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 26 September 2013

Another Bedtime Story

Here's my daughter, sometime around 1984, putting all the expression she can muster into reading her younger brother a bedtime story - or is she just sneezing? 

It made them both smile anyway.

They didn't sleep together but another night (note the change of nightclothes) they'd both fallen asleep in one bed and it would have been up to Daddy to lift the visitor back into his/her own bed. I notice my daughter's favourite doll, Peter, was also exhausted. 

By 1988 we'd moved house and I recognise this as my son's room. They were acting outs some sort of play and Peter the doll got in on the act again, along with big doll Sally, which I'd made for my daughter one Christmas.

This week's Sepia Saturday prompt was a sick boy in bed, surrounded by his favourite toys. It was actually an advert for insurance, but it reminded me very much of one of my favourite poems by Robert Louis Stevenson; 'The Land of Counterpane', from 'A Child's Garden of Verses'. I remember that when I was sick, as a child, I would have a tray on which to do my jigsaw puzzles or draw with my crayons or play with my paper dolls, Spirograph, or Fuzzy Felt.

When I was sick and lay a-bed,I had two pillows at my head,And all my toys beside me layTo keep me happy all the day.
And sometimes for an hour or soI watched my leaden soldiers go,With different uniforms and drills,Among the bed-clothes, through the hills.
And sometimes sent my ships in fleetsAll up and down among the sheets;Or brought my trees and houses out,And planted cities all about.
I was the giant great and stillThat sits upon the pillow-hill,And sees before him, dale and plainThe pleasant Land of Counterpane.

Don't forget to visit all the other bedridden participants of this week's Sepia Saturday. You'll find them a real tonic.

Wednesday 18 September 2013

Swords to Ploughshares

And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. Isaiah 2:3-4

The quotation from Isaiah is a familiar one to many and was recently invoked by the new Chief Rabbi of Britain and the Commonwealth at his installation ceremony, offering politicians grappling with the crisis in Syria, prayers for wisdom in Israel and the Middle East. There is a Peace Gallery in Michigan and a museum in Canada also called 'Swords into Plowshares', and no doubt many organisations throughout the world are similarly named. They all have at least one thing in common, to educate for Peace. There have been wars in the world for as long as there have been men to fight them. This Saturday is International Day of Peace or World Peace Day, and U.N. Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon has declared a theme of Peace Education.

"It is not enough to teach children how to read, write and count. Education has to cultivate mutual respect for others and the world in which we live, and help people forge more just, inclusive and peaceful societies."

As a retired teacher and headteacher I am in full agreement with this, and at my school we ensured that pupils were taught the U.N. Convention on The Rights of the Child along with responsibilities. The swords to ploughshares analogy is a powerful one used several times in the Old Testament and often cited in politics, books and popular culture wherever the message is about 'peace not war'; the anti-war song 'The Vine and The Fig Tree', the finale of the musical 'Les Misérables' and the Michael Jackson song 'Heal the World' all include it.

In the picture above my grandfather is pottering in his garden sometime in the 1960s. The fence is made from sheets of corrugated metal, which struck me as an unusual material. I wondered if he had utilised the old Anderson Shelter which used to stand in the corner of the garden during WW2. At the end of the war local authorities reclaimed the shelters, but for a nominal fee householders could retain them and many did, turning them into something useful and durable. Mum can't remember whether this was the case with her Dad and his fence, but I like to think it was. It wasn't exactly swords into ploughshares but it was using a wartime artifact in time of Peace. 

A very popular rose called Peace had its origins in WW2 also. It was developed by the French horticulturalist Francis Meilland, who foresaw the German invasion of France and sent cuttings to friends in Italy, Turkey, Germany and the U.S.A to ensure its survival.  In 1945 delegates at the inaugural meeting of the United Nations, in San Francisco, were given Peace roses with a note which read: "We hope the Peace rose will influence men's thoughts for everlasting world peace." It's certainly a most beautiful rose with a strong and memorable perfume; we had one by the gate of the first house we bought in 1975. Perhaps my grandfather had one too in his garden - so much nicer than a bomb shelter. 

Create a world with no fear   
Together we'll cry happy tears
See the nations turns 
Their swords into plowshares.
Heal the World, Michael Jackson

This week, Sepia Saturday falls on World Peace Day and the picture prompt may be used to generate bloggers' own thoughts and pictures along the theme. There will be activities all around the world; peace walks, peace choirs, art exhibitions, lighting candles and planting of trees to highlight world peace, but all you have to do is visit Sepia Saturday - it's an education.

Image by Kosenbamse via Wikimedia Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

Wednesday 4 September 2013

That Sinking Feeling

The picture above is of me c1958. Unfortunately I have no idea where it was taken; it could be anywhere - or the middle of nowhere. I seem to be struggling to control a hand-cranked paddle-boat, probably on a boating lake when we were on holiday somewhere. It was supposed to be fun, but by the look on my face I was hoping they'd call, "Come in Number 3 - your time is up!" before my hands broke out in blisters.

The picture only recently came into my possession, othewise I'd have used it on my post two years ago, when I had a similar picture of my mum with her brother. As you see when you click on the link, she didn't look too happy either. Since then I have found similar craft on the web, as more images are made available through the commons, but it seems a rare sighting.

The image above was the nearest I could get to this week's Sepia Saturday prompt, a lone lady rowing out to sea. Was she trying to escape from something or someone? Did she have a romantic tryst away from prying eyes? Was she the sole survivor of a shipwreck? Was she merely lost?

At first I was reminded of Tennyson's tragic, 'Lady of Shalott', as 'The broad stream bore her far away", or rather the 1888 painting by John William Waterhouse, based on that poem.

It's safe to say that she wasn't too far from dry land or we would not have had this wonderfully atmospheric sepia image. Perhaps she too was hoping that the photo-shoot would soon be over and that someone would call, "Come in. Your time is up'.

This watercolour, of Derwentwater in the English Lake District, was painted many years ago by my Dad and is appropriately sepia-tinted.

Now, before my time runs out, let me remind you to visit Sepia Saturday this week and see what other contributors have made of the prompt. Regular Sepians may like to join us in our Facebook Group where we have almost as much fun.

Monday 2 September 2013


I’m sitting high up in a tree.
Oh pity me.
In branches wide
I cannot hide.
My vertigo has trapped me here.
I’m full of fear,
and not resigned
within my mind.
Descent would be too perilous.
I’m querulous
I know, That’s true.
You would be too!

© Marilyn Brindley 

Tess at The Mag gave us the prompt picture and I had fun using a form that's new to me, The Minute. It's a recent form invented by an American, Verna Lee Hine Gardner and based on the number of seconds in a minute.
  • The syllables are spread over twelve lines: 8 in the first, fifth and ninth lines and 4 syllables in all the other lines. 
  • It's written in iambic rhythm (di-dum)
  • it is punctuated as prose, in that capital letters only appear after full stops and not necessarily at the beginning of lines.
  • It rhymes in couplets a,a,  b,b ,c,c, d,d, e,e, f,f.
(from 'The Poet's Craft' by Sandy Brownjohn.

Try it and see what you come up with; I'm definitely going to use this again.

The image is by Jeanie Tomanek