January Walks

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The day after the storm that cut off our electricity, Richard and I decided to take a short walk to see what damage the wind had caused.

We liked the colours in the sky and the faded earth.

I looked closer at the trees on the horizon.

The wind was still blowing quite strongly and it was cold but we enjoyed being out in the fresh air.

Our first fallen tree

This tree had been part of a hedge round a field.  It looks as though it had been dead for a while before it was felled by the storm.  The tree had snapped at ground level.  Dead trees can be very useful as host to so many other organisms; providing food and shelter for many creatures.  They are left in hedges until either the wind knocks them over or until the landowner thinks they are becoming a danger to people passing by on roads or paths.

A view across the fields

A field full of pregnant cows….

and new-born calves.  These look like Aberdeen Angus to me.

Another fallen tree

This one could have been dead already, as well.  The trunk had snapped three feet up from the ground and the tree was covered in ivy.  Ivy (Hedera helix) is usually no problem on a healthy tree but it can smother weak trees and the ivy here would have caused a lot of resistance to the gale-force winds.

This fallen tree had already had someone working on it.

We found some primroses (Primula vulgaris) flowering in the verge on the other side of our front hedge as we got back home.

A week later we drove to Minsmere Nature Reserve owned by the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds).  We decided to walk out towards the sea.

Large expanse of marshland covered in reeds

Looking north from the end of the path as it reaches the beach. The little white buildings on the horizon on the right of the photo are the old coastguards’ cottages at Dunwich.

Richard and Elinor sitting in the sun

A closer look at the coastguards’ cottages and a glimpse of the sea.

Looking out to sea

Richard ‘shifting’ one of the WW2 tank traps that have been left in a line along the coast.

Tank traps

Here is a link which describes the anti-tank cubes at Walberswick – a village a few miles to the north of Minsmere.

If you look carefully you might be able to see the large flock of Lapwings we saw flying over the marsh

An unsuccessful close-up of the Lapwings (Vanellus vanellus)

Sunset over the Scrape

We liked the cloud formation here.  Stratocumulus undulatus, we have been told.

Sunset

Sunset

Sunset

A slideshow showing some of the birds we saw on the Scrape

 

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A Shoveler (Anas clypeata)

Here are some photos I took of the super, blue moon at the end of January

They are not as clear as I would have liked as I wasn’t using a tripod or our better camera.  I include the blurred first one mainly for the beautiful colour of the moon as it rose.

Thanks for visiting!

This and That

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This will be a post full of bits and pieces of news; just a catch-up post on the things we have been up to during the past month or so.  I apologise for the length of the post – feel free to skip past as much as you like!

Snowdrops and a few daffodil buds in a pot

We began January with heavy rain, as I mentioned in a former post, but the high waters gradually receded despite lots more rain during the month and we are now left with a few waterlogged fields, lots of full ditches and ponds and plenty of mud.  A storm in the middle of the month left us without power for fifteen and a half hours but we suffered no damage to our house and out-buildings for which we are very thankful. We have had a little sunshine, some mild, wet and windy weather and a few colder spells too.  Very changeable weather.  This week has been cold with some snow showers.  The following photos were taken on Tuesday at sunset on our way home from Norwich.

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A dusting of snow

My mother had another fault on her phone-line and we spent some few days trying to get it repaired – again.

Elinor’s lap-top developed a fault and had to be repaired.  She doesn’t like to be without it as she finds her phone inadequate for some of the things she likes to do on-line.  She borrowed my lap-top.

We now have Super-Fast Broadband – except it isn’t really super-fast but faster than it was, which is quite satisfactory.  The downside is we have a new thick cable attached to the house right next to our bedroom window which loops over our front garden to the pole in the lane.  We think it is dangling just a little too much and in the summer when it expands it may be low enough to snag the roofs of delivery vans.  Trying to get someone back to deal with this may prove difficult.

Sweet violet

We have had some gates fitted at the end of our driveway, which look fine.

We are arranging for the old conservatory (which we cannot use) to be knocked down and a new one put in its place.  This will be a very messy job and will take a few weeks to get done but we hope when it’s finished we will have a room which we will be able to use all year round.  One which isn’t too cold in winter, too hot in summer, doesn’t leak when it rains or drip condensation when it’s cold.  I need to move quite a few plants away from the flowerbed outside the conservatory and find a place to keep them while the work proceeds.  We will also need to find somewhere to store all the furniture in the living room for the duration!

Snowdrops and early crocuses under a crabapple tree

We have all had the usual visits to the dentist, doctor and hospital.  I was particularly pleased with my appointment at the Rheumatology Clinic.  I have been in remission for some while and my blood-test results have been good.  Because of this, I have been told I can stop taking one of my tablets.  I have been taking this one for eighteen years and it is thought I don’t need it any more.  It is also a tablet that can cause irreparable damage to the eyes and the longer it is taken the more likely it is that damage will occur.  I wonder how long I would have been left taking this medication if my blood-test results hadn’t been so good?  So far, after over three weeks without them I have noticed no return of pain and I feel fine!   If I remain in remission for another year I have been told I may be able to reduce the dosage of the medication I inject myself with each week.  I would love to be able to do that!

Molehills in the garden

Gardening can be quite difficult in the countryside as we humans are not the only ones who like flowers and shrubs.  Most of our visiting wildlife love them too – as food.  My favourite miniature iris started blooming at the end of January but the deer found them and have eaten all the flowers. A few of my other plants have been pruned severely by the deer and pecked by the pheasants.  The only answer is to cover everything with chicken wire which isn’t attractive and it’s such a bother to have to remove it each time I wish to work on a flowerbed and then remember to put it back again afterwards!  Despite my grumbling, I do feel lucky to live here and to be able to see all the wild creatures that visit us.  Gardening on a plot surrounded by fields is different from gardening in a town or village.  It is impossible to keep wildlife, including weeds like brambles, nettles and thistles, out of the garden.  We have to be more relaxed in our attitude but it is hard not to be disappointed when a flower that is looked forward to for eleven months is eaten before it blooms!  Before Christmas I was looking out of the window at dawn and saw a family of Muntjac deer in the garden a few metres away from me.  A female, a male and a tiny spotted-backed fawn about the size of a large cat.  The baby kept racing about and bouncing on all four legs at once.  As soon as it got near enough to her, the female proceeded to wash him which he tolerated for a while and then ran off again!

We all spent a day in London on the 25th January but I took no photographs.  It was a day for visiting bookshops as a treat for Elinor; she had recently celebrated her 21st birthday.  We had lunch in an Italian restaurant in Shaftesbury Avenue and when we had had enough of books we wandered down through Trafalgar Square to the Embankment to see how many monuments and statues we could see before catching the tube from Embankment Station back to Liverpool Street Station.  We were very fortunate with the weather which though cold, was dry and sunny.  All our trains ran to time and we had a wonderful day.

Richard and I have taken a short walk near home recently and all three of us have been to Minsmere for a walk.  I will post about these later.

Richard and I went with friends to see a one-man performance of St Mark’s Gospel in Wangford Church last Saturday evening.  The church was freezing cold, probably because it had had extensive building work done to it and the people from the village had only just finished the clean up that afternoon!  The performance was absolutely brilliant!  St Mark’s Gospel is the shortest of the gospels and was written at speed.  It is said that Mark recorded Jesus’ life using Saint Peter’s recollections of Him. It was performed by Ian Birkinshaw who was the narrator but he also acted all the characters in the gospel.  He had minimal props and costume accessories and I was very impressed by the way he used them.  For example, he was wearing a keffiyeh which one minute was round his neck, then with a little folding looked like a child in his arms and then a baby which he held over his shoulder.  Ian Birkinshaw’s performance conveyed the excitement about Jesus that is evident in the Gospel and his energetic recital which lasted over two hours was very impressive.  I cannot recommend this performance highly enough.  Here is his wordpress site.

As I have mentioned recently, Elinor, my younger daughter has been attending art classes in Norwich since September and has been enjoying them.  She has shown great improvement in her work and has become much more confident; she is managing her anxiety a little better.  She had been very disappointed last year when she failed to get onto a course which would have given her a qualification which she needs to get into art college.  She applied to a different college to have an interview for the same course and this time she was successful.  She will be starting college in September but instead of Norwich her new college is in Great Yarmouth on the coast.

Here are four examples of the work she has been producing recently.  Each of these pieces were completed in two and a half hours.

Portrait 

Painting

Portrait

Painted with twigs

My elder daughter, Alice belongs to a couple of drama groups in Sheffield where she lives and works.  Next week, one of the groups – The Company – will be staging a dramatisation of Jane Austen’s ‘Sense and Sensibility’.   Alice is playing the part of Mrs. Palmer.  The drama group has produced a few vignettes to celebrate St Valentine’s Day and the opening of the play next Wednesday.  I think you may be amused by the following, in which Mr and Mrs Palmer have been asked questions about their relationship.  Alice tells me that they were given the questions and were asked to improvise the answers in character.

The Company have posted a  number of these on their Facebook page and they are all amusing.  I particularly enjoyed Edward Ferrars’ contribution!

If any of you are in Sheffield next week I would heartily recommend you going along to see the play at the University of Sheffield’s Drama Studio in Glossop Road.  The performances are at 7.30pm Wednesday to Saturday.  Tickets can be bought on-line on the link I have provided or on the door.

Thanks for visiting!

2017 Revisited

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As I have mentioned before, we didn’t manage to do as much walking and we didn’t visit as many places as usual last year and, for the same reasons, I also didn’t write very many posts.  I have photos from the few excursions we did make and some pictures of interesting things I saw that I haven’t posted yet, so I thought I would put together some retrospective posts whenever I have spare time.

This is the first of a series of posts.

ooooOOoooo

Last spring, Elinor was asked to write about an exhibition she had visited.  Unfortunately, she hadn’t visited one for some time so we looked about us to see if there was anything on locally that appealed to her.  We were pleased to see that at the Castle Museum in Norwich there was an exhibition of doll’s houses – so that’s where we went.

The exhibits were difficult to photograph because of the lighting and the reflections from the glass cases.  Here is a slideshow of photos of some of the houses.

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Elinor stayed in the exhibition hall to sketch a few of the houses and make some notes while I wandered round the rest of the museum.  I spent some time in the art gallery where they have a fine collection of paintings and drawings by local artists: Gainsborough, Constable, Crome, Munnings, Seago and others.  I took no photographs there nor in the natural history section where there are a number of dioramas featuring lots of stuffed birds and animals mainly collected during the 19th century.  I don’t like stuffed birds and animals.

The museum has a collection of antique clothes and costumes which I enjoy seeing and also pieces of needlework and embroidery.

Here are some examples of Jacobean needlework and also a lovely lace collar.

I took a photograph of a splendid crossbow.

The museum has a large collection of teapots.  Here are some of them.

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I wandered through the Boudica and the Romans gallery and took some photos of a few of the artifacts that have been discovered.

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There are a few display cabinets in the large central area in the castle keep.

Castle keep

Castle keep

I like these examples of medieval stained glass.   Top left shows winter pruning, top right is a feast, bottom left shows a gardener hurrying indoors out of a spring rain or hail shower, bottom right shows a man harvesting bunches of grapes.

I had to go back to meet Elinor then before I’d finished the whole tour of the museum.  We returned a few weeks later with Richard so he could also see the exhibition and for Elinor to check on a few details.  We all enjoyed the exhibition very much.

Thanks for visiting!

 

Homersfield

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For the past few days I have been looking at flood water and driving through deep puddles on the roads but until Monday had been unable to take any pictures of what I’d seen.  On Monday afternoon I decided I’d take a five minute drive to Homersfield, walk round the village and see the flooded watermeadows.

The day was very grey and gloomy but apart from a short shower of rain I managed to stay dry for most of the time I was out.

The Millennium Sculpture.  (Not a clear photograph as the light was very bad).

I parked my car on the edge of the village near to the totem pole-like millennium sculpture carved from wood by local artist Mark Goldsworthy.  At the top of the sculpture is a man in a small boat and below him, water with different species of fish swimming in it.  Near the base are the words  ‘I dreamed of a beautiful woman who carried me away’ and below those words the name of the village is carved in capitals.  The sculpture has been signed by the artist.  I believe the beautiful woman referred to is the River Waveney which flows past the village and forms the border between the counties of Suffolk and Norfolk.

Looking northwards over the river to Norfolk

I walked through the village to the further side where the road starts to rise away from the river on its way to the village of St Cross.  From here I could look out over the water meadows.

Waveney River valley

A soggy scene!

The water level had gone down a little during the last twenty-four hours but the fields were still inundated.

The nearer channel is the old mill race cut to provide water for the water mill in the village.  The mill was demolished some time ago.

On the other side of the lane is one of the entrances to the Community Wood.

Community Wood

Homersfield Church and churchyard are at the top of the bluff.

The two photos above were taken last February.

Homersfield Bridge

This bridge is one of the oldest surviving concrete bridges in Britain and was constructed in 1869 at the request of Sir Robert Alexander Shafto Adair, Baronet of the Flixton Estate.   Here is a link to a description of the bridge and its history.

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Looking across the river to the Norfolk side where the old Homersfield railway station had been.

A number of seagulls were floating on the water.  The buildings just beyond the far bank, line the A143 road which was built in the early 1980’s along the former route of The Waveney Valley Line.  This was a rail branch line which ran from Tivetshall in Norfolk to Beccles in Suffolk but was closed in 1966 and the track removed soon afterwards.  The red-coloured building on the right of the picture is a garage which I think used to be an engine shed.

Here I am standing on the Norfolk side of the river looking towards Suffolk.

After having viewed the river from all points I walked back through the village.  It is a pretty place with lots of attractive cottages.  As it was getting late I only took a few more photos.

The path from the old Homersfield Bridge back into the village

The village pub, The Black Swan

The childrens’ play area on the green.

We used to bring Elinor here when she was very small!

Barnfield Cottages

These pretty thatched cottages were built in 1925 to house elderly workers on the Flixton Estate.

Thanks for visiting!

Happy New Year!

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Taken at dawn on 12th December

We had a few days of cold and snow in mid-December but the year ended with much milder temperatures, wind and lots of rain.  All our local rivers have burst their banks and everywhere is wet and muddy.

‘Evereste’ crabapple tree in the snow

Crabapples

Once the apples had been frosted it took no time at all for the blackbirds to eat all the fruit on the tree!  The deer helped themselves to the apples on the lower branches.

Female Muntjac deer

2nd Sunday in Advent

We had a Sunday service at our church at Rumburgh on 10th December.  The day started with heavy rain but as we got the church ready for the service the rain turned first to sleet and then to snow.  The Archdeacon arrived to take our service, his cloak covered in snow.  He preached and played the organ too but sadly, not many of our mainly elderly congregation turned up.

A snowy churchyard

Our damp, but festive church porch

Snow covers a multitude of sins and our garden looked almost picturesque!

The view from our front door

Our larger pond. This was before the rain added a number of inches to its depth

We have also had all the willow saplings and brambles on the little island cut down since this photograph was taken.  The greylags should find it easier to make their nest there in the spring.

Here is a female greylag with her goslings in our garden a couple of years ago

The path round the pond

Looking across the field from our garden

After the sun had risen I took this picture from an upstairs window

We haven’t had much snow in the last couple of years and we don’t know if we will get any more this winter either.  This might be all we get!

We held a carol service at our church on 20th December.

I took this photo a while before the service began.

Our Christmas tree at church

The service was taken by Maurice our hard-working Elder who has taken on most of the admin duties for the benefice since we have been vicarless.  We heard the Christmas story in some readings from the Bible and we also listened to a few seasonal poems.  We sang lots of carols and then ate sausage rolls, cheese straws, cake and mince pies and drank sherry or fruit juice.

 

Richard, Elinor and I went to Midnight Mass at South Elmham St Peter’s church on Christmas Eve and we spent a peaceful Christmas at home, my mother visiting us for lunch and for the afternoon on Christmas Day and for an evening buffet meal on Boxing Day.

Christmas tree decorations

  Alice stayed in Sheffield for Christmas but came to visit us for a couple of days, arriving on the 28th December.  It was lovely to have her with us!

I took this photo with my phone on Boxing Day during our walk in the late afternoon

We don’t party on New Year’s Eve but stay at home quietly.  I had taken my mother to her church in the morning while Richard went to Ilketshall St John’s church in our benefice.  The roads were all awash but the rain held off for most of the day.  Richard, Elinor and I went to Southwold in the afternoon to walk by the sea.  We parked by the pier and walked along the front to the far end of the town where we bought some chips.  We walked back to the car as it got dark and came home again.  A pleasing end to the year.  No photos from Southwold as I left my camera at home.

Happy New Year, everyone!

A Walk in the Woods

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We were all in need of some fresh air and exercise, so Richard, Elinor and I drove to Walberswick Woods last Friday afternoon.  The woods are part of the larger Walberswick Nature Reserve which is jointly managed by Natural England, the RSPB and Suffolk Wildlife Trust.

Richard in Walberswick Woods

The day was cold; the temperature was just above freezing but the strong northerly wind made it very bitter indeed.  It was just after 2 pm and the sun was shining but it was so low in the sky we walked in shadow for most of the time.

Elinor in Walberswick Woods

The low sun shining through the pine trees.

The bracken fronds had died and were a soft silvery-fawn colour.

We found some fungi amongst the fallen leaves.

Halfway round this short walk we saw the marshes through the trees.

The River Blyth flows through the marshes and is tidal here.

To our left up a short rise, a tall stand of pine trees kept us in shadow

This part of the wood is known as Deadman’s Covert.  A covert is usually a piece of overgrown woodland (a thicket) that game (pheasants, partridge, deer) or foxes can hide in.

and to our right was the Blyth estuary and the marshes and a keen wind blowing.

We found a Holly tree with a few berries left.

We found a number of Puffball Fungi

Not much left of this one!

These trees snapped off half way up their trunks show how windy it can be here

The light shining through the seedheads of the Common Reeds as they danced in the wind.

Away from the marsh it was brighter and less windy. We admired the snakeskin bark of this tree.

The path through the wood

The sun shot beams of light through the trees

The straight ride through the wood. A ride is a path through woods for riding horses on.

The sun was getting even lower in the sky

Only the tops of these trees were lit now

I had wanted to collect pine cones to use as Christmas decorations but they were all so small after our dry year. You can see a couple on this branch.

The gorse was in flower. ‘When gorse is out of bloom, kissing’s out of fashion’. Gorse is never out of bloom!

Our walk over, we drove to my mother’s house to see how she was as she had been without a land-line phone all week because of a fault.  She had her fire alight and we had a lovely hot cup of tea with her.

Thanks for visiting!

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!