It took only half an hour to reach Kesgrave from
Saxmundon and to our delight Tom, one of Margaret and Stewart’s sons was
visiting them. He had just had an interview for the role of Consultant at
A&E, at a local hospital.
After lunch we drove to Sutton Hoo, saw an introductory
film about the people who would have been living in East Anglia, during the
6th and 7th centuries, walked around the museum and then
to the burial mounds, of which there are around 20, two of which contained
ships. The famous ship burial was excavated in 1939. The mounds have been
cordoned off but sheep wander in and out of the area at will.
Before we were out of bed next morning, Tom had left to
drive to Sheffield
where he is currently working in A&E, so was unable to accompany us to Long
Melford and Lavenham. The four of us drove to Long Melford and walked past the
alms houses and then into the splendid parish church, which looks more like a
cathedral, with a magnificent array of stained glass windows. At the base of one
such window, is a circle of stained glass, showing 3 hares, each hare has 2 ears
but there are only 3 ears in total. Fascinating!
After lunch at a nearby pub, with steak and kidney
pudding on the menu, we traveled on to the picturesque
Lavenham, choc-a-bloc with Tudor
During the 15th and 16th centuries,
the wool trade brought prosperity to Lavenham, the blue broadcloth being
exported to Europe and beyond. During the late
16th century, Dutch refugees who had settled in Colchester, made
cheaper and lighter cloth, to the detriment of the Lavenham mills.
We bade farewell to
Suffolk, along the A12, the M25,
onto the M4 and from there into
Berkshire where we met again with our friends Ray and
Natalie, this time at his place of work. One of the chaps that work for him had
helped us out, trying to retrieve some data from a hard drive, which we had been
unable to access.
Managing to leave Reading by 15.30, to avoid the build up
of traffic on a Friday afternoon, we headed for Ropley in Hampshire, arriving at
the home of Geoff and Nicki, and her two sons Jack and Harry at 6pm. They live
in a sprawling old farmhouse with lots of out buildings. Nicki is Master of the
Hunt and her passion is hunting; she keeps five horses and two dogs, plus
temporarily looking after another two puppies: They are in mid training and only
with Nicki and family to ensure that they receive plenty of human
Geoff, who has considerable experience building and
running hotels, was a great help to us, when my daughter Caroline was managing
our home in the
UK, as a hotel.
Next day, after spending what remained of a very boozy
night, having slept briefly in a four poster bed, we drove to Wallington,
Surrey and met with an old friend of Dick’s from his
teenage years. Oddly enough, Nigel had also been a boy scout and had cooked a
meal over a primus stove, in the garden of the house where Dick lived as a boy,
in order to obtain a coveted badge, though they didn’t know each other at that
After spending the day with Nigel, whose son is an MP for
the Kesgrave area where Dick’s cousin Margaret lives, and with whom we had
stayed just a few days earlier, we drove to Carshalton.
We had visited Maggie and Trevor on the 10th
July, when she had thrown a party in our honour. This time we were able to spend
two nights with her mother who lives next door to her and therefore more time in
A fox, with an almost black coat, used to visit Maggie’s
garden a year or two ago and she used to feed it with cans of dog food and any
suitable left-over food. She would play with it, pulling balls of wool or
similar, which the fox chased. She even made a plaster model of it which now
adorns her garden. The fox gave birth to four pups and Maggie continued to feed
them even after the mummy fox died. While we were staying with her, all four
foxes came into her garden together; a sight to be seen. Both Maggie and her
mother have a cat but the cats and the foxes are content to co-exist.
Departing Carshalton, we drove to Ifield to visit John,
with whom we had stayed on the 3rd August, after meeting him in
Bath for lunch. This time we stayed
for two nights, visiting Ifield watermill which was put back into working order
in 2002, following a Heritage lottery grant.
The mill was powered from Mill pond, created by the
damming of Ifield brook in the 16th century, a tributary of the river
Mole. The pond is now covered with water lilies.
While watching a man and a woman wearing waders, from the
local bird rescue service, using huge nets, in an attempt to save the lives of
three chicks, we spotted a heron on the bank. The chicks had somehow fallen over
the weir and down the steps below and couldn’t get out of the water below.
Mother duck stood on the wall at the top of the weir waiting anxiously for a
miracle. Two of the chicks were scooped up in one of the nets and deposited
gently at the edge of the pond. Mother duck immediately got into the water and
happily swam away with two of her three offspring.
It was very difficult to get to chick three, which kept
hiding under the opaque colored water but eventually it was caught in the net
and gently released, waterlogged, at the edge of the pond. In its fright, it
disappeared under the water but some minutes later it was spotted amongst the
lily leaves. Hopefully Mummy duck will find her baby before too long.
It took three hours to travel to Brockenhurst, where we
celebrated my Mother’s 86th birthday with my sister and her husband,
then Dick and I spent the afternoon with Mother, playing scrabble.
Next day we went to
Enfield to meet with our financial
advisor. There were considerable delays on the motorway, from junction 10, as
far as South Mimms service station where we left the M25.
With the economic climate being so volatile, one wonders why this meeting took
place, especially as the following day the stock market plummeted to a 2008
Next stop Leigh-on-sea, where we met with my cousin Pete,
whom I hadn’t seen for about 50 years, and his wife Anne. Later that day we
walked to the sea front pub and it was there, as we sat outside, that Pete’s
younger brother Dave joined us, looking very smart in a business suit and
carrying a brief case. He had been working in the city and had traveled to
Leigh-on-sea, for the sole purpose of meeting us. To return home to Suffolk, he
needed to get a train to Southend Victoria where he had to change to Southend
Central then change again at Shenfield, again at Marks Tey then complete the
journey at Sudbury, from whence he had to get home. The alternative was a very
expensive taxi ride home. We felt very privileged that he was prepared to do
this, just to meet with us.