Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether summer clothe the general earth
With greeness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Leaving On A Jet Plane

This is going to be a very quick post as I'll be leaving for the airport in a couple of hours. I'm all packed and ready to go, I'll be flying to London today and staying overnight then tomorrow afternoon I'll be flying to Boston. I had a lovely day yesterday as all of us went out for lunch to belatedly celebrate my birthday, both babies were very good and it was great to have everyone there together. This is just to finish up my Norfolk trip so that I can get straight into boring everyone with my US photos when I get back :) On the third day I decided to spend the morning at Gressenhall Workhouse and Farm ,they have a small working farm with rare breed animals which was originally the farm which supplied the local Workhouse with food. There's a rural life museum, a Victorian cottage and garden and all sorts of other things there and would easily provide a great full day out. I only had a couple of hours so decided to go round the farm. The photo at the top is the farmhouse.

You can go inside the downstairs part which is lovely, I'd be happy to move straight in there. This is the kitchen with a lovely old range on the left. Not quite so lovely when you had to blacklead it regularly I suppose:)

This one side of the scullery with the old mangle. I remember my gran using one of those and it was extremely hard work especially since she was only 4'11" tall. I was tempted to run off with a couple of those wonderful pieces of pottery!

The other side of the scullery with it's lovely deep sink and wooden draining board.

A pair of Suffolk Punch horses, the big working horses used for ploughing, carting etc. They are very rare now and I believe there are only about 360 left. They are lovely gentle horses even though they are so big.

The horseman was kind enough to unfasten one of them and bring him to the stable door to have his photo taken. I've somehown managed to make him look rather thin which he wasn't.

Red Poll cattle

Large Black pigs

I chanced to turn up at the same time as a group of vintage cars which were doing a travelling tour of Norfolk. This lovely green one arrived more or less at the same time as me.

The really special thing about these cars is that they were all steam driven!! I didn't realise that there were such things as steam driven cars.

Aren't they just great?

I also went to Dereham while I waited for the Farm to open, this is St Nicholas Church which was founded in AD654 by St Withburga though the church you actually see was built around 1200. Our friend Bishop Bonner was parish priest here at one time and his cottage (previou post) is just down the road from the church.

The font was made in 1488.

The interior showing the nave and chancel.

The detached Bell Tower was built between 1501 and 1536.

St Withburga's Well where the founder of the church was originally buried. It was a pilgrim shrine in Saxon times. I wouldn't mind betting that the spring feeding the well was originally a pagan site.

Naughty Abbott and monks! You will need to click on the photo to be able to read it properly.

That's it, I have an hour to get ready and have some breakfast then I'm off. Back in early October.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Land of the Iceni

The area now known as Norfolk was once the territory of the Ancient British tribe called the Iceni whose most famous member was a female warrior called Bouddica (or Boadicea)who came close to defeating the Romans in 61AD. She led a rebellion after the Romans flogged her and raped her daughters. Among the Celts it was quite normal for women to be both tribal chieftains and warriors. Norfolk is a rather more peaceful place now but it has a long and fascinating history. On the first day of my trip I visited a lovely moated 15th Century manor house called Oxburgh Hall. It's a National Trust property so, of course, there are no photographs of the interior. This is actually no great loss as it's the outside which is so attractive, the inside has been largely Victorianized and the only really interesting and attractive bit was the marvellous Priest's Hole which, wonder of wonders, you are allowed to go into. This is easier said than done, the entrance is a narrow opening in the floor going into the hiding place at an angle. Dear readers, I forgot that I'm 61 and went down there! Then I rather wished I hadn't as it was tiny with no windows of course, and rather claustrophobic. I began to wonder whether I'd actually be able to get out again especially when I was followed down by a tall, well made man who got stuck halfway!!! He finally managed to wriggle through and there was just about room for the two of us. Happily getting out turned out to be much easier than getting in for both of us but I was decidedly relieved to be back above ground again. It made me realise how appalling it must have been for the Catholic priests stuck in there for days at a time with only a candle for illumination. The Bedingfields remained a Catholic family throughout the reign of Elizabeth I and during the English Civil War they were Royalists in a decidedly Parliamentarian area. The Priest's Hole would have had a considerable amount of use I should think.

You could climb up a narrow spiral staircase and go out onto the roof of one of the towers so I did that too and had it practically to myself. This is one of the views from up there.

This is the Gatehouse and is what you see if you are standing in front of the bridge over the moat though from the photograph you wouldn't guess that the bridge is there.

These swans appeared swimming along the moat and looked so regal that I couldn't resist taking their picture.

A Red Admiral butterfly taken in the woodlands surrounding the manor house.

As I turned into the lane leading to Oxburgh Hall there was also another sign to the 'Iceni Village and Museum' so after visiting Oxburgh I continued down the road to find out what the Iceni Village had to offer. It was rather fun but not, I suspect, entirely archaeologically accurate! This was the entrance, of which the little guide book says ' although there is no proof that the Iceni used this type of entrance, drawbridges were well known to the Romans.' Hmmm,yes, it is anyway complete with heads taken from defeated enemy warriors.

This is a model of a chariot similar to those that would have been used by some Celtic warriors and is reasonably accurate I think.

This is a so-so reconstruction of a Celtic round house which would have been used by the head of an extended family with lesser lights using the long house in the background. I must admit that, having worked in an archaeologically accurately built and equipped roundhouse at Francis Prior's site at Flag Fen, I found this a bit disappointing. As a day out for a family with young children it's quite good fun though.

The rest of the Museum included a rather pleasant Nature Trail and I took this photo of what may or may not be a dragonfly called a Common Darter:)

Viburnum berries

Another part of the Museum site was this lovely 17th century cottage, tucked away in the woods, which is my favourite of all that I saw, I think this would have belonged to the local wisewoman :)

I took several photos of the inside but only really have room for one here which is the kitchen. Probably a bit pristine looking for our wisewoman.....

Nearby was the ruin of St Mary's church thought to be one of the oldest churches in England built around 628AD. It has a beautiful round apse and it was apparently converted and used as a house for the parish priest from around the mid 1500s.

This is the interior of the rounded apse with the sun streaming through an upper window causing the bright spot in the centre.

The middle day of the trip was the funeral but on the third day I spent the morning in and around the small town of Dereham.

Isn't this a delightful cottage? It is in Dereham and dates from 1502, it's built of brick, flint and wattle and daub. The front is decorated with coloured pargetting which is ornamental plasterwork.

This is a close-up of the pargetting. Delightful as it is, this cottage was the home of a truly appalling man called Bishop Bonner who was responsible for burning over 200 heretics between 1553 and 1558 during the reign of Queen Mary who was known as Bloody Mary.

As ever, clicking on the photos will improve them enormously.
I'm hoping to have time to do another post on Norfolk sometime tomorrow in between having a manicure and pedicure, a birthday lunch and packing. We'll see:)

Sunday, September 09, 2007


Bryony berries looking like jewels strung along the hedgerow.

I'm not the first to post John Keats' poem but it's so lovely it bears reading more than once I think:) The photographs are from a short trip to Norfolk last week to attend my Uncle Vic's funeral, it's quite a long way so I decided to stay over a couple of nights and renew my acquaintance with this lovely part of England. It's some years since I was last there and this visit has made me resolve to go back more often. I'm not likely to be around much for the next three weeks or so, though I'm hoping to get at least one more post about Norfolk done before I leave for a two week stay in the USA next weekend.
Clicking on the photos will improve most of them.

To Autumn (1819)


Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.


Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.


Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,--
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

The photos
Wild crab apples and hawthorn berries
Hazel nuts (taken near home not in Norfolk)
A recently harvested cornfield
Small tortoiseshell butterfly on wild mint
Damselfly (Bluetailed damselfly I think)