Wednesday, September 16, 2009
A Suffolk Birthday
It was my birthday earlier this month and I spent it in Suffolk with my younger son and his family. I decided to travel by train for once and discovered that most of the journey is through lovely countryside, the route goes down through Lincolnshire and then into the Fen country. I had my little Canon Powershot in my bag and I suddenly wondered whether it would be possible to take photographs through the window of a moving train and discovered that it is. You only get one chance and the quality isn't that great but I was quite pleased with some of them. Above is the marina at Ely and if you enlarge it you will see Ely cathedral in the background - one of these days I intend to go there. It was built by William the Conqueror and is a really beautiful building.
As we thundered through March I saw a low flying plane, then I realised there were three of them and that the big one was a Lancaster bomber and the two little ones were Spitfires - it was the Battle of Britain flight coming in to land at an airfield near March! It was the weekend of the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of WW2 and there must have been a display of some sort. I just had time to snap this photo. Edited to say that the two small planes are actually a Spitfire at the top and a Hurricane at the bottom. Thanks Roy:)
On the Sunday it was a nice day and we decided to take Gabriel and George to Jimmy's Farm which is pretty close to where my son lives. Jimmy Doherty rears rare breed pigs and there have been several documentary series' about the farm on Britsh TV. It's a really good place for children, plenty for them to see and do including these Red Poll cows.
We spent quite a lot of our time on the woodland Nature Trail, it's an ideal place for small boys to run about and bears like it too:)
Francesca plans to have an autumn nature table for them at home and we collected some specimens for it - acorns, sweet chestnuts, hazel nuts and a pretty bird's feather.
Once Gabriel discovered the little tractor we had a hard time parting him from it!
George enjoyed the woodland nature trail too, he's collecting sticks for the nature table:)
Gabriel and George both loved this living willow house and spent ages playing in it. We shall go back to Jimmy's Farm again as it's that kind of place, always different things to see and do through each of the seasons. On the photos it looks as though we have the place to ourselves but actually there were many family groups and also several coach loads of Brownies and Rainbows having a wonderful day out - they were very well behaved too.
My actual birthday was on Monday and in the morning we went to a small market town called Needham Market, it's an attractive place with quite a few small interesting shops and a great antique centre - the sort where there is masses of interesting, affordable everyday stuff to look at rather than an upmarket antique shop. I bought two 1950s copies of The Countryman magazine which I still haven't read because I managed to leave them behind when I came home! The one building in Needham Market that is truly ugly and uninspiring on the outside is the church of St John the Baptist. It looks neither old nor interesting and I wouldn't even have bothered going inside if it hadn't been for Francesca's mum. Once through the door though, you realise that it is much older than it appears. It was built as a chapel of ease in the late 15th century for pilgrims travelling to visit St Edmund's shrine at Bury St Edmunds and only became a parish church in 1901. It gives a real feeling of what medieval churches must originally have been like when there were no seats or pews and everyone stood through the services. There would be just one or two benches against the walls for elderly or infirm people and this is the origin of the saying that 'the weakest go to the wall'.
The real hidden secret of this church though is the double hammerbeam roof which is mentioned in Nicholas Pevsner's 'Buildings of England'and he described it as 'the climax of English roof building'. Apparently it's the finest double hammerbeam roof in the country. The leaflet in the church suggests that you lie on the floor and look up and then you get the impression of looking at a ship's hull - and it's quite true. I did and you do! It's thought that it may have been crafted by shipwrights brought in from the nearby coast.
As always in Suffolk many of the houses in Needham Market are painted in pretty colours especially the Suffolk pink which was originally made by mixing animal blood with lime. I loved this tiny cottage which must originally have been a 'one up and one down' and looks as though it was tacked on to the end of this row as an afterthought.
This hare is my birthday present from my husband bought in one of the lovely little shops in Needham Market. I absolutely love it.
My birthday cake baked for me by my lovely daughter-in-law Francesca, she gave a little party for me and I had more cards and presents than I've had for years. Gabriel and George had been practising singing 'Happy Birthday' and the cake was delicious. It was a really lovely birthday weekend.