Saturday, 21 May 2022

Saturday 21st

What have I been doing this week?

 Well, it was dire week for interesting things on TV so I've been frightening myself by watching Luther on iplayer - I didn't watch it way back in 2010 when it started or anytime up to 2019 when it finished. Blimey it's a violent series! but I can see why Idris Elba  is such a popular actor. I think he might have replaced Kevin Costner as my favourite.
 I see Silent Witness is back for a short series next week - looking forward to that.

In the  glorious warmth and sunshine on Tuesday and Wednesday  I sat out for a little while just lapping it up. Overnight Wednesday/Thursday there was supposed to be thunderstorms and heavy rain which were going to fill my new water butts but we had no thunder or lightening and just a bit of rain but then yesterday morning there was another few hours which has done the plants a power of good and at last filled the water butts.

Lots more gardening done with Alstroemeria, Osteospermum, Sweetcorn, Leeks and French Climbing Beans planted out.The canes are up ready for Runner beans later and I've left a space for some Brassica plants coming in July. That just leaves me with 3 squash plants to squeeze in somewhere they can spread.

After visiting the midweek boot sale I popped into town for fruit and veg and to check out all the dire warnings of food shortages. Someone had mentioned Aldi were limiting how much people could buy of some items but everything looked OK to me, so shortages haven't reached Suffolk yet but I have a feeling it may well happen as so much of last years wheat is stuck in Ukraine and there will be nowhere to store this years crop if it gets harvested.

My Flowers on the Table  bookshelves this week is the only Iris from the garden. It was hidden in the border behind the greenhouse, so might as well bring it in for a day or two where I can see it.

This week I've been grateful for

  • A visit from my cousin and her husband
  • Lots of gardening done 
  • Discovering something new to watch on TV

So that's what I been doing this week .......Not a lot really.....nothing to moan about or to get stressed about ....I try and avoid all that!

The diary is a bit empty for the weekend but I shall find something to do.

Back Monday

Friday, 20 May 2022

View Over the Village Mid May

 Thought it would be interesting to chart the changing seasons over the village by walking up the lane and taking photos from the one very small hill close to home.

My May walk was on the 17th and I saw my first Painted Lady Butterfly of the year

This singing fella below sounded like a skylark but it was so far away it could be something else.
From part way up the lane without zoom


First Dog Rose of the season and Cow Parsley everywhere


Zooming in from a bit higher and the church tower appears, wheat field on the left.

Spotted an Elder that I'd not noticed before. There are surprisingly few around so I like to note where I see them ready for making Elderberry Syrup in the Autumn. Last year I picked most from just over the road from home because the road was closed and there wasn't much traffic and I could climb up the bank without fear of being run over!. But this Elder tree will be easier to harvest.
And finally zooming in from the 'highest' part of the lane (not high at all compared to most of the country!) Sugar Beet growing in this field and in the centre of the photo a huge pile of sweet smelling pig or cow muck that has been dumped, somewhat oddly, in the middle of the wheat field. It will be even more pongy when it's spread after harvest.

 Then half a mile back down the hill and home.

I'll write myself a note to remind me to take the photos again in mid June.

Back Tomorrow


Thursday, 19 May 2022

St George's Wyverstone

 Almost the last village listed on the Suffolk Churches website (only Yaxley and Yoxford after the W's)

St George's is in the small village of Wyverstone and part of the same benefice as Bacton and Cotton that I visited in March .

It's a tall, thin but small church with clerestory windows but no side aisles

The porch is wooden  and seems really old.

View down the nave and in this church the kneelers are all the same.

The most interesting thing here is the early 16th Century roodscreen. It looks a bit battered but according to the Suffolk Churches website it is the only rood-screen in-situ in Suffolk where the figures are carved in relief

One Stained Glass window dates from 1926 and is similar to many all round the country made by  William Glasby

A typical Church chest

There are just a few pieces of old stained glass remaining in this window
There are two sets of Royal Coats of Arms the first one was changed with the kings from Charles to George
and the second is richly carved for William III
The font is carved too
There are a few bits of faded glass left in one window. Dating back to Medieval times

It was several weeks ago in late April when I visited Wyverstone and found the lilac already in flower here, whereas my white lilac in the header didn't appear until two weeks later.

Back Tomorrow

Wednesday, 18 May 2022


The Hedges have suddenly become white in the last week as Hawthorn is flowering everywhere

 Hawthorn (or May) is one of those plants that has been around forever with so much folklore attached to it.  
During the land enclosures in the 16th to 18th centuries it's estimated that 200,000 miles of Hawthorn hedges were planted. Fast growing, sturdy and very spiny it makes a perfect impenetrable hedge when it's cut and laid. Something that doesn't happen so much nowadays, and of course many of those old Hawthorn hedges were pulled out in the 70's as farm machinery got bigger and farmers were paid to remove them and make bigger fields. 

Before the calendar changes Hawthorn would have been in flower on May day which was a special day for celebrations, also known Beltane( Bel's Fire) and would have been used in many of the old traditional festivities.
It was once though to protect from lightening
Beware the oak, it courts a stroke,
Beware the Ash, it courts a flash,
Creep under the Thorn,
It will save you from harm.
  Hawthorn branches were woven into a globe and hung in the rafters of the kitchen to protect from fire. Taken down when the May flowered the following year it was then burnt and the ashes scattered on the vegetable garden for fertility. 

But from the mid C17 it was considered unlucky to bring Hawthorn blossom into the house, thought to be due to the fact that people with the  plague had the scent of  May flowers about them.
Hawthorn blossom and Elder flowers
Fill the house with evil powers

 From that time Hawthorn was said to be a favourite of witches who were thought to be able to turn themselves into the tree at any time. So it was never a good idea to sit and rest or fall asleep under a Hawthorn as you could be taken by the witch and disappear into the mysterious fey world forever.
From The Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady

It was thought that felling a Hawthorn was disastrous unless a prayer was said beforehand and to fell a Hawthorn when clearing the land to build a house meant bad luck or even death for the people who would live there.
Hawthorns crossed from Pagan to Christian lore and  in Ireland often became "mass trees" dedicated to Saints or associated with holy wells. While in  England The Glastonbury Thorn is  the most well known, growing from a staff planted in the ground by St Joseph of Arimathea.

And of course Cicely Mary Barker had an illustration for the May Fairy in her book "Flower Fairies of the Spring.


Back Tomorrow


Tuesday, 17 May 2022

Weird and Wonderful Wood

This annual event, which has been held here for the last 15 years isn't too far from home - about 8 miles I guess and  my plan was to go on Saturday but when I joined a queue of cars on a side road waiting to join another queue of cars on the main road waiting to get into Haughley Park I did an about turn and went back, I thought I'd see just how long the queue was on the main road - it was hilarious.......(not for those waiting I guess!) the queue stretched way back for more than 3 miles. I turned off then to come home but the queue was out of sight round a corner so heaven knows how long it was in total.


They'd done a fantastic job of advertising as there were posters and leaflets  everywhere for weeks beforehand  but the organisers probably didn't expect all of Suffolk to turn up !

So I went home and sat out in the sun and decided to aim for an earlier start on Sunday! Which was a good plan as I didn't have to queue at all to get in to park. I was also lucky to take most photos early before everywhere got really, really busy

Haughley Park House is a massive Tudor mansion and acres of land still owned privately and in the grounds for 40 years there was Rannocks chicken processing factory, which then became part of the Four Sisters food processing company but that all closed down about 10 years ago.

 I spent the first 20 years of my life living just a mile from this house and many hours in the park when I was a Cub Scout Leader  where we had the Scout District Campsite, so we were there for campfires and all sorts of District Events.

The barn below was  rebuilt and modernised  by my Dad and his builders back in late 1960's and turned into a wedding venue  not long after. Dad was often phoned by Mr Williams who owned the house and park back then whenever he needed odd jobs done and it was best to go straight away!

Above is a Viking Giant Green Man - no idea why

There was a huge herb stall, I spent ages looking and bought a Fennel to replace one I got last year which died over winter.

The stalls were mostly things connected with wood in some way and there were things like story tellers and craft demonstrations, opportunities for childrens crafts and things for older children to do like circus skills.


Hand made from Gourds


The weird and wonderful

There was a yurt containing photos and the history of the Green Fayres  which were the origin for this Wood Fayre. We went to Rougham Tree Fayre way back in the early 80's it was a real Hippy festival back then


 I wandered round everywhere for nearly 3 hours and that was plenty long enough, as the day got hotter and more humid and so crowded. Then I headed off home.

 Back Tomorrow

Monday, 16 May 2022

Rising Food Prices

First of all must say Hello and Welcome to some people who have pressed the follower button and also apologies as I found some comments from several days ago that had gone into spam and I hadn't realised.  And also thank you for comments on Saturday which I eventually got round to replying to yesterday evening because I got myself stuck into the Jacqueline Winspear library book and forgot to look again at the post.

Now food prices..........................

 Every day on TV or Radio someone says food prices are going up, not as much as fuel prices but I wondered exactly  how much? In February or March when I did the comparisons between Aldi and Morrisons and Aldi and Asda I had the prices on the blog and  when I went to Aldi last week bought  things I had also purchased in February or March so looked back at the blog posts to see what I paid then.

(For US readers £1 UK = 1.23$US when I wrote this)

From February Comparison shop

                                    Aldi price  February and May                                        
Punnet of Red Grapes       £1.49.................Same                                                  
Broccoli                               47p.....................Up 3p  to 50p                                                 
Baby Plum Toms                 59p .................Up 36p  to 95p (possible a bigger punnet)
Unsalted butter 250g        £1.48...................Up 27p to £1.75p
Tin Plum Tomatoes               28p............Same                                                  
Jar Pitted Olives                    49p............Same
6 Cheese/onion in pastry rolls   £1.19..........Up 20p to £1.39                                     

From my March Comparison 

Aldi   price            March                                   and May                                                                 

Frothy Coffee Sachets  £0.79................................. Up 6p to 85p
Pasta Penne 500g         £0.29...................................Same                                    
Pringles                      £1.65......................................Same                                                        
Ex-Mature cheese 400g  £1.79.....................................Up 10p to £1.89                                                     Milk  2pt                       £0.95...............................Same                                                              
Sm.Potatoes500g        £0.62.............................. down 2p to 60p
Cucumber                     £0.43 ..........................Up 2p to 45p                                                          
6 Braeburn Apples      £1.19...........................Up 20p to £1.39                                                         
Iceberg Lettuce           £0.43 ..........................Up 3p to 46p
Yes, that's proved food prices are going up..... and even my once-a-month pensioners Fish and Chips from up the road has gone from £3.50 to £4 ( but still a bargain as the fish alone is usually £5.25)

I did my main food shop for the month on the 6th and spent just over £50 between Aldi and Asda and eggs from a farm gate stall. I then bought flour and rape seed oil and a  couple of freezer things from Morrisons and will only need  fresh stuff during the rest of the month.(Flour and cooking oil are the things that we are likely to have a shortage of so I'm getting prepared just in case - either for me or the children)
 I bought no meat at all this month as I still have some chicken breasts, one thigh joint and some bacon and sausages in the freezer. Bought lots of cheese and unsalted butter (had to bake for WI on Monday), one pack of vegetarian "bakes" that I've not tried before - taste test coming up.

The picture isn't the whole shop- some went straight into fridge and freezer before I thought about a photo.

The UK have long had some of the cheapest food prices in Europe but now due to Brexit, the war in Ukraine and the effects of the pandemic it seems we will have to pay a much higher price and then  I heard India have stopped all exports of flour due to a failed harvest........... It's going to be hard for a lot of people.

It will be interesting to look back at this in the Autumn and see how prices have changed. . Who knows what things will be like by then - recession? war? trade war due to Irish situation, world wide oil shortages?

It's become even more important to carry on growing whatever I can, shop wisely and waste nothing.

Back Tomorrow

Saturday, 14 May 2022

2nd Week of May and Busy in the Garden

The Swifts are back in the village, I saw it on the local Facebook page and then saw them myself when I went round to the Health Centre to pick up my prescription. It's lovely to see them circling around the church. I ended up going back to the health centre twice more - the dispensary are in chaos - like so many others with a shortage of staff and supplies. It used to be so straightforward but now reminds me of the year in Ipswich when it was quite normal for them to take half an hour or more to find either the tablets or the form or neither! 

On Thursday I went up to Morrisons in Diss and met up with Rachel-in-Norfolk. The coffee machine decided not to work the minute I stood in front of it as usual - but I ended up with one and a half cups of coffee for the price of one so that was OK.

  It was a really good gardening week last week as I got all the small greenhouse plants into their big pots...I seem to have rather a lot of tomato plants so should be able to give away tomatoes, make tomato chutney and eat tomatoes all summer! I've got 4 Aubergines and 4 to pass on and 6 pepper plants and gave away 2.
 I bought some wire and threaded it round the greenhouse through the little metal attachments so that's ready for tying the canes to for holding up the cucumber and tomato plants as they grow, also bought some short canes for the pepper and aubergine pots.

 With perfect timing Brother-in-Law Andrew came over on Wednesday morning to finish the connection on the biggest water-butt and to connect the small one at the front and two hours later it started raining - the first proper rain we've had for weeks. It rained on and off for a few hours and was much needed and should have done the shrubs and trees a bit of good, but it didn't put much into the water butts.

Andrew said was I going to let that weed outside the shed get any bigger or I wouldn't be able to open the door! It's not a weed it's a Foxglove and I'm leaving it there until it's flowered.


I said big expenses for the garden had all finished but I didn't mention plants did I? 

Just can't resist, so I found myself bringing home a Red Hazel from the plant stall at the Water Mill and 4 pots of Alstromeria plants from last Sunday's car boot.......these were a big bargain at £2 a pot. Stonham Barns car-boot organisers don't allow stalls with only plants because there is an on-site nursery but they don't mind people bringing a few so that means plants for sale are from private sellers and not trade and are my sage for 50p a couple of weeks ago.

I left a big Red Hazel tree at the smallholding and a huge bed of Alstromeria that I grew for cutting and selling and I tried 2 or 3 times to get Alstromeria going at Clay Cottage with no luck. Hopefully they will do better here. To make room for the Hazel I've taken out a half dead Hydrangea and that's made room for it to get quite big before I have to start cutting it back and from much the same area I cut a climbing rose right back as it was covered in greenfly.

The patio is looking good after weeding.............not with weedkiller, or pressure washing or by sitting on a stool and pulling them out one by one but with the brilliant tool in the photo below. It's got metal bristles that get right in the gaps and clean out all the dirt, moss and weeds.

Job done with just a bit of work.

Hope you all have a good weekend. 
I'll be back Monday after  I've been to 'Weird and Wonderful Wood' and boot sales of course.


Friday, 13 May 2022

Pakenham Water Mill

First I must say thank you to everyone for comments yesterday, too many to reply individually. I don't feel particularly strong or brave - just  telling it like it is and getting on with things in the only way I can. And yes I do have 3 children and their families but they have their own busy lives with work and children and although they would be there for me if I needed anything I don't expect to rely on them while I'm still capable! Like my Mum used to say to us " I didn't have children to have someone to look after me when I'm old".

 On National Mills Open Day I went to Pakenham Water Mill. Every village once had it's own windmill and there are several still standing but we don't have many water mills in Suffolk. And even fewer that still work. Pakenham is open for visits at weekends - not a full time working mill.

The water wheel is Huge






In the bake-house beside the kitchen is a huge fireplace and chimney with 4 ovens including the brewing vat - for the time when many people  brewed beer because the water wasn't safe to drink.

There was a display of the various flours that would have been produced in the mill and breads that could be baked - below is Maslin bread which often gets mentioned in the medieval historic crime fiction I read. It's made from mixed grains of wheat and rye

 As well as the mill being open for National Mills Day they had displays about wildlife. The Suffolk Wildlife Trust, RSPB, Hedgehog Rescue, Suffolk Bat Group etc, etc

The poster below is another reminder (after my post from a couple of weeks ago about forgotten bees) that shows again how important all bees are - not just honey bees.

These bees were busy in this display, I spotted the queen on the other side

There were a few craft stalls - this is home spun wool and felting


This display below shows all the colours that can be made from natural dyes

The Gipping Valley Model Boat club had their boats on the mill pond 

All sorts of remote controlled boats. I've seen them at events before but never seen the model motor canal boat it looks so small on the big pond - probably how a narrow boat feels on anything wider than a canal!

Below is a photo of The Millers Trail - a cycle route through Suffolk, details  HERE taking in windmills and water mills to visit

This below says that Godric was the first recorded miller here, he leased the original mill and land from Bury St Edmunds Abbey in the C11 and a copse of trees was planted from donations in 2016.


I picked up a leaflet from a new nursery selling unusual plants, they have a Garden Festival and open day next month that I'm going to visit. 

A good morning out

Back Tomorrow