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 21 January 2016

Where Go the Boats?

My brother shows off his toy yacht in this 1949 photo in the family’s front garden. It’s a Summer photo and the likelihood is that it was either a birthday present or a holiday souvenir. That year the family went to Great Yarmouth, in Norfolk, for their annual holiday. The War had only been over for four years and there was still rationing of many items. My parents were not very well off and would save all year for a week’s holiday in a caravan or chalet. They would have been keen to ensure that my brother had a good time and a toy boat would also have been an investment as he could play with it when he returned home and take it on future holidays as well.

Here’s my brother with our Dad at the Model Boating Lake at Gorleston, Great Yarmouth. There were two model yacht ponds in Yarmouth at this time and the hobby was thriving. The Yarmouth pond is now part of the Yarmouth Pleasure Beach and when you descend the log flume ride you are splashing down into the old Yacht Pond. To see the pond at that time,being enjoyed by children with their model boats, and read people’s memories of the place, click here.

Where Go The Boats? is the title of a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) and appears in his ‘A Child’s Garden of Verses’. The book has been printed many times and is always beautifully illustrated, invariably showing a child holding a model boat very similar to my brother’s. I wonder if Stevenson is really talking about the loss of his toys into the hands of another child; I can’t imagine he would be so cavalier as to launch several (he uses the plural) expensive toy boats. I always thought the poem was about paper boats, the kind we all had modelled for us as children, or those made from a piece of bark and a twig, with a paper sail; cheap, disposable and fun. Paper boats would be set to sail, often in a race, in a local stream or river. We never mourned their loss, but like the child in the Stevenson poem we may have wondered where they would end up. The illustration, from the 1928 edition of the book, courtesy of project Gutenberg, shows the boats I had in mind.

Off they go to be caught up in a current and whirl and bob their way amongst the green leaves which had fallen into the river until, perhaps, they come to the seashore and pass the 'castles in the foam'. However you interpret the poem, it’s easy to be lost yourself in its wonderful rhythm and rhyme.

Where Go The Boats?

Dark Brown is the river.
Golden is the sand.
It flows along forever, 
With trees on either hand.

Green leaves a-floating,
Castles in the foam,
Boats of mine a-boating-
Where will all come home?

On goes the river
And out past the mill,
Away down the valley,
Away down the hill,

Away down the river,
A hundred miles or more,
Other little children
Shall bring my boats ashore.

Our Sepia Saturday picture prompt this week featured two model boats of which the family in the picture were so proud that they included them, along with their children and their other treasure, the family dog. Off you go and lose yourself in the stories and pictures of other contributors, which the picture inspired. Who knows where you’ll end up?

Thursday 14 January 2016

Something to Hold on To

This is my mother-in-law, Mary, aged about two years. She was born in 1910 so it’s possible that this studio portrait was taken around the time of the Titanic disaster in April 1912. Our prompt picture for this week’s Sepia Saturday shows two brothers who survived that catastrophe. They were thought to be orphans and their photos were published in the hope that they would be recognised. Luckily their mother, who was estranged from their father, was later reunited with them. Their father was abducting them and hoping to start a new life with his children; sadly he drowned in the icy waters and the children were too young to give a lucid account.

Their story can be read here and there are other photos* taken on the same day of the two boys holding a variety of different toys, including a model ship! In the second photo here, and the prompt image, the older boy has a ball which has clearly taken his fancy. Mary too has been given a ball to hold; she was not an orphan and came from a comfortable middle class family, so there the similarity ends.

A flip through most people’s family albums will no doubt reveal numerous similar shots of toddlers posed with a ball, so why not join us this week at Sepia Saturday and see what other contributors have come up with to match the prompt.

* Library of Congress via Flickr

Friday 8 January 2016

Great Balls of Stone

This the Great Globe at Durlston Park in Swanage, Dorset, England, and that's my son and husband being dwarfed by the mighty monument in 1999. Constructed in 1881 of Portland stone it is one of the largest stone spheres in the world. For those who like facts, figures and history follow the link.

This is how it looked around 1900 courtesy of the Detroit Publishing Company. The BBC page shows sepia pictures of how it looked in those days, when it first became a visitor attraction.

Here's a mini version in a shopping centre near here in Playa Blanca, Lanzarote. When it's fully functioning this one becomes a fountain-like water feature.

Visit Sepia Saturday this week for more large spherical objects, and see what other contributors made of the photo prompt above.