Quote of the week

Life isn't about finding yourself, it is about creating yourself'

George Bernard Shaw
If you cannot mould yourself entirely as you would wish, how can you expect other people to be entirely to your liking?
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/wish.html

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Preserve your pumpkins

I am reliably informed that more than a million pumpkins are thrown away as soon as Halloween festivities are over. This adds to the £680m of food that is annually thrown away in the UK by an average family.  In Suffolk alone some 43,000 tons of food waste goes to landfill sites.

In addition to creative endeavour such as the carved pumpkin pictured here (one of some 30 examples on this website) , alternatives include making pumpkin pie or some other seasonal recipe (there are plenty on the web, this BBC site being particularly good), composting it, or at least having a go at roasting the seeds, which are delicious.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

St Jude's storm, the aftermath.

Being situated in an odd corner that isn’t quite Sudbury and isn’t quite Acton, in times of challenging weather we always seem to be first to lose our power and the last to get it back!

This hasn’t been entirely true this time because it is clear that quite a lot of people in Suffolk are still without electricity and ours returned just after lunch today. Nonetheless we have learned to be prepared and have accumulated over the years a good array of stoves, candles, battery powered radios and camping equipment (which has never been used in the open air, and has never seen a tent!).  This all makes an electricity free situation more or less bearable, indeed almost enjoyable - for a while.

I don’t generally listen to BBC Radio Suffolk, finding it a little cosily repetitive in the normal scheme of things.  However the broadcaster really came into its own over the past two days, providing up to the minute news and advice.   I was impressed by the way that, sensing the frustration and real need of residents, they tried hard to act as a go between with the National Grid and its customers who were left both literally and figuratively ‘in the dark’ .

The station also broadcast some really uplifting stories about people helping their neighbours.  I was particularly struck by the short interview this morning with the owner of the Artisans Tea Room in Assington, who, blessed with an on site generator, was offering to fill thermos flasks and hot water bottles for local residents.

Not all people offering help in times like this necessarily have your interests at heart.  A message has been sent out by Trading Standards to warn those who need damage repaired after the storm to be wary of rogue traders going from door to door offering to help.  Check out anyone offering you their services here

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A guide to Care

Last week the Adult Care and Health Policy Panel, which I chair, made what I hope was a useful contribution to the debate about how Suffolk County Council responds to the current Government consultation on the issue of how we pay for care, whether at home or in a care home.

The consultation relates to the Care Bill that is currently going through Parliament, and particularly concerns new measures that are to be introduced to ensure that no-one has to sell their home during their lifetime to pay care costs.

The issues are very complex, and the proposals could increase the bureaucratic burden on Local Authorities significantly at a time when their finances are already under extreme pressure.  The burden of our song therefore was that the government should ensure that implementation of the bill is as simple as possible, allowing us to work in partnership with others, and ensuring that those needing care and their families have the information to help themselves as far as possible.

I am pleased to say that the Council accepted the recommendations of the officers, which the Policy Panel had helped to shape, and passed them without a division.

The implementation of the Care Bill is something for the future of course.  However, if you, or someone you know, is currently trying to navigate the minefield that is the world of long and short term care, I notice that the Telegraph has recently produced a guide that aims to help you.   You can download the information here.

Charlie Haylock in Little Waldingfield

I was very sorry to miss the last meeting of Little Waldingfield History Society when I was in Harrogate.  I can do no better than repeat here Andy Sheppard's review of the evening.

Suffolk Vernacular
A Talk (and more) by Charlie Haylock

Little Waldingfield History Society was delighted to welcome Charlie Haylock to the Parish Room last night to talk to us on “The History of Spoken English” and “The Suffolk Vernacular”. As we had expected, he enthralled our impressively large audience with his wit and intelligence, his charm and downright common sense, which together make for a marvellous combination. Hopefully the following extracts do justice to what was, judging from the spontaneous applause during the show, an absolutely superb presentation.

We learnt (or should that be larnd) that the Angles and Saxons arrived in Suffolk, mixing together to form the basis of our Anglo-Saxon language. Suffolk is therefore where the English began and is the oldest English dialect. East Anglia was also the most populated part of the country at this time, which is why the Suffolk vernacular has had such a significant impact on other cultures and accents across the globe, notably Australia, following the mass migrations of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Interestingly Suffolk has just four villages with Celtic origins (Iken, settlement of the Iceni; Kenton; Monewden and Clare) and the same number with a Norman derivation; Boulge (“heather-covered waste land”), Bures (a row of houses), Capel St Andrew (a chapel dedicated to St Andrew), and Capel St Mary (chapel dedicated to St Mary). It seems that all other Suffolk villages are Anglo-Saxon, Frisian (*) or Viking settlements.
(*) A coastal region along the southeastern corner of the North Sea extending from NW Netherlands across NW Germany to the Danish border. Frisia and the traditional homeland of the Frisians, a Germanic people who speak Frisian, a language group closely related to the English language.

After this quick history of the English Language, both as “writ” and as spoken in Charlie’s wonderful Suffolk drawl, he moved onto the derivation of place names and surnames, before demonstrating his incredible ability to mimic every regional accent in the country and loads more from around the world. Whilst doing this, Charlie simultaneously explained how the different accents were achieved; amazing stuff that held the audience spellbound, as were the many one-liners interspersed during the evening, such as “Where do you live Charlie ……………. At home, where do you live?”

Charlie ended his talk with his perfect execution of a poem by an unknown author; if you had closed your eyes, you would swear absolutely that it was not a white man doing the reading, once again demonstrating his flawless rendition.


When I was born, I was black.
When I grow up, I'm black.
When I'm ill, I'm black.
When I go out in the sun, I'm black.
When I'm cold, I'm black.
When I die, I'm black.

But you -

When you're born, you're pink.
When you grow up, you're white.
When you're ill, you're green.
When you go out in the sun, you go red.
When you're cold, you go blue.
When you die, you're purple.

And you have the nerve to call me coloured?

Not surprisingly this had the audience in raptures and was met with great applause. Everyone had a thoroughly entertaining evening, learning hugely from a narrator who really knows his stuff and who can put it across in such an easy and absorbing manner. I suspect he may well have an additional audience for his regular spot on BBC Radio Suffolk with Lesley Dolphin, which is currently exploring the lost words of Suffolk; the programme is called Haylock’s half hour (in 40 mins).

Finally LWHS must also thank Charlie for generously donating his royalties from book and CD sales on the evening to the Society because he wished to help such societies maintain local history for the future – we couldn’t have put it better ourselves.

Our next talk, on Wednesday 13th November, is “The Tudor housing revolution” by John Walker, a former Chairman of Essex Historic Buildings Group who studied and lectured for 30 years on timber framed buildings in Essex & Suffolk. We look forward to welcoming guests new and old to the Parish Room for what is sure to be a fascinating evenings entertainment.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Plans to mark World War 1 in Suffolk

How is Suffolk County Council going to mark the centenary of the outbreak of World War One in 2014?

This was a question put to the Leader of the Council at Thursday’s Council Meeting.  He responded that events would be planned not just for next year, but during the three that follow.   

Some 10,000 men from Suffolk died in the Great War, and six men born in Suffolk were awarded the Victoria Cross. Included in their number was Skipper Thomas Crisp, pictured here, Crisp was born in Lowestoft, and he received the award posthumously for his brave defence of his small armed fishing boat against a German submarine.  The full story can be read on Wikipedia.

The County Council is working with the Military Covenant  Group and the Suffolk Strategic Heritage Forum to plan a range of commemorative events across the county.  It is hoped that the community will be closely involved and that the events will be informed by research that is being carried out at the Suffolk Record Office.  The archive of the Suffolk Regiment, held in Bury St Edmunds, is likely to be of importance. There will also be projects to raise awareness in schools and colleges, a touring exhibition, and the display of newly digitised material on the SCC website.

On a related topic, Remembrance Sunday is nearly upon us once again.  In anticipation of this, I was pleased to be able to buy a most unusual poppy yesterday in the community shop in Monks Eleigh.  It is hand made in wool by a relative of a local resident and, while being unmistakeably a poppy, is certainly unusual.  I am looking forward to wearing it with pride.

This is I believe the 900th post on this website since the blog started in February 2007.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Boycott on Suffolk Show lifted

Nick and I have been boycotting the Suffolk Show for the past three years.

This is due to the decision to ban dogs.  To our mind a show that bans dogs can not be regarded as in any sense a country show,  and as such we no longer wished to participate.

The organisers' decision today that dogs will be welcome at next year's show is indeed good news and means that we will be looking forward to buying our tickets and taking part once again.

Gainsborough's House wins 'Object Award'

Gainsborough's swordstick

To University College Suffolk yesterday evening to attend the awards ceremony for Suffolk Museum of the Year.

For the second year running Gainsborough’s house was shortlisted for this award, but once again I am afraid we were not successful in winning the main prize.  That went to Ickworth House, where the National Trust has clearly made a great effort in recent times to improve presentation and interpretation for visitors.

Nevertheless we were very pleased to be ‘there or thereabouts’ once again, and new Director, Mark Bills, did not come away empty handed.  The museum won the ‘ Object Award’.  This competition relies on votes from the public, who decide which particular object, nominated by all the museums in the competition, they like the best.

Our object was Thomas Gainsborough’s Swordstick, which he was probably carrying when robbed while travelling by stage into London with a group of friends (including the composer J.C. Bach)He lost cash and a pocket watch, but these were returned to him when the highwaymen were caught, and later executed.  The stick is on display with other objects belonging to the artist at Gainsborough’s House

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Care conference in Harrogate

The Conference Centre, Harrogate

I spent much of last week in Harrogate attending the Childrens and Adult Care Conference at the astonishing Harrogate Conference Centre.

It is a long time since I went to a conference of any kind.  I did wonder about how useful the experience would be, knowing that many regard these events as the next best thing to taking a holiday at one’s employer’s expense.

However since I was starting from a position of almost total ignorance, the fairly intensive programme proved a good way to get a handle on many of the hot topics that are concerning the world of Adult Social Care at present.

Co-operation between the National Health Service and Local Authorities that deliver Adult Care services is high on the agenda.  The Government has recently transferred funds from the NHS to Adult Care to encourage service integration and partnership working.  This meant that there was a good deal of input from officers from the Department of Health who seemed to be present at almost all events.

I was amused, when I attended a breakfast meeting hosted by the Department in order to discuss the Care Bill that is currently going through Parliament, to find that instead of healthy dishes of porridge or fresh fruit we were served delicious bacon butties!
I had hoped, while in Harrogate,  to find time to visit the legendary Betty’s Tea Rooms, pictured below,  where I understand the pastries are exceptionally good.  Unfortunately I didn’t make it, but the Department of Health  butties were some compensation