A Chicken called Ian

As our trusty band of hens are becoming ‘old ladies’ and rather intermittent layers, we decided that we’d introduce some new blood to the flock in the Spring.

Just as we were having that idea, Gillian learned of some hens that were in need of re-homing due to a marital split and we agreed to take a couple of them.

Meanwhile, we had also promised ourselves a pair of ‘Bluebells’ (a Rhode Island Red x Marans Coucou) as we’ve had one, who we called Bluey, in the past and were very sad to lose her.

Our plans were put back a little by the Storms we have been having recently, but this morning we set off to collect them.

Our first trip, this morning, was to get the ones that were requiring a new home. There were several on offer, but we chose a brown one, similar to a New Hampshire, and a Lavender Blue which the owner had named ‘Ian’ after the actor who played Private Pike in Dad’s Army who, by co-incidence, lives not that far away. We spent the journey home thinking of a suitable name for the maternal brown hen in the box with ‘Ian’ and decided upon ‘Mavis’ as that is Mrs Pike’s first name.

Ian and Mavis

After a quick coffee, it was back in the car to The Good, The Bad and the Hungry – an equestrian centre in Wingfield that also sells chickens and, more importantly, has a farm cafe that serves delicious lunches. Well replenished, we were shown to where the two point-of-lay chickens we had reserved were being kept. These will be called ‘Blue’ and ‘Belle’, with the latter being just recognisable as the one with the dark spots on a couple of her tail feathers.

Gillian holding Blue and Dawn with Belle

We have, for the time being, put the newcomers in a coop within the chicken run so that they can see and hear the resident flock but not actually intermingle with them just yet.

Blue and Belle in the holding coop

They were all fed within sight of each other but the ‘old girls’ showed very little interest in the new ones.

The ‘old girls’ showed very little interest in the newcomers

All flocks have a ‘pecking order’ and one will be established once they are introduced. We will do this at night time, when they are docile, and then they will wake up together. We have an idea who will be ‘top hen’ and roughly the order thereafter – but it will be interesting to find out if we were right!

We Plough the Fields

After quite a few days of grey skies, rain and strong winds it was a great delight to wake up this morning and look out to see the brightness of the sunshine over the Waveney Valley.

The field directly behind us has already been harvested, cultivated and drilled with next year’s crop but in the one beyond that sugar beet have been steadily growing and today is the day that they are being lifted.

There have been distant rumblings coming from the farmyard up the road for the last couple of days as beet from other fields has been loaded into the lorries to be taken to the British Sugar factory at Bury St Edmunds and today is this field’s turn.

Ploughing the field

Such is the speed of modern agriculture that there are four machines working at once – one lifting the beet, one bringing the trailer into which it is loaded on the move, one ploughing the field once the beet has been lifted and one drilling next year’s crop!

Lifting the beet, loading the trailer and drilling the next crop

It’s fascinating to watch, especially from the warmth of our ground-source fed, underfloor heated, house as the temperature out there, despite the sunlight, is a chilly 6 degrees!

Young Fledglings

Over the past few weeks we have been watching a lot of birds going to and fro with mouthfuls of grubs and seeds as their offspring have hatched.

We have a number of nest boxes of differing designs in various locations around the garden, designed to appeal to such birds as Robins, Sparrows, Wrens, Blue tits and Owls.

The Tawny Owls that nested in a box intended for Little Owls last year did not return this time, but we have heard them in the nearby Orchard, so we know they have found somewhere they like.

The ‘Letterbox’ nest box is always a firm favourite with Blue tits and it has been a great delight to once again see their large family fledge from there and congregate on the nut feeder just outside our Sitting room window.

Several pairs of Blackbirds have been bringing their young to the bird feeder just outside the Guest’s Dining Room and we’ve been pleased to see that our resident Robins, Thrushes, Green Finches, Goldfinches and Wagtails have also all raised families as have the Green Woodpeckers who often visit us from the Orchard. Last week a youngster came to the bird feeder just outside the kitchen door and fed confidently by itself, but reverted to being a ‘begging chick’ as soon as the parent bird joined it!

The young Green Woodpecker is joined by its parent
And is soon begging for food, as it did in the nest……..
…… a ruse which works well!

Every so often, a pair of Jays also visit the bird feeder – they are beautiful birds when seen close up and we hope they are breeding, too.

There are a pair of Cuckoos around but we haven’t, as yet, seen any of their young being dutifully fed by their surrogate parents.

The Buzzards continue to soar, lazily, on the thermals over the field behind Inglewood House – they don’t come into the garden or the Orchard, so the smaller birds know they have a haven in which to live. Our two ‘adoptive’ cats seem not to bother them too much, either – they look at anything that moves and the younger one sometimes makes play pounces in the direction of a pigeon (which would be far too big for him to deal with!) but, in general, they seem content to be fed by us rather than have to stalk their own prey.



We are most fortunate to have some Bee Orchids growing ‘wild’ in our grass. Three years ago there were two, near the bottom of the garden – where they came from is anyone’s guess.

The first Bee Orchid of the year

They obviously like it here, though – they have spread as their seed has blown up the garden and even into the front garden and the grass verge near the road. We have ten plants this year.

We have ten of these plants, each of which will have three blooms

So called because the flower resembles a bee as it searches for pollen, it was somewhat ironic when we also had a swarm of ‘real’ bees arrive at the end of last month looking for somewhere to set up home.

Swarming Bees looking for a new home

They took a liking to one of the nest boxes which we had built into the gable end of the house when it was extended, intended for Swifts. By coincidence we’d seen some ‘scout’ bees investigating the entrance a few days beforehand but had thought nothing of it. We knew when the swarm had arrived, though, as the humming noise was louder than I can describe – and all at the same pitch!

The sky darkened as more and more bees arrived……..
The chosen Nest hole

We contacted the Norfolk Bee Keepers and, as luck would have it, one of their members lives in Bressingham. He duly arrived with his Bee Keeper’s clothing and a wooden box about twice as tall as a Shoe box, in which there was a small hole at the base of one of the sides. In a simple action he opened the nest box trap door in the roof and scooped the mass of bees into it in much the same way I imagine a Bear would do when trying to find some tasty honey to eat. His plan was that, as long as he had taken the Queen in with all the other bees and the old nesting material that was still in the nest box, the other bees would fly through the open trap door and join her in the box.

Having left it for a few hours, he returned and taped up the hole in the box whilst also closing the trap door and blocking the outer hole in the wall. He explained that there would be a few ‘late arrivals’ who would find their way barred but that they would give up after a day or so. That is, indeed, what happened and we’ve not heard any buzzing since.

Meanwhile the bees are happily settling into one of his hives in School Road. As it is only about a mile away, there was the chance that they might fly from there to a feeding location in this direction, realise where they were and follow their noses back to their old home. He thought it unlikely, though, as they’d not been here long enough to establish such routes and it seems he was right.

Alongside the home-made jams, we serve honey at the Breakfast table – the current pot is from a hive in Hall Road but, when it is exhausted, we will have some of School Road’s finest and know that the bees that made it had previously chosen to live with us.

Heritage Steam Gala at Bressingham Steam & Gardens

Bressingham Steam & Gardens, which is about a mile from Inglewood House, holds a Heritage Steam Gala each Spring in which the resident Traction Engines & Road Rollers and standard & narrow gauge Railway Engines are joined by several visiting engines – one of which, this year, is from the Bala Lake Railway in North Wales.

Named ‘Winifred’, she was built by Hunslet of Leeds in 1885 for the Penrhyn Slate Quarry.

We are delighted to be hosting Winifred’s driver and his wife and were even more delighted to be able to visit them at the Museum today.

This evening there will be a cavalcade of Traction Engines into Diss, where the drivers and their ‘crew’ will enjoy a Fish & Chip supper – I hope the other road users aren’t in too much of a hurry!

Happy Easter!

HWhat a glorious Easter Sunday has greeted us, this morning!

The temperature is set to be in the mid-20’s C and the sky is a uniform clear blue.

There is hardly any wind, so all seems ‘calm and peaceful’ with the World.

The Chickens have informed us, in their usual cheery, clucky, way that they have laid tomorrow morning’s eggs, the Cherry trees have burst-forth with their blossom.

The pink Cherry Tree outside the Purple Bedroom’s window
The White Cherry Tree outside the Cream Bedroom’s window

The Marsh marigolds around the pond are in full bloom and the Oil Seed Rape in the field at the bottom of the garden suddenly also became bright yellow, overnight, a few days ago in the way that only it can.

Marsh Marigolds around the Pond and Oil Seed Rape in the field adding a splash of yellow!

This morning’s breakfasts are served and cleared away and now there is a brief lull before we welcome the extended family for an Easter Lunch. I wonder whether the Easter Bunny has been yet?

Frog Spawn!

The weather may still be very changeable, and the wind has been howling for several days, but the local frogs must certainly think it’s Spring, if the Frog Spawn that we spotted in the Pond this morning, is anything to go by!

The newly-laid Frog Spawn
A surprise this morning was to find some Frog Spawn in the pond

Looking Forward

'Lady-bird like' Conifer Cones
‘Lady-bird like’ Conifer Cones

After the very short attempt at ‘Winter’, the sun is shining and it’s feeling very Spring-like. The tall conifer is absolutely covered in little red ‘lady-bird like’ cones and the pigeons are adoring the blossom on the Mirabelle Plum tree.

A happy pigeon in the Mirabelle Plum tree
A happy pigeon in the Mirabelle Plum tree

Looking forward, many of the local attractions have started announcing their ‘Special events’ dates.

The Heritage Steam Gala being held over the early Bank Holiday at Bressingham Steam Gardens has really caught our interest as there will be a multitude of visiting engines (both on the Rails and Traction Engines & Steam Rollers) and Fire Engines, too! As we are only about 5 minutes away, we’ll be able to see the smoke and hear the whistles from the garden – a real appetite whetter!

Among the various other Narrow Gauge Railway days they also hold, there is a Steam Punk Weekend in early July, a Fire Engine Rally on 27th & 28th July and a Rover Car Rally on 26th May.  See: www.bressingham.co.uk/events.aspx

Further to this, Snetterton holds Classic & Touring Car Championships throughout the year and a 24 hour Citroen 2CV Endurance Race in August.

As Classic Car owners ourselves, we appreciate the value of ‘off road’ and ‘out of sight’ parking to owners who are travelling to exhibit or participate in local events. We very are pleased to be able to offer this and meet so many interesting people!

Whether you have a Classic Vehicle, an interest in Steam or are just looking for an excuse to visit South Norfolk or Breckland, we look forward to welcoming you to Inglewood House.

The Tall Conifer by the pond
The Tall Conifer by the pond

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas……….

Well, it certainly is beginning to feel like it should be Christmas, soon!

The Fieldfares have arrived – always a sure sign that the colder weather is on the way. They have been loving the winter berries and seem to suddenly darken the sky as they fly in great numbers from tree to tree.

Some of the Fieldfares that stayed still long enough to be photographed

The lights are up and twinkling in the nearby Market Town of Diss and also Norwich, our County Town; Carols were being played during the St Nicholas Christmas Fair staged by the various crafters in the Diss Heritage Triangle last weekend and Gillian has been busy making a Wreath for our front door.

Gillian makes a Wreath for the Front Door every year

The hens are not enjoying the cold wind so much – we have been down to just 2 eggs per day, recently – but Bertie the Black Cat who adopted us just over a year ago, choosing to live in a basket just outside our back door (we’ve tried inviting him in, but he prefers the outside), really appreciates the Pet’s Pad we heat for him each night in the microwave.

Bertie the Black Cat

We wish a Very Merry Christmas to all our guests and also to those whom we will be welcoming to Inglewood House in the coming year.

Bertie the Black Cat

Bertie the, once very timid, black feral cat who adopted us last November has, over the intervening months, become very human-tolerating and has taken to following us around the garden with a “what you doin’?” type expression on his face.

Bertie in a box
Bertie in a box

He also loves sitting any box he can find,

Bertie in a smaller box
Bertie in a smaller box

so it was little surprise to find him guarding the up-turned brassica cage this afternoon!

Bertie in the brassica cage
Bertie in the brassica cage