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, 24 May 2012

Market Share

A busy market scene in Waterford, Ireland is the Sepia Saturday prompt this week. Farmers and cattle mingle together and a van offers tea and coffee. How many of us can boast a cattle market to share from our family albums, unless we take the alternative meaning of a ‘beauty parade’? I did find a curious cow, I had photographed in 1976 however. My daughter is being introduced to one in a field we were crossing on our way to visit the lighthouse on Anglesey, North Wales. She was still too young to know what a cow was, or to have even heard about them through nursery rhymes, (when she would learn that they jumped over the moon apparently). At this stage she was probably just wondering what this creature looming towards her actually was.

Last weekend I was back in UK and friends took us to the delightful Priory Museum in Great Malvern, Worcester (more of that in another post). Malvern was a spa town and donkeys would be used to carry people up to the hillside springs or to survey the wonderful views from the summit. This photograph formed part of the exhibition, and although I concede that these are indeed not cows, but donkeys, I’m sure I don’t have to point out that teas were again being provided for the weary traveller. The juxtaposition of people, animals and liquid refreshment was too powerful to ignore.
It seems I like to photograph bucolic English scenes, as evidenced by the the very relaxed herd of cows in the New Forest, in 2004, and the rather fine fellow below at the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum, near Chichester, Sussex,  around about the same time.
I’m pleased to say that we were separated from him by a fence, although he didn’t look in the mood to cause trouble.

I have a copy of John Seymour’s 'Rural Life’, from the ‘Pictures From the Past’ series. John Seymour was an historian of the countryside, and an ecological pioneer who championed the cause of living simply. His book is full of wonderful images used to illustrate his descriptions of life in the countryside of the past.
In the section on ‘Markets' he clearly regrets the modern auction mart, where animals are driven into a ring and sold by a professional auctioneer. I’m sure he would have appreciated the one in the prompt image, which he describes a ‘stock fair’, held in the market streets and to which animals were driven from the surrounding countryside. "Bargaining might go on for hours before a deal was ‘struck' by two men striking the palms of their right hands together. In the West and North*, ‘luck money’ was expected by the buyer; a pound or two was handed over by the vendor and the two of the would probably spend this in the nearest pub.”
It all sounds a very civilised and unhurried way of doing business. I expect they had time for a cup of tea or coffee from the van to help with the sobering-up process too.

We don’t have cows here in Lanzarote, but goats are farmed for cheese and meat. Camels are the traditional beasts of burden, along with donkeys, and both can still be seen, though not at our local farmers’ market. Over in the neighbouring Canary Island of Fuerteventura there’s a restaurant called The Blue Cow (Vaca Azul) in the harbour town of Cotillo. Two years ago we were having a short break to celebrate our 35th Wedding Anniversary and enjoyed the wonderful views and good food here. Although their tea and coffee is perfectly fine, you won’t be surprised to hear that on this occasion, we celebrated with something a little stronger.

It’s market day over at Sepia Saturday so why not join us, you’re bound to find something refreshing from the man with the van.


  1. It indeed looks like you had a lovely trip to the UK! Your first photo where the cow is ready to check out this new thing on wheels, and a little person too, probably the highlight of the cow's day right! Your little girl looks ready to pet the cow too, if she only had the chance! Great source of cows....for this theme, and the town as well....I'm thinking on the idea of coffee....! Although something a bit stronger sounds good too!

  2. You daughter looks so calm being confronted by that cow. Not scared at all.

    I love the blue and white cow from the Blue Cow restaurant.


  3. I don't want to OWN cows, but I would love to own land to rent out for cows to graze so I could watch. I love cows. That seems to be a young cow greeting your daughter. She probably smelled good.

  4. A close encounter of the bovine kind, for your daughter. I love the way cattle are nosey. When I was growing up, they used to push their heads through my grandparents' garden hedge, to reach fallen apples.

  5. Hi Nell, what a wonderful post. That first picture is so fun ... your baby's first meet up with a cow. I enjoyed the varied photos and stories about different areas. I have never considered that there were countries without cows, they are abundant here.

    Hope you have a great weekend,

    Kathy M.

  6. Maybe the cow is thinking: "That's one large buttercup!". I remember drinking 43 (Cuarenta Y Tres) when I was in Spain.

  7. Reading your post brings to mind that they used to say Town & City Kids never knew where that white stuff in milk bottles came from!{ 'Never seen a Cow.}
    These days its even worse as milkmen themselves have become extinct & 21st Century Kids would even know what they looked like!

  8. You are even more confused if you go to Milton Keynes - there they have concrete cows.

  9. You have a fine collection of cow photos, and the donkey picture with the tea shop fits the theme equally well. It occurred to me that I'd had no idea that tea shops were so popular way back when, but then I realized that that's because I live in the U.S., where coffee has always been king. Actually, if the movies have told it correctly, the popular drinks in the days of cattle drives would have been whiskey and/or sarsparilla at the local saloon.

  10. I have never been close enough to a cow to photograph it.

  11. Hope you enjoyed your trip back to England, Marilyn.

    I like that photograph of the donkey rides outside the tea rooms. Donkey rides seem to have been part of the culture that really took off around seaside towns in the early years of Victoria's reign, when railways started to provide affordable transport to ordinary folk, but they weren't restricted to seaside towns, as your photo well demonstrates.

    I've written a couple of articles about donkey rides on Photo-Sleuth, but I am struck by the similarity of your scene with this postcard of Dovedale, where "Crowds gather on a Bank Holiday from near and far. ... There are cigarette kiosks and ice-cream hawkers; there are guides and postcards and wretched overladen donkeys, grunting up the hill ..."

  12. A great mix. The third one I mistook for a Constable painting of Salisbury!

  13. A donkey ride and a view, that for me. There is something about cows and water that always make such a beautifully bucolic scene. Even more so when I thought there was a painter and easel in the middle of them, until I clicked and enlarged the picture and realised it was just a trick of the light and my brain.

  14. Your daughter and the cow are both looking at each other like "what on earth is that?"

    Great pictures Nell!

  15. I wonder what your daughter did think of that huge beast looking at her! My second daughter was traumitized at that age by a bird flying at her, she is lucky it wasn't a cow!

  16. My then 5 year old son used to think that bulls were 'a type of monster' and was most perturbed when I informed him they were actually a male cow! I think the horns had him confused.

  17. Great pics! So, what happened after the picture was taken where your daughter and the cow met? Did your daughter cry? Did the cow come closer or just turn and leave? Thanks for sharing your intersesting photos!

  18. I have yet to see a cow jumping over the moon,
    and if I ever do, I shall question my sanity or sobriety...
    Loved the New Forest pic, so serene...
    A friend of mine who is passionate about bovines
    would have loved this and possibly done a great painting with this.
    Thanx 4 sharing!!

  19. Hadn't heard of John Seymour. I am reading all kinds of books I haven't read before because of bloggie friends, and he will go on my list. did you spot any of those highland cattle on your English travels? However often I see them, I simply can't get over them.
    The cafe cow looks entirely different from the English ones - quite festive, somehow. Or maybe it is the blue sky! :)