Sunday, 21 May 2017

A Cracking Time

We've been waiting for spring to arrive and the chance to get out and about riding down our beautiful local cycle routes for weeks now but, being fair weather cyclists, a Goldilocks day with the weather being "just right" has still failed to materialise - maybe this week will see that combination of sunshine and no wind that will stir us to action. 

We've kept going to the exercise classes to keep up the fitness and we've had plenty more to keep us busy. 

Last Saturday, Spadge and his team from Slice Of Life Fram pulled yet another rabbit out of the hat to treat Framlingham residents to an incredible evening of poetry performed by angry young man Luke Wright. How Slice Of Life manages to keep punching so much above our little town's weight is beyond me. Here, in a little youth club, on a Saturday night, was a star who could easily fill one of the top spots at the Edinburgh Fringe - performing- just for us. Luke's poetry was exceptional and deserving of the rapturous applause he received.

Wednesday saw us up and dressed at five in the morning to head down to Rochester for a spot of babysitting. We stopped outside Paul's house to take some things in and when I got back five minutes later the windscreen had a huge crack.

I know this sort of thing happens but, after two punctures and a smashed windscreen, 2017 hasn't been our best year for motoring.

While in Rochester we got an invite to the social event of the year - can't wait.

You'll start to think I'm making this up but I'm not. I've been buying and selling a bit on eBay while I'm promoting my new novel (about buying on eBay) and I spotted a nice Japanese bowl for a few pounds last week. Here's how it arrived. This is the fourth smashed item in a few weeks. I get my money back every time but it's such a disappointment.

Not every buy has been a disaster and this lovely Copeland majolica shell spoon warmer and amazing Staffordshire house (both mid to late 19th century) turned up beautifully packed.

As for the novel, I'm really pleased with the reviews that I am getting. After the excellent John Winter (that's his blog over there on the right of this page) blogged about the book, I saw a jump in sales - thank you John. And in the last few day these two reviews popped up. 

I love the thought that somebody enjoyed my book enough to slow down and savour it.

I had another go testing the new detector yesterday, I only found a couple of musket balls, a few buttons and some scrap but did find this tiny item. It is solid silver and quite crudely cast. There's a good chance that under the Treasure Act rules it might class as treasure as my guess is that it is either a medieval - early post medieval eyelet or part of an early medieval pin. My local Finds Liaison Officer will know best. He's on holiday for a couple of weeks - I'll let you know what he says.

We're having a lazy weekend. We went to The Queen at Brandeston for breakfast this morning. I don't normally photograph food in restaurants anymore (it's a bit 2015) but I had to make an exception today as the breakfast was exceptional - absolutely delicious and a bargain at £8. We'll certainly be back.

After breakfast we popped into Framlingham for another event organised by Spadge (the man gets everywhere). It was great to see so many people watching and joining in the go cart racing down Market Hill - great stuff. Time to watch the match now and see if Liverpool will get back into The Champions League.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

What A Swell Party That Was

We headed up to Ribchester on Saturday to celebrate our friend Mark (above's) sixtieth birthday (He looks much younger doesn't he?) 

This wasn't a hanging about boozing and filling our faces party as Mark led us on a five mile trek around the fields and lanes of his local countryside. But it wasn't all hard slog as we had two stops for a few pints of the local ales before returning to Mark's place where he and his wife Nita put on a fabulous barbecue and a top rate singer along with plenty of wine from the excellent Whalley Wine Shop which is run by Mark's son Tom. 

The walk even took in a few ancient ruins (and no I'm not going to try and turn that into some sort of joke).

We had a wonderful day - thanks Mark.

We didn't want to drive all that way and then just drive all the way back so, along with our old friends Dave and Jane, we booked into the nearby Inn At Whitewell where we enjoyed such great hospitality on Marion's 60th a couple of years ago.

We had a room with a real view and the weather smiled on us for our short two night stay.

We took in another walk in the rolling hills around the famous old Inn. Jane and Dave left on Monday but we stayed on for another night and had a great meal in the restaurant. We had a chuckle as two couples in their late seventies and early eighties made a fuss about having been married for forty-seven years - that's only six years more than us!

If you read this blog, you'll know that I have a few hobbies. I bought a new metal detector a month or so ago but with all the fields in crop I've been unable to use it. However, as I drove past one of the fields I like to search, I noticed that the farmer had left a wide strip all the way around the field. I didn't need any encouragement and headed out yesterday to try the new machine out.

i was happy with the results. I had two hours in the field and here's what turned up.
A cut silver quarter Medieval penny
A more recent farthing - this one dated1914
A very early buckle c1350
A couple of Charles I Rose farthings
Medieval strap fitting
Whilst on the subject of detecting I was pleased to see that a Facebook friend (we've never met) published a book recently.

It's a great aid to identifying a fairly common detecting find - lead cloth seals.

And I was delighted to see one of my own finds included in the excellent book.

With regard to my own recent publication. I sent out twenty-five copies of Mr Prendergast's Fantastic Find to winning Goodreads members last week. Here's the first review

As you might imagine, I'm delighted with the review as it captures exactly what I was hoping to achieve. Another reader John Winter deputy editor of The Searcher magazine also read the novel and wrote an entire blog singing its praises. You can read John's (unsolicited) comments here.

The novel tells the story of retiree Dave Pendergast's buying on eBay. While I'm trying to promote the book I've been busy doing a bit of eBay buying myself. If you've seen recent blogs you'll have read that I've had a bit of bad luck. The bad luck continued last week.

I spotted what I hoped might be an antique Spanish jug.

Here's how it arrived (in totally inadequate packaging).

I don't think I'll ever manage to emulate Mr Prendergast but I'll keep trying.

Monday, 1 May 2017

They Call It Progress

There's nothing worse than a NIMBY I suppose but this week we got a taste of what NIMBYISM must feel like as the bulldozers moved onto the fields some way behind our house.

The Fram Residents' Association did its best to stop the Taylor Wimpey development but without success. We bought the house for its lovely south-facing view. The bulldozer is a long way away (you'll need to enlarge this photo to spot it to the right of the central telegraph pole) but it's a start and, no doubt, in twelve months time we'll see a host of red roofs. Sadly it's progress and, while there are people homeless in this country, it would be churlish to moan too much but I will be sad to see the fields disappear and I imagine the people who live in the house on the hill will be sadder still.

We got called up to do a bit of babysitting in Rochester last week. Teddy isn't really a baby anymore. He's a lovely little boy and we had a great day playing with him before his sister Catherine came home from school.

We've been catching up on a fair bit of work around the house since we got back from Scotland but decided to down tools for a day yesterday and headed to the Antique Market in Beccles. 

The open air market is held a couple of times a year and is well worth a visit. The organisers were blessed with a dry day and we arrived bright and early to see if we could find a bargain. Marion bought a super vintage skirt for just a few pounds. She couldn't try it on but when she got home found that it fits perfectly. We arrived as the market opened. There were plenty of stalls but I struggled to spot any sleepers.  

My only "bargain" was this very attractive Chinese porcelain charger hand painted with a Mille Fleurs pattern. It's not ancient and probably dates to the first half of the twentieth century but its's a very pretty piece and I think it was a decent price at £30. I hope that the eBay buyers think the same.

The blossom-covered churchyard in Beccles looked beautiful and I had to take a few snaps on the phone. No doubt it will all be gone in a couple of days. 

This week's eBay sales went well and now I've got the charger to list as well as this very attractive cup and saucer made by the famous Meissen factory around 1920.

We've got a few jobs to do for the Framlingham Hour Community this week and then we're heading up north to another 60th birthday party. I think that's all our closest friends' 60ths over now so there won't be another party filled year for another seven or eight  years when we all start hitting seventy  (unless we all start to celebrate our 65ths).

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Not Quite Mr Prendergast's Fantastic Find

If you haven't read my new novel yet (that's it over there on the right - cheap as chips), it tells the story of a man called Dave Prendergast who makes and amazing find on eBay. We often see people on Antiques Roadshow who have made great finds at car boot sales and in charity shops but rarely on eBay. But it is possible. If you read this blog from time to time you'll know that I sometimes try my hand at spotting "sleepers".

Here's one I found last week.

I paid my £23 and awaited the arrival of my fabulous Dudson cheese dish similar to this one that recently sold.

But luck was not one my side. The parcel arrived on Saturday. It was very very well packed. But it still didn't survive a trip across the country with Yodel.

So my hopes of a decent profit were, like the cheese dish, shattered. This was one of the reasons that I gave up dabbling on eBay a couple of years ago after the profit on a similar "bargain" failed to realise. I had another Yodel delivery today. The young man said "I've delivered here five times recently and this the first time you've been in.Did you get the parcel I left over the gate on Saturday." That gate is almost 6' high. He didn't open it but dropped it over the top. I told him it was smashed and he departed very sheepishly.

My last "bargain" cheese dish.

I'll keep trying for a while though as recent tax changes mean that the first £1,000 from trading like this is not taxable. Maybe one day, like Mr Pendergast, I'll make a fantastic find that comes good.

This was my best deal this month.

We're home from Scotland now after spending a week or so in the caravan with my Mum who is doing very well for 91. She looks great and dresses well but we wish that she would eat a bit more. The week we've been catching up on the garden and I've managed to scrub the entire decking on my hands and knees. The job took me hours but I'm happy with the result . While I was scrubbing Marion was even busier digging. When she got ready for bed she realised that she was missing a precious white gold and diamond earring.

Having a detectorist husband has its occasional benefits for Marion. I got up at seven on Sunday morning and thanks to the new detector I was back in bed again twenty minutes later for a well earned lie in.

I know everybody is sick of politics at the moment and I've managed to keep them out of the blog (mostly). I've written a fair few long rants but deleted them before publishing. It was nice, however, to see the Suffolk EU Alliance, (people from all parties who are pro the EU) holding a meeting at St Michael's in Framlingham on Saturday. And it was even nicer to go inside and find the place completely full.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

A Welcome Visitor (91)

We're back in Scotland for Easter. We wanted to spend some time with my mum but she's not as agile as she used to be and, as we worried about her managing the stairs in Framlingham, the stair-free caravan in St Andrews was a better option. We drove up on Sunday after a visit to the excellent Framlingham Show on Saturday.

The grandchildren love the story of Plop the little barn owl in The Owl Who Was Afraid Of The Dark so we took this photo to show them what she might look like.

The fair was blessed with perfect conditions.  

It was good to see the Morris Men continuing the ancient tradition but judging by the average age of the dancers it's a tradition that's unlikely to see this century out. 

It really must be one of the most idyllic country fair settings in the country.

Here's another lovely setting. Kellie Castle in Fife was the site for one of the Cadbury Egg hunts that ran at National Trust and National Trust for Scotland properties over the Easter break. (Note: National Trust members can get into National Trust For Scotland properties and vice versa so if you're thinking of joining one join the Scottish one as it's about £16 cheaper for a joint senior annual membership)

Rose and Melody enjoyed searching the wonderful castle gardens for a dozen or so Humpty Dumpties holding letters that made up the solution to the hunt. I was impressed with the clues that were not too simple and challenged the children to think. Some of the Humpties were easy to find but others needed careful searching to spot them. Well done Cadburys and Kellie Castle. 

Mum joined the family in the hunt and it was great for Sarah to see her nana and Rose and Melody their great nana.

Yesterday Mum took us all for fish and chips at the excellent Tail End here in St Andrews. After lunch we came back to the caravan where Marion conducted complex experiments involving pine cones, grass and cornflour with the girls.

Mum is enjoying her break. She's 91 now but still keeps herself busy on her iPad. She's not getting as much use of it here as we're limited to linking it to 3g on the iPhone and it's not very fast. She's a bit worried that her memory is not what it was but my memory is not what it was and I'm only sixty-three. 

To try and show her that she's not as bad as she thinks she is we gave her the Times Jumbo Crossword from last week.

And with a bit of help she managed to get it finished. The Alzheimer's isn't around the corner just yet.