Friday, December 16, 2011

An Ipswich arts centre for live music? Nah...

My well-established gripe is that original live music provision in Ipswich is always overlooked when this town gets money for arts development.  I know the reason is that bands are like little self-contained islands, in that they don't naturally work together to get things done for the collective good.  Bands are very friendly and helpful with each other, and mutual support within the Ipswich music scene is the crucial glue that binds it together, but bands have always lacked the consistent 'one voice' approach to the curators of cash that organisations like (for example) the Ipswich hospital band can present.

So what's the answer?  Well we need either a dedicated soul who will co-ordinate all us loser-musicians (possible I guess), or we need someone at the council with enough vision and passion to take one the task of setting up something along the lines of Norwich or Colchester Arts Centre, but sadly I don't think that's going to happen.  It's harsh truth, but one that must be acknowledged that lack of public money has always held back musicians in Ipswich.  There are some GREAT pubs to play in here in Ipswich, but commercial pressures can sometimes be an unhelpful influence (and just plain daunting) to anyone wishing to break out of the practise room and into the live music arena.

The Big Rig
Suffolk PA Hire company Universal PA proved the need for a Arts Centre sized venue
in Ipswich by putting on The Stiff Little Fingers at the (now defunct)
Ipswich Caribbean Association, the event sold out quickly.

You may wonder I'm talking in terms of public money instead of private, and the reason is that alarmingly setting up the mid-size live music venue (like Norwich or Colchester Arts Centre) that Ipswich desperately needs is unlikely (at first) to be a profitable venture.  Good arts funding isn't about making a buck, it's about inspiring and facilitating something admittedly intangible but unquestionably positive for a very large group of people.

So while projects like the recently announced Ipswich arts 'hub' are an outstandingly positive move forward for Ipswich arts, I don't think anyone playing original music should get too excited just yet.  But hey, if you want to be the person who takes on the challenge of setting up an Arts centre style venue then I'll do everything I can to help you, in fact I think if someone were brave enough to stand up and be a figurehead for this campaign then he or she would be pleasantly surprised when they looked over their shoulder and saw just how many people were stood behind them backing them up.

There is now an 'Ipswich Arts Centre' website which has been created to discuss this idea

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Against Me + Crazy Arm @ Norwich Arts Centre 21/11/11

Written for Lights Go out zine

Vicky from Crazy Arm lends Against Me! a hand.

Against Me! have gone through a lot of stylistic and directional changes over the years, and each time I've seen them the joyful passion they exude on stage gets more intense, but bands can't stay on top forever can they?  Can they?  Read on...

We missed the first band on due to the fact the modern marvel that is the cash machine is yet to grace the streets of Norwich, not that we could see anyhow, but then we are but simple folk from the rural village of Ipswich dazzled by the bright lights of a big city (as the lovely Pete 'Mild' Peril pointed out).

Crazy Arm were not at all what we were expecting - normally we enjoy punk rock tinged with Country about as much as ice cream tinged with dog toffee - but Crazy Arm played with all the intensity of power-sander dentistry, and packed a punch like a nuclear powered erm (bear with me while I look around my desk for inspiration) stapler. Okay, I guess that analogy doesn't work, but Crazy Arm were the perfect kissing cousins to Against Me (quite literally, as Tom Gabel was later to disclose from the stage).

Against Me! frontman @TommyGabel drew a single breath to introduce the band then they pounded through an extremely eclectic set of very old, not so old and brand new material.  I've seen this band a bunch of times but never somewhere as small as Nickers. Off. Ready. When. I. Come. Home. Arts Centre and the power blasting from the stage was almost a little overwhelming at times. Almost.  There a lot of young kids in the audience which is heartening, because Against Me are a band that just keep getting better and better.

The highlight of the set for me was when Vicky from Crazy Arm joined the band on stage for a spine shattering version of 'Bourne on the FM waves of the heart' - a song I never thought I'd get to see live.

I passionately love a lot of bands, but for me Against Me are a level higher - they're a band I wish I was in.

Too soon it was over and we headed back to Ipswich, a town where they now turn the lights off at midnight.

Andrew Culture

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Ugly Truth About Ipswich

The Ugly Truth About Ipswich is a compilation album that my record label (CornDog Records) put out in conjunction with local heroes Antigen Records. I raised the money for this album with a LOT of help from fellow ZEEBer Graham Mann - we organised a ton of gigs and a hilarious inter-band football tournament (a nod also needs to be given to Marc Newby/ Aflightoremember who also organised a fundraiser all-dayer) and then when the considerable amount of money required to put out an album properly was sat in the pot we did nothing...

...Noting for a few years anyway, because we realised there was a whole load of licencing issues involved in putting an album that would cover the last thirty years of Ipswich music. That’s when Jason and Roki of Antigen Records politely tapped us on the shoulder and offered to do all the complex stuff we’re crap at.

So here is, and for just £1 you can buy a copy of The Ugly Truth About Ipswich in most good shops or direct from Antigen records.

The ugly details...
antigen 41 / Corn 017 Various Artists - The Ugly Truth About Ipswich

Release date: 23/4/11
Format: double CD
Edition: 1000
Duration: 2:33:50

Track listing: CD A
1.Nik Kershaw - All About You
2.elephant - Kick
3.Henry Homesweet - Toaster
4.The Waxing Captors - Bringing the Beatles Back to Hamburg
5.Versions - Seven
6.Ideals - Love Song
7.Life & Times Of - Ballet
8.Jack Rundell - You Treat Me Like a Businessman
9.The B. Goodes - Sleep So Soundly
10.Rosalita - Manga Girl
11.Underline The Sky - Katie
12.Charlie Brown - Hooray For Snakes
13.Violent Playground - Paranoia
14.Bring Back Her Head - Magpie
15.Hex Minora - Engine of Correction
16.Earth Mother Fucker - I Fuck Therefore I Am
17.Pindown - Flea Circus
18.Tender Lugers - Junkie Fag Hag
19.Jah Warriors - Bad Vibes
20.BangStick - I Got Nothing
21.These Are End Times - End Times (We Are All Condemned)

Track listing: CD 1
1.The Adicts - Songs of Praise
2.Extreme Noise Terror - Religion is Fear
3.Optimum Wound Profile - Pure Love
4.The Stupids - Drumshop Arsehole
5.Anihilated - A Cruel Twist of Fate
6.Raw Noise - Bronson
7.Blacktop Harrison - 37 Thoughts
8.Zeeb? - Amoeba Man
9.Red Flag 77 - Hard Men
10.Chocolate - Customer
11.Big Ray - Duckpin
12.Elmerhassel - Almost At One
13.Panorama In Black - City of Dreams
14.As Is - Love is Here
15.Bleach - Burn
16.Lovejunk - Inside Out
17.Perfect Daze - Bubblegum
18.Junk Culture - Keep Smiling
19.WhiteSlug - Corned Beef Sex Monster
20.Big In Albania - Shewolves Ov London
21.Cats Against The Bomb - Nerys Hughes Vs The Time Tunnel
22.Danger's Close - Denial
23.Space Maggots - You Drag Me Down
24.The Ballistics - Long Time Dead

Ugly Truth About Ipswich Links
Buy a copy from Antigen Records...
Ugly Truth About Ipswich Facebook page...

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Beat Motel #9 in Zine World #29

Apparently issue #9 of my zine Beat Motel is reviewed in two concurrent issues of Zine World! See the previous post to this one for the other review.

Beat Motel #9 review in Zine World #28

Here's a nice review of issue #9 of my zine 'Beat Motel' that I have just found in the awesome 'Zine World #28'.  Huge thanks to Stephanos of for sending it over.
P.s it's not clip art, it's scans from very old magazines.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Buying beer in New England

This is an excerpt from an American travelogue Sam Page and I wrote a few years ago, I posted this for the reading pleasure of Stephanos a.k.a. 'Beers I have known blog'.

...Jim took us to his favourite off-licence/ liquor store. Sam and I were agog at the sheer size of this place; it was bigger than most wholesale warehouses I’ve seen. Jim was keen to show us the microbrewery isle. Calling it an isle just doesn’t do it justice, it was more like a small continent of ale, there are principalities in Europe smaller than this isle. Sam and I slowly made our way down the row studying every beer with a similar demeanour employed by folk slowly wandering through fine art galleries.

Just who is driving here?
Left to right is me, Sam Page and  our host Jim Reily
(I'm pretty sure Jim should have been holding a steering wheel, but...)

Each beer was only given a few bottles width of space on each shelf, and the racking was five or six shelves high, I have never seen so much beer in all my life, let alone real ale! One of Sam’s favourites came from the Frank Zappa brewery, and had the cover of ‘We're Only in It for the Money’ on the label.

We could have spent hours in that store, but as we only had a little while before we needed to pick Drew up we grabbed some half gallon flagons of milk stout and headed for the checkouts. On the way out I was stunned to see some St.Peters beers, they’re (made just a few miles from my house in Suffolk).

As I walked up the second isle of ale I was astounded to see countless more beers from England, mind you, they weren’t cheap ($20 for six bottles of Stella Artois my arse). While I was amazed to see more English beers than I’d ever seen in England my mind boggled at the logistics, let alone the food miles.

In the same way that I always look for my own band’s CDs in record shops, no trip to an off-licence is complete without checking out what single malts are in stock. Sure enough they had all my favourites, but oh my - they were expensive; with the odd exception of Bowmore, which worked out at just ten pounds a bottle. I rushed like a child to tell Sam of my discovery and had a short but enthusiastic chat about whisky with him before my eye was caught by an entire isle of vodka. I’m not a fan of vodka - in fact it’s probably the quickest way to empty my body of all bile in a most uncivil way - but I am a fan of gawping at obscure alcohol.

As I stumbled along the rows staring slack jawed at the pretty labels I suddenly became aware of the fact I was being followed. With the amount of childish running around that I had been doing I entirely expected the two large blurry objects in my peripheral vision to be security guards. I moved to the next isle. Each time I shuffled forward I heard the sound of stiff soles on plastic flooring echoing my own footsteps. I decided to face the music and casually turned round. I tried to look relaxed enough not to give off an air of guilt, but also so that I could try and feign some sort of innocent surprise when I got my collar felt. It’s very confusing being middle class, if you’ve ever felt guilty for no reason while being followed by a police car you’ll know exactly what I mean. Much to my surprise my stalkers were a middle aged couple who look more surprised than I when I turned to them. After a slightly awkward pause the man lent forward slightly and said in a low and quiet voice,

“The whisky is back over on the row by the doors.”

I guess he had heard me chatting with Sam and assumed I couldn’t find the whisky. I thanked him earnestly, and walked to the tills. This couple summed up the feeling I got from most people in New England - everyone is quite happy to give their neighbours the space to go about their business without interference, but are more than willing to gently help out if they think you are wanting for something. It’s a very endearing way to be. This couple will never know that they were the first piece of what developed into a great jigsaw puzzle of affection I feel for New England.

Entering Mass

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Lost in words - a Beat Motel special edition

Cover illustration by Mr. Millerchip
The glorious 'Sticky Institute' (a.k.a. Sticky Distro) in Australia put out a call to zinesters they have stocked asking them to make a special edition zine to raise some cash to keep their doors open.  There really is nothing like Sticky in the UK (certainly not that I know of) so by my reckoning it ought to be supported by anyone who has ever read or created a zine.  Although my zine Beat Motel hasn't done much recently I decided to flog its good name for any remaining good will that might be lurking and have created a (sort of) special edition.

Whereas Beat Motel was traditionally a home for music, daft band interviews, columnists and toilet humour the special edition is a collection of (very) short bits of fiction by yours truely, with a few other contributions chucked in to queer the quality curve.

Twenty Five copies of 'Lost in words' were printed and posted to Sticky to flog at a big zine event they were reprazenting, but due to the gloriously odd economics of zine printing I printed a few extra (not many mind) and if you're quick enough with your mouse and your typing digits you can buy one of these extra special Beat Motel editions.

This story zine contains the following stories

  • Compulsory random life obsolescence
  • Dig for Victor
  • Duck stuck in fence
  • Football and machismo turned to my advantage, finally!
  • Malcolm’s rest
  • The curious case of the late night knocker
  • The jumping, scratching, dog squirt story
  • The feet with a thousand followers
  • Ask your body
  • Crossing paths
  • It wasn’t pink
  • Time to think by Jason Last
  • Possible proposition outside Aldgate Underground Station
  • The curious incident of the black ties and the fake taxi
  • Debt to Music by Jenny May
  • DUI by Rich Rurshell

Buy Lost in Words story zine

Prices (postage is FREE)
UK £2
Europe £3
USA/ Australia/ Wordwide (£4)

Where do you live?

Sunday, October 02, 2011

The importance of bike helmets - Jamie's story.

Last year an illustrator/ fellow zine punker friend called Steve Larder asked if I'd like to contribute to an exhibition project he was involved in whereby he would draw portraits of friends and then ask them to provide accompanying text (you can read my contribution here).  The exhibition turned into a zine and when I received a copy I was particularly moved by the submission that one of the other contributors had made.  I am a passionate advocate of folk wearing bike helmets, and without wishing to make light of the situation detailed below I'm astounded that in all the many hundreds of times I had spills on my bike (before buying a helmet) I suffered no lasting injury.  The quote below comes from one of Steve's friends, a chap called Jamie who wasn't so lucky.

Steve has very kindly allowed me to pass on the except from his zine that you see below, and I am incredibly grateful to Jamie for sharing his experience in the first place.  Bike helmets are piss cheap and can save a lot of heartbreak for you and those who love you.  Find out more about Steve Larder's (frankly excellent) illustration work here - and here

"In the second week of December I fell off my bike.  I was found by the side of the road having a seizure with blood pouring out of my ear.  I have no memory of how I crashed, or most of the rest of that day.  I've read doctor's notes of conversations I had with them, seen my signature with the date marked on it, and talked to friends who visited me that day, and all of it was news to me.
All I remember about that day is thinking 'This is gonna hurt' as I felt my bike tipping and waking up halfway through a head scan and thinking my bike looked really out of place in the hospital room. 
I'd fractured my skull and had a blood clot in my head.  I had to spend two weeks in hospital while they decided whether I needed an operation.  When I was discharged the doctors noticed that my right eye wasn't closing properly, and a couple of days after that the entire right side of my face was paralysed.  I had to have more hospital appointments to discuss that.
They told me there were too many risks in operating, and that it should heal itself over time. Basically the nerves that control my face were swollen or damaged from the crash.  There's an 18 month healing period for this, but that doesn't guarantee complete healing.  Whatever I'm left with after 18 months is as good as it's going to get.  But I have healed a lot already, I still need to take my eye shut at night, and my smile is still lopsided but it seems to be getting better."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Why zines are important.

Salford Zine Library asked me to film a short talking head bit for a documentary they're putting together on zines.  I shot this video when my daughter (Issy) was six days old, and needless to say I hadn't slept for quite a while.  I'd like to think I'm saying this so that you understand why I look rough, but to be honest I look much like this all the time.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Electronica kit for sale

In what was perhaps a moment of miss-guided enthusiasm I managed to amass a bit of electronic music kit.  The fever has passed, and I have an M.O.T to pay for, so grab yourself a bargain.  This equipment has hardly been used, and has never left my study.  I have the boxes/ instructions for everything.

If you'd like to buy something please contact me through

Korg Kaossilator SOLD

Korg Monotron - SOLD

Beringer Xenyx 1002fx (mixer)£55 SOLD

Thursday, July 28, 2011

I'm selling ALL my photography equipment - do you want any of it?

As of the end of July 2011 Web Care Takers (my 'sole-trader' trading name) will close for good.  This means that (among other things) I will no longer be a professional photographer.  I did consider keeping my photography equipment but HRMC seems to be getting quite aggressive with me so it's time to say goodbye to all my lovely Nikon equipment.

Everything here has been well looked after, if you need your camera and lenses to make money you certainly make sure you take good care of them!

If you are interested in buying any of this equipment please contact me through  I'll pay for special delivery on anything you buy (assuming you live in the UK, if not then let's talk).

Nikon D90 body SOLD
Includes box, manual and everything else that arrived with the camera.
I only bought this on the 27th May this year!  I've taken less than two hundred photos on it and have only made one video.  The D90 has just been superseded, which means you get a bargain of a camera at a very good price indeed.  Actually there's a little pro-hint for you; you can always get a bargain if you buy a camera just after its replacement has been launched!  I'm looking for £475 for this practically unused camera.
Here's what an expert says about the Nikon D90...

Nikon D300 body SOLD
Includes box, manual and everything else that arrived with the camera.
This was the camera that changed everything - suddenly us pauper photographers could afford a metal bodied, weather-sealed professional camera without loosing a kidney.  I've taken nearly 30,000 photos on this camera, and it's designed to take 150,000 between services!  I've kept this camera in really great condition, but the rubber 'foot' on it is a little worn where I've had a tripod shoe permanently fixed to it.  I want at least £675 for this camera.
Here's what an expert says about the Nikon D300...

Nikon Nikkor AF D 50 mm F/1.4 Lens SOLD

With box, and even with the little baggy the lens was in inside the box!
I have to import this lens from the USA because I couldn't find one in this country.  This is without a doubt the sharpest lens I have ever seen in my life.  Every other Nikon professional I know proclaims this lens to be the very best there is, especially portraits. It's quite simply breathtaking.  I fitted a UV filter on this lens the day it arrived (after I paid the hefty import bill - ouch!) so it's perfect.  These lenses appear to have gone up in value since I bought mine, but I'm being modest and only asking £150.  If you do a bit of research you'll find out that you can buy a F/1.8 version for about £125 brand new, but believe me, it's worth spending the extra to get this F/1.4 version.
Here's what an expert says about this lens...

Nikon 28-70mm f/2.8 SOLD
Comes with a sun hood that took me a while to track down
This is the daddy of my kit of lenses - it's pretty much the best lens Nikon have ever made (no really!) and has been the lens I have used the most over the last few years.  It's big, it's strong, and it's very clever.  What a chunk of glass!  Brand new these lenses cost a whopping $1,400!  Forget getting in a tizzy over which Nikon camera body to buy, just buy anything and put this lens on the front; you pretty much can't go wrong.  This is one sexy big chunk of glass!  I'm sad about selling all my gear, but this is the lens that I'll miss the most. In fact I'm lovingly stroking it with my right hand as I clumsily type with my left.  This is the god of lenses, and I've seen them go for astounding amounts of money on ebay, which is why I'm asking for £750.
Don't take my word for it, here's what an expert has to say about this lens...

Nikon 12-24mm f/4 AF-S DX SOLD
Comes with a polarising filter that has always lived on this lens.
A spot-on landscape/ archietecture/ massive wedding group photo lens.  To be honest I haven't used it much, but when I have I've always been impressed with the results.  I bought this lens after using a Tokina for a year or so, and I couldn't believe how much better this lens was!  Costs anything up to £1000 brand new, and I'm asking a paltry £450.
Find out more...

Nikon Speedlight SB-600 flash SOLD
Comes with padded case and a funky little stand.
It's 'almost' impossible to take a bad photo using this flash, and because it can also act as a remote flash you can get some pretty special results.  Takes four batteries and cycles/ charges really very fast.  It's not the top of the range Nikon flash, but it's not far off, which why I'm asking £140.
Here's that expert's view again...

Please do get in touch if you have any questions...

Friday, July 08, 2011

Why do I have to pay for domain registration, domain renewals AND hosting?

This post is a little redundant because I am no longer working in the Web/ IT field, but the question of why people who have personalised email addresses (like, rather than or have their own websites need to pay for domains AND hosts/ hosting popped up so frequently over the years that I ran Web Care Takers I thought it warranted a blog post.

For these examples I'm going to use a fictitious man called Samuel who runs a company called 'Ice Cube Collectors'.

So who do I pay for my domain name and why?
Domain names have to be registered with a central registrar (E.G. ICANN in the USA or Nominet in the UK), but it can be either extremely costly (or impossible) to register directly with registrars so you need to register with an agent company.  For example: we use Easily for UK domains and Dotster for International domains.  Domain registrations don't last forever, so have to be renewed every few years (depending on how long you have them registered for).

Samuel owns the domain name '' and pays Dotster for domain registration and renewals.  Samuel's website is at and his email address is  Sam pays a host called Better Web Space for hosting.

So why do I have to pay for a host?  What the dickens is a host anyway?
In order for Samuel's website to be seen by the world it has to be on a web-server, and in order for Samuel to receive emails at his address all the computers in the world need to know which web-server is the right place to send his emails to.  Samuel picks up his emails from the web-server using his iPhone and Microsoft Outlook on his laptop.  Both the emails and websites of this world tend to live on the same web-servers, and these web-servers are operated and managed by hosts.  They are expensive machines - both to run and to buy - and require very specialist technical knowledge to run safely and securely.

So... what?
So you have to pay a registrar to keep your domain name current and properly registered, and that domain name is 'pointed' at a web-server, which means that you have to pay a web-host to provide that service for you.

Domain names and hosts are two separate things, but one cannot operate without the other: If you own a domain name but do not employ the services of a host you cannot have a website or email addresses set up on that domain.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Why the death of the music industry will make you a better musician.

Picture is unrelated
Originally published in 'Lights Go Out' zine.

A while back I was having a cheery chat with a friend (Edd from the 'Last Hours' anarchist collective) and he jokingly told me that life was a lot simpler when he was a fifteen year consumer focussed only on winning the national lottery.  I laughed, he laughed, we both laughed; you get the picture.  While ethics wholly enrich your life in a tangibly (and measurably) holistic way they have a nasty knack of complicating everything.

The laughter turned to thoughtful stubble stroking when I realised that life was also far simpler for the fifteen year old version of me - when I was fifteen I was putting on gigs in village halls and playing in some really cack bands, and the only thing that appeared to matter in my life (apart from the underwear section in Kays catalogue) was getting a big fat record deal.  As far as I was concerned (and as far as I knew) getting signed to a major label was all any musician ever needed to get ahead in life and to consider himself/ herself a success.  Oh boy has my opinion changed since then, but this isn't about me, it's about why anyone who is serious about music should start preparations for the biggest party ever - the party we'll have when the last major label goes belly up.

If you started playing music to get rich and famous and (to quote Catlin Moran) die on the shitter covered in whatever sticky substance you're addicted to then don't feel bad; it's the reason most of us first picked up an instrument in anger; I know it was my motivation, well that and to try and get a snog.  But if you're still adhering to that monetary motivation all these years later than I'm afraid you've got a problem.

Focussing all your musical energies on making pots of cash is like buying cooking ingredients in the hope that owning them will make you a famous chef - you can still create some fantastic food and make a significant contribution to the development of your culinary world, but the chances of you becoming rich and famous doing so are very slim.  And nobody seems to like famous chefs much anyway so why bother.  Which brings me to my final point...

The self destruction of the major label led music industry has the potential to make you a better musician because it (over time) will remove the money focussed blinkers from your eyes, and without the pressure to be commercially successful (which ALWAYS involves artistic compromise) you're free to create something truly new, something exciting, and something that genuinely contributes to the world of music.

Create music for music's sake, not for the shareholders of a global corporation.  Remove the desperate pressure to be a global sensation from your ambition and your creativity will flourish.

Kay Barrett | Memories of Shrubland Hall

An archived post from the (now-defunct) Shrubland Revisited website... 

Contributed on 10th October 2008
It was a cold and foggy November night in 1997 when I arrived at Shrubland Hall for my very first treatment. I went in through the back entrance; everything was quiet, no-one there but me. There was a smell and warmth when you entered – it was lovely after the cold outside. This I came to realise later was the fragrance of the Shrubland products used in all the treatment rooms, and the massive boilers that kept the place so warm even in the winter.
My patient, as they were referred to then, duly appeared and I did the treatment in the cosy little ‘Aroma Room’ with its wallpaper of roses all over the walls and ceiling. There were drapes at the far end and a pretty ruched curtain at the tiny window. This was to become my favourite room to work in.
After the treatment I left, again by the back door, it was still very foggy and it felt like a scene from ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ but fortunately there were no hounds – just the sheep!
A few months later, having moved into a cottage in the grounds, I took over Kay Oxford’s two days a week when she left to start her own business. The girls I worked with were all friendly and helpful. At first there was Georgina, Gail and Kelly – it was Georgina who kindly showed me all around the house and made me feel very welcome. Then as they left, along came Natasha, Andrea and Lucy, and latterly it was Laura, Sharon and Leanne.
I loved working there. During the day it was manic – a hive of activity – especially during the mornings when all the water treatments took place with people screaming as they were blitzed with cold water after their underwater massage and everyone rushing around
from room to room doing various treatments. In the afternoons, it was quieter with lots of facials, manicures and pedicures taking place. Other treatments were given by talented people like Michael Hardy who did shiatsu, Peter Stevens with his Tai Chi, Michael Mann, Pilates and the masseurs, Norman, Olaf, Chris and Tony Simpson who was always leaving and coming back.
I met Lady de Saumarez several times and gave her underwater massage and she had a Caci treatment before a TV crew arrived the following day – she was amazing and the whole inspiration behind Shrubland.
Christine Harris was Treatment Secretary during the early years – she was a dragon! – but I liked her and she had a wicked sense of humour. Lyn Mann eventually took over from Christine and did a brilliant job of organising chaos. Always calm and diplomatic
with staff and guests, she was perfect in that position – it would have driven me balmy!
Chef, Robert was the hero in the kitchen, producing wonderful fruit and vegetable dishes but it was Val who kept us going with cakes for our birthdays and mince pies at Christmas.
I worked with so many lovely people and met some amazing guests, so I was stunned along with everyone else when it was announced that Shrubland was to close. It was quite unbelievable for such a thing to happen. It meant so much to so many people and is irreplaceable.
However, when it did finally close, I purchased the Caci machine and the Phytomer stock and although I still work part time at Hintlesham Hall, where I’ve been for the past 10 years, I now also work from my home in Bramford giving Caci Face & Body treatments, Phytomer treatments, manicures & pedicures.
Finally, thank you to Andrew for maintaining this website; it is a fitting tribute to such a wonderful place.

Kay Barrett

Andy Markham | Memories of Shrubland Hall

Contributed on 4th April 2008
I worked at Shrubland Hall as a Sports Massage Therapist for over three years and although I occasionally complained about the work load, I miss working there, mainly because of the other staff. They really were great.
The saying ,”you never know what you have got until you have lost it” comes to mind.
I will of course write on the site again.
Best wishes,
Andy Markham

Vanda Wright | Memories of Shrubland Hall

An archived post from the (now-defunct) Shrubland Revisited website... 

Contributed on 3rd January 2008
The “Hall” actually was not the most memorable part of my recollection, but the history and grandure of that elegant house will always be with me. Sandra’s father was a truly amazing gardener and the produce from his garden must have impressed even the most worldly gourmand. The treasures that were mine to see were from a day long past, even then. These fabulous treasures, that were kept in the stables, were mementos of a time when Lord de Saumarez was ambassador to China. It was a different world when gifts of the most unusual and exotic kind were given at great receptions. The only place to put such fabulous treasures, at home, was the stables! These were no longer home to the faithful horses but to the cars.
There was no “garage” joining the house but stables, away from the house of course so that no offending odour could be detected from “the drawing room”! And one of the most vivid memories, going to Srubland Hall from Ipswich, was the fog. It was so thick that I had to walk with one hand on the headlight and one foot on the road in order to find the path. What a house! I think of Sandra’s Dad changing a light bulb over a Constable, or dusting the great masters. To think that Admiral Lord Nelson’s lover saw and was impressed by the same things that I saw just had me in a tail-spin!
Vanda Wright

Sara J Szczepanski | Memories of Shrubland Hall

An archived post from the (now-defunct) Shrubland Revisited website... 

Contributed on 28th February 2008
I am really pleased that this website is available and there is a facility to talk about dear Shrublands. How I miss the gardens, the house, the sheep and the beautiful trees! I miss a lot of the staff and guests too.
I have been lucky in that I have been able to join forces with Shrublands staff and create the “Osalo Detox Health Retreats”. These small residential stays are our version of what worked so well for so many people and for so many years at Shrubland Hall.
Osalo is also found in Ipswich, a beautiful clinic especially for colon hydrotherapy, “Circaroma” organic skin care products and organic face and body treatments.
I hope this website flourishes and lots of ex Shrublanders, both staff and guests/patients will get in touch with one another to share fond memories and past experiences.
More about Sara’s new business

Sandra Chapman | Memories of Shrubland Hall

An archived post from the (now-defunct) Shrubland Revisited website... 

Contributed on 28th November 2007
I accidentally discovered today that Shrubland Park had been sold, and I was so saddened by the news. I lived on the estate from about 1953 until 1962. My Father worked there as Maintenance Engineer, and was very much involved in transforming the Hall into the Clinic which it became. I remember often “babysitting” Louisa and the boys when they were about 2-3yrs old, impossible to believe they are now 50, and to discover that Louisa had died.
I noticed that the farewell party had assembled at the Sorrell Horse – in my time a “spit and sawdust” local frequented mainly by farm labourers but also by the cartoonist, Giles, who was a friend of my father. When we first moved to Shrubland, there was an out building behind the stable block where we lived, called the Studio, and it was full of paintings which I believe were done by the old Lords sister ( the old Lord lived in South Africa). There was also a skating rink there too! Now all long gone. At that time too, there was an old horse at the farm, related to the famous Foxhunter. I wonder if anyone remembers that. I also recall the time when a tractor was brought into the orchard to pull down some old trees, and it practically disappeared down a hole, which turned out to be an ice house that everyone had forgotten about.
There used to be a doctor who lived in the Russian Lodge – he was a Consutant at Ipswich Hospital I used to baby-sit for him too! What happened to the Forsdykes who had the Kitchen Gardens for so long, and the Goodings who practically ran the Hall? So many memories, and now it’s all gone.
When I left Shrubland, it was to train as a nurse, and when I went to say goodbye to “Madam” as she liked to be called, she offered me a job on the completion of my training in the clinic if I wanted it. However, things don’t always pan out as you expect them to, and other horizons opened up so of course it never happened. My father though, continued to work there until his death in 1968.
Sandra Chapman (nee Roadknight)

Sandra Chapman’s Photographs 
Click on a photo for a larger version

The view from the main hall at Shrubland Hall down towards the garden, also known as the One Hundred Steps, taken in 1978

Shrubland Hall conservatory, taken from a postcard published when the clinic first opened in the 1960s

Sandra Chapman, and Vanda Wright‘s mother Mary

Sandra Chapman in the courtyard at Shrubland Hall

A pre world war one (1909) postcard of Shrubland Hall

Roderick Prime | Memories of Shrubland Hall

An archived post from the (now-defunct) Shrubland Revisited website... 

Contributed on 10th July 2009
I used to visit Shrubland Park as a young boy in the 50s. My Grandfather was born in one of the row of cottages. His father used to work on the estate, I do not know as what but I used to go there for holidays with my grandparents and remember the water pump outside the cottages and the lovely peace. I used to lie in bed and hear the wood pigeons calling and to this day (I am 60 now) every time I hear a wood pigeon I think of there. I to remember sitting outside the Sorrel Horse with my bottle of Vimto and a packet of crisps. My grandfather and I used to play cricket in the park and I remember the wooden roundhouse that I think at the time was rented to two doctors. At the back of the cottages there were some conifers and the smell when they were damp stays with me to this day. Another thing that takes me back. I remember visiting there a few years ago and the cottages I think had been knocked into one, but still looked the same outside. I loved it there and was my introduction to the beauty of the countryside and all its life. I think I will have to find somewhere I can get Vimto again. I now live in Devon.

Roddy Llewellyn | Memories of Shrubland Hall

An archived post from the (now-defunct) Shrubland Revisited website... 

(alias Sir Roderic Llewellyn, Bt).
Contributed on 26th January 2009
I remember so well staying at Shrubland – no ‘s’ – when I was about five when the house was lived in by my grandparents. There was swimming in the round pond at the bottom of the 100 steps under Nanny’s watchful eye (Nanny will be 100 this June) and Coggins, the butler, much in evidence in his tail coat. Coggins laughed very easily. My grandfather used to tell funny stories in the dining room and Coggins, in the middle of serving, had to go behind the leather screen in order to subdue his giggles.
My grandparents used to live at broke hall during the summer and Saumarez Park in Guernsey during the winter. Apart from Broke Hall on the Orwell, my grandfather also inherited Livermere Park (now demolished), Nacton and other properties. These estates came into the family via my great grandmother, Jane Broke, who married the 4th Lord de Saumarez. My grandfather bought an enormous house in Grosvenor Square in the early 1930′s for about £8,000 for a 55 year lease so that my mother and my Aunt Vicky could do the debutante season. That end of Grosvenor was flattened during WW11 and I well remember as a little boy seeing the huge spiral staircase stopping short of the vanished ballroom. My grandparents moved to South Africa in the 60′s because of my grandfather’s poor health. He had to have a wounded arm amputated, and his stomach was full of shrapnel, injuries from trench warfare during WW1.
During the War (WW 11) my mother used to have a boyfriend in the Canadian Air force (called Stan, I think) stationed nearby. They arranged a rendezvous one summer’s day. As my mother waved a white handkerchief from the tower he flew around far too low blowing kisses. Unfortunately his plane, that he had ‘borrowed’ without permission from his commander, crashed into one of the Cedars of Lebanon close to the house. Estate workers (the few that were left) rushed out with saucepans, etc, to catch the precious drips of petrol. Stan was killed on a mission shortly after wards. I own a silk handkerchief he gave to my mother, with North Africa printed on one side, and the Mediterranean on the other.
I also well remember my mother telling me of how, during WW11, my mother (then a WREN lorry driver in Portsmouth) was made by my grandmother to weed the garden before breakfast when she was on leave at home! During the war they used to mow the lawns with the help of Suffolk Punch horses pulling an antequated mowing device, with their hooves wrapped in leather, because petrol was so difficult to acquire.
Also I remember her telling me of how she and her sister, my aunt Vicky (the late The Hon. Mrs Llewellen Palmer) used to work regularly in the soup kitchens in a tent in the drive of the Sorrel Horse pub at the bottom of the main drive.
For members of the family, Shrubland lost its soul once it had been turned into a clinic although, as patients, we all marvelled at its beauty. My brother David was recently buried next to my mother in the family plot close to Coddenham church. There, there is a large pink, rough-hewn column of pink granite that my grandmother had imported from Sweden (she was Swedish) for a very sad reason. My Uncle Philip had died after slipping off a rope he was climbing upside down while still at Eton and my grandmother erected this stone in his memory. He is buried there with my mother and several other members of the family. So, we will always be at Shrubland in spirit, and that is a very nice feeling.

Peter Bowler | Memories of Shrubland Hall

An archived post from the (now-defunct) Shrubland Revisited website... 

My years at Shrubland Park
In late 1938 my father Sidney Bowler (a professional Wisley-trained gardener) secured a position as head gardener at Shrubland Park in Suffolk.

Although in later life he had equally prestigious positions at Luton Hoo, Castle Hill, and Winfield House in Regents Park, I think he always considered this his most rewarding job.

In the sometimes complex hierarchy of the large private estate the Head Gardener was considered equal to the Head Butler in status, but below him in actual prestige, and at the age of 36 my dad was still considered a trifle young for such a position.

I was aged four and a half when we moved into the garden house with dad, mum and two Sisters, Mary and Joan.

My dad headed a staff of (from memory) 10, there would have been a foreman-under –glass, a kitchen garden foreman and a pleasure ground foreman, and the remaining staff would move between departments as required.

Each morning it was my dad’s responsibility to take the day’s produce up to the “Big house”, vegetables, and fruit and, when the owners were in residence—flowers.

He and the cook would then discuss the next day’s menu and requirements.
It was his proud boast that he supplied new potatoes on Christmas day, (there were a few left for us as well!)

The kitchen gardens ran like a well oiled machine, there were hot-houses, warm ones, and cool ones, one had nothing but grapevines, another just melons, all warmed from large coke-fired boilers which never went out, summer or winter.

As the garden round the “Big house” was very formally landscaped I don’t recall that there were herbaceous borders as such, but the parkland being very extensive needed constant attention and tree management, I believe there was separate staff members for this.

In May 1939 I was five, so I started School at Barham, just at the end of a very long drive, almost opposite the Barham Lodge gate, my mother took me there every morning on the carrier of her bicycle, and collected me in the afternoon, people like us didn’t have cars then, but my dad bought an old BSA motor-cycle with a two seater sidecar, and managed to knock down a petrol pump at Rouse’s garage on the Norwich road on his first day out!.

Sometimes on summer evenings we would all walk down to the Sorrel Horse Inn, and us kids would sit outside on the wooden benches and eat the large biscuits that in those days were sold in pubs before bags of crisps replaced them.

Every summer before the war Lord and Lady de Saumarez organised a grand FĂȘte,
The gardens were opened to the general public, and, on the enormous terrace at the rear of the house, from which the grand stone staircase descended, a highland pipe band would march up and down, wearing full ceremonial uniform despite the heat of the midsummer’s day.
In the evening there were fairy lights, music and dancing on the terrace, I remember my friend Frankie (Mayhew) and I thought it all a bit sissy, but then we were quite young!

In September 1939 my family went to Eastbourne for a holiday, and when we were at Eastbourne station to catch the train back to London we saw hundreds of evacuees disembarking from the train from London, war had been declared on the 3rd.

Back in Suffolk dad joined the home guard at Barham, every window in our house was taped up and blackout curtains installed, the “phoney war” had started.

In January 1940 a new sister arrived during a very cold night, named Margaret, we were now five.
Summer came at last and the battle of Britain was raging in the south-east, but we saw little of it where we were, except for a German bomber going over trailing smoke,
We watched it disappear over the treetops, but never knew what happened.

Lord and Lady de Saumarez often entertained groups of tired RAF pilots on short leave from the battle, a little rest, relaxation and a good meal, one of these groups included Douglas Bader, and probably other well known pilots as well, they all looked incredibly young.

Sometime during that year a light aircraft crashed into a tree right in front of the “Big house”, soon the place was swarming with RAF rescue vehicles, we boys were not allowed anywhere near, so again, to this day I don’t know what happened to the crew.

One morning we woke up to see hundreds of soldiers putting up tents in the parkland, The Border regiment had arrived (I think it was the Borders, but I may be wrong),
And we had to get used to sharing Shrubland Park with the army; they were mostly young men first time away from home.
A shooting and hand- grenade range was established in “The Dentlings”, and we lads used to go and pick up bits of shrapnel and cartridge cases when there was no firing.

That Christmas my mother baked a mince pie for every single soldier, and served tea and coffee as well, plus some extras provided by the men’s mess, in a long room in a building behind our house. (I don’t remember what the building was, but I remember that evening), my mother received a lovely letter of thanks from the C/O, I only wish it had survived. (google-earth shows the house and that building still there!)

Due to military call-up, staff levels diminished gradually, both in and out of “the big house”, and I think in the end just caretaking staff remained.

And so in early 1942 my dad’s job came to an end, and we were forced to leave this idyllic place and move to a rented house in Debden Green, where dad found a job at Castle Camps airfield, this was quite a low point in our lives, but things eventually got better!

Comments from the Shrubland Revisited website
Sandra Chapman - 2nd September 2008

Peters’ memories stirred up one or two of mine.I knew about the plane crash, someone gave my Father a ring made out of the perspex windscreen from the wreck. I don’t know what happened to it.
I remember too sitting outside the Sorrel Horse eating those big white biscuits and drinking Vimto. We had a dog which my Father used to shut in a shed opposite the bench we sat on whilst we were there, this dog had a tendency to bite the tyres of cars or bicycles, so was quite a menace. I too went to Barham school,there were about 20 pupils, aged from 5 to 11, and only one teacher. In spite of its limitations, I managed to pass my 11+ there.

I remember the walk to the lodge and main road.It was exactly a mile from our house. When I was about 14 my Father bought me a car that had broken down and been left at the pub (he paid £2.10s for it, it was a Morris 8, series E), he replaced the broken clutch, and I used to drive round the Estate on it, being private property I didn’t need a licence, and there wasn’t much other traffic to hit, so no insurance either. I eventually sold it to a friend for £10 – and they sold it onto an American serviceman based at Bentwaters, and it was eventually shipped to the U.S.A.

Lyn Mann | Memories of Shrubland Hall

An archived post from the (now-defunct) Shrubland Revisited website... 

Contributed on 10th March 2008
I worked at Shrublands for 29 years in the treatment rooms. I joined the staff straight after finishing my training as a beauty therapist and by the time the Clinic closed I was running the Treatment Rooms and arranging the guests treatment schedules . I really did enjoy my job but I have to say I love my life now. I don’t work as such anymore , I help Sara Szczepanski with her Detox weekends and I look after my husband Michaels accounts (Michael used to teach the exercises at Shrublands and now has his own studio teaching Pilates within the Gilmour Pipers practice in Ipswich.)
I think the thing I miss most is all the people both guests and staff. We are lucky enough to keep up with several members of staff and Michael has some of the guests still coming to his studio .
I hope this site is really successful so we will all be able to keep in touch with each others news .

K Piotrowska | Memories of Shrubland Hall

An archived post from the (now-defunct) Shrubland Revisited website... 

Contributed on 19th January 2008
I first visited Shrubland Hall in 1987 when I was in desperate need of true relaxation and de-stressing. I had no idea what to expect, having booked sight unseen. The word clinic had connotations of plastic and Formica – a ‘clinical’ atmosphere. What a surprise greeted me after driving up that wonderful drive and having the door opened onto that wonderful staircase. My stay then and in subsequent years was magical. Wonderful staff and treatments, lack of pretention (not having to get dressed up or do anything-wonderful!) Twenty years later I am looking for that magic again, but I doubt whether it can be replicated. If you know of anywhere, please let me know!

Janice Whittle | Memories of Shrubland Hall

An archived post from the (now-defunct) Shrubland Revisited website... 

Contributed on 28th January 2008
My mother was Elsie Waspe, the fourth of eight children of Frank and Elizabeth Waspe. She married Albert Bone from Witham in 1936. My grandfather, Frank, was woodman on the Shrubland Estate and my mother went into service at the Hall at 14 years old as a scullery maid. She later worked for the Rector of Coddenham Church (Mr Purcel?) and went to Cressage in Shropshire with the family. My aunt, Joan Stockley, was housekeeper to the de Saumarez family for several years.
My grandparents lived in several different places on the estate. During the war my mother was evacuated to her parents’ home with her two sons (David & Eric) and I was born in the front bedroom of the left hand cottage opposite Rouse’s garage (now gone). Later they moved to Honeymoon Cottages. I lived in London but spent most of my school holidays at my grandparents. I would welcome any information about the Waspe family as I am attempting to trace my family tree. I remember Shrubland as a beautiful place but I had never been inside the Hall until the viewing prior to the Sotherby’s sale in September 2006.
I remember Sandra Roadnight!

George Forsdike | Memories of Shrubland Hall

An archived post from the (now-defunct) Shrubland Revisited website... 

Contributed on 3rd March 2008
My wife and I moved to Shrubland in November 1950. This was the start of a very happy period of our lives. My job was in the glasshouses of the market garden department.
A couple of years on the head gardener left and I was given the sole charge of the market garden, the pleasure gardens were to looked after as a seperate unit, this was in the days of Eric’s (Lord de Saumarez ) grandmother.
Soon after the title passed to Eric’s father Victor. When the Hall was to become a Health Clinic the market garden became redundant as the glasshouses were becoming delapidated and a sale was arranged to sell them along with the market garden equipment. This of course left me without a job but I was offered the chance to restore the pleasure gardens to their former glory as they had been badly neglected and needed to be pulled into shape before the opening of the Clinic. This was a job that I enjoyed but I didn’t wan’t to do it long term. Meanwhile the walled garden was being neglected and I suggested to my wife that if we could rent the walled garden we could maybe achieve our secret dream of running our own chrysanthemum nursery. This was an exciting prospect for us when an agreement to rent was reached although my landlord at that time, now Victor ( Lord de Saumarez ) had doubts as to whether we would succeed. To prove all the pundits wrong we were determined to succeed and our venture lasted 41 years uuntil we retired in 1999.
Sandra, who lived in the garage flat when she was a schoolgirl will now know what happened to the Forsdike’s.
Cats and Chrysanthemums
To record my very happy memories of our almost 50 years at Shrubland I wrote an account of our time there. Eric who was now the present ( Lord de Saumarez ) very kindly wrote the foreword for the book which is called ‘Cats & Chrysanthemums’ ISBN 1-898-85-5 available to order at all GOOD bookshops on the print on demand system or from myself at Flat 4, Rosemount, 11 Hamilton Gardens, Felixstowe, IP11 7ET
We were lucky enough to meet many well known people who used to visit us when they came to stay at the clinic. One man in particular, Bryan Izzard, a TV producer used to visit us twice a year, he urged me to write this book, don’t just talk about he said, get on and do it. I lost touch with him before the book was published. Anyone know where he is now?
Mr Brookman and the man who knew all
After reading Janice Whittle’s memories, more names have come to mind.
I remember the Waspe family. Frank worked in the forestry department where a Mr Mackenzie was head forester. Harry Waspe and Bill Smith worked in the market garden when I first went to Shrubland. When I took charge of the market garden I don’t think those two old timers took to kindly to taking orders from a comparative youngster. Ernie Waspe was the village postman, so punctual on his round that you could tell the time by him. About that time there was a Charlie Mayhew who worked with a horse and cart keeping the estate clear of rubbish and who remembers Fred Puncher, the chauffeur. The butler’s name I think was Brookman and the cook whose name for the moment escapes me, she died three or four years ago aged 100. The farm manager around that time was a Mr Geater.
The Sorrel Horse pub opposite the main entrance to the park was a favourite place with the employees of Shrubland, a real spit and sawdust pub as Sandra described it.
Old Tom was the landlord, he was a mine of information, what he didn’t know wasn’t worth knowing. How things have changed over the last 50 Years.
I hope this will jog the memories of some of the people who knew us and the pictures will remind people of what went on within the walled garden
George Forsdike
Update 7th March 2008
I have now remembered the name of the cook, she was a Mrs Horton I have also discovered that Bryan Izzard, the TV Producer who used to visit us when he stayed at the clinic, died on the 27th April 2006.

George Forsdike’s Photographs
Click on a photo for a larger version