Sunday 24 September 2017

Warming to Autumn

Such a beautiful day today.

It started off with a red sky and you know how the saying goes, “Red sky in the morning, sailor’s warning.” Or if you prefer, “Red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning.” The message is the same.

7 am

I decided to take it as a good omen and not a bad one. It just didn’t have the feel of a day with bad weather coming.

The day turned a little hazy, then the sun came out and this afternoon I decided to take a break from the writing and make the most of the good weather.

I walked to the edge of Little Oakley, then cut across to Ramsey and I stood for a few moments on the hill enjoying the view. Then I went to see the horses on the hill, before turning back for home.

The photos don’t do justice to the view from the hill. I should have taken them higher up than I did.  You can just about see the Ramsey windmill if you look hard enough (you might have to click on the picture to make it bigger).


The windmill was built sometime before 1819 in Woodbridge, Suffolk and was one of the four mills on the Mill Hills. It was moved to Ramsey in 1842.  In 1841, one of my several times great grandfathers lived on Mill Hill in Woodbridge and his occupation was miller. In the next census he was a jobbing labourer. I often look at that windmill and wonder…

There were some lovely autumn smells. Someone somewhere had a bonfire. There was the musky smell of ripe blackberries and the waft of horse manure. Moving on…

I paused in the shade of some horse chestnut trees and filled my pockets with… horse chestnuts. It was as I waddled down the road with my bulging pockets that I decided to call for a lift.

Now to find somewhere to put them where Dusty can’t get them and where the cats can’t knock them down to him, but where spiders will see them and scuttle off to live somewhere else (I live in hope and it has seemed to work in past years).

The oak tree has produced a bumper crop of acorns this year and Dusty thinks all his Christmases have come at once. He no longer has to dig around looking for stones to bring in to exchange for treats. We couldn’t understand how he kept appearing with acorns and oak apples when the back door was shut – then we found his secret stash hidden behind the chair! And they say springer spaniels are stupid.

The warmth of the sun, the slightly hazy feel to the day and the lightest of cool breezes made it feel like a spring day, but of course it wasn’t. It was an autumn day and I liked it.

Saturday 16 September 2017

Quiet September Days

Seems to be September is often a quiet, mellow sort of month. Mind you it wasn’t quiet the other night when it sounded like the wind was trying its best to blow the roof off.

The children are all settled back at school and – mostly – enjoying it. They’re all excited about their topics for this term. Vikings, The War of the Roses and other such delights. I couldn’t believe it when three of them started on their homework the minute they got home from school – willingly and without anyone telling them to – while the fourth moaned because she hadn’t been given any yet.

Yes, I think they were ready to go back. 

Christmas has arrived in the shops and I bought a large red cake tin for £2.49 from Home Bargains – I do love a bargain. I am tempted to get more for storing all the Christmas cakes I make. 

I don't buy cake boards any more. The first thing we used to do on cutting the cake was to take it off the board and put it in a tin so now I put the cake on the upturned lid, decorate it, then use the bottom of the tin as a lid. Makes it easy to cut too. Just realised when I do that, the pattern will be upside down... oops.

I have to admit the sight of all the decorations and fripperies appearing in the shops has rather lifted my spirits. Christmas lights will brighten the darkest time of the year and that’s always good to look forward to.

What a lovely summer we had though even though the best of the weather seemed to be before the children broke up from school.

Before term ended, we went out for ice creams after school on a hot, sunny day.

Then at the start of the holiday, my two lovely granddaughters-from-away came to stay and oh boy did Dusty love that!

Dusty and Tinks have been getting closer. Not quite cuddling up yet…

Harley mostly spent the summer rolling about on the grass in the sun (or running round in the rain!).

And Harley comforted my eldest granddaughter after yet another mishap. Harley doesn’t “do” laps very often, but she seems to know when a cuddle is required.

We had a lot of fun, but we had some peaceful moments too.

It’s no secret I don’t look forward to autumn and winter, but I’m trying to look at the positives, the first one being roast dinners!

Is there anything you look forward to at this time of year?

Tuesday 5 September 2017

Suffolk Punch Trust - Last Days of Summer

It was the last full week off for the kidlets last week and we tried to wind it down a bit ready for getting back into the school routine.

Our last trip of the summer was to the Suffolk Punch Trust in Hollesley. It’s a wonderful place to visit for a peaceful day out and I highly recommend it.

To get there, you by-pass Woodbridge, one of my favourite places and drive past Sutton Hoo (kidlets declared they’d been there enough times thank you!) and Rendlesham Forest (famous for its aliens!). And onwards towards Hollesley following the signs to HM Hollesley Bay Colony otherwise known as Hollesley Bay Prison (where Jeffrey Archer lived for a while).

It was a beautiful day, warm and bright and the Suffolk countryside looked its best as we arrived at the Suffolk Punch Trust. If we’d carried on past the Suffolk Punch Trust, we would have ended up in Shingle Street, but decided to leave visiting there for another day as we spent the whole day at the Trust.

It takes an hour to drive there from here, but as the crow flies we’re only about 10 miles away. Some of my ancestors came from that area of Suffolk and I imagine they used boats to come down the coast and would probably laugh at the convoluted route we take today.

So, we petted horses and this one in particular seemed eager for attention. But they are all friendly and gentle.

So friendly, so gentle

There were also some ex-racehorses there as part of ROR (Retraining of Racehorses). As soon as they saw us, they rushed across the field to say hello. Once their rehabilitation is complete, they will go on to new homes.

Retraining of Racehorses

The youngest foal, Colony Dorothy, was born in April and they lost her mother, Colony Olive to a terrible colic in August. Dotty is now spending time with last year’s foal, Colony Calypso. So very sad.  You can see a picture of Dorothy and Olive in happier times here.

Dorothy and Calypso

This chap is the father of many and the resident stallion, Besthorpe Achilles. Magnificent isn’t he.

Besthorpe Achilles

We went on a tractor ride which was bumpy – but fun – and we learned a lot about the Trust and the horses thanks to our very informative guide. The kids were given worksheets when we went in. They look for different coloured flights (the ribbons used to decorate the manes) hidden in boxes around the stud and answer questions. When complete they choose a prize – a pencil or a badge. Not compulsory, but they enjoyed doing it and collecting their prizes as we left.

Tractor Ride

We sat on the grass to have a picnic, then the smaller kids played on the play equipment while I went back with my eldest grandson to revisit the horses in the stables. He was particularly taken with Colony Iris, aged 21, the oldest horse there. He also liked Colony Xing, the tallest (and still growing) horse. When we had our tractor tour we were told he will be bigger than Besthorpe Achilles (one and a half tons) and may reach a ton and three-quarters. That’s a lot of horse!

There are two sweet Shetland ponies, several Suffolk sheep (the oldest registered flock in the world), rabbits, guinea pigs, goats, Ixworth chickens (which almost died out and are still very rare today).

And pigs. New Zealand pigs.

New Zealand Pig

And rare Large Black Pigs – and some very young piglets! Another breed which was almost extinct not long ago.

Large Black Piglets

I wish I’d taken a photo of the Gypsy Cob. He was dumped needing emergency vet treatment as a foal, but my goodness you should see him now. There is a picture of him here – at the bottom of the page which also has information about the other horses.

My eldest granddaughter had a horrible fall at the swimming pool last week. She wasn’t running or messing about, just walking back to the changing rooms when she slipped at the edge of the pool and crashed down hurting her leg and elbow and falling back into the pool. She was very shaken up with a nasty bruise on her elbow. Poor little thing – I thought she’d had her share of accidents after gashing her leg at the beach.

There is definitely an autumnal feel to the air and the early morning shadows are growing longer. (Sorry about the poo bin in this one!) This small tree cast a long shadow across the playing fields and the pointy shadows are made by the beach huts.

7 o'clock September morning

Dusty’s been enjoying the occasional swim. He seems to have even more energy now the weather is getting cooler. Sadly the same can’t be said for me.

Dusty swimming

I’m sad the holidays are over. I hated school myself and I’ll miss the children being around, although I'll still see them every day. I can never understand people who complain about the holidays and can’t wait for them to go back. Childhood rushes past in the blink of an eye – we should make the most of every second.

I will certainly miss being accompanied by mini-Batman on my walks!