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, 29 July 2016

Caverns Measureless

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to the sunless sea.
                            Coleridge

I don’t have any photos of sepia caves and caverns, as per this week’s Sepia Saturday prompt, so once more I am delving into my inherited postcard collection. There is a motley selection of well-known English caves and a couple from Yugoslavia and Gibraltar. No exciting messages, just souvenir postcards from various relatives’ travels. Some of the older ones looked pretty boring (the cards, not the relatives), a blurr of stalactites and stalagmites - until I scanned them and zoomed in - then all sorts of details were revealed. The first batch are from Cheddar Caves, on the southern edge of the Mendip Hills in Somerset and formed by underground rivers following the Ice Age. Gough’s Cave is a sequence of chambers with names such as Solomon’s Temple, Swiss Village and Cox’s Caves with the equally enchanting names of The Pagoda, The Marble Curtain, The Curtain Chamber, Transformation Scene and Home of the Rainbow (below).







 Next we visit Wookey Hole, a series of limestone caverns, also in Somerset. Here at last I actually find a boat to answer the call of the prompt image.The occupant appears to be standing alongside, perhaps the better to appreciate the scale of his surroundings.


In the next card shows the Escape of the River Axe, but no boat party.


 These rather dull sepia cards are enlivened by the a visit to the ‘Witch of Wookey Hole’. Go on, you know you can see her!


 And the boat makes another appearance in the kitchen of the aforementioned Witch. I can’t make out any occupants of the boat; perhaps they had a spell put on them.

"Double, double, toil and trouble
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.”


At last we find an occupant of a cave. This is St.Michael’s Cave in Gibraltar. It’s a so-called Neanderthal Man, who apparently sat out the last Ice Age in these caves. A skull was found in 1848. All he needs now is a Rock Chick and the party can begin.

Ok it’s not that sort of party in the prompt picture. At the end of our cave journey we finally spot a party of people enjoying the Postojna Caves in Slovenia, or as it was then, Yugoslavia. They aren’t in a boat though; this is a train, and the link shows that these are much more modern than the one shown here.


Why not join other troglodytes for this week’s Sepia Saturday? Here’s the prompt: Party in Boat, Speedwell Cavern, Castleton. 


Saturday, 23 July 2016

Time for Bed

No sepia photos of bedrooms in my album, to match this week’s prompt image for Sepia Saturday, but I did find a couple of postcards in my inherited collection.


This one was picked up by my mother on a visit to the American Museum in Bath, about twenty years ago, and shows; ‘A New England Bedroom’. It is early 19th Century, with stencilled walls and bedspread.  The ‘field’ bed with serpentine tester (whatever that is) has, like the doll’s bed, a traditional American netted canopy. The rocking horse still has its original ‘fly net’ cover.


This one is a very old souvenir postcard of a visit to Ann Hathaway’s Cottage in Stratford-upon Avon (I’d guess 1960s). Ann was William Shakespeare’s wife, and he famously left her his ‘second best bed’ in his will. I wonder if this was it.

I was reminded me of a visit to Chestleton House in the Cotswolds a couple of years ago.




Two lovely carved beds (click to enlarge for the detail) offering different warming methods; the first an electric hot water bottle and the second a warming pan.
















Join us at Sepia Saturday to see what other contributors made of the prompt image below.


Friday, 8 July 2016

The Walk of Life

This week’s Sepia Saturday co-incides with what would have been my fathers’s 95th birthday. Dad died three years ago, not long after he and Mum celebrated seventy years of marriage. He was more than a walker; he was a wonderful dancer, and I’m told he had pretty nifty footwork on the football field as well.* However, our prompt picture, is a street walking picture, beloved of seaside photographers, so I’m limiting my post this week to similar pictures, and those which feature my Dad. The one on the right was taken on a long-awaited holiday in Llandudno in 1946, and Dad is balancing my three-year old brother on his shoulders. It was his birthday too earlier this week, so you can work out for yourself how old he is!

The rest come from a family outing to Skegness, the following year.  My paternal grandmother is walking between Dad and Mum, who is holding my brother’s hand. The photographer seems to have caught them at the beginning of their day; the sun is up and everyone looks happy. Dad’s sister, my aunty Jean, walking between my grandparents, has treated herself to a toffee apple. At eighteen she wasn’t much more than a kid herself, but she had married her first husband at Easter that year.


The last picture seems to have caught the family at the end of their day out. The sun was probably going down, the jackets and coats are on, and my brother is sporting a fetching paper hat. Everyone looks ready to catch the bus home to Nottingham and shake the sand from their shoes.

*"He got the action, he got the motion
  Oh yeah, the boy can play
  Dedication, devotion
  Turning all the night time into the day."

Take a walk over to Sepia Saturday to see what other contributors made of the prompt below, and if you aren’t singing along with, ‘TheWalk of Life’ by Dire Straits, for the rest of the day, well then, you don’t know what an earworm is!


Thursday, 30 June 2016

The Somme Day One

Tomorrow marks one hundred years since the beginning of the great Somme offensive, which was to claim so many lives. My own great uncle lost his life there in September 1916, and I wrote about this in Dulce et Decorum Est. Here, I am simply going to choose a few words and images, provided by others, and let them speak for themselves, as a memorial to the many who died. The First Day of the Somme was the opening day of the Battle of Albert.


This image was captioned, ‘British trench near the Albert-Bapaume road at Ovillers-la-Boisselle, July 1916, during the Battle of the Somme’. It shows a German trench, occupied by British soldiers of A Company, 11th Battalion, The Cheshire Regiment.

From Albert to Bapaume

Lonely and bare and desolate,
Stretches of muddy filtered green,
A silence half articulate
Of all that those dumb eyes have seen.

A battered trench, a tree with boughs
Smutted and black with smoke and fire,
A solitary ruined house,
A crumpled mass of rusty wire.

And scarlet by each ragged fen
Long scattered ranks of poppies lay,
As though the blood of the dead men
Had not been wholly washed away.

Alec Waugh 



The image, by Richard Carline depicts the devastation by 1918, of a section of the Albert-Bapaume Road, and the surrounding landscape. A convoy of military vehicles drive along the bomb-damaged road, beside which are a few bell-tents. In the foreground is a grave, marked by a white wooden cross.

A time will certainly come in these rich vales
When a ploughman slicing open the soil
Will crunch through rusting spears, or strike
A headless iron helmet with his spade,
Or stare, wordless, at the harvest of raw bones
He exhumes from the earth’s unmarked grave.

(An extract from ‘Still', a new poem by Simon Armitage

A contribution to Sepia Saturday.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Birthday Lullaby

Go to sleep my baby
Sleep well, safe and sound, 
Sweet dreams are wished upon you,
Dear friends all around.*


Lullaby, and good night, in the skies stars are bright.
May the moon's silvery beams bring you sweet dreams.
Close your eyes now and rest, may these hours be blessed.
'Til the sky's bright with dawn, when you wake with a yawn.

Lullaby, and good night, you are mother's delight.
I'll protect you from harm, and you'll wake in my arms.**



Golden slumbers kiss your eyes,
Smiles awake you when you rise,
Sleep pretty darling, do not cry, 
And I will sing a lullaby.**** 









Happy Birthday today to my hardworking son, who can still sleep anywhere, anytime, at the drop of a hat.  All those lullabies must have done the trick! This special edition of my posts for Sepia Saturday (where we have finally reached Zzzzzzzzzz, in our alphabet countdown) is dedicated to you.



* Traditional lullaby
** One of the several versions of lyrics sung to the tune known as Brahms Lullaby
***Cradle Song, a poem by Thomas Dekker, set to music by Peter Warlock and later used by the Beatles.

Friday, 17 June 2016

A Christmas Koala

A Koala is for life, not just for Christmas. Except these two obviously weren’t. They were a Christmas gift by a kind member of my family and were passed on when we moved house, probably to the grandchildren, but I’m not sure. The pictures are from twenty-four years ago.


And if you think that was cute and kind of funny, what about My husband got? Chocolate hedgehog anyone? We’re such a fun-loving family.


Join us this week at Sepia Saturday, where other contributors will have come up with a far better  match for the prompt image.



Friday, 3 June 2016

Wheel Meet Again


Two engineers discussing the workings of a disused mill wheel in 1985. My husband, in the checked shirt, and a friend. Unfortunately, although I wrote the date on the back of this photograph, I had no idea where the mill was.


The kids get involved with the gears and handles, visible to the left in the first photo, but I was no nearer solving the mystery of the location, until.........

Image courtesy of Richard Croft on geograph
...the man in the checked shirt, did some Internet detective work and found it!  It’s Stockwith Mill, Hagworthingham, Lincolnshire. It was a flourmill, which ceased production before the Second World War, although the wheel powered a generator until the 1950s. There used to be a tea room there and clearly we had taken the kids out for the day in the summer of 1985. It wasn’t far from where we lived at Coningsby.



I know where this mill is though; it’s old name was Harnham Mill, Salisbury, round the corner from where I used to live. A great place to walk to from our house, for a drink or a meal. The Town Path, which begins in the city of Salisbury, and ends here - or perhaps it’s the other way round, depending on your desired destination, passes though the Water Meadows, familiar from John Constable’s paintings.



The stone building (here showing a smart chequerboard of ashlar and flint) was constructed about five hundred years ago as a paper mill. It occupies the site of a medieval fulling mill, and over the years has been used for making cloth, bone fertiliser and candles. It is now the hotel and restaurant we know and love and a great place for a reunion. Whenever we go back to Salisbury to see old friends, it’s one of our favourite places to meet. We’ve lost touch with the friends from 1985, but who knows one day we may meet again.


This picture was taken last September, at the Old Mill, where I caught up with some of my lovely friends from the world of education. Why not catch up with old friends, and meet new ones, over at Sepia Saturday, where the image below was our inspiration.