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, 6 February 2013

Winters' Tales


Alan has given us a snow picture as our prompt for this week's Sepia Saturday theme.


The prompt picture has someone, underneath a lamp-post, digging in the snow with a spade or shovel and this is the nearest match I could get. It's my daughter with the spade, and my son is in the background, under the lamp -post, and my friend is wearing a long coat, so I score three points! The date I have written on the back is January 11.1987. That day the BBC weatherman, John Kettley said: "The only bright thing on this forecast is my tie!" He rightly predicted freezing temperatures and blizzards all week, but this was an underestimation. During the day temperatures kept on falling as snow showers became more intense. I was living in our house in Coningsby, Lincolnshire, where my husband was stationed with the RAF. Unfortunately for me he was on the other side of the world in the in the sunshine of the Falkland Islands. Our friends and neighbours came to dig me out as I was marooned with two children, and rapidly going down with a severe case of tonsillitis. It was a bleak time I remember. The wind was blowing straight off the airfield, seen in the background, and we were running out of fuel to heat the house. The village was cut off and there were no deliveries; everyone was borrowing from each other and huddling together.

According to The Weather Outlook site, the following day was probably one of the most remarkable days of the 20th Century, as temperatures stayed below -5c throughout England, and below -8c in some places in the Home Counties. The weather log for January 1987 describes the 12th-14th as the coldest spell of weather in southern England since January 1740. Over the next few days the U.K. was swept by blizzards and freezing temperatures. It was widely accepted as the most severe spell of weather in southern England since The Little Ice Age, and it ocurred in an otherwise average winter.


Digging for more snow pictures I found this one of my daughter aged about fifteen months in the garden of our married quarters at RAF Wittering near Peterborough. This would be the Winter of 1979 and she was getting her first taste of snow, quite literally by the look of it. 1979 was the most severe winter of the 20th Century. It wasn't as cold as 1963, nor as snowy as 1947 but was memorable because much of UK experienced long cold spells with heavy snowfall. It was also the most severe winter since colour photography became widespread so there are many archive colour photos to record it. The entire winter, the third coldest overall of the 20th century was bitterly cold and miserable, particularly in January and February. The Weather Outlook site is probably correct in summising that it compounded the industrial unrest in what became known as 'The Winter of Discontent'.


The above picture of me in the Austrian Tyrol, only came to light recently when we were copying 35m slides from my parents' boxes. Of course I'd seen it before but had forgotten it until now. I'm not too good with heights so I was probably looking back to Dad for reassurance. We'd gone on a holiday to Mayrhofen in 1966 taking advantage of a cheap holiday offer. We were a little unsure as the price seemed to good to be true, but in fact it turned out to a lovely, happy holiday. The scenery was spectacular of course and we enjoyed staying in a comfortable guesthouse and visiting the local bierkeller for entertainment and music.


And for something a little different, here's one of my favourite snow pictures, painted by my Dad. There were several to choose from, and treescapes were his forté, but this one seems to sum up the simple pleasure of a brisk walk through the woodlands near where he lived. A cold winter afternoon with the sun casting long shadows of the tall trees in the snow. There would be the occasional passerby, a couple with a child, someone walking his dog, and all would exchange a greeting as they hurried on, buttoned up against the cold. The birds would already be roosting for the night and it would be time to head for home and warmth. I've walked that walk with my parents and family many times and this picture is another reminder of those happy times.

To see how other Sepians (for that is how we are now known) have interpreted the prompt, you may need to don your snowshoes as you set off for the round of wonderful pictures, memories and anecdotes that is Sepia Saturday. We also have a Facebook page, where we have nearly as much fun. 

27 comments:

  1. I look forward to seeing more of your Dad's paintings, what talent!

    Nigel

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  2. Hello Marilyn:
    This post is so very fascinating as it recalls all of those exceedingly cold and snowy winters and has caused us to wonder where we were and what we were doing at the time. The winter of 1963 sticks most vividly in our minds as, if we remember correctly, the first snow started to fall on Boxing Day of 1962 and lasted nearly to the end of the following March.

    Your father's painting is wonderfully atmospheric. We are not at all surprised that it is a favourite of yours.

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  3. Brrrrr.... it looks cold but don't the children enjoy it, while we're all struggling to get to work.

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  4. Just reading your account of those cold winters made me reach for another sweater! I like your Dad's painting. The one tree on the right looks almost human, as if it might also want to grab a sweater.

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  5. I'm sure you won't be marooned by snow very soon at your current place of residence ...

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  6. Chilly scenes indeed, Marilyn, but warm memories. That's a super picture, painted by your dad.

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  7. With all due respect, but Mr Kettley got it wrong. I'll bet your daughter's smile was just as bright as his tie. It looks like the children had a bit of an adventure, even if your throat was protesting. That first photograph captures the scene very well, I imagine, or at least I think I get a good feel of what it must be like. Thank goodness the only snow we've ever had here was a light dusting on the fields a couple of years ago, gone within a few minutes of the sun coming out.

    Your dad's painting is evocative, but I must admit I don't find it very cheerful. I'm half expecting to glimpse a dark rider on a horse drifting ominously between the trees.

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  8. I can fully understand why you moved to Lanzarote! And what a treasure, this painting of your Dad. It is so nice to have something three dimensional as a remembrance! Did he put his signature on the paintings? We have paintings from my wife's grandfather and we cherish those.

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  9. I was in Norway in 1987 but Coninsby was a place where I had played hockey. Wittering was down the A1 from Stamford where I went to school and is another RAF station that I knew well in the 1950s and 60s.

    Can't say I remember much about 79 but I would have been in the the north-east then. Children always seem to enjoy the snow, your daughter obviously did. You Dad's painting is eyecatching.

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  10. What great photos. I have never experienced winters such as those in your pictures. Having to be dug out of your home is an experiences completely foreign to me!

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  11. I am trying to remember that 1987 winter : we would have been living in Sheffield at the time. I can vaguely remember driving back from Doncaster in thick snow. 1979 I can also remember as we had just moved to Sheffield at the time. Funny how bad weather can be such a signpost for the memory. The painting by your father is really very good indeed.

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  12. Love the first photo.How far did you have to dig!

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  13. The painting is interesting. The trees look very animated, and I think the scene looks haunted.

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  14. Every year I watch with horror the news broadcasts of blizzards and people having to dig their way out of the snow. My friends and I shiver and complain when the temperature is 36 degrees (Fahrenheit) and decide it is too cold to go for our morning walk! Of course, others look in horror at the news of our 110 degrees (Fahrenheit) and above during the summer. It's all relative, eh? Love your daughter's photo tasting the snow. I can imagine how wondrous small children find it the first time they see it.

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  15. Your daughter licking her glove reminds me of the kids licking metal railings at school in Canada and of course getting stuck - frozen to the rail. The nurse would come out with a bowl of warm water and get your tongue free. We all did it ONCE. I too love your father's painting and your memories of a splendid holiday in Austria.

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  16. Your Dad was quite talented in many areas, wasn't he? How fun to see his work and him on the ski lift. I enjoyed the pics of your little girl too. What miserable winters and snowstorms you have remembered for us today. Ones like that never go away in our minds, do they?

    Thanks for a pleasurable post, Marilyn, and thanks for co-hosting our FB page.

    Kathy M.

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  17. Marilyn, you have come up tops; the painting is beautiful, it really says "winter". First taste of snow is very cute and I remember Mayrhofen, a very beautiful place. Really a nice place for winter or summer holidays.

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  18. That is a winter never to forget sick, husband away, kids and snowed in. Thank goodness for the helpers! Enjoyed it all, but glad to be sitting out in the sunshine today.

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  19. Oh what a horrible winter that sounded like. I love your dad's painting. It sure does fit the theme nicely.
    Nancy

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  20. Nell ,your Dad's painting is a gem.'Captures the Bleak Midwinterperfectly.Ah,yes, 1979 was very cold ,I remember.Thank God for Global Warming!:)

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  21. 1979 was a cold and snowy year in the USA too. After reading the end of your post, I now want some hot chocolate. Very evocative.

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  22. Ah yes the word discontent and winter do seem to go together quite well! I think you should score more than 3 points to, with your delightful family photo- clearing the snow away. Your daughter in her snowsuit is adorable too, and I imagine you have many fond memories of those days!

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  23. A lovely collection of family photographs and memories. You did well to get everyone involved in clearing the snow in your first photograph, though we would have a job finding enough shovels. The painting by your father is so evocative and arresting - a very special heirloom.

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  24. I didn't know things could get as difficult and somewhat scary during winter when important necessities are running short. Falkland - is that the one Margaret Thatcher wanted back?

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  25. In 1979 we were living in Scotland and it was COLD! Our neighbours water supply froze going into the house so they had to beg buckets of water from all of us still with running water.

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  26. A winter wonderland and a prefect Sepian fit. Snow always brings out the contrast between wonder and gloom.

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  27. Minus 5C would hardly be considered harsh over here
    but we are used to worse, much worse...
    But it was a lovely ride into your past.
    Love the painting!!
    Funny thing: I loathe winter but the very first painting I ever bought,
    in 1981 or 1982, is a winter scene...
    Go figure!!
    :)~
    HUGZ

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