Archive for August, 2010

Lavenham Suffolk 24.08.10
Yesterday, after spending the weekend in Twickenham with my delightful daughter, I made my way up northish, to spend a couple of days with a friend in Hertfordshire; in the market town of Bishop Stortford, a very quaint village with a long history (as do most villages in the UK). We have not seen each other for well over a year now and it was great to catch up on all the news and the chat went on till the witching hour (as you can imagine).
Today dawned bright and early and as a treat she decided to take me on a jaunt through the english countryside to the historic town of Lavenham in Suffolk.
Now, in my opinion having travelled to many of the English counties as well Ireland, Wales and Scotland….Suffolk is the prettiest county in England, and the United Kingdom (you are welcome to disagree ūüėČ ),¬†so today was an absolute treat driving through countryside that I have not seen since June last year.
We set off ‘relatively’ early (we are women after all), and once our destination had been keyed into the tom-tom (I do not trust those things),¬†we made our way north-east.¬† Somewhere along the way, at one of the very confusing round-abouts in this country which need a navigator to get around, we took an exit too soon, and the tom-tom went into a sulk and would not speak to us ūüôā¬† We drove for ages along the M11 (which I realise probably means absolutely nothing to many of my readers ūüôā ) and eventually the ‘lass’ got her sense of humour back and told us to turn left at the next exit. Hooray, we were back on track.¬† So to reach our destination took about an hour longer than it should have.
However, I was not complaining, as on the way we drove past fields and fields of grain, rolling hills and scattered copses of lovely green trees. Suffolk, an agricultural county, is mostly flat with soft rolling hills, and today, set against the wonderful blue summer sky filled with broiling, cumulus castles of cloud, made a picture perfect scene.
Finally after wondering if we would end up in Norfolk, we reached the turn-off for Lavenham….. our destination!¬†¬†¬†Passing first through a delightful little village of thatched roof houses, quintessential english gardens and nothing else, not even a church where we made¬†a quick stop for photos…

quintesssential english thatched roof cottage

quintessentially english

an english country garden

and thence to Lavenham.
Lavenham, deep in the rolling landscape of Constable’s Suffolk, an historic market town; built on the success of the Wool Trade, is an absolute treasure trove of delightful architecture – some of the cottages dating as far back as 1340 (the Weavers cottage); Britain’s finest example of a Tudor market town.
As we drove into the village, on the left hand side and on it’s own little island, we passed the intricately decorative village coat-of-arms.

historic Lavenham - an ancient market town circa 1340

 These Suffolk village signboards are an absolute treat, very decorative and give an indication of the trade that established the village.  Just about every Suffolk village that I have visited in the past have these delightful coat-of-arms signboards at the edge of town.
I was open-mouthed with delight and spent the first 15 minutes or so saying ‘oh my god, oh my god’ these are gorgeous; and gorgeous they were.¬†

ancient and still gorgeous

 Many of the fine, timber-framed, listed houses in the medieval Tudor style are quite obviously ancient, leaning drunkenly to the side and defying gravity they remain a testament to the style of days gone by.  Crooked wooden beams held together by luck and the very ancient plaster filling.

gaily painted, leaning drunkenly - ancient Tudor houses line the streets

The houses are incredibly photogenic, jam-packed one against the other as they were in those days; unbelievable quaint, higgedly piggedly, leaning crookedly and delightfully unruly, painted different colours, their names indicating the trade of the original owners.¬† There is even the very quaintly named ‘The Crooked House’ of the nursery rhyme fame.

Lavenham - the Crooked House

he Crooked House Lavenham

‘There was a crooked man,
Who walked a crooked mile,
He found a crooked sixpence
Upon a crooked stile.
He bought a crooked cat
Which caught a crooked mouse
And they all lived together
In a crooked little house.

Pink, white, cream and yellow paint give the village a picturesque facade, some of which lead right onto the street, mullioned panes peer out quizzically, creating an air of mystery that makes you want to peek through to discover what lies behind.
Doorframes look as if they might just fall right over, and lichen covered roofs lean dangerouly lopsided leaving you feeling as if they could suddenly collapse in on themselves.¬† The Swan Hotel, considered to be the ‘jewel’ in Lavenham’s crown, a magnificent rambling, sprawling collection of¬† rooms,¬†has served as a hostelry since before the reign of King Henry VIII.¬†

The Swan Hotel - Lavenham

Steeped in history and charm, the interior of the hotel has wonderful, low 15th century wood-beamed ceilings, large cavernous fireplaces, inglenook fireplaces, original Medieval wall paintings, wooden staircases, winding passage-ways that twist one way and then other, with little rooms leading off and creating a rabbit-warren. The rear of the hotel was the original Wool Hall.  On an exterior side wall we discovered the sign of the Mitre and the triple feather crest of King George IV.

The Mitre & Triple Feathers crest of King George IV

Down a side street and loooking suitably ancient; Lavenham Priory, now a youth hotel.

Lavenham Priory

I could not get enough of all the delightful houses and eventually took well over 300 photos.
We visited the market square, lined with a delightful collection of houses, with names like Grannies Attic,

the house that bread built - Hovis House

Hovis, a pub ‘The Angel’, the ‘Market Keeper’s Cottage’,

The Market Keeper's Cottage

St Peter’s and St Paul’s Hall and in the centre, dominating the scene;¬†

The Guildhall of Corpus Christi - built circa 1530

¬†The Guildhall of Corpus Christi, built in about 1530. Little Hall (a wool merchants house, an example of domestic medieval architecture –

Little Hall - a wool merchants house

furnished with furniture of the period), and the Market Cross, erected 1501 in accordance with the will of William Jacob. 

The Market Cross - erected 1501

We meandered along Merchants Row a collection of Harry Potter type houses, clustered together and still in trade. 

Merchants Row - lavenham

 The High Street of the village is also lined with these delightful houses Рnames like Hedgehog Cottage,

Hedgehog Cottage

 Oriel Cottage, Old Rose Cottage, Box Cottage, Buthers Cottage, The Shambles and Hare Cottage amongst others.  Side roads leading off the High Street are similarly lined with gorgeous houses, also gaily painted in pastel colors of green, pink, yellow and white, lopsided and ancient.

beautiful gaily painted Tudor houses

Their wooden beams, jutting out from the structure, so ancient as to be dry as bone, cracking at the edges, pretty english gardens bright with multicoloured blooms and lovely lawns; little pockets of green. 

english country gardens

 Wooden doorways, carved with marvellous creatures; angels and phoenix, grilled peepholes the prelude to our current spy-holes, old door knockers and a bell from the HMS Bremen 1911.

the bell from HMS Bremmen 1911 - nearly 100 years old

We stopped off for lunch at the twee cafe called ‘Tickled Pink’, formely Tickle Manor, with doorways so low you have bend to walk through, tiny mullioned windows, an ancient fireplace, creaky woodden floors and wooden beamed ceiling, a gorgeous jukebox in the corner. Upstairs for the view, where we enjoyed a repast of jacket potatoes with filling and salad, a very welcome pot of tea and chocolate fudge pudding dripping with thick chocolate syrup and a squirt of fresh cream; delicious.

Tickle Manor aka Tickled Pink tea room

After lunch we went walk-about again and thence to the Norman Church of St Peter and St Paul; a magnificent church with a fabulous Norman Tower, 

St Peter & St Paul Church - Lavenham

 gargoyles and beautiful decorative carvings Рthe emblems of the Tudor Kings and Queens, finely etched into the walls; one of the finest parish churches in England.  Beautifully tended, emerald green lawns, interspersed with neat paths, lined with carefully sculpted ball-shaped shrubs lead towards this beautiful, albeit imposing structure. 

neat rows, ball shaped shrubs

 Ancient, time-worn granite slabs, their markings worn away by the passing of the ages and ravaged by the weather, dot the lawns Рreminders of those long gone; now anonymous and largely forgotten. 

many souls are on the line..... anonymous in time

The interior of the church was no less magnificent, high-vaulted wooden ceilings, supported by¬† towering columns that soar heaven-ward, intricately carved wooden structures leading to side chapels, the floor strewn with marble slabs ‚Äď tombs of the dead,

tombs of the dead

 and magnificent multi-coloured, intricate stained glass windows the likes of which I have not seen before, depicting the stories of Christ and scenes from the bible; breathtaking in their colourful magnificence, dominating and demanding your attention.

stained glass windows

After drinking in our fill of the holy atmosphere we once again hopped into the car, set our course for home and handed our future over to the ubiquious tom-tom, she of the strident voice and absurdly ridiculous random directions.¬† We wove in and out, round and about going along lanes narrow and winding, lined with ten foot high hedges, a dense barrier to any sort of directional guidance.¬† By the third toneless instruction to ‘turn left at the next intersection’ I felt she was being mean and spiteful, taking us in a circle; when she suddenlyy gave us a new instruction – turn right!! Hooray.¬† I was convinced by that stage that she was in a huff and determined to take us off into the wild blue yonder in revenge for the day’s earlier misdemeanor.
We finally after a long drive through Suffolk and Hertfordshire reached home and a much needed cup of tea. A fine day and another village to add to the very long list of delightfully quaint English villages I have had the good fortune to visit.¬† Almost too many to mention…….I said almost! ūüôā

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last weekend was my daughter’s 30th birthday and together with some friends we gathered in Richmond to celebrate. One of the things she wanted to do for her birthday, was to hire a boat and go rowing on the Thames.¬†

our very not so big boat

The plan was to row from Richmond to The White Swan in Twickenham, moor the boat, have lunch and then row back to Richmond.

I thought the idea was great and encouraged the idea with enthusiasm. Ha! and then we got there!! Different story. Everyone else was really excited and I was…..trepiditious!¬† I¬†was quaking at the knees!¬† ūüôā LOL! and totally ridiculous….I have no fear of water, love boating, am a strong swimmer and have done this numerous times in the past.¬† The closer we got to launch the more I quaked at the knees. I insisted on life-jackets all round (which made us look totally ridiculous),¬†and questioned the sensibility of this venture.

Last in….I rocked the boat to much hilarity from the others and not so much from me.¬† Then we settled in and to my horror we left the pier……h.e.l.p!!!¬† Actually it was brilliant, we laughed uproariously as we went round in circles at the rowers attempts to leave the jetty.¬†

Cemanthe having hysterics

 Eventually we got underway and amidst much laughter and a stream of instructions from the back-seat non-rowers we made our way to the far bank (per the instructions of the boat man), and away we went.

I can highly recommend this as a great way to spend an hour or so.¬† Sitting prettily in the stern, we (me and Demjules), gave a continuous stream of instructions….too far, turn left; no….. more to the¬†right, mind theres a boat approaching…whoops mind the paddleboat, and so we made our way along the river to Twickenham.¬†

arriving at The White Swan

Arriving safely we moored the boat, stepped gingerly through the slippery mud (I did not want to add a spill in the mud to my repertoire) and settled in at our table on the patio. 

good food.....fine friends

Lunch was great, the company even better,¬†¬†the weather played fair and the food was yummy.¬†¬† Then it was time for birthday wishes and voila …..30 cupcakes appeared!

social media and cupcakes

We are beginning to look like cupcakes.

Sweetie Pies cupcakes

Then it was time to return the boat and off we went….row, row row your boat, gently down the stream…. merrily, merrily life is but a dream!

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a hung Parliament

mmmmm! I just logged onto the internet to do some work (and got reading the news :)….urgh, I always get distracted). Anyways, the news headlines of course are about the voting in Australia and how it looks as though they are heading for a hung-parliament.¬† I read through the article coz it struck me as quite weird that in another Democratic country, similar to ours ‘the people have spoken’.¬† It’s quite bizarre (to me anyway) that we have these situations of late.¬† I wonder what the real reason is; it seems¬†to me it means that the voting public are no longer just taking the words and promises of their governments and voting accordingly but are perhaps being just a little more discerning about what the politicians are saying.¬† For so long we have been spoon-fed ‘promises’ that seldom follow through and now it would appear that we are holding the candidates to task ( so to speak) and giving them the task of actually making good on their campaign rhetoric.¬† No longer a case of voting for¬†a certain party coz you have in the past, but rather as they said in the article, looking at what we really want (or not) in the country and then voting for the party that ‘promises’ to do the most about that situation…

Of course what happens after the ‘party’ is what really counts, but governments are not getting away with just using pretty words and speeches anymore…..we the public are becoming more forceful about what is and what is not acceptable and our memories are becoming a tad longer.¬† Perhaps it’s coz of the internet where information is now more freely available and the mistakes of our governments are more publicized than in the past.¬† Or perhaps it’s that like our nationalities, our governments are becoming more generic and the lines¬†more blurred.¬† Perhaps our governments are becoming more middle of the road,¬†unlike in the past where they had policies that were worlds apart and you could more easily identify what their policies actually meant. Who knows?¬† Anyway, I just found it interesting!

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My wonderful, delightful daughter recently; albeit not without some angst and kicking and screaming, ūüôā¬†reached a milestone birthday…..30!¬†

Happy 30th birthday darling

Although it was officially her birthday, it was also a celebration for me….a celebration of 30 years of being a Mom, and what an amazing 30 years it has been.¬† We have loved, laughed, cried and shared some amazing times and some¬†difficult times.¬† For me it has always been a priviledge that she is my daughter.¬† From the days back when I was told I would never have children to the day I discovered I was finally expecting this treasure…I never gave up on the dream of one day being a Mom to a daughter.

She has fulfilled every dream I ever had, is an amazing woman and even though she reached this milestone birthday with trepidition, I have no doubt that she will achieve all she sets out to do in the future.¬† In the lead up to the day I looked back on my life and remembered what it was like to be 30!¬† I felt so grown up and suddenly felt that people would take me seriously.¬† I had the perception that life would be easier now that I was officially an adult….that I would be in control and know what to do.¬† And mostly I did.¬† My thirties were some of the most amazing years of my life and some of the most devastating, and yet when I look back all I recall are the best times, the times my daughter and I shared on our journey.

So thank you sweetheart for some of the most amazing years of my life, for the love you give so freely, for being such a wonderful, warm, funny, generous and kindhearted woman. 

Happy birthday darling....

Always keep that sparkle in your eyes, your wonderful sense of humour and that delightful laugh.  From the second I first saw you, I have loved you dearly, a treasure beyond compare and you have enriched my life immeasurably.  These last 30 years and the 6 months preceeding your birth (once I knew you were on your way), have been the best of my life.

I wish you everything of the very best for your future.

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I am watching a programme on TV at the moment about ‘Bride stealing’ in Chechnya.¬† It seems that this has become a regular occurance in the country and is now becoming part of the law and working it’s way into tradition.

What happens is that a boy sees a girl he fancies, he then arranges with a family member to help him steal her.¬† The girl has absolutely no say in this matter, is often taken against her will (there are girls who are ok with this), then forced into marrying the boy.¬† Sometimes if she is ‘lucky’ the boy is a distant family member and life would not be too bad for her, she may even be lucky enough to ‘get on’ with her Mother-in-law.

Once she is ‘married’ she becomes his ‘property’ and he is pretty much able to treat her as he wishes.¬† Sometimes the boy’s family will ask the girls family in the presence of an Elder of the Islamic authority. He, the Elder,¬†is the person who conducts the ‘wedding’ and he dictates how she should be dressed and pretty much everything else about the proceedings.

The women of the country shrug their shoulders and say “that is the way things are, it’s not too bad.”¬† Even her parents do not have any say about the matter and just wish her well.¬† There was a whole lot more to the programme and that would take too long to explain.

So, here’s the thing….I will always be grateful that I was born into a culture and country where women do have a say in their lives, where we can say ‘No!’ if something is not to our liking and where we have the freedom to make choices.

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As mentioned before in one of my posts, my sister sends me loads of funny emails and some of them are so funny I have to share with yourselves!¬† I received this one today and had a good giggle…….hope you enjoy it too.¬† I have no idea who the author is, but if you happen to read it (and you know who you are) …..your words have been shared ūüôā

This is for the over 50 generation.

I thought about the 30 year business I ran with 1800 employees, all without a Blackberry that played music, took videos, pictures and communicated with Facebook and Twitter.

I signed up under duress for Twitter and Facebook, so my seven kids, their spouses, 13 grandkids and 2 great grand kids could communicate with me in the modern way. I figured I could handle something as simple as Twitter with only 140  characters of space.

That was before one of my grandkids hooked me up for Tweeter, Tweetree, Twhirl, Twitterfon, Tweetie and Twittererific Tweetdeck, Twitpix and something that sends every message to my cell phone and every other program within the texting world.

My phone was beeping every three minutes with the details of everything except the bowel movements of the entire next generation.  I am not ready to live like this.  I keep my cell phone in the garage in my golf bag.

The kids bought me a GPS for my last birthday because they say I get lost every now and then going over to the grocery store or library.¬† I keep that in a box under my tool bench with the Blue tooth [it’s red] phone I am supposed to use when I drive.¬† I wore it once and was standing in line at Barnes and Noble talking to my wife as everyone in the nearest 50 yards was glaring at me.¬† Seems I have to take my hearing aid out to use it and I got a little loud.

I mean the GPS looked pretty smart on my dash board, but the lady inside was the most annoying, rudest person I had run into in a long time.¬† Every 10 minutes, she would sarcastically say, “Re-calc-ul-ating”.¬† You would think that she could be nicer.¬† It was like she could barely tolerate me.¬† She would let go with a deep sigh and then tell me to make a U-turn at the next light.¬† Then when I would make a right turn instead, it was not good.

When I get really lost now, I call my wife and tell her the name of the cross streets and while she is starting to develop the same tone as Gypsy, the GPS lady; at least she loves me.

To be perfectly frank, I am still trying to learn how to use the cordless phones in our house.¬† We have had them for 4 years, but I still haven’t figured out how I can lose three phones all at once and have run around digging under chair cushions and checking bathrooms and the dirty laundry baskets when the phone rings.

The world is just getting too complex for me.¬† They even mess me up every time I go to the grocery store.¬† You would think they could settle on something themselves but this sudden “Paper or Plastic?” every time I check out just knocks me for a loop.¬† I bought some of those cloth reusable bags to avoid looking confused but I never remember to take them in with me.

Now I toss it back to them. When they ask me, “Paper or Plastic?”¬† I just say, “Doesn’t matter to me. I am bi-sacksual.” Then it’s their turn to stare at me with a blank look.

I was recently asked if I tweet. I answered, No, but I do toot a lot.”

pass this on to someone of the more senior generation if you think they will appreciate it ūüôā

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Imagine that you had won the following prize in a contest:

Each morning your bank would deposit (your currency) 86,400.00 in your private account for your use.

However, this prize had rules, just as any game has certain rules.

The first set of rules would be:
1. Everything that you didn’t spend during each day would be taken away from you.

2. You may not simply transfer money into some other account.

3. You may only spend it.

Each morning upon awakening, the bank opens your account with another (your currency) 86,400.00 for that day.

The second set of rules:

1.¬†The bank can end the game without warning; at any time it can say, ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs over, the game is over!‚ÄĚ

2. It can close the account and you will not receive a new one.

What would you personally do?

You would buy anything and everything you wanted, right?

Not only for yourself, but for all people you love, right?

Even for people you don’t know, because you couldn’t possibly spend it all on yourself, right?

You would try to spend every cent, and use it all, right? 


Each of us is in possession of such a ‚Äúmagical‚ÄĚ bank. We just can‚Äôt seem to see it.¬†


Each awakening morning we receive 86,400 seconds as a gift of life,

and when we go to sleep at night, any remaining time is NOT credited to us.

What we haven’t lived up that day is forever lost.

Yesterday is forever gone. 

Each morning the account is refilled, but the bank can dissolve your account at any time…….


WELL, what will you do with your 86,400 seconds?

Aren’t they worth so much more than the same amount in any currency?

Think about that, and always think of this:

Utilise every second of your life, because time races by so much quicker than you think.

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Gosh, I’m rich!
Silver in the Hair
Gold in the Teeth
Stones in the Kidneys
Sugar in the Blood
Lead in the Ass
Iron in the Arteries……
And an inexhaustible supply of Natural Gas.

I never thought I’d accumulate such wealth!!!

a lifetime's accumulation of wealth!

from the desk of Sue (my sister, who has accumulated far more wealth than me!!! ūüôā )

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I often get emails from my sister (actually that should read I get a ‘Thought for Today’ email from her Mon-Fri and they often have little gems of something to think about). This particular thought made me chuckle and therefor is good enough to share with you.

Here it is; enjoy:

Greek Philosophy¬† — As pertinent today as 399 BC !!¬†¬†
Keep  this in mind the next time you are about to repeat a rumour or spread gossip.  

In ancient Greece (469 Р399 BC), Socrates was widely lauded for his  wisdom
One day an acquaintance ran up to him excitedly and said, “Socrates, do you know what I just heard about Diogenes?”

“Wait a¬† moment,” Socrates replied, “Before you tell me I’d like you to pass a little¬† test.
¬†It’s called the Triple Filter Test”
‘Triple filter?” asked the¬† acquaintance.
“That’s right,” Socrates continued,
“Before you talk to me¬† about Diogenes let’s take a moment to filter what you’re going to say.
The first filter is Truth – Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell¬† me is true?”

“No,” the man said, “Actually I just heard about¬† it.”
“All right,” said Socrates, “So you don’t really know if it’s true¬† or not.
Now let’s try the second filter, the filter of Goodness. Is what you are¬† about to tell me about Diogenes something good?”
“No, on the¬† contrary…”

“So,” Socrates continued,
“You want to tell me something¬† about Diogenes that may be bad, even though you’re not certain it’s¬† true?”

The man shrugged, a little embarrassed.

Socrates continued, “You¬† may still pass the test though,¬† because there is a third filter, the filter of¬† Usefulness.
Is what you want to tell me about Diogenes going to be useful to¬† me?”

“No, not really.”

“Well,” concluded Socrates,
¬†“If what you want to tell me is neither True nor Good nor even Useful, why tell it to me, or anyone, at all?”

The man was bewildered and ashamed. 
 This is an example of why Socrates was a great philosopher and held in such high esteem.
It also explains why Socrates never found out that Diogenes was shagging his wife.

end of your Greek philosophy lesson for today! ūüôā

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