Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Little Fluffy Clouds

Sometimes, when I stare at the sky, the clouds seem more active than normal. These are very fluffy. Is there a name for this type of cloud formation?

Optical Illusion

When I discovered this photograph, I couldn't work it out. First, I thought my cat Tangwyn was climbing some snow-covered steps. Then I thought she must be descending the steps. I am still not sure - what do you reckon?

Monday, 28 December 2009

Who Killed Cock-Robin?

I felt very, very sad when I discovered a dead robin in the undergrowth. There was, however, a certain beauty in its stillness and I was moved to take a post mortem photograph. Later, I remembered the old English folk song:

"Who killed Cock Robin?" "I," said the Sparrow,
"With my bow and arrow, I killed Cock Robin."
"Who saw him die?" "I," said the Fly,
"With my little eye, I saw him die."
"Who caught his blood?" "I," said the Fish,
"With my little dish, I caught his blood."
"Who'll make the shroud?" "I," said the Beetle,
"With my thread and needle, I'll make the shroud."
"Who'll dig his grave?" "I," said the Owl,
"With my pick and shovel, I'll dig his grave."
"Who'll be the parson?" "I," said the Rook,
"With my little book, I'll be the parson."
"Who'll be the clerk?" "I," said the Lark,
"If it's not in the dark, I'll be the clerk."
"Who'll carry the link?" "I," said the Linnet,
"I'll fetch it in a minute, I'll carry the link."
"Who'll be chief mourner?" "I," said the Dove,
"I mourn for my love, I'll be chief mourner."
"Who'll carry the coffin?" "I," said the Kite,
"If it's not through the night, I'll carry the coffin."
"Who'll bear the pall? "We," said the Wren,
"Both the cock and the hen, we'll bear the pall."
"Who'll sing a psalm?" "I," said the Thrush,
"As she sat on a bush, I'll sing a psalm."
"Who'll toll the bell?" "I," said the bull,
"Because I can pull, I'll toll the bell."
All the birds of the air fell a-sighing and a-sobbing,
When they heard the bell toll for poor Cock Robin.

One of Life's Mysteries

Just once in a while, you come across something unusual. What do you think it is?

Pensive Panda and other Mosaics

I once had an opportunity to visit Washington Zoo and was very taken with the mosaic animal images on the entrance walls. There were several - here are a few to enjoy:



Blogs of Note 2

Jackie Morris' new blog contains a post detailing her love of moleskine sketchbooks to write and draw in. She provides two links to sites that record some of the fantastic art made by others in their own sketchbooks. Click here and then here. Enjoy!

Blogs of Note 1

Taking an opportunity to read through the links on this blog, I was pleased to see that the marvellous illustrator Jackie Morris has now transferred her journal to Blogger and can be viewed here. Please go and visit.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Spooked by a Stone

It's funny isn't. I often tell people to look up above the shop fronts and how they will discover hidden things - ornate guttering, statuary and crested downpipes. For quite a while, I haven't bothered to look down. Finding the portal this afternoon encouraged me to wander back with Sooty, but looking down. I am glad I did.

Sooty was snuffling around as little dogs do and then jumped to one side. I took a look and saw a stone that was oozing evil. Well, perhaps not evil, just a bit annoyed at being woken by the touch of a cold, wet nose. Sooty's, not mine!

I went back for another look and I realised it was playing a trick - being playful, even. Mr Grumpy Stone had encouraged another to move closer and now looked like a pirate wearing a tri-corn hat. Proof indeed that stones often have a sense of humour.

Have you looked up or down, lately? What have you found? Oh and be careful. Don't walk into lamp posts when you are looking elsewhere. One, it hurts and two, people laugh at you!

Portal to another Place!

A short time ago, I was escorting Sooty on her afternoon constitutional around the garden when I noticed a movement out of the corner of my eye. It came from the base of a Victorian garden urn - at least one hundre years old, maybe more.

I realised that the centre was actually the entrance to a very dark place. I put my eye close to entrance of the tunnel, but could see very little. There was just enough room to gently put my hand into it. I heard whispering noises and then felt what seemed like miniature hands clasping at my fingers. It was not unpleasant, but I didn't like to intrude. Thanking the inhabitants of the tunnel, I left them alone to get on with their lives without the 'great hand of Oz' poking into their home.

That was a couple of hours ago and now the thought of Alice comes to mind. Had I found the portal to Wonderland, I wondered? Do you have nooks and crannies in your own gardens that might be home to wondrous creatures? Please let us know!

He's Back!

Here I am again. Sorry to take so long to return to my blogs, but the rigours of travelling up to my new job in Blackpool (a 225 mile journey) on a Monday and then returning home on a Friday meant I didn't feel too much like blogging. I'll put that another way. I felt like blogging but was so tired I didn't think I would do it justice if I did. I have had quite a few enquiries to see if I had dropped off my perch - thanks to Owen and @eloh to name just two. I was touched by people's interest so 'Thank you very much, my blogging companions!'

In sorting out lots of boxes of stuff that had been accumulated over so many years, I found some real treasures and, when I get a chance, I will share some of them with you. It was like finding buried treasure - the words 'Wow!' and 'Fantastic!' came to mind often. I found lots of unremembered vintage photo albums, ephemera, postcards and much more besides. Please be patient and I'll get round to posting some of the best.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Just a Broken Ornament

It was just a glint of light that caught my eye that led me to look more closely at this grave. Resting at its base was a porcelain figure that had seen better days. It had suffered damage - loss of the head and an arm. I still found it captivating and I started to ponder. It was obviously loved enough to continue to leave it on display but, like all these things, created a mystery. Why, when something like this shatters, is there no sign of the shattered head and arm. Has someone taken it? Did a relative take it home? Why was it not repaired? Remembering the broken but repaired broken angel or the damaged statue of a boy posted on The Graveyard Detective, I wonder what happened to the bits?

Lonely Bear

I wandered into a Gloucestershire church which was, unusually these days, open to visitors. I was struck by this lonely looking bear waiting for someone to give it a hug. I did!

A Tree at Last!

It seems an age since I last got close to trees. Have they missed me? Well, I think they have! I encountered this tree creature in Gloucestershire. I am not sure whether it is suffering from a hangover and is that a dewdrop hanging from his snout. What do you think?

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Glorious Dead?

As I sat in a traffic jam on the Promenade in Blackpool this evening, I looked right and noticed the magnificent war memorial obelisk. I could see the words writ large upon it: 'In Memory of our Glorious Dead'. It triggered a memory from visiting hundreds of war memorials over the years - most of them bore the same inscription. My question is: Why describe them as 'Glorious Dead'? Anyone have any thoughts on the subject?

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

A Visit to the Pet Cemetery

I obtained these four photographs from America recently. They document a couple's visit to the Pet Haven Cemetery and Crematory. I am guessing that the photographs date from the 1950s. Sadly, I don't recognise the automobile, but I know one of you will! Here the woman poses next to car with the cemetery sign in the background.

Then she is photographed, I presume next to the grave of her much loved pet. I am now starting to suspect that something unusual is going on, certainly by today's standards.

The woman is joined by her husband for a plotside photograph. Was it taken by a passing visitor or a relative? I just don't know.

The final photograph shows a view of the cemetery. Click on the image and you will be suprised. Everywhere you look is a Christmas tree, some very ornately decorated with hanging baubles etc. I presume it was the custom to allow the beloved animals, who have passed over to the other side, to share in the custome of celebrating Christmas. Was this the norm back then and does this quaint custom of decorating Christmas trees in pet cemeteries still continue. It would be interesting to know. I looked up the Pet Haven cemetery, but Google listed many cemeteries of that name across America. Sadly, there is nothing written on the back of photographs to indicate the location of the site pictured here.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Blackpool Tower

Nearly a month on from my last post, but I have a good reason. As you know, I now work in Blackpool during the week. It is quite frustrating each morning and again each evening as I drive along the promenade and spot picture opportunity after picture opportunity. So far, I have captured none of them, but, rest assured, I will get to photograph some of them soon.

Photographically, it's the sort of location that would drive Mr Toad of the Magic Lantern Show blog wild with excitement - unbelievable! I did, however, stop in a carpark for a few minutes and glimpsed a distant view of the famous tower. Here it is in all its glory. [click on the image for a closer look]

The top of the tower is quite ornate. The structure is 518 feet 9 inches (18 3 metres) high and was completed in 1894. Five million bricks, 2,500 tonnes of iron and 93 tonnes of cast stell were used in its construction. Fascinating fact - the cast steel and iron are distrubuted in such a way that if it did ever collapse, it would fall into the sea . . . or so they tell us!More useful information can be found on Wikipedia, click here to visit.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Reality of War 2

Nurse Edith Cavell was shot by the Germans in 1915 for helping a number of Allied prisoners to escape from German-occupied Belgium. According to Wikipedia, countless newspaper articles, pamphlets, images and books publicised her story. She became an iconic propaganda figure for military recruitment in Britian to help increase favourable AQmerican sentiment towards the Allies. Cavell was a popular icon due to her sex, her nursing profession and her apprarently heroic approach to death. Her execution was represented as an act of German barbarism and moral depravity. The many biographies that surfaced of the late Cavell, in reality, were only fictional accounts.

Yesterday, I found an envelope with some three dozen postcards concerning her death. I am posting a small number here to show the propaganda aspect and then the reality of death.

Nurse Edith Cavell is pictured with here dogs in her garden in Brussels in 1915. Thousands of Britons purchased this souvenir postcard at the time.

Cavell's grave was covered in floral tributes. The photographer has captioned the postcard with the date of her death as 12 August 1915. She actually died on 12 October.

News reports of her execution were discovered to be true only in part. The American Journal of Nursing, at the time, repeated the fictional account of Cavell's execution in which she fainted and fell due to her refusal to wear a blindfold in from of the firing squad. Supposedly, while she lay unconscious, the German commanding officer shot her dead with a revolver. A printed account on the reverse of this propaganda card records: "The fiend takes his revolver and, leaning upon his victim, deliberately blows her brains out." I leave you to guess how many patriotic Britons rushed to the recruiting office to enlist for service at the Front . . .

After the war, many troops visited her grave. Here, two American doughboys pay homage.

After the war, her remains were recovered and transported back to England for reburial in the grounds of Norwich Cathedral. Here British troops load the coffin on to a gun carriage during the removal of her body from the Tir National. The Union Flag, the wooden cross from her grave and a host of other material is preserved at the Royal London Hospital. More details of the collection can be found here

Her simple grave, pictured here, is in the grounds of Norwich Cathedral.

So, here is her grave before exhumation. The reality is quite different.

Here is the exhumed body of Rammler, a German soldier shot (without trial -the card records) at the same time as Philip Baucq (who assisted Cavell) and Miss Cavell, for refusing to fire on this nurse. His coffin was found between these two patriots.

Many of you will remember my so-called 'ability' to spot things that are often unnoticed. Probably from my picture editing days. Please note the well-preserved uniform and the buttons on his right sleeve. Take a look at Rammler's left boot. The shape of it seems to indicate that his boots are on the wrong feet. I presume this must have happened when his body was prepared for burial? Perhaps the undertaker was in a hurry?

This final image records the scene shortly after officials carried out the exhumation of Edith Cavell. Thankfully, she appears to have been buried in a shroud. It provides a grim contrast to some of the sanitised photographs published elsewhere in this post.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Reality of War 1

A couple of days ago, the last British Tommy of the First World War, Harry Patch, died aged 111. I can remember meeting him on the Somme during an event to mark the 80th anniversary of that dreadful battle. In his latter years, he became very anti-war. It is perhaps apt that, today, I rediscovered another album of several hundred historical photographs and postcards showing not only the battlefields of France and Flanders, but also a little of the human cost of war. I make no apology for publishing so many images in one post, but stick with it. As you work your way through the images, you will notice the subject move from propaganda to reality - certainly very noticeable when compared to the - in my mind - distasteful, but allegedly morale-boosting propaganda postcard that starts this post . . . Remember to click on an image for a closer look.

A nurse offers comfort to a wounded officer in this propaganda shot. Note the unbloodied bandage around his head and how clean his uniform is.

A Christmas souvenir for these wounded soldiers in just one of several hundred military hospitals that were established in towns and cities across Britain. The two soldiers, front centre, have been encouraged to pull a cracker. No doubt, the popular wartime cry -" Are we downhearted? No!" was shouted here! The photograph was taken in the dining hall of the Colchester military hospital.

More wounded soldiers pose here in their 'hospital blue' uniforms. Look more closely and you will see a number of facial injuries have been patched up.

Anzac soldiers at an unknown rural location. The nurse and a soldier in the front are both holding kittens. A remarkably candid comment by one of those in the photograph is recorded on the back of the photograph - "Just a postcard - I look as if I had s--t myself!"

A group of nurses pose with wounded Tommies. Look closely at the soldier sitting to the right of the nurse in the front. Using a pistol carved from wood, he is pretending to shoot the nurse in the head . . . Sinister or what?

I am not sure who this is meant to encourage? This photograph captures the finish of a race between one-legged servicemen. There more I think about it, the more disturbing a piece of propaganda I find it.

More realistic is this snapshot of two convalescing servicemen in the grounds of Victoria House in Blaenan Festiniog, Wales. One has lost an arm, the other a leg. One of them is recorded as R O Hughes, but I don't know which. They could be Royal Marines as the man in the wheelchair looks to have a Globe and Laurel badge in his lapel.

The capbadge on the cap of the central figure looks to be that of someone serving with the British Red Cross and St John of Jerusalem organisation. The two men each side have each had both legs amputated. They are sat in special wheelchairs that were to prove such a common sight on the pavements of Britain after the war. There is a handle of each side that is pulled independently to propel the chair forwarde. I can remember seeing old men in such vehicles in the late 50s and early 60s, but they were a really rare sight by then.

Of course, with so many wounded soldiers losing limbs in the war, special factories were established to manufacture artificial limbs made from wood. This work is captured in this photograph.

And for those who made the ultimate sacrifice, work continued for years after the war to find the remains of the missing and rebury them in War Cemeteries around the battlefields. Here, a graves registration team exhumes human remains at Lagnicourt on June 23, 1920. I wonder why the photographer has recorded it as a re-exhumation? Note the skull at the feet of the figure on the right. There is a second balanced on the side of the excavation, just to the left of the middle figure in the trench.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Writing in the Sand!

I think most of us have, at least once in our life, picked up a piece of driftwood on the beach and written or drawn something in the sand. I once had the grand [for grand, read particularly stupid] idea of writing my name in 50 foot high letters. I gave up half-way through . . .

Later, I tried to write the name of my beloved Jack Russell, Bert, in the sand, but he thought it was a game. As fast as I wrote it, the quicker he dug up the letters! Tell me, what is the most interesting thing you have written in the sand?

Dandelion Clock - how it works

A number of you have asked how the dandelion clock works. It used to be a sort of rite of passage for parents to teach their children about this custom - probably less so now, but I still see it being 'taught' from time to time.

So, imagine the scene - a very, very long time ago when the sun shone brightly every day from June through to August. My mother was taking me on a nature walk - another custom that is sadly dying out - and she picked a dandelion seed head. She said it was a clock and I should blow on it to make the seeds fly away. I was to keep count of the number of blows it took to remove all the seeds and each blow was an hour. For example, ten blows was ten o'clock and five blows would be five o'clock. There, easy when you know how!

That said, sometimes - no matter how hard you blew - two or three seeds remained and it was probably because the fairies were taking a day off - it also being known as a 'Fairy Clock'.

It was as well known as a parent holding a buttercup under your chin to see if you liked butter. If there was a yellow reflection on your skin, then you did! A fellow blogger has reprinted a victorian story that mentions the dandelion clock and it can be viewed by clicking here

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Poppy in Detail

I was looking at a very ornate poppy [name unknown] recently and marvelled at nature's wonderful design work. A closer look at the centre reveals more of its beauty.

Dandelion Clocks

Taking a stroll recently, something prompted me to look over a fence and I was amazed to see a field full of dandelions. Here is close up of the dandelion clocks which were such a joy for everyone when they were children and - if they care to admit it - in adulthood too! Now, when was the last time you blew on dandelion heads to find out the time?

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Where's Laurie?

Well, I guess a number of you will have been wondering why there had been no posts from me for more than a fortnight? At least - I hope so? One or two regular followers might have thought I had pushed my luck once too often with those trees and been been caught by the branches or got dangerously to close to more of those stone lions I have been photographing recently?

Actually, it's a bit more than that. My current job had come to an end and I needed to find another. I applied for a post and travelled to the faraway lands of the north for an interview. A couple of days later, I heard I had been successful and the past few days have been a bit of a blur. Yesterday, I said farewell to my colleagues and am now on two weeks holiday before taking up my new post on August 3. Is it going to be an easy transition to make? I don't know yet, but what I do know for certain is that my new office is 223.8 miles from home!

I will be based in Blackpool - home of the famous Tower and the amazing seafront illuminations - and within sight of the peaks of the Lake District across the bay. Have any of you ever seen the surreal 1995 black comedy Funny Bones starring Jerry Lewis and Lee Evans? It features a cast of fascinating and frightening locals (shiver!) and you've guessed it - it is set in Blackpool.

Eventually, we will need to move there and that will take some coming to terms with, as those of you who remember my post on Paradise Garden where I live. However, in blogging terms, it will lead to my discovering new subjects for my imagination and take me two hundred miles closer to the fantastic Tiddles, star of Jumble Sale Rabbits, and the same distance further away from the remarkable Mr Toad of the Magic Lantern Show. Tomorrow, hopefully, I will return to blogging.
Best wishes

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Spider adds Mystery to Stained Glass Window

One of two chapels in the Perrymead RC Cemetery contains some seriously stunning stained glass windows and as the city of Bath's chapels were specially opened for the day, the public were able to view them. I was so impressed and took some photographs to share with you. When I looked at the second photograph, I noticed a spider on the left sleeve of Mary. Indeed, when I looked at the third photograph, an intentional close-up of the hand, the spider is very clear to see. I think perhaps, it is a real spider that didn't want to be left out of the shot? Maybe a regular follower of this blog, the fantastic stained glass artist Joanna Dover can advise? Remember to click on the images for a closer view!