Friday, 15 September 2017

Ipswich Heritage Open Days.....

Spur of the moment decision to join Daughter for a trip round Ipswich on the second day of their Heritage Open Days weekend and we were so lucky weather wise it was perfect for a good meander through town.

I do find it hard to believe that I've lived here for 34 years and been into the town centre more times than I could calculate but there are so many very historic buildings I hadn't even noticed existed. Tut tut!

Tooley's Court
Our first stop was into these alms houses which are still very much lived in as sheltered housing. Lovely greeting at the gate and a really knowledgeable gardener next, then into the building and down to their communal lounge/dining room and a cup of tea. They were all keen to look after us as we were their first visitors. We also met John, a resident, who showed us around a couple of empty bedsits and his own one bed flat.

Reading from the leaflet they gave us it was essential for very wealthy merchants of the 16th century to prepare for their end of life journey by possibly setting up a fund to pay the clergy to pray for their well being after they'd gone, a Chantry (we have housing nearby called Chantry estate which must be connected to that). An alternative way to ensure entry to heaven was to leave a substantial sum as an endowment to some charitable cause. This was Henry Tooley Portman's legacy, in his will be left a proportion of his estate for the erecting of alms houses for the well being of the poor souls within. William Smart was also a successful merchant and his will provided for additional endowments to the property. They were built in 1551 and rebuilt in 1846 in the same style to a much higher standard. More had been added at various times since.  As Daughter said "Amazing that a legacy from 1551 is still funding accommodation for the elderly today", residents pay a relatively small rent which is subsidised by the interest on the original investment! Wish my savings did that well.

3-5 Silent Street
Grade 2 listed late medieval beautiful building which spent many many years as the specialist second hand book shop. Now empty so you can clearly see all the beams and interesting architectural bits.
The ruins of this Dominican Friary were shown to us by a local geologist pointing out, amongst other things, the marine worm borings in the stone showing that it was brought inland from the coast.

Pykenham's Gatehouse

This is recorded as one of the earliest domestic buildings in Ipswich. It has been home to more than 20 generations. It's tiny inside so must have been a struggle for the gatekeeper's wife if they had children too.
Willis Towers Watson

The Ipswich building is one of the group's largest and most established locations for a company that's in more than 120 countries. Opened in 1975 by Harold MacMillan. The outside is totally black glass. The half acre roof top garden, just outside the rooftop staff restaurant, is lawned to provide insulation and has plenty of benches and tables to give a pleasant change from the office space for lunch in the sun.
The lime green and bright yellow is the colour scheme throughout. Guess that was to put you off turning up for work with a hangover hahaha

This building design has won several awards and in 1991 became the first modern design to receive Grade 1 listing, meaning nothing that can be seen from outside can be changed and nothing structural or decorative inside will change either. Looked to me like desks, chairs and cabinets etc have all been updated.

Daughter and I joined the swimming pool tour. I had heard the building had its own pool but was also led to believe it was only a rumour. Well the ground floor was actually built with an indoor pool along side the gym and creche. Seems the 1970s office workers weren't really into daytime exercise and they were infrequently used so following a full survey of staff it was decided the maintenance costs couldn't be justified so the gym and pool were closed. Because the building is listed the pool remains under the ground floor office space so it could be reinstated if it ever needed to. The creche was never used and I'm assuming that must have been because fewer mums would have worked full time back then.

We had lunch in the staff restaurant and a quick walk round the rooftop garden giving us a great view over the town centre and a nosey down into the little town house gardens.

Then it was home as we'd run out of time,  so maybe next year we'll have to try and visit some of the other 31 places in the Heritage list we didn't see this time.
Really enjoyed all we did see and always lovely having mother/daughter time.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Theatre: The Ladykillers.....

Back to theatre season after having the summer off, and a great one to start with!

The New Wolsey Theatre, Salisbury Playhouse and Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch by arrangement with Fiery Angel Limited, London presents

The Classic Ealing Comedy on a new Regional Tour.

When Mrs Wilberforce puts a sign in her newsagent’s window advertising ‘A Room to Let’, she’s delighted when the mysterious Professor Marcus proclaims it perfect for rehearsing his unorthodox string quintet. She soon discovers that she is not making tea for a motley band of musicians, but harbouring a hardened gang of criminals and conmen planning the great Kings Cross Train Robbery!

Graham Linehan (Father Ted, The IT Crowd) has adapted this much-loved film for the stage, mixing madcap comedy and criminal capers to hilarious effect. As his masterplan goes off the rails, and the bodies drop onto them, it begins to dawn on the Professor that, in Mrs Wilberforce and General Gordon, her extraordinary featherless parrot, he may have finally met his match.

From the motion picture screenplay by William Rose by special arrangement with Studiocanal and with Fiery Angel Ltd, London


Have to say it was a brilliant set which impressed us even before we'd taken our seats.
This completely rotated to show the inside with kitchen that had boiler trouble, staircase and doors to rooms and understairs cupboard.  The stage had been made bigger to accommodate it and as lots of the action happened in the upstairs bedroom I found myself with a bit of a stiff neck as we were in the very front row, but that really is my only gripe. 

The actors are all well known professionals, many I recognised from tv (although one I was convinced was someone else but that could have been the angle of my neck hahaha). The script was fast and funny and brilliantly delivered, quite close to how I remember the film. The lovely Ann Penfold created an adorable Mrs Wilberforce. 
All four of us thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Monday, 28 August 2017

All a matter of time......

Time is such a relative thing!

For Daughter and E it was Tudor time and as usual R moved in with us. For the first time O really really didn't want to go back in time as all his techy interests are very much in the here and now, so he moved in with us too. He's only done one or two nights sleepovers before so fingers crossed for 10 days!

I thought I would bring some craft stuff down so I could be near and handy when needed but not bored and idle when O spends lots of time on ipad/laptop/atari/etc. I'm playing with plastic bottles to upcycle into a garden.
After a whole week I'd achieved very little as time is never your own when there are children in the house. 

There were games to play. This one was a super-mega-noughts-and-crosses that O invented.

We managed a trip out to the beach. This summer's national trend is painting rocks/stones to hide and find. So we joined in although limited on time.
These were our finds that we rehid after our icecream/tea break.
These were the ones we painted (I'd taken sharpie pens) during our icecream/tea break and hid these too. When we got home O and I posted these photos on the "Felixstowe Finds" facebook page like everyone else does.
Hilarious at the time, the tide was right in, O took off his trainers and had shorts on so he was fine, R didn't! Unfortunately she mistimed the waves more than once and was soaking wet up to her knees. Clean dry trousers at home but no other shoes! Got back in time to plonk a dinner in front of her while I spent the whole time with kitchen roll and the hairdryer. I didn't succeed so managed to find her a pair of my black boots to wear that night. 

Apart from her brief beach trip one day and a hospital visit the next day (D was taken back into hospital)  R's time was spent in bed, or trying to eat two meals in less than four hours and spending a minimum of seven hours each day in the forest. Saturdays have a matinee too so over ten hours, 12 hours on the day they ended with the wrap party! I did a couple of runs but Hubby was her taxi service most of the time. 

O and I found a new recipe for bubble mix that worked really well in his machine, they were stable enough to rest on the grass for a while before popping. 

O said my pancakes have definitely improved since he gave me cooking tips!

D was discharged from hospital Friday but will still need a bit of time to recover. He went home with his mum, so M was free for a while in the afternoon and O was thrilled to go home for a few hours to show his dad what he'd been making (stop frame animation, remix music, his own recordings mixed too) and to collect a bit more kit. 

The apple tree was more than ready to be relieved of a good crop, then O helped me for a while chopping for the freezer and an apple crumble. This was Saturday and as M had no other commitments from 2pm for the rest of the weekend O decided to go home, so we boxed up crumble mix and stewed apple for them to cook at home. 

O also had to quickly finish programming his game on Atari Logo to show his dad too. He had been an absolute pleasure to have here and good company.

R goes home after dinner today and Daughter and E will be back in 2017 and home tonight too. So love spending time with my wonderful grandchildren, precious time they may be too busy for in the near future. Probably take me some time to get the house back to normal though! 

Friday, 25 August 2017

Theatre: As You Like It......

Red Rose Chain presents
As You Like It
at Jimmy’s Farm
One of Shakespeare’s most bewitching comedies, featuring some of his best-loved characters. Forget the rules of romance…Orlando & Rosalind have their own ideas! Escape with us into the magical woodland of Jimmy’s Farm to enjoy a world of unforgettable adventure. Full of rivalry, redemption and a most-unexpected wedding!
Packed with engaging energy, music and dance – Theatre in the Forest is an ideal introduction to Shakespeare for all-ages and a must-see event of the summer!


Such a magical setting for theatre, past the animals at Jimmy's Farm and into the woodland area where my neighbour/friendA and I got comfy in the permanent tiered seating. In a small area in front people could bring their own chairs and some had even brought little tables and were having a picnic, while other seats were reserved for those booked to have dinner first in the restaurant then arrive in time for the show.

It was a lovely warm evening but we were pleased we'd thought to bring a cushion each to sit on as the plastic chairs were chilly. We'd also packed fleeces and scarves and by half time these were all out of our bags and saving us from shivers.

All the actors were incredibly energetic and so enthusiastic delivering pure Shakespeare dialogue (such a lot of words for them to learn). It was hilarious and confusing and switched from wrestling matches and Dukes at court and banishment to the forest to suddenly being all wild west cowboy camp fire. They encouraged lots of audience noise and cheering and singing along. It was a lot of fun.

So now I've seen where we have lost R to for the past six weeks as for this performance she is one of the main volunteers and Assistant Stage Manager so has been there for every performance. She's so confident there and does a great job.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Another mixed bag.......

And on the subject of bags here's the latest one I've made
Totally free as the beige fabric front and back is the two back pockets of old jeans, the brown is some leftovers after making lounge cushion covers which was from my stash anyway after making trousers with it about 40 years ago lol, the zip was cut down to size from an old mac and the handle was once a belt, even the lizard and starfish I've sewn on to show me which is front were given to me as a gift.

Also had a crochet play and made myself a fedora style hat that can screw up in my bag but pull back into shape. I was really pleased with myself as I still find crochet patterns completely foreign so just made this up as I went along and only had to undo half and try again when the increases didn't look right. I'm hoping it won't be warm and I can wear it as a sun hat too.

As you can see I'm still into all my crafting and always look forward to our monthly gathering at Acorn Village at Mistley. Although most of us do more chatting than crafting lol.

This Monday was also our monthly coffee morning at home, yes they are still going, think there were 12 of us round the table. Lovely to have one of our old neighbours pop back to catch up with us too. Unfortunately Hubby hadn't been feeling well since Saturday afternoon so he stayed upstairs in case he had anything contagious.

That afternoon Hubby was still feeling rough enough to go and see a doctor who diagnosed suspected food poisoning and gave him antibiotics. I'm not convinced that's what it was but happy to report by the end of this week he is feeling about 80% better.

I've got a bit of a medical issue going on as my recent CT Scan showed a little something on my left kidney and because my right kidney was removed four years ago they want to further investigate. Not urgent so could be ages before I mention it again here.

More fun and games to report, as we had a rough evening and night Tuesday night as M's son D got rushed into hospital and had surgery to remove his appendix at about 10pm. Of course everyone was in different places and poor Daughter drove miles and miles all on the same roads getting different people where they needed to be and take food too. Op went well, and Wednesday morning Daughter was back at the hospital, I had O and he's a live wire as he is the only one who went to bed before 1:30am. Hubby did of course as he wasn't well so he was up before 6am which woke me so I was quite tired yawwwwwn. Op went well and D was discharged Wednesday, amazing!

While O was here he was showing me what he'd learnt about freeze frame animation then went off to make his own. I'm amazed at the understanding and knowledge of use by an 8year old. This one was my favourite.

And now my birthday which hasn't turned out to be the quiet day I thought it would as gradually it included a little childcare, catering for extras,  courier service, taxi service and barber! So many cards and social media good wishes, some lovely gifts and lots of them floral. All rounded off with a meal out with Hubby, our children, their partners and our grandchildren (all bar one). I'm very lucky!
Did you notice the candles?

Wednesday, 19 July 2017


We are so lucky to live not too far from the beautiful East Anglian coast. Actually it isn't luck it was totally by choice over 30 years ago.

Always tricky to find a mutual date between us and friendsL&K but we did on our second attempt as we'd booked each other a month ago but on that morning it had poured with rain, so we postponed till yesterday and have to say the weather was perfect.

They arrived at ours just after 10am and as I opened the door us girls laughed as we'd both chosen to wear black and white patterned trousers with plain black tops!
 Cuppa at home in the garden first, then off to Southwold in K's open top car!
A lovely walk to the end of the pier popping into each little shop for a browse but didn't get tempted enough to buy anything. Stood fascinated watching the mechanical water clock and laughing lots looking at ourselves in each of the silly mirrors. Then walking beachside into town to hunt for lunch.

We saw so many women with very similar monochrome fashion to us that we felt like we'd all been sent the memo to wear the uniform of the day hahaha.

Lunch was downstairs in a cafe called The Cellar (I think) and we all enjoyed our sandwich choices which we walked off with a bit of a mystery tour through a park and at the back of places I'd not seen before, coming across a little building displaying the sign Electric Picture Palace and by the programme displayed outside very much still in use.

We had such a lovely relaxing day that I'd actually not taken any other photos but we continued this walk back round till we found the beach again then back up to the town centre as we'd previously seen a very special looking chocolate/cakes/ice creams shop and of course ice cream at the seaside is essential, mine was banoffee yum yum!

Eventually back to the car and still weather very much warm enough for a top down drive home. Total relax and chat with tea till we were just about hungry enough to head out again. We took our car to the pub with them in theirs and after a very nice dinner and big hugs in the car park we said our goodbyes and agreed we must get together again very soon.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Cornwall holiday 8-15 July........

Our Cornish holiday was at Flushing near Falmouth with our lovely friendsN&T

Saturday 8 July
We took our car this time, so left home 8:30am(ish) to pick up N&T (half hour away) then all loaded and on our way for about six hours in the car and a good break for lunch. After two false attempts at horrid services which turned out to be closed little chefs and first with a very long toilet queue outside and the inside toilets out of order, the second was a quick loo and drink in a Costa, we turned off and found the really lovely Black Dog Inn, Chilmark, Wiltshire. We relaxed in the garden under the hot sunshine and enjoyed luxury sandwiches.
Usual traffic jams in the usual places but overall made good time and got here about 5:30pm I think. And this is our home for the week.

Unload the car, check out the accommodation, cups of tea and coffee, beers and wine, walk down the road to the first pub Royal Standard. Tables were very close together and it was busy (always a good sign). Us girls had mussels, T had an enormous bowl of seafood stew and Hubby had fish and chips, all very yummy.
Then we walked all that off with a little local stroll to take in the views of the village but mostly the beautiful river Fal.

Another pint sitting outside another pub, noticing on the rooftop opposite a gull who seemed to be watching us, friendN called him Steven as in Steven Seagull. We then walked back up the steep hill to sit in our upstairs lounge with a cuppa and read through all the leaflets. Seems there are far more places we all want to see than we have days for 😀

Sunday 9 July
Really comfy bed and I slept well but still first up and early at 6:30am. When everyone was up, breakfasted and ready for the day to begin the drizzle turned to rain so we relaxed inside for a little longer with Hubby on weather watch. About 11am and dry and warm outside we went for a lovely coast walk.
 Admiring all the local sights.
 We brought a late lunch back with us then time for an total relax.
 Tonight's yummy meal was another local, Waterside.
 And we rounded the day off at another pub.
As we left Steven was waiting on his rooftop to say goodnight. Then the steep climb up the hill home.

Monday 10 July
Seems the weather forecasts we all read last week got it wrong and we're going to have some wet every day, but we don't care. We are never up and out early and that's when it seems to be wettest. Left here about 10:45am(ish) and drove for just over an hour and found the Lost Gardens of Heligan, which are now not lost at all but a great whole day out.
 The children's assault course proved a challenge which I didn't even attempt. But the rope bridge later I did do and there's photographs to prove it on other cameras!

 Does Hubby look like he's Irish dancing to you?
 We'd had a hefty burger lunch and been out all day so decided on a pizza and games evening in.

Tuesday 11 July
Wet all day, so a very lazy start and went out nearly lunch time driving into Falmouth which is very close and an inside activity at the Maritime Museum

 Didn't seem to take many photos, guess I was too busy reading all the info and playing with all the hands-on bits.

This rather splendid serpent is almost opposite the place we are staying, so while the men were parking the car (a tight squeeze inside our tiny gated courtyard) and it wasn't raining too hard I popped down and asked it to pose for a pic!
Pleased to say it stayed dry enough for a walk down the road to The Seven Stars pub for dinner and pool. And again Steven was waiting to say goodnight.

Wednesday 12 July
Wonderful weather Wednesday and we didn't waste a bit of it. About an hours drive to Marazion for a walk along a vast and stunning beach. Then across the man-made causeway to the little island of St Michael's Mount.
 First stop there for refreshments, which probably should have been a nutritional lunch but we went for cream tea instead.....well we are in Cornwall.
 Back in the car and along some very tight roads through Penzance to Mousehole, planning to find a pub for an early dinner as we had tickets for the theatre. Unfortunately the pub we found was rather pretentious and only served an afternoon snack menu of things that didn't even go together if you wanted to make up a substantial plate. Meals were not being cooked till 6pm and that menu was expensive and too late for us. So a drink then back on the road.
 Very pretty harbour and we had fun watching a large group of children playing in the water.
 Hubby did a fantastic job of getting through yet more very tight roads with minimal passing places. Making every one of our car sensors beep wildly in turn and sometimes two or three going at once!

Next stop Porthcurno for an evening at the Minack Theatre. On the website it said about Katie's Hotspot food stall but today's choices were all curry or spicy. So the men headed off on foot to the cafe we'd seen 1/4 mile back, meanwhile we got in the queue. When they eventually returned, looking hot and tired as apparently the walk down via the beech and back along the road "was quite demanding". The cafe wasn't even open when they got there so they were forced to go into the pub and thankfully they did takeaway and they could even have a pint while it was being cooked.

So sitting in the upper terraces, on our hired seat pad with back rest, eating breast of chicken in a bun with chips, with the stunning views of the sea, watching a singing and dancing story telling of Nell Gwynn.
Long drive back (have to say the back of this car is really quite comfy) and a quick cuppa and bed just before 1am.

Thursday 13 July
Bit of a coats-on-coats-off-coats-on again sort of day but weather didn't stop us, so out to the National Trust Trelissick Gardens and House.

Beautiful blooms. Can't understand how they get so many colours growing together when I always thought it was soil type that dictated the colour. I can't even get hydrangeas to grow at all in our garden at home.
 Fantastic views too.
 N did the children's trail and won a sticker for completing it all.
 The home owners are also owners of spode pottery and the volunteer guides in each room were really knowledgeable and eager to share their knowledge.
 Home for wine time out on the terrace.
 Dinner was at The Waterside (brilliant we have three good places in walking distance). Stopped again at Seven Stars pub (only has 4.5 stars on trip advisor hahaha) for our holiday darts tournament. We swapped marital partners and T and I won 2:1 not that I'm bragging of course!

Friday 14 July
Our last day and we didn't want Hubby to do any driving as he'd have the long drive home tomorrow. So a walk around the village with the first stop at the church right next door as the door was open.

When we passed the Royal Standard pub this time we noticed that the floral arrangements were actually planted in handbags, amazed I hadn't noticed that before hahaha.
Down again to the point for the best view ever and while children played on the sand and people let their dogs run and play in the water, friendsN&T climbed over rocks and pocked in the rock pools.
We bought just enough to add to the bits we had leftover to make up lunch, then said our goodbyes to Steven waiting for us up on his roof and walked up the steep hill home for the last time. 
An afternoon walk along some little lanes we hadn't investigated before.

A luxury last night dinner almost delivered to our door as the Cornish Codfather mobile fish and chip van stops right outside our gate on a Friday night. It was delicious and polystyrene boxes don't need washing up! 

Saturday 15 July
Early morning and the usual throw it all back into the suitcases and bags they came in, then fit it all back into the boot, write nice things in the visitors book, check everywhere and pile us into the car and away.

Left at 9am and we arrived home about 6:30pm which wasn't too bad as that included a comfort break, a lunch stop (back at the Black Dog pub we found a week before), a very slow bit on the M25, dropping off at home friendsN&T and unloading their stuff and accepting a quick cuppa gratefully, then the last stop just to buy milk before finally unloading our stuff through our front door.

A great week with great friends.