Tuesday, August 18, 2009

There Was a Crooked Man...

There was a crooked man and he walked a crooked mile
He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.

This was the nursery rhyme that ran through my head as we visited Ann today. You'll see why!

We took the tube to the Liverpool Street train station...the hustle and bustle of the morning rush.

The train ride was about 90 minutes in total with only one change, so it was pretty easy. At first we thought the train would be delayed, as there was a message indicating there had been an "intruder" on the tracks in Ipswich. We have a very quick change in Ipswich to Needham Market so missing that train would have really put a dent in our day with Ann. That's what happened last time and we ended up spending only a few hours with her. I was beginning to think our trips to see Ann were jinxed, but all went well and we were on our way.

Nice English countryside...

Ann met us at the station and after a quick stop at her house, we headed out to Lavenham with her and Arthur. Lavenham is west of Ipswich, and is an adorable medieval wool town. In Tudor times, it was said to be the 14th wealthiest town in England, even with its small size. It has beautiful timber-framed buildings and a stunning church.

And now you see why the rhyme popped into my head! Is this the most incredible thing? It's a little crooked town!
Most of these buildings are from the 15th century and the town never grew much due to the decline in the weaving market. So it pretty much looks today as it would have looked then.

Lovely old doors...

Ann laughed when I said "Oh look, milk delivery!" Not so common for us anymore...

Time to make the meat deliveries...

More crooked houses...

We went into a Teddy Bear shop....look at all the bears! They had a fine collection of Steiff bears.

We walked through the town checking out all the restaurants' menus and admiring all the houses.

Beautiful flowers...

And the most amazing crooked house of all...how does the window stay in this house???

Arthur, Ann and Jim....Ann is my father's first cousin and her mum is still alive. Ann's father was my grandfather's brother.

Ann had done a huge amount of work on the family tree and on this trip presented me with the date of my grandfather's death during the war and the cemetery he is buried in near Dieppe, France. That should be good for a trip to France!

At first I thought this said "Porky" Parlour, but Poky Parlour is just as cute!

Doorway leading into a courtyard. Look at the design embossed on the house...looks like tic-tac-toe.

This is the Guild Hall which was built by the Guild of Corpus Christi in the 1400s. It was one of three guilds in Lavenham founded to regulate the wool trade. The building had just been limewashed, something they do every five years to protect the wood from the elements. It will fade back to gray.

Can you imagine what the floors are like inside!

So while we are looking at houses, Jim is looking at cars. This is a Porsche Cayman S. He was impressed by it!

Followed by a Mercedes AMG S55 super-charged V8...awesome (I guess, if you know what you're looking at)!

Lots of quaint shops...

Good thing it looked like this shop was closed...

The Cock...a thatched-roof pub built on the same site as a pub by the same name which was demolished in 1950. The thatched roofs are so neatly done that you can hardly tell they are thatched. They put nets on them now to prolong the life of the roof.

Here we are enjoying beer and lemonade. This lemonade was more what we would know as Sprite.

A worn and weathered sign which shows the historical aspects of Lavenham. The middle shows a weaver and the bottom is a depiction of the Guild Hall.

The beautiful church...typically called "wool" churches as they were far too large and grand for their settings, but signified the success of the town. This is one of the last of the great Suffolk churches built around 1530, just before the Reformation hit England. They are now trying to find other uses for the church as it is far too big for the small town.

Another example of a fine thatched roof on the pink house...

A wonderful visit in Lavenham....from there we went back to Ann and Arthur's to chat and visit.

Both Ann and Arthur are wonderfully creative...Ann has knitted these tiny doll dresses using her own patterns. She hopes to put them in the dollhouse that Arthur made for her. For purposes of scale, the coin is a British pound, about the size of a Canadian nickel. Look at the size of the knitting needles and wool. It is more like thread!

Intricate patterns...

Ann and Arthur have a lovely sun room at the back of the house. They throw the French doors wide open and Arthur sits in his favourite chair and throws raisins and other goodies out the door to feed the birds. The birds have figured out where the raisins are, and if Arthur is napping, they just come in and help themselves!

Two of the doves who hang around...

Here we are at the Needham Market train station, ready to head out. It was a lovely day visiting and seeing Lavenham. Definitely a town we'll remember! Many thanks, Ann and Arthur!

Tomorrow we are off to see Stonehenge...

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