Anglesey Abbey


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Elinor had an interview at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge one Saturday at the beginning of February.  Both Richard and I accompanied her there and waited in the Ruskin Gallery while she went on a tour of the art facilities and then had her interview.  I admired the light fittings which, as with many functional buildings and their fittings designed pre WW2, were beautiful in their own right.

I am not referring to the modern lights but to the wrought iron that attaches the bar ( from which oil lamps were hung, I assume ) to the ceiling.

After Elinor had finished at the University we took the bus back to the park-and-ride car park and drove to nearby Anglesey Abbey.  We had hoped for some lunch in the café and a quiet walk round the grounds in the sunshine.  We hadn’t realised that the whole of Cambridgeshire would also have the same idea as us and the place was packed!  We managed to buy some sandwiches and a drink each and fought our way to a table.  After eating we escaped outside and walked about in the sunshine.

Anglesey Abbey is famous for its spring bulbs, especially its snowdrops, and I had wanted to visit for some years.

Snowdrops and winter aconites under the trees.

Wide lawns with under-planted trees.

Masses of snowdrops

Snowdrops and winter aconites.

Snowdrops and winter aconites.

Note the long shadows just after midday in February.

We were getting cold in the strong breeze so decided to look at the house.

The former priory was converted into a dwelling in about the year 1600.

We toured the house but I didn’t manage to get any photographs of the interior.  It was so crowded it was difficult to see many of the rooms which were stuffed with objets d’arts, paintings and furniture as well as people.  The library was wonderful as it not only contained the typical sets of required books that most large libraries have but also many books that were obviously bought to be read and had been read by the family.  We were pleased to see all Lord Fairhaven’s boyhood adventure books on a top shelf.

The library . A photograph I found by searching Yahoo! images.

The dining room; also courtesy of Yahoo! images.

The long gallery was being re-decorated and all the furniture and ornaments from there had been redistributed about the house.  I must admit that most of the furniture and ornaments were not to my taste.

I had wished to see the garden with the silver birches but by the time we left the house we were running out of energy.

The winter garden courtesy of Yahoo! images.

One of the many gardens in the grounds.

A beautiful oriel window.

An espalier pear tree against the wall of the Abbey.

The front of the abbey.

A beautifully prepared garden. I wonder what it will contain later this year!

An attractive bench….

……with Richard sitting on it.

We left the garden without having seen all of it but with any luck we will return and finish our tour one day.

A Walk at Iken


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Three days after the walk we took round the lanes on New Year’s Day, mentioned in a previous post, Richard and I took ourselves off for another walk.  Elinor joined us.  We set off quite early as we needed to complete the walk before lunchtime; Richard had an optician’s appointment in the early afternoon in Halesworth and we had decided we would have lunch in a pub together before the appointment.

Iken is about twenty-four miles to the south of us and is a tiny village near the estuary of the River Alde and near the coast.  We have walked here a few times before but not for some time and never in the depths of winter.  The day was cloudy and raw, the temperature didn’t rise above 1 degree Centigrade all day ; a day when it would have been pleasant to have stayed at home and read a book.

The view of the Alde estuary through the trees at the edge of the car park.

There is a narrow pathway from the car park down to the estuary.

Despite the cold weather the Gorse (Ulex europaeus) was still in bloom. ‘Gorse is out of bloom, kissing’s out of fashion’.

I noticed this branch covered in fungus.  It was almost luminous.

I looked closer……

I don’t know what this fungus is.  It was much too cold to stand still for more than a couple of minutes so I had to leave it.

The Alde estuary.  You can just see the tower of Iken church sticking out above the dark trees on the horizon on the right.

There are many geese, ducks and wading birds on the estuary.  I don’t know what type of geese these are.

Some, if not all of these waders are probably Bar-tailed Godwits (Limosa lapponica). They appear to have slightly up-turned bills with pink-orange bases.

Here is Iken church near the edge of the estuary.

The shore was very muddy and difficult to walk on.


I couldn’t definitely identify these ducks either!

……. and yet more ducks. All floating about far out on the water in the gloom.

We left the estuary and walked along another narrow pathway adjacent to a few gardens until we got to the road in the village.  At a junction on the edge of the village we turned left towards the church which is situated right at the end of a promontory jutting out into the estuary.

I saw this Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) in flower by the side of the lane, What a hardy plant!

Richard disappearing into the distance along the lane towards the church.

Sheep in a field by the side of the lane. So many molehills in this field!

Iken church, dedicated to Saint Botolph.

This church is mentioned in the Anglo Saxon Chronicle.  “Here in 654……Botwulf (Botulph) began to build the minster at Icanho”.  There are a couple of other places that have been considered as the possible site of Botulph’s first church (Boston in Lincolnshire and Hadstock in Essex) but this promontory, or hoo is now considered to be the most likely site.Here is a short passage quoted from the church guide written by Roy Tricker.

‘A Saxon minster was a nucleus of Christian worship, witness and learning for a wide area.  It was staffed either by a community of monks or a group of priests and from it missionaries travelled to spread the Faith and to establish satellite churches.  Botolph remained at Icanho as its abbot until his death in c.680.  It is recorded that he was buried by his disciples on June 17th and this has remained his annual feast day.  Abbot Coelfrith of Wearmouth and Jarrow, who nurtured the young (though later to become the Venerable) Bede, paid a visit to Icanho in 670 to observe the type of monastic life in operation here, and it is recorded that he was greatly impressed.

From Icanho the monks made missionary journeys into East Anglia and beyond and it may be that the 75 or so English churches which bear (or have once borne) St. Botolph’s name may give some clue to the extent of their work.  They include 16 in Norfolk, 4 in Essex and 6 in Suffolk, of which the church at Burgh (near Woodbridge) appears to have enshrined the Saint’s remains for a time.  King Cnut authorised the removal of some of Botolph’s bones to the abbey at Bury St. Edmunds, which he had founded in 1020.  These precious relics had clearly at some time been transferred from Icanho to the relative safety of Burgh, which was also a fort and a defensive site”.

The invading Danes destroyed the monastery in 870 and some time later the site was marked with a stone memorial cross.  The church was rebuilt, again in timber in 900 and re-dedicated to Saint Botolph.  The Normans rebuilt the church in flint-rubble between 1070 and 1110 and from then on parts were rebuilt or improved upon over the centuries.  By the early 19th century only the western end of the church was in use, the rest being in ruins.  The church was repaired and a new chancel built in the mid 19th century.  The village was evacuated in 1942 and the church closed so that the area could be used as a centre for battle training.  The church, which had been slightly damaged  by a fallen tree in a gale and then by the blast from a land mine, reopened in 1947 and the parishioners spent the next ten years or so improving and decorating the church.  During tree-felling in the churchyard in 1968 some sparks from a pile of burning logs set fire to the thatched roof of the nave and destroyed it.  Fortunately, the chancel was undamaged and was blocked off and made fairly watertight. The Parochial Church Council and the tiny congregation have worked hard for many years to raise money for the church’s restoration.  The tower was restored first from 1984 onwards then the nave walls and buttresses conserved and the nave got its new roof in 1987-9.  Between 1990-94 the nave floor was laid and repairs done to the porch and chancel roofs, benches and altar rails, the stonework and glass of the windows and the font.  The work continues still.

A plaque donated by the 81st Fighter Wing USAF who were stationed near Iken from 1951 – 1993.

Information plaque.

Noticeboard with what I believe to be a bell-clapper.

The War Memorial to ten local men who lost their lives in the Great War 1914-18.

The door from the porch into the church.

The beautiful 15th Century font with it’s typically East Anglian decoration of four lions round the stem and angels with outstretched wings under the bowl. The bowl is decorated with the emblems of the four Evangelists and four angels.

I apologise for the murky picture.  It was a very gloomy day and the church had no lights available to us.

The opening to the rood loft staircase.

You can just see the stairs going up to the rood loft. The rood loft has long gone so the stairs go nowhere.

A recess. See the angel with spread wings underneath!

A prettily carved corbel in the roof.

A piscina, so that water used by the priest to wash his hands could be disposed of.

The lower half of the 9th Century Saxon cross probably dedicated to St Botolph found embedded in the tower wall during restoration work in the 1970’s.

The cross is very weather-beaten as one might suppose, but typical inter-lacing Saxon patterns decorate it and there is also what could be a dragon carved on it, but I was unable to photograph it due to the gloom.We left the church and retraced our steps back to the car-park.

I saw this tiny rose in flower!

The entrance to the car-park.

A replica Saxon cross stands in the car-park.

The view across the estuary.

Another bleak view!

We were glad to return to the car and I drove us to Halesworth where we enjoyed a tasty lunch and a drink.

Southwold Again


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Last November, Alice had two weeks holiday after leaving her old job and before starting her new one and came to see us for five days.  We loved having her with us for so long.  She spent those few days sorting out some of her belongings as well as visiting an old friend and cycling to Rumburgh to look round the village where we used to live.  We took her out for a meal one evening and on the one bright and dry day of the week we had lunch in Southwold and walked along the front.

Seagulls perched on the top of the breakwater.

The tide was in and the wind was very strong and cold.

A recent storm had caused this set of steps to be covered in sand and stones.

Even as the tide receded, the waves were still very large and powerful.

Southwold Pier

There was spume all over the beach.

Another view of the pier.

Richard, Alice and Elinor sitting on the steps by the café.

We didn’t sit for too long as it really was extremely cold in the wind.  We turned and made our way back to the car and instead of walking back along the front we crossed the road and walked through the town.

A last view of the sea.

I will end this post by including a rather blurry photograph of a bird seen from our spare room window.

A pure white pheasant.

I last saw this bird just after Christmas.  Friends of ours had two white pheasants visiting their garden.  I am surprised the birds lasted as long as they did as they don’t exactly blend in with their surroundings, do they?

A January Walk


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Let me take you back to the 1st of January…….

We don’t celebrate New Year in this house; we usually (but not always) stay up till midnight on New Year’s Eve, listen to fireworks being let off in the surrounding farms and villages and then make our way to bed.  We have a relaxed New Year’s Day with a late breakfast and then watch/listen to the New Year’s Day Concert from Vienna on the kitchen TV while we read, drink coffee, do the ironing, chat, think about lunch etc. Often, we go for a walk and this year yes, we went for a walk.

We left it too late to travel to a place to walk so we set off from the front door and did our usual circuit of the lanes round St. Margaret village.

After just a few yards I turned around and looked back the way we’d come. We have such long shadows in January!

Richard and I enjoy this walk as it is familiar, is only a couple of miles and gives us plenty to look at.

Looking across the fields to our left as we walked along we saw All Saint’s church.

There were still plenty of leaves on the brambles (Rubus fruticosus agg.).

I enjoyed seeing the bright pink and apricot colours on this leaf while many of the other leaves were still green.  The stems of bramble are grey and lavender and very prickly.

White Deadnettle (Lamium album) in flower.

Our post box. It is growing quite a good crop of lichen on it.

Cattle shed

Our very muddy lane.

A dead tree fell during one of the recent storms and has crushed part of the hedge.

A glowing rose leaf (Rosa canina).

Holly (Ilex aquifolium) growing in the hedge.

Ash saplings (Fraxinus excelsior) with their black buds.

White Bryony berries (Bryonia dioica) decorate the trees.

A close-up of the bryony berries; a little shrivelled and past their best.

Cottages on the lane from Bateman’s Barn to St Margaret, looking back towards Bateman’s Barn.

The reeds (Phragmites australis) at the side of the lane have been cut recently leaving just these few at the base of a telegraph pole.

Ivy (Hedera helix) climbing up tree trunks in the hedgerow.

A view across the fields to distant woods on a slight knoll.

I love the muted shades of the countryside in winter.

Winter Heliotrope (Petasites fragrans) in flower with myriad Goosegrass or Cleavers (Galium aparine) seedlings.

Winter Heliotrope has the most delicious scent!  On a mild winter’s day the air is filled with its sweet perfume.  It is an invasive alien and takes over large areas of hedgerow to the detriment of all the native plants but…. nothing else has such bright green leaves and such flowers at this time of year.  One of the books I am reading currently is ‘Down the Garden Path’ by Beverley Nichols written in 1932.  He enthuses about Winter Heliotrope!

‘If you want to begin with something that is quite foolproof, you cannot do better than invest in a few roots of Petasites fragrans which has the pretty English name of winter heliotrope.  Some people sneer at the winter heliotrope.  They say the flower is dingy, and that the roots have abominable habits, being inclined to spread indiscriminately into the garden next door.  The people next door should be grateful if the roots do spread into their garden.  For the flower is not dingy at all … it is a little pale and humble … that is all.  Besides, one does not grow the winter heliotrope for its beauty of form.  One grows it for its beauty of scent.  It has a most exquisite fragrance.  If you cut it and carry it indoors it will scent a whole room.’

Quantities of Beech mast (Fagus sylvatica) covered the path to the church.

Young primrose leaf-whorls (Primula vulgaris) with a few Cow Parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris) seedlings in the churchyard.

St Margaret South Elmham church. I have been cleaning this church regularly since last February.

A large beech tree in the churchyard.

A very twisted Ash tree in the churchyard.

Richard waiting for me at the church gate.


Some small mushrooms discovered on the grass verge.

The fern-like leaves of Cow Parsley waiting for spring.

Our house seen across the field.

Home for a cup of tea!

As many of you will have realised, I have been trying to catch-up with all of your posts.  I considered missing all the posts out and just starting afresh but then I found I needed to know what you have been up to for the past few weeks.  I wanted to admire all your photos and read your poems and stories.  I haven’t commented very often for which I apologise, but I have definitely read all you have written and I have enjoyed it all!  I am nearly caught up and I will be back to commenting regularly again.

A Graduation Ceremony


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On the 10th of January, Richard, Elinor and I travelled by train to Sheffield to stay the night with Alice, Phil and Mona the cat.  Our reason for the visit, apart from wanting to see them because we love them, was to witness Alice receive her PhD at a Graduation Ceremony at the University of Sheffield the following day.  Unfortunately, Alice was only allotted two tickets, so while Phil and I sat in the warmth and comfort of a large hall full of people and listened to a saxophone quartet before the formalities began, Richard and Elinor trudged off towards the city centre in search of an art gallery or two and somewhere warm to while away a couple of hours.  Phil impressed me with his ability to recognise and name most of the tunes played by the quartet; no mean feat!

Alice in full regalia before the ceremony, including matching ruby slippers!

Alice and Phil.

Alice and me.

We didn’t have long to wait for Alice’s moment of glory as she was just the second person out of many to receive a handshake from the Chancellor.  (Just look at all those mortar boards at the bottom of the next photo!)

The Chancellor, a high court judge, stands to greet those receiving PhDs; she sits to shake the hands of those receiving MAs and I assume, BAs. No words of encouragement to Alice after her congratulations, just – ‘I love the sparkly shoes!’

After nearly an hour there was a lull in the proceedings while an eminent librarian received an honorary degree and gave her speech.  Then many more people filed past to collect their PhDs and MAs and …… it was all over!

Doctor Alice!

Alice returned her robes and we walked into the city to meet up with the other two.  After a late lunch we returned to Alice’s house for a rest and to collect our luggage then got the train home, arriving at our door at about 10.45 pm.

I wish to thank Phil for the 1st, 3rd and 4th photos; I took the other two.


My 2018.


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I will begin with a couple of thank yous.  Thank you to everyone who has kept in touch with me and kindly asked how I have been during the past few months.  Thank you to all of you who have continued to follow my blog despite my not having written much all year.

We have had quite a busy year which, as you know has included having our old conservatory demolished and a new room built at the back of the house.

During the building works in the spring

Building has begun!


Elinor continued attending art classes three times a week at Wensum Lodge in Norwich until mid-summer and was also interviewed by and accepted at East Coast College to start a Level 3 Art and Design course which began in September.  Richard and I share the driving, taking Elinor to and from college in Lowestoft.  There is no direct public transport between where we live and where she studies; it is quicker and probably cheaper for us to drive her there.  In the autumn we took her to three East Anglian universities that run degree courses in the subject she wishes to study.  They all held open days and we were able to tour the colleges and listen to the tutors speaking about the subjects they teach.  Elinor was able to speak to these tutors and ask relevant questions.  We visited Suffolk University in Ipswich, The University of the Arts in Norwich and Anglia Ruskin College in Cambridge.  She is currently applying to all three and has filled out her UCAS form and paid her fee.  We now wait to see if and when she is called for interviews.

Because we still have no rector for the eleven churches in our benefice we have had to become more involved in the running of the benefice by attending more meetings and in taking some of the services.  Richard took a few services in Rumburgh church during the first half of the year and I took a couple in the second half.  We have attended fund-raising events such as coffee mornings, sales and quizzes and have tried to be as supportive of the other churches in the benefice as we can.  As well as being on the cleaning rota for Rumburgh church I have been doing most of the cleaning at St Margaret South Elmham church all year as there has been no-one well or fit enough there to do the job.  All cleaning is done voluntarily as most of the churches do not have the funds to pay for a cleaner.  As St Margaret has discovered, even when money is found to pay for a cleaner, no-one wants to do it as many local people are afraid to enter these old churches on their own.   All of our churches are medieval buildings needing constant work to keep them from falling down.  This past summer, with its lack of rain, we have found cracks appearing in many of the churches in the benefice.  Some of these repairs have been attended to but we at Rumburgh are still waiting to see when and if ours can be done.  We also have lost a number of glass panes from our windows which meant that birds and insects got into the church during the summer and cold, wind and rain is getting in this winter.  The window repair job will cost about £1000 and we will have to find the money from somewhere.  We have an on-going problem with bats roosting in the church.

Rumburgh church decorated for Harvest Festival. You can see the cracks above the East window.

A closer view of the cracks above the window

Another crack

and another.

The floor tiles are disintegrating.

I visited Alice in February so that I could see her act in ‘Sense and Sensibility’ as I mentioned in a post at the start of the year.  I drove to Kent in March to make a long overdue visit to my sister who was not at all well at the time.  Richard has visited Manchester a couple of times to see his brother, his nephew and his family.  I travelled to Liverpool for a couple of days in June to re-visit old haunts and to see a dear blogging friend who made me very welcome indeed.

The Liver Building in Liverpool seen from the Mersey ferry in June

Richard, both girls and I spent a week on the Isle of Wight in July and then Richard and I spent a week in the Peak District in August while Elinor stayed with Alice in Sheffield.

Looking out to sea from the Isle of Wight in July

The Peak District in August

We visited my dear friend Wendy and her family in August and then, before we knew it, it was the beginning of term and we were driving to Lowestoft three times a week.

We celebrated my brother’s wedding to Helen in May and Richard, Elinor and I visited Pensthorpe Natural Park for the day in June to celebrate our 24th wedding anniversary.


We have all had to attend many medical appointments.  I take my mother to the eye clinic every five weeks and despite having eye injections because of her macular degeneration she has almost completely lost the sight in her left eye and the sight in her right eye isn’t too good but it is stable for the time being.  She also has cataracts and glaucoma.  Her arthritis is painful and she can no longer stand up straight.  Her pet cat died in the summer while we were away on holiday and she misses him very much.  I am spending more time with her.

Richard had a hospital appointment for a procedure at the end of May during which he had to be sedated.  During this procedure it was discovered his pulse rate was irregular and faded away at times so the investigation had to be abandoned.  Since then he has had a number of tests to see what was causing this problem and the specialists were very puzzled for some months.  Of course, Richard was quite anxious all this time not knowing how serious the problem was and wondering if he would need an operation or not.  A couple of days before Christmas he received a letter telling him the latest test had shown that the problem wasn’t as serious as previously thought and he would just be needing a course of statins.  This made us very happy.  The test for the original problem for which he needed sedating is no longer needed either!

Elinor has scoliosis and has a trapped nerve in her spine which has caused part of her leg to become numb.  The problem appears to worsen during the winter months when she gets cold.  She has been having physiotherapy to see if anything can be done to ease the situation.  Nothing so far has made a difference.

My rheumatoid-arthritis is still in remission, which means I have had no flare-ups for some time.  My joints are quite severely damaged, especially my hands and feet but I am used to this as I have had it for many years.  Unfortunately, I have now got osteo-arthritis which is causing yet more damage to my hands and feet.  As everyone knows who has osteo-arthritis, there is nothing that can be done for it except pain relief and eventually joint replacement if appropriate.  I also know that the best thing that can be done is to keep using the joints and keep them moving.

After many years trying to get a full-time job Alice was at last successful and began working at Manchester Metropolitan University in November.  She now has a challenging job as befits someone with a doctorate but has to commute from her home in Sheffield to Manchester each day.  There are regular problems with the trains and she often doesn’t get home til very late.  However, once she is on the train she can enjoy an hour’s reading which is a great pleasure to her.  She will be receiving her doctorate at a graduation ceremony in a couple of weeks time.  She and her partner, Phil got married on 1st December.  They organised the event themselves and as they couldn’t afford a big wedding they only invited very close family and friends.  There were eighteen of us all together and the wedding was a Goth-themed one.  We had a wonderful time and we all got on very well together.

Alice and Phil

Alice and me on her wedding day

Alice and Elinor

No photos of Richard, unfortunately!

We couldn’t get to church for Advent Sunday as we were returning home from Alice’s wedding that day; my brother and Helen took Mum to church.  The following Sunday, the 2nd in Advent, I took a Morning Prayer service at Rumburgh and on the 3rd and 4th Sundays in Advent, I took Mum to church at her church in the town of Eye.

The Advent Crown on a table in our new garden room

Our Advent Crown

The view from the garden room. Apologies for the reflections in the windows.

Another view from the garden room

We have had a very nice Christmas.  We attended the Carol Service at St Margaret South Elmham on the 20th of December and Richard organised and ran our Carol Service at Rumburgh on the 23rd of December.  Richard, Elinor and I collected Mum and took her to Midnight Mass at Eye church on Christmas Eve.   She came to us for the day on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.  We had friends visit for coffee on the morning of the 28th.  Alice came to visit on the 27th (on her own as Phil had to work) and was due to go back home on the 29th but when we got to the station we discovered that there were no trains running to or from Norwich due to signalling failures.  She had to return here for the night and eventually got home the following afternoon.

St Margaret’s church at the carol service

A frosty view from the garden room on Christmas Day

I think that covers everything!  I hope I am able to get back to blogging some time soon though, of course, I cannot promise to be any better at it than last year!

May I wish you all a very happy, healthy and successful 2019.


Letting Go

I love this poem by Beckarooney! I hope you do, too.

Part-Time Poet

The trees are about to show us

how liberating it is

to let things go,

A blur of Jurassic trunks and octopus branches

once serene jades and emeralds

now spellbinding golds, rubies, ambers

fading embers falling

to leave their skeletal state

what sight is more breathtaking in winter

than these stark silhouettes against a zealous sunrise?

I relish being in attendance

with the morning mist

accompanying a hazy sunrise,

with a preponderance of golden yellow

giving the dark-red maple leaves

a rich, ornate presence

garnets in a Victorian ring.

A ripe apple or pear

their sweet aroma carried

on the crisp air,

to twist one off a branch

and sink your teeth into the crisp

sweet skin

is a primeval instinct

felt from within.

September is satisfying,

content, mellow

like an old friend

saying hello.

The anticipation of autumn

followed by winter’s slumber,

to embrace the darker months

makes the…

View original post 69 more words

Wedding and Weaving


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I have been thinking for some time that I ought to let you know something of what we have been doing this year but I haven’t been sure where I should start!  I will begin by telling you of our recent big family celebration, my brother Andrew’s wedding to Helen on the 12th of May.

Helen and Andrew – my brother and his lovely wife

This photo and the one below I ‘obtained’ from Facebook and they were taken by Andrew and Helen’s friends.  I didn’t take any photographs that day and am very grateful to those who did.  Don’t they look a happy couple?

Helen and Andrew

Richard and me – taken by Elinor

Alice and Elinor – taken by Richard

The day was a little chilly but fairly bright and it stayed dry until we were all at the reception, which was very lucky.

I had spent quite a bit of time during the preceding months helping Mum find a new outfit for the occasion.  I visited many shops, on my own, in a number of towns looking for something she might be happy to wear.  The shops had to have easy access and be near to a car park.  The clothes had to be suitable in design and price.  I eventually got together a plan of campaign and we had a shopping trip just ten days before the wedding.  We were very fortunate in finding just what Mum wanted but I am disappointed in not having a photograph of her in her finery.

It was good to see Andrew’s children Natalie and Robert and Natalie’s partner Adam.  My sister Francesca managed to take the day off work but her three children weren’t able to attend.  Mum was very pleased to see them all.


My niece, Natalie specialised in weaving when studying for her degree in Art in London.  I thought, as I hadn’t been able in an earlier post of mine to include any photos of the embroidery and textiles I saw at an exhibition, I would mention the work Natalie does and include a few links.

Natalie works for Humphries Weaving based in the town of Sudbury in Suffolk.  Here is a short video produced by that company and in it you will be able to see Natalie and her colleague and listen to them talk about the work they do.  Natalie is the woman with her hair up and she doesn’t have a Scottish accent!

One of the projects Natalie has been working on for the past few years is helping to conserve the Saloon in the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, that wonderful building commissioned by George IV.

Here is an article from the Guardian newspaper about the restoration work.

I also include another film made by Humphries Weaving which explains the work they have had to do and all the detailed research that has been carried out.

I am looking forward to visiting the Royal Pavilion and seeing this beautiful room!

A Star is Born


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I may not have been writing posts for some months but I have been trying to keep up with my blogging friends.  One of these friends is Charlotte Hoather, an operatic star in the making.  Some of you may know her.

I have been following her career for a few years now and am constantly amazed at her dedication, courage, energy, generosity, humility and most important of all, her tremendous talent.

I include here, a recent post of hers in which she describes how she deals with the pressures of the life she leads.  How many of us could cope so well?

If you would like to find out why she decided to embark on an operatic career, the difficulties she has encountered and overcome on the way and why she blogs, please look at the following post.  Please do click on the videos she has included.  Watch her perform and listen to her wonderful voice.

Have you seen how many WordPress followers she has?!  I am in awe of her.


Avian Visitors


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We have had some warm periods of weather at last, after a long, cold spring.  Spring flowers have rushed to bloom and set seed before summer arrives and the trees have clothed themselves in delicate green leaves.

Any warm days we had in early spring were quickly followed by much cooler and wetter weather and the returning birds were confused, I am sure.  I saw a couple of vanguard male Swallows (Hirundo rustica) at the beginning of April but the ensuing wet and windy weather must have sent them back south because I didn’t see them again until mid May!

Two Swallows on the electric cable above our garden in April

Swallow number 1

Swallow number 2

We are pleased to say that the Greylags (Anser anser) did arrive in our garden, a little later than usual and spent a couple of hours a day inspecting the place…..

Greylag male and female

…..until they were ready to set up home here for the duration.  A nest was built on the island and the female began to sit on her eggs at the end of March.

The geese taking up residence.

The island

The goose on her nest. She lowers her head to become less noticeable.

The gander patrols the water…..

….but often went off elsewhere to eat and meet his friends, though was within calling range.

The goose sat and sat and sat, only leaving the nest for a couple of minutes in the morning and evening to snatch a quick bite to eat.

Eventually, right at the end of April the goslings hatched.  There are four of them but I have had great difficulty photographing them.

Retreating Greylag family

As the goslings have grown the parents have become a little more relaxed but still beat a hasty retreat if anyone gets too close.

Gander on the lookout

Four fat babies eating our grass

These photos were taken at dusk and with my zoom at full stretch!  The goslings are on the move all the time and it is very difficult to get them in focus.

This photo was taken a few days later from Elinor’s bedroom window

I managed to get the whole family in this one!

While the goose was still sitting on her nest we had some surprise and unexpected visitors in the garden.

Barnacle Geese! (Branta leucopsis)   They had the cheek to land on the Greylags’ island while the goose was on her nest!

They appeared to want to set up home there too.

Richard saw them visit a few days later when the Greylag goose decided she didn’t want them there any longer.  She called her mate who arrived very quickly and saw them off.  These photos were taken from Elinor’s bedroom window again.

The pond has also had many visits from Tufted Ducks (Aythya fuligula).  There have often been two pairs of them swimming together.

Male and female Tufted Ducks

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) male and female

Mallard drake

A pair of Moorhens (Gallinula chloropus)

The Moorhens again; one displaying its white feathers under its tail.

Before the leaves appeared on the Ash tree we had frequent flocks of Starlings visit in the evening

Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris)

We also had Fieldfares (Turdus pilaris) and Redwings (Turdus iliacus) congregate in that same tree before they flew north and east to their breeding grounds.

Once the winter birds had left, Spring decided it ought to do some catching up.  Flowers appeared, summer birds arrived despite the cool temperatures and I took this rather shaky video of our pond, mainly to record the birdsong (and the lambs!)

I managed to photograph a Blue Tit (Parus caeruleus) in our Rowan tree.

Blue Tit. There is also a crescent moon behind the tree

The next photo is a bit sad.  Sad in one sense that it shows a dead bird and sad in another that I am strange enough to want to photograph a dead bird!  I apologise to anyone who is upset at seeing these photos which were taken to record the presence of the bird in the area.  I buried the bird as soon as I had finished looking at it.

A Firecrest (Regulus ignicapillus).

I found this poor bird in the flowerbed under one of our windows and I assume it had flown into the glass and killed itself.

It is a tiny bird as you can see when compared with my hand.

Here is a link with information about Firecrests

We get Goldcrests in our garden but this is the first time I have seen a Firecrest here and am sorry that it had died.  It proves though, that there are probably other Firecrests about so I must be more observant.

A Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos) singing at dusk

I also made another poor video of this lovely bird singing.  I had to balance on one leg while peering round the corner of our house to make the video which is my excuse for the poor quality.  The video is dedicated to Richard Sutton of A Listening Heart blog who lamented in a recent post that he hadn’t heard a Song Thrush for a while.  Please do visit Richard’s blog.  He writes beautifully about the countryside where he lives and about poets and writers too.