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 29 October 2015

Mirror Images

It’s 1983 in the woods near our home in Germany, and my daughter pauses on an Autumn walk to check the mirror and make sure her hair is tidy.

Mirrors don’t seem to feature in our family albums much, although we’ve often unwittingly captured our own reflected images when taking a photograph, especially near shop windows.

Our Budgie Pippin (1990 - 2000) loved to look at his own reflection, and of course had one with a bell in his cage. We also used to place a small handbag mirror on top sometimes, for variety. Pippin would be free-flying round the house most of the time, and only went in his cage when we were all out, or at bedtime. He liked anything which reflected his image, including teapots and shiny door handles.

I found this picture of a mirror, which I took a couple of years ago on a visit to a National Trust house. It was propped up in the window to catch the light, surrounded by all sorts of odd old objects.

I rather liked the way it reflected the leaded windows and the pattern it created.  I expect I thought it might inspire a poem or a piece of creative writing. It may still do that yet, but in the meantime, I’m reminded of a poem I wrote in response to a prompt of woman looking into a mirror. I kept thinking of The Lady of Shallot and you can see the image which inspired it on Lost Cause.

No lost causes where Sepia Saturday is concerned. Join us this week for reflections on Hallowe’en, love, mirrors, magic and the future, prompted by the image below.

Friday 16 October 2015

Holding On

This is a picture of my Mother and her brother in the late Twenties. I haven’t been able to identify the the other two children, though they may be cousins. Mum is holding on to the youngest; a baby of just a few months, whose sibling sits to Mum’s right, and they are all focused on something that we can’t see.

Our Sepia Saturday prompt this week is also four children, looking to the right; one is seated on an adult’s lap and three of them are holding on to something precious.

This is the Rosen Family in pre-war Estonia* and the lighting is extraordinary. Whatever it was they were looking at, it certainly held their attention. Perhaps it was a Magic Lantern show. It was clearly amusing, as the little boy has the beginnings of a smile. His three younger siblings haven’t quite understood, and each has brought along something precious to hold onto. I wonder what became of them; a Jewish family in Estonia during WW2 would have needed to hold onto the precious and comforting more than most.

My own father liked to take photographs from unusual angles; he would capitalise on the lighting, in this case, natural sunlight streaming through the window. He would have instructed us to look away from the camera, as he often did, and focus on something or someone to our right. Nevertheless, I’m holding on to something precious; my much-loved and rather bald dolly, just like the little girl in the prompt photo.

In the photo above, probably the same year, (mid-fifties) he once again makes us look to our right. This time it’s my big brother holding on to something precious; as well as me, his little sister, he has some kind of rocket-type toy in his hand.

Lately he and his family have had to hold on to something much more than expected. His son, my nephew, was struck down with a rare and virulunt form of Hepatitis last month; his life hung in the balance as his liver deteriorated rapidly. We will be forever grateful for the gift of life he was granted by a donor. The transplant was a success and my nephew has made a remarkable recovery. Like my Mum in the first photo, with her little cousin, like the Rosen family, whose fate we do not know, and like me and my brother, we are all holding on.

Join us this week at Sepia Saturday, to see what other contributors made of the promopt.  

* Courtesy of Flickr, The National Archives of Estonia Album

Friday 9 October 2015

Frightened Faces and Fearless Actions

The two children in this photograph look frightened of the camera and very unsure of themselves. Their parents also look unhappy, but the wife is staring stoically ahead and the husband fixes the lens with a grim, but determined, look. Examine this photograph a little a closer and you will see the row of medals displayed on the soldier’s chest This is Corporal John Ross V.C., of the Royal Engineers. John Ross was anything but a frightened man; just over a hundred and fifty years ago (21st July 1865), during the Crimean War, he was awarded the highest honour for valour, for his fearless actions on three separate occasions. First for linking trenches with a large working party, secondly for repeating this action under heavy fire, and thirdly, creeping up to the Redan, and on finding it had been evacuated, returned to report this, but discovered a wounded man whom he then rescued.

Ross lived a further twenty years, dying aged 57 on 23rd October 1879, having achieved the rank of sergeant, and is buried in an unmarked, but consecrated, grave in Islington Cemetery London. However, he is named in the family memorial headstone and on the ‘For Valour’ board at the museum. On the headstone we can read that Ann Jane Ross, daughter of John and Lydia. departed this life in her hundredth year in 1957. She must be the frightened little girl above. Clearly, she overcame her fear and went on to live to a ripe old age. It appears from the headstone that her brother died a few months before his father.

I apologise for the quality of the image as I took the photo through the glass of a display cabinet at the Royal Engineers Museum, Gillingham, Kent, last week. It was my son’s idea that we go, as it is near his home and it would be an interesting day out for the children (our 7.5 year old twin grandchildren) when we paid a flying visit to England from our home in Lanzarote. It was a good choice; the museum was fascinating and we adults could happily have spent all day and still returned on further occasions, as there was so much to see. The twins loved the hands-on  experiences and dressing-up in the soldiers’ uniforms. Of course they were too young too fully understand the stories behind some of the  photographs. Naturally, I was in Sepia Heaven and stories like those of John Ross, completely absorbed me.

This week Sepia Saturday celebrated its 300th edition with a photo of a family who appear both frightened and frightening at the same time. There is a view that one or two of them may be deceased and that this is a Victorian post-mortem photograph. This could account for the frightened look on the face of the child - or is he/she also a dead and merely being propped up by the dead grandfather. Don’t dwell on it too much; it may give you nightmares - save those for Hallowe’en in a couple of weeks time. Ponder instead on the valour of Corporal John Ross V.C. I’d never heard of him before, but now I hope I’ve done my bit to make this unknown face more widely seen and his bravery appreciated. Why not join us to see what other Sepians made of the prompt.