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.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Weekend in Suffolk and a Surprise

I spent last weekend in Suffolk with my son and his family and unlike most of the rest of the country Suffolk had mild,dry weather until Sunday night so we were lucky. On Saturday my daughter-in-law packed up a picnic and off we went to West Stowe Anglo Saxon village. I always enjoy going there and seeing the experimental archaeology, this is The Farmer's House one of the houses all of which are built in the position where one of the original excavated buildings stood. The idea is that all the buildings are constructed differently in order to test theories as to how they were originally constructed. Excavation has provided some clues but a good deal is educated guesswork.

These two black pigs were busily hoovering up the acorns that had dropped from an overhanging oak tree. They seem to be permanent residents at West Stowe as they have always been there each time I've visited.

I found this hand drawn map really interesting as it gives you a real feel of how the village might have looked.

This is placed over the entrance to the Mead Hall at West Stowe, below the zoomorphic design is a sentence written using Runes but sadly I have no idea what it means. The Mead Hall was a place of feasting, singing and the telling of ancient stories, communal feasting was an important part of Anglo Saxon life.

Inside the Mead Hall which was actually very dark but of course at night it would be lit by the fire in the central hearth and by flaring torches which would throw shadows everywhere - very atmospheric for the telling of tales:)

The very regal tribal chieftain Gabriel guarded by his faithful thegn George!

West Stowe is also a country park with various woodland walks, there were plenty of fungi about, I'm putting three photos in the hope that someone, (Roy maybe?), can identify them for me. I did wonder whether this one is orange peel fungus?

This one I can't even guess at!

The shape of this makes me think parasol mushroom but are there various types or just this one?

This is the bit the boys enjoyed most - the play area:)

This is what you get in your garden when you live in the middle of nowhere - a covy of English grey partidges!  Not a great photo as it was taken through glass but it was lovely to see them. There are lots of them around and I invariably see some when  I'm driving down the lane.

The real reason for my visit to Suffolk was that Neil and Cesca wanted to organize a treat for me as a 'thank you' for helping them out during the summer. I didn't know what the treat was going to be until Saturday teatime when they told me that I was going to Colchester for 'An Evening With Ray Mears'! If they had thought all year they couldn't have come up with anything better :) Ray was absolutely brilliant, he spoke from 7.30pm until 10.40pm with just a 20 minute break. There was a large screen which showed superb photographs and video footage illustrating his talk which was largely about the Boreal Forest in the first half but afterwards covered many other areas including South Africa which was wonderful for me as I've seen for myself the animals and landscapes he was talking about. Afterwards he signed copies of his autobiography and in spite of the huge queue of people and the lateness of the hour he took time to exchange a few words with each person and then shake hands. Heaven knows what time he finally left the Hall as it was 11.15pm when we finally got out and there were still plenty of people behind us. I have to say that Ray Mears is a thoroughly nice man and exactly the same as he appears on TV. As weekends go this was a very good one!


Marigold Jam said...

Sounds really interesting all round.

Patricia said...

What a lovely surprise Rowan on what sounded like a fabulous weekend. So glad you had a good time and yes you were lucky with the weather.
Patricia x

Bovey Belle said...

What a really lovely weekend. We hae been to West Stowe when we were staying at my b-in-law's. A lovely place to visit. That does look like Orange Peel fungus (but don't quote me) and quite possibly a Parasol fungus too. It's so long since I looked at my Fungi books though.

As for your birthday present, what a perfect one and you certainly got your money's worth!

La Maison said...

Thank you for this post,I enjoyed it.
And what a lovely surprise for you, the boys are adorable.


Louise said...

what an interesting place to visit and a great surprise! Glad you enjoyed the weekend.

bright star said...

I loved this post and I have always liked Ray Mears and am not surprized he is a lovely bloke. He loves the wilderness in a spiritual way. Have you read The Snow Child ,about Alaska . It is really wonderful.

Unknown said...

Really glad that you enjoyed your visit. We have so many mushrooms in the garden right now. The partridge have returned too. We think that the mushrooms are orange peel and the spikey one is some kind of brittlestem. You should have asked Mr Mears! He could tell you and then build a birch bark canoe!-happy daysx

Also, you looked stunning.

Jenny Woolf said...

West Stow is wonderful. I visited about 7 years ago and it's obviously acquired more things since that visit.
The fungi are wonderful and one of the treasures of this time of year.

Morning's Minion said...

West Stowe sounds like a most interesting place with its recreated buildings. Most of them probably wouldn't suit us if we had to take up housekeeping in them!

WOL said...

So envious of your getting to go to West Stow. I would dearly love to go, but it's a bit of a hike from TX. I always enjoy your photographs of the interesting places you visit.

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

I thoroughly enjoyed ever step of your visit - and what a lovely surprise for you. Fabulous photos.

Hearthwife said...

Fab surprise ;)

We've never visited West Stow, maybe in 2014!

Rosie said...

Years since I've been to West Stowe, I expect it has changed such a lot since then. I found it fascinating. It sounds as if you had an interesting evening with Ray Mears too - he certainly gave a lot of his time:)

Dog Trot Farm said...

What a lovely place to visit Rowan. How thoughtful your son and daughter in-law are. I have never heard of Ray Mears, I am going to google him. When in doubt goggle...Greatings from Maine...

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a wonderful weekend ... :0)

Victoria said...

Beautiful..gorgeous images and lovely treasures..I love the runic zoomorphic sigils...stunning!Magical! Lovely images of the kids..and sounds like you all had a wonderful time..very special!
Fantastical mushrooms...thanks for shining such magic and beauty into my day!
Blessings..wishing you a wonderful end of October!

thewiildmagnola said...

a hugely thoughtful thank you gift.

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

Very regal indeed. (That photo will stick in my mind.)

Anonymous said...

You were lucky to be safe from the storm and have a great time instead!

Mac n' Janet said...

Rowan, checking to see when you're going to be here in Savannah.

Rowan said...

Hi Janet, we fly in Sunday evening 4th Nov and leave for New Orleans on the 11th. Hope the weather is going to be warm as we're packing summer clothes!

Mac n' Janet said...

We've been running in the high 70's to low 80's, supposed to be a little cooler next week, probably low 70's. Hope you can fit us into your schedule, could meet you in Savannah.

MorningAJ said...

We were in Ipswich this weekend and had good weather too. Interesting county, Suffolk.