Mother’s Day 2023

It is Mother’s Day here in England. I no longer have a mother to celebrate with. But Julie is my wife, and a mother of four children, so she has something to celebrate.

She is spending time with one of her daughters this evening, but I have no idea if the other three chidren will get involved.

So happy Mother’s Day to my wife, the mother of four children. She is also a great Mum to our dog, Ollie. He cherishes her.

I hope she has an enjoyable day.

The Last Sunday Musings For January

The weather warmed up after the recent ‘big chill’. We went from -7C one night, to +4C the next day. Still cold, especially in the wind, but nowhere near as bad as the previous weeks.


On Thursday the heating engineer returned by arrangement, this time to do a complete service of the heating system. We only needed one new complete part, a condenser, and its partly-perished hose. He even called in a colleague to help realign and tighten the flue pipe, securing it solidly into the system. Before he left, he looked at the main bedroom radiator, which had a ‘stuck’ thermostat. Two minutes later, and that was working too. I didn’t even have to pay him anything that afternoon, as his company will send me a detailed invoice by email, in due course. It was a great service all round, and I really don’t care how much the bill will be, as the heating is working better than ever.


Ollie began shaking his head again on Thursday evening, and we knew that he would have to go back to the Vet’s. When I rang them on Friday morning, I was pleased to be offered an appointment that same afternoon. Ollie was prescribed the same treatment he had last time, as it had worked so well. But this time he has to be checked over in ten days, to ensure that the swelling has gone down inside his ears. He hates me putting the tube into his ears, and sometimes gives me a warning growl. So we worked out a system where Julie shows him a treat, then holds his head still. When it is over, he gets the treat and soon forgets his discomfort.
If only we could be as resiilient as dogs! (Doughnuts would work as my treat.)


Julie has not been into work at all this week, due to a persistent cough and sore throat that made her lose her voice and kept her awake at night. Naturally, she tested for Covid, but was negative. And this time, I didn’t catch it! (Whatever it was…)


I am wishing you a happy and peaceful Sunday, wherever you are.


Sunday Musings On The 15th Of January

The week has been dominated by weather. Bad weather, constant rain and strong winds. The combination has caused something to happen on the roof, resulting in a leak that is finding its way down the chimney of the wood burner, onto the stove top. So now as well as walking Ollie in slick mud and getting regularly soaked, I have to wait for a roofer to call me on Monday to discuss whether or not he is interested in doing what might be a ‘small job’. I cannot go up ladders any longer because of Vertigo, and it annoys me that the condition has stopped me from investigating the problem myself.


Ollie started shaking his head again on Friday, so we are back treating him with the ear-gel. It has almost run out, and I suspect an expensive trip to see the Vet is on the horizon.


The central heating is still deciding when and if it will work. Another job next week is to get a company in to try to solve the problem once and for all. Naturally, temperatures are set to go back to below freezing from tonight. Winter tests houses, and also tests my patience. January is often the most expensive month for us, and we can be sure that many things will go wrong at once.


Yesterday was Julie’s birthday. I took her to The Chequers Inn for dinner. This is a 17th-Century Inn with great character and original features, specialising in large portions! Just over 30 minutes away by car, it is in the small village of Thompson, south of Beetley. There are some photos of it on this website.


This evening we are meeting up with all of her family at a pub/restaurant in Dereham. So she will get to see everyone at once and continue to celebrate her birthday.


Whatever you are doing today, and wherever you live, I hope that your Sunday is a happy one.


Musings On The Last Sunday Before Christmas.

As anyone who has read my blog this week will know, my musings are not going to be very cheerful this week. Julie tested positive for Covid-19, and has been very unwell. So far, I have avoided catching it from her, but I do sense it is inevitable that it will happen.


Then poor Ollie started to shake his head again yesterday, so I have resumed treatment with his ear-gel.


Our central heating is still not working properly, and the engineer will not come back to fit the part because Julie has Covid. So we are running out of wood for the log burner soon, and having great difficulties buying any locally that can be delivered before Christmas.


It has been excessively cold all week. Not getting above freezing at all, and dropping to -8C at night. (17F) On the bright side, it is supposed to warm up here from Monday morning, and that will help. But it will still not be warm enough to cope with unreliable heating, unfortunately.


With Christmas day falling on a Sunday, Monday and Tuesday are public holidays, causing everything to shut down here until the 28th. It really couldn’t be a worse time of year for all this to happen. But I am trying to stay positive, despite it all.


Whatever you are doing on this day, I hope life is trouble-free for you.
I really do.


Sunday Musings 14 Days Before Christmas

The tree is decorated and shining its lights in the side window. The presents are all wrapped, and stacked around the base. Julie wrote some Christmas cards, and they are posted. With two weeks still to go, that’s pretty good, by our standards.


The weather is the main talking point this week in Beetley. With the wind coming from a northerly direction, it got cold very quickly. Very cold. Ice on the cars, on the ground, and in the freeezing fog. There is no mistaking we are in the grip of winter, especially with the chance of snow forecast for next week here.

Ollie finally succumbed to an ear infection, and began dropping his ear and shaking his head. Luckily, we still had some of the antibiotic gel left, and I squirted that into the affected ear. Fingers crossed we don’t have to visit the Vet before Christmas. But I never say never, not where poor Ollie’s ears are concerned.


Julie made two trips into Norwich this week. One to take her oldest son to dinner for his birthday and go around the shops with him, and the second to accompany one of her friends who wanted to get everything in one trip. She was worn out by both trips; walking around the city, and having to stand still in shops for ages as they chose things. Now she has a very painful back, and is using her heat pads for pain relief.


I hope you are having an enjoyable festive season so far, and that the stress of it all is not getting on top of you.


Holiday Snaps (5)

We took the short drive of seven miles to Chapel Point, near Chapel St Leonards. There is a Coastguard Station there, as it affords marvellous views along the coast. It has a smart viewing gallery inside, and a cafe. But as it was a warm day, we decided to sit on a table outside the Seascape Cafe and enjoy the view.

(All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.)

Side view.

Main building and car park.

Ollie on the outside decking with his water bowl. As usual, he wasn’t cooperating with the camera.

Julie at Chapel Point cafe.

Julie cuddling Ollie to try to make him forget the camera.

After that we drove into the small seaside town of Chapel St Leonards, and had a walk along the seafront. This pub has tables on a fake pirate ship on the beach, and is very popular.

Julie took Ollie to a bench to give him more water, so I was able to stand some way off and get a photo. Perhaps the best one I got of him all week.

Seasonal Buns

Hot Cross Buns are a treat at Easter, even though they are now sold all year round. The spicy fruit buns have a dense quality, delicious with butter inside. The crosses on the top signify the religious connection from centuries ago.

Last year, Julie tried making some, and the resulting buns were delicious.

Home Made Buns For Easter

Today, she has tweaked the recipe, and achieved a really professional finish, with the added bonus that her home-made buns are so much tastier than any bought in shops.

I can’t wait to try some once they cool down a bit!

Delightful Dining

Yesterday was my wife Julie’s 61st birthday. She took the day off work, and enjoyed opening her presents and cards, chatting to family and friends on the phone, and replying to the hundreds of messages she received on Facebook.

I cooked her a late breakfast of traditional English fare. Lincolnshire herb sausages, unsmoked bacon, black pudding, mushrooms, and two fried eggs. The bonus was that the eggs had ‘double-yolks’, so you could argue she had four eggs.

I had already booked a restuarant for her evening birthday meal. We chose the pub The Brisley Bell, in the village of Brisley, four miles from Beetley. This well-known establishment has two big bars, room accommodation, and a large award-winning restaurant in a huge space at the rear. It is extremely popular, but I managed to secure a table from 18:30 until 21:00. As we had never eaten there previously, we had both checked out the menu online. However, I didn’t want to get too excited, as menus can change on the day.

After the short drive in very thick fog, we managed to get the last space in a very crowded car park. The bars were busy, but when we were shown to our table in the Library Room at the back, it was peaceful there, and very nicely lit and decorated. Over a drink, we perused the menu, unusually deciding we would both have the same first two courses.

The chosen starter was Pheasant Broth. This came with assorted wild mushrooms, and delicious small dumplings in a flavoursome broth that was served piping hot.

For main course we had Monkfish wrapped in thin smoky bacon, served with spinach and fresh gnocchi on a smooth white garlic sauce.

Both were absolutely delicious!

After a short interval, we agreed we would also have a dessert. Julie chose the Mango Pavlova, with mango ice cream on the meringue, and slices of mango surrounding it in a mango juice. I had something different, a home-made warm Bakewell tart, topped with a small scoop of pistachio ice cream.

They were good choices, and we were both very satisfied.

Driving home in even thicker fog, we both said it was one of the best meals we had ever eaten, and believe me we have eaten some good meals over the years.

I am not one to take photos of my meal, (Julie did, and posted them on Facebook) but here is a link to The Brisley Bell. If you ever find yourself in this area, you will not find a better place to eat. If you allow the header photos to scroll, you will see the ‘Library Room’ where we ate.

A Trip To Yarmouth

Great Yarmouth is a traditional seaside resort on the East Coast in Norfolk. Always popular, it is unashamedly ‘down-market’.

(The photos are large files, so please click on them for detail)

But it does have a long seafront, a nice old pier, and a big sandy beach.

In late 2011, before we lived here permanently, and before we got Ollie, we went for a day trip with Julie’s identical twin daughters, and their dog, Baxter.

Julie with one twin.

And with her sister.

Baxter is a Mastiff cross, and enjoyed playing on the beach.

Sadly, he now has cancer, and his prognosis is not good.

We didn’t go on the Carousel, but I love the old style of such rides.

And on the pier, I insisted Julie pose for photos in the reproduction Victorian cutouts.

Baxter is still holding his own, despite the diagnosis. He is a great dog.

Thurnham Castle

On a free day, we decided to travel towards Maidstone, Kent’s County Town, to take Ollie to The White Horse Country Park. From the website, it looked like the kind of place that he would enjoy, and would provide us with a place in pleasant surroundings, to enjoy a few hours in the bright weather.

As it turned out, it was rather small, so disappointing in that respect. The trails and paths took less than an hour to walk around, and there is no place to take any refreshments. However, the high elevation provided excellent views across the North Weald of Kent. Unfortunately, the view was too hazy for good photos, not helped by the busy M20 motorway, situated close by.

The big plus of the trip, was the presence of the ruins of Thurnham Castle. This was originally built in the 12th century by the Norman lord, Robert de Thurnham, who accompanied Richard the Lionheart to the Crusades, and had notable service there. By 1309, it was already in a state of disrepair, having been abandoned for more fashionable areas not too far away. In modern times, the Motte and Bailey fortification has become little more than a ruin. However, it is very evocative of the Norman invasion, and it is plain to see that it was sited in an excellent place from which to dominate the surrounding countryside.

Julie and Ollie, in what would have been a ditch, or flooded moat.


The old walls in close-up. They have been there since around 1133.


Despite being such a short walk, the park is well-maintained, and the castle alone was worth the visit.