Biking from Diss this time, catching the rain only at the end, Rupert rocked up at East Lodge with wine and bread in his panniers on a Friday September afternoon, infinitely felxible to fit in with what ever was happening, with a book (Jim Crace?) to hand in case of time to find.
During the putting up of the Polytunnel on Saturday, Rupert cooked up a delicious tomato pasta for the workers: MJ, Jo, Tino, Drew and Gaina on poly tunnel, I on air bnb change over.
Sunday he came along to Ringsfield Eco Hall for their open day, for me to see where Abi (who is running forest school in my woodland) lived and worked: A place for kids to explore nature through outdoor learning. Set up by Rev Chris Walton ‘who’s trade was a Franciscan’, he came into some money, bought this house and 15 acres of land and set up the school as a trust. He lives, a healthy 70, in Beccles, runs marathons and did a 24-hour “preach-a-thon” to raise money for the centre. We followed the trail. With young families, find Cat dressed as a cat telling a story of Africa under a silk parachute, near by mud cooking, then real cooking – with Nicole, where we drank Hog weed tea for the first time in my life and swooned with pleasure, so, encouraged, she cooked up the Beef steak fungi over the open fire, which we had time to enjoy before going for Sunday lunch with Deborah and Bill in Walpole.
Just time in between for Walpole Chapple also open today. Right up Rupert street, a dive in to Unitarianism. http://walpoleoldchapel.co.uk/History.htm (while I talked to Mongolia or was it Bejing, to a very ill Barry with shingles). Converted from a Suffolk Farm House, this unique building was home to Suffolks puritans, heirs of a hundred years of dissent within the Church, who called themselves Independents because they rejected any external control, would not belong to any organised church. oThe inside was set out formally like a judicial theatre, upstairs and downstairs, huge windows. (Unusully not visited by Simon Knot).
Monday easy, time for Rupert to read, as I got lost on emails
Tuesday, today, to Waveny Art Trail, in the bankers car, to take Umi still on crutches. Ravingham was a fitting venue, for it is a home for found objects that rest easily in it’s landscape of estate buildings and gardens, for years now various enterprises. The one I knew from when I first arrived in Suffolk was the Afganisthan and Iranian carpets and kilims.
Sotterly church was a spontaneous decision on the way back. What a glorious approach, over a style, beware of the cattle if you have dogs, into the estate landscape of ancient huge old oaks. And a very unusual and ancient Hornbeam, silver like an old man, so warped and wrinkled and twisted, the tell tail Hornbeam sinues exaggerated. Entering through a protective enclave of tall old Yews, we come to the church. The seat of the Soterleys, Playters, and latterly the home of the Barne family. The grand 17th century monument to Sir Thomas Playters and his two wives (handily both called Anne) and their ‘diverse’ children. Simon Knott: By Anne I he had two sons and two daughters, but Anne II bore him a jaw-dropping eighteen children. What makes the memorial so remarkable, though, is the way the 22 children are shown as weepers on the panel beneath. Instead of the usual uniform kneeling figures united in sorrow, each child is given its individual character – in short, they all look like different people, and are doing different things. Some kneel in formal prayer, but others are distracted; one turns round to chat to her sister, while others gaze out at the viewer.’
By chance we met Jo the horseman.
‘I know you’, he said. I’d commissioned him to use his horses to get the Elm out of the Park wood. But someone did it before he could. He’d been pruning the oaks on the estate for the next 100 years. The aim was for an oak stem of 17 clear meters, then it became a very valuable timber trunk.
We searched in the glooming for apples for sale, but found none. Tried scrumping in the Halesworth orchard, but found none. Pears, however, from my own pear trees back at base provided a perfect accompaniment to Rupert’s duck breasts for our last supper.