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 3 January 2020

Ghosts of Christmases Past

As this is the 500th Sepia Saturday call and I am a long-term contributor (though I've lapsed somewhat recently), I thought I'd answer with this offering.

This year has been tinged with sadness as I lost a friend in January and then my Mum in April. At the Festive Season I often find myself reflecting on Christmases past. Good times shared over the years with friends and family, many of whom have since left us. It's inevitable as we get older, but we need to remember that these were happy times and the photos in the Christmas album evoke fond memories. 

Mum (along with Dad, who died not long before Christmas 2012) was a star of many a blogpost I wrote for Sepia Saturday, and so I am going to simply share Christmas images of them, starting with a black and white snap from 1965. Their first Christmas as a married couple was 1942, but as this was wartime, and both were serving in the armed forces, there would have been little time to enjoy festivities; there were certainly no photos.  

The 1965 snap is the earliest I can find with any clue that it is Christmas. I know they had happy ones before that, even though money was short. Both were resourceful and creative, and Christmas decorations would be fashioned from found objects, natural and otherwise. They would often join us for Christmas, travelling to Germany when we were stationed there with the RAF in the early 1980s, and in more recent years to Lanzarote, where we now live, for a different kind of Christmas, in the sun.

By 1979 there was a new grandson to play with. The streets were quiet in Germany for Christmas 1983.

We were back in Wiltshire by 1990. Mum sits quietly in anticipation, whilst in 1992 Dad gets beaten at a Christmas game by his grandson.

  In 1995 a brisk walk around the Cathedral Close was called for, and we wrapped up warm.

A look of love at Christmas 1999.  .

A hamper of treats for 2000.

And the inevitable game of Scrabble in 2003

 2004 was very red and gold, but Dad wore his Christmas tie.  

In Lanzarote for Christmases 2005 - 2009.

In 2012 we brought Mum over straight after the funeral, so that she could rest in the sun. Being the resilient woman she was, she coped very well and managed one more trip over here the following July. Now she and Dad are back together again, and I'm sure they enjoyed Christmas, wherever they were. They were certainly here in spirit and in our treasured memories. 

Join others for the 500th Sepia Saturday

Saturday 23 February 2019

A Good Reason to Toast Again!

A choice of wines from local vineyards
This is a re-post from 2011, but as relevant today as it was then. I'm linking to this week's Sepia Saturday.  Originally the subject was ‘Drink Up’ for the Thematic Photographic challenge.  Of course we don’t have to be urged twice! I managed to resist the temptation to post pictures of family and friends raising a glass or two to the camera. Instead, I offer you a pictorial souvenir of a visit last month to the Monumento al Campesino, here in Lanzarote (Monument to the Farmer). The brainchild of visionary César Manrique, it’s a celebration of the resilience of the local farmers and the significance of agricultural life on the island. It’s situated in the geographical centre of the island in the heart of the beautiful landscape of La Geria, famous for wine-making. The vines are grown in the harsh volcanic landscape, protected from the elements by zocos, pits dug into the ground and surrounded by stone walls; a method unique to Lanzarote.

Examples of zocos
There’s very little rainfall in Lanzarote, and historically the islanders relied on rainwater or from supplies imported by boat from other islands. Until the sea-water desalination system was set up in the 1960s, farmers had to be very canny about their system for harvesting the little rain which did fall.

The ‘living’ museum has artisans practising their crafts, and examples of wine-presses and other agricultural and domestic implements. There was a wonderful restaurant, where we had a couple of courses. We couldn’t eat any more because, as you can see, they were very filling!  This was my starter, which at home would have been enough to keep me going all day. Patatas Arrugadas (sometimes called ‘wrinkly potatoes’ because cooking method, using a lot of salt, makes the skins crinkle), served with the traditional red and green garlic sauces (Mojo Sauce), dried dates, and slices of Canarian ‘Curado and Semi-Curado’ goats cheeses. The surprise was the dark slices in the centre of the dish. made with gofio flour. These were quite sweet and reminded me of a cross between a marzipan or truffle sweetmeat. I tried them to be polite, but they would have been just too much. The chickpea and fish stew which followed, was delicious, but again, very filling, and had I known the portion size, I would definitely nott have ordered the starter. It always seems impolite to leave food, but I really couldn’t have eaten another mouthful.

Starter: Canarian cheese, gofio, dates and Canarian  Potatoes with Mojo Sauces
The restaurant served a selection of local wines and of course, there was the  opportunity to purchase them in the shop. They were beautifully displayed, with information on each wine and the different vineyards and growers. It was difficult to resist and here’s one we managed to save from suffering the fate of the other bottle, which went very well with supper that night. Click on the link in the caption to learn more.

Malvaisia wine from El Grifo
Examples of the old wine barrels, housed in the converted farm. 
 In this poster diplayed there can be seen a typical Canarian farmer.  
The poster bears the following the legend:

"Francisco has been fighting for his land for over 50 years. It is to his endeavours and the warmth of our land that we owe the excellence of our wines.”

The headings says:

“Wines with the denomination of origin Lanzarote. A good reason to toast”

So “Cheers everybody!” and when you’ve drained your glass, totter over to Writteninc. to see what other TP participants have come up with.

I’m also linking this post to Weekend Cooking, which is Beth Fish’s weekly meme for all things food-related: book, movie reviews, recipes, anecdotes, quotations and photographs are all welcome. I’ve learned a lot from my visits there. Go on have a go!

And I'm re-posting this eight years later as it is the perfect answer to this week's Sepia Saturday image prompt. A Paris wine bar, from the George Eastman Collection on Flickr Commons. It's titled  Marchand de vin rue Boyer by Eugène Atget  (French, 1857-1927) in about 1910-11.

Saturday 16 February 2019

More Fun Than Fashion

I took this photo as I walked past a fancy-dress shop in Nottingham's Victoria Centre in 2015. The strange assortment of outfits, and the way they were displayed, appealed to me. Mannequins (or dummies) are usually draped in the latest fashions in department store windows, and it made a change to see something promising more fun than fashion. We are coming up to Carnival time here in Lanzarote when outfits just like this may well be on show.

Two years ago, on a visit to the Elder Museum of Science and Technology in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria (another of the Canary Islands), we saw some of the fantastic costumes that had been used in that year's carnival.

Here in Playa Blanca, where I live, I saw this shop in the Marina, The mannequins were outdone by the painting on the wall outside.

In this 2011 photo my sister-in-law feels somewhat overdressed next to these shameless mannequins awaiting the opening of a new shop, also in our local marina.

This week's  image prompt came from the Eugène Atnet album of the George Eastman Collection on Flickr Commons. Why not see what other contributors made of it by visiting the Sepia Saturday page.

Postscript. If you put the word 'mannequin into Google and hit the 'News' tab, all manner of quirky stories appear. More naked mannequins were seen from the Nottingham Wheel this week, and a dry cleaner in Worthing bids a sad farewell to 'Serena' after years of faithful service.

Saturday 9 February 2019

Plenty To Go Round

These photos date from August 1968, when I was on a return visit to the family of my Austrian exchange friend. Her father was a forester and they lived in village not far from Vienna. The dish was called 'Zigeunerpfanne' - literally gypsy pan, and it was a stew of delicious meat and vegetables, with spices, such as paprika and cayenne if my memory is correct (after more than half century, who knows?).  I guess the idea was that the cooking was done as the gypsies would have done in the days of old. 

I look a little apprehensive as my friend's younger brother stirs the pot, whilst his mother and and older brother sit back.

The other dish probably contained rice;  her older brother's friend already served, and her father just behind him, enjoy a beer, as they wait for the addition of the stew.

I remember this time reasonably well, as her brother and his friend were on leave from the army, where they were on National Service. Her parents were quite anxious as it coincided with the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Soviet troops (21st August) as the culmination of what was known as The Prague Spring.  Following this we awoke one night to hear tanks rolling into the village, fortunately they were Austrian, not Soviet, and we were then to have soldiers billeted with us. By this time my parents had also joined us for a few days, and my friend's mother would always prepare a little more than was necessary for this 'family' to ensure that the soldiers had some home-cooked food. She would have preferred to have her own son and his friend there, but that was the next best thing. There was always plenty to go round.       

I was reminded of these scenes of outdoor cooking by this week's Sepia Saturday prompt. The image is from the George Eastman Collection on Flickr Commons, and titled, 'John, the cook, baking slapjacks' by William Henry Jackson (1843-1942). Click the link to join other contributors and see what they made of the prompt.

Friday 7 September 2018

Step in Time

Steps have appeared as prompts before in Sepia Saturday, and really I should be sitting on ‘The Naughty Step" for being absent for so long.  Admin Number One (Alan) has his head so full of his new grandson that he forgot to tell Admin Number Two (Me) that he was away, and to remind me to keep an eye on all things sepia. It wasn’t just Alan that was all at sea, but being the experienced sepia sailors that you all are, you navigated your way through without the Captain and First Mate.

I haven't got such a good excuse as Alan for neglecting my post, but if you read my very last sepia offering you will have seen that we became doggy parents for the first time ever, and Pico has rather monopolised our time.

People standing on steps appear in lots of photo albums and mine is no exception. The difficult task was narrowing it down to just a few,and especially ones that hadn't been used before.

 Here’s my Dad in 1961, standing on the steps of Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight.

A few years later in 1995, my parents and I posed on some steps at Avebury Manor in Wiltshire. 

Then in 2013 I was going up in the world. This was the Jardin de Cactus, here in Lanzarote. 

Saturday 31 March 2018

Travellers’ Tails

Yes, I do mean ‘tails’ but there are also ‘tales’ to be told. The prompt for this week’s Sepia Saturday shows Anna Finlayson, a 1959 Canadian beauty queen packing her bags for her next competition. It appears that her little dog is unhappy about being left behind and would like to be getting in that suitcase and travelling with her.

We have just become first time dog owners and now have to take another little soul into account when we make any plans for travel. Pico, aged fifteen months, was rescued from the pound when a puppy; unfortunately he was badly treated by his new owners, so has been doubly unlucky. Now that he has come to live with us we can see that there are a few issues we have to deal with, and the thought of leaving him alone to even go shopping has to be quickly dismissed whilst we start from scratch with house-training and building up trust. Eventually he will be able to to stay behind for longer periods, as he slowly gets used to our ways. Time, patience and lots of love, which we have in abundance, will help him defeat his demons. He’s already sleeping all night with no crying or accidents, and the greeting I receive in the morning is joyous.

Although this is the first time we have owned a dog jointly, long-term readers of my blog will recall that when I was a girl I had a little white poodle who has often appeared in my blogposts over the years. He was a present for my eleventh birthday and lived for fourteen years; as I moved away to college and then got married, he became more of my parents’ dog than mine.  However, when I was thirteen, I travelled to Austria on an exchange trip for a month and although (as far as I know) Kim did not try to climb into my suitcase, nor pine for me whist I was away, I was homesick and missed my little companion dreadfully. My host family had dogs of their own, but they just didn't take the place of my own beloved pet.

This is my favourite picture of Kim sitting, not in a suitcase, but in my mother's shopping basket. It gives a good idea of his size, and although small dogs are often toted around in handbags, he never was.

Ferried by car and carried underarm, but no, never in a handbag, whereas Pico...........

............arrived in Lanzarote by air exactly a week ago today from Gran Canaria,  having travelled on the charity volunteer’s knee in a bag. It’s only a forty minute flight and allowed with dogs under five kilos. When we met them at arrivals I asked where the dog was and she pointed to her shoulder bag.

And there you have it in black and white travellers’ tails - which are constantly wagging.

Join other travellers and their best friends for this week’s Sepia Saturday, to see what they made of the prompt, which come courtesy of Vancouver Public Library, via flickr commons.

Saturday 24 February 2018

Girl, Bicycles and Dogs

This was our prompt picture for this week’s Sepia Saturday;  it comes from the State Library of Queensland, Australia, and it features: Miss Ida Zornig of Maryborough c1911. I'm a little short of time, photographs and ideas this week; however, a quick trawl through my photograph collection yielded one or two, (although I'm sure they have been seen before).

This is my Mum, aged about eighteen on her treasured bicycle. It featured in Girl on a Bicycle back in 2015, along with the one below of my daughter, learning to ride, in 1982.

Heres my daughter again, in 1990, with a friends dog, Spark, and three years ago, making friends with a young Podenco who followed us on our walk. Podencos are Canarian hunting dogs.

Just for fun, heres a dog on a bicycle; well, in a basket on a bicycle, strictly speaking. I snapped this just a couple of weeks ago, so aged him using editing tools to fit in with the sepia side of things.