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, 3 May 2012

Small Talk

The picture on the right is a postcard sent to my great aunt Maude and has a twopence halfpenny stamp. I can’t read the date, but it’s probably around 1960.  Alan’s prompt for this week’s Sepia Saturday is a miniature railway. I’ve already used my train pictures on “Are We Nearly There Yet?’ so I’ve gone with the ‘Small’ theme. I’ve always had a love of miniatures and one of my favourite toys was a dolls' house. Thirty years ago, when we moved to Germany with the RAF, my husband made me a 1:12 scale dolls' house and you can read all about that in my post on my other blog. I also had a Britains Miniature Garden and Farm. These are now lodged with my son and will be brought out for the grandchildren when they are old enough to take care of the hundreds of tiny parts. I used to buy something every week from my pocket money, to add to the garden. A favourite book as a child was ‘Alice in Wonderland’, especially the part where Alice shrinks, so I think I must be conditioned in some way. As I am a only 5’0’’ tall myself this could explain a lot!  

Shuffling through a stack of old family photographs it wasn’t long before I found examples to match the theme, though nothing in sepia. We had fun in the Sepia Saturday Facebook page a few weeks ago, vying with each other to come up with midget submarine pictures, to satisfy a whim of Alan’s, so I’m steering clear of those.
Here’s the first one I dug out from 1979, when we were on holiday in Falmouth, Cornwall. My son was only six weeks old so he didn’t show much interest, and the flower banks seem to have cut off my daughter’s viewpoint. I think this particular model village no longer exists. I’m posing next to John Opie’s cottage. He was a famous portrait painter in the late 18th Century; though whether we knew that in 1979 is doubtful

This is my daughter in 1988 at Corfe Castle Model Village in Dorset. The model had been built about twenty years earlier and depicted the village as it had been in 1646, before Oliver Cromwell’s army laid waste to it. My daughter is crouching down to study the model of St.Edward’s Church, which had the music of a choir emanating from its tiny rafters.

The following year has my daughter lost in her own small world of assorted dolls and other tiny creatures - but mostly 'My Little Ponies'We resisted all pleadings for us to buy these at first as we thought they were a very odd concept. Fortunately we caved in and the result   was hours of pleasure for a little girl. She still has them all. 

Three years later it was my son’s turn to join the little folk. In 1992 we were on holiday in Devon, and visited ‘Pixieland’ at Dartmeet. This was really a large gift shop but with the gimmick of Devon Pixies being scattered throughout the grounds. There was a large toadstool that you could sit on and act the part. I won’t embarrass my kids with that particular photo, but somewhere in this one, is a real little boy - can you spot him? 

At Christmas the same year, Santa bought him a tiny football game (obviously a large one wouldn’t fit in his stocking). Judging by his jubilant body language he’d just beaten Granddad. 

Back to Dorset for this picture, and it’s one for Alan’s collection. This pub, ‘The Smith’s Arms’ at Godmanstone, near Cerne Abbas, boasted the title ‘England’s Smallest Inn’. Here we are in 1988 having a spot of refreshment on a family day out. Sadly the inn closed eight years ago.

For some modern versions of the above, you may enjoy comparing the model villages with the ones we have here in Lanzarote at Christmas. Almost every village has a Belén, some of which are vast and reproduce most of the local details faithfully. They start building them in October and after Christmas they are all dismantled!

Both my children played with the Britains Farm, and Garden, but of course they also had Lego and Playmobil to act out all sorts of fantasy stories. The Playmobil models were often incorporated into their birthday cakes, depending on what their current favourites were.

You can see them in the rocket cake here, and in the igloo and tepee cakes on the left.

And here are my four year old grandchildren playing with their vintage farm. Look after it kids!

The pictures don’t need to remain miniature of course, and you can click to enlarge.

If you’d like to see more little gems, why not go over to Sepia Saturday and marvel at how others have interpreted the prompt. Don’t forget your magnifying glass!


  1. Hello Marilyn:
    How splendid all of these 'miniatures' are and we think it particularly good that your grandchildren will play with the very things bought for your own children.

    We remember the miniature village at Bourton-on-the-Water which was a delight. Whether or not it is still there we do not know. We do hope so.

  2. I'd quite forgotten about these little worlds in miniature, until I read this post. Didn't there used to be something similar in Wimborne Minster?

  3. Oh my you have out done the world of minature, (one of my favorite things) funny how that less is more, and things that are small are always so darling! What great family best time ever moments you've posted as well! I say this was one of your most special posts(from the heart) and you've done other wonders before too!

  4. England must love miniature villages. I remember seeing a tiny village on the Isle of Wight. It was adorable.

  5. A delightful little tour. I remember some of these ,miniature villages from my childhood - I wonder whether they are still as popular in this age of videos and computer-generated graphics. And as far as England's smallest pub is concerned - I was at another contender only a couple of weeks ago - a place called the Boatman's Tavern in Scarborough. It's not half as handsome as the Smith's Arms.

  6. I like the way the toys were used with the birthday cakes.

  7. Your post has reminded me that we did training courses at an hotel next to the Legoland Park in Denmark. The exhibitions there were fantastic especially the working models. Great post, Nell

  8. My screen wasn't cooperating very well, and was slow to scroll. When I first saw the top of the church I thought, "Hrmph, what's miniature about that?" AND THEN I saw your daughter. HA --Wow -- how realistic (well, not your daughter - the miniature village). Thoroughly enjoyable post. I'm now off to check out the other one.

  9. I confess to loving miniature things myself. My husband and sons tell me that's because I'm one myself.

  10. Nell, what a wonderful take on this week's theme! I loved seeing your family photos. Your son is so cute sitting in among the pixies, and my girls loved My Little Ponies too.

    I'm looking forward to scooting over and seeing your doll house next.

    Kathy M.

  11. There is a miniature town in I think Germany, we saw a Youtube video of it a few years back and it is fascinating. Locally, we have Legoland - all displays built of Legos and they change them from time to time - and at Disneyland there is a full miniature fairy book land, replete with Mr. Toad's house, Cinderella's castle, Snow White's cottage, and more. They won't let you walk through of course but there are boat rides around it. I could look at those little houses for hours. Thank you for such a nice post!

  12. That was a fun "little" tour through miniatureland. My sister, Nancy, was crazy about all things miniature when she was herself a miniature. Funny she didn't mention it in her comment.

  13. A perfect post for today. Some great miniatures there. Like fairy land. Thanks for your comment. The Queen was at the Ky. Derby in 2007 definitely more excitement than any other person I have seen attending. Love the royalty myself. Enjoy your trip to the play.

  14. My Wife Cathy is 5ft too!(& ,like Barbara Windsor has size"1" feet!) Miniature is Good!A Great Big Post !

  15. Wonderful! I think the fascination of the miniature is often the feeling of being Gulliver in Lilliput. The delight of a child comes from becoming a giant capable of squashing the city.

  16. Nice photos, especially the one with the gnomes. And I like the suitable title :-).

  17. What a great bunch of memories.
    I think Pixieland is definitely what amused me most.
    Thanx 4 sharing!!

  18. What is it about the miniature world that fascinates us as both children and adults? You certainly gave us many examples from your own life - great memories indeed!