Advent

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Here we are in Advent already and what a short Advent it will be too!  There are four Sundays in Advent and this year the fourth Sunday is also Christmas Eve.

The Advent Crown at our church.

During Advent we wait for Jesus Christ and we do this in three ways; in the past, in the present and in the future.  We accompany Mary and Joseph on their journey to Bethlehem and welcome the baby Jesus who was born in a stable.  We prepare ourselves for the celebration of Christ’s birth this year and try to make the occasion more than just presents and food.  Thirdly, we think about and anticipate the second coming of Jesus Christ when He will come in power and glory and his kingdom will be established here on earth as it is in heaven.

The Advent Crown Elinor and I made at home.

The first way I find the easiest despite Christmas having become such a secular festival.  The second way isn’t too difficult either.  I know the story of the birth of Christ and it is in my mind so much during December.  I read the accounts of it in the Bible, I sing carols and Christmas songs and I attend church services.  We talk about it at home.  The third way is the hardest.  I try to keep Advent as a time of reflection.  I think about my behaviour and any bad habits I might have and think how I should improve myself.  I remind myself of Christ’s instructions to us about how we should act and think.  The trouble is, I very easily get caught up in the pre-Christmas madness and find myself panicking about things that are of no real importance at all.  Do I have presents for everyone?  What if I forget someone!  If I don’t start writing the cards soon they won’t get there on time!  Will I have enough food for everyone?  Look at those dirty windows!  When will I get an opportunity to clean the house?  I’m never going to get everything done on time!  My quiet, reflective mood disappears and I moan and complain to anyone who’ll listen to me.  It was much easier to keep Advent as Advent when I was younger.  People didn’t start their Christmas shopping ’til much nearer the festival.  Decorations weren’t put up as early as they are now and things were much simpler.  Now that sounds like an old person speaking!

The Advent Calendar.

Last year we held an Advent service in church which I enjoyed very much.  No carols but Advent hymns, solemn and beautiful.  This year we will have a Carol service on the 20th and we will go to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve as usual.  We have an Advent Crown or Wreath at church and as each Sunday passes we light one more candle until on Christmas Eve all four are lit.

The Advent Candle.

We have an Advent Crown at home too, and an Advent Candle and Advent Calendars!  We mark each day as it passes and Christmas comes ever closer.

My music choice is J S Bach’s Cantata for the First Sunday in Advent.

May I wish you all a happy and peaceful Advent!

My dear friend Lisa wrote a lovely comment on this post but it has mysteriously disappeared!  I have looked for it and cannot find it on my WordPress account.  Fortunately, I had a copy of the comment in my e-mail folder but I cannot copy it into the comments below so I’ve put it here!

Clare, it may (or may not) be that you sound like an old lady(!), but it’s the truth!  And I was that way myself for many years, and only lately am I increasingly seeing how strange it is that everyone is celebrating Christmas before it comes, only to be sick of it right after New Year and want to put away all the decorations and be free of it all.  But it’s impossible to resist getting into the early spirit of things when we’re all decorated at the library, playing Christmas music and will have our party at work on Friday.  So we have to do the best we can, I guess.  At home, I’m putting out my decorations a little here, a little there, slowly.  (and trying to do fall cleaning, plan making cookies, do all the cards, finish shopping etc. – impossible!)  I hope your Advent journey brings you through all the busyness and confusion in the right way.  xoxo

Your Advent Crown is so pretty!  The two of you are quite artistic, I think.  And thanks to Gallivanta for the Literary Advent link – I like it.

Thank-you very much for your lovely comment, Lisa.  I can imagine that your library is very jolly and festive at the moment.  Have a wonderful party on Friday!  I think one of my main gripes is the commercialisation of Christmas and seeing Christmas food for sale in the shops at the end of October!  So many people here decorate their homes at the beginning of December and then throw out their Christmas tree and decorations on Boxing Day the 26th December – only the second day of Christmas!  I hope you manage to get all your Christmas preparations done on time and you have a little time for rest and pleasure xx

Lisa can be found here at Searchingforabalance.blogspot.co.uk

Another comment has disappeared in the same way, this time from Annika Perry!

Clare, this is a delightful thoughtful and reflective post.  You have a beautiful advent candle at home…so Christmassy!  We sit down every Sunday to light ours; a moment of stillness in the crazy busy days, of being together.  The sense of anticipation builds and I always feel it’s extra special when the fourth advent falls on Christmas Eve!  Haha!  Yep, everything Christmas seems to be pushed further back into December or even earlier – I try to rein it in until the actual month and only had the tree up last weekend as we had a little family party.  People throw the tree out on Boxing Day!!!  How sad!  Here’s to enjoying the peace, absorbing the joy and time for one another.

Thank-you very much, Annika.  Yes, I like the fourth Sunday in Advent being on Christmas Eve too.  Two celebrations on one day!  ‘Here’s to enjoying the peace, absorbing the joy and time for one another’ – yes, yes!!  I couldn’t agree more, Annika!

Annika can be found here at annikaperry.com

 

 

A Few Autumn Memories

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A mini rainbow seen on a breezy day in September.

I have a few photographs of things I’ve seen this autumn dating from the beginning of September until mid October.  I thought I’d make a post of them all.

A sunset seen from our back garden – again in September.

This photograph of the harvest moon at the beginning of October was taken in Norwich by Richard.

A Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) nest in our Greengage tree.

Once some of the leaves had fallen from the tree it was easier to see the nest which, when it was occupied, prevented us from harvesting our greengages until it was almost too late.  Moss, grasses, feathers and cobwebs have been used as well as green plastic garden twine.  The nest has been anchored to the branches of the tree by stouter grasses.

A Red Admiral butterfly (Vanessa atalanta) sunning itself.

Our church at Rumburgh, decorated for Harvest Festival

Richard and I collected all the fruit and vegetables the next day and delivered them to a local nursing home where they were very gratefully received.

Another sunset

I love the dark purples and greys with the slash of bright yellow cutting through

Autumn colour in October

These Elder ( Sambucus nigra) leaves have lost nearly all their colour and have become almost luminous

Cherry tree leaves in our garden

Yet another sunset!

A late and rather battered oriental poppy

The almond-scented flowers of Viburnum bodnantense

Mahonia flowers smell like lily-of-the-valley.

I like to have late autumn, winter and early spring flowering plants.  On milder days when the wind isn’t too strong, their scent can be so welcome.  The insects, especially the bumble-bees, enjoy the flowers too!

Winter-flowering Honeysuckle

This ‘Canary Bird’ rose is one of the first to flower in early summer. It decided to flower again in October.

The Cotinus leaves were very attractive

I’m sorry but here is one more sunset!  This was the colourful one caused by storm Ophelia and the smoke pollution from the forest fires in Portugal.

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My music choice today is Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau singing ‘Herbst’ (Autumn) by Franz Schubert.  Here is a link to a translation into English of the lyrics.

Thanks for visiting!

Autumn Berries and Fruit

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Richard asked me if I’d like to accompany him to the post-box down the lane.  He had a birthday card to post to his brother and also a notice to put on the village notice-board.  The weather was fine, though cloudy and we hadn’t walked anywhere together for a few weeks.  I quickly put on my coat and walking shoes and we set off.

The hedge on the opposite side of the lane was pale green and orange.

The hedges still had a few leaves left on them. This is a Field Maple (Acer campestre) hedge.  Not in focus, but I liked the colours.

A gap in the hedge further along the lane gave us a sight of the tower belonging to All Saints church.  It is surrounded by trees, most of which have lost their leaves now.  The field has been sown with barley or wheat which has germinated and will continue to grow on milder days all through the winter.

All Saints church in the distance

Some of the more sheltered Field Maple trees still had leaves.

This fine-looking old house near us has been empty for some time.

Richard proudly demonstrates his posting technique!

We met a neighbour and chatted with her for some time.  I admired the fine cherry tree in her front garden.

Our neighbour’s beautiful cherry tree.

We walked on to the notice-board and then decided to continue down the lane.

A row of Italian Alders (Alnus cordata) were planted some years ago as a wind-break along the edge of a field.  The cones are much larger than our native Alder cones.

Italian Alder cones

Our local stream, The Beck, has been dry for months.  We have not had enough rainfall this year.

The Beck

Another pretty hedge

The Guelder-rose trees (Viburnum opulus) have been beautiful this autumn! I have never seen so much viburnum fruit before!

Here is another Guelder-rose.

This is a Spindle tree (Euonymus europaeus) in the hedgerow

Here is the pretty pink and orange spindle fruit

This is a picture of the lane along which we walked

There were a few sloes left on the Blackthorns (Prunus spinosa)

A few Common Hawthorn berries (haws) too (Crataegus monogyna)

A view over the hedge to the fields beyond. The skies were clearing.

This tree-trunk was covered with Ivy stems (Hedera helix). It attaches itself to trees, fences and walls by short roots and can completely cover tall trees. A Dog Rose (Rosa canina) stem hung in front of the tree.

Rosehip

Bird’s nests are easier to see now that the leaves are falling from the trees

Puddles were full of leaves and reflections

We walked through St Margaret South Elmham churchyard and Richard sat for a while to rest his back.

A late rose was blooming

The Holly (Ilex aquifolium) had a few berries on it

Our Blackberries (Bramble) (Rubus fruticosus agg.) were very poor this year because of the low rainfall. Even the mice and birds didn’t chose to eat these ones which have been left to shrivel on the vine.

I am not sure whether these fruits are Blackthorn or Bullace (a type of wild plum). 

Autumn leaves

Sheep were being grazed on the common at the end of our lane

This sheep was happy to stop and stare

We soon arrived back home, having been away a lot longer than we had originally intended.

This was a walk we took a fortnight ago and after a couple of frosts and some strong wind last night most of the remaining leaves have fallen from the trees.  The countryside looks ready for winter now.

My music choice today is ‘Somewhere in my Heart’ by Aztec Camera.  There is no special reason for my choice except I like it and am amazed it is thirty years old!

Thanks for visiting!

Framlingham Castle

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Elinor and I went to Framlingham three weeks ago.  Richard had intended coming with us but he had a bad cough and cold and stayed at home instead.

The distance to Framlingham from home is about 17 miles and in ideal conditions would normally take about 40 minutes.  However, with local road closures for repairs and other works, the long diversion we had to take meant it took us nearly an hour to get there.  I checked the route after we got home on Googlemaps and it now provides information on how to travel to the required destination by public transport.  I was amused to discover that it would have taken us 4 hours and 5 minutes to get to Framlingham by using three different buses, walking some distance and only if we had travelled on a Wednesday!

The approach to Framlingham castle

We eventually found somewhere to park in the town centre, though there is a car park at the castle, and walked to the castle.  We hadn’t visited it for many years, not since Elinor was very small and she had no recollection of the place at all.  The castle is looked after by English Heritage and they have recently been working on expensive improvements to the wall walk, the exhibitions and the museum and in providing a large café.  Disabled access has been improved too.  While all the repairs were underway a chute was installed from the top of the wall walk down to the inner court to entertain visitors.  The chute is still in place but we didn’t avail ourselves of it!

A Tudor brick chimney on the top of the gatehouse.  Most of the chimneys at Framlingham are purely ornamental and were added as a sign of wealth.

The castle has a deep, steep-sided ditch around it which was always a dry ditch.  This was designed to prevent tunnelling under the walls and made breaching the walls almost impossible.

The inner ditch and curtain wall.  Do you see the people walking at the bottom of the ditch?  This castle is enormous!

Skip this next bit unless you have the time to read some historical background!

Roger Bigod I was formally granted the manor of Framlingham in 1101 by King Henry I even though he had been living there since shortly after the Norman Conquest.  The Bigods, who were very powerful and rich barons were also made Earls of Norfolk.  Roger Bigod II built the castle that we see today and he and his son were the first two of the list of barons who forced King John to accept the Magna Carta in 1215.  The Bigods were constantly at odds with their king and were a law unto themselves.  Eventually, the expense of numerous building projects and constant quarrels with Edward I produced such enormous debts that Roger Bigod IV was forced to make the king his heir and at his death all his lands were given to the king.

Edward II gave Framlingham to his half-brother, Thomas Brotherton who left the estate to his two daughters.  His elder daughter, Margaret was created Duchess of Norfolk in 1397 – the first Englishwoman to be a duchess in her own right.  Her grandson and heir, Thomas Mowbray was created First Duke of Norfolk, also in 1397 and Framlingham remained with the Mowbrays until the death of John Mowbray VII in 1476.

The castle then passed to the Howard family who were descendants of the Mowbrays.  The Howards were skillful politicians and also brave soldiers and included John, First Howard Duke of Norfolk who died at the battle of Bosworth aged 60 while commanding Richard III’s troops.  His son, Thomas was imprisoned in the Tower of London but was released and gradually recovered the Howard estates.  At the age of 70 he led the English forces to victory against King James IV of Scotland at Flodden Field.  In gratitude for this victory Henry VIII gave him back the title of Duke of Norfolk.  His son, also Thomas, the 3rd Duke of Norfolk was the uncle of two of Henry VIII’s wives – Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard.  He not only schemed to get them to court and to marry the king but also betrayed them both for his own ends.  Eventually his scheming and the arrogance of his son Henry, a soldier and gifted poet, proved his downfall.  They were both sentenced to death, Henry Howard was executed in January 1547 but his father survived through the good fortune of King Henry’s own death taking place a day before the execution date.  The Norfolk title and lands were surrendered to the Crown.

In her father’s will, Mary Tudor was granted most of the Howard lands in East Anglia and received Framlingham in 1552.  On his death bed in 1553, Mary’s brother, King Edward VI was persuaded to disinherit both his half-sisters on the plea that they were illegitimate.  He and his mentor, the Duke of Northumberland were both staunch Protestants and were fearful that the country would revert back to being Roman Catholic when he died.  He named his successor to the throne as Lady Jane Grey, Northumberland’s 17-year-old daughter-in-law.  Mary heard that the Duke of Northumberland planned to capture her so she fled to Framlingham and rallied her troops about her.  Not only the local landed gentry came to her support but also crowds of the poor country people.  Support for Northumberland and Lady Jane Grey dwindled and eventually Northumberland surrendered and Mary was crowned queen.  Queen Mary released the elderly Thomas Howard and gave him back his lands and title.

The castle was passed to Queen Elizabeth after the 4th Duke of Norfolk was executed and she used it as a prison, housing mainly Catholics.  James I returned the castle to the Howard family in 1603 but by then it was in a sorry state of repair.  It was sold to Sir Robert Hitcham, a rich lawyer and politician in 1635 who died the following year leaving it to his old college at Cambridge.  He asked that all the castle not built of stone be pulled down and a poorhouse built.   The first poorhouse built in the castle grounds was the Red House.  It was soon found inadequate but a bigger and better one wasn’t built until 1729.

The gatehouse was rebuilt at the beginning of the C16th. This is the coat of arms of the Howard family, much weathered.

This was our first view of the inside of the curtain wall. You can see the chute on the left of the photo.  Elinor stands next to the well.

The buildings in the inner court were originally built out from the curtain wall and you can see window recesses and fireplaces in the curtain wall in the photo above.

Part of the inside of the curtain wall

The Red House, built in 1660 and now containing private accommodation and beyond it, the Poorhouse built in 1729 on the site of the Great Hall.

The site of the kitchen, which was always kept well away from other buildings as it was a fire risk.

The old Poorhouse, now the café, museum and exhibition room.

Another view of the inside of the curtain wall showing the traces of the chamber block.

From left to right – the first arch is a 12th century stone window that was later opened up as a doorway.  The next wider opening is a Tudor window and above it the three small holes in a row are impressions left by the rafters of the mid-12th century building which was encased in the curtain wall.  The floor joists can be seen above them.  The stone chimneys are 12th century and were extended in Tudor brick.  These two chimneys are the earliest known surviving cylindrical chimneys in England.  Two more smaller openings in the wall are followed by the remains of a tower under which was the chapel, the east window of which can be seen below the walkway.

 

Four of the five stone heads that survive from the medieval buildings.  They have been re-set into the facade of the Poorhouse.

Elinor and I went into the Poor House building from where we were able to climb up to the wall walk.

The stairs to the wall walk are in a tower which is part of the curtain wall. This is a photo looking down the stairs.

Looking up the stairs as Elinor climbs up ahead of me.

Looking towards Framlingham Mere from the wall walk

Looking towards the town. The church tower is in the centre of the photo.

Looking down into the inner ditch.

The remains of the western tower which protected the castle from attack from the west. Also known as the Prison Tower.

Looking down into the Inner Court.

Here is a slideshow of a few views from the wall walk.

 

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Hart’s-tongue Fern (Phyllitis scolopendrium ), Maidenhair Spleenwort (Asplenium trichomanes ) and other plants growing in the castle wall.

Jackdaws (Corvus monedula ) were still nesting in the chimneys of the castle.

The white pillars are the remains of a Tudor bridge.

Just outside the curtain wall and built at the same time, is the Lower Court. It was walled on all sides and was defended by two towers. It may have originally housed granaries, barns or stables.

Framlingham Mere and beyond it, behind the trees is Framlingham College.

The roof of the Poor House

The underside of the roof . You see how the slates are attached to the rafters.

One of the windows in the Poor House

The Gatehouse as we left the castle

 

We enjoyed our short visit to the castle and went next to the church which I will talk about in another post.

The singer Ed Sheeran, who grew up here, has brought many more visitors to the town than it had before.  Here is his recent song, ‘Castle on the Hill’ which talks about the time he lived in the town.  The young people acting in the video are members of Framlingham College.

Thanks for visiting!

King Street, Norwich

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It is some time since I wrote a post about Norwich and as my younger daughter Elinor has started attending some art courses in the city I thought I would share some  photographs I have taken recently.

Elinor is no longer at the City College so is attending art classes at Wensum Lodge which is owned by the City Council.

Main entrance to Wensum Lodge.

The City Council has converted old riverside buildings into classrooms and studios and this is where Elinor is learning Portraiture on Tuesday and Drawing and Painting on Saturday.  (She also goes to the Theatre Royal, Norwich every Thursday evening for drama classes.)

I love the soft red brick buildings and the cobbled yards.

More studios at Wensum Lodge.

Buildings at Wensum Lodge.

 The River Wensum flows through the centre of the city of Norwich.

The River Wensum seen from the rear of the art studio.

The River Wensum.

While Elinor studies, I take myself off and walk through the city.  Wensum Lodge is located in King Street which is full of ancient buildings and was inhabited by the richest merchants in medieval times.

Medieval buildings in King Street.

The entrance to Raven Yard

The lane going down towards the river is called Mountergate. There are new houses being built on the right.

Buildings of different heights and ages; shops, workshops and dwellings.

An attractive cottage in King Street with a courtyard beyond the gate.

Next to the cottage is the redundant church of St Peter Parmentergate now used as a martial arts academy.

‘Parmentergate’ means the street of the parmenters: parchment makers or leatherworkers.  As the word became obsolete the street name changed and became Mountergate but the church retained the original name.

I like the triangular gables on the roof of this building and the arched windows in the centre of the facade.

This is Stepping Lane off King Street

The Music House, the oldest private dwelling in Norwich. Sadly, it has been adorned with grafitti.

The Music House was built in the 12th century and in 1225, Isaac Jurnet, a member of one of the wealthiest Jewish families in England at the time, bought it from a man called John Curry.  During the reign of Elizabeth I the house became the headquarters of the Norwich waits and minstrels and thereafter became known as the Music House. The front you see in this photo is 17th century but behind the left hand gable are the remains of the 12th century building constructed at right-angles to the street.  This original 12th century building was extended later in that century, in 1175, with a north-south range where the current 17th century front stands, making an L-shaped building.  The new part consisted of a single-aisled hall with an undercroft (cellar, basement, storeroom) which was at ground level when built, but is lower now.  The aisle of the hall was removed in 1480 and another undercroft built.  Most of the hall was removed when the 17th century front was constructed.  The building is owned by the City Council and is part of the Wensum Lodge range and can be accessed from the inner yard.  Concerts are performed in the building.

More old buildings.

Entrance to a former inn.

Princes In(n).

Another redundant church, St Etheldreda’s which as you can see, is artist studios

St Etheldreda was a daughter of King Anna of East Anglia.  Anna had four daughters, all of whom were made saints.  Etheldreda founded a monastery on the Isle of Ely (in Cambridgeshire) and died there in 679.

I am surprised to find I didn’t photograph Dragon Hall this time, but below are some photos I took of the hall a couple of years ago.  

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The Dragon Hall dating from 1420, is a merchant’s hall which belonged to Robert Toppes who was made mayor of the city four times.  It is virtually unique in Western Europe in being a medieval trading hall built by an individual rather than a guild.  One of the spandrels in the roof of the grand hall upstairs is carved with the figure of a dragon.

I just can’t resist photographing plants! This is Traveller’s Joy or, as it’s also called, Old Man’s Beard (Clematis vitalba )

I also liked this gull on the roof of Wensum Lodge, though my camera insisted on focusing on the roof.

I believe the gull is a Lesser Black-backed Gull ( Larus fuscus) in its winter plumage.

 

Thanks for visiting!

I have used the following sites and books :

http://www.tournorfolk.co.uk/norwich.html

The Medieval Churches of the City of Norwich by Nicholas Groves

The Little Book of Norwich by Neil R Storey

Norwich by Stephen Browning

Harrap’s Wild Flowers by Simon Harrap

RSPB Complete Birds of Britain and Europe by Rob Hume

 

An Apology.

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As most of you will have noticed, I haven’t posted anything here for nearly two months.  I have been quite busy and have had to limit the time I spend on-line.  I decided that I would use that time answering e-mails and just reading other people’s posts and commenting on them instead of writing my own posts.  I also realised recently that I haven’t been reading as many books as I used to and I missed that pleasure, so my on-line time has been reduced further.

An extra problem I have had for the past couple of days is an inability to post comments on your WordPress blogs.  My words disappear immediately I click on the send button.  Some of my comments have arrived in your in-boxes but most have completely disappeared.  Some have been discovered in spam folders so may I ask you to have a look to see if a comment of mine is there, please?  I haven’t commented at all on your more recent posts as I knew it would be a waste of my time.  I have read them all and have ‘liked’ them.  As soon as everything is back to normal I will be commenting again.   I have contacted the WordPress help team and they have re-directed me to Akismet.  I am waiting to hear from them to see if there is anything they are able to do.

Now that the nights are drawing in I will probably have a little more free time and might manage a post or two to let you know what I have been doing.  I enjoy blogging and have missed it!  Meanwhile I have included a couple of photographs I took late this afternoon.  Autumn has well and truly arrived here!

Spindle with berries (Euonymus europaeus ). The leaves turn a delicate shade of pink in the autumn.

Spindle berries are bright pink and when ripe, split open to reveal orange-coloured seeds!

Common Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna ) with its berries, which are known as Haws.

Pyracantha covered with scarlet berries. I have just finished pruning our pyracantha and have got it neat and tidy for winter.

This evening’s gentle sunset.

Sunset

My music choice for this post is ‘Dream of Me’ by Kristina Train.

Thanks for visiting!

Interregnum

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On Thursday Richard, our Rector retired.

Richard was with us for sixteen and a half years and looked after us well.  We are a large (in area) benefice consisting of eleven parishes with eleven ancient churches; and I really mean ancient!  Richard not only worked very hard to keep all these unique churches going despite many set-backs but also at the same time, managed to get us to think of ourselves as a team; a ‘federation’ of parishes.  We help each other out whenever possible.  He gave us thought-provoking sermons each week.  His constant message was that all people are equal in the sight of God and all should have equal rights and opportunities.  He is a fairly shy and self-effacing man but who also would not put up with thoughtless, careless and bad behaviour from anyone.  He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of films and often quoted from them in his sermons.  He is a talented artist and has also written a book about a pilgrimage he made in France.  He can also tell the most awful and funny jokes!   He supported all our individual fund-raising efforts and provided us and our churches with all sorts of different things that have been of invaluable service.  He cleaned, polished, mended, tidied and adorned our church buildings.  He designed our website and kept it up-to-date.  He edited our benefice magazine and often wrote most of the copy, got people to advertise in it and sent it off to be printed.  He ran a coffee morning once a month in his home and made marmalade, cakes and breads for us.  He fought on our behalf with anyone who tried to make our lives more difficult.  He researched the history of all our churches and was extremely knowledgeable about their architecture.  At the centenary of the start of World War I he presented each of our churches with a Remembrance folder containing information on all the men (and women) from each parish who are mentioned on the war memorials.

This is only a fraction of all he has done for us.  Like children, we accepted it all and often took him for granted.  We now have to fend for ourselves for goodness knows how long.

Richard’s last service was the mid-week said Eucharist at 9.00 am on Thursday at Ilketshall St Margaret’s church.  Usually, there are less than ten people who attend this service.  This Thursday the church was nearly full with representatives from most of the churches in the benefice.  Richard asked us where we’d all been for the past 16 years!  A good question!  After the service we presented him with a gift and sang happy birthday to him.  We had sherry to drink and Pam had made a delicious fruit cake.  We chatted and laughed and then it was over.

Looking towards the East end of the church. Some of the people at Richard’s last service.

Looking towards the back of the church. You can see Richard in the centre of this photo.

Goodbye and good luck, Richard.  We will miss you very much.

Fruit Salad

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A typical summer’s evening

There is nothing better, on a cool and cloudy, wet and windy evening in August, than a fruit salad.

Strawberries,

cherries,

raspberries

and blackberries.

What would you prefer –

A little sugar, perhaps?

Maybe some cream or creme fraiche? Or ice-cream?

Help yourself!

The taste of summer.

Another Catch Up Post!

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As you know, we have been busy with home improvements this year so haven’t had the time to go on our usual walks very often and I haven’t taken as many photos as usual.  Richard and I did manage a walk or two in April along the lanes and over the fields.

Our local farmer has taken to sheep farming in recent years and this year he coppiced many of his overgrown hedges and then waited to see what came up again.  He has selected the plants he wishes to retain in the hedges and has cut out the rest.  He has put up stock fencing next to the new slim-line hedge and all is looking very different now.

We took our usual walk across the fields just after the coppicing had been done. All the heaps of wood were burnt and you can see a smouldering heap of wood-ash in the centre of this picture.

The last time we had walked this route there had been a thick hedge just in front of the ditch in the foreground.

I was quite concerned about the loss of the hedges because they are usually full of nesting, singing birds in the spring.  However, the farmer does care about the local wildlife and had left reassuring notices next to the ex-hedges stating what he was intending to do.

A view across the open fields. This walk was taken at the beginning of April while the weather was still bright and warm.

This oak tree had been blown down in storm ‘Doris’. The green you can see is the ivy that had been growing up the tree trunk. Most healthy trees can cope with ivy growing on them and this one had seemed to be healthy.

An upright tree this time, with holes it in, probably made by woodpeckers.

Another view of the fields and that blue sky!

Red Dead-nettle (Lamium purpureum) and Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)

The Blackthorn blossom (Prunus spinosa) was very good this spring.

This rather dull and unassuming little plant (not a clear photo, I’m afraid) has the interesting name of Sticky Mouse-ear (Cerastium glomeratum)! The leaves are the shape of a mouse’s ear and they are also sticky as you can see in the photo; the leaves are covered with grains of sand.

I found yet another Barren Strawberry plant. (Potentilla sterilis)

It is easy to tell the difference between a Wild Strawberry and a Barren Strawberry even if there are no flowers to be seen.  The leaves of the Barren Strawberry are a mid-green colour and are matt whereas the Wild Strawberry leaves are shiny and yellow-green.  The leaves of both plants are toothed but the Barren Strawberry’s terminal tooth (the one at the tip of each leaflet) is smaller and shorter than the ones next to it.  You can see this quite clearly on the photo above.  The Wild Strawberry’s terminal tooth is as long as or longer than the ones next to it.  The flowers are different too.  The Barren Strawberry flowers have large gaps between the petals and the sepals are clearly seen in the gap.  The Wild Strawberry’s petals are close together and the sepals are hidden behind them.

A Blackthorn hedge in flower

A view of St. Peter’s church tower in the distance

One of my favourite views through a gap in the hedge

Another view from our walk. The field close-by has barley or wheat growing in it; the yellow field in the distance is of oil-seed rape.

A field of Oil-seed Rape

This photo is of the bank of a ditch and shows the lumps of chalk that can be found in the clay soil here

The verge at the side of the lane was covered with Lesser Celandines (Ficaria verna)

Another view across the fields…

…and another!

Ash tree flowers ( Fraxinus excelsior)

Most of our fields are surrounded by deep ditches.

Annual Mercury (Mercurialis annua)

Most of the Mercury that grows here is the perennial Dog’s Mercury which is found in (sometimes) large swathes under hedges and in the woodland.  The Mercury in the photo above is the Annual Mercury which doesn’t grow in swathes and is branched (unlike the Dog’s Mercury).  It is not a native plant but has been here for at least 1000 years, introduced from mainland Europe.

Cowslips (Primula veris)

A pond at the side of the lane

The last of the Primroses (Primula vulgaris)

Part of St. Margaret South Elmham common

Another Blackthorn hedge

Blackthorn blossom

Another short walk we took was to view the orchids flowering along the verge near to us.

Early Purple Orchids (Orchis mascula)

Early Purple Orchids

We also saw purple Bugle (Ajuga reptans) and Dandelions (Taraxacum agg.)

Bugle

This seems to be a Cowslip/Primrose cross

An over-exposed and out-of-focus photo of Lady’s-smock/ Cuckooflower (Cardamine pratensis)

Richard and I also called in at our neighbour Cordelia’s Daffodil Sunday when every year she opens her beautiful garden to the public in aid of St. Margaret’s church.

Her garden is full of spring flowers

The weather was perfect for the open garden this year

The Old Rectory

Looking towards the church from the Old Rectory

More flowers

The drive up to the house

I apologise for the length of this post!

My music choice this time is ‘The Banks of Green Willow’ by George Butterworth

Thanks for visiting!

A Quiet Spring – March and April Part 2

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Let me take you back in time……

The daffodils this spring were marvellous!  We had a few warm days at the beginning of April that brought the flowers forward and then from Easter onwards the weather was decidedly chilly.  Very dry but chilly and with very little sunshine.

The white daffodils look just like butterflies when a breeze catches them!  Most of these flowers are scented as well.

The blossom on the fruit trees was good this spring.

Damson blossom

Pear ‘Concorde’ blossom

Other trees with blossom looked wonderful this spring too.

The Blackthorn at the end of our drive

The Pussy Willow was covered in fuzzy flowers

I took photos of some of the plants in the garden.

The Spirea in Richard’s new shrub border was very bright and beautiful.

A pretty primula had planted itself in one of the ditches that surround our garden

We have a number of orange and red cowslips that grow here and there about the garden. I have started to gather them into one place so they don’t get mowed before they set seed.

The King-cups on the bank of the pond looked cheerful.

Primroses and Anemone blanda

The clematis flowered at the end of the month and filled the garden with scent.

Clematis flowers

Last autumn I ordered some tulips and planted them in large tubs.  I was glad I did when I saw the damage the deer had wreaked on those planted in the borders!  I covered the tubs in wire mesh and left them at the back of the house to over-winter.  I had no mouse, vole or deer damage at all!

These lovely tulips look more like peonies! Because of the cool spring they were in flower for nearly a month.

This is a male Holly Blue butterfly (Celastrina argiolus). There were a number of these flying in the garden at the end of April.

A sunset seen from the back of the house

This post has taken me weeks to write because I have been so busy and tired!  I thought about abandoning it a couple of times because of its lateness but decided to post it after all and I hope you will forebear with me.

My choice of music is ‘Schmetterling’ (Butterfly) by Grieg, one of his Lyric Pieces.

Thanks for visiting!