Sunday, 16 December 2018

A Christmas Gift

We've been pretty well organised for Christmas this year. Marion has been brilliant in her planning and she had almost everything sorted before the end of November.

Whilst Marion has been run off her feet, I've had a pretty lazy time. I've been suffering from a couple of injuries. My shoulder has been painful for some months so I finally went to see a doctor. He sent me for a scan which shows tears to some ligaments and a lot of other wear and tear from old age and we're now waiting until February to see if there's any improvement or if I've got to have an operation. To add to my woes, my hip has also been playing up so it's been double doses of painkillers. 

Of course this has resulted in a cut back on my regular exercise classes and metal detecting and instead  I've filled my time reading and getting back into the old hobby of antiques buying and selling on eBay.

Last week we drove up to Southport and collected my mum for a week here in Suffolk. 

She'll be 93 in a few weeks and she's looking very well. We enjoyed having her and I think she had a good break before her long trek back. She coped really well with a return journey that involved two drives, two trains and two tubes. We're looking forward to welcoming her back here in 2019. At this rate she might get to clock up a 100.

We watched Murder On The Orient Express and The Greatest Showman with her on TV but the best film we saw during her stay was Wildlife starring Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhall at Aldeburgh Cinema. It's a touching and stark examination of a marriage in crisis and quite beautifully done. Do see it if you can.

We also saw Widows recently. I wanted to enjoy this film as I like Steve McQueen as a director but, despite the tremendous reviews we both found it a bit slow and disappointing.

I said earlier that I've filled in some time, during my enforced inactivity, with eBay and I've certainly caught the bug again. My novel Mr Prendergast's Fantastic Find tells the story of a man who spots an incredible bargain on the website and I've tried to emulate his efforts. I've not quite reached the dizzy heights achieved by my eponymous hero but I've loved trying. There's a special Christmas gift offer at the end of this blog so you can learn Mr P's methods for free.

Here's one of my best finds so far. 

I absolutely loved this piece.

Especially when I spotted this little fellow in one of the chimneys.

This is some of the stuff I'm selling this week - all bought on eBay

My only eBay failure has been our lounge curtains which cost about £2,000 and are only six years old. They attracted no bids at all at £50. I'll try again over Christmas 

I set myself a target of 35 books to read during 2018 on my Goodreads reading challenge but I've managed to get through 46 so far. I've enjoyed most of them.

My favourite? I loved A Man Called Ove and Less but Middle England, being so much a novel for these Brexity times, possibly topped what has been a very enjoyable year's reading.

Which leads me to my Christmas gift to you. I've self-published two novels and they've both been well received. (I've started a third but it stalled in April although I'm ready to get going again now). You can download both of these very different books for free by clicking the links below any time between 12 noon US East Coast time on 22nd December until the end of December 26th. Both have high ratings on Amazon.UK and on Goodreads.

Give Me Your Tomorrow  is a romance set on a beautiful Greek Island in 1969 against a background of the Apollo moon landings click here from late on 22nd December to Boxing Day and download for FREE

Mr Prendergast's Fantastic Find is a comedy about the hapless Dave Prendergast and his quest for treasure on eBay click here between 22nd December and the end of Boxing Day to download for FREE.

Have a wonderful Christmas

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Dancing With Marion's Melons

 Okay, I've got your attention. There'll be more about Marion's melons later.  

I said in my last blog that my first month or being an OAP was pretty hectic - the second (so far) has been equally so. 

After getting back from Scotland we were home in Framlingham for a week or so.

The castle was looking good in the autumn light.

Our friend Richard's reference to the castle on his Wine Shop advertising board on Market Hill made us smile. 

We don't have many clothes stores locally so every now and then I go to Selfridge's in Oxford St and top up. We always have a great day and London was starting to feel Christmassy. 

I loved Selfridge's Christmas windows this year.

And John Lewis's new rooftop winter gin garden was a welcoming call after a busy day.

Warm gin, ice skating and blankets make for a very wintery experience.

And yes I did manage to stock up on a winter wardrobe.

I mentioned in an earlier blog that I was doing a bit of dabbling on eBay. I love the thrill of hunting for bargains and wrote about it in my last novel Mr Prendergast's Fantastic Find (That's it up there on the right). I bought these four bits on eBay for under £40.

They sold on Sunday for £280 which is not bad at all.

Packing is still a pain though.

We've not been to many concerts at Snape Maltings this year but some friends told us their choir The Rabble Chorus were performing with Wigan folk rock band Merry Hell. We managed to get some tickets and had a fantastic night. The event was sold out and we were treated to some brilliant arrangements by choir leader Kirsty Logan in the first half and in the second half the choir joined Merry Hell in a joyous and uplifting performance. We absolutely loved it. Merry Hell have put together a brief video of the event. They're going to produce a more polished one in due course but this rough first copy should give you an idea of the joy of the event. 

We were back at Snape the next night.

The Blind Boys Of Alabama gave us another amazing evening of Gospel Blues - fabulous.

After the weekend of concerts it was time to get ready for another of our friends' weekends away. Sadly one of the regular couples couldn't make it this time but six of us headed to Coniston and stayed at The Gate House. We stayed at this excellent holiday cottage for a weekend last November. This time Marion and I booked for a week and the friends joined us for the weekend.

We had a great view of the Coniston fireworks from the holiday cottage.

The cottage is in a great location. Although the weather wasn't very kind.

Which gave us plenty of time for indoor pastimes. 

Saturday was a washout but the weather forecast was okay for Sunday so we set off on a walk.

I was excited when we turned up at Bank Ground Farm, the home of Swallows And Amazons, my all time favourite childhood book. The farm is now a holiday complex with a tea room, holiday rentals and a B&B. 

Coffee and scones in the tea room were delicious.

So much for that weather forecast. The heavens opened shortly after coffee and,to make things worse, my boots fell apart.

We've gone on holiday by mistake.

So it was back to the jigsaw puzzle. Annoyingly with one piece (circled) missing.

The weather certainly didn't dampen our spirits and we shared the catering in the cottage and had three great meals.

We really enjoy these weekend get togethers and hope that we'll be doing it again next year.

The weather didn't improve after our friends left but Marion and I had a great week.

Just outside Coniston


The magnificent Arts And Crafts house Blackwell on Windermere

John Ruskin's private turret at Brantwood on Coniston

The amazing industrial landscape up in the hills.

The friendly neighbours.

Home in Framlingham late on Friday, we got unpacked and then on Saturday went to FAYAP for another brilliant event organised by Slice Of Life.

We had an evening of poetry performed by Luke Wright and Elvis McGonagall. Both were incredible with Luke's highlights including an ode to his "Posh Plumber" and a moving poem about sailors getting ready to sail to war. Elvis gave us some fantastic anti Brexit stuff and an outstanding poem about Patriarchy. Both made us laugh long and hard and Elvis' barman's response to a customer's request for something "bitter but hoppy" (There's a misanthropic rabbit out the back) still has me smiling four days later.

Framlingham had a marvellous tribute to the fallen in the Great War with hundreds of knitted poppies adorning the church.

Oh yes. Not forgetting Marion and her melons. Our friend Dave put some music on while we were cooking Sunday dinner. I put the resulting film online and it almost (almost) went viral. Marion has asked me to point out that no, she had not been drinking at all.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

OAP Life - The First Month

I said in my last blog that I am now officially old. I had a lovely 65th birthday and managed to visit our family in Kent on the following day when granddaughter Catherine presented me with her special gift - a painting on canvas that she'd done completely unaided.

I was delighted with this gift.

And it now takes pride of place in my office.

My only detecting session as an OAP produced this small Medieval coin - a Henry VI annulet issue penny minted in Calais.

The Indian summer meant we were still enjoying our coffees in shirtsleeves outside the Dancing Goat in early October.

It wasn't quite shirtsleeves weather but we still had some sunny days when we picked up my mum in Southport and drove her to St Andrews for a week in the caravan. Here she is at the Old Course. Still looking great at 92 and managing to walk long distances too. She needed to be able to walk a fair way when we took her to Dundee to see the new V & A museum. There's not much parking nearby but she managed the walk well.

The museum is architecturally fabulous - a galleon sitting on the banks of the Tay

This is just a small example of the wonderful Scottish design on show.

Another great place to visit in Dundee is the Dundee Contemporary Arts Centre. There's an excellent cafe, always an interesting exhibition or two and the cinema screens are small but very comfortable.


We all enjoyed a magnificent performance from Glenn Close in The Wife

We went to see First Man at Cineworld for the big screen effects. Another very good movie.

Whenever we walk around St Andrews there's always a new view to take in and I loved this light in one of the university quads or lawns.

I mentioned getting the eBay bug again in my last blog. Spurred on by the reasonable success of my first three sales for some time, I've been looking for a few more pieces.

This lovely little Chinese dish turned up for a few pounds at the St Andrews antiques fair. It's Chinese Export Porcelain in an Imari palette and dates to the Kangxi period c1740

We paid a visit to the excellent Fraser Gallery where we've bought some super paintings in the past. They were holding an exhibition of one of our favourite artists David Mackie Cook and we were very tempted to buy this lovely oil for when we re-decorate our lounge. We haven't finalised the colour scheme for the lounge yet so, after a lot of umming and ahhing we passed this time. 

Mum went home on the train and shortly afterwards the St Andrews family returned from a break in France. It's always a joy to spend time with our grandchildren. 

Rose passed another milestone and can now ride her pushbike unaided.

Rose spent a day in Edinburgh with her mum so we looked after Melody for a few hours.

Like all kids she loves playing in fallen autumn leaves.

And a visit to the Museum cafe went down very well.

On Saturday we took the family to this. What a delightful show.

After the show we had a visit to the castle. It's a fascinating ruin and full of reminders of the horrors of life in the times that coins like the one above were in circulation. The castle has a very colourful and quite gruesome history.

But it's still good for a day out

The views are spectacular

I remember taking Sarah's photo only a few hundred yards away from here when she was nineteen and I left her in St Andrews for her first term in university. Almost twenty years later she's still there.

The girls had a great time exploring. Here are a few photos.