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."

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Grave Reminders

To the innermost heart of their own land they are known,
As the stars are known to the Night.
                                         Laurence Binyon

April 1984 was a memorable one for me and my family. It was the Easter school holidays and we were stationed in Germany at RAF Rheindahlen. My mother came over from England to join us, on her own as Dad was working, and we had a two days touring the WW1 battlefields and cemeteries, with two small children. Not the most exciting trip for such youngsters I know, but we were making the most of the opportunity we had, and they behaved very well.

I’ve written about this trip before, telling how we had gone in search of the memorials, and one grave, of my mother’s three uncles, and shared many of the photographs associated with them. I still had photos to show, and as this blog is about old images, here they are.


This is my husband on 9th April 1984, standing by the grave of my Great Uncle Edward, in Caudry, France. Edward died here after the War, and you can read his sad story in The Last Hundred Days.




The following day, among the many moving memorials and cemeteries we visited, was Tyne Cot at Passchendaele, containing 11,900 graves.

Here were also several memorials to the missing, including this one to the New Zealanders who fell at Broodseinde and the First Battle of Passchendaele.

There was an intact German Pill Box, later used by the Canadians as a field dressing station. This in itself a moving memorial, and a reminder that men of several countries died here.

We posed our small son, not quite five years old, in front for scale.













We returned to our married quarters that evening, and a couple of days later, leaving the children with their grandma, we went off to Berlin, on a special four day trip. I wrote about that in Where We Were Then, and showed pictures of the amazing Treptower Park, a memorial to the 80,000 Red Amy troops killed in the Battle for Berlin in 1945, and a cemetery for 7,000 of them.


Here, my husband stands in front of one of the memorials, designed as sarcophagi to represent the graves; these actually lie beyond the park, behind the plane trees which line it.

Altogether these Easter holidays were memorable and a grave reminder of the scale of damage and misery wreaked by two world wars.

See more contributions to this week’s Sepia Saturday, where our prompt image is Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin, from The National Library of Ireland on Flickr Commons.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

All in a Row


Midsummer rather than Midwinter and we’re all keeping cool with an ice lolly, or ‘suckers' as we called them. We’re all sitting in a row and I’m the tiniest one in the middle, with a cute bow in my hair, very fashionable for 1954.  I don’t recognise most of the others. The girl on the far left was our next door neighbour and my parents’ goddaughter, so I’m guessing they’re all neighbours’ children. We don’t seem to be in play clothes; the girl next to me has a hand-smocked dress and the boy is wearing his slippers!

I know it’s our front garden because that is our birdbath, made by grandfather, and which has appeared in countless photographs over the years as well as always moving house with us.

I couldn’t let the first Sepia Saturday of 2018 go by without leaving my mark, even if it’s a tiny one. Our prompt image was a family group, lined up all in a row.




Thursday, 21 December 2017

Season’s Greetings





























Some of the oldest family Christmas cards in my collection. The one above, depicting a jolly Victorian coach scene, was sent by my mother to my father during WW2. The couple are also shown inside the card, where they have joined others in skating on a frozen lake. Scenes like these were typical at this time and also into the fifties; I remember that similar ones would also appear on chocolate box lids.

The one below was sent by Dad to Mum and and my brother, from the same era. Dad was in the RAF, stationed at Swinderby, and I’m guessing it was hard for him to get away to buy a more appropriate card.





The front of the card was very simple, with a small RAF symbol in the middle of a cream background. Inside, the greeting was very straightforward, but Dad managed to personalise it in his beautiful copperplate handwriting. He still thought of Mum as his sweetheart as they’d only been married two years, but in fact she remained so for the next seventy. It was one of his many terms of endearment.








My brother sent his own card with a line-drawn snowman. The card stated that it was hand coloured, but not by my brother who was far too young. The greeting on the back is in Mum’s handwriting, but my brother has been instructed to add some kisses to Daddy and there are a handful of spidery pencilled crosses.

When he was older I’m sure my brother would have made his own Christmas cards, just as my own children did in the 1980s. Most parents, and grandparents, will tell you that these are the real treasures; the cards are often made at school and frequently covered in shiny paper and glitter.

For years, both my children made their own cards; many were inventive and creative, but here are a couple of their early attempts.

My son’s Three Kings, one of whom appears to be happily distracted, and the message inside my daughter’s card, in which she has thoughtfully shown herself and her brother.





This is my contribution to the Christmas and New Year edition of Sepia Saturday, where our prompt image, below, is from the Flickr Commons collection of the Cloyne District Historical Society, the Muriel and John Van Ness album.


It only remain for me to say to all my readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. see you all in 2018.




Saturday, 16 December 2017

Snowbabies



This little snowbaby is me aged about three years in the mid 1950s. It has only recently come to light, when a loose negative fell from an old album. The print was nowhere to be found, so this is a scan of that negative. It’s the only photo of me in the snow as film was precious and usually only used on high days and holidays. I don’t even know where it was taken.


This snowbaby is my daughter aged two, in the back garden of our married quarters at RAF Wittering in 1979. Her baby brother was only a few months old at the time and was probably tucked up warm and snug in his cot.


A couple of years later he was joining his sister in the front garden of our married quarters at RAF High Wycombe. Incredibly, only a few weeks before at Easter, it had been hot enough for them to play in the paddling pool.


Here are his twin snowbabies in their own back garden in Kent. The slide is covered in several inches of snow but that didn't stop my granddaughter.


Join us today at Sepia Saturday to see how other contributors responded to the prompt image of an empty Crookes Valley Park, Sheffield* around forty years ago. No hardy souls are braving the slide and swings here; they were probably all out sledging and building snowmen.

*Image by Alan Burnett

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Quite a Catch

Small boy, big fish - my husband, aged seven, looking very pleased with his catch. His family would spend part of the long Summer break from school, in Anglesey, North Wales. They usually stayed in a cottage very near the beach. His father would join them for the part of the holiday, when work allowed, but for most of the time he, his mother and siblings enjoyed catching up with friends. The same families would visit the area every year, and while the mums chatted, knitted and drank tea from a Thermos flask, the younger ones would go off and explore.


One of the families owned a boat and would take the my husband and his father out fishing. He would sit at the back of the boat ‘spinning’ for mackerel and one day caught the bream, shown in the picture. Like the small boy in the prompt photo, he doesn’t look too sure how to hold it. These days he would hold it at arm’s length, or preferably not at all. He doesn’t eat fish, or any sort of seafood, and if we find ourselves near a fish stall on our travels, we have to hurry past quickly. This is rather a shame as we live on an island, and not far from our home is a village renowned for its seafood restaurants.

I wonder if the subject of the prompt picture actually liked to eat fish. We’ll never know. I must admit when I was 'trawling’ through Flickr Commons for the next batch of Sepia Saturday prompts, this one  had to go into the net. Both little boys are very endearing and I still consider my husband quite a catch.

Join us this week to see what stories and pictures others have shared, inspired by the tiny fisherman below.



Saturday, 25 November 2017

There’s Something About Mary

There’s definitely something about our particular Mary. Today, this remarkable lady is 97 years old. She was born in 1920, lived through the Depression, served in WW2, married in 1942 and celebrated seventy years of happy marriage. She had her share of sadness, losing her brother when she was a teenager, and twin babies when a young woman. But she also had much happiness in her life and gave so much love to others.

She is a clever, artistic, creative woman who could play the piano and accordion, draw, sew and knit. A great reader and a lover of literature, poetry and the theatre, she taught us so much

She was widowed five years ago tomorrow, and lived independently for a few more years after that. More frail now, and with a rapidly fading memory, she lives contentedly in a care home. She’s my much loved Mum, but also a Mother-in-Law, grandma, and great grandma. I’ve written about Mary and her life many times on this blog, and her stories and anecdotes have been a rich source of material for my Sepia Saturday posts. To celebrate her 97 years here’s something about our very own Mary in a gallery of pictures.


Babyhood and Childhood 





















Growing from Teenage to Womanhood























Mother and Mother-in-Law 





















Grandma and Great Grandma



Loyal wife of seventy years



Saturday, 11 November 2017

Remembrance

Today is Remembrance Day, when we wear our poppies and remember the fallen of two World Wars, and many conflicts since. I have covered this subject several times in previous posts, but when I put the word in the search bar for my photos, I came up with remembrance of a different kind.


The first is taken from Great Aunt Maude’s autograph album, written by a friend in April 1919, and beautifully illustrated .




The second is a pretty postcard which I bought at an antiques fair. The writer appears to be a schoolboy writing to his auntie on her birthday. He tells her he hasn’t had the cane yet at school! The postcard is 4th July 1919; it was obviously a year when the word remembrance was at the forefront of people’s minds. 

The address is Stanley Cottages, Guildford Road, Farnham, Surrey. I couldn’t find it on the modern map or Google Street View, although there are some houses labelled as Stanley Villas. The writer also appears to be called Stanley!

I spent a little time researching Miss K Blackman, but the nearest I could find was in the 1939 census, a married woman, Mrs Kate Blackman, living at 4 Guildford Road. Her date of birth was 16th September 1874, so it wasn’t her birthday being remembered. I expect that they were related in some way however; and it’s not just co-incidence that two K. Blackmans lived at similar addresses. Perhaps her husband Fred (born 1877) had a sister called Kate or Kitty, who lived next door.

Auntie Kate, or Kitty, obviously treasured the card from her nephew and kept the Remembrance safe for many years. As is the way with such memorabilia, it probably was disposed of her at her death, or that of a relative who had also been its guardian. I’m pleased to have given it an airing here, and who knows, perhaps a member of the Blackman family will be able to enlighten me one day. As is the nature of we Sepians, we can’t help being curious about what the postcard writer (and recipient) looked like. An old photo would be the icing on the cake.

Join other contributors to this week’s Sepia Saturday, for more tales of old photos and postcards.