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 30 May 2013

The Open Road, The Dusty Highway

'There you are!' cried the Toad, straddling and expanding himself. 'There's real life for you, embodied in that little cart. The open road, the dusty highway, the heath, the common, the hedgerows, the rolling downs! Camps, villages, towns, cities! Here to-day, up and off to somewhere else to-morrow! Travel, change, interest, excitement! The whole world before you, and a horizon that's always changing! And mind! this is the very finest cart of its sort that was ever built, without any exception. Come inside and look at the arrangements. Planned 'em all myself, I did!'

Toad, in Kenneth Grahame's classic children.s book,'The Wind in the Willows' is enthusing about his canary yellow gypsy caravan which is his latest obsession. I imagine it was something like the one my daughter is perched on in the summer of 1988. Unfortunately no-one in the family remembers where this is.

The novelty of the caravan appealed to the child in Toad; it was somewhere to go to 'get away from it all' and lead a very different life to his normal privileged one at Toad Hall. In some ways perhaps we all harbour a secret longing to live the simpler life promised by the Romany ways. In reality it was quite a harsh existence, but we put those thoughts to the back of our minds when we see the cosy interior.

It was indeed very compact and comfortable. Little sleeping bunks--a little table that folded up against the wall--a cooking- stove, lockers, bookshelves, a bird-cage with a bird in it; and pots, pans, jugs and kettles of every size and variety.

We long to 'play house' as we did when children, pretending we are someone and somewhere else, and the gypsy caravan appeals to our romantic notions. In 1967 John Lennon went so far as to actually buy a gypsy caravan for his young son Julian and just last week it was making news again when it saw the light of day after nearly forty years hidden away: Beatles Sgt Pepper's Gypsy Caravan unearthed in Ascot.  Here's the original, rather jolly Pathe News report.


For others it really is a way of life. Watch this video of Barney Maurice and his family, who live life close to nature and travel the roads in their own caravan built by Barney himself. Just a glimpse at this gentle and alternative lifestyle should de-stress you for a while. 

Late in the evening, tired and happy and miles from home, they drew up on a remote common far from habitations, turned the horse loose to graze, and ate their simple supper sitting on the grass by the side of the cart. Toad talked big about all he was going to do in the days to come, while stars grew fuller and larger all around them, and a yellow moon, appearing suddenly and silently from nowhere in particular, came to keep them company and listen to their talk.

When I was a child myself in the fifties, most of our family holidays were spent in a hired, static caravan, usually in a park designed for the purpose. This had the advantage of providing me and my older brother with companions of our own age. 

Our picture prompt for this week's Sepia Saturday is a showman's caravan taken from the Fairground set of Tyne and Wear Museum on Flickr Commons, where many other splendid examples of a travelling life can be viewed.

Saturday 18 May 2013

The View From Here

For this week's Sepia Saturday Alan invited us to submit pictures of children upside down, the wrong way up or 'all over the place'; this picture illustrates why I still have a fear of heights. It's a classic father and baby picture; "Up she goes!" my father seems to be saying.

The prompt picture has Madrid street kids making use of railings as impromptu gym equipment. I remember doing just that with my little friends at about the same age (once I'd got over being hoisted high in the air by my Dad).

Children are, by nature, innovative; give them an old tyre or two and they will climb in it, swing on it or  just sit in it! Here's my husband c1953 with some little pals demonstrating this art.

And here's our daughter making the point, with the same kind of equipment, but on a ready-made adventure park in about 1986.

And again, the same year, taking part in a gym display at her primary school in Coningsby, Lincolnshire. That's her; upside-down, mid-cartwheel. The badges on her leotard are BAGA awards (British Amateur Gymnastics).

Alan points out that the Spanish children are doing what comes naturally and responding to any object which may act as a piece of acrobatic equipment. Here's my agile daughter again, making use of the washing line poles in our garden in RAF quarters in Germany.

Yes, that's my topsy-turvy daughter once more, enjoying a game of 'Twister' at her birthday party in 1986, and looking backwards at the world. In some ways this seemed the best way to view it. At that time her own daddy was in the Falkland Islands, thousand of miles away. She'd been in hospital for a tonsillectomy and was trying to keep cheerful for Mummy. When things seem tough just look at them in a different way; and what's wrong with sticking your head between your legs, letting the blood rush to your brain and saying; "That's better, now it all makes perfect sense!"?

To make sense of the world today, why not view it through the eyes of Sepia Saturday this week? Join us to see what other contributors have made of the prompt picture, add your own, or take a look at our Facebook page, where we view it from all angles (only for die hard Sepians).