So it is a couple of weeks since my last post, and I’ve continued to weed the garden, every day until a couple of days ago when it started to rain. Much needed but disappointing that I didn’t quite finish weeding and tidying the final border in the back garden – well only just started it actually. As you can see the garden is looking fairly OK now. Still have the front borders to do as well.

Fishpond with pole growing well!!
The Gnome seems happy!
Just a weeded Border.

Additionally a couple of objects for the garden have been put together. A Bed Bed for Valerie and a cover for the carrots to stop the carrot root fly. Here is the Bed Bed, the carrot cover is too boring to photograph. The Bed Bed has now had a liner and soil put in and seeds planted. Let’s see how well it grows.

Bed Bed

Sadly one of the hens has passed away so only five are left now, and they are old so not laying much. Three (or four) new hens have been ordered from Katie at Rectory Farm in Thurston. and these will be collected in early June, hopefully.

Peas are coming up nicely in the gutters in which we start them off and will be ready to go out next week some time. Sweetcorn, Runner Beans, Courgettes, Marrows and Squashes will be set in the next few days. Yes, later than most people but it works in our garden.

Our daily walks are taking us to places where we have never been in the 26+ years we have lived here. Hundred Lane is a really good walk although we have only walked part of it so far. It is close to where East and West Suffolk meet and this is the bridge across the border, and an Oak Tree from another walk because I like taking photos of old Oak Trees.

Where East meets West – Suffolk
Oak Tree in Hantons Lane, Gt. Ashfield

Interestingly this morning, we saw a family taking a goose for a walk. Yes, a goose. They weren’t talkative so we couldn’t ask about it or take a photo. Social distancing at its best! Reminded me of the old paintings of flocks of geese etc. being driven to market.

Finally, as I’ve probably bored you enough, here is an Aquilegia flower for all our wonderful NHS people and everyone else helping to keep the country running.

Aquilegia Flower

And finally, finally here is a Spitfire to wish Captain/Colonel Tom a very happy 100th birthday.

Grace Spitfire ML407, Felixstowe, Suffolk – 4th August 2013

Settling Down

So the Easter “break” is over and we hope everyone found ways to enjoy themselves at home and all are safe and well. Our virtual Easter Eggstravangaza went rather well on Saturday I thought. It was good to be able to see friends in New Zealand as well as more local friends and family though the wonders of Zoom.

I guess everyone will now start to settle into the routine of our new, and hopefully temporary, “normal” as it seems it will be like this for the next few weeks. Locally everyone still seems to be adhering to the new rules on social distancing and being very polite, although I do find that some Lycra-clad cyclists with racing bikes seem to think they own the road and social-distancing is not for them.

I amused myself on my early Sunday morning run/jog by running along the white lines in the middle of the road through Walsham-le-Willows to see how far I could get before seeing a car. Managed about three quarters of the way through the village before a car or two came along. Can’t think where they were going that early on Easter Sunday morning – churches and shops closed, and I guess pharmacies too. I hope they were NHS, Carer or other key workers.

I do find it rather odd that a lot of people seem to be having difficulty staying at home. I have great sympathy for those living in flats or apartments who are not able to get out at all, and those self-isolating for 12 weeks without being able to leave home, but when we were young we didn’t go out much. A week (sometimes two) in August to Sheringham staying with various Aunts was our only holiday of the year. We might have the occasional Sunday bus jaunt to an Aunt and Uncle but never more than about 10- 15 miles from home. Very occasionally we might go on the bus into the fine city of Norwich – a monumental 12 miles away. The rest of the time we were in the house or garden or around our home town of Aylsham. Of course, the current rules are more restrictive, but they will only be temporary.

The largest border in the garden has now been thoroughly weeded and most of the Ground Elder and Celandine removed as you will see from the picture. This was done over a number of days because of the heat, then the cold! Broad Beans have also been set out in the garden as you can see. Three rows of Carrots have also gone in.

Large Border, Hopbines Garden
Broad Beans, Hopbines Garden

Daily walks continue and new routes are under consideration. Here are a couple of photos from last week on a warm and sunny morning just 15 minutes walk from home.

Wood, Gt. Ashfield/Daisy Green
Blackthorn Blossom, Daisy Green

Will post again soon.

Strange Times at Hopbines

So here we are just coming to the end of the first week of restrictions on our movements in the fight against Corvid-19. The NHS and other essential services are doing a magnificent job of organising the country so that the virus can be fought, and everyone should be extremely grateful to them. It is sad that a small minority are unable to understand the seriousness and enormity of the situation and not doing what is required. Whatever our opinions of those in government and major national organisations, this is the time to, support them not to oppose them. Nobody knows what the right thing to do is as we have never been in this situation before and going on the best medical and scientific advice seems the best way forward to me. We are fortunate that we live in times where there is excellent communication and medicine and science are sufficiently far advanced to at least give a chance of finding a cure in a reasonable timespan. Previous generations would have not had such help and advice.

So, you may be asking, or not, as the case may be why the blog hasn’t been updated recently. Well, despite being unable to go out because of the restrictions it has been an extremely busy time in the garden. The new vegetable beds weren’t ready for the spring as planned because we had such a wet winter. The autumn garden weed didn’t happen because of the wet weather too so there is much catching up to do. Also, of course, organising food has taken up more hours than it ever has before.

Some close family members are in the extremely vulnerable category, so time has been spent making sure they are OK and chatting to them. Who would have thought that Mother’s Day would be via a Zoom conference!!

I guess that everything will start to settle down into a new
routine this coming week. Not perhaps a very pleasant one particularly for
those cooped up in their houses but we will try to keep them cheerful and

I’m sure you would be disappointed if I didn’t display the annual daffodil photos so here they are, together with early progress on some new vegetable bed enclosures.

The plan is to bore you all with regular garden updates of
what has been sown and how things are progressing. There will be some photos of
the garden as we go. Obviously, there will be no trips out so everything will
be garden or local area based as I often take my camera on our daily exercise
trips. We are so fortunate living in the countryside as have some lovely walks
and we come across only a few people when we are out, and they are mostly in
the distance.

So, that will do for now and I will write again soon.

It’s been a funny week!

A visit to Anglesey Abbey last week to see this year’s snowdrop display was very pleasant. The snowdrops didn’t seem to be as prolific this year. Maybe it is just that we have got used to seeing them as we go most years. However the sun shone most of the day and here are a couple of photos.

Snowdrops, Anglesey Abbey NT
Winter Garden, Anglesey Abbey NT

Then we had Storm Ciara so nothing was done in the garden for a few days. Not much damage done just the carrot frame broken to pieces and the large gnome flat on its face! Now we have Storm Dennis, so again not gardening weather. So looking forward to getting back to the garden and being able to show you some garden photos. In the meantime here is a Pitcher plant flower. You may have seen it on FB but I quite like it so here it is again.

Sarracenia, Pitcher Plant,

It was cold at Lackford Lakes.

This post was originally published on January 22, 2020.

So, after an exciting trip to the hospital for the annual CT scan on 21st January, we went to Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s nature reserve at Lackford Lakes for coffee and cake. Parts of the lakes were still frozen, but we still saw 31 different bird species. Photography was difficult because the light was not great most of the time, and the Kingfisher insisted on sitting in the bushes. Here are a few photos from later in the day when the sun did break through.

Lackford Lakes 21/01/2020
Lackford Lakes 21/01/2020
Lackford Lakes 21/01/2020

Visual Composer Abandoned – For Now

Having created some nice blogs with Visual Composer we discovered that Blog posts which were either created or edited with this programme couldn’t be seen by much of the big wide world either properly or at all. So the blog will just be written with WordPress functionality, at least in the short-term. Most of the Blog posts which used Visual Composer have been deleted.

Saturday 11th January 2020

We haven’t been far in January so far but have been busy at home. A calendar contain 12 of our favourite photos from 2019 has been prepared and printed by Photobox and looks good hanging in the kitchen.

Just so I can see what it looks like here is a photo from a visit to the fine city of Norwich just before Christmas. It is the (now) annual Tunnel of Light.

Busy Times in 2019 and before

The posts below are from previous iterations of the Hopbines website and Blog. They are “Old news” but certainly not “Fake News”.

I’m painting my garden fence!

Last week was half-term and, in theory, a break from the day-to-day of life. Not if you are retired though! Half-term and other school holidays should be meaningless when you retire. Do nothing, relax, enjoy yourself, chill everyone tells you! What a waste of a life that would be. Funny word “retirement”. A meaning is “to withdraw from having an active working life”. So, by implication, it means “don’t work”. Now “work” is another funny word. One definition is ” an activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result”. So, getting out of bed, going downstairs and making a cup of tea qualifies as “work” but if being “retired” means withdrawing from active working then everyone who is retired should just sit back and be waited on “hand and foot”. As if that is going to happen! I’m going to carry on working.

I’m painting my garden fence!

So what do these ramblings have to do with being busy. Well, last week we had a great Table Tennis coaching session at Rougham TTC with three of us coaching nine juniors for the day. Everyone seemed to enjoy it and there was some good banter. On the Thursday evening I went to a workshop on Developing a Business Plan for Table Tennis Clubs which was very ably tutored by Simon with help from Claire and Jenny from Table Tennis England. OK, I had done SWOT analysis and most of the other techniques in a previous life. What it did do was concentrate minds on how to develop a Club . Perhaps I should mention here that I’m heavily involved in running the Bury St. Edmunds Table Tennis Club and have been for 20 years since we started it. I feel another “five-year plan” is about to take shape!

I’m painting my garden fence!

On Friday we went to the fine city of Norwich to the Norfolk Makers Festival in the Forum. It was a really good day and, although Valerie was much more interested in the crafts on offer on the day than I it was fun to make a chicken out of wire and then it it photo-shopped to the top on Norwich cathedral. Thank you Jose from El Salavdor, one of the undergraduates from the Norwich University of the Arts at their exhibition table. Must improve my Photoshop skills so I can do this sort of stuff.

A wire Chicken!

Did I mention that I’m painting one of the garden fences. I’ts only about 130 feet long and with both sides that’s 260 feet. I may be there some time!

Oh look! The garden fence! Well part of it!

That’s it for now. See you next time.

Decision Made & Good News

Having had a look at some other Website providers we decided to stick with as it is fairly easy to use and seems reliable – and it’s quite cheap! So , once the upgrade is sorted, the Galleries can be organised.

It’s odd how ones view of “Good News” changes over the years. For me, in my schooldays, “Good News” was when Voco, our Latin Master, wasn’t in school and I didn’t have to suffer another 45 minutes of a language I didn’t ever understand properly. What it did teach me though was a good understanding of where many English words were derived from and help with their meanings. I do remember having to quote:

“A, ab, absque, coram, de,
Palam, clam, cum, ex and e,
Sine, tenus, pro and prae
Add super, subter, sub and in
When rest not motion ’tis they mean.

Then these all take the Ablative”

Even after having looked up “Ablative” I still don’t really understand what it means. Hey ho, never mind, haven’t needed it since I left school so probably won’t now!!

Anyway what I was going to says is that Good News over the weekend was that I don’t have to have any more CT scans until 2020 as everything is OK now and I’m fit again. That’s good as I will be able to confidently get back to everything I have always done in life. Bit different from missing a Latin lesson!! Puts stuff into perspective.

You may be wondering, as I am, how I linked cancer with Latin. Really weird brain!!

Blog photos today come from Anglesey Abbey, a National Trust property in Cambridgeshire. Taken on Friday 15th February 2019.

047717 Himalayan Birch, Anglesey Abbey NT, Cambridgeshire
047709 Winter Garden, Anglesey Abbey NT, Cambridgeshire
047765 Bottisham Lode & Lode Mill, Anglesey Abbey NT, Cambridgeshire
047747 Snowdrops & Aconites, Anglesey Abbey NT, Cambridgeshire.


A dictionary definition of Communication is “the imparting or exchanging of information or news”. My highlighting of “exchanging”. I can write this Blog and happily do so not knowing if a singe person or a crowd will read it. That doesn’t matter but, if you do read it, then, at some point please let me know you have and have your say. There is a comments box below – I hope! Seems like you have to click the heading to get the comments box. Will try to sort this out!  You can also see this in Facebook by clicking the “f” symbol on the website and reading it there. Twitter doesn’t work yet.

Here is the random photo for this Blog entry!

046833 Flower Border, RHS Hyde Hall, Chelmsford, Essex

Decision Time!

Back in a minute – have to put the hens to bed as it is getting dark.

Right here we are again.

So, I’ve used up the 5 free pages from already, and now have to decide whether to buy the Premium offer or find another Website host. Research is needed so there may be a hiatus for a little while before any more photos are added to the Gallery. The Blog will continue though as it is provided by WordPress.

Here is a picture of an Oak tree.

047691 Oak Tree near Badwell Green, Suffolk

2019 Another New Beginning!

Well, here we are in 2019.  What happened after your enthusiastic Blog start to 2017, I hear you ask.  You know how it is! Other stuff comes along, and you decide is more fun, or more important than writing a Blog which, realistically, very few people will read or even be interested in.

So why bother to start again? I suppose after a pretty torrid 2018, when health issues within the family become potentially life-threatening, it just seems a good idea (to me anyway) to write down some of the things that have happened during my lifetime so, if  future generations are even vaguely interested, then there is something  for them to read about from the late 20th and into the 21st century.  No doubt I will ramble on a lot and it certainly won’t be in chronological order, and I will try to use lots of long words, many exclamation marks and the written English construction may not always be correct, and you will have to decide whether to read on …or not. Of course random photos may also appear! Please be aware that all photographs in this Blog are my Copyright and may not be used without my permission unless otherwise stated.

For anyone who has read the 2017 posts, the 365-day photo project was completed as was the list of all the house and garden projects and they are progressing well albeit slowly.

Nuthatch on the Stump at Lackford
Lakes SWT with a Robin Photo bombing

February 4, 2019Leave a commentEdit”2019 Another New Beginning!”

2017 The story so far!

January has been very cold so far.  In fact it is so cold today, 26th, that I have resorted to looking to see how this WordPress Blog works!!

So we have been to Felixstowe and been very fortunate to have great light during the day and then a brilliant sunset.In fact, there have been a good number of excellent sunrises and sunsets this month.


……..and of course there were container ships.


Yet another challenge has been set: to take a photo every day for the 365 days of the year.  So far 26 have been taken – well, actually a lot more than 26!! So here is a random one from 4th January.


Decided to write a list of all the things we would like to do to the house and garden.  Then decided to take photos of every area, print them and stick them on paper so I can write notes against each one.

Have just started decorating the hall, stairs and landing Yesterday I organised a new shelving system for the “Coat” cupboard.  Of course I didn’t buy anything for this!! There was plenty of shelving stuff in the garage and with a bit of “cutting and pasting” of some old shelves a new system was built.  Wall and paintwork in the cupboard completed today. Now we have to decide on colour and carpets for the main bits.

Other highlights of the month were James’ 7th birthday party – tobogganing at the Ipswich Ski Slope and a marathon baby sit last Sunday/Monday which ended with only 2 hours sleep on Sunday night!!

We have also met up with friends and had a lovely time with them.

Well, think I’ll publish this as I haven’t a clue if anyone will actually see it!!Jou are following this blog