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, 31 October 2014

Help Yourself

No prizes for guessing the era for this wonderful repast in the picture above. There are many clues: the decor - two different garish patterns for the wallpaper and the linoleum floor covering; the plastic fruit and the folk-art egg-cups on the wall; the homemade sherry trifle in the cut-glass dish and ‘things’ on cocktail sticks. I see pickled onions and mini sausages, a couple of salads, mince pies, sausage rolls, cold meats, slices of pork pie and some sort of dessert made in a chocolate-covered cornflake flan case. How do I know so much about it? Well, this was my family home at Christmas 1974 and someone, probably my Dad, had taken a picture of the table before the hungry guests descended like a plague of locusts to devour it. This was the kitchen (we didn’t have a dining room) of the Nottingham council house where I grew up, and the scene of many such gatherings.

In this picture, with the guests helping themselves, we can admire the panel of brightly burnished reflective wall covering on the rear wall, the pale tangerine-gloss painted cupboards (slightly ajar), the cooking utensils and yes, the actual kitchen sink!

Our Sepia Saturday prompt this week is picture of a dining queue at a 50th anniversary dinner* with people helping themselves from a rather more ornate buffet table in 1952. I don’t believe we ever had an actual cook pot on the table but the 1970s and 80s, we would often host fondue parties. I’m sure many readers will remember the sizzling pot into which we communally dipped our forks!

A year or so later and we’d moved into the living room for a more intimate buffet, where guests could wander over and pick at the canapes as they pleased. I remember the orange plastic device for nuts and other small bites. It toned so well with the curtains don’t you think?

In 1981 a friend and I held a silly buffet party for our families, dressing up and serving cones of chips (French fries) with burgers and hot dogs.

Tupperware dishes of chutneys and relish graced the table and the guests helped themselves to a glass of something at the end of the table. The RAF Married quarters decor wasn’t much better than that of the 1970s. In fact it stayed that way for many years after and wherever we were posted we felt ‘at home’ with the swirly patterns in the stretch covers and the brightly patterned carpets and curtains, none of which matched.

That’s my very own Laura Ashley plastic tablecloth though; I had two small children by then. In case you’re wondering, yes, I am wearing a doily on my head!

It’s Hallowe’en tonight and my daughter’s birthday tomorrow; the grandchildren are visiting and the house will be full, so a buffet-style catering is what’s called for.

There will be lots of visitors so I need to crack on shopping, baking and putting ‘things’ on sticks. I may dress up - but I won’t be wearing a paper doily this time.

Have lots of fun this weekend and don’t forget to go Trick or Treating round your Sepia Saturday friends. You’ll get some nice surprizes in your goody bag!
*Tyrrell Historical Library via Flickr Commons

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Looking Back

I love this photo of me for so many reasons, not that I can remember it being taken of course. I’m in the arms of my much-loved grandfather as he walks towards the seashore. Who am I looking back at? My own father, who knew a photo opportunity when he saw one. This would be one of his earliest snaps of me. We were on a family holiday in 1952 and I was only a few months old. In my infant face I see my own children and grandchildren so in a sense I’m also looking forward into the present day.

We’re all looking back when we pore over old photo albums, when a sepia print prompts us to question a relative about what is happening in the photo, or a seaside postcard reminds us of a happy family holiday.

In this 1979 photo my own son can barely focus on his father; at only a few weeks old the images he saw would have been something of a blur. I’m looking back today at these treasured images but I’m looking forward to my son’s visit tomorrow. He’s bringing his wife and the twins of course; his Dad and his sister are already here and we’re going to have a great time. We don’t all get together like this very often, perhaps once or twice a year for a day at a time, so we’re going to be packing a lot into the next few days. There’ll be lots of photos to look back on and remember the happy holiday they spent with us.

Join us at Sepia Saturday this week and see how other contributors have looked back.

Friday, 17 October 2014

An Honest Living

I took this picture of the Cypriot mosaic artist on a street in Nicosia in 1992. He was working just inside the doorway and shaded from the intense heat of the sun. He appears to be referring to a book of reproductions of ancient mosaics which he may have been trying to replicate for the tourist market. Cyprus of course has many examples of the real thing so I can’t blame him for cashing in. He makes it look easy but I suspect it is just as painstaking as the originals.

Our Sepia Saturday picture prompt* this week is a street artisan found on a hand-coloured lantern slide of the 1930s. This gentleman is a shoemaker and mender and is surrounded by the tools of his trade.

There are no pictures of shoemakers or boot menders in my family album and the mosaic artist is the nearest I can get. However, just last week, we came upon this street artisan in the village of Maguez, here in Lanzarote, and he graciously consented to having some pictures taken.

He told us that the clays came from the surrounding volcanic landscape. The pots are probably very close  to the pots made by the earliest inhabitants of the island who would have used whatever materials came to hand. Their craftsmanship was born of necessity not to feed a tourist market, but one has to admire the potter here for using his craft to make a living.

As luck would have it, only yesterday, whilst in the island’s capital Arrecife, we had a coffee in the old ‘Recova’ market, which itself is steeped in history, and I was delighted to spot the shoe maker in one of the artisan booths. I have written about the Recova before in From Fish Stalls to Fiestas, where you can see the shoemaker in context and view some real sepia images which decorate the market walls. Once again the artisan kindly allowed me to take his picture and was eager to show us his catalogue of shoes all made from the finest leather, as well as some goatskin sandals. You can even spot some tools of the trade which match our prompt picture. I expect he would also repair shoes or boots if asked, but I think he was mainly a craftsman, designing and making shoes from scratch; an honest way to earn a living.

Why not join other Sepians this week to see what they made of the prompt.

* From The Powerhouse Collection courtesy of Flickr Commons

Friday, 10 October 2014

Taken For a Ride

Hard to believe that the tiny driver of the ‘stagecoach’ is me in 1958. I found this in my parents’ album with the title “Wells Fargo” underneath. "Tales of Wells Fargo" was a TV series which ran from 1957-1962 and featured lots of stagecoaches and cowboys so I expect that was in my Mum’s mind when she labelled our holiday snaps. This was taken in Prestwick, Scotland, and I appear to be enjoying being perched on top and holding the reins.

Clearly it’s a family thing as this photo of my brother in 1949 shows. This was another family holiday in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk. The posters in the background mention Yarmouth Races, but I don’t think my brother was going anywhere fast. I’m not sure of the exact spot where this was taken but it would appear that this was the starting off point for the ride. I expect that there was also someone actually leading the horses on that occasion too.

Well the carriage rides made a nice change from the inevitable ponies and donkey rides on the beach. There are plenty of photos of me and my brother, my Mum and my Dad sitting astride the animals but I’ve tried to match our Sepia Saturday prompt picture as closely as possible and ensure that a stagecoach, carriage, waggon  or cart was involved.

I am hardly visible in this August 1958 photo of another family holiday in Seathorne. My big brother was there to make sure I was all right, but he looks none too sure himself

The oldest picture in my collection is of my great-Aunt Maud (1893-1980) who has featured in several blogposts and indeed this photograph has appeared in the post ‘Where Was Maud?’. It was taken in 1905 at The Missionary Festival, outside the Albert Hall, Nottingham.

Maud is on the front row, partially obscured by the banner. It appears that the children are about to be taken for a ride; there are two men waiting and one is wearing a bowler hat, so that’s as close as I can get to the prompt picture. The men in the prompt appear to be engaging in a little clowning around however, so that is where the similarity ends. There would be no mischief on a Sunday School outing!

Take a ride to this week’s Sepia Saturday and join fellow passengers to see what they made of the prompt.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Cover Girl

Yes, it’s me! April 1974 and on holiday with my (now) husband in Cornwall. There is absolutely no mistaking the message here and I clearly did not want my photo taken and chose to be a ‘cover’ girl. Thank goodness for a handy towelling beach robe with hood.  I remember that garment so well and my trendy 1970s shopping bag from which I had recently taken a copy of ‘Woman’ magazine.  In those days Woman, and a similar publication, ‘Woman’s Own’ were full of heart-warming stories of family life, short stories, recipes, knitting and crochet patterns and articles on health. A well-known personality may have featured in a story somewhere but there wasn’t the obsession with celebrity culture that we have nowadays. These were the magazines that my Mother and Grandmother read. Mum subscribed to Woman and Gran to Woman’s Own and they’d swap each week. There were other women’s magazines that I remember from the 60s and 70s, such as Woman’s Realm and Woman’s Weekly which catered for the same market. At college I read Cosmopolitan, a magazine more suited to my age. I can only assume I wanted a light holiday read on this occasion.

As I became a more mature woman with a family I graduated to titles like ‘Prima’ and later ‘Woman and Home’ and ‘Good Housekeeping’. These days I still read women’s magazines occasionally, either in the digital version on my iPad, or if someone kindly passes on a copy. I don’t find much in them to interest me as they seem to be full of articles about fashion, and make-up and far too many adverts. Flipboard and Issu are also great platforms for the occasional bit of escapism and I can read articles from such diverse publications as ‘Women’s health or ‘The New York times - all free - and of course our own Sepia Saturday magazine is available on Flipboard.

I’ve no idea what magazine my Mother is reading in this picture from eleven years ago as I can’t see the cover.

She didn’t find it sufficiently absorbing and switched later to her book, whilst Dad perused the Sports page of the newspaper.

My daughter visited us for Christmas 2011 and posed with ‘Glamour’ magazine so that the photo could be submitted in the hope of publication for a prize.

Discover some great articles at Sepia Saturday this week where our prompt image is a 4th October
1944 magazine cover.  You’re bound to find some good reading and great pictures submitted by contributors. There were lots of themes to choose from including Norman Rockwell, The ‘little guy’ uniforms, followers and parcels from home. I’m sure they’ll have them all covered!