Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sepia Saturday

This is a follow up photo to my previous Sepia Saturday post about Cousin Den. I'd not thought we had more photos of Daisy and Tom, Dennis' parents (my great Aunt and Uncle), except their wedding photo which needs to be taken out of its frame before I can scan it.

And then I found this one which I like so much.

Thats my mum in the middle. And it looks so like her, her face changed little as she grew up. Which actually makes her look slightly odd to me - she is so young but the familiarity of her face makes her look also strangely adult, though I suppose thats only to me. My nan is sitting in the front left deckchair in the white top, Uncle Tom behind her and Aunty Daisy is in the dark top, my grandad behind her.

And I wonder so much about this photo.

Who took it? possibly Dennis, but he was more likely in hospital.
Maybe my uncle Vic - thats more likely. I'll post about Vic some time.

And when? This must be around the late 1930's - my mum was born in 1930. So I wonder if the war had started or not. I'd guess this is a little before the war began, but can't be sure. This was taken in Daisy and Tom's garden, in southwest London near Wimbledon. It looks as though they were keen gardeners, like my grandad.

And what were they eating? I can't make it out here or from the original photograph. Possibly cherries, but they look a little large for cherries. Possibly plums or damsons...

And my nan and Auntie Daisy looking so very alike. There were 6 sisters and Daisy was the one most physically like my nan. She was also the one who lived furthest away at this stage, across the other side of London. I wonder how often they were able to see each other. One sister had died tragically young, years before this and Daisy was the next who died - also too young, in middle age.

I so often wish I could step back in time just for a few minutes, and watch and listen as a photo like this was taken...
And they look so happy.

You can find other Sepia Saturday posts listed here.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

miscellaneous felt impressions

miscellaneous impressions....

and felt

Felt-ed bags on sale for Haiti over at made4aid (sorry, couldn't help myself...)

and some of my favourite felt:

Wonderful felt art works created by Jasmine over at Nature's Whispers

Fantastic felt creatures made by Gretel, from Middle of Nowhere

& felt impression

Here is a moody teenager, making an impression and communicating how she felt....

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

marmalade days

Well its marmalade-making time.

My mum always used to make marmalade - from scratch, with those wonderfully sour and flavour-ful seville oranges - as well as bottling fruit (canning, for those of you in the USA), baking cakes, keeping a well-stocked larder.

Having a walk-in larder - thats a major feature in my childhood memories of home, mum, kitchen, meals.

Food and love - its an association for me as for many other people, which I reflected in previously in last Thursday's themed post on Bread.
Marmalade - not a staff of life in quite the same way as bread, but maybe just as indicative of love and caring. The jam on it.

Then she and dad used to make marmalade as, in semi-retirement, they increasingly did everything together. And, in later years, they used a kit rather than doing all the work of cooking, slicing, scraping etc. from scratch. Though they still added extra fruit.

And now she is gone, its a special and almost ritual occasion for dad to come and stay for a few days while, among other activities, we make marmalade.

I've written about this before on my blog, here.

And looking for that post, I found this one. Which held me up there, for a while...

Food can mean and bear and express so much.

Oh and i hadn't at all thought this would be a sad or sombre post, its been a lovely marmalade-time with my dad.

So here on a lighter note is another marmalade memory - Orlando the Marmalade Cat.
This was part of my childhood too and they were probably old-fashioned, they had wonderful illustrations and i remember them being sort of quirky.

And I found out that there is a Marmalade Festival in Cumbria

And i also discovered there is an anime series called Marmalade Boy - the little I read about it says nothing at all about why he has this nickname or how marmalade features in his life. Which was a major disappointment to me. Though the Marmalade Festival page does say that there is quite a passion for marmalade in Japan.

"The role of marmalade and other preserves, conserves and relishes in anime, in the context of wider Japanese culture" - hows that for a research topic?

And here are Marmalade

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sepia Saturday

Cousin Den

He was my second-cousin really, being my mother's cousin - we always knew him as Cousin Den.

He was born with serious curvature of the spine and spent a lot of his childhood in hospital, in braces and traction. His mum was one of my nan's sisters - Daisy, and his dad was my grandad's best friend, Tom who is in one of these pictures.

Tom and Daisy - I don't remember them much at all. Daisy died young, I never knew her and Dennis helped his dad nurse her. Then he cared for his Dad during a fairly long process of dying from cancer.

This is Daisy

She looked very like my Nan.

I do have a lot of memories of Dennis though - he used to visit us in London quite often when I was growing up. He had a motorbike, and we thought that was very cool. And he would bring his harmonium, and maybe his squeeze box (accordian) - and play for us. He was sweet and gentle and cheerful, and I remember my mother telling me that he was always so as a child, despite his disability - and as an adult, while caring so devotedly for his parents.

This is Dennis as I remember him - in our garden in London in the 1970's, with other family members.

Den died in the mid 1990's.
.... and imagine here a lapse in my writing as I did some googling and exploring of family tree websites to see if I could pin down the exact date. Hmmm this could become a fascinating new diversion for me....

His little rented house - where he had lived with his mum and dad all his life apart from his childhood in hospital - was packed full of piles of old newspapers, canned food, handy bits and pieces. He didn't like to throw anything away.

I have a lovely old enamel colander which was his - and was my great-Aunty Daisy's - and I treasure it and love using it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


I used to make all our bread and my favourite recipe was from this book

which says lovely things about bread-making, about "you and the dough - ripening, maturing, baking, blossoming together".

I used a basic wholemeal recipe from this book which was fab. - took all day, with multiple provings - but made wonderful delicious bread which was never ever heavy or ever went wrong at all really. The first stage involved all the ingredients except only about half the flour. So the mix is a dough-batter and can be beaten rather than proved - easier, and helps really get the yeast and gluten working together. Then after the batter has proved, the rest of the flour is added - kneading, proving, kneading, proving, kneading and shaping - baking.

Lovely lovely.

Now our bread comes from this machine, which is great. But I do sometimes miss the kneading and proving kneading and proving.

This is such a time for being grateful to have good bread to eat. Any bread to eat.
And for having loved ones safe. For shelter and a future.

Its a time when its easy to feel despair and anger.
This is Martin Ronson's cartoon from the weekend Guardian:
The World As It Is - or - Bones & Bonuses

The Guardian, Saturday 26 January 2010, p.35.

But rather than feeling despair or anger better maybe to do something, and here are a couple of the many many ways to do something:

Bloggers for Haiti, set up by English Mum

and Craft Hope Etsy Shop for Haiti - donations can be sent up till Jan. 20th when they are taking a break and regrouping - and you can buy lovely art and craft items in the shop, all money is going to Doctors without Frontiers in Haiti.

The Tassajara Bread book talks about making bread as to do with compassion, joy, offering - making love.
"Ingredients are not limited to food, but include joy, kindness and inspiration..."

A Theme Thursday post

Monday, January 18, 2010


I usually buy the weekend Guardian newspaper on Saturdays.

Its liberal/left wing stance fits me quite nicely, but it is as critical of liberal and left wing people, groups etc., as of conservative and right wing. I think it makes at least a good attempt at unbiassed reporting, some of their columns are enjoyably witty (I enjoy [as well as being outraged by] the Bad Science column) as well as informative and thought provoking, and it has pretty good coverage of international as well as British news and issues across a wide range.

It also usually comes with extras.

Lately its arrived with sections of the New York Times and there are often little booklets or CDs - "The worlds most famous speeches", or literature or good pubs or... almost anything. Wall charts of all sorts of things.

Last week there was a little book about fitness through walking.
I am now giving some thought, when I walk, to pushing through from heel to toe when hitting the ground, and showing the sole of my foot to the person behind...
Apparently it makes a difference.
I couldn't quite make sense of the instructions about how to hold the arms though. Something about holding the elbows at right angles. To what, I'm not sure.

This weekend's little supplement freebie was a DIY "thing".

"How to do everything yourself"



I'm not at all opposed to a bit of DIY, I'd always do my own decorating rather than hire someone (even if it does take months... years... to get around to it....) I even quite enjoy it.


I'm only newly becoming liberated from a sense of having to do everything all the time.

I don't mean to return to it.

And anyway, I like the old plaster on the walls, I think its photogenic...

Heres another kind of DIY - Craft Hope have set up an Etsy Shop for Haiti - donations can be sent up till Jan. 20th when they are taking a break and regrouping - and you can buy lovely art and craft items in the shop, all money is going to Doctors without Frontiers in Haiti. Do go and take a look, they are doing fantastically.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Sepia Saturday

I'm having such a wonderful time looking through old scrap books and photographs, scanning and annotating. I have a growing directory on my hard drive, its hard to know which pictures to choose for today's post.

So, I've simply gone to the first sub-folder and picked the first photograph.

Amongst the photos I'm looking through there are lots of holiday photos. Then, like now, holidays were obviously key occasions for snapping and recording. And there are quite a few pictures of holiday groups consisting of family together with other people from the hotel or guest house, people just met whilst there. Some of them are house parties, like this one below which was taken in the 1920's.

Being away on holiday seems to have been quite a community-oriented, social process - more than today maybe? We used to go on houseparty holidays when I was a child in the 1960's and early 70's - they were wonderful. So many children to play with! I think they were probably more riotous and less formal than those glimpsed in my earlier family's history.

Or maybe they were riotous inside the house, and only formal once outside?

First left at the back (your left as a viewer) is my grandfather on my dad's side - Harold like my maternal grandfather, but never known as Harry like him. We called him "Big Grandad". At this stage he would have been courting, or engaged to - or possibly married to - my gran. Third left, with the moustache and glasses, is her father Henry, and almost hidden behind him her mother Annie. My gran herself is seated at the front on the left.
The woman standing in the middle, with the crochet detail at the bottom of her sweater must be a family member too, she's in a number of the photos I have. I must try and find out who she is...

Happy sepia saturday!
(I may take a while to get around to your blogs this weekend but I will return your visit sooner or later...)

Thursday, January 14, 2010


*P.S. Addendum at the end*

This Thursday Theme - Surface - immediately said to me "water" and it was only later that I began to think about all the other things it might mean. Which is possibly rather odd, its certainly quite specific and maybe Freud would have had something to say about it.

Odd or not, its probably related to my numerous photos of water - something I could photograph almost endlessly.

I saw an exhibition in London last year of work by Roni Horn, an artist from Iceland. Among my favourite pieces was a series of large photos of the Thames, annotated with witty, whimsical, serious, fascinating, historical, personal comments - some relating to the history of the river and happened or might have happened on or below its surface, some of them about the nature of water. Like this - the water photos will enlarge if you click on them, though unfortunately you can't read the comments. Unless your eyesight is seriously better than 20/20. And theres a bit more about the series here.

Her work really connected with the fascination water has for me - the way its surface reacts to the light reflecting or absorbing it, the way it reveals and conceals what is beneath the surface, the way it looks so solid and weighty and so light and evanescent.

So, um, I think maybe this has ended up being more about water than about surfaces but hey ho, I don't mind if you don't mind.

And here are some water surfaces

So, lets hope the Thursday Theme isn't "Water" any time soon....

After all your very nice comments about my photos, I'll be making some greeting cards with prints of these and they will be available for sale soon on made4aid - all proceeds for the next month or so are going to relief work in Haiti.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


This is how we found Logan at the weekend, he'd managed to tuck himself in on my favourite armchair.

And doesn't the green in my cardi match his eyes?

Saturday, January 09, 2010


I love the idea of Sepia Saturday, not only because I love sepia photographs, and cos its a help to a slightly lazy and/or frequently uninspired blogger like me but also because it coincides with a current project of mine.

My parents made scrap books for the family some years ago - at least 2 scrapbooks for each family (3 of us siblings) - one for the parents, one for the children. So many old family photos, with added notes, memories, annotation - they are so precious.

This Christmas as I've visited family, I've temporarily borrowed these scrap books in order to scan in the photos and create a digital archive.

This project grew out of this remembrance post about my grandad. I could see in my mind's eye, as I wrote the post, a couple of particular photographs which I knew existed somewhere in the family - I just didn't know who had them. And so I resolved to search them out and acquire my own digital copies.

During the last couple of days of my Christmas holidays I have spent some enchanted time immersed in these family memories and momentos - glimpses of a past I don't recall but feel connected to by familiar faces and family history, images which transported me back to my childhood - it would be easy to wander and get lost there for quite some time.

So, I shall begin my Sepia Saturdayage with a couple more photos of this much-loved grandad.

I haven't yet found the string-vest photo I remembered, but it was similar to this photo of my grandad - on the right. He'd given up smoking by the time I remember him and suffered from emphesemia and constant chest problems. But was nearly awful cheerful. In the centre is his best friend, my great uncle Tom who I don't remember. He married my nan's sister, and was in the trenches at Ypres with grandad.

This is grandad - in the white coat to the left - in the workroom with the other craftsmen shoe-makers. I still have some leather offcuts that came from him.

And here relaxing in his beloved garden in North East London. I loved staying with nan and grandad in this little house.

I have such vivid memories of grandad like this - wiry and wrinkly and always brown from being in the garden where you can see the coal bunker to the back right of the picture, and onions from the vegetable patch drying in a hammock under the window...

Thursday, January 07, 2010

polka dots

I had thought I wouldn't be playing this Theme Thursday. "Polka dots" gave me no ideas at all and a quick scan through my photo archives didn't help.

And then, as I changed from cycling gear into backfromworkslobbingaround gear, this caught my eye:

(a new wash bag I was given at Christmas)

and looking down, I saw the socks I'd just taken off.

(the other socks just visible here were also spotty [I'm wearing 2 {minimum} of most clothing items in these chilly days] but in a less polka-dotty way)

And so I thought again, and took my camera for a walk around the house.

Not expecting vast quantities of spotty things, and I mysteriously can't find a special red and white polka dot plate which my mother gave me.

How does a plate go missing in the comfort of one's own home? the losing of teaspoons, socks, tickets, toothbrushes, pens and remote controls I can understand of course, indeed it is almost expected, and the frequency with which I mislay my glasses is getting entirely beyond a joke. But I'm flummoxed about the plate and having to restrain myself from re-searching in all the places I've already looked.

However I did find this in the study:

fave new umbrella

this in the bathroom:

from my shell-collecting youth

and this in the spare room. It may not be exactly polka dots but I do feel that any opportunity to include daleks has to be acted on.

temporarily relocated due to Christmas "things", will soon be back on terminating duty in the lounge...

In the lounge is my current notebook for knitting and weaving projects

(theres a surprising amount of maths to keep track of when weaving)

and this spotty S which is my daughters:

who also claimed to be wearing spotty underwear....

I admit that some of these picures had to be re-shot after dusting.
My "housework is overrated" mantra seems to be working nicely.

And finally, amongst the decorations waiting to be put away are a couple of red and white polka dot baubles.

More spottiness altogether than I would have expected to find.

There is something in particular that I find appealing about red and white polka dots. I do hope the plate turns up from the other dimension where it is hiding.

Maybe it will arrive bearing red and white polka dot cup cakes?

Saturday, January 02, 2010

points of light

honesty seed pods in my garden

I've never made New Year resolutions.
January 1st has never had all that much significance for me really.

However - I find myself thinking much more, lately, about turning points, milestones etc. Maybe awareness of distance travelled makes one more sensitive to sign posts and measurements along the way?

Which is probably just another way of saying that getting older makes one more aware of getting older....

And looking back on a decade which has been rather dark for me and mine, my key resolutions for the future reflect some of the points of light from the darkest of those years and days.

And they are all to do with relationships - family, friendship, love - and the beauty of life and taking the time to live it.

So these are the things I look forward to as the next decade begins. I have high hopes.

my street in South London

Happy New Year to all of you, and may 2010 be filled with multiple points of light, even - especially - in the everyday and in the dark.