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."

Sunday, 24 May 2015


The peeling paint, and rusty hook, 
The battered book,
The old straw hat,
The threadbare mat,
The furled umbrella, grey and torn,
The coat quite worn,
The shirt with holes,
The shabby soles,
The tattered bag and empty purse
The life, a curse,
Enough to make
The spirit break.
© Marilyn Brindley

Joining in with The Mag for the first time in ages, and returning also to a favourite verse form, ‘The Minute’ - sixty syllables exactly (8,4,4,4 x 3),  and also written in iambic rhythm and rhyming couplets, making it an interesting challenge. Thanks to Sandy Brownjohn’s ‘The Poet’s Craft’ once more for guiding me in the techniques, and to Tess Kincaid for the picture prompt as inspiration (1907, John Frederick Peto).

See also A Towering Talent and Trapped for other examples of my poems using The Minute.

Friday, 22 May 2015

The Dancing Years

These two photos were taken in April 1965 and show my parents and friends attempting the dance craze, ‘The Twist’, which hit the headlines in 1960 with the song of the same name, performed by Chubby Checker. It remained popular for several years, enjoying several updates, including country and rap versions.

When these photos were taken, at a local dance, my parents were in their mid-forties and clearly weren’t the teenagers the original song was aimed at. Mum is in the centre of the first photo, looking very chic in her Little Black Dress, and to the right of her, Dad appears to be staggering backwards in surprise, but in reality is probably throwing himself wholeheartedly into the dance. My godparents are entering stage right, with my godfather taking the prize in that shot for achieving the position nearest the floor.

In the second photo Mum appears to be sensibly opting out of the ultimate knee-crushing bend that the dance was famed for, whilst Dad and two others go for it.

Mum and Dad were very good ballroom and modern dancers from their youth and were still dancing, whenever the opportunity arose, until a few years before Dad died in 2012.

Whilst The Twist doesn’t look very dignified, it was always a pleasure to watch their waltz and quicksteps.

 Here they are again, four years later at the Sherwood Rooms in Nottingham, at a dance held by the local Art Group, of which Dad was a founder member. At first I thought they were doing the Conga, but the chap behind isn’t joining in, and their two friends on the right appear to be executing similar moves to my parents. I believe they were ‘line dancing', although it wasn’t called that in 1969.

In July 1992 at their Golden Wedding celebrations, they were demonstrating it again; they also took to the floor to show that they hadn’t lost their touch in the ballroom moves either.

 Ten years later, at their grandson’s wedding, they were surprised by the band 'playing their song’ - “Only Forever” by Bing Crosby - and dedicating it to them, as it was also their Diamond Wedding that month - and they were up on their feet again showing everybody how it was done!

It’s not a very clear photograph unfortunately, but what is clear is my own memory of dancing with Dad on many occasions. He was a wonderful dancer, and even though I never had any lessons myself, Dad was so skilled that he was able to lead me and make it look as though I’d been doing it all my life. Somehow I just fell into the rhythm of the moves and enjoyed being twirled around.When I was young he would stand me on his toes and my feet hardly touched the floor!

They were to have yet another ten years together, celebrating their Platinum Wedding in July 2012. Dad was not very mobile by then and he died later that year. Mum misses him very much of course but she has great faith that they will one day be dancing together again.

Take your partners for the Strictly Sepia Saturday, visit other Sepians and post your own old photographs and memories for all of us to enjoy.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Something to Celebrate

Friday 8th May is the 70th Anniversary of Victory in Europe Day or VE Day, the public holiday declared to mark the formal acceptance by the Allies of WW2 of Nazi Germany’s surrender, and thus marking the end of the War in Europe.

 There will be remembrance services and street parties this weekend. Beacons will be lit and the occasion will be commemorated with events all across UK. We can look forward to some interesting radio and TV programmes, where no doubt people will be sharing their stories and pictures.

The Royal British Legion also has a wonderful VE Day webpage full of old photos and memories, just like lots of Sepia Saturdays all rolled into one! Please go and visit. In the meantime here is my own contribution to mark the occasion. On VE Day there were many parties, often hosted by the local church, and the one above is exactly that. The young lady on the far left is my mother, and seated on her knee is my big brother, aged about ten months. That huge plate of buns wasn’t all for them!

The photograph has seen better days and it will be some time before I get round to putting some work into it. This makes it the perfect match for this week’s Sepia Saturday prompt of old photos in need of care and attention.

I can’t leave my Dad out of the celebrations as he would have loved see this weekend's events. The War may have been over but it would be sometime before all the service men and women could be ‘de-mobbed’ and retun to civilian life. Here’s Dad enjoying some home leave with Mum and my brother, in a photo taken around the same time.

The war in Europe was over, but Winston Churchill, in his speech reminded everyone that a brief period of rejoicing could be allowed but that, “We must not forget for a moment the toil and efforts that lie ahead. Japan, with all her treachery and greed, remains unsubdued. The injury she has inflicted on Great Britain, the United States and other countries, call for justice and retribution. We must now devote all our strength and resources to the completion of our task, both at home and abroad. Advance, Britannia! Long live the cause of freedom! God save the King!”

Stirring words, and I expect Winnie allowed himself a glass of something and a celebratory cigar after that. Others toasted with cups of tea and a bun.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Saints, Dragons and Giants

Cry ‘God for Harry, England and Saint George’!

Today is St George’s Day, and I thought that rousing quote from Shakespeare’s Henry V was a good reminder of England’s patron saint, as well as remembering that this is the day we celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday in 1564*. George appears to have been adopted by Richard the Lionheart during the Crusades and thus went on to become the emblem of chivalry and victory of good over evil. He is also recognised by many other countries, as either their patron saint or, as being an important figure in legend. There are therefore many images of him, sword in hand, slaying the fearsome dragon.

Fellow blogger Brett Payne provided this first photo, taken in Plaza de San Marcelo, Leon in 2013, when Brett was walking the Camino de Santiago. I was holidaying with my husband in Northern Spain at the time and we had engineered an historic meeting in Burgos with Brett. We went on to visit Leon the next day whilst Brett took a short break from the Camino to see Madrid and arrived in Leon a few days after us. I had failed to get a decent image of George and so Brett kindly shared his own great photo. St George and his strange looking dragon were over the entrance to a bank; perhaps as a warning not to try any funny business. The building, Casa Fernandez y Andres, also known as Casa La Botines, was designed by the architect Antoni Gaudi, famous for the Cathedral La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. His friend, Llorenc Matamala executed the wonderful sculpture, preparing the plaster model on the Sagrada site, to Gaudi’s instructions and under his watchful eye. When the statue was taken down for restoration in 1951, a lead tube was found behind it, inside of which were the original plans for the whole complex and signed by Gaudi.**

The following year I noticed George in Cordoba, Andalusia, on the walls of the Cathedral. Now I shall be on the lookout for him everywhere. I haven’t seen him in Lanzarote, and don’t think that’s very likely, but I hope to spot him when we return to Northern Spain later in the Summer.

When we lived in Salisbury, England, I took this picture, in the late 1990s, of Gilbert the Dragon who appeared at various locations throughout the city, courtesy of the Parks Department. He was made up of over 6,400 plants, mostly sedums, and weighed one and a half tonnes. I don’t think he’s a particularly ferocious looking dragon, despite the cage surrounding him, and would be more likely to be adopted as a pet by Saint George, than slain with a sword. As far as I know he still appears each Summer in the city centre and is something of a tourist attraction.

Salisbury is also home to the giant Christopher and the beadle Hob-Nob, who are now part of the St George’s Day parade in the city. The Giant has a long history, the roots of which are uncertain but seem to be linked to folklore. The original was paraded on many historic occasions and is now housed in the city’s museum; his modern contemporary joins the Sarum Morris men for Riding the Jorge, a re-enactment of a medieval pageant when George fought and valiantly killed the dragon.

St George’s Day celebrations in Salisbury 2007 by Steve Elliot via Flickr Commons

There will be celebrations and parades all over England over the next few days. Have a great St George’s Day/Weekend wherever you are, and may the sun shine on your parade.

This is my submission for Sepia Saturday. Join the parade and see what others have contributed there in the way of old photos and history.

* "Partly because many babies died soon after they were usually baptized, as the Prayer Book recommended, no later than 'the Sunday or holy day next after the child be born’. for centuries now, Shakespeare’s birthday has been celebrated on 23 April, which happens to be St George’s Day, and is also the date on which he died.” Professor Stanley Wells ‘Shakespeare For All Time’.

** 'Antoni Gaudi, 1852-1926, From Nature to Architecture' by Maria Antonietta Crippa

Saturday, 11 April 2015


That is one mighty horse! In 2000 we went to the USA to visit friends and family near Michigan. Our friends in Grand Rapids took us to the Frederik Meijer Gardens, where we encountered the gigantic fellow above.

Here’s my husband admiring the statue at close quarters, just to give you an idea of scale. I still have the leaflet which tells the story of ‘Leonardo da Vinci’s Horse; the 24 foot masterpiece’ and this modern realisation (click to enlarge).

There are many monumental sculptures of heroic and chivalrous figures, some real, some legendary, around the world. For instance the statue of El Cid, which you may remember from my blogpost Beguiled by Burgos, where the human subject is the focus; in this wonderful piece of art above, there is no doubting where the power lies.

I was pleased to discover, in my parents’ albums, this photograph of my mother, studying a strikingly similar example at the West Yorkshire Sculpture Park in August 1989, when the statue was on temporary loan from France. Smaller, yes, but still a powerful image. I don’t know anything about the sculptor in this case, but I can still admire the artistry involved.

Finally, here is a link to the artist Amy Goodman’s site, which shows the progress of her War Horse statue, a permanent memorial to the thousands of horses shipped into battle during WW1. About 120, 000 of the 1.3 million horses and mules involved in the conflict, passed through a giant military depot  near Romsey, Hampshire, where they and their handlers were trained; only about ten horses survived the war. Here you can read the story behind the memorial park and statue.

This week’s Sepia Saturday had a poster which hinted at horses and power.

Visit other Sepians to see how they interpreted the prompt above.

Monday, 6 April 2015


Stepping out from church with Cissie,
In my Easter Sunday Best,
Little bonnet decked with flowers,
Clutching Bunny to my chest,
Holding tight my wicker basket,
Wondering what will happen next.

One white sock needs hoisting up,
And Mary says my shoe’s undone,
Daddy wants to take our picture,
This isn’t really any fun.
I just want to run to Mummy
Go home for my hot cross bun*.

Daisy says it’s time to leave now,
We’ll be there in just a while,
After lunch there’ll be surprises,
Something sure to make me smile.
Chocolate eggs to fill my basket,
Rounding Easter off in style.

Marilyn Brindley

* Hot Cross Buns are a traditional British Easter food.

I have memories of dressing up for Easter and when I was small my Great Aunt, living in America, sent me a new dress and gloves to be worn to church on Easter Sunday.

This piece was inspired the photograph at the top of the page and posted by Tess of Magpie Tales creative writing group. 

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Girl on a Bicycle

The girl on the bicycle in my picture is my mother, sometime in her late teens. Mum is 94 now and she can’t remember the brand or model of her cycle. My family are from Nottingham, where the world famous Raleigh Bicycles were originally made, so it would be nice to think that this was an example of the kind of product the company was turning out. To me it is indistinguishable from others of the era and I can’t read the badge.

Mum remembers that her bike gave her lots of freedom, she would use it for day-to-day getting around, such as cycling to the local tennis courts and on long Summer evenings she would cycle to Newark and back (about 38 miles); she was clearly very fit! She still speaks with pride about the fact that it had drop handlebars and wasn’t a 'sit-up-and-beg'.

This is my daughter somewhere around 1982, aged about six and demonstrating her first ride without stabilisers. We were stationed in RAF Germany at the time and her Dad had taken her out to practise on the quieter roads. Suddenly it clicked - and so did he - a milestone captured for ever.

The companion piece to this post features my Dad in ‘Boy on a Bicycle’.

Take a ride over to Sepia Saturday and see what other contributors made of the prompt above.