Monday, March 29, 2010


One week in ...

....and the spawn is starting to melt and transform from an amalgamation of distinct egg-sacs into a more general porridgy gloopiness. Or gloopy porridgeness.

The little black dots are elongating - they're quite distinctly sort of foot-print shape now, well depending on your footwear I suppose. Plimsolls. (do plimsolls exist any more in this world of trainers, converse and high-tops?)

Some of them even have the beginnings of a waist.

Wow, they change so fast.

Further reports will follow in due course.

And in the meantime, there are also daffs

and though it seems almost sacriligeous to bleach away that glorious yellow,
I found it interesting to view this one in black and white, and take a different kind of notice of its shape and structure.

And my little baby magnolia tree has beautiful buds, emerging slowly and faintly pink-tinged, slyly delightful tongues poking out at the back of retreating winter.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Health & Safety in the 60's

I have such vivid memories of this. Thats me on the right, with the fair hair which didn't stay fair.

I don't know how often we were allowed to scramble up the ladder and sit on the top of the garage, but its a treat I remember well - which could indicate that it happened a lot, or that it had the impact of occasional and special privilege.

Today I'm guessing that any one - parent or otherwise - who put children into such a high-risk position might be liable to reporting by neighbours, rebuking by authorities....

School trips in the UK have become hugely complicated and difficult to organise because of risk assessment procedures, and a top "nob" in the world of Health and Safety has recently urged Schools to take more risks. I applaud the sentiment, but I can't help think that thats easy for her to say, given the way Schools are likely to be criticised - if not sued - by parents if anything goes wrong.

There have also been reports in the UK of Schools banning cake sales on the grounds of Health and Safety. I remembered this as to do with allergies and other similar hazards - thats what this report suggests with its mention of the non-lethal nature of jam. ("normally" non-lethal.... hmmm)
But a quick google reveals that this may also have been linked with the issue of childhood obesity.
For which the occasional School cake-sale is responsible..... how???

I'm so happy to have grown up in a less risk-averse age and I mourn some of the aspects of childhood which may have been lost .....

.... like sitting on garage roofs.

Other Sepia Saturday posts

Thursday, March 25, 2010

SIGNAGE - miscellaneous

Youth Drop-in Project.... dropping in South London

Meard Street, Soho London

Hackney, North East London. £12.95!!!

Level Crossing sign, South London

Pea Thingy. Bexhill, South East England. who knows?

Le Hocq, Jersey, Channel Islands

Keep clear of Cooks - South East London

Grumpy Roger, Woolwich, London

Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich, London
Lucky roft?

Other Theme Thursday signs here

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Spawn has spronged! Spring has spawned! the frogs have been busy busy.

Who'd have thought these gloopy splodges of sticky egg sacs could cause such glee?
yes, I am gleeful.

The frog pool was new in my garden about 3 years ago, after a massive end-of-garden clearance and construction of my girl-shed.

That year I reported here regularly on the progress of my frog-spawn, re-located in a deus-ex-machina fashion from a friend's pond.

The year after that there was no frogspawn. But there were little frogs coming and going.

Last year there was frogspawn but I failed to keep much track of it.

This year I plan to pay more attention as this weird stuff transmogrifies into tiny black commas, tadpoles, big black fat tadpoles without - then with - legs, little bitty frogpoles and finally tiny froglets.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Big Grandad

This is my father's family - his paternal grandparents Albert George Jiggins
and Elizabeth Ann Mundy (who became grandma Jiggins), his father Harold and his Aunty Ivy.
(Both photos will enlarge a bit if clicked)

At a glance, these pictures look as if they were taken on the same day, but Grandma's blouse is different - also, I think possibly the children look a little older in the 2nd photo?

But the children's clothes do look the same in both photos, so maybe they were wearing their Sunday best. I think my aunty Queen's dress looks a little more roomy in the first picture.

There are quite a few photos of grandpa and grandma Albert and Elizabeth Jiggins, my great grandparents. No photos from earlier stages in their lives than this, but from this sort of time onwards, and I'll post about them again some time.

My grandfather, Harold George is on the right - and he became quite interested in photography, which is why we have some lovely photos of his parents.

On the left is his sister Ivy - who became known as Queenie, who I always knew as Aunty Queen.

There was a child born between Harold and Ivy - Alfred Cecil - who died at the age of 5.

Harold, my grandad, was born in 1901 - here he is looking serious, formal and carefully nonchalant.

In this picture he strikes me as looking a little too young for that stiff collar and moustache - I see something touchingly vulnerable in this picture.

and here is a photo I love. My grandad closer to the way I knew him. We called him "Big Grandad" - he was tall, and this distinguished him from my other "Little" grandad.

This is grandad in his Home Guard uniform during WW2 - he looks really quite like John Le Mesurier from "Dads Army".

He was a lovely gentle man. I remember his quiet smile, and how he'd put an arm around me and ask how things were. And how I, teenager and embarrassed, would squirm away.

Here are other Sepia Saturday posts.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Full English Breakfast - lets call it FEB - is one of the best, imho.

I do like croissants and danish pastries. And I very much like waffles or pancakes, bacon, maple syrup, fruit... mmmmmm and had wonderful American breakfasts in NYC.

But nothing quite hits the spot like a FEB, when you're in the mood.

This photo isn't a bad example - its a pub breakfast, could be improved for me by the addition of black pudding and fried bread (I hardly ever ever ever have fried bread, it is so unhealthy and so so very delicious) and the subtraction of the beans - oh, and more mushrooms please.
And followed by at least a small piece of hot toast and good marmalade.
And of course a large, really hot and quite strong cup of tea. Ideally in a large but fine bone china cup or mug - but I wouldn't want to be fussy.

Good home-made FEBs are the best. (GHM FEBs?)

A lot of eateries in the UK now offer all-day breakfast. (ADFEB)
I have mixed feelings about this phenomenon. A FEB is good up till around 11.30, I reckon, but it is segueing into brunch rather than breakfast at that point. (BFEB) (or is it just FEBr?) (that would be confusing) (or possibly even silly?)

My parents ran a guest house in Devon for around 10 years - those were the best ever home made FEBs, (oops, sorry GHM FEBs) cooked on the Aga in the large farmhouse-style kitchen. They developed a system for taking orders, so the "full works" became known in my family as BESTMs.

Though the fried bread seems to have disappeared here, and they did do the most scrummy fried bread. I must consult my father about the status and designation of the fried bread in relation to the BESTM acronym.

During the week at home I usually have fairly delicious and nutritious meusli - with lots of seeds, nuts and fruit added (can't be doing with sawdust+floor-sweepings style meusli) - or else porridge. mmmmmmmm porridge.

Saturday mornings though mmmmmmmmmmm possibly even more:

toast or bread (homemade brown/wholemeal) with a little bit more butter than is healthy, homemade marmalade, and blogging. Bliss.

(oh, and of course a large, really hot and quite strong cup of tea (or a few such). Ideally in that large but fine bone china cup or mug - I feel its ok to be fussy at home ....)

Other Theme Thursday breakfast posts here.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


My last Sepia post was pictures of my father, who I visited last weekend and who is doing well.

Tomorrow is Mothers Day in the UK, and here she is, my wonderful mother, in a couple of fairly rare childhood photos:

and with her mother.

There are 2 Carol Ann Duffy's poems about her mother which I particularly love.

The first - Before you were Mine - reminded me when I first read it of this photo of my mum, with her 2 best friends Jean (in the middle) and Doris (on the left). They worked together, took holidays and went dancing together, and remained friends all her life.

Before You Were Mine

I'm ten years away from the corner you laugh on

with your pals, Maggie McGeeney and Jean Duff.

The three of you bend from the waist, holding

each other, or your knees, and shriek at the pavement.

Your polka-dot dress blows round your legs. Marilyn.

I'm not here yet. The thought of me doesn't occur

in the ballroom with the thousand eyes, the fizzy, movie tomorrows

the right walk home could bring. I knew you would dance

like that. Before you were mine, your Ma stands at the close

with a hiding for the late one. You reckon it's worth it.

The decade ahead of my loud, possessive yell was the best one, eh?

I remember my hands in those high-heeled red shoes, relics,

and now your ghost clatters toward me over George Square

till I see you, clear as scent, under the tree,

with its lights, and whose small bites on your neck, sweetheart?

Cha cha cha! You'd teach me the steps on the way home from Mass, stamping stars from the wrong pavement. Even then

I wanted the bold girl winking in Portobello, somewhere

in Scotland, before I was born. That glamorous love lasts

where you sparkle and waltz and laugh before you were mine.

Carol Ann Duffy

in Meantime, May 1993

And the second poem was published just last year and takes me back in so many ways to my mothers last weeks and days, nearly 3 years ago.


Dedicated with love to the
memory of UA Fanthorpe

We first met when your last breath
cooled in my palm like an egg;
you dead, and a thrush outside
sang it was morning.
I backed out of the room, feeling
the flowers freshen and shine in my arms.

The night before, we met again, to unsay
unbearable farewells, to see
our eyes brighten with re-strung tears.
O I had my sudden wish -
though I barely knew you -
to stand at the door of your house,
feeling my heartbeat calm,
as they carried you in, home, home and healing.
Then slow weeks, removing the wheelchair, the drugs,
the oxygen mask and tank, the commode,
the appointment cards,
until it was summer again
and I saw you open the doors to the gift of your garden.

Strange and beautiful to see
the roses close to their own premonitions,
the grass sweeten and cool and green
where a blackbird eased a worm into the lawn.
There you were,
a glass of lemony wine in each hand,
walking towards me always, your magnolia tree
marrying itself to the May air.

How you talked! And how I listened,
spellbound, humbled, daughterly,
to your tall tales, your wise words,
the joy of your accent, unenglish, dancey, humorous;
watching your ash hair flare and redden,
the loving litany of who we had been
making me place my hands in your warm hands,
younger than mine are now.
Then time only the moon. And the balm of dusk.
And you my mother.

Carol Ann Duffy, March 2009

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Some hats. Lost, abandoned, waiting to be found:

Last week I posted something on the Tuesday which really I could have kept and used for Theme Thursday,
as it was Green-related, and last weeks TT was "Green".

Last Saturday, my Sepia Saturday post ended up being hat-related

So, in the spirit of cross-overs, here is some sepia today.

The hat in question on Saturday was an inter-generationally worn baby hat,
I posted photos of both my father and my daughter wearing it as babies.

Here it is again, in a photo collage my mother made some years ago:

The same photo of my dad with the fluffy hat, a baby bonnet
which probably also came from his family,
and a photo of him with his mum, both be-hatted.

Theme Thursday

Saturday, March 06, 2010


Well we're off to see my dear old dad today, so I'm a little short of time - but an easy choice as to whose picture to post. And it seems apt, as my last 2 Sepia Saturday posts have been photos of my gran, his mother + his grandmother and great-grandmother.

Dad has had a rough patch of illness lately, but the doctor acted quickly and he seems to be doing well now - I'm so looking forward to seeing him.
It was my father's family (unlike my mother's) which was the more moneyed and had quite a lot of photos taken and even owned a camera, so theres quite a bit of choice amongst the pictures of him as a child.
Here are a couple of favourites:

Dad - Alan Henry - was born in December 1927, so this was probably taken in 1928 or possibly early 1929.

We still have this little hat - heres my Little Gem wearing it in 1995. I loved those stripey baggy trousers. And she loved that bizarre Richard Scarryesque mushroom house-thing.

The photo below was taken in 1935, when dad was 8

which we know for sure as the photo, which is hand-coloured, is in this presentation folder:

Sorry if it takes me a while to get around to visiting your blogs this weekend, I'll try to get there sooner or later...

And for other Sepia Saturday posts - look over here

Thursday, March 04, 2010


Well really, had I thought ahead I could have kept my previous post for today's theme, Green.

But then I'd not have had the excuse to post some of this lovely green-ness

frosty moss in South London

and though this first photo might be a little chilly around the edges,

ivy "tree" by the Thames in Greenwich, London

some of these greens are pretty saturated in sunshine

seed head - can anyone identify this plant?

Storm King Park, New York State - Andy Goldsworthy wall

New York State

Catskills, NY

Meadow, Storm King Park, NY

Cabbage! London!

France - the Dordogne

Suffolk, England

Wheat - Suffolk, England

Suffolk, England

Sussex, England

You'll find more Thursday Greens over at Theme Thursday