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, March 26, 2016

Gainsborough's House, Dutch Golden Age Masterpieces on show.

Joris Van der Hagen (1615 - 1669), View of Kleef, c. 1660.
Gainsborough’s House is offering free entry to all tomorrow, Easter Sunday.
It is a particularly good time to plan a visit since, in addition to the permanent exhibition, there are three exceptional temporary displays to enjoy at the moment.

This spring and summer some landscape paintings owned by Gainsborough's House have gone to Holland.  They are among the works on display in the first ever Dutch exhibition of Thomas Gainsborough, Gainsborough in his own words, at the Rijksmuseum Twenthe.  In exchange nine important landscape paintings from the Dutch Golden Age by artists such as Jan van Kessel and Joris van der Haagen are currently on show in Sudbury.  Gainsborough is known to have been much influenced by the Dutch landscape tradition of the seventeenth century and it is marvellous to be able to appreciate these impressive canvasses at first hand.  They look very fine on the walls of Gainsborough’s House and you can see them until 24th July.

In addition to the Dutch landscapes, in the Upper Bow Room you can see a collection of drawings by Hubert Francois Gravelot (1699-1773).  A French artist and engraver who emigrated from France to England in 1732, Gravelot was central to the promotion of the Rococo style in this country.   Gainsborough’s drawing master when the young artist left Sudbury in his teens, Gravelot specialised in book illustrations and prints and is thought to have stimulated Gainsborough’s interest in print and printmaking.
In the Back Exhibition Gallery there is a unique display by the Romantic artist Samuel Palmer (1805 -1881).  On loan from a private collection, the atmospheric etchings which are inspired by the English countryside, reward close attention.

On Sundays Gainsborough's House is open from 11 a.m until 5 p.m.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Get rid of those old paint cans.

If you are going to Ipswich in the next week or so, you can take advantage of a ‘Paint Amnesty’.  

 ‘Kick out the Can’, an initiative which gives householders the chance to clear their sheds, garages and cupboards of unwanted paint, is making a welcome return to Suffolk this Spring.

Left over paint can be hard to get rid of.  It should not be disposed of in your black bin and is not welcomed by recycling centres.  Information on the Green Suffolk website HERE, which gives advice on what to do with a range of different unwanted items, is actually silent on what you do if you find yourself with more than a quarter of a can to dispose of.  I fear that some are reduced to gradually secreting the offending pots into the black bin over time and hoping for the best.

From March 21st to April 18th, Suffolk residents are invited to take surplus paint to their local Crown Decorating Centre in Trinity Street, Ipswich, for recycling. Up to 10 pots are welcomed.  For more information, including how the initiative is supporting local charity, click HERE.

Academies? Fear for smaller rural primary schools.

I am pleased that a number of leading Conservative Councillors, including the Cabinet Member for Education in Oxfordshire, which includes David Camerons’s  Witney constituency, are speaking out against the forced ‘academisation’ of English schools.

There are many arguments against the government’s policy, which was announced in the recent  Budget speech.  My main concern however is for the future of small rural primary schools, some of which are doing an excellent job educating children in the Cosford Division.  As part of a chain of academies these will inevitably come under scrutiny from academy sponsors seeking to achieve economies of scale.  The closure of Monks Eleigh School a couple of years ago has taught me how damaging to a small community school closure can be.

The case for academies is unproven.  There is some evidence that in fact standards have not improved across the board under the leadership of academy trusts.   In Suffolk my work on the School Improvement Board, which seeks to drive up standards at all Suffolk schools, means that I am aware that by no means all academies are first rate, or improving. 

An education minister on the Today Programme this morning tried to argue that local authority schools appear doing better now on average because many of the worst schools have become academies so are no longer counted.  What the Minister failed to say was that many excellent schools have also been taken out of the local authority mix.

The Minister claimed that ‘one size does not fit all’ in education and that as academies schools will have more ‘freedom’.  In the same breath however, rather perversely, he stated that ‘two systems cannot exist side by side’, implying that indeed one size does fit all!

In my opinion each school is a small system in itself and is unique.  What matters most is the quality of teaching and robust governance.  Forcing top down structural change for its own sake, or for ideological reasons, which seems to be the case in this instance, seems wrong, particularly when the education of our children is at stake.

Like other Conservative councillors, I hope that the Government will reconsider.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

EU: to stay or not? A meeting to help you make your choice

Local marketing and Public Relations company Articulate HLC regularly holds open business breakfast meetings across Suffolk.

In April there is an opportunity for business people, and others interested, to meet the forthright and erudite MP for South Norfolk, Richard Bacon.  The theme of the meeting will be the forthcoming EU Referendum, and I have been assured that Richard Bacon will bring ‘reason and clarity’ to the debate.

The breakfast event will be held at the Swan Hotel in Lavenham from 8 a.m. to 10.30 a.m. on Friday 22nd April. The cost is £15 per ticket, which includes what looks like a really scrummy breakfast!

‘Let your voice be heard. Listen and learn - and not in 'sound-bytes'.’
To book your place, please visit http://www.articulatehlc.co.uk/europe-breakfast.htm

General Information about Articulate can be found HERE.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Monks Eleigh, Village Sign restored

Yesterday evening I went along to the Monks Eleigh Annual Parish Meeting.

There was a good turn out, and, as usual, excellent refreshments!  We heard an interesting presentation from Nick Ward, Heritage Manager at Babergh District Council, about Community Planning.  This confirmed my belief that the only way that a community can really make a difference to planning decisions is to undertake a full blown Neighbourhood Plan, a process which can take up to three years and is not for the faint hearted!  Lavenham is the only village in the Cosford Division that has made real progress with a Neighbourhood Plan, and anyone thinking of embarking on the journey would be well advised to have a word with their Parish Council Chairman.

During the meeting our attention was drawn to the village website which can be found HERE.

Currently in pride of place on the site is a series of photographs showing the restoration and rehanging of the village sign.  The sign is pictured above, complete with eponymous monks.  Further investigation of the excellent website will lead you to discover that despite its name there was never a monastery in Monks Eleigh.  However over 1000 years ago the widow of a Saxon landowner left lands to the Monks of Canterbury, and this is where the monkish connection comes from.

A talk about Sutton Hoo

Barrow at Sutton Hoo, near Woodbridge, Suffolk.

Recently Little Waldingfield History Society enjoyed a talk about Sutton Hoo from Anglo Saxon expert John Newman.  Andy Sheppard's review of the evening can be found on the 'Sutton Hoo' tab above.   Photographs from the site can be seen above and below.

The LWHS event will be held on Wednesday 20th April when Pip Wright, an old friend of the Society, will enlighten members and visitors about 'What it was like to live in Suffolk at the time of the plague'.  I understand that the talk will be presented in 'his own humerous way', which seems something of a challenge under the circumstances.

LWHS meetings are held in the Parish Rooms at Little Waldingfield and start at 7.30 p.m.  All are welcome!

Sheild decorations


Sunday, March 20, 2016

Local History Books at bargain prices

Book Spring Clean
Local historians are having a spring cleaning session on April 7th with end-of-print run and other books being offered for sale at deep cut prices. The one-day-only event at St Peter’s Church, Sudbury, from 9.45am-2pm is being hosted by the weekly Kettle and Fish session.  

On sale at real bargain prices will be books written or edited by more than seven local historians with many of the authors on hand to sign books and chat. The event will benefit local charities and every book will be sold with a 10% discount voucher that can be used at the Kestrel book shop for books bought or ordered before the end of April.