First, knitting. In Sudbury, a little Suffolk market town about ten miles north of here, are several working silk mills. Stephen Walters, a firm with historic origins in Spitalfields, has a mill shop, and I find myself drawn to it as a moth to a candle. They weave silk to commission: their Christmas display, which was being assembled, featured fabulous brocade with rich metallic threads. "Altar-cloth, woven for a customer who sells vestments," I was told.
I try to resist the bags of patchwork pieces, since I have a few at home already. But I am powerless when it comes to linen thread on cone - four cones for a pound, admittedly only small quantities of each. The swatch on a size twelve needle suggests that lace, possibly of the table-centre variety, will suit the blond cones. but what of the lovely subtle green, or the denim blue?
On Sunday, to Marks Hall, an arboretum just a mile or so north of our village. This has a curious history: Early in the twentieth century, Thomas Price, owner of the estate wrote to Kew gardens asking for advice on how best to preserve the timber on the estste.
He was an older man married to a younger wife, and clearly could not have foreseen that the mansion itself, in the Strawberry Hill Gothic style, would not long survive its use an airbase during the Second World War. His wife did not die until the sixties but it was decades before the Trust developed the estate into this fascinating and beautiful arboretum, with collections from different parts of the world.
In the distance, you can see clusters of mistletoe hanging in the tallest trees.
Finally: another example of my husband's handiwork. This was a birthday present from the mid-80s. The frame is mahogany, but the drawer fronts feature burr elm veneer, and a very rich colour it is too.