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

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Lessons learned this Christmas

Well the big Christmas feast with family is over for another year, and on the whole I think a good time was had by the five of us!

The event is always a 'learning opportunity' however, and this year was no exception.

I have jotted down the main areas for improvement,  and hope I remember remind myself in 2017.  They are in no particular order

  • Don’t buy too much cheese
  • Don’t attempt to make pastry in a food processor
  • Do remember that Nigel Slater’s recipes always produce too much of something; this year lemon ice cream
  • Don’t wrap up a present of biscuits for the dog and leave it among the other gifts
  • Do have a modernist, bauble free, tree
  • Make sure the food is almost ready before tucking into the fizz.  Some advise that the food should actually be ON THE TABLE, but this is a step too far for me.
Rendle gets stuck in

    Thursday, December 22, 2016

    Christmas Greetings

    Mediaeval  fresco from St Anastasia's Basilica, Verona
    Thank you to everyone for reading this website during 2017.  
    I would like to wish you all a very Happy Christmas, and a healthy and prosperous 2017.

    Lorries in unsuitable places

    HGV making its way through Sudbury on Wednesday morning

    For some time I have been working with officers and  a small group of councillors at the County Council whose Divisions are particularly badly affected by heavy lorries.  These, as we know,  damage property while terrorising pedestrians and other road users while they make their inexorable way to their destinations.
    Recently we received some good news from Ordnance Survey who are working in their own way to try to improve matters.  the organisation is creating a product it is hoped will by taken up by the providers of Satnav systems and deter drivers that try to save time and money by taking unsuitable routes.    The product will highlight features on roads such as  weight restrictions and signs informing of unsuitability for heavy vehicles.  It will also give information about the maximum road width.    We have suggested that Ordnance Survey include 'pinch points' too, such as the notorious corner at The Bell in Clare. and other spots in places like Lavenham and Bildeston.

    It is hoped that the use of SatNavs that provide this important information, might be made compulsory in due course, but this will depend on new legislation.   The national problem of heavy lorries on unsuitable roads was debated a little while ago in St Stephen's Hall, with our own MP,  James Cartlidge, making a positive contribution.   It is good news that finally this problem, which has become more pressing as HGV's have become larger and larger, appears to be achieveing the recognition that it deserves.

    Broadband, Smoke and Mirrors

    Do not be fooled by the Government's recent announcement about Broadband for rural areas.

    This is not new news, but just old news repackaged for Christmas.

    No new money is being invested; we already knew about the savings that have been made possible by higher than expected take up of the service.

    Also, despite the optimism of Karen Bradley, the Minister, on the radio this morning, there is still no clue about what will happen to the last, most remote, 5% of households.   95% coverage by 2020 has been promised for some time.

    Governments still don't understand that you cannot fool people with this sort of announcement!

    Meanwhile, Suffolk County Council continues to do 'it's best'.   Further news on the rollout should be available in the New Year.

    Saturday, December 17, 2016

    Christmas Waste and how to avoid it.

    I have just received my latest copy of Waste and Recycling News which has two important messages for residents during the Christmas period.

    Firstly, collections of rubbish and recycling from your home will, due to various public holidays etc., be on different days from usual.   Full information, and a downloadable leaflet for Babergh,  is available HERE.

    Secondly, as usual, once the festivities are over it is possible to recycle your Christmas Tree by taking it to a collection point near you.  Information about this scheme is available on the Babergh website HERE.

    This scheme is now 9 years old and almost 12,800 trees have been turned into useful compost over that time.

    Finally, I have had a telephone call from a resident who wanted to know if any growers are currently operating a 'rent a living Christmas Tree' scheme.  I seem to remember that the BATS group did run a scheme of this type a year or so ago, but I am not sure if that is continuing?  If anyone knows perhaps you could get in touch with me? 

    Friday, December 16, 2016

    Sunday, December 11, 2016

    Why Angel Roofs?

    The angel roof of St Stephen's Hall, Westminster; the archangel of all other angel roofs

    Not much mediaeval art from English churches survives.  Episodes of iconoclasm under the ‘reforming’ Tudors and in the middle of the Seventeenth Century put paid to the vast majority of the works that once populated their naves and chancels.  Over a decade ago Tate Britain put on a show of some of the highlights of what remains undamaged (or relatively so), and the main thing that struck me at the time was how little material there is left to choose from.

    Angel roofs, that adorn many churches in East Anglia, are an exception that proves the rule.  The iconoclasts found it difficult to reach them, often leaving instructions that they should be destroyed after their departure.  Fortunately their instructions were often ignored, although this was not always the case and occasional rows of headless seraphs, and empty spaces, are the sad result. 

    In the past when looking at these roofs, presiding rather magnificently above the relatively bare walls and statue free niches,  I have wondered why they were there and what they signified. At Little Waldingfield History Society on Wednesday evening I achieved some enlightenment.  Michael Rimmer, who has written a book on Angel Roofs,  gave a wide ranging talk on the subject, illustrating some of the best examples.

    When created angel roofs were integral to the church’s overall internal decoration. The focus of the whole was the rood screen which separated the chancel from the nave, and depicted Christ’s passion.  The absence of the screen today (no original one apparently survives) leaves the roof in limbo as it no longer forms part of a purposeful decorative whole that took the eye from the top to the bottom of the church as if from heaven to earth.  Andy Sheppard has written a full review of Michael’s most informative talk, available on the tab above.

    Michael Rimmer made the point that the roofs represent a rare opportunity to see (from a distance) the work of mediaeval craftsmen, so much of which has been lost.  Coincidentally this weekend The Guardian reports that a rare Fourteenth Century statue from the Midlands is to go on show at the British Museum.  You can read about how lucky it was to survive HERE.

    The Angel Roofs of East Anglia, Unseen Masterpieces of the Middle Ages by Michael Rimmer is available from Amazon and other booksellers.   ISBN: 978 -0718893699

    Saturday, December 10, 2016

    14th Sudbury Christmas Tree Festival

    Blue seems the colour of choice this year!

    Almost 90 decorated Christmas Trees are currently on display in St Peter's Church in Sudbury.

    Each one has been dressed by a local organisation, and funds raised from the magnificent show will be going to a number of good causes selected by the Sudbury Rotary Club.

    The Church is a wonderful backdrop for the Festival, and I guarantee that if you go along you will feel quite uplifted and more prepared for the rigours of festivities to come.

    The Festival is open tomorrow, Sunday. from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.     Refreshments are available.  A minimum donation of £1 will get you in!

    Saturday, December 3, 2016

    Official opening of new Citizens Advice office in Sudbury

    Mayor, Sue Ayres cutting the ribbon.
    Having worked at Sudbury Citizens Advice between 2003 and 2007 as an advisor and session supervisor, and as a Trustee for some years thereafter, I was very pleased to be invited to the opening of the new Citizens Advice headquarters yesterday lunchtime.

    It was great to catch up some old friends and also to get to know some new people, including the Manager, Colleen.  The new offices are a great improvement: light and bright and with a lot more space for everyone.  The building has been named Keyse House in memory of the late Margarette Keyse who for many years worked as a volunteer administrator at the Bureau and who was tireless in her efforts to make all work like clockwork. Margarette died in 2013 and I wrote tribute to her HERE.
    Trustee Chair, John Ashton

    Belle View House may have had its attractions, but the accommodation previously occupied by the CAB in the building  was really not very comfortable.  It was cold in the winter, too hot in the summer and the facilities for those waiting to see an adviser were for many years really inadequate (although this did change when we were able to take on more space a few years ago).  I will never forget having to go down into the spider infested and damp cellars to find old files etc.  It was not a good experience.

    The new offices can be found at the very beginning of Acton Lane, on the right just before you take the road up to the police station,.   Information about the services offered in Sudbury and opening times  can be found by clicking HERE.

    It is good to see the bureau going from strength to strength.

    New Reception area

    Friday, December 2, 2016

    Gainsborough's House welcomes lottery players

    Following the recent National Lottery award, Gainsborough's House in Sudbury is offering all lottery ticket holders free admission over three weekends in December.  This is to acknowledge their part in making the award possible.

    In October staff and supporters of the museum were delighted to learn that the National Lottery, at the second time of asking,  is prepared to contribute £4.7m towards a major capital project that will greatly extend and enhance what is currently on offer to visitors.    A new building is proposed at the bottom of the garden in Weavers Lane which will provide enhanced exhibition spaces, more factilities for children, and the reinstatement of the much missed cafe.

    December is a really good time to visit Gainsborough's House.  There is currently a marvellous temporary exhibition French Drawings from the time of Gainsborough, and the shop looks absolutely lovely.  It has been rearranged recently to reflect Gainsborough related themes,  and has a wide range of delectable gifts, plus christmas cards and unusual decorations.

    The Museum is open every day of the week, Monday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 11a.m. to 5 p.m.

    Saturday, November 26, 2016

    Compassion, 15 years supporting the victims of domestic abuse in Babergh

    The Cake!
    There was a star studded turn out for Compassion's 15th Birthday Party in the Hills Room at Gainsborough's House yesterday morning.   The event coincided with White Ribbon Day, 25th November, the International day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

    If you want to help  victims of abuse in our area there is no better way than to get in touch with Compassion to find out about how you can help.

    You can learn more ON THE WEBSITE HERE.

    Sue Ayres, Mayor of Sudbury with Sally Watson, SCC Localities Officer
    Chairman and Founder of Compassion, Cathy Press, with James Cartlidge M.P. and Tim Passmore, Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner.

    Margaret Maybury, Babergh Councillor with Specisl Responsibility for Communities, with Nick Antill.

    Concert by St Edmundsbury Male Voice Choir

    Thanks to our Little Waldingfield Senior Correspondent, Andy Sheppard, for sending photos of last week's very successful concert in aid of St Lawrence's Church.  The St Edmundsbury Male Voice Choir sang an eclectic selection of songs from round the world to high acclaim from the large audience.  One of the choir's members, John Sparkes, who lives in the village, sponsored the event, and at the same time fulfilled a long term ambition to stage a concert in Little Waldingfield.

    It is clear that the evening was hugely enjoyable.  Moreover a much needed £1500 was raised for the church fabric fund.

    The outstanding beauty and grace of St Lawrence's can be seen from the photo below, taken from the altar steps.

    The reality in Cuba

    Perpetual revolution, a freshly painted slogan on a factory in Cuba visted in 2015
    My morning composure was spoilt this morning as I was obliged to listen to Ken Livingstone and some other old Trotkyist sympathiser heaping praise on Fidel Castro who died yesterday.

    Castro was the worst sort of communist dictator who held his country back for 60 years.

    We visited Cuba in 2015 and even as tourists it was impossible not to notice how poor and repressed the people of Cuba continue to be.

    'Red Corner' in Cuban tobacco factory 2015.  The Party Member (seated) promotes propoganda and keeps an eye on the workers.
     I am not surpised that Cuban emigres in Miami were celebrating last night.  It's just a pity that the exploding cigar failed to ignite many years ago.

    Urban decay in Havana 2015
    Industrial decay. abandoned factory, inland 2015.

    Thursday, November 24, 2016

    Devolution latest

    Unsurprisingly, the withdrawal of Kings Lynn and West Norfolk council from the devolution process resulted in the Government scrapping the deal.  In Norfolk all further meetings to discuss the matter were cancelled.  In Suffolk however it was decided, following some encouragement from the Government, that we should attempt to conclude a deal for Suffolk alone (which might include some willing partners from Norfolk and/or Essex.)

    Accordingly the meeting scheduled for yesterday to approve the Norfolk/Suffolk deal went ahead.  We were asked to debate the following ‘amendment’ to the motion:

    That Council agrees:
    1.          To reiterate the commitment, given at its June meeting, to Devolution as a means for delivering accelerated growth in the local and national economy and helping local people and places fulfil their potential;
    2.          To authorise the Leader and Chief Executive to:
    a)      seek an urgent meeting with the Secretary of State to discuss the Government’s intentions around devolution;
    b)      work with Government and local partners to agree an alternative devolution deal as soon as possible
    3.          That further reports are presented to the Authority, as appropriate, as the Devolution process progresses.

            During the course of yesterday it was not possible to obtain any clear impression of what a revised devolution arrangement for Suffolk alone would look like.  However,  I feel sure that any revised scheme would be similar in structure to what was previously proposed and would result in an unnecessary and expensive extra layer of government.  Nonetheless,  there seemed no harm in seeing what is actually on offer.  I might be proved wrong after all.  Having voted against the motion last time, on this occasion therefore I decided to abstain.

            The motion was carried by 57 votes, with 7 councillors abstaining.

            As the County Council faces many pressing problems at present, including sorting out the dismal highways situation and finding savings to fill a large budget gap, I am unable to escape the impression that devolution continues to be a major distraction and that we are guilty of fiddling while Rome burns.