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 June 2014

Dipping Our Toes In

The chuckling two year-old with knock-knees is me of course. My Mum and my big brother have a firm grip in case I should tumble. This was Seathorne on the Lincolnshire coast and the family were enjoying a much-needed holiday after what had been a tough time. My brother was recovering from a serious illness. His eyes had been affected and this may be why he was wearing sunglasses; not something you see often in 1950s beach photographs. His tee-shirt would have been a gift from my great aunt Millie, who lived in America. Despite the sun, you can bet the water was very cold. Seathorne was near Skegness, known to be ‘so bracing’.

And here we are  again, venturing a little deeper this time. Some of you will remember this outfit from my Beach Baby post last year, where it was sand, not water, in which I was immersed. I’m holding on tight to my big brother again. I was lucky to have him, though I didn’t know that then. No sunglasses this time, but his eyes are shaded by a baseball style cap. Again, I don't know if that was very usual in Britain at that time and it’s possible that it came from the same great aunt.

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt is a photograph of people wading or paddling. I have many pictures to match this broad theme, but I decided to narrow it down by sticking to the ones where the subjects are wearing their normal clothes, rather than swimsuits.

I know I’ve posted this one before but it fits the theme so perfectly I had to show it again. It’s my mother, aged about seven, paddling in the sea at Mablethorpe, where she too had gone to recover from illness. My great aunt Maud had taken her there to recuperate. Having no swimsuit Mum tucked her dress into her knickers to keep it dry!

Last year, she came to visit us in Lanzarote, and this time she was able to paddle in the shallow lagoons at Caleton Blanco. The link will show a short movie (2 minutes) of the beach. It also shows you where Lanzarote is, and you will see it’s the Atlantic Ocean, not the Med. The difference between the two shots, apart from nearly ninety years, is that here it’s always warm!

Mum was content to roll up her trousers this time; tucking her dress into her knickers at nearly 93 would be deemed undignified.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Still a Great Experience!

My daughter is pointing to a poster designed by some neighbouring children, to mark the Royal Wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer. You don’t need me to remind you how that marriage turned out, however, back then it was an excuse for a street party. We were living in RAF married quarters at High Wycombe and our little ‘patch’ had just a few houses in a cul de sac; perfect for such a celebration.

We had many souvenirs of the wedding; a Wedgewood dish, a specially minted coin and a radio recording of the actual wedding made by me on a c90 cassette, but the postcard below is my favourite.

It was sent by my sister-in-law Gill to our quarters in High Wycombe. I treasure it because it marks a special snapshot in time. There are Charles and Diana smiling away on the 14 pence stamp, totally oblivious to the turbulence they were to face in the future; there is Gill’s distinctive handwriting and wry sense of humour and there is the postmark of Amlwych, Gwynedd, North Wales, then the home of my husband’s brother, his wife (the P and T referred to in the message) and family. I can only guess that the three old Welsh women were T’s mother and her friends. The card itself is an unremarkable arty design, hence Gill’s opening remark; my husband’s family had been holidaying on Angelsey for as long as anyone could remember (the name can just be made out on the franking) and every variation on the views had been mailed to family members over the years.  Gill summed up the Royal Wedding, with all its pomp, ceremony and national fervour, perfectly - "Still a Great Experience!”

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt is weddings and, if you’re looking for real sepia, read one of my first ever blogposts, ‘Wedding Day Delay’, which tells why my grandparents had to get dressed up all over again the next day! I wrote it on 29th April 2011, the day of a more recent Royal Wedding, that of Charles and Diana’s son, William, and Katherine Middleton; another great experience.
This Saturday will be remembered as the day that Alan’s son, Alexander, is married to Heather. We wish them every happiness and celebrate in true Sepia Saturday style. Join us in a toast and mark the occasion by visiting other Sepians to see what they made of the prompt. Here’s to Alexander and Heather! 

I’m also linking to Viridian’s Sunday Stamps because this week she has generously allowed us to choose whatever theme we like and here is one to fit the bill. 

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Roll Up! Roll Up!

This vividly coloured presentation pack from 9th April 2002 is delightfully illustrated and packed with information on the history of the circus.

Just look at the way the credits are displayed, in circus poster style.

In some ways the circus sounds much more fun back in the 18th Century when Joseph Astley set the ball rolling with a trick riding exhibition in London, later adding novelty acts and stunts.

This section tells us more about the development of circus traditions over the years. There is mention of Grimaldi (clowns), Léotard (trapeze), Isaac Van Amburgh (lion trainer), strongmen and bearded ladies.

As a bonus the Royal Mail offered the opportunity to purchase this collectible Corgi set for a mere £59.95. I wonder how many people took up the offer.

I’m not a big lover of circuses per se and these days there is even less exploitation of animals; many circuses still operating draw the crowds to watch the human performers. There have been some upsetting incidents in recent years of cruelty by circus owners, so I would not be sorry to see them go. That said, I still love all the glitz and glamour that goes with the circus of history. When I was young I remember many stories being based on the circus; in those days a visit to the Big Top was a thrill and a memorable occasion. I also remember it being broadcast on TV on special occasions.

One of the first blog posts I wrote was  called Life is Jigsaw and I featured this wonderful example that I found in a charity shop a few years ago. The cut-out figures are called Whimsies and again I just love the vivid colours and the feel of the real wood pieces.

This is a post for Viridian’s Sunday Stamps. No prize for guessing the theme this week, but make your way over to the Big Top and see what other contributors have made of the prompt. There’s bound to be more glamour and glitz.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Train of Thought

There’s something rather special about the picture above. The eagle-eyed will have noticed that it bears my family name. It’s not named after our branch of the family however; I assume it was to honour the famous engineer and canal builder James Brindley, to whom we are purported to be connected in some way. GWR had named a Victoria Class series of steam locomotives after famous engineers such as Brindley, Brunel, Stephenson and Watt, but these were all withdrawn by December 1880. LNWR also had a Brindley engine around 1905 and apparently re-used numbers and names of  withdrawn locomotives so that the numbering system became completely haphazard. I haven’t a clue which one this is but instinct tells me it’s the earlier model. My brother-in-law, the stamp and postcard collector, spotted the above picture for sale on eBay and of course it had to be his.

Googling also turned up the facts that a driver Brindley featured in this month’s Isle of Wight Steam Railway News and that a David Brindley designs modern electric trains. I wish I could say that we were all related but as far as I know we’re not.

Fellow blogger and bookseller Steerforth posted a picture of a shelf of unwanted books a week or so back.

He was moving premises and wondered whether it was worth taking books which remained stubbornly unsold. Some of us were surprised at the titles which appeared unpopular and I commented that surely 'The Boys' Book of Locomotives' by J R Howden would have been snapped up by an old-style train-spotter.

In those days, of course, only boys were deemed to be interested in such topics, although I wonder how many fathers bought it for sons with a view to ‘borrowing’ it; isn’t that how so many train sets came to be commandeered by fathers on Christmas Day?

Of course I then had to find out about the book with such an exciting title. Someone* had kindly scanned the cover and all the pictures and uploaded them to Wikimedia Commons. I had imagined line drawings but no, these were all clear photographic images of old steam trains, engines and valve gears from across Great Britain, Canada, USA and the continent. There must have been some history of travel as there were engravings of a stagecoach and a stagecoach timetable as well as a camel train in the desert. All in all a splendid book. I couldn’t see the Brindley Locomotive there but I do hope some lover of old trains, engines and/or photographs buys the book.

When my children were young we had a holiday in Yorkshire and visited the North York Moors Railway. I wrote about our trip on the steam train in Are We Nearly There Yet? three years ago before many current members joined. It tells of how we managed to bore the children with an 'exciting’ steam train ride. Perhaps this explains why the book above remains unsold. Old trains are not for everyone.

What is for everyone however is Sepia Saturday which has a prompt picture of a railway station with many possible themes to choose from. Consult your railway timetable and catch the next train over there to see what other commuters have made of the image below.

This very Saturday is the birthday of another Mrs Brindley (married to the owner of the Brindley  photograph) so this post is dedicated to her. Happy Birthday G.XX

* Thanks to Andy Dingley

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Architects of the Air

This is Royal Mail presentation pack 227 issued on 10th June 1997. It highlights famous British aircraft designers and some of their iconic aeroplanes.

20 Pence: R J Mitchell and the Supermarine Spitfire
26 Pence: Roy Chadwick and the Avro Lancaster
37 Pence: R E Bishop and the De Havilland Mosquito
43 Pence: George Carter and the Gloster Meteor
63 Pence: Sydney Camm and the Hawker Hunter

I have a particular fondness for some of these aircraft due to family connections. During WW2 my father worked on both the Spitfire and the Lancaster as a rigger, ensuring that the machines were repaired and maintained. During the 1980s they became one of my husband’s responsibilities; as part of his rôle as an engineering officer at RAF Coningsby and in the aircrafts’ position in the historic Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. The picture below is the cover of the explanatory booklet produced the year before he took over the post.

Just to put things in context, here is the said officer (the good looking one on the left) and the Group Captain, showing round The Lord Trefgarne, who was then Under Secretary of State for Defence Support. This not the BBMF hangar however, but another of his responsibilities, the hangar housing Phantoms.

And behind my husband, his sister and niece is ‘The City of Lincoln’ Lancaster at RAF Waddington in 1976.

This is a post for Viridian’s Sunday Stamps, which this week has a theme of aeroplanes and air transport. Fly over and see what other contributors have brought along to the airshow.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Lovely Lizzie

This is the face of a selfless and much-loved woman, my Great-Grandfather’s older sister, Lizzie. This portrait of her was taken around 1890 when she would have been in her mid-thirties.

When I was young I remember hearing my grandfather mention her with great affection and being told that she had brought him and his siblings up when their own mother died. I have since found out that this was the second time that she had stepped up when the family had need of her.

Elizabeth Georgina was born in 1854 to my Great-great grandparents George and Emma who ran a greengrocer’s shop in Radford, Nottingham. Her brother, George Henry, followed in 1863, by which time her parents had given up the shop and moved back into town to live near the Lace Market area where George worked as a porter and Lizzie would later follow him as a Lace Mender. In 1867 my own Great-grandfather William Joseph was born. Sadly, a few years later, both parents died within a short time of each other; Emma in 1875 of a stroke, and her husband in 1876 of bronchitis when my Great-grandfather, was still a little boy.

We don’t know what happened to the siblings immediately following the loss of their parents and it’s the 1881 Census which adds some more details. Lizzie was lodging with an unmarried aunt, George by now a clerk, was lodging with a provisions dealer and his family, and young William Joseph was in the care of Sir Josiah Mason’s Orphanage in Aston, Birmingham. In later life William, always known in the family as Little Granddad, attributed his small frame to only having had one square meal a day there. He would have left on his fourteenth birthday and took up an engineering apprenticeship. It was then that his sister Lizzie made a home for him. The 1891 census has brother and sister living together in the Lace Market area, where Lizzie, still working in Nottingham’s thriving Lace industry, was listed as a curtain folder and William as an iron turner. Older brother George had moved to Grimsby to work as a trawlerman.

In April 1891 William married my Great grandmother Mary Jane with whom he had three children: Maud (1993). Albert (1895) and Sydney (1898), my grandfather. Unfortunately Mary was to die in 1902 aged only 32, leaving William to bring up three children under ten. Once more Auntie Lizzie stepped in to help; she moved in with her brother and his three children, keeping house whilst he went to work. This arrangement probably continued for about ten years until William re-married in 1912 to a widow, Gertie, who had lost her family in the influenza epidemic.

We know of the movements of Gertie and William up to their deaths in 1949 and 1952. As a baby of just a few months I was taken to see Little Granddad who apparently described me as ‘a perky little Poll’! We know that he was a well-read man who enjoyed his pipe and doing crosswords; that he had worked as a lathe turner until the age of 74 and that in 1941 he was ‘bombed out’ when his house took a direct hit. These facts are there to share because they have come to me through living memory, but what we don’t have are any stories of the lovely Lizzie after her brother’s marriage. It would be nice to think that he and his new wife gave her a home in just the way she herself had done first for him, then later for his children.

There is more research to be done, but for now we have to be content with this portrait of Lizzie in later life and let it speak volumes about this woman; daughter, sister, aunt but never wife and mother, though she carried out the rôle of both out of duty and with love.

Once more I am, grateful to my brother, the genealogist of the family for the small details.

For more tales behind the pictures join us at Sepia Saturday where other contributors will be opening up their family albums and introducing their ancestors.