Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Looking For Treasure

Noticing that my favourite field had been cultivated when I drove past a month or so ago I decided to hang up the metal detector for the year. It was a great year for me in the hobby - the highlight being this gold Henry VI quarter noble that I found in September. I found plenty of other very interesting bits and pieces and duly took them to the Finds Liaison Officer in Bury St Edmunds for recording under the Portable Antiquities Scheme. I'll probably get them back some time in 2017.

With detecting off the cards and my novel complete and sent out to potential agents in the hope of finding a publisher I needed to find something else to occupy the bit of spare time that I have. I decided to turn back to my old favourite - eBay. It's over seventeen years since I first discovered the eBay site and started to use it to build up a collection of antique ceramics and, after three or four years' absence I wondered if there might still be treasures to be found. I started my routine trawl through page after page of rubbish in the hope of finding a pearl. And lo and behold I spotted this.

It cost £6 in total and arrived promptly. The seller had missed a small crack but I was happy to win it for that price and decided to put it back on eBay with a correct description and full details. I had high hopes of it reaching around £100 but it has just sold.

Which is a decent profit I suppose but, after shipping, eBay and Paypal fees is less than what I hoped for. Maybe the market is a little flat for Moorcroft pottery.

The problem with antiques is that they are addictive and, as soon as I spotted the jug, I was hooked on trying to find more bargains.

I had to laugh when I saw this piece of porcelain described as having "minor restoration". 

Sure enough I spotted a few more "sleepers". Sadly I wasn't the only one and I was outbid but I was then  delighted to find this lovely and rare Spode porcelain honey pot which the seller had not identified. 

The seller described it thus "This has a hairline crack from top to bottom,but still very attractive. Maker not known."

This too arrived very quickly and very well packed but when I opened it I felt that "hairline crack" was something of an understatement.

When I pointed this out to the seller, he responded"Sorry about the understatement, John. It must be because I'm a very elderly laconic Lancastrian. Takes a lot to impress us!" To be fair I could have sent it back for a refund but I've put it up for sale and hope that a Spode collector can accept the damage. In perfect condition it would be worth around £350,with a hairline maybe £175, like this?  We'll have to wait and see.

The hunt is the fun and on Monday the bug got hold again and we went to Marlesford Mill Antique Centre where I found this lovely pair of vases designed by the major 20th century ceramics designer Charlotte Rhead. 

With Christmas around the corner and holidays coming up I will have to wait until January  to find out if I've made a good buy or a loss. 

I went around to my local farms at the weekend to give them a Christmas card and some wine as a thank you for letting me search their fields. The farmer whose field I had thought was cultivated told me it isn't planted yet so I've missed about five weeks of detecting. Doh! It was a bit damp today but I went to have a quick try. Here's what turned up.

Sorry about the poor focus - a Tudor period spectacle buckle
Bits of medieval cooking utensils including a pot foot
A Georgian fob seal - the impression is a griffin above a crown
And, of course, lots of lead. I sold a huge box of lead to the scrap merchants recently. I can see it filling up again very quickly

In other news, Marion and I have had a hectic time. It hasn't helped that Marion has been poorly with a cough but, hopefully, she's starting to mend now. We've done all our Christmas shopping using a combination of local shops, the internet and Bluewater shopping centre. We pass Bluewater en route to our son's house in Kent so we thought that we might as well use it. It's a good shopping mall and not as unpleasant an experience as you might think.

We've also been helping out a few old people here in Framlingham under the Framlingham Hour Community scheme and I've done my Suffolk Chamber Business mentoring in between visits to Kent for our granddaughter's nativity play and to do a stint of baby sitting there. 

On Monday night we had the Framlingham Liverpool Supporters Club round for the Everton match in UHD - great result. Last night we went to The Station in Framlingham for a Christmas get together with friends - great food and service at The Station.

I may not be blogging again before Christmas so I'd like to wish any friends and ex-colleagues reading this a very very happy Christmas (whichever way you voted). Look out for my new novel in the spring.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

On A Winning Streak

We've had a bit of luck recently. That comes as a nice change after month after month of no numbers on the National Lottery and a complete inability to pick a winner on Betfair. We went to the Framlingham Residents' Association Christmas party last Friday and were lucky enough to have one of the first numbers out of the bag in the raffle. Local businesses and supporters of the Residents' Association had been extremely generous and I had a host of excellent prizes to choose from but as soon as I saw the Aveda gift set donated by the excellent Carley Hill Hair I needed to look no further.

I must thank the Association for putting on such a lovely evening for next to nothing (£10 including food and music). We joined in singing some carols and were entertained by local musicians Intermezzo with some classical pieces and the lovely Damselflies who performed a series of traditional Suffolk folk and improvised dance. The highlight of the event for me was James Hutchison Jazz (above). James, a local student can regularly be seen performing on Market Hill in Framlingham. He's an excellent musician and, now that he has teamed up with an equally excellent singer, maybe we'll see them follow in our other local songsmith Ed Sheeran's footsteps and hit the big time. I wouldn't be at all surprised.

Back to the winning streak. About Fram provides an excellent weekly mail shot highlighting local events and promotions and, amongst other things, also produces a regular printed About Fram booklet. These booklets usually contain a competition with some outstanding prizes and I always send in an entry. The last edition featured an article about the wonderful ham produced by Emmett's of Peasenhall who've been making ham in Suffolk since 1820. The prize was a huge black glazed ham and I couldn't believe my luck when About Fram contacted me to tell me that I was the winner. I went to pick it up today from their super shop. What a fabulous prize! You don't have to live in Suffolk to enjoy Emmett's excellent produce. You can order direct check out their website here.

Collecting my prize from Emmett's proprietor Mark Thomas
It's been a few weeks since my last blog as we've been in Scotland and you know what that means - no internet. Except, to be honest that's not true anymore. Although the Caravan Connect internet is still impossible to use, 4G has found its way to Craigtoun Meadows and by linking the Mac to the iPhone and buying extra minutes on GiffGaff we've got a fairly workable solution to the caravan internet drought. I didn't have time to blog as we kept ourselves pretty busy while we were in St Andrews.

While Suffolk was enjoying brilliant sunshine and bitter cold we were experiencing milder but more overcast conditions. It didn't deter us from having a great time visiting the family.

For once the two little princesses discarded the Disney dresses and dressed for the great outdoors.

We went to Muddy Boots, a local farm and play barn attraction and chose a Christmas tree.

Which Melody and Rose had a wonderful time decorating.

We had some quality time playing with and reading to the girls. All too soon it was time to get back in the car and make the long journey home. We were lucky enough to have two very smooth journeys and did the five hundred mile trip in about seven and a half hours both times.

I'm not going to write much about politics - it only gets me into arguments but I was interested to see while in Fife that, whilst I am criticised for wanting a second referendum on the basis of a lying Leave campaign and the shambolic government handling of the outcome, nobody was calling these Scottish Independence campaigners treacherous or traitors despite their referendum result at 55/45 being far more clear cut.