Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Summertime And The Living Is Easy

After chilling (in both senses of the word) at the caravan in Scotland a few weeks ago, it's been warming up here in Suffolk and summer is getting into full swing. On Sunday evening we walked down to the castle to watch Chapterhouse Open Air Theatre Company's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.


It's one of our favourite plays and the setting within the grounds of Framlingham Castle was quite perfect. Despite the threat of rain that so often mars these open air events, we were lucky to escape with just a few drops before the action got under way. The young troupe put on an excellent performance with plenty of laughs along with the magic. Puck's final monologue always brings a tear to my eye. I don't know why. It's a happy play - perhaps it's just because it's the ending of something good - perhaps the ending of a summer day that we won't have again.

If we shadows have offended
Think but this, and all is mended-
While these visions did appear
And this weak and idle theme
No more yielding but a dream
Gentles, do not reprehend.
If you pardon, we will mend.
And, as I am an honest Puck
if we have unearned luck
Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue
We will make amends ere long.
Else the Puck a liar call.
So good night unto you all.
Give me your hands if we be friends.
And Robin shall restore amends.


A highlight of recent summers here in Framlingham has been watching the film crew for Mackenzie Crook's Detectorists out and about in the town filming. There was no filming last summer but the clamour for another series was so great that Series Three is now in production and, being a keen detectorist, I fished out this old copy of The Searcher magazine and kept it handy in case I saw them.


It was another glorious Suffolk day yesterday. Marion is now fully recovered from her biking accident but we thought we'd save cycling for later in the summer and went to explore an area I haven't visited before with a walk around Dunwich Heath.

There's a fabulous variety of landscape with coastal paths, forests and heathlands to explore.




We passed vibrant marshland.



And hedgerows that were a riot of colour. It was a great walk with a brief stop at RSPB  Mimsmere for a coffee.


Plus a great light lunch at the Eel's Foot. It's a pub we've never visited before but we'll certainly be back. We walked about seven miles in all - a wonderful summer's day.


Summer doesn't only bring the walkers out. Hearing a thunderous noise I looked over our garden hedgerow to see the combine harvester in full flow. Which is excellent news to a metal detector user. I've had a few hours pottering around the edges of fields while the crops were growing but now that they are starting to come up there are going to be opportunities to search the stubble.


I've had two trips to the first field to be cut. I found a lot of rubbish but on each visit I also made a decent find.


It's always great to see the glint of gold in the earth.

This George III quarter guinea dated 1762 is in fairly poor condition but it's a nice find.




I love this copper farthing issued by John Capon Grocer of Framlingham in 1653. It has a picture of the castle where we watched the play on the reverse and is in very good condition - these thing usually turn up corroded beyond recognition.

This Napoleon III coin dated 1855 also turned up.


Plus a cut farthing from the realm of Henry III

And whilst on the subject of detecting and Detectorists, my keeping that copy of The Searcher handy paid off today. We were sitting outside the Dancing Goat having coffee when Mackenzie Crook came out of the The Crown with some of his colleagues. I walked over and asked if he'd mind signing the magazine cover for me. He was very happy to do so. I chatted with him for a minute or two - a really nice guy. Thanks for indulging the oldest groupie in town. 


And no I won't be selling it on eBay

Before I finish today, son Paul phoned at the weekend and said that Teddy had asked for a Train themed birthday cake for his second birthday. "When did I ask for a train cake?" he asked.

Count the candles. Like father like son.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

What Happened To June?

So what happened to June? I sit down to blog and realise that it's almost a month since I last posted.

There we were, enjoying the glorious weather with walks down the sands from Walberswick to Dunwich......

  ...... and having a lovely day in Rochester in almost 30 degrees. 



Taking little Theodore to the top of the castle.....



......and enjoying the wonderful views.

And suddenly June was almost over and we were driving up to the caravan in St Andrews in time for family birthdays.

Glorious June became anything but. This was the temperature at 12 noon on or around Midsummer's Day.



The gloomy temperatures were matched with equally gloomy skies but we had a good time. 


We don't see enough of little Rose and Melody.

We went to some great places. Such as The Fairmont St Andrews with its incredible light installation.....



....and we got a window seat for an excellent dinner at the highly acclaimed Seafood Ristorante on a stormy evening with waves battering the coast and surf that would not have looked out of place on Bondi Beach.

I got out with the detector a few times.


The hobby takes me to some beautiful places.


One of my favourite fields was "available" the farmer said.

But trying to detect in these conditions is well nigh impossible.

This is all that turned up

Although there was one find of interest - a James VI eight penny groat.


The highlight of the visit was Rose's birthday. I find it impossible to believe that it was six years ago that we drove like the wind to meet our first grandchild before visiting time ended.


And now she's all grown up.


Her birthday party was mermaid themed and supermum Sarah whipped up a cake in a couple of hours.


The rain stayed away for the party.


On our final day, while Marion and I were wrapped up in anoraks, the girls played happily on the outside trampolines at Cairnie near St Andrews. 

The internet signal was virtually non-existant during this visit - hence the lack of blogging but we're back in Framlingham now and I'm hoping to get back into it.

It was time for a big party on the other side of the family this weekend and over forty kids headed to Tiny Town near Aylesford to enjoy a few hours in the soft play area and a session of shooting "Ghosts" at Theodore and Catherine's joint Ghostbusters themed event.


The ghosts in question were daughter-in-law Josephine as Slimer and son Paul as the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. What a handsome guy!




We saw this parked in Fram at the weekend. It was such a magnificent machine it would not have looked out of place in a movie.

Keen to support our local artistes we decided to go and see Ed Sheeran in concert. We didn't fancy a UK stadium so opted for Vienna next August. After refreshing the screen for almost an hour, my turn finally came and I bought the tickets. It's very refreshing to see the attempts that the promoters are making to stop secondary ticket sales by limiting the number of tickets to four per person (we only bought two) and saying that passport or similar i.d must be presented upon entrance. Looking at the rip-off prices resale ticket sites are asking for a Saturday ticket to Latitude - this sort of policy should be applauded

Bad weather in Scotland meant that at least we could get to the cinema. We found a great little place in Dundee - Dundee Contemporary Arts. It had exhibitions, a very good restaurant and two comfortable screens.

Marion loved the animated movie The Red Turtle. I enjoyed it but it wasn't my favourite.


Yesterday we went to Cineworld in Ipswich to see Baby Driver. We expected great things from this after reading the glowing four and five star reviews. The car chase at the start was fantastic and the way that the entire film was choreographed to the soundtrack was original and entertaining but when you've seen one spectacular car chase, the other two or three in the film became repetitive for us and I'm afraid it didn't blow us away. 


Speaking of five star reviews, "I really enjoyed reading this book" is not exactly a thorough review but, if everybody really enjoys reading my novel, that will certainly do me. If you haven't read them yet, both my novels are available on Kindle this week (until 19th July) for just 99p.



Monday, 19 June 2017

Election Over - Life Returns To Normal

So that's my first election as a political activist over. I pounded the streets of Framlingham for the Lib Dems and the Suffolk Angry Women and the streets of Cambridge for the Lib Dems.



I posted over a thousand leaflets in total and walked over twenty miles. Sadly to no avail as our candidate did not win in either seat although I was happy to see Mrs May lose her majority.


Living in a Tory stronghold, I was pleased that I was not alone and I was pretty impressed by the effort put in by some residents of Earl Soham. After staying up until four in the morning watching the election results it was time for a bit of a lie in on Friday but life returned to normal at the weekend and we decided to have a day trip.



On my drives to Lid Dem HQ in Cambridge I had spotted a National Trust sign for Anglesey Abbey. We'd never heard of it before so we headed back towards Cambridge on Sunday to check it out. It's a stunning house with a fabulous collection of antiques.



There are loads of delightful walks around the gardens.

Marion reckons I should have one of these "Sunny Old Optimist" sun dials in our garden
Thursday evening saw us heading up to the college for our regular book club.

Every time I see this view from the college drive I have to take a photo. I doubt that there's a better view in Suffolk.

Friday saw us in London to restock the wardrobe. Or rather my wardrobe this time. Marion prefers to buy little and fairly often whereas I do a splurge once or twice a year. We had tickets for the National Theatre on Saturday so stayed at a Premier Inn near Tower Bridge on Friday night.

My attempt at a different view of Tower Bridge
We enjoyed a great meal at Cantina Del Ponte on Friday night. As we were in the middle of a heatwave it was wonderful to dine outside with a brilliant view of the bridge and the lively riverside.

It was back to the riverside again on Saturday for breakfast opposite the City and then we walked down to the National.


Where, once again, the boiling weather allowed us to dine on the terrace.


They even put on a fly past for us.


As for the play, Common starring Anne-Marie Duff? Well, we had been warned by the plethora of one and two star reviews and, for once, the National auditorium was very sparsely attended with gaps all around. The play was visually exciting but totally weird and even fewer saw the second half than saw the first. It was a bit Wicker Man with odd animal masks and the language - more F and C words than an afternoon on the Kop - was quite bizarre. I can't say that I enjoyed it but I'm glad that I saw it.


The shopping trip went well and my summer wardrobe is very well stocked. It will need to be if the heat of the last few days continues - our car's temperature gauge has hit thirty degrees.

Mr Pendergast's Fantastic Find is still getting great reviews. Here's the latest.


Back home on Sunday we had some guests round for a late lunch.


On the Costa Del Fram.