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."

Friday, 23 January 2015

Bowled Over


The adverts in this week’s post all come from my souvenir programme of a cricket match held at RAF College Cranwell in 1971, where several famous people were playing. I wrote about it here and put the whole thing in a Flickr album, where you can see even more adverts, and pictures, and read stories and anecdotes.

I like the whimsical humour and the dreadful punning style of the first image, even if it is a little laboured. The others in my selection are all on a cricket theme, where the advertiser chose to capitalise on the event (Haig Whisky missed a trick). They are interesting from a historical perspective too. The National Coal Board was later privatised and many mines closed over the subsequent years.

























These days we would expect more details in the advert about the product and where to purchase it. I’m assuming that Australia Farm is some kind of co-operative, but the ad relies on the reader already having some knowledge of its services. I remember that in the 1950s my great-uncle in Victoria sent Christmas parcels of Australian dried fruits. After the war these products were scarce and expensive, and the parcel contained ingredients to make a Christmas cake.

At least SBS, the building supply company had the sense to include contact details.

This week Sepia Saturday has an advert from 1882 as the prompt. Join other Sepians there to see what they’re advertising this week.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Rough Justice

Back in August I told the sad and sorry story of a childhood acquaintance who went on to be hanged for murder, in A Curious Incident and I was once thrown into prison myself for witchcraft (I was in Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible when I was a teenager and you can see the picture here.). Apart from that I’ve always tried to be a law-abiding citizen and the nearest I have come to methods of punishment is viewing the castle dungeons on our many visits to castles, or town jails/gaols, when we’ve been on some historical/heritage experience/trail over the years. Other members of my family have been photographed in the stocks and pillories (in 1987: Littlecote and 1989: Lacock).


This week’s Sepia Saturday has a legal theme and a prompt picture of a courtroom. I was once foreman of a jury but there were no photographic records of the occasion; there are strict rules in English Law about that sort of thing!


Referring once more to the book I introduced you to last week,* I found this interesting case.

Fortune Teller Held in Pillory
Last Tuesday at the Sessions held at Newbury, came on the trial of Elizabeth Sevens, otherwise Dame Cryer, a noted fortune-teller for several years past, being prosecuted by one Mondy of the Parish of Kingsclere, for having charged him with robbing his father of some Household Goods and Gammon of Bacon, the Father upon losing these Things having applied to the said Fortune-teller for information concerning them. She was tried by Special Jury and found guilty, was sentenced to be imprisoned for twelve Months and to stand four Times in the pillory within the time of her imprisonment. From The Ipswich Journal 16 December 1758

Not much of a fortune-teller; she should have seen that coming! It seems rather a harsh sentence for just making some bad guesses and I expect there is more to this case than meets the eye. For more tales of law-breaking and rough justice, visit other Sepians to see what they made of the prompt.

*News From the English Countryside 1750-1850 by Clifford Morsley

Saturday, 10 January 2015

The Demon Barber


The image shows "Private First Class Troy Dixon, Leadhill, Arkansas, uses a Japanese barber chair to cut the hair of Sergeant John Anderson, Anita, Pennsylvania Both men are members of the 363rd Field Artillery Battalion., located near Shuri. Okinawa, June 10, 1945., ca. 1900 - 1982” *

My New Year’s Resolution is to keep my posts short, just like the subject’s hair in this photograph. The barber here is no demon, simply giving his comrade a handy haircut at time of need. 

My newly acquired (car boot sale) book, 'News from the English Countryside 1750-1850' by Clifford Morsley, tells the story of a real demon barber:


From a correspondent to The Times
“ I must tell you a ridiculous thing that occurred in a small village in Oxfordshire last week, and which caused a diminution in my congregation yesterday. A man wearing a certain badge of authority and calling at each house, informed the inhabitants that he was a Government Barber, sent from London, to cut all the people’s hair gratis, it having been ascertained as the most effectual way of keeping off the cholera, which had already made its appearance. The fellow succeeded in carrying away with him sufficient hair to make several wigs, and the deluded people were obliged to set to and make warm caps to defend their bare heads from the cold which set in next day”
From the Bucks Gazette 12 December 1846

Im sure Sepians would never be so gullible, but just to be sure dont answer the door to any strange men offering their services free. Instead, keep your hair on and go and visit other contributors to this weeks Sepia Saturday, which gave us a hairy prompt to set our creative juices flowing.
*Flickr Commons


Friday, 2 January 2015

Let Us Sit Upon the Ground

“For God’s sake let us sit upon the ground and tell sad tales of the deaths of kings.” William Shakespeare, Richard II



The little boy sitting cross-legged on the ground with hands clasped is my husband aged about three years at Willow Lane Nursery School, Lancaster. He and his little pals appear to be waiting for something, on what was obviously a hot day, (hence the tent). Perhaps it was the end of the Summer Term and the children were having some races; the tent could have been to keep them cool whilst waiting to take part in the ‘egg and spoon’. Who knows? My husband doesn’t remember and even the bunting on the houses behind the school, doesn’t help. This was the Summer of 1952 so a year too early for the Coronation. My husband has suggested that it was some local event, perhaps The Lord Mayor’s Parade or similar. What is certain, however, is that they were not telling sad tales of the deaths of kings, as in the quotation above. The family albums are littered with people sitting on the ground; picnics, gardens, beaches, to name but a few, and I could have produced an entire gallery. I opted instead for just one photograph and this one best matched the Sepia Saturday prompt picture, with its suggestions to; “Sit on the ground, hang out your flag, put on a silly hat ... and generally look pleased with the world.” 


Join other Sepians this week to see what they made of the prompt. 

Friday, 19 December 2014

A Christmas Mystery

I could post a whole gallery of pictures from Christmas meals over the years. It’s one of the occasions when families and friends gather together around the table and somebody has the camera! However, I’m going to choose just one Christmas Eve in 1963 as my offering for Sepia Saturday over the Christmas and New Year.


This is my Dad in festive mood and looking fetching in his party hat and facial add-ons. The calendar behind his right shoulder is the clue as to the exact date and proves that the 35mm slide was scanned the right way round. This is towards the end of the meal as it’s coffee and dessert time. Dad still smoked in those days and I just hope that the ash didn’t end up in that sherry trifle! I think the ‘disguise’ was probably his little table gift. This was the house of my parents’ friends to which we were often invited on Christmas Eve. Judging by the napkins which have not been unfurled, three people didn’t make it on time. I know this because ‘that person with the camera’ took a picture of the splendidly set out table before we all descended upon it.


There were eleven places laid (I don’t think Mr Snowman was a guest, although it looks that way). I see we had melon ‘boats’ for starters, and the first pictures shows that we had trifle and fruit salad for dessert, but I have no memory of what came in between. It was probably a cold meat salad of some sort. I was trying to work out what was in the bottle with the quaint wooden bottle-stopper and why it was already opened before the guests were seated. If it contained wine I don’t think it would satisfy ten adults, but I came to the conclusion that it was probably sherry.


The guests have now been ushered into the dining room and ‘that person with the camera’  has instructed us all to wear our party hats  and raise our glasses, except I can’t as I am a minor so mine is empty. Yes, that’s me bottom right aged eleven and feeling very grown-up with the sherry-quaffers no doubt. I’m sure some orange squash would have been handed to me afterwards. There’s dad again, standing behind our host and winking at the camera. The lady with the fluffy white collar is our hostess and My Mum is seated on her left. The young man between me and Mum is a family friend. The mystery of at least one of the unused napkins is now solved as I am wearing my party-pinny instead! But who is wielding the camera? Nine of us are seated at the beginning of the meal and two napkins were unused at the end.


No more pictures at the table and after the meal we’ve moved to what our hostess called ‘the lounge’. Two more guest have joined us, and we are now wearing a new set of headgear. These hats are more substantial than the first set and appear to fashioned from gift wrap. I wonder if it was a party game, if so it appears that I won first prize; no not the dog, he was mine already. It looks like an Easter Egg but I think it was a similar confection brought out at Christmas. The latecomers seem relaxed and this time it was probably the host pointing the camera whilst the hostess washed up and cleared the kitchen (that’s the way it was in those days). So now we have accounted for for eleven people, but we haven’t solved the mystery of the phantom photographer - or have we?


No wonder he looks so pleased with himself! We will never know the answer as sadly, only four of us are left and two are elderly. I prefer to remember the happy times we had more than half a century ago. Walking the short distance back to our own house, the pavements were always glistening with frost in the streetlights. As soon as we got home we would rush to get ready for bed, as the house was unheated, and snuggle down with our (new-fangled) electric blankets to wait for Christmas Morning.



Join other Sepians sometime between now and 4th January, to see who gathered round their Christmas Tables. Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year to you all.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Looking Back at the Bigger Picture


Who is this young girl and why is she looking back over her shoulder? She was on her way past a flower stall in the market square when her attention was caught by something or someone.




The group behind her don’t seem at all interested and are engrossed in conversation.







The stallholder’s curiosity is piqued however, and everyone else in the market square is going about their business as usual as though nothing out of the ordinary has happened.








Ah, but wait a moment; there’s a bit of a clue here. The large lettering above the shop says “SALZBURG...”, possibly Salzbuger something or other. It’s not a high street bank, although it looks imposing enough. The lady in blue isn’t using an ATM, even if it appears that way. This is 1966, ‘hole-in-the-wall’ cash machines had only just been invented and weren’t in common use in Salzburg.









Yes, this photograph was taken in a square in this famous Austrian city. There are more shops as a clue, and if I really wanted to, I’m sure I could spend hours on google street view and find the exact location. I’m not going to do that however, because it’s not the place, or the time that’s important, it’s the bigger picture.







And here it is. The smiling group in the corner are my mother and the mother (in blue) of my Austrian exchange friend. Her younger brother is standing just in front. My parents and I were on holiday in the Tyrol and my friend, with whom I’d spent the previous Summer, had persuaded her family to travel from Vienna for the day, just so that we could all spend a few hours together. It was a great success and resulted in further extended visits of each family to the other’s home.  My Father would have been trying to get as much local colour into the picture as possible. Just a wee bit further to the left and he’d have nailed it, but what an interesting image it is and worth taking a second glance when you’re passing by.

This week’s Sepia Saturday encouraged us to look into the backgrounds rather than the foregrounds of our old images. It’s a useful exercise and allows us to see what we might otherwise miss.


Don’t miss a visit to other Sepians this week; they’ll all be looking back and sharing the big, and the small pictures with you

Friday, 5 December 2014

Sepia Shots


Sepia shots being fired from sepia guns in 1950. My brother is acting the part of one of his cowboy heroes. I’ve no idea which one, although Roy Rogers is a name I seem to remember being mentioned. There’s a strong possibility that the outfit he’s wearing was sent from America, where my Mum’s Auntie Millie lived. There are also pictures of my brother wearing a shirt made of print fabric, the design of which is cowboys and yes, cowgirls; perhaps Rogers’ wife Dale Evan who appeared alongside him on TV and in films. I’m sure I spot a cactus, a horse and possibly a steer, and is that the steam of a Old West train puffing over the prairie?

In the 1960s the folklorists Iona and Peter Opie catalogued “Children’s Games in Street and Playground” and at that time ‘Cowboys and Indians’ was still a great favourite, both in Britain and on the continent. The games were usually named after whatever TV programme was popular at the time and they list: Raw Hide, Wagon Train, Pony Express, Cheyenne, Totem Pole, Cavalry and Indians, Gun Law, Apache Warpath, Laramie, Wells Fargo, Lone Ranger and Cisco Kid. I have vague memories of Tenderfoot (Sugarfoot), Bronco (I can even sing the theme tune), and later, The Virginian and The High Chaparral. Last year an article in The Daily Telegraph was titled, ‘Cowboys and Indians more popular than computer games’ although I’m not sure how in-depth the survey, commissioned by the supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, was. The conclusion was that outdoor pursuits were still number one, but whether they actually mentioned ‘Cowboys and Indians’ I have no idea. I’m just a wee bit sceptical as I’d have thought the genre was fading fast. I can’t think of any current TV programmes or films that would fire the imagination in the same way as those racially insensitive examples of the 50s and 60s wher the Indian was always the bad guy and pioneer cowboy or the cavalry always won the day.



By the 1980s children’s education was a little more enlightened and the curriculum at my daughter’s school included a project on Plains Indians and offered a more sympathetic view of their way of life. My daughter was captivated by the theme, and Christmas 1982 brought dressing-up outfits for her and her younger brother. Unfortunately he wasn’t quite so impressed by his outfit and I’m afraid there isn’t a happy shot of the photo shoot. It was no way for a sheriff to behave of course, but they were both just getting over Chicken Pox and were still a bit emotional. I have his permission to use the images below, and it didn’t get in the way of his subsequent career as a ‘lawman’ - no sheriff’s badge though.






















By the time of my daughter’s birthday, ten months later, he was much more relaxed about joining the other cowboys and cowgirls at the party and to enjoy a piece of themed birthday cake.

He still wasn’t overly fond of that hat though and decided it was better removed at the table.


Sepia Saturday 257 has a young cowboy lassoing his father and posing on the porch of his house as our prompt. Why not mosey on over there and see who’s been drawn into the Sepia Saloon this week?