Tuesday 30 April 2024

The Ins and Outs and the Few Frugal Bits of April

Nothing to do with anything frugal but our MP has decided to opt out of the Conservative party and into Labour - I think it's wrong  that they are allowed to stay on as an MP when they change parties. Dr. Dan Poulter says he can't carry on as a Conservative MP with the state of the NHS being so bad that he can't face his patients and colleagues. I was always told the way to change something is from the inside. He is standing down at the next election anyway (as are many other Conservative MPs who are afraid they might be on the losing side!)but  this village will be in a different constituency for the next election and could have a Green MP - not that it will make an iota of difference to us common folk!.

image from google freepik

In my end of March financial round-up I said April's projected expenses were horrible and came to £870 without eating or spending on anything extra. So I was very happy to make my biggest saving by moving my Home and Contents Insurance from a local broker to a well known company but online only - a saving of nearly £200 compared to the local brokers quote. (I only started with the the local broker because they were a new business and giving away a £50 Amazon voucher, but that was about 6 years ago so it was time I checked and changed!)
The Dentist did  a check up and x-ray and I was only in the chair for about 15 minutes but still it cost me £74! There have been no NHS dentists taking patients in Suffolk for many years and the lack in Suffolk and Norfolk has made the national news several times. Years ago we would have struggled to pay for private care so I'm glad I'm able to now.
No way of saving on the TV licence  -£169.50 this year - except to go without a TV but that's not going to happen, especially as I've been enjoying the snooker world championship for the last couple of weeks. 
Then the bill arrived  for the boiler repair in March.- I'd nearly forgotten about it.
Other than those big chunks of cash going out there were all the usual monthly direct debits - Council Tax, Charity, Phones and Broadband. Plus the monthly electric bill, food and diesel for the car of course and wild bird feed and £5 on new underwear.
I spent a few pounds on the garden at car boot sales by buying 3 strawberry plants, 2 butternut squash plants(I only had two seeds left and they've not germinated) and a couple of bags of cheap multi-purpose compost from Aldi. 
Having already bought a new sandpit for the two nearest Grandchildren as a joint birthday present, I was able find to a few craft things in the cupboard - from boot sales- for YGD's 6th birthday. (As yet the weather hasn't been good enough since February for son to put the sand pit together and fill it up!) Finally I sent the ED her birthday present ready for next week.

I get an A* for personal spending this month! - as there's been virtually nothing found at boot sales  and  just a second-hand Donna Leon book from charity shop. Haven't been swimming either as they've altered all the session times again and it's so busy.  So only other spending was entrance to an antique fair (spent nothing there) and the £1.50 a week for exercise group - and we had enough in the kitty for a free week .

Income was the usual two pensions but the savings bond I had has stopped paying monthly interest into my bank - I was using it to top up the monthly pensions, so now will have to wait until year end to get the interest.

The small savings I can think of

  • Only using dishwasher every other day
  • Using more of my batch made meals from the freezer
  • Using the two bags of last years fruit from the freezer for a crumble
  • Home made bread and malt loaf
  • Finding greetings cards at boot sale
  • One present for next Christmas found at boot sale
  • Presents for Granddaughter found at boot sales previously
  • Found £1.01 pence in the Asda car park
  • Reading library books for free and books from my shelves
  • Small garden mister/sprayer ½ price from the discount hardware shop because it's closing- sadly.
  • Bulk purchase of 1kg of Bicarb for cleaning sinks and basins - will last a year.
  • Batch made Salmon, broccoli and pasta bake to freeze - made 8 meals for approx. £6
  • Only ever use second-class postage stamps
  • No make up etc bought

Out of the house this month went................ 4 bags of things to charity shops. Gone are a small book rack, some odds and ends from the garden shed, some toys and books including all 7 of the huge C.J.Sansom Mathew Shardlake historical series. The first written in 2003 and the 7th - Tombland in 2018. I've been hanging onto them just in case he writes another but decided they might as well go. (Coincidentally  the first book/s have been made into a TV series - it's on Disney+,  although I won't get to see it until it moves to somewhere free!)

Into the bin have gone some rusty garden tools (why did I still have the small completely rusted up pruning saw!  since I bought a new one last year) and old photo albums.

May has fewer big expenses thank goodness - the car breakdown insurance is the only definite extra .

Back in a few days with the May library book photo  after I've collected my reservations from the library van. (Now I've said that it - hope it's not off the road for some reason!)



Saturday 27 April 2024

Last Saturday in April

It's been really cold all week. We had the 'Blackthorn Winter' and now 'The Cowslip Winter'....about time we had some spring.  On some nights the temperature forecast was so low that I brought the greenhouse plants in to stand on the floor just inside the patio doors, other nights I just covered them with fleece. And of course it rained, not all day everyday but sometime on most days. It's really getting me down and I've had several days feeling well under par hibernating on the settee with snooker on TV and book in hand.

Anyway...........when I went up the road for the Following A Tree post last weekend, at a moment when it wasn't raining, I took this photo of the view over the village.. The Barley or Wheat is growing well.

On the other side of the road this huge field is recently drilled - Barley? Wheat?  I looked but couldn't find any seed in the drill lines so it might be a spring sowing of Oil-seed Rape as the seeds of this are tiny.

Buds on the Hawthorn waiting to open.

I've been sorting photos on and off all week and putting them into my new photo storage box, found some very old ones to share on local Facebook Groups. But looking at some of the photos is making me so sad for a life lost that I may have to stop!
Talking about local internet sites - on the Nextdoor website someone was moaning (People moan about the strangest things!) about low flying aircraft over their village and someone else offered this website to see more  https://airplanes.live/ https://airplanes.live/. What fun! Transport plane flying in from China and a Chinese registered huge airbus flying the other way. Ryanair, Tui, and Easy jet holiday planes coming and going across Suffolk from Luton and Stansted airports and lots of little  planes buzzing about over small airfields, Apache helicopters from the Army base at Wattisham going round and round in loops and a plane registered from the USA but coming from the East. Then a massive French registered Hercules coming out of Mildenhall and the East Anglian Air Ambulance took off  and went round in circles near Cambridge and a Coastguard plane came into the area from up north........... I could spend too much time watching this site!

No boot sales this weekend as rain is forecast both mornings - what a surprise!

I've been very bad at reading and commenting on other blogs just lately and answering comments, making me feel very guilty so I'm taking a few days off blogging although the end of the month frugal month  notes is almost done for Tuesday and I'll do the library book photo on Friday or Saturday.

Be back then

Friday 26 April 2024

Pied Wagtail

I recently mentioned the Kestrels unusual behaviour of perching on the gravestones in the burial ground over the road - rather than where they are normally seen - higher on a telegraph pole or a wire.

Looking out of the patio doors the other day I noticed a 'something'  on the neighbours roof. I zoomed in with the camera and found it was a Pied Wagtail and that's unusual too as they are usually seen on the ground walking and wagging their tails.

The Illustration from the book" A Sparrow's Life's as Sweet as Ours" by Carrie Ackroyd. 

They were once considered a bird that lived close to water and are often seen on sandy beaches but now can be seen anywhere from city streets to country gardens. It's ability to adapt to urban living has made it more successful than other Wagtails - The grey, which is also a permanent resident and the yellow which is a summer visitor . Numbers of the yellow seen in this country have halved in the last 30 years (I've never seen either).

No one knows why they are constantly tail wagging but it makes them easy to spot on the ground.

John Clare, the nineteenth century poet wrote a poem for children

Little trotty wagtail he went in the rain
And tittering, tottering sideways - he never got straight again
He stooped to get a worm and he looked up to catch a fly
And then he flew away e're his feathers they were dry.

Back Tomorrow

Thursday 25 April 2024

A Very Small Strawberry Patch

 I had no intention of growing Strawberries because Brother in Law Andrew has a big strawberry patch that seems to produce loads every year without him doing much to them, and being a type 2 diabetic he shouldn't eat too many - that's what I tell him before I go and raid the patch several times every summer!

But my sister brought me a little gift for my birthday of 3 of her strawberry runners, which needed repotting and I thought three wouldn't  do much so bought three more plants from a boot sale.

So now I have the smallest ever strawberry bed!

Will I get enough for a bowl of Strawberries, that is the question.

Back Tomorrow

Wednesday 24 April 2024

Following A Tree

 The April photos of how the Oak trees along the Quiet Lane change through the year. It's odd to see that despite these two Oaks being just a few feet apart and both the same size one of the trees is slightly ahead of the other in leafing up.

Curled and furled, the tiny oak leaves just opening and their catkins  are both acid green in colour

And a closer look at the leaves and catkins. We don't really think about Oak trees having catkins but they do, along with Alder, Hazel, Willow and Silver Birch 

The Woodland Trust website HERE explains all.

The Ivy and deep fissures of the bark on the trunk of the oak can be home to all sorts of tiny creatures. 

Previous monthly photos are HERE.

Back Tomorrow

Tuesday 23 April 2024

St Georges Day

 The Irish celebrate like crazy on St Patrick's Day but us English have virtually forgotten about St George's Day. It's not surprising really as there is nothing much known about him or even if he ever actually existed. Yet somehow he has become the Patron Saint of many countries and organisations. Including Scouting - and I had photos of St Georges Day Parade on yesterdays post.

The picture below comes from my book 'A Calendar of Saints' by James Bentley. It's a painting by Raffaello Sanzio (1483 -1520) and is in the Louvre.

The legend seems to date from the C12, when crusaders returned from battle and historically he might have been a high ranking Roman Christian soldier martyred in Palestine in AD 303. Edward III made him our patron saint in the mid 14C when he founded the Order of the Garter.

For centuries the day was celebrated with feasting and jousting and mumming plays on the theme of St George and the Dragon . The traditions carry on in a few places.

Where the dragon story comes from is another mystery...........

 This is something written by John Aubrey in the 1680's ( an English writer and philosopher)

"To save a mayd, St George the dragon slew,
A Pretty tale if all is told true,
Most say there are no dragons;
and this say'd there was no George;
Pray God there was a mayd." 

G.K Chesterton (1874-1936) wrote.......

St George he was for England,
And, before he killed the dragon
He drank a pint of English Ale
Out of an English flagon.

This is the traditional day for picking dandelions to make Dandelion Wine (but only if the sun is shining so the flowers are fully open)
Pick 2 quarts of flower heads, (about 1lb in weight) discarding as much of the green as possible.
Place in a food safe bucket or non metal bowl and then pour a gallon of boiling water over the flower heads and leave to steep for 2 days AND NO MORE. On the 3rd day pour everything into a big pan, add the peel of 4 oranges and boil for 10 minutes. Add 3lb of sugar and stir until dissolved. When cool add the prepared wine yeast and nutrient starter. Strain through muslin into a demi-john. Fit an air lock. Rack into bottles when clear and it should be ready to drink at Christmas.

I made Dandelion wine once......never again!....It was deadly!

There are certainly plenty of Dandelions about this year

 and they are really useful as an early food source for bees which is probably a better use for them. 

Back Tomorrow

Monday 22 April 2024

Photo Sorting

 A birthday present from the family was this photo storage box that I'd put on my wish list.  I have 8 photo albums and lots of loose photos, the albums are falling to pieces or those old type with sticky pages that have turned the photos a strange colour. 
The box is supposedly fireproof and water proof and has room to store more than 1,000 photos in separate plastic boxes, which can be labelled and sorted into years or subjects. 
My wedding album and my late mum's two photo albums I'll keep as they are.

I started emptying an album full of old Scouting photos that I would show the new Cubs to give them an idea of what we did. Shared those below on the local Facebook page but only heard from one former Cub Scout.

My Cub Scout football team - we took part in the District Football Tournament each year and won it once.
I used to 'train' them - using the same way that we practised Hockey at School many years earlier. I think this is about 1978 or 79.

The tournament had to stop a few years later when some parents took everything far too seriously and started bullying the boys and the refs and leaders. What a sad situation.

St Georges Day Parade probably around 1982. Colin is the Scout leader in the centre of the photo. Later he helped me as a Cub Scout Leader.

Me and my Cubs the same year getting ready to parade

A few years earlier this is the Scouts at Cromer in Norfolk - Colin is the one in the shades on the right. I think it's the second year I took half a dozen older Cubs for a couple of nights to Scout Camp in 1979 - the summer before we got married.

I can see this photo sorting is going to take me several weeks!

Back Tomorrow

Saturday 20 April 2024

Saturday Again

 There was some wild weather this week - high winds, torrential rain storms, ordinary rain and hail. We did have sun on a couple of days but not enough for my liking. I keep peering over the fleece fence at the French Climbing Bean plants - all OK so far.

Thank you to everyone for comments all week and 'Happy Birthday' wishes on Tuesday and apologies when I don't see them until next day and don't get round to replying. 
I think I have to be thankful that it's just one cat damaging the garden and not deer, rabbits, wallabies and wombats as many people have to garden around in other parts of the world! And I heard something about Fire Ants in parts of Australia -they look devastating. 
Thank you also to people who say they enjoy reading the blog - writing it keeps me going through good and the bad days.

 My 5th book of Reading The Seasons was a fail. It's a diary written through the spring of 2020, with the best spring weather for years and the virus moved through the country. It's by 3 different nature writers in different parts of the country including one in West Suffolk.

I started it and it was quite readable but I really didn't want to be reading about the coronavirus and its effects on everyone - it seems a long time ago now and I just didn't want to be taken back to that time again. 

Flowers in the house this week are my own - a few late tulips from the garden and some bits of Spirea and Perriwinkle.

Just as we were packing the chairs away at the Keep Moving Group this week we had a visit from a  very young policeman. ....It's true what they used to say .........he looked about 18! We told him he was too young and too late for the exercise and the coffee. But he'd seen the cars parked outside so thought  he would just drop in to tell us to be aware that there were some aggressive people door knocking in the area claiming to be from a charity. I'm always wary opening the door nowadays which is sad. Funnily enough the only person I've struggled to get rid of was a milkman wanting to deliver me milk!

Another weekend to enjoy with definitely more reading- but only one library book left- car boot sale probably - dry weather would be good. Stowmarket Town Council are trying to re-launch a monthly Farmers Market in town today - they tried in 2017 and it never really got going. Stow is going through a difficult patch with the banks closing and lots of empty shops and I found even the Oxfam Charity shop is closing. You know things are bad when a well established charity pulls out of the town. 

Have a good weekend in your bit of the world.
I shall be back Monday

Friday 19 April 2024


 The plant known as Groundsel can be spotted almost anywhere, in many countries around the world mostly on cultivated ground or like this patch below on the road edge.

It's one of those plants that everyone knows but I thought I could find out more to fill a blog post!

Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris) belongs to the Asteraceae family which also includes dandelion, thistles and sunflower. It is called a 'winter annual' because the seeds germinate from late autumn through to early spring, and one of it's other names is  'old-man-in-the-spring'.
It's name comes from an Old English word grundeswilige meaning 'ground swallower' as it grows profusely wherever it gets a chance.

We used to pick it for feeding to the budgie and to rabbits many years ago but  it is poisonous to humans yet once used in medicine as a purgative and a diuretic.

In country folklore in the Fens it was thought it grew where witches had stopped for a pee and when it grew on a thatched roof it marked the spot where the witch had landed!

Of course Cecily Mary Barker had a Flower Fairy and his song for Groundsel.

The Song of the Groundsel Fairy

If dicky-birds should buy and sell
In tiny markets, I can tell
The way they'd spend their money.
They'd ask the price of cherries sweet, 
They'd choose the pinkest worms for meat
And common Groundsel for a treat,
Though you might think it funny.
Love me not, or love me well;
That's the way they'd buy and sell.

I'd forgotten we used to say 'dicky-birds' when talking to small children! 

Do you remember that way to entertain them "Two little dicky birds sitting on a wall, one named Peter one named Paul, fly away Peter, fly away Paul, come back Peter, come back Paul". With bits of sticky paper stuck on fingers with their names, hidden behind the back and reappearing with different fingers and then back with names again...................or is it just me?

Funny what writing a blog post made me remember.

Back Tomorrow

Thursday 18 April 2024

Leek Plants Found At Last But...........

 Last year I got a small tray of leek plants from the pet and garden shop in Diss at the end of March and they gave me some nice autumn leeks. I looked both times I was in town at the end of March and early April but they hadn't got any this year. None at boot sales either or out the front of Asda or QD. Finally found some on Stowmarket market flower stall. £3.50 and there were more than 30 plants.
Got them planted out on Saturday and covered to keep next door neighbours cat and the pigeons off them. 
But on Tuesday morning I found that Bl***y cat from next door had somehow pushed it's way under the net hoop cover, trampled many of the seedlings and left a pile of poo in one corner. - Yuck. Hate that cat! The net cover is now pegged down everywhere along all edges, hopefully the remaining leeks will grow on without anymore disturbance.

Also put the Climbing French Bean plants out. They are much earlier than I usually get them going so needed extra protection They are surrounded by the wire cage that I got to put leaves in for rotting down, (the leaves never did rot down, I put them in a dustbin now). Then I wrapped a piece of fleece around the outside - well pegged. Hopefully that will be enough to protect from cats, birds, any late frosts  or high wind. 
Thank heavens I did protect from the wind as on Monday morning we had strong gusts of wind in amongst the pouring rain - really nasty weather for mid April.

My home raised leek plants for winter got lost under the courgettes last year which was a bad mistake. I've sown some this year but no sign of them yet - they are one of those things that have never done well for me and when Colin was going round the County bridge inspecting all those years ago he found a house where an old boy always sold huge bundles of well grown leek plants every spring and he'd  come home with dozens to plant out.

I've been covering the greenhouse plants with a double layer of fleece every night but thought I'd  lost the aubergine plants yesterday morning - I took the fleece off early morning and I reckon it was still too cold and they all collapsed. Thankfully they perked up later - I brought them inside last night as temps were due to be down to 1℃.

Growing food is a constant battle against everything!

But look at the Raspberry canes - with luck there will be more fruit than last year. They are looking so well for their second fruiting year.

Back Tomorrow - when I've stopped crying over lost plants!

Wednesday 17 April 2024

Cards and a Vase

 Another boot sale and  a £1 spend.

 Just 3 cards to add to the birthday-card box including two for men which are not so easily found.

 Then I spent £1 more on a vase of the height and shape I've been looking for and another £1 for two more birthday cards ready for Grandchildren - the eldest two will both be nine in 2025.

Saturday's car-boot sale was HUGE - they even had a sign out saying "Sellers Pitches Full Up" when I arrived just before 7.30 am.. 

Sunday was the first boot-sale closer to home now that the site had dried out enough. I went, walked all round and came home with nothing. After the torrential rain storms on Monday they'll probably be waterlogged again and too soggy to open this coming Sunday. 

I keep hoping for real treasure - not sure what that will be-  but haven't found it yet!

Thank you to everyone for Happy Birthday wishes yesterday. Creeping ever closer to 70!

Back Tomorrow

Tuesday 16 April 2024

The House Where I Was Born

 69 years ago today I was born in this house belonging to my Grandma and Grandad, in Stowmarket in Mid Suffolk..

My Mum was staying with her Mum and Dad for my birth. My dad had been killed in a motorbike accident a few months earlier and the house they had bought to renovate wasn't yet in any condition for a new-born baby.

After that I don't know how or where we lived, but our house was finished for me and Mum, even though there was no bathroom and only an outside toilet  for a few years- which I can just about remember - thank goodness the bathroom was built after a while.

As for Grandma and Grandad's house,  they lived there until  she died in 1988, Grandad died many years earlier. The family moved there in the 1930's (Mum was one of six) when the tiny house they were living in not far away was condemned. These houses in Stowmarket were council houses built between the wars. They were built with a scullery for washing up off the kitchen and there was a built in brick boiler thing in one corner to heat water for washing - heated by a coal fire underneath, the bath stood beside it - with only a cold tap. The indoor toilet was on a half landing and there were steps down to a cellar for coal storage. 
There were two other rooms downstairs although one was never used, and I only remember it because of the pictures on the wall - one was a huge print of J.F Millet The Gleaners -  how and why? The only heating was a coal fire in the main living room.
When the houses were modernised in the late 1960's they turned the 'best' room into a proper fitted kitchen and the scullery into a bathroom.

Mum visited her parents every Thursday............ we were the nearest grandchildren, going on the bus to Stowmarket with me and then me and my sister  when we weren't at school. We would get off the bus, walk down to Grandmas for coffee and then walk 'up the town' for shopping so although we never stayed or visited any other time  I remember the house well. Occasionally we would go into town first and then walk back to Grandmas picking up Fish and Chips for lunch on the way.
 There was a honeysuckle arch over the front door for all the years I remember visiting. 

Back Tomorrow

Monday 15 April 2024

St Andrew's Church, Winston

 Finally, a couple of weeks ago, I found a church that was unlocked. Winston is a tiny village - (population  160) a mile or so from Debenham. The church is tucked away down a lane and mainly dates from the C14.

The porch dates from the early C15 and is fancy red brick with the niches for the saints.

It's a small very simple church and the first things I noticed were the flowers on all the windowsills, left there since Easter Sunday and looking lovely.

Looking down the church to the Altar . The pews are very simple and only those in the chancel have carved ends which I forgot to photograph due to a lady coming in and surprising me. She was there to fetch back chairs to the village hall - a small building next door to the church.

The only stained glass are these two panels and four more depicting the apostles

The font is plain octagonal with a tall wooden cover.

This embroidery hanging on the pulpit caught my eye - very beautifully done.

Like many churches the stairway in the wall and opening high up show there was once a rood screen with candles between nave and chancel

Back Tomorrow

Saturday 13 April 2024

Week Ending Saturday 13th

 Two clay pots were found at the boot sale last Saturday and they were my only spend (£1) on a day when there were more people selling than anytime this season so far. Just nothing much needed. I picked up three Beswick Birds like my Blue Tit and Wren, one was a robin but he had a chipped beak, one was supposed to be a grey wagtail but didn't really look like one and had a chipped tail and the third was a much larger pheasant but he'd been badly damaged and repaired even more badly so all three were left behind and I never wanted a Beswick Bird collection anyway! 

I could have bought more toys for grandchildren, a ton of craft stuff, a box of Christmas crackers and loads of Christmas cards but don't need any of them. Boot sales now seem to be more about the things I don't buy! Oh, and someone had the full set of the Country Diary of  an Edwardian Lady Months of the Year plates - I'd not seen any since I got my set  two years ago.

I potted my two recent purchases - a trailing ivy and a bright green sedum into the clay pots and added them to the plant stand. It's was 2021 when I found it at a boot sale and now looking as if it will soon need a new coat of paint. Ever since it blew over I've had it in this spot where it is tied to the trellis.

It looks better in real life than any photograph I've tried to take.

My tomato seedlings in the greenhouse have been potted on again as the warmish weather over last weekend meant they had a growth spurt. I know BiL wanted a couple of my plants to grow something different from those he gets from a friend. Couldn't remember if he wanted the giant Big Mama or the tiny Sungrape so I potted up all  6 of each. 

Most of the trees have suddenly greened up this week with a bit of warmth at the end of the week - I need to get more seedlings into bigger pots and the climbing French beans outside with some way of protecting them if we get a spell of cold. Jobs for the weekend I think. 
Yesterday I had MGS and YGD here as DiL had a school PD day, they were in grumpy end of school holiday mood - there were tears - which is quite unusual and that's my excuse for not replying to comments yet again - plus I'm reading lots of good library books too.

Thank you for birthday wishes - it's not quite yet! Although I did have some cards and a present already - thank you Ang, a lovely surprise - it was unwrapped by the grandchildren - they were very puzzled!

Have a good weekend - I shall be back Monday

Friday 12 April 2024

WI In April

Firstly Thank you for comments on yesterdays post.

My birthday month at WI so a birthday 'posy' which was really a lovely bunch of roses in a gorgeous colour. 

Our speaker at WI this week was a lady telling us all about The Bevin Boys and especially about her father.

At the beginning of WWII much of the coal mined in this country was exported to Poland and Italy so the need for coal  suddenly dropped as war started and therefore it was decided that miners wouldn't be a reserved occupation and many went off to fight. (The government didn't look very far ahead - just like nowadays!)  But by 1943 the country faced a crisis as there was only 3 weeks of coal stock left. Of course this was at a time when coal was used for trains and power stations as well as homes. Winston Churchill gave Ernest Bevin, Minister of Labour and National Service the job of increasing coal production.
Bevin decided that one in ten of all conscripts between 18 and 24  drafted to serve would go down the mines. This was done by a random ballot and anyone who objected could be sent to prison.

The speakers father was a country boy, working on a farm, from south Suffolk who had hardly been out of the county but he was sent off to train for just four weeks on the Derbyshire coalfields along with many other boys from all walks of life.

The way these boys were treated was totally different to boys who went into the forces. They were given no special clothing, their pay was much lower too and only had one week off a year. Because they had nothing to say what their war work was many were treated badly by the public who thought they were conscientious objectors or shirkers.

At the end of the war they were forced to carry on until 1948 and their work was never recognised, they got no thanks, no demob suit and certainly no medals. The lady said some never mentioned what they did as they were ashamed that they hadn't been abroad  fighting for their country. They got no help from the British Legion and when mining was Nationalised all records of the 48,000 Bevin Boys was destroyed.
For 50 years they campaigned to take part in the Remembrance Day service at the Cenotaph and were finally allowed just a few years ago and also very recently they have a new memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum for those who died.


There are only a few men left who were Bevin Boys - all in their 90's - including the speakers father. But by talking about them to various groups around the country and having all the information available via  The Bevin Boys Association they keep their stories alive.

Back Tomorrow

Thursday 11 April 2024

Turnpikes and Toll houses

 After I did the post about the early C18 Toll house that moved from the A140 to Needham Market where it is now a Vets surgery I looked on the library website to see if there were any books on the subject and reserved this one.

The map shows the roads in Suffolk that had toll houses and the black solid dots show those that still exist in one form or another. 

Most of the toll houses built in Suffolk were not an interesting shape like The Mustard Pot but always built right on the road edge. They would have had a door opening to the road where the gate keeper would sit taking money and opening the gate.

This house below is Tollgate Cottage on the way out of Eye. It dawned on me as I was taking the photo that this is the reason this road in Eye is 'Lowgate'. The house was on the turnpike between Woodbridge and Eye in 1802.
The house previously had a door between the windows,  no doubt blocked up when motorised traffic started rushing by.

I couldn't take a photo of Tollgate Cottage just north of Debenham as it's on a busy road and right where there are road-work traffic lights - but it looks exactly the same as the house above.

In Debenham village there's a house called "The Old Toll House" but this would have been the home of the man who looked after the regular markets and took tolls from the stallholders.

The last few pages of the book are about houses like this one above, that look like toll-houses but have no mention on old maps and records of the C18 and C19 turnpike roads.

After the turnpike roads came the railways and these too had small houses built for the gatekeeper where the railway crossed busy roads.. I'm old enough to remember several places in Suffolk where the railway gatekeeper would hurry out to close the gates to road traffic before the train came and open them again afterwards.

Back Tomorrow

Wednesday 10 April 2024

READING THE SEASONS - The 4th Book for Spring + A.N.Other

  This was my 4th book with Spring in the title and it was spotting the cover of the book and buying it from the library For Sale shelf  that gave me the idea for Reading The Seasons.

Una is 15 and her sister Hal is 12 when their diplomat father summons them away from their English boarding school to start a new life with him in India. When she discovers their beautiful governess Alix is actually his mistress, she is furious. Bored and lonely, Una starts to spend time with Ravi, the gardener's young assistant. Ravi brings poetry and compassion into Una's life but what began as friendship soon blossoms into something forbidden.
This is a novel of class and caste distinction, expats and the leftover customs of the British Raj but it has wonderful descriptions of the colours and sights of  India. It was first published in 1975.

On the 'Book Read 2024' page is also a precis of another book read "All Around The Year" by Michael Morpurgo. I really enjoyed this diary of a year - 1976/7 - on a mixed farm in North Devon. He spent every day of a year working with the family who were going to be the main farmers for his  charity 'Farms for City Children' which was due to start the following year. There is a Ted Hughes poem for each month and photos from James Ravilious - both neighbours at the time. This is a 2023 Little Toller reprint of a book first published in 1979 and never reprinted until now. More about it HERE

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Tuesday 9 April 2024


One day towards the end of March  I could hear a Goldfinch  somewhere in the Sycamore tree............. they have a very twittery song - a mixture of different sounds............... and stood searching for it for several minutes because I've rarely seen any in the garden here. Later it was on the birdfeeder and I grabbed the camera and got a couple of not very good photos.

I bought a special Niger seed feeder to try and persuade them to visit but this one preferred the general seed feeder.

 When the family were visiting a couple of weeks ago Son (the only one of our 3 children to take after me and Colin in having any interest in birds) spotted two in the garden and there's been one singing  almost every time I've been outside since. Hopefully they are nesting somewhere around.

I did a search in posts to see if this was my first post mentioning seeing Goldfinches here and it is. Back in 2018 I took a picture of a whole group or "charm" of them on the ground under the feeders at Clay Cottage. A real difference in what we saw there - a cottage surrounded by fields with hedges and trees all round compared to here - a smaller garden surrounded by houses. 
Looking in my frequently mentioned book " A Sparrow's Life's as Sweet as Ours" I discovered the reason for a "charm" is because of the Old English for their twittering call "c'irm'.

It's a wonder we see any at all because in 1532 Henry VIII's Preservation of Grain Act put a price on the head of anything feathered or furred, that ate marketable food. It included the Goldfinch even though they feed mainly on thistle seed. The Act wasn't repealed until the eighteenth century.

 Then during the C19 they were often kept as caged birds.  W.H.Hudson wrote in 1895 "Unhappily it is now not very easy to see them, for the Goldfinch is a favourite caged bird and so long as bird-catching is permitted, this charming species will continue to decrease"

The Caged Goldfinch

Within a churchyard, on a recent grave
I saw a little cage
That jailed a Goldfinch. All was silence save 
It's hops from stage to stage.

There was inquiry in it's wistful eye,
And once it tried to sing,
Of him or her who placed it there, and why
No one knew anything

True, a woman was found drowned the day ensuing,
And some at times averred
The grave to be her false one's who when wooing
Gave her the bird.

Thomas Hardy 1840-1928

Number have increased since the mid 1980's when imported Niger seed became available for garden feeding and seemed to be a Goldfinch favourite.

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