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, 25 April 2013

The News in Pictures

A slightly misleading title for my post today perhaps, as it will be the newsPAPER in pictures. In fact it's a family gallery of newspaper pictures. The photo prompt for this week's Sepia Saturday is a group of people sitting on a bench reading newspapers. It occurred to me that there must be some examples where newspapers feature in family albums. These days I read mine on the iPad, which is so much easier. The weekend newspapers in Britain now come with many supplements which are bulky and give the delivery boys and girls muscle strain. Much of the content could not be deemed as 'news', and in this way little has changed from my grandparents' day when The Daily Mirror was their tabloid of choice.

I'm assuming that's what my grandfather is holding in this seaside 'walking' photograph. On the back is stamped 24th July, but no year; I'm guessing Mablethorpe 1952, as there was a family holiday there when I was a few months old and my Gran looks exactly the same as the pictures where I am in in my carrycot. My grandparents were in their mid-fifties and my grandmother was six years younger than I am now, and yet looks so much older. The National Health spectacles and 'comfy' shoes don't help.

I remember that they also enjoyed a newspaper style magazine called, Tit-Bits, which featured human interest stories full of drama and sensation. G.K. Chesterton posed the question of whether an author would, "really rather be asked in the next two hours to write the front page of The Times, which is full of long leading articles, or the front page of Tit-Bits which is full of short jokes."

No guesswork needed as to the publication in the next picture; my Gran's newspaper is definitely The Daily Mirror, as the title can be clearly seen. Unfortunately there are no further clues. The word 'freedom' is part of a headline but that could mean almost anything. I don't recognise the picture either. It's another seaside holiday picture, and it was probably Mablethorpe again, as it was easily reached by coach, from their home in Nottingham. They both looks somewhat older and I'd have to guess mid 1960s. They'd both become much stouter by then and it's a testament to the sturdy deckchairs that they were able to support them.

By 1977, when I think this next picture was taken, a few months before she died, my grandmother had been widowed for six years and had been living with her daughter, my mother. The newspaper which had sent her to sleep was probably The Nottingham Evening Post, now called simply The Post. A glance at its website today shows what the main headlines of the newspaper will be: 'A Royal Welcome for Prince Harry, as he visits Nottingham today'.

Delivery of The Post is eagerly awaited by my own mother each day. She reads it from 'cover to cover', although I think she skips the sports pages, which my father would always turn to first for news of his football team, Nottingham Forest. When she has gleaned as much as she can about local news she completes the crossword. Only then can she pick up her knitting guilt-free.

In this picture she was snapped by me reading Dad's newspaper over his shoulder. This was 1966 Southsea, and Mum was probably wishing Dad would hurry up and let her get to the crossword!

At Christmas 1999 I was snapped reading the The Times newspaper, which was still issued as a broadsheet at that time and after 200 years was published as a tabloid in October 2004, saving much arm-aching. Don't be fooled by the content of the Arts' page which was reviewing some ballet performance as 'Light, lively and so darned nice'; I'm not a ballet lover. I was probably scanning the opposite page, which would have been music, books or drama. Look at the size of my off-the-shelf reading glasses, which I'd started needing in order to read small print. These days I just 'pinch and zoom' or increase the font size on my iPad.

In 1992 my husband was also suffering arm-ache problem with the Style and Travel section of The Sunday Times, which proved much easier to read with an arm resting on the breakfast table. The headline, 'The Di is Cast' clearly refers to Diana, Princess of Wales, whose picture can be seen top left of the front page. It seems to refer to Catherine Oxenberg, who played Diana in a 1982 TV movie. I wonder why it was headline news ten years later. The words 'confusion rages' can just be made out - it certainly does!

By Christmas 2001 I was scanning the paper without the benefit of reading glasses, so I must have opted for contact lenses that day. My parents were visiting so perhaps it was The Sunday Express (My mother still loves the General Knowledge crossword). The headlines were complaining about old favourites 'propping up a tired schedule' so I'm guessing these were the TV and entertainments pages.

And here is my late father, enjoying Christmas in the sun in 2005 and reading one of the few English newspapers available in Lanzarote. I'd better not say the title but some of you will guess when I say refer back to that description of Tit-Bits at the top of this post. Aimed mainly at a female readership, add gossip-mongering and rabble-rousing to the list and you'll know which one I mean. Well there wasn't much choice, and it does have a sports section and a crossword!

If you want to know more about the news behind the headlines in the last picture you may like to re-visit a previous post where a solar eclipse is featured.

I've still got that newspaper and my husband posed with it especially for the blogpost. Note that both arms are resting on a soft cushioned armchair to prevent the well-known affliction 'broadsheet-armache'.

To see what other poses newspaper readers adopt, why not go over to this week's Sepia Saturday newsstand and take your pick of newspapers, magazines and periodicals. There's bound to be something to suit everyone.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

A Happy Wanderer

When I was a child there was a radio request programme called 'Children's Favourites' on a Saturday morning, which every week seemed to have the same songs. One of these was 'The Happy Wanderer' and our Sepia Saturday picture prompt this week is of a group of happy wanderers setting off on hike of some sort.

I love to go a-wandering, 
Along the mountain track, 
And as I go, I love to sing, 
My knapsack on my back.

My Knapsack on my back.

.The earliest of my family to wander was my mother. She went on a hiking holiday in Wales with her friend Blanche, at the age of eighteen.

The family were not very well off financially and it seemed a good way to get out in the fresh air and see the countryside quite cheaply. The Youth Hostelling Association (YHA) ran the holidays and Mum  tells me that it was good fun. They slept in dormitories of four girls and in the evening there was singing and card games and some girls played the piano. Mum couldn't afford the proper kit so she had to 'make do and mend' as they said in those days. She already had some shorts and shirts but no tough walking shoes, so my grandfather banged some hobnails into her strongest shoes to make them more sturdy. She must have enjoyed it as she went back again the following year; she had already met my Dad by then and WWII was on the horizon, so it was the last break away until their two-day honeymoon in Derbyshire in 1942.

I wish my Dad had done something similar to my shoes when it was my turn to go 'youth hostelling' in the Yorkshire Dales on a school trip in 1967. Again, we didn't have the wherewithal for me to get kitted out just for a week's walking. My shoes were not the strongest and I recall they let the wet in! Nevertheless my friends and I had a good few days away. We had a lot of fun and met some lovely people and we still recall some of the in-jokes from that week away. The only downside was several of us being afflicted by a tummy bug and spending the last night near the bathroom.

My friends and I cooled our aching feet in the icy waters of the river.

I love to wander by the stream
That dances in the sun,
So joyously it calls to me,
"Come! Join my happy song!"

Moments after the picture on the left, of me and our friend Nigel, was taken, he stumbled on some wet rocks and cut his head. My friend Hilary administered the First Aid as she was keen to practise. She went on to become a nurse! I seem to remember we were left to our own devices at this stage and there were no teachers around. This wouldn't be allowed today, and teachers hesitate before volunteering to organise trips and accompany students on any holiday with a hint of adventure in it. There have been some well-publicised accidents in recent years which have ensured that the Health and Safety rules have been tightened and teachers worry about parents suing. From experience, I can say that the Risk Assessments alone were almost enough to put them off. It's a good job Nigel was able to brush off his fall, and lived to walk another day.

Our packed lunches, made by fellow students, were very unappetising. We tried to palm them off on a passing goat, but failed - I thought goats would eat anything! What does this tell you?

These days I'm much better equipped to tackle the volcanic terrain of Lanzarote where I live. A good pair of walking shoes is a must, but for some climbs only a sturdy pair of boots will do.

Montaña de Guardilama, Lanzarote, August 2012
"To the right of the pass is then 'pencil-point peak' of Montaña de Guardilama, which offers Lanzarote's most spectacular viewpoint to those fit enough to brave the ascent." (Walk Lanzarote, David and Ros Brawn)

It was a climb of 630 feet from here, so I'm glad to have got that one ticked off the list whilst my knees can still manage it!

Montaña Blanca, Lanzarote, October 2011

An extendable stick with a pointed end is my favourite accessory - or I'd never make some of the climbs!Oh, and a hat to ward off the sun's rays, and a knapsack, of course, with the essentials like: camera to record the spectacular views and the milestone achievements; water to prevent dehydration; chewing gum and sucky-sweets; penknife (for hacking at fig trees); a plastic bag to collect figs, grapes, shells, anything; wet-wipes (the figs are sticky and the rocks are dusty when you have to use your hands to assist a climb; sticking plasters and a few euros for refreshment when we reach the nearest bar, café or sociedad.

I wave my hat to all I meet, 
And they wave back to me, 
And blackbirds call so loud and sweet 
From ev'ry green wood tree.

Wait for me John!

No blackbirds or greenwood trees, and very rare to meet anyone else to wave your hat to! Once we reach the top we congratulate ourselves, and each other, have a drink of water and a little rest and admire the wonderful views.

The next step is going downhill. This is sometimes  more tricky than the ascent, as the ground can be quite skittery.

Oh, may I go a-wandering 
Until the day I die! 
Oh, may I always laugh and sing, 

Beneath God's clear blue sky! 

Off you go laughing and singing to this week's Sepia Saturday to see what other contributors have made of the prompt below. We also have a Facebook page for serious Sepians (but we we have a lot of fun too!) If you want to read more about our wonderful Lanzarote walks you can hike over to my husband, John's (Caminante) blog: Lanzarote on Foot.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Between the Ruins and the Runes

This year is the centenary of the passing of the Ancient Monuments Act which, "recognised for the first time that there are physical remains of the nation's history which are so special and so significant that the state has a duty to ensure their continued survival." (English Heritage). The story of how that came about was recently told on UK TV in a series of programmes which charted the disasters and delights of the last century of preservation. It's quite a complicated and detailed story and I'm not going to repeat it all here, but I hope to get your interest sufficiently piqued so that you will investigate further. Clips are still available here for those in UK or with a VPNUK.

Sepia Saturday this week has an old photo of Conway Castle as the picture prompt. My family album is stuffed with pictures of us tramping over various ruins and admiring ancient monuments around the British Isles. I'd have a hard time choosing for today's post; so instead I'm going to begin with the one that led to the making of that landmark 1913 Act.

The above image is courtesy of The Library of Congress via Flickr Commons, where, if you click here you will see an interesting little thread about the misspelling of the monument. It's actually Tatershall Castle, Lincolnshire, and is very well known to my family as from Christmas 1984 to July 1987, we lived nearby in Tattershall village, and then in Coningsby, where my husband was serving in the RAF.  The story of how the castle was saved in the nick of time from being dismantled and taken to America, is told on the English Heritage website here. It's a story of detective work and determination on behalf of the then Lord Curzon, former Viceroy of India and restorer of the Taj Mahal. It's worth reading just for the description of the castle's fireplaces being restored to their rightful place, in great triumph, on horse-drawn carriages, draped with Union Jacks.

Tattershall Castle has been described as 'the finest piece of Medieval brickwork in England' as the original fortified manor house was rebuilt and expanded with brick by Ralph, Third Lord Cromwell, Treasurer of England, between 1430 and 1450. It is the 130 foot High Tower and moat which still remain and ensure that the building stands out in the flat Lincolnshire landscape. In the picture above you can see the church, also built by Cromwell, which, along with a row of almshouses, still stands today. You can find out more about the castle, which is now maintained by The National Trust, by clicking here. But there are a couple of 'Did You Know?' snippets to share first. Did you know that the current Lord of the Manor of Tattershall and Thorpe is Julian Fellowes, creator and writer of Downton Abbey? Did you know that the church holds the grave of Tom Thumb and his house is in the village?

I'm amazed that I can find no pictures in our family albums of the children running around the castle. Perhaps, as we lived nearby and the children even attended Tattershall Primary School, we took it for granted. We certainly visited but any record of those visits is lost.

There's a slim possibility that there may be some in my parents' albums, which I don't have. My father certainly painted it; perhaps that picture of him in my post, 'We All Shine On' a couple of weeks ago, sitting at his easel with a peacock at his feet, was taken there, as peacocks certainly roam the castle grounds.  I'm going to say that it was, so that we can imagine that the view he was painting was Tattershall Castle.

Tattershall Castle is relatively modern when compared with the Neolithic stone circles of 2,600 years B.C. Once again, living near Salisbury for so many years, we were fortunate to be surrounded by landscape and buildings steeped in history. So, in the absence of pictures of castles, here are my children visiting the stone circles of Wiltshire.

My daughter in 1978, being kept on a tight rein by her Dad, when we visited Stonehenge with a group of friends, about ten years before we moved to the area. When we did we had no idea how often we'd be driving past this iconic site. Controversial plans are now afoot to divert roads away from the circle and make it accessible only by a low-key visitor transport system.

Here's my daughter again, in 1989, accompanied by her brother, and perched atop a Neolithic stone which is part of the Avebury Circle. This Neolithic henge contains the largest stone circle in Europe and is situated in the Wiltshire village of Avebury. Owned and maintained by the National Trust, the site is open to the public, as a scheduled Ancient Monument and a World Heritage Site. It has a huge significance for pagan, and in particular Druid groups, as well as New Age believers, who frequent the site with dowsing rods in search of psychic emanations.

So whether you're into reading the runes or researching the ruins, why not visit this week's Sepia Saturday and see what others have made of the picture prompt below. If you join our facebook page