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, 8 April 2016

Shoebox of Surprises

Searching through my box of postcards, in the hope of finding something that would match this week’s Sepia Saturday prompt, I was focusing on bridges, boats and flags, preferably together. I had already featured them separately, and there was nothing in the family album that would suit. I came across this black and white postcard written by my mother to her parents, fifty-four years ago; it was too interesting to discard, despite the lack of a bridge. 

In itself the postcard is not very exciting but it does have the requisite boat and oars, though no oarsmen. The only action is a group of fishermen hauling their boat up onto the beach. I have  little recollection of this family holiday in Norfolk, as I was just a youngster, but the handful  of pictures in the album, with Mum’s caption, serve well enough. I was surprised, because I must have seen the postcard before, but hadn’t paid much heed to the message on the back. I’m glad I did because it led me off to do some research.

On Tuesday 28th August Mum wrote that we were spending the evening indoors as it was raining. ‘Indoors’ meant being cooped up in this tiny caravan, lit by gas and with the rain drumming on the roof. No doubt we did what we normally did on such a night; played cards, drew pictures and listened to a small transistor radio, whilst Mum knitted or wrote postcards, including this one. The next day, the postcard says, we were going to see ‘Five Finger Exercise’ at the Little Theatre. Mum told my grandparents that the caravan site was a nice one - with hot showers (there had to be some compensations).

That morning we had visited Weybourne Camp, where Mum had been briefly with the army during WW2, only twenty years previously. Dad took a picture of her wandering alone and deep in thought; it was captioned simply ‘Memories of Weybourne’. In the postcard Mum said: “……the old camp was still there, but deserted.” My grandparents would have known about Mum being at Weybourne, as she had been given a compassionate posting back to Nottingham in the Autumn of 1942 due to her mother being seriously ill. Mum was a clerk with 504 Battery of the 144th Mobile Royal Artillery Regiment, then stationed at Mapperly. From there they went on to Ticknall in Derbyshire and Ashby near Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire. It was whilst she was with the 504s they were sent to Weybourne for two weeks firing training.

During the War Weybourne played a key part in training Anti - Aircraft troops After the War it was still in use until 1958 for training and there is a Pathe Newsreel about the Territorial Army and their families using it for a training holiday. It  finally closed in 1959 and was clearly in the doldrums at the time of mum’s visit. Happily, it was acquired by Mr C. Berry Savory in the 1980s, and with his son Michael he converted it into a museum, which still attracts many visitors today. 

Just when I had given up hope, and was about to put the lid on the shoebox which houses my meagre postcard collection, this one popped up. It was written by my Great Aunt Maude in 1967, and addressed to my parents. She and her friend were holidaying in Scotland and she mentions Holyrood Palace and Castle, and was looking forward to a visit to Princes Street the next day. I rather like the card she chose, with its splash of orange on the blue water. It draws the eye, not to the bridge, but to the boat with its single oarsman. It reminded me of Renoir’s ‘The Skiff’ in The National Gallery. So, in the end I succeeded in ticking two out of three; boats and bridge, but no flags, and an interesting diversion via a shoebox of postcards. 

Join us over at Sepia Saturday to see what other contributors found in their family albums and shoeboxes


  1. Great pictures. I've played cards in a camp trailer with rain & hail drumming on the roof. Kind'a fun. I love the picture of your Mum taking a reminiscent walk through Weybourne. Her posture just speaks of remembering. And last fall we traveled over that bridge in your last picture! Ah yes, the Forth Road or Queensferry Bridge over the Firth of Forth. And from it, you look across to the very unique design of the Forth Rail Bridge over the Firth of Forth. Almost sounds like a tongue twister. :)

  2. It certainly was quite an interesting diversion, (especially your caravan and travel trailer, as we call them here) excellent photos too.

  3. More good memories of your mother's past life. My mother recalled staying in a caravan park and a small boy sitting on the steps of a neighbouring caravan that looked a lot like the one in your photo, and declaring to all and sundry that "We live in a taraban" :-)

  4. Love the old caravan shot. You dug out some interesting memories from the shoebox.

  5. What an interesting walk with you and your mom...I've also endured wet rainy days camping. The war years story is what caught my attention, since I know so little about the way people lived besides what's in novels usually. Last photo is indeed artistic.

  6. Sometimes the best part is the message on the back of the postcard. I like the idea of former military bases becoming holiday parks. A kind of swords into ploughshares transformation.

  7. You have got a wonderful shoe box full of surprises. I think you are a born story teller, enjoyed your post very much.

  8. That is one impressive bridge though.

  9. Delightful detour back to the Norfolk caravan holiday and your mum's return to Weybourne. So interesting to learn more about her role during the war too. Lovely to never really know where a search through the shoebox will take you!


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