January Music



I find listening to music such a comfort!  It soothes and calms me, it invigorates and excites me, I couldn’t be without it!

I have spent hours this week driving myself, my mother and my daughter to appointments in Norwich.  I am tired and recovering from a head-cold and a migraine and would like to write a post but haven’t the energy or the time.

Here are some pieces of music inspired by the month, the season and or the weather.  Some are long pieces and some are short; some are classical pieces and some are not.  I hope you enjoy listening to them.

Nova Scotia January – Waltz from Cape Breton played by Helicon.

Winter from The Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi

The Skater’s Waltz by Émile Waldteufel

The Snow is Dancing No. 4 from Children’s Corner by Claude Debussy

Winterlust, Polka schnell by Josef Strauss

Der Schneemann by Erich Korngold

Lieutenant Kijé Suite by Prokofiev

Snowbound by Genesis

January by Kristina Train

White Winter Hymnal by Fleet Foxes

And to finish, an excerpt from the first Pink Panther film from 1963 set mainly in the ski resort of Cortina D’Amprezzo.

Did you spot all the stars?

Happy listening!

A New Year’s Walk at Dunwich


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I hope you all had a merry Christmas and that you will have a blessed and healthy new year.  I apologise if I haven’t visited your sites/blogs recently but I will endeavour to do so very soon.

I would like to thank all my kind followers, readers and visitors for continuing to support me despite very few posts during the past couple of years.  I am just embarking on my 7th year as a WordPress blogger, which amazes me and dismays me at the same time.  What on earth have I achieved in those six years since January 2014?  Not much, I think!




My daughter Alice and her husband Phil came to stay with us this Christmas and Alice brought her cat Mona with her as well.  Mum came for lunch on both Christmas Day and Boxing Day so our house was nicely full of family.  I took Mum to Midnight Mass at Eye church on Christmas Eve getting back home at 1.15 am.  Next morning I went to our church at Rumburgh and helped Richard get it ready as it was our turn to hold the Christmas morning Communion service this year.  I also stayed for the service and helped tidy up afterwards.  I had put the turkey in the oven to roast before leaving for church and by the time I got home again it was time to take it out.  Alice had prepared all the vegetables for me while I was out so I had no trouble getting on with the meal on my return.  Boxing Day was easier as I didn’t have to go out in the morning but I had just as much food to cook.  By the time we had finished lunch and I had made us tea and coffee I was ready for a rest.  Richard did a wonderful job clearing the table and doing all the washing-up and dishwasher loading and unloading on both days!  Phil went back home on Friday 27th but Alice and Mona stayed on until the following Monday which was lovely!  I was so happy having both my daughters with me this Christmas!  We all went out for lunch in Halesworth on Saturday and then drove to the seaside at Southwold.  We walked the whole length of the promenade and back again and then to the end of the pier and back before returning to the car and going home.  It was very busy with other walkers, chilly and breezy, fine and dry and we were glad of the walk.  I took no photographs.

I spent most of Monday and Tuesday shopping for Mum and us, doing the washing and putting the things back into the spare room that had been removed to make room for our guests.  Richard and I both felt we needed to get out of the house again but wanted to walk somewhere different.  On New Year’s Day we decided that Dunwich Heath would be a good place to go and thought that it would have less mud and puddles to wade through than most walks.  However, when we got there the crowds were so great that there was nowhere to park and a queue had formed so we turned round and drove to the beach car park.  We found a space, though that car park was very full too.

Here it is on our return from our walk.

Here is a view of Dingle Marshes over the tops of parked cars.

We started off by walking down to the beach to look at the sea.  The beach was quite busy with walkers and dogs and the wind off the sea was biting.  We didn’t stay long.

A sepia view of Dunwich beach.

We left the beach and walked up towards the main part of Dunwich village.  We turned off the lane and took a footpath that climbed up through Greyfriars Wood.  At the top of the incline the path then went along the edge of the cliff.

The disconcerting sign.

Most of the East Anglian coastline is eroding fairly quickly.  After every storm we expect to find that large chunks of the cliff have broken off and fallen onto the beach.  Our friend Cordelia’s daughter has written a book about what it is like to live in a house on the edge of a cliff in Suffolk.  The book is called ‘The Easternmost House’ and is available in paperback and on Kindle.

Here is a view from the path. See how close the edge of the cliff is!

I always like to see what plants are growing wherever I walk, as you know. This is Stinking Iris (Iris foetidissima )

This plant has many names; Roast-beef Plant, Gladdon or Gladwyn, Bloody Bones, Blue Devil, Dragon Flower, Dagger Flower are a few of them.  If the leaves are rubbed they give off an odour like stale, raw beef.  The flowers are pale mauve/purple, sometimes with some yellow colour as well and are veined with darker lines.  It comes into its own in the autumn and winter when the seed pods burst open and reveal these glorious orange seeds.  The leaves are evergreen, typical iris leaves.  The name Gladdon or Gladwyn comes from the Old English word for a sword.

Beautiful orange seeds!

Further along the path at the edge of the wood I saw this rotting tree-stump with toadstools on it.

Woods near the coast are very rare as trees do not usually fare well in salt-laden air and suffer in the wind and storms.  This mixed woodland was planted in the eighteenth century by the family who owned the village at that time.  The Dunwich Greyfriars Trust which manages the wood today say that only Sycamore trees (Acer pseudoplatanus) are hardy enough to grow on the side of the wood nearest the cliff edge and that there are no young trees in the wood.  They are trying to overcome the latter by fencing off areas where large trees have fallen and open glades have appeared.  The fences prevent deer from destroying all the seedlings and saplings that will appear in the sunlight and it is to be hoped that the wood will begin to regenerate.

These are the ruins of the Greyfriars Monastery.

All that is left of the 13th/14th century monastery are these ruins, thought to be the refectory at the southern end of the complex.  The cloisters, with accommodation for monks and visitors, and an enormous church were further to the north and were all destroyed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries.  The nave and chancel of the church together were about 58 metres long and up to 17 metres wide (190 feet 3.5 ins x 55 feet 9 ins).  There is a perimeter wall around the site of the monastery which was built sometime after the main buildings were constructed and has been repaired and rebuilt many times in the intervening years.  There were three gates into the complex; two which still stand on the western side allowed access to the main road that ran into and away from the medieval town of Dunwich.  The third, now lost to the sea gave access directly into the town with its large port which was also lost centuries ago.

The western gates

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It is always interesting to see how these old buildings are constructed and with what materials.

The Dunwich Greyfriars Trust work hard conserving what they can of these ruins.  They have capped off most of the walls to prevent rain and frost damage.  If you look carefully at one of the photos in the slideshow you will see a sign asking visitors not to climb on the ruins. You can also see in my other photos how much notice the visitors take of the sign!

Greyfriars ruins

Part of the complex showing the perimeter wall

The perimeter wall comes to an end here at the cliff edge. Much of this part of the wall is original 14th/15th century work and hasn’t been rebuilt.  Eventually the whole monastery complex will end up in the sea.

We re-entered the wood near to the cliff edge

The sad but beautiful trunk of a long-dead tree

We found a little bridge, built fairly recently.

There is a lot of Holly (Ilex aquifolium) in the wood

The leaves on this dead holly branch were shining like bronze.

We emerged onto the road next to the perimeter wall

An interesting mixture of flint, beach pebbles and pieces of stone recycled from elsewhere

We stood in the main gateway and looked across the area that had once been monastery land. A pony now keeps the grass in order.

The smaller west gate as seen from the road

A very nice example of flushwork over the gateway

In the gateway

You may have noticed how green everything is. This is Alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum)

This plant is an ancient introduction, probably at the time of the Roman occupation.  Its unusual name refers to its Macedonian origin, Alexander the Great’s birthplace.  It is wholly edible and the name Smyrnium is from the Greek word for myrrh and refers to its myrrh-like taste.The leaves can be made into a white sauce or used as a herb.  The young stems can be cooked and eaten like asparagus, the flowerbuds may be used in salads and the roots cooked as a substitute for parsnips.  I read that an old Irish recipe lists alexanders, watercress and nettles as ingredients for ‘Lenten pottage’.  In the 17th century its black seeds were sold in apothecaries’ shops as Macedonian parsley seeds and Nicholas Culpeper the herbalist listed many uses for it including the power to cure not only flatulence but snakebite too!  Until recently Alexanders was only to be found in the south and east of Britain and close to the milder coast.  However, I have noticed its spread inland and northwards of late.

The Greyfriars Trust have been trying to manage the spread of Alexanders in the wood.  It grows so densely it prevents seeds from germinating and smothers other plants.  We have had a mild winter so far with some frosts that have melted by midday and no snow as yet.  We have had lots of rain and so many plants have continued growing through the autumn and winter and plants, like Alexanders that died after flowering in the early summer have new plants growing from seed already.

This is the lane that passes along next to the monastery wall and enters what is left of the ‘town’ of Dunwich.

This is near where we first entered the wood at the beginning of our walk. You see how Alexanders is spreading everywhere.

Dunwich village.  Lots of cars parked in the road and many of the cars’ passengers are probably in the ‘The Ship’, the inn with the tall chimneys just beyond the black car.

I am indebted to the excellent website belonging to the Dunwich Greyfriars Trust for much of the information in this post.  My other reference books have been the Reader’s Digest Field Guide to the Wild Flowers of Britain, Reader’s Digest Field Guide to the Trees and Shrubs of Britain, Culpeper’s Colour Herbal published by W Foulsham and Company Limited, Collins Complete Guide to British Wild Flowers, Collins Complete Guide to British Trees, Flora Brittanica by Richard Mabey, Vickery’s Folk Flora and Harrap’s Wild Flowers.  The photographs are all my own.

Our Church


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Quite a lot of our time is taken up with the church.  Not just attending services, fund raising, going to meetings and social occasions, but dealing with the crumbling fabric of the church building.

A beautiful spring day with the churchyard full of cowslips

St Michael and St Felix priory church in Rumburgh

Here is the church that Richard and I belong to in the benefice of The Saints in NE Suffolk.  This photo was taken in the middle of April this year and work had just begun to restore the porch roof which was in great danger of falling down.  It takes such a long time to instigate any repairs to the ancient churches in our benefice, I am always worried in case the church collapses into ruins before we have firstly, raised enough funds for the task, then filled in all the endless forms and lastly, all the numerous visits from the authorities have taken place.  Our church is old.  It had its beginnings nearly one thousand years ago, though most of the church was built in the 13th century.

The porch

Quite a lot of rotting timber was removed from the roof.

We are waiting for the inside to dry out now that the roof is watertight.

The builder’s excellent work under the eaves.

The opposite side needed just as much work.

The finished porch

The gate also needed repairing.

This photo was taken towards the end of May this year.  The metal bars sticking up in front of the gate are an attempt to stop thieves driving up to the church to steal parts of the building.  We can unlock the bars when necessary.

Gate one….

…and gate two.

You can see how well these gates have been repaired, all the rotten wood removed and new parts inserted.  We could not afford to have new gates made.

We have had some problems with damage and vandalism in the church this year.  We keep our church open and unlocked so that it is accessible and available to all who may need to visit and use it for prayer or for peaceful meditation.  Fire extinguishers have been set off in the church, mud smeared over the furniture and other minor damage has been done.  On occasion we have had to lock the church overnight and sometimes during the day.  This is the first time in living memory that Rumburgh has had to deal with this problem.

In August of 2017 I published this post in which I spoke about the retirement of our vicar, Richard.  From that moment on we had to run ourselves, all eleven parish churches in our benefice.  We have had to organise our services and make sure there were priests available for communion services, for funerals, for baptisms and for weddings.  We couldn’t have done this without the organisational skills of Maurice, our Elder (who has just retired) and without the kindness of a team of retired priests and the hard work of our one Reader, Lynda.  Many of us were roped in to take Morning and Evening Prayer services, Harvest Festivals and Carol Services, Richard and me included.  We still had our PCC meetings to attend, repairs to our ancient churches to arrange, fund raising for said repairs as well as trying to find our Parish Share each year. At the same time we had many discussions about the future and whether we would be able to get a new priest at all.  All eleven churches provided a wish list; what we wanted in our new priest.

This collection of eleven different pictures of an ideal vicar was read by the Rural Dean, his Assistant Rural Dean and by the Archdeacon who sent them back to us with lots of red pen all over them and a few ‘see me’s.  Eventually we produced a booklet describing our benefice and all the churches within it.  We stated what we thought our new priest ought to be like and asked potential vicars to come and live with us.  We were told at first that we probably wouldn’t get a full-time vicar but the Archdeacon then said he thought that as we don’t have a ‘mother church’ (we are all small churches in small villages; no town church with a larger congregation) and the benefice though sparsely populated is large in area, we needed a full-time priest, or at least two part-time priests.  The Archdeacon got his way and we advertised for two part-time ‘house-for-duty’ priests.  The priest would be provided with a house in exchange for working in the benefice.  The Archdeacon, the Rural Dean and his assistant also all took turns in taking services in our benefice during the interregnum.  The Archdeacon played the organ at the services he took, so we didn’t need to find an organist or arrange a karaoke machine for the hymns.  Sadly, the Archdeacon who wasn’t in the best of health and was just about to retire early, became very ill and then died a few weeks ago.  He lived long enough to see that we managed to get one of our two house-for-duty priests who was licensed on the 5th of September this year.

Leon was born and grew up in this benefice and is the son of a farmer and his wife who live in Ilketshall St Margaret.  Leon’s mum is the Church Warden at Ilketshall St Margaret church.  Leon has been a priest for some years, maybe nearly twenty years, as I remember him at home before he went off to college about a year after Elinor was born.  He is married with two young children.  He originally wanted to give up the priesthood completely and return home to help run his parents’ farm, full time.  But he changed his mind and took the part-time job as our priest and works with his parents on the farm for the rest of the week.  He now finds himself doing two jobs which ideally need to be done by two people working full-time.  We are still wanting another part-time priest so a lot of the duties we carried out during the interregnum we are still doing now.  I took Morning Prayer two weeks ago and Richard and I took the Harvest Festival service together.

Rumburgh church filling up with people ready for Leon’s licensing service.

The clergy congregate at the back of the church before the service. The Bishop is the one with the red over his shoulder on the left of the photo.  He is talking to Maurice.

Unfortunately I became too busy to take any more photos at the service, which went very well.  Afterwards we all went to the village hall for food and drink.  We had all provided one savoury and one sweet item of food and had delivered them to the village hall before the service.

Here is the cheese and broccoli quiche I made.

Mum cooked a tray-bake fruit cake for me to take.

It is good to have a priest in the benefice again.  The PCC meetings and the benefice meetings continue and we are now planning our Christmas services.

Richard and John (another member of our PCC) have been working very hard for  months to get major repairs done at our church.  At the beginning of this year I showed you, in a post, some photographs of large cracks that had appeared in the east wall of the church.  These cracks have become larger and pieces of masonry are falling down inside the building.  Builders have been approached but very few are willing to do the work or, if willing at first, then had to back out because of the length of time it took for the authorities to give us the go-ahead.  A visit was made to the church by a group of people who were very concerned at the state of the church and wished to help but insisted that the gutters should be repaired first before the cracks in the wall are tackled.  The gutters definitely need replacing/repairing as the walls are so damp inside the church they are green.  The visitors said they would give us a grant to get the work done.  A local retired builder who has worked in many of our churches was approached to do the work.  He agreed, but last week the poor man became ill and can no longer help us.  We have to start looking for another builder and the time is running out.  To claim the grant the work has to be done by February.

We must support Richard and John in their work, say our prayers and trust that something will turn up!

As an antidote to all this frustration, here is a festive song.



Let’s talk about things …

A wonderful post from MTM who also writes the funniest fantasy novels I have ever read.

M T McGuire Authorholic

Wow, I have a whole gamut of stuff washing around to talk about this week. I’m not sure if I’ll get through it all or do it justice but off we go.

First of all, last week, you’ll have noticed there was a break in transmission. Yep. No blog post. I meant to do one but then it was time for the Christmas Fayre I was getting all my shizz ready and … er hem … I forgot.

In my defence, my father’s memorial service took it out of me. It was wonderful but blimey I was knackered afterwards. Lots of emotional stamina required. Which reminds me, I should write and thank a lot of people. Yet more stuff to add to the gargantuan, War And Peace-length list of Shit MTM Hasn’t Done. Gulp.

The fayre was kind of a mix. It was the first time in a new venue…

View original post 2,150 more words

Wildlife in the Garden


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I have a small number of wildlife photographs taken during late spring and through the summer.  This post will feature them.

Four-spotted Chaser, a male (I think!)(Libellula quadrimaculata )

These amber and black-coloured dragonflies fly during late spring and early summer and fortunately for me and my camera, they take regular rests on plants round the edge of the pond from where they watch for prey and/or mates.  Males are very territorial and aggressive.

Female Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella )

I spent some time trying to decide whether this was an Azure or a Variable Damselfly.  The photo isn’t clear enough for me to be sure.  I decided to post the photo on the Damsel and Dragonfly Facebook site and see what the experts thought.  The first person thought it was an Azure and the second thought it was a Variable!  Fortunately a third person plumped for the Azure so that is what it will have to be.

Male Azure Damselfly ( Coenagrion puella)

The males are much brighter than the females.

Male Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos )

When I took this photo at the beginning of summer I was upset to see how little water was in the pond.  At that time of year there ought to have been at least two or three more feet of water there.  I was not to know how bad it would get by the end of the summer when most of the pond had become dry.

Rosemary Beetle (Chrysolina americana ) on rosemary

Rosemary beetle on sage

I have been finding these attractive beetles on my rosemary, lavender and sage plants for the past couple of years.  They are a non-native invasive species of beetle related to the Colorado Beetle.  They do a fair amount of damage to plants if left unchecked and can kill young plants.  Because of our recent mild winters they are active throughout the year.  Here is a link to the RHS website which describes the beetle.

Speckled Wood butterfly (Parage aegeria )

I apologize for the poor photo of this pretty butterfly.  This was the closest I got to one all summer!  They are difficult to see in the dappled light of a woodland ride where they like to live.  They feed mainly on honeydew in the treetops.

Green-veined White butterfly (Peiris napi )

I saw a number of these white butterflies this year.  I read that the green-veined white prefers to lay its eggs on wild members of the cabbage family ( watercress, garlic mustard etc.) rather than on plants in our vegetable gardens.  This one appears to be laying eggs on my aubretia, which is also a member of the cabbage family!

The Painted Lady butterfly( Vanessa cardui) has had a very good year here and almost the whole country has seen numbers of them. They cannot survive our winters so new butterflies arrive each spring by immigration from southern Europe.  The caterpillars feed mainly on thistles and sometimes mallows.

Red Admirals (Vanessa atalanta ) are increasingly able to survive our winters by hibernation.  The majority arrive here in the spring from Europe and then subsequent generations fly and breed until the first frosts.  The caterpillars feed on stinging nettles.

Small Tortoiseshell butterfly (Aglais urticae )

The one and only small tortoiseshell I was able to photograph.  I haven’t seen many this year.  The butterflies hibernate as adults in hollow trees and buildings and the caterpillars feed on stinging nettles.  As good a reason as any to keep a few nettles in the corner of the garden.

A rather battered Holly Blue butterfly (Celastrina argiolus ) on Escallonia

I saw quite a few holly blues this year which probably means they will be scarce again next year.  The caterpillars are often attacked by two species of parasitic wasp that sometimes wipe out whole colonies of holly blue.  The male and female butterflies’ underside of their wings looks alike so I can’t say which this is.  It refused to open its wings all the time I was watching it and then flew off at speed the moment my attention wavered!

I would recommend Escallonia as a favourite with bees and butterflies.  I also saw a Green Hairstreak butterfly on it this summer but I didn’t have my camera to hand.

Mint Moth ( Pyrausta aurata) on lavender

At least, I believe this might be a Mint Moth.  It appears to have two golden spots on its forewings which is what one looks for.

Lunar Yellow Underwing (Noctua orbona )

You may think it strange that I have chosen to include a photo of a dead moth.  I expect it is.  This poor thing managed to get itself trapped in the house while we were away on holiday and I found it in the garden room.  These moths are quite uncommon and I am pleased that they are present in our garden.

Ivy (Hedera helix ) hedge

I parked my car up against this hedge in Bungay a couple of weeks ago and stopped to admire all the wonderful flowers all over it.  I then realized it was covered in bees.

Ivy flowers

Ivy Mining Bee ( Colletes hederae)

Ivy Mining Bee

These bees dash about all over the place and never stay for more than a few seconds on any one flower.  I was very fortunate to get the photos I did.  I couldn’t stay long as I had shopping to do and the owner of the red car (see the first photo) returned to her vehicle and was eyeing me suspiciously.

Common Toad (Bufo bufo)

I looked up from my lunch one day in June and saw this young toad marching across the grass in front of the kitchen window.  My phone doesn’t take good photos and I couldn’t crop the shot without it becoming pixelated.  You can see the toad has long legs with which it covers quite a lot of ground at some speed.  Toads don’t jump and hop very often.

See how parched the grass was at the beginning of the summer!  Things didn’t improve much until quite recently.  We have had large quantities of rain in the last few weeks and the grass is growing again!

Grass Snake (Natrix natrix ) skin on the grass round our large pond

We often see grass snakes in our garden but this year this is the closest I got to one.  They are Britain’s longest snake at one metre in length, occasionally longer. They are variable in colour and pattern being either green, olive-green, brown or grey.  They have a yellow to orange-red collar just behind their head and have regular black markings along their sides (or not, as the case may be!) They are very good swimmers.

Both these photographs of starlings (Sturnus vulgaris ) were taken by Elinor when she was on a trip to the North Norfolk coast this autumn.  I love these garrulous birds and enjoy listening to their twittering and whistling.  These birds in the photos are resplendent in their speckled winter plumage and have black bills.  The feathers become less speckled and  more iridescent green and purple through the winter and the bills turn a beautiful lemon-yellow in spring. They are excellent mimics and will copy other bird’s songs and calls and any other noises they find interesting.  In the early seventies we had one in the road where I grew up that did a good impersonation of a Trimphone.  Is impersonation the right word?  Again, there was a starling that lived next to the primary school that Elinor attended when we lived in Somerset that had a call that sounded just like little girls screaming in the playground.

A Jay (Garrulus glandarius ) feather

I think this feather is so beautiful!  Richard found it in the garden.

From these slightly blurred photos it is difficult to see the iridescence of the feathers, the maroon, amber and dark brown shades that make these pheasant ( Phasianus colchicus) feathers so lovely.  I found them all together in a heap in the garden.  I assume that this pheasant had been fighting and had had these scraped from his breast.  Pheasants don’t like fighting at all and will get out of it if they can.  If disturbed in the middle of their posturing both combatants will sidle away hoping, I’m sure, they won’t be followed.




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From the fury of the Northmen O Lord deliver us!

Elinor and I went to an exhibition at the Castle Museum in Norwich during May this year.  The subject of the exhibition was ‘The Vikings’ and the items displayed were objects discovered mainly in Britain.  There were treasures on loan from the British Museum in London and from The Yorkshire Museum in York as well as things found here in East Anglia.  East Anglia was part of the Danelaw in the 9th Century.

The first exhibits we looked at were items found from when the Vikings first invaded Britain; things they had brought with them on their journey across the North Sea.  We saw some of the weapons used by them and also by the Anglo Saxons in their battles for land and supremacy.  We then saw artefacts made and used by the Viking settlers once they had made their home here.  They were wonderful traders, with routes across the Irish Sea to Ireland, up to the Arctic Circle, across the Atlantic to America and all over Europe and into Asia, Russia, Turkey and India.  They brought some of the goods they found abroad, home to Britain.  The exhibition also showed how the Vikings assimilated some of the fashions and crafting techniques they found here in Britain and eventually became British themselves. If you wish to read further details of the Viking invasion of Britain this is a fairly good account.

I know I have included too many photos here!  I am sorry for the poor quality of several of them – I had a lot of trouble with reflections off the glass cases.

The Gilling Sword – made from iron and silver with an ornate silver gilt handle.  Probably owned by a powerful Saxon earl in the service of Northumbrian King Oswiu.

The York Helmet – made from iron and brass by Anglo-Saxon craftsmen.  It has a beautifully decorated nosepiece and there is a Latin inscription across the top which dedicates the helmet to God.

An Iron Axehead with arm and neck rings. The rings were symbols of Viking status, power and wealth. These would often be given as gifts to reward followers and faithful retainers.

A double-edged Sword, which would have been used by one of the wealthiest Vikings. Also, rivets from a clinker-built ship, an iron axe head, an iron spear head, an iron shield boss and a gold arm ring.

This is a re-used Christian cross showing a warrior with a female hostage.

There were a number of information boards in the exhibition and a large area was taken up as an activity room for children.  A recording of a man and a woman talking quietly together in Old Norse with the sound of wind blowing and seagulls crying in the background was playing all the time we were there.  I found this extremely atmospheric and not at all irritating.

The Ormside Bowl – made in AD 750, the outer skin produced AD 850-900. It is decorated with religious scenes, the work of monks in a Northumbrian monastery. It was discovered in the grave of a Viking man and it had been transformed into a drinking cup.

A bone plaque made by a Viking in the image of a Viking.

This is a rare find, there not being many likenesses of Vikings especially ones done by themselves.  The only written accounts of them are made by others.

The object on the left is an iron rangel or rattle which may have been used during ceremonies. On the right are two Islamic coins (probably traded for fur and slaves), four silver pennies and some ‘hacksilver’; part of some beautiful silver jewellery. The Vikings traded with bullion and goods and didn’t use coins at first. They would cut up (hack) any treasure or jewellery they had and use it as payment for goods.

Leather shoe with a toggle found in York – This is of turnshoe construction. The leather is cut to shape, moulded and stitched together and then turned inside-out so the seams are on the inside. A method used in Scandinavia and Britain.

A silver neckring from Russia. These became very popular with well-to-do Viking ladies and sources record that men would have had to collect and melt down 10,000 silver coins to obtain enough silver to have one of these made!

A carved walrus-tooth gaming piece owned by a merchant who travelled along the trade routes from Norway to Ireland. This piece (a knight) is part of a complete chess set probably made in Norway and found in the Western Isles of Scotland.

When this set was made the Western Isles were part of the Kingdom of Norway.  The set includes kings, queens, bishops, knights and warriors.  The warriors are carved as berserkers, fierce men described in sagas as biting their shields in frenzy before battle.  Scary!

Here is Elinor in the model of a viking boat.

At the time of our visit, Elinor was doing research for her final project in her Level Three Art and Design course at college.  She produced a graphic story book and her character’s clothes and belongings were loosely based on Celtic, Saxon and Viking designs.

A seal made from walrus ivory depicts a man called Sharrus who worked as a tax and toll collector in York during the 12th century. Sharrus (the name can be seen on the perimeter of the seal) is the Latin form of his name, Snaresnorri, meaning ‘shrewd’.

A balance and sets of weights. This is a portable balance and would have been the property of a Viking trader dealing in bullion. This method had long been replaced in England by the use of coins. There were still other areas where commodities were traded directly without the use of silver.

This image of two men carved on a gritstone cross comes from York. One man carries a sword and the other a horn and they are grasping hands in greeting. Another very rare image of Viking people, this cross would have been commissioned and financed by them as a public demonstration of their status and Christian piety.

These two discs are fairly small and the detailed work on them is extremely fine. They are both pendants and would have been worn by a wealthy pagan woman.

A comb case

Deer antler blank (unused antler) and roughouts (pieces of horn used to try out designs before including them in the finished article) with a finished comb and cases.

A phyllite whetstone and a gold finger ring. These belonged to a wealthy woman called Egwen who lived in Scotland. The ring is dedicated to St Peter and that saint may also be the image shown on the whetstone.

Torc from the Bedale Hoard

A tiny gold socketed terminal made from gold sheet and decorated with filigree wire depicting an animal’s head. It is probably the terminal of a pointer or aestel.

This object is a similar shape, though much smaller, to the Alfred Jewel which is believed to be an aestel.

Socketed object made of gilded copper alloy in the 8th/9th century. Probably another aestel.

Two silver pennies of King Aethelred of East Anglia. These are immensely important as only seven coins of this obscure king have been found. They show that after Edmund was killed he was succeeded by another East Anglian ruler not recorded in any historical documents.

A collection of strap ends (decorated metal ornament added to the end of straps) made from silver and niello, a copper alloy tulip mount and a silver (gilt?) disc brooch

Three coins, part of the Bishopshill hoard l. to r. Silver of Aethelred II; Silver of Cnut; Silver of Harthacnut.

A whalebone handle

The following are photographs of several hoards that have been discovered all over Britain.

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I hope you enjoyed seeing some of these wonderful things.

I am very grateful to the curators of the Norwich Castle Museum for this exhibition and for all the information they imparted.

May Flowers


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Let me take you back in time…again….

A selection of photos of plants and flowers seen in May, this year.  Please click on any of these images to enlarge them.

A flowerbed on the south side of the house

The temperatures began to improve during May and the leaves on the fig tree (on the right of the photo) began to come out.  The perennial plants also put on a lot of growth and flowers appeared.



Astrantia have interesting flowers



The Montana clematis continued to produce plenty of highly scented flowers from where it grows on the trellis next to the garden shed.

‘Canary Bird’ rose

Such a lovely yellow rose!

When we had the garden room built last year I had to move many of my plants out of the way. They ended up here on the edge of one of the vegetable beds.

These are wonderful pale lilac iris. I failed to get a decent photo of them.

Another attempt to catch the beauty of this iridescent flower.

A couple of days later more iris had appeared in the bed near the house.

I might move this iris away from the purple and blue ones in the autumn. It is an interesting colour but is a little overwhelmed by its neighbours.

It was a good year for iris.

Euphorbia. This is a small perennial sub-shrub with interesting colours in its leaves and bracts.

All around our garden are hybrids, like this one, between the wild cowslip and garden polyanthas and primulas.  This plant decided to grow in a gravelly area next to a drain and one of the water butts.

Richard has a Californian Lilac in his shrubbery. It was glorious this year!  The bees loved it and I think there are a few in this photo.

Gooseberry. If you look carefully you will see many tiny gooseberries. Unfortunately we didn’t protect the bush from the birds and we got no berries at all. One day they were all there and the next they weren’t. We have never needed to cover the bush before.

The welsh onion in the herb garden went crazy this year!

As well as the plants I have in flower and vegetable beds, there are the wild ones that I love to find.

Thyme-leaved Speedwell (Veronica serpyllifolia )

This is a minute-flowered speedwell I find in the lawn and in the grass path round the pond.  It forms patches of flowers as the stems lie flat along the ground and send out roots from nodes.  The flower stems are upright.

Country people think it very bad luck to bring hawthorn blossom indoors and woe betide you if you destroy a hawthorn!

Goat Willow ( Salix caprea) with its fluffy seeds.

The wood of the Goat Willow is very soft and used to be made into clothes pegs, rake teeth and hatchet handles.

Horse Chestnut ( Aesculus hippocastanum) blossom

Horse Chestnuts were introduced to Britain from the Balkans in the 16th century.  ‘Conkers’ weren’t played with the fruit of the tree until the 18th century. Before that, the game was played with cobnuts from Hazel trees or with snail shells.  The name ‘conkers’ derives from ‘conqueror’.


I am not very good at identifying sedges, reeds, rushes and grasses but I think this might be Glaucous Sedge (Carex flacca).

Ribwort Plantain ( Plantago lanceolata)

I wonder if children still play the old games with Ribwort.  In one of the games, the stalk is held between the thumb and forefinger and the bottom of the stalk is wrapped round the flower-head in a loop.  When the loop is tugged sharply the flower-head is ‘fired’ and often travels a long way.  I read that a form of ‘conkers’ can be played with Ribwort by keeping the flowerhead on its long stem and using it to attempt to knock a rival’s flower-head off.  A couple of local names for Ribwort are ‘fighting cocks’ and ‘kemps’ from the Anglo-Saxon ‘cempa‘ meaning ‘a warrior’.

Spindle (Euonymous europaeus )

The wood of spindle is very hard and dense and pale coloured and from ancient times was used for making spindles.  The wood is also known as skewerwood and pegwood and also makes high quality charcoal.  The tree has an unpleasant smell if bruised and the fruit is an emetic.  In olden days, the leaves and seeds were powdered and this powder was dusted onto the skin of children and animals to drive away lice.

With apologies for the length of this post.

Dunwich Beach and Dingle Marshes


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On May Bank Holiday, the first Monday after May Day, Rumburgh village always holds a fair and Rumburgh church always has the cake stall – a money-earner, though not as good as the tea tent.  This year, I had made a honey and ginger cake which Richard and I delivered to the stall along with a quantity of our rhubarb, which usually sells well.  We didn’t stay long as we had a few chores to do at home and we had planned to go to the seaside in the afternoon.

The day was cool and breezy and rain was forecast for late in the afternoon so Elinor, Richard and I set off as soon as we had had our lunch.

We found ‘Thelma’ hauled far up on the shingle.

We looked inside her and what did we find?

A dried-up dogfish tail.

The wind was cold and strong on the beach and the spray from the waves was being blown about.

Looking north up the beach….

…and southwards.

Inland, behind the shingle bank, is Dingle Marshes Nature Reserve, looked after by the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) and The Suffolk Wildlife Trust.

Richard contemplating the view. It was good to be out of the wind!

Plenty of Sea Campion (Silene uniflora) were in flower.

A Little Egret ( Egretta garzetta) was wading through the marsh

Here it is again, marching purposefully on!

Another view of the marshes with a bright yellow ribbon of Gorse (Ulex europaeus)

Common Scurvygrass (Cochlearia officinalis)

A plant of saltmarshes and increasingly, along the sides of roads that have been salted during the winter.  (Danish Scurvygrass (Cochlearia danica) however, is seen more regularly than Common Scurvygrass on roadsides).  Common Scurveygrass has almost circular fleshy leaves with a few blunt teeth along the edges.  The seedpods are spherical and a few can be seen on a flower-cluster close to the centre-right edge of this photo.  In that same cluster of flowers and seedpods is a tiny yellow-beige 16 spot ladybird which fees on pollen, fungi and nectar.

In the past, scurvy was a very common disease, often fatal, in those who spent much of their time at sea.  Their diet was restricted to salt pork and dried biscuit and they had no fresh fruit or vegetables.  Many on land also had restricted diets so it was a happy day when herbalists discovered that scurvygrass, with its high vitamin C content, was one of the foods that prevented the disease. It became the fashion in 17th century England to take a glass of scurvygrass water every morning. The leaves were made into a beer called scurvygrass ale.

The gorse was so bright and cheerful.

Gorse is also known as furze or whin and grows on the acidic soil of heathland and close to the sea.  It is an excellent fuel and burns quickly and fiercely in dry weather causing heath fires to spread.  It was grown near houses so that washing could be lain out to dry on it and the prickles would prevent the clothes from blowing away.

There was plenty of Sheep’s Sorrel (Rumex acetosella ) with its red flower-spikes.

Sheep’s Sorrel is more sprawling than Common Sorrel and is usually found on very poor sandy soil.  The leaves contain the chemical calcium oxalate which tastes acid; the name ‘sorrel’ comes from the old French word for ‘sour’ (‘surele’).

Lovely rosettes of the leaves of Buck’s-horn Plantain ( Plantago coronopus)

The seeds of this plantain exude a large amount of mucilage when they get wet.  This gummy stuff was used in France to stiffen muslins and other woven fabrics.

There were paths through the reeds.

And an approaching rain shower.

A small wader

Here it is again. Apologies for the poor quality of my picture.

This is the same bird in both photos but I am unable, through ignorance, to identify it.  It may be a sandpiper of some sort.  I am sure someone will be able to suggest a name.  It moved about very quickly.

An information board.

Please click on any of my photos to enlarge them.

Another information board.

We soon left for home before the rain arrived and had a warming cup of tea.


April’s End


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I began writing this post immediately after publishing my last one and got well over half way through writing it and then had to stop.  No time for much self-indulgence, reading and writing for some weeks and now that I have a little time, this post seems somewhat irrelevant.  However, I don’t want to waste it by deleting it so I’ll finish it as best I can.

A pastoral scene at St Michael South Elmham church

Holy Week and then Easter week were very busy, so I didn’t manage to take many photos.  This was one of a very few and was taken on Good Friday as I was leaving church after a service of quiet prayer.

The churchyard of the church of St. Michael and St. Felix at Rumburgh

This and the next two photos were taken on Easter Day in the early afternoon.  As you can see, the churchyard was full of yellow Cowslips ( Primula veris).  I had taken Mum to her church at Eye in the morning and Richard had been to a service at St. Margaret South Elmham in our benefice.  After having some lunch we visited Rumburgh church to make sure all was well and to change the colours on the altar and to put flowers in the church.  We returned home and I began preparing the dinner to which Mum had been invited.

One of the many cowslips in the churchyard

Rumburgh church

During April we had work done on the church porch at Rumburgh.  It is now less likely to fall down.

A striking sunset seen from the back of our house.

Richard and I managed to find time for a short walk round the lanes during Easter week.

Crown Imperial

Someone must have either discarded a Crown Imperial fritillary at the side of our lane or planted it there on purpose.  We have seen it here for a few springs now and it is getting larger and larger.  It is about 3.5 feet tall, well over a metre in height.  I was unable to stop and photograph it when it was in full and glorious flower but even with its shrivelled petals you can easily see what it is and how well it is doing.

The Beck – the stream that flows through much of The Saints.

There was very little water in the Beck at the end of April and by the middle of the following month it had dried up completely.

Some of the undergrowth and scrub had been cleared away from this area next to the lane and an ancient boundary ditch was revealed

The first Greater Stitchwort (Stellaria holostea ) flowers of the year

A bright and beautiful Dandelion (Taraxacum agg. )

The Common Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna ) was just beginning to blossom

I noticed some Forget-me-nots at the back of the grass verge but didn’t look to see what kind they were.  Probably Field Forget-me-not (Myosotis arvensis).

I also saw my first Lords and Ladies (Arum maculatum) of the season. I love all the different shades of green in this photo!

A couple of days later I had to go to the doctor’s surgery for my regular blood-test and noticed that there were many flowers blooming in the patches of grass alongside the driveway.  These grassy areas haven’t been tended as they used to be, due to financial cuts and other problems so these ‘weeds’ have flourished.

Dove’s-foot Cranesbill (Geranium molle) with Daisy (Bellis perennis) and Ribwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolata)

I noticed a profusion of yet more small pink flowers….

…and discovered they were Common Storksbill (Erodium cicutarium), a plant that I usually see nearer to the sea as it likes growing in sand and gravel. My camera doesn’t show how very pink this flower is.

And that is all I managed to record in April this year.  Rather an abrupt end, for which I apologise.

Spring Odds and Ends – April


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Blackthorn ( Prunus spinosa) in flower

This was the view from our front door on the 1st of April.  The rather untidy Blackthorn trees growing on the verge on the other side of our hedge looked like they were snow-covered; the blossom was so plentiful.

A mining bee nest-tunnel

Just over a week after I took the photo of the Blackthorn I was finding bee nests all over the garden.  Some were plain ones like the photo above….

Mining bee Nest -burrows

…and these ones.

Mining bee nest-burrow

But this one (the burrow is in the shadow of one of the seed-pods) has been decorated with twigs, bits of wood, stone and seed-pods! I wonder if this is just by chance or if not, were these to make it easier to find or, is the bee just more of an individual, more artistic than most other bees?  I have found other nest-burrows seemingly marked with twigs and stones.

Wild Cherry ( Prunus avium)

This is one of our wild cherry trees just coming into blossom in the middle of April.  The house on the left of the photo is that of our next-door neighbours and this long thin strip of land, in-between their garden and our leylandii hedge on the right, belongs to us and is where the former owners of our house used to park their combine harvester, so we are told.  We have planted a few trees on this strip of land; you can see a couple of hollies and another cherry has decided to grow here too.

Wild cherry blossom from one of our other cherry trees.

The first Pasque Flower

The same plant a week or so later

The flowerbed on the south side of the house. As you can see, it is very stony.

Amelanchier in flower

Marsh Marigold or King-cup ( Caltha palustris) next to the pond

The same plant a week later

I have posted photos of this lichen-covered tree-trunk before

A closer look at the different lichens

Abandoned goose nest on the island

For the first time since we have lived here we had no nesting geese on the island on our pond.  They built a nest and I am sure they began laying an egg each day prior to incubation but something happened and the nest was abandoned.  The water level in the pond was very low and it would have been easy for a fox to cross the water and get to the nest.  There has always been danger from mink and otters but up til now the geese have coped with them.  A fox is different and much bigger.  This is only a guess – there may have been other reasons; I don’t know.

Cuckooflower/Lady’s Smock (Cardamine pratensis ) next to the pond

New Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum ) leaves and flower buds

We have a couple of spindly Damson or Bullace (Prunus domestica ssp. insititia ) trees growing in the scrubby area near our pond. This is a photo of the blossom and new leaves.

Pear blossom. We recently pruned and topped our pear tree as it was getting enormous. We should still get quite a lot of fruit this year, if all goes well.

Lesser Celandine ( Ficaria verna) and Ground-ivy ( Glechoma hederacea)

The Montana clematis flowered at the end of the month

A drake Mallard swimming on the pond.

I have a few more April photos I would like to share but I will save them for a separate post.