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 January 2017

That Look

I’m not sure what 'that look' was; lost in admiration, besotted, lovestruck? Who knows? I had just become a teenager and was beginning to look at boys rather differently. This was the big brother of my Austrian exchange friend with whose family, near Vienna, I spent most of my Summer holidays that year.

He was very kind to me, I remember, and when I visited again three years later, we were all a bit more mature. The 1968 invasion of Prague, a few kilometres over the border, actually took place whilst I was staying there on that occasion. It was quite a frightening time as my friend’s brother was completing his National Service and the family were anxious.  It was also quite exciting, as we had soldiers billeted with us too. Fortunately my parents had accompanied me for part of the time and were there to chaperon. It looks as though I only had eyes for my friend’s big brother, but the next picture shows that we were not alone, having a cosy tête-à-tête.

'That look' in the second picture is of one who has imbibed too much of the fruit punch on offer, but as I was only thirteen it is unlikely to have been the alcoholic variety. My friend’s mother was amused by it anyway. There is one other brother squeezed into the cosy corner. He was only seven years old, but a little charmer himself.

What are we doing? Being very silly, that’s what. Those are saltsticks on the table and little brother and I are sharing one, starting from different ends, and ending up rubbing noses. Very amusing when you are a seven year old boy. We look very serious but ended up in fits of giggles.

In the last picture ‘that look’ is me not paying attention to the person wielding the camera. I’m making eyes at someone else. I wonder who.

Our Sepia Saturday prompt this week is of Dizzy Gillespie staring adoringly at Ella Fitzgerald. 'That look', you know, we’ve all done it - haven’t we?

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Four Queen Elizabeths

A holiday in Southsea with my family in 1960, meant a visit to the Southampton Docks. Here are my mum, brother and me gazing in awe and wonder at RMS Queen Elizabeth, which was based there. The largest passenger liner ever built at the time, and for 56 years after, she had been launched in September  1938 and named in honour of Queen Elizabeth, later the Queen Mother. She came to a sad end in a mysterious fire in 1972 - the liner, not the Queen Mother, who lived to the ripe old age of 101 in March 2002.

Dad and I perch, as so many doubtless did before us, with the bow of the ship in the background.

At the time of the ship’s launch, Queen Elizabeth was the Queen Consort, a rôle she did not expect to play when she married the Duke of York in 1923, as Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. The abdication of the duke’s brother in 1936 led to his younger brother’s coronation. The first picture below shows her in 1927, as the Duchess of York.

The second image shows her in later life, as Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.

And here is the current Queen Elizabeth, snapped by me on December 9th 2016 when she docked in Arrecife,  Lanzarote’s capital.

There is a BBC news report on You Tube, which shows her launch in 2010 and gives some interesting history of her predecessors, with clips from newsreels of the original ship’s launch.

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt images shows a lady in her youth and old age. Why not climb aboard and enjoy the journey.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Flickr - ing Images

I enjoy using Flickr Commons; posting my own work, following others and seeking out images to use as prompts for Sepia Saturday. This week, I’m just going to point you in the direction of one contributor. This is ‘The Past on Glass at Sutton Archives’ which comprises the work of David Knights-Whittome. His images were far from flickering; quite the opposite.

Knights-Whittome’s glass plate were discovered abandoned in the basement of an old shop and are now seeing the light of day for the first time in over one hundred years. The work of restoration has been undertaken by a team of volunteers and the results have been remarkable. If you want to know more about this self-taught photographer, who later gave up photography for politics, look at the blog, 'The Past on Glass; the Man Behind the Lens' where the stories of the collection’s discovery and the detective work that went on in identifying the subjects, can also be read. There is also a Facebook page which is regularly updated, and five very short You Tube films.

Miss Pothecary’s Dog

Well, I’m half in love with the handsome and playful-looking photographer depicted in his self-portraits. The one above and two others, show him in the process of seemingly painting backdrops, in front of which his sitters would pose. Sarah Elizabeth Draper (Bessie) also thought him quite a catch, as they were married in 1907 and had two sons together.

Miss Russell’s Dog

I’m also in love with Miss Pothecary's Dog, and Miss Russell’s Dog, two examples of the many pets Knights-Whittome photographed. The dogs must have been very well-behaved to sit so still and obediently. They look so real, that you feel as if you could reach out and stroke their fur.

The same goes for the little boy in furry fancy dress, looking appealingly into DKW’s camera. I wonder who/what he was dressed up as, and what colour was that fur? Who was he? It’s thought that the identity of many of the sitters may never be known, but by spreading the word and giving the project some publicity, there’s always hope.

Like other photographers of the era, DKW photographed many of the soldiers and nurses of the First World War. In most little  known about the sitter, but in others a considerable amount of research has been done and some interesting stories have come to light. The Flickr album has many fine examples of this lost generation. Here are just two from 1915: Miss A.Smith and G.R.Waters Esq.

Knights-Whittome’s images also record royalty, country houses, schools and institutions, weddings and other events, fancy dress and costumes, domestic architecture and interiors as well as sporting events and equestrian/hunting scenes. I hope I’ve whetted your appetite to explore the archives yourself.

Our Sepia Saturday prompt image this week shows an itinerant photographer with examples of his craft, standing in front of an Ohio restaurant, perhaps hoping to make some sales from the passing diners. Knights-Whittome did not have to rely on passing trade in the street. It seems his subjects beat a path the doors of both his shops, eager to record their images for posterity.

Sadly this shop no longer exists, but thanks to the works of the Sutton Archive on Flickr, with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic licence we are able to share his wonderful images.