Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Hold Hands and Stick Together

When you go out into the world, 
Watch out for traffic,
Hold Hands and stick together,
Be aware of wonder.
              Robert Fulghum

The little girl in the picture is my Mum, who is 95 years old today. She is holding hands with her brother Billy, who was just seventeen months older than her. This is about 1924 and they are standing on the Wilford Suspension Bridge, which crosses the River Trent in Nottingham.

This is the bridge scanned from one of my Dad’s slides and originally photographed in 1991. Since then, the bridge, which was completed in 1908, has had a major refurbishment. It was originally constructed to carry a water pipeline across the Trent to Wilford Hill Reservoir, and at the same time the opportunity was taken to incorporate a route for pedestrians and cyclists. It stands on a bend in the river and from it you enjoy views in both directions, right round the corner of the river. It’s the only connection between the Meadows, where Mum and her family lived, and West Bridgeford.

 I think these two pictures of Mum were taken on the same day, and I would hazard a guess that they were either taken by Great Aunt Maude, or by Billy, using his aunt’s camera.

Maude would often take the children on outings. She had no children of her own and a Sunday afternoon walk across the bridge to the fields on the other side, would have been a treat. Those fields disappeared long ago. Mum appears to be picking wild flowers, although it would appear that Billy is clutching grass. Perhaps it was for a pet rabbit.

I remember crossing that bridge myself when I was young and it used to terrify me as we clip clopped our way over to the other side. Perhaps that’s why Mum looks a little anxious, and why she needed to hold onto her big brother’s hand.

Why not cross the bridge to this week’s Sepia Saturday and see what other Sepians have made of the prompt image below.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Balloon Park

This post has been updated after its original publication to include information kindly supplied by Robin Macey of Nottingham and Derby Hot Air Balloon Club.  I’m delighted to give Mr Macey permission to reproduce the photo below to use in his illustrated lectures. Dad would have been very pleased. If any Nottingham readers have old photographs from past ballooning events in and around Nottingham, I’m sure Mr Macey would be pleased to hear about them

This is a scene captured by my father at Wollaton Park, Nottingham in 1970. There were no clues on the slide when I scanned it, but I found an article from the ‘Nottingham Post’ which I thought had helped me to identify the year. I recognised Wollaton Hall, a famous Nottingham landmark, and the park where I spent many happy hours as a child so this was a very good clue.

The article 'The Day Balloon Festival Filled Our Skies’ was actually published in 2009 in the ‘Bygones’ section of the Post. Further searches revealed a special balloon mail envelope issued to mark the the very 'First British Balloon Festival’ at Castle Howard, Yorkshire, in 1976, so I believed (mistakenly, as it later transpired) that Dad’s picture was recording only the third year of the festival being held. In the Bygones article Robin Macey of the Nottingham Balloon Club recalled the sport’s last major event in the city (up to the time when the article was published). In the late 1990s the City Council started to introduce red tape and to charge for the balloonists to launch in the park. As a result small private balloons stopped using it. The 1979 festival actually lasted a whole week and forty balloons took part, so it’s easy to see why Mr Macey said they filled the skies.

This picture by David Myers,** was taken at the park some time in the 1980s. The Council charges remain in place but special occasions, such as Armed Forces Day,  allowed organisers to pay a fee to use the whole park and therefore launch balloons without any extra charges. The RAF balloon was pictured at Wollaton Park on Armed Forces Day 2009 and pictures by Andy Jamieson.*** It’s not known whether it was actually launched, or simply tethered.

This article on the Easy Balloons blog talks of a forthcoming event in October 2013 when balloons were again expected to launch from the park for triple celebration of the first balloon flight from Nottingham in 1813, the 25th Anniversary of the East Midland Balloon Group and the 50th Anniversary of Anthony Smith’s flight from Nottingham Castle. Sadly, on the day the weather prevented the balloons from launching, even though the organisers were prepared to pay the fee to cover the special launch. The participants must have felt quite deflated but consoled themselves with a special celebration luncheon in Wollaton Hall itself. That must have been an uplifting experience.

Join us the  this week’s Sepia Saturday Balloon  Club for more posts inspired by the image below.

* Robin Macey believes that the balloon in my father’s picture is registration G-AXJA, later sold to a buyer in Ireland and changed its registration to EI-ANP
** Geolocation: Attribution-No Derivs 3.0 Unported
*** Wikimedia Commons: Creative Commons Share Alike 2.00 Generic Licence

Friday, 6 November 2015

Haunting Images

In this photo my son appears to be standing on his ghostly twin, as he peers through the bars of the balcony on our 1981 Corfu holiday.

In 1949 my husband is cuddled by his sister whilst some kindly spirit has bathed them in ethereal light.

In 1963 as I posed with my parents in front of Wordsworth’s Cottage, the ghosts of William and his sister Dorothy seem to be peering out of the bedroom’s leaded window. Fanciful perhaps, and probably just the reflections of the clouds on the small pieces of glass, but who can tell?

In 1968, as we prepared for my grandparents Golden Wedding, my mother appeared to be conjuring something up. Her cousin is trying to waft it away, and I’m pointing in amazement at something which seems to have bitten my ankle. What this picture also conjured up of course, were the memories of our 1960s council house kitchen, and my father’s penchant for painting things orange. It’s a good job you can’t see the wall behind my mother - not ghostly, but ghastly - wallpaper with large orange flowers!

And finally, here’s my own little ghost, knitted for last year’s Hallowe’en decorations. For more ghostly goings-on, float on over to Sepia Saturday; it’s sure to lift your spirits.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Mirror Images

It’s 1983 in the woods near our home in Germany, and my daughter pauses on an Autumn walk to check the mirror and make sure her hair is tidy.

Mirrors don’t seem to feature in our family albums much, although we’ve often unwittingly captured our own reflected images when taking a photograph, especially near shop windows.

Our Budgie Pippin (1990 - 2000) loved to look at his own reflection, and of course had one with a bell in his cage. We also used to place a small handbag mirror on top sometimes, for variety. Pippin would be free-flying round the house most of the time, and only went in his cage when we were all out, or at bedtime. He liked anything which reflected his image, including teapots and shiny door handles.

I found this picture of a mirror, which I took a couple of years ago on a visit to a National Trust house. It was propped up in the window to catch the light, surrounded by all sorts of odd old objects.

I rather liked the way it reflected the leaded windows and the pattern it created.  I expect I thought it might inspire a poem or a piece of creative writing. It may still do that yet, but in the meantime, I’m reminded of a poem I wrote in response to a prompt of woman looking into a mirror. I kept thinking of The Lady of Shallot and you can see the image which inspired it on Lost Cause.

No lost causes where Sepia Saturday is concerned. Join us this week for reflections on Hallowe’en, love, mirrors, magic and the future, prompted by the image below.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Holding On

This is a picture of my Mother and her brother in the late Twenties. I haven’t been able to identify the the other two children, though they may be cousins. Mum is holding on to the youngest; a baby of just a few months, whose sibling sits to Mum’s right, and they are all focused on something that we can’t see.

Our Sepia Saturday prompt this week is also four children, looking to the right; one is seated on an adult’s lap and three of them are holding on to something precious.

This is the Rosen Family in pre-war Estonia* and the lighting is extraordinary. Whatever it was they were looking at, it certainly held their attention. Perhaps it was a Magic Lantern show. It was clearly amusing, as the little boy has the beginnings of a smile. His three younger siblings haven’t quite understood, and each has brought along something precious to hold onto. I wonder what became of them; a Jewish family in Estonia during WW2 would have needed to hold onto the precious and comforting more than most.

My own father liked to take photographs from unusual angles; he would capitalise on the lighting, in this case, natural sunlight streaming through the window. He would have instructed us to look away from the camera, as he often did, and focus on something or someone to our right. Nevertheless, I’m holding on to something precious; my much-loved and rather bald dolly, just like the little girl in the prompt photo.

In the photo above, probably the same year, (mid-fifties) he once again makes us look to our right. This time it’s my big brother holding on to something precious; as well as me, his little sister, he has some kind of rocket-type toy in his hand.

Lately he and his family have had to hold on to something much more than expected. His son, my nephew, was struck down with a rare and virulunt form of Hepatitis last month; his life hung in the balance as his liver deteriorated rapidly. We will be forever grateful for the gift of life he was granted by a donor. The transplant was a success and my nephew has made a remarkable recovery. Like my Mum in the first photo, with her little cousin, like the Rosen family, whose fate we do not know, and like me and my brother, we are all holding on.

Join us this week at Sepia Saturday, to see what other contributors made of the promopt.  

* Courtesy of Flickr, The National Archives of Estonia Album

Friday, 9 October 2015

Frightened Faces and Fearless Actions

The two children in this photograph look frightened of the camera and very unsure of themselves. Their parents also look unhappy, but the wife is staring stoically ahead and the husband fixes the lens with a grim, but determined, look. Examine this photograph a little a closer and you will see the row of medals displayed on the soldier’s chest This is Corporal John Ross V.C., of the Royal Engineers. John Ross was anything but a frightened man; just over a hundred and fifty years ago (21st July 1865), during the Crimean War, he was awarded the highest honour for valour, for his fearless actions on three separate occasions. First for linking trenches with a large working party, secondly for repeating this action under heavy fire, and thirdly, creeping up to the Redan, and on finding it had been evacuated, returned to report this, but discovered a wounded man whom he then rescued.

Ross lived a further twenty years, dying aged 57 on 23rd October 1879, having achieved the rank of sergeant, and is buried in an unmarked, but consecrated, grave in Islington Cemetery London. However, he is named in the family memorial headstone and on the ‘For Valour’ board at the museum. On the headstone we can read that Ann Jane Ross, daughter of John and Lydia. departed this life in her hundredth year in 1957. She must be the frightened little girl above. Clearly, she overcame her fear and went on to live to a ripe old age. It appears from the headstone that her brother died a few months before his father.

I apologise for the quality of the image as I took the photo through the glass of a display cabinet at the Royal Engineers Museum, Chatham, Kent, last week. It was my son’s idea that we go, as it is near his home and it would be an interesting day out for the children (our 7.5 year old twin grandchildren) when we paid a flying visit to England from our home in Lanzarote. It was a good choice; the museum was fascinating and we adults could happily have spent all day and still returned on further occasions, as there was so much to see. The twins loved the hands-on  experiences and dressing-up in the soldiers’ uniforms. Of course they were too young too fully understand the stories behind some of the  photographs. Naturally, I was in Sepia Heaven and stories like those of John Ross, completely absorbed me.

This week Sepia Saturday celebrated its 300th edition with a photo a family who appear both frightened and frightening at the same time. There is a view that one or two of them may be deceased and that this is a Victorian post-mortem photograph. This could account for the frightened look on the face of the child - or is he/she also a dead and merely being propped up by the dead grandfather. Don’t dwell on it too much; it may give you nightmares - save those for Hallowe’en in a couple of weeks time. Ponder instead on the valour of Corporal John Ross V.C. I’d never heard of him before, but now I hope I’ve done my bit to make this unknown face more widely seen and his bravery appreciated. Why not join us to see what other Sepians made of the prompt.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Two Girls, Two Dogs

It’s 1962 and I am walking with my friend Linda, in Partridge Woods, close to where we live. We were just two girls who were dog mad and would have loved to own these poodles, Tina and Sherry; instead we dog-walked for their real owners. My father, who took this picture, would have driven us all to the woods where the dogs could be let off the lead and get their noses into all those woody scents.

Here we are again in my family’s back garden, and the dogs are being very well-behaved, posing perfectly for their picture. My recollection is that Tina was Sherry’s Mum but I may be wrong. Their owners were always happy for us to exercise the dogs and we would walk for miles in the fields near our homes. Those fields are all gone now; filled with modern houses.

Eventually, when I was eleven years old, I became a dog owner myself, and what did I choose? A poodle of course. My mother, who had recently been very seriously ill was relieved that the dog was small, and didn’t shed hairs. it wasn’t long before he became a part of the family.
here I am with Kim and my (now) Sister-in-Law, and her dog, Heidi, a daschund.

Two girls, two dogs, just like our Sepia Saturday prompt picture this week. Why not join us there at the weekend to see what other contributors have come up with.