WEEKEND 26/7th JULY, 1980 – (taken from my diary entries)

SATURDAY

It was very hot today and rather humid. By post we got a replacement for our boat licence (my canoe needed one to go on the rivers in Norfolk; I think if I had only used it on the sea I could have avoided the need to licence it).

CANOE

The phone rang at 9.30, it was Mrs Pound of the Society of Recorder Players to say that Roskins had my music stand, I could have it back when I next went to Howe Hill. In the meantime I could borrow one from her, but I told her not to bother as I had another one. After doing a little gardening (mainly watering) we took the dogs to Spur Lane. Next we did some shopping in the village (Poringand). Home for coffee and then up to my place of work in Norwich. There was a cheque in the post. I collected some plastic padding which I needed to mend the freezer. I went to the bookshop – I was looking for The Wheels of Chance by H. G. Wells but the search was in vain. A visit to the library was equally unrewarding. However I did get a copy of Under the Greenwood Tree (Thomas Hardy) which I brought home to read.

On the way home we stopped off at Lakenham so that the dogs could have a bathe in the river Yare (it was very hot). For lunch we had a quiche with salad and the last of our strawberries. My sister had picked them in the morning when she was weeding the strawberry bed. After lunch I read the Thomas Hardy book until I dozed off, while Tiggy (my sister) was gathering up the windfall apples. We took the dogs to the river again and then came home to have a game of croquet on the lawn.

At five p.m. we got the canoe ready for an evening voyage; this meant checking the ropes, the rudder bar and making sure the rubber bungs were securely in place (important that, we didn’t want to sink). We drove it to the dyke at Rockland Broad. For a change we paddled down the upstream channel and went up river a little way. We did not get as far as Brundall on this occasion however. Saw plenty of grebes swimming on the water with their young (by now quite as larger as their parents). Being on the water it was cooler than ashore, though still hot. We returned to the New Inn in Rockland where there was a herd of cattle.

Back home with the canoe (it ws quickly loaded on the trailer at Rockland, and need no further attention when we got back). We had the radio on as we drove home and listened to Robert Robinson (he is always good to hear). For supper we had potatoes and green beans (both our own produce) with sausages. Then blackberry and apple pie.

BASS

Took the dogs to the river at Whitlingham (this was before Whitlingham Broad had been dug out to provide material for the Southern Bypass). I mended the hole in the top of the freezer (I think this was only for appearances, I don’t suppose if affected the use of the appliance). Finally before going to bed I did half an hour’s practice on my double bass.

SUNDAY

It was bacon and egg for breakfast. I had a look round the garden, planning next year’s crops and using the watering can. We went to Mousehold heath to exercise the dogs, stopping on the way to purchase the Sunday Telegraph. When we got home we had coffee outdoors as the weather was so fine. We had the fountain playing as we sat on the lawn. Then I got the mower out and cut the grass; next it was the hedge cutter, but to do the back hedge meant turning off the fountain, as I need the flex. Now my hedge cutter is battery powered, but that was not an option in 1980.

For lunch we had ham, with the first of our yellow tomatoes as part of the salad. I find yellow tomatoes unusual, but in flavour they are indistinguishable from red ones to me at least. For dessert I had crab apple jelly tart, these are all nice things to eat which rely on homemade ingredients. Then it was off to Abbot’s Farm Open Day. This is the farm we know as Kidner’s Farm. I don’t know if the farm house is in Shotesham or Stoke; the property must extend into both parishes. There was a crop spraying aeroplane to see, and (less modern) a horse was giving wagon rides. It is mixed farm, and among the animals there were cows with their calves and sheep. We walked over to see the ruined stables that had belonged to Stoke Hall. The hall had possessed an oak chimneypiece with the arms of Charles II on it, said to be from Sir Thomas Browne’s house in Norwich. (Gladstone had stayed here with the Birkbeck family.) It was demolished in 1937. The site of the hall itself is a pit with mounds of soil in the midst of the overgrown platform, which still has abrupt faces on the south and west. The19th century stable block had a Rhineland style tower which remains. This is in a derelict state. We were given a walk round tour of the overgrown gardens, conducted by Roger Kidner, who ended up by giving us a talk on the Hall. Finally we had to seethe pigs and chickens to please Tiggy they being more to her taste than old ruins. This makes her sounds like a child, but she was older than me by ten years.

Who was John Hilton? Apparently he was well known to us at the time. We met him and his family at Abbot’s Farm, though he was moving permanently to the Lake District in a week or two’s time. Perhaps that is why I don’t remember him, though I have to say that I can recall nothing of my visit to Abbot’s Farm either, which is a pity because it sounds interesting. (Nor do I remember anything about what I did the day before, at Rockland Broad, which also sounds fun.) We must have left the dogs in the car while we went round Abbot’s Farm, because next we took them a bit further to Smock Mill common (in Saxlingham) for a walk.

Back at home I played my tenor recorded while Tiggy cooked the joint of beef. We had it for supper with home grown broad beans and cabbage. For dessert she had done a blackberry sponge. In the evening I rode my bike through Caistor and Arminghall which did not please my dog Fido, as he was left behind. Then I practiced my double bass, which did not suit him either.

JOSERH MASON

joemasonspage@gmail.com

THE BLOG FOR THE STORY OF EAST ANGLIA

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