front, thanks to Caroline Goldsmith of Goldsmith Publishing, who carried out a super edit, I felt confident enough to start submitting my second novel to agents for consideration. I'm doing this one agent at a time so my first choice has it now and, if I get rejected by him I will work down the list.I'm happy with the book but there's a hell of a lot of competition and I'm not daft enough to think I'm another JK Rowling.

On Saturday it was time to end our summer holiday at home and drive up to St Andrews to visit our Scottish family. It was brilliant to see Sarah and Duncan and our lovely granddaughters Rose and Melody. Rose started school a couple of weeks ago - how time flies.

We saw Sarah's new summer house for the first time and had a busy day yesterday helping her and Duncan to paint it and put up some shelves. Sarah was busy today so I had a chance to get out on my bike.

I've got about five circular routes from the caravan. All have lovely views and today I chose to ride to Pitscottie and then to Strathkiness via Dairsie and back to Craigtoun. This is the view from the top of the climb from Dairsie. Conditions were perfect. Hopefully we'll get more opportunities to cycle while we are here. 

After writing about some scrappy coin finds last week, I managed to get out with the detector again on Friday before we left Framlingham and struck gold for the first time this year.

Apart from a bend, this Henry VI Gold quarter noble is in lovely condition.
I've  taken the coin to our local jeweller to be straightened out. I'll show you the results in a few weeks.

It wasn't my only find as I also found this tiny Edward I silver farthing 

This silver 3d is from the reign of William & Mary - not very good condition.

Sometimes a lump of lead is not just a lump of lead.
When I found this it seemed to be just a misshapen piece of scrap but I noticed traces of a pattern and decided to carefully open it out. Lead is very soft and straightens easily.

I was very pleased to reveal this medieval pilgrim's ampulla or holy water container.

The final find was this nice bag seal from the reign of George I

This was probably the best couple of hours' results I've had for a few years. Now I'm in Scotland I'll see if I can match it. I hope to get out in the fields later this week.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Culture Lite With Red Rose Chain's Tempest And Ken Bruce's Friday Night Is Music Night

As our glorious August sadly draws to a close we've been cramming as much as we can  into these long hot days and sultry nights and what could be better than a trip to the wonderful Theatre In The Forest? This year it was The Tempest that drew us into the dark woods at Jimmy's Farm for another of Red Rose Chain's fabulous takes on Shakespeare. Despite the inclusion of a couple of sea shanties and a glitzy rendition of It's Raining Men, the excellent production kept very much to the text and the family audience was spellbound by the woodland sprits, the drunken antics of Trinculo and Stefano and the (not too) monstrous Caliban.

As in previous productions, the intimacy of the setting and the family friendly adaptation of the play makes it accessible to all ages be they Shakespeare aficionados or simply looking for a good evening's entertainment. It's a whole lot of fun. 

And, if you want to give the kids that theme park feeling, book seats in the splash zone (ponchos provided) and get yourself fully engaged in both the storm and some very funny drinking exploits. You will have to hurry though. The production ends on 28th.

A pre-theatre dinner at Jimmy's Farm restaurant made the evening doubly enjoyable. Good, simple food at honest prices.

Our other outing this week was our last trip to this year's Snape Proms. Once again it was a glorious evening for us to enjoy a glass of wine in the beautiful landscape before going in to the concert hall.

Ken Bruce's Friday Night Is Music Night was being recorded and we were entertained by the BBC Concert Orchestra and four very talented singers to a programme of songs from British Musicals of the last hundred years.The singing and the music was perfectly done and by the time we got to a medley from Les Miserables even I ( a curmudgeonly hater of musicals) was tapping along. Ken Bruce is the consummate presenter - slickness personified - and his links between songs were informative and entertaining. A very pleasant evening.

In other news I have, of course, taken advantage of the sunshine to have a couple of sessions detecting. It hasn't been my most fruitful week although I have certainly managed to dig a hell of a lot of holes.

This week's finds

The absolute scrap

The lead scrap

The buttons and musket balls

Some slightly more interesting stuff

A Medieval Penny Edward IV (I think)

The reverse of the Edward penny plus another silver medieval penny and a Charles II rose farthing. All the coins were in pretty poor condition so it was not a very successful week.

I saw on Twitter that somebody had lost an engagement ring on Aldeburgh beach.

So this is where I ended up this morning in an attempt to find it for them. Sadly I drew a blank. It's a massive beach and they weren't able to pin the search area down to a small enough part of the beach for me to say with any conviction that I had covered it all. It's a pity I didn't find it although on the positive side I did end up with £2.10 p towards the parking cost.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Out And About In Suffolk And LEGOLAND (And Dartford Regrettably)

Regular readers of this blog will recall that, after her terrible bout of swine flu, Marion suffered the horrible side effect of her hair starting to fall out. The problem began in April and escalated throughout May, June and July. I am delighted to report that the thinning finally appears to be in decline and there are signs of new growth at last. She had her hair cut for the first time in four months last Friday.

It looks great, as you can see from this photo taken on Aldeburgh beach where we went last Sunday. We parked at Thorpeness, had a light breakfast in the cafe there and walked along the path to Aldeburgh.

There were so many of these beautiful blue butterflies along the route.

This week's outings with the metal detector didn't turn up a great deal. There was this nice horse harness decoration pictured here with a very early button and a post medieval mount

 and this trader's token issued by Thomas Burrough a Grocer of Ipswich in 1644.

While I was out wandering the fields, Marion and three friends were reliving their childhoods and went crabbing at Walberswick. They caught almost thirty crabs before returning them all safely to the water.

The big event of this week was a birthday treat for one of our granddaughters. Catherine has just turned four and we promised to take her to LEGOLAND in Windsor. It's too far for a day trip so we booked into the LEGOLAND hotel.We set off from Framlingham at 6.30 on Wednesday morning to arrive in good time in Kent to collect her. Just our luck, we managed to choose a morning when the Dartford crossing was closed due to an accident. 

The red squares on this photo of the SATNAV screen indicate stationary traffic. The traffic was stationary for hours and we had to abandon plans of picking Catherine up from her home in Rochester. Her parents agreed to drive her to a service station on the M25 and we finally reached LEGOLAND at around 2.30p.m - that's eight hours to do a journey that should be no more than three and a half. 

So was it all worth it? We were a bit worried as there are a very high number of negative reviews of the resort on Trip Advisor. I think a lot of this negativity reflects the very high cost - you could have a package holiday overseas for the one night stay and two days' admission to LEGOLAND. The real acid test is whether or not Catherine enjoyed it and the answer to that is a resounding yes. She loved it. She loved the Adventure themed room (with a treasure hunt). She loved the splash pool. She loved the kiddies' entertainers. She loved the theme park itself. The food was okay. The staff were all friendly and helpful. Yes it was very expensive but that's a matter of supply and demand - the hotel was fully booked so, if they can get those prices, good luck to them.

Marion and Catherine enjoying a fairy tale themed ride.

Catherine meeting the chef.
Catherine insisted on taking a present home for Daddy. It appears that Daddy loves bacon.

The pirate show involved some spectacular acrobatics.

With a very grand finale
So that's another busy retirement week that's flown by. The diary is filling up again for next week but, as the saying goes, at our age it's best to "make hay while the sun (still) shines".

Friday, 12 August 2016

A Five Star Six Course Delight

After grumbling on my last blog about a mediocre meal, it's time to go to the opposite end of the scale today after a visit last night to the lovely Queen in Brandeston. We've been to this pub a few times and have enjoyed the food very much so when we saw their monthly tasting menu advertised at just £50 per head for six courses including wine with each course, we thought we must give it a try. Not wanting to waste the wine, we took a taxi from Framlingham.

I know that people who take photos of their food in restaurants and pubs are a bit of a pain but the presentation of these dishes was so beautifully done I felt it worth sharing and, as we were tucked away in a quiet corner of the pub, I felt okay doing it. So. What did we get for our £50?

We started with a tomato medley with a delicious melt in the mouth tomato "cloud" accompanied by a herby stock.

Our next course was a trio of rabbit with a garnish of reindeer moss and a parsnip crisp.

Skate with cucumber came next.

And then some fabulous tender duck with tiny roast potatoes and tender stem broccoli.

The cheese was, again, beautifully presented with an amazing burnt apple accompaniment.

And finally we were treated to a superb dish of sweetcorn donut, with donut peach and two wonderful ice creams.

As you can see, none of these dishes would have looked out of place in the final of the professional Masterchef. We expect the chef to be picking up plenty of awards in his career.

With each of these lovely dishes matched with an equally lovely wine, £50 per head was incredibly good value for money (we paid almost £40 the other night for very ordinary fare and  a couple of glasses of wine).

It's no good having fabulous food if the service is poor but all of the young staff were excellent (including Rachel, a very talented artist,  who also works at The Dancing Goat). Each course was delivered to the table with a full description of what the chef had prepared for us and each wine was also described. 

The pub uses local produce and home grown herbs and vegetables and has one of these tasting sessions every month. Book for September now to avoid being disappointed.

In other news, following the free promotion of my first novel last week, I got a new review. Short but sweet.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

On Suffolk Skies, Snape Proms And Metal Detecting

Suffolk is famous for its big skies and the view from our garden is one that changes constantly. On Sunday the weather was scorching and we had this beautiful clear blue sky at the end of a long lazy day in the garden.

On Monday we headed to Snape Maltings for their comedy prom and, during the interval, we were treated to a glorious sunset.

Barry Cryer and Colin Sell provided the entertainment and it was a fun evening of old fashioned jokes and a few ditties presented in a near music hall style. I've now got scores more daft new jokes to try on friends (and quite a few old ones too).


Tuesday evening saw us back at Snape for Clare Teal and her mini big band. This is the second time we've seen Clare. She's a wonderful singer and has bags of personality. Her band was a group of seven very talented musicians and we were entertained for two hours with a wide ranging repertoire of songs including a fabulous version of Hallelujah. Do go and see Clare if you get the chance - you won't be disappointed.

I don't usually moan or criticise but we booked a meal in the restaurant before the show. The view is fantastic and the waiting staff are great but I felt that the food was a bit of a let down. If we had had it in the self-service cafeteria at cafeteria prices it would have been okay but I expected the restaurant food to be a bit better for £30 per head. Moan over.  

While at home I've been busy with the book again. I think I've finished for the time being but there's bound to be more to do soon. I also went to Bury St Edmunds on Tuesday to visit a business owner who I mentor with financial advice for Suffolk Chamber Of Commerce. While I was in Bury I popped in to the Archaeology Services to see if they had finished with any of the finds I left with them in February for recording.

They gave me this lot back. So I decided to update the displays in the office. 

The cabinets are now full (over full really) and the printer's tray too has no room left. So I wondered what to do. I've got a small set of IKEA drawers in the office so I decided to put them to use.

Now there is just this lot to deal with. And, the stuff I left with the archaeologists. And then there will be this week's finds too. Although there has not been a lot this week (yet).

A cut half medieval penny.
A full medieval penny (unidentified)
A couple of old buckles, a pot mend and a window came

A silver mustard spoon hallmarked 1814
Silver cuff links c1720