Friday, 6 September 2013

Snapshots: Sepia Saturday 193

This little book was amongst the collection from my grandmother. It only measures about 4 inches by 2 inches and the pictures inside are half that size. Some are missing and some have handwritten notes from my grandmother on them. They were taken in 1924 in Broadstairs, Ramsgate and Margate, on the Kent coast and are of my grandmother, her sister, their husbands and my grandmother's niece and nephew.

There's something about tiny photos that completely draws you in.. you have to look so closely at them to see what they are and then they are just like looking at something a long way away.

Joan 1924

This is my mother's cousin, Joan, staring out to sea, looking at something way off in the distance! The rather unnerving thing is that, in the photos she looks just like me as a child!

Lovely 1963

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Too hot to make cheese

Summer seems to have been around for a while now. It's funny how you long for it all year and then when it arrives with a vengeance you soon get fed up with it. It has been the hottest and driest July for several years, with temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius on most days.

We have our village summer party next weekend. This is the poster.

I put it in in extra large size so you can see the menu. One of the items out of the 7 or so courses is the 'fromage'. This is usually purchased from the local diary who make the cheese from locally sourced milk..and do a very good special offers on their excess produce. However this year there are no deals to be had, as for the past month it has been too hot to make cheese and they are only able to make butter and dried milk products.

The dry weather has crisped up all the farmland nicely and so we are on an alert for fires. If they occur then there are a couple of fire planes that are stationed locally, that will pick up water from the lake to use on the fires. The lake starts pretty much at the end of our field and they have been out practicing. They fly pretty low over the field and it can be quite scary to watch at first as it looks like they are about to land!

Unfortunately they were on their way off by the time I got my camera out!

Anyway, the thing about summer is that eventually it comes to an end, and the cracks are beginning to appear. Such intense heat generates dramatic storms, and on Friday we were on an 'orange alert' for severe storms. That didn't stop us from going out to the local food producers evening. It is an outdoor event held in the summer months, where all the local producers set up stalls. You can choose from hot dishes, salads, grilled meat, deserts etc. all washed down with a bottle of local wine and enjoyed while listening to a local band. We got there early and as we were finishing our food and drink we saw this approaching from the West!


Fortunately it passed us over, but where it hit the hailstones were the size of golf balls and they destroyed much of the grape crop.


Tuesday, 30 July 2013

My Poem (aged 8 1/2)

At the weekend I was in the mood to sort through some of my mother's papers. She must have liked this poem that I wrote when I was at primary school as she kept it all these years.

I find it rather disturbing! (I'm only guessing about my age)

By The Sea

I was walking along the shore
It was really rather a bore
The I came across a cave
Marked on the walls was the devil's grave

I went in and saw
Mermaids dancing in fours
Then there was a big loud roar
And the mermaids fled from the shore


I ran and I ran
And behind me the devil sang
If I catch you alive
You'll die in a hive

Then up I awoke
And thought it a joke
And now I'm no more
On the sea shore

Friday, 26 July 2013

Sepia Saturday 187: The family bible

This is a photograph of some members of my grandmother's family. At first I thought I didn't know who they were and then I found this handwritten note from my mother in the photograph album.
(It's a small picture and not in good condition, so you can only really make out the shapes of the people)

"from left to right:
Nan Welch's mother Charlotte Turner, nee Sayer
Nan Welch's mother's sister Gertie
Nan Welch's mother's mother, Helen Thackery (maiden name)
Nan Welch's mother's father, Luke Sayers , compositor"

'Nan Welch' was what we always called my mother's mother, Dorothy Welch, nee Turner. Interestingly those were my mother's exact words in the description, so she must have been writing this down for us, as she would have referred to her as 'mum'.

I'm veering from the point of this post now, which is about the family bible, but that is because I have just read something on the back of this slip of paper that just has to be included here!

"Sister Gertie 'got into trouble' with a Canadian in the First World War who 'passed on something to her". She was taken in by my mother's mother until treated and cured in spite of scandal and opposition from my mother's father!" (I would guess these to be the words of my grandmother.)

Anyway, a fascinating if rather sad insight into the times. Syphilis, which I would guess this was, was rife amongst the soldiers returning from the front and as this was in days before the invention of penicillin I would imagine treatment was as unpleasant as the disease.

Now to the bible. None of my family have ever been particularly religious. That's not to say they were atheists, but they were not regular church goers. We had a bible when we were at school but it was not a regular feature of our lives. My mother grew up with her parents in a house in the suburbs of London. My grandparents bought it when it was first built. When my parents got married they bought the house from my grandparents and I grew up there as well.  Families stayed put in those times and so my mother knew the parents of my friends and some of their parents as well.

I can't remember the exact details as to how this came about, but my mother met the family of someone who lived round the corner from us. They were moving house that week. Somehow the conversation turned to families and names and addresses, and the woman my mother was talking to stopped dead in her tracks and said "We have your family bible". One of my grandmother's relatives had lived round the corner for many years. (I can't remember what one, maybe her mother?). When she died the house was sold  to this family and somehow the bible got left in it.  By the time the new owners moved in and found it they had no contact details for the seller. As it was a bible, no one wanted to throw it out, so the family held on to it for about 50 years, never knowing who the bible now belonged to or anything about the names of all the people in it. Had she not met my mother that week the bible would have probably been lost to the family forever.

My mother held onto the bible until she died last year. I couldn't bring it on the plane with me as it is enormous and so my brother has it at his house.  Writing this has made me think that I should do some investigating into the surviving relatives of other branches of my grandmother's family, as we have no children on our side to pass on the family bible. It was obviously meant to stay in the family.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Where have I been?

I've been away too long! Summer seems to have taken over and I haven't got round to posting recently. I have in fact just got back from a lovely few days visiting with a friend in Holland. She does not live there, but her family originate from those parts, and so it seemed a good place to catch up with her.

I took a short flight from the local airport to Rotterdam-The Hague. It took less time than it does to go to Bordeaux on the train. We met in a really nice hotel and in the evening walked a few hundred metres to a restaurant, where we had exactly what we had hoped for: a lovely meal of the sort that we could never cook for ourselves, with wonderful wine and good service. All this was because we hadn't seen each other for seven years and we had both lost our mothers in the last year, and so wanted to do something special.

How lovely it is to spend time with those friends that you don't get to see nearly often enough, but yet when you meet them again it is just as if you just left them. The truth is that with the great distance that separates us, who knows when we get to meet again and where that will be. Even with the best intentions, we are only likely to meet a few times more in our lifetimes, so we decided to enjoy it!

We spent a day exploring Rotterdam. The architecture was quite interesting; modern but in a way that seemed to blend in with the style of the port. We walked around the buildings, just looking. This is a picture of the 'red apple' building, or rather the reflection it made in the waters of the canal.

In the afternoon we took a boat trip to kinderdijk, to see some of the famous windmills. It was hot by then and so we were grateful of the chance to sit in the shade for the hour it took each way, even though the trip along the river wasn't very interesting!

We managed to get a quick look at the windmills along with all the other tourists and day trippers, before heading back to Rotterdam and on to Utrecht for the next couple of days. Utrecht was a complete contrast to Rotterdam; old buildings, lots of people, noise, shops and restaurants. We did some shopping, looked at the people, drank coffee, and generally caught up on seven years worth of talking! In the evening we hired a canal bike and explored the waterways that run through Utrecht. It was a warm evening and so the edges of the canal were packed with people eating and drinking and talking.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013


Summer marches on; although not as warmly or consistently as in previous years. Rather than the usual long days of hot sun, we have had one or two humid and sultry days to intersperse the rain and storms that seem set to continue until at least the end of the month.

It's good for the wildlife and nature. The grass grows as you watch it and the insects proliferate everywhere. The birds have plenty to eat! The redstarts have been back this year. Unable to get inside the house for the first time they have built nests under the terrace, on top of the pool filter, and in the garage on Ian's shelves. They seem to do quite well and the second batch are just learning to fly. One bird was a lot smaller than the rest and I saw it several times resting in the grass, or staring at me from the window ledge. It seemed quite fearless and I was sure it would be eaten by one of the cats or other hunters. But no.. it has persisted and is still around.

We have a pair of hoopoes that are feeding the garden. I'm not sure where the nest is, but they are amazing looking exotic things. Hoopoes appear each summer and return to warmer climates after they have nested.  When the dog is not in his outside house they take advantage of the structure to perch and rest. They also like to shelter from the rain.
Redstart and Hoopoe sheltering from rain

The 'hirondelles', which  are either swallows or swifts, also return this time of year. (In fact the French call the English second home owner 'les hirondelles' as they also  follow this migratory pattern!) They converge on the swimming pool first thing in the morning and in the evening to grab a drink and an insect or two. The other thing that happens this time of year is that the fields are cut for hay. This brings all the birds of prey out to 'shop', looking for some fast food. This one is a regular over our field this time of year. I think it is a kite.


Saturday, 1 June 2013


Phew..just catching up after a week away. We spent a lovely week in Limoux, in the heart of the Cathar country. Here are a few pictures.
The citie- Carcasonne

Vineyards of the Languedoc-Roussillon


Snow on the Pyrenees (in May)


Rennes le chateau


Saturday, 11 May 2013


This year we've had a cold and slow start to spring together with a lot of rain. The orchids are later this year and for some reason are a darker purple colour, rather than the usual lighter pink.

Pyramid Orchid

Still rather magnificent even in purple.

Old school: Sepia Saturday 176

This is my grandmother's old school photograph. She was born at the turn of the century and I would guess this photo was taken between 1902-1904.

The board that the boy in the front row is holding say "Medburn St Infants- group 4" The school was in the London Borough of Camden, Somerstown area and was built between 1873 and 1877 and from 1877-1904 took children up until the age of 11.

I'm pretty sure that this is my grandmother as I remember that expression! It lasted a lifetime!

Dorothy Turner
Some of the others don't look that happy either!
This little girl looks quite frail
And this boy looks so serious

I guess he didn't want his photo taken!

A picture tells a thousand tales.. for other stories pop over to Sepia Saturday.

Friday, 3 May 2013

A smoking break: Sepia Saturday 175

We were brought up in a non-smoking household and warned against the dangers of smoking. My father smoked as a young man, as did everyone when he was younger. In fact it used to be part of the treatment for Tuberculosis as it made you cough! He stopped as soon as it became clear that smoking was bad for you.

My grandfather smoked a pipe (and the occasional cigar, and maybe even  smoked cigarettes in his youth.) My mother never smoked and as far as I knew neither did my grandmother; until I saw this photo!

It's not a brilliant photo but clearly shows my grandfather drinking a cup of tea and my grandmother lighting up a fag. They were on their way to the South Coast from London and taking a break. It was taken around 1952, and my mother was most likely the photographer. The car was their Ford Popular, which I remember. My grandfather treated it like a treasure; taking it out weekly to polish it, and never driving it more than 28 mph. It must have taken them a long time to get to Sussex!

The other thing I noticed is how smartly dressed they are. Nowadays it would be comfortable casual clothes for a journey!

Friday, 12 April 2013

A jolly hiking holiday-Sepia Saturday 172

These photographs were knocking around in my mother's wardrobe for years. They bear the scars as both are rather damaged. When I was a child I used to sneak into my parent's room and go through all the photographs in the wardrobe. They contained pictures of my parents before they met each other and before I was born, and were full of fascination.

This group of walkers looked relaxed and happy. The man on the left is my father but the woman next to him is not my mother! She never knew who she was .."just someone he knew before he met me!" (Apparently in his younger days there were plenty of women that were interested in him!)

Thus is the same group, looking very fit and healthy. They could almost be in an advertisement for a health cure!

I'm not sure where they are but my guess would be either the Isle of Wight or Jersey.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Any Ideas?

There are some really pretty flowers in the meadow. I know they are pretty but I really haven't got a clue as to what they are. Does anyone know?

This little patch was on the bank of the stream. I caught a glimpse of the purple flash through the undergrowth and came back later with my camera. There were only one or two patches of it.

There were quite a few of these in the meadow. They are very delicate, and in the daylight look a little more pink than mauve. They have a long stem and a frond type of leaf.
Edit: Thanks to my friend Naomi for the following:
The top one is a toothwort but not sure what kind and the bottom one is cuckoo flower, sometimes called ladies smock.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Arundel Castle 1955 -Sepia Saturday 171

1955... Looking at the photos in my mother's old album I think it was the year she met my father as he appears for the first time. However, there were also pictures of family outings and holidays. These photos of Arundel Castle and High Street were taken as part of a trip to West Sussex, with my mother and her parents. She would have been 25 at the time and I assume she was the photographer.

Arundel Castle 1955

Arundel High Street 1955

Views from Arundel Castle

When I used to go on mountain bike rides we went all over the South Downs and ended up in or near Arundel on several occasions. From what I remember it hasn't really changed much in 50 years.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Two more signs of spring

Daisy- 31 March 2013


Thursday, 28 March 2013

Walking the dog

Spring is still slow but there are early signs! We have had a few warmer days but interspersed with days of rain and cooler spells. However, signs of life are emerging; the grass is growing and wild flowers are springing up in the meadows.

As usual I didn't have my decent camera with me when I took the dog for a walk. I only had my mobile phone, and because the sun was shining on the screen I couldn't really see what I was doing. Bearing those things in mind, I was quite pleased with the results.

First flowers

Walking the dog

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Spring is slow to arrive this year

It is the beginning of our third year here and the coldest one so far. The dry spell ended and January and February were wet months. The lake has gone from being a puddle to completely full and the river that flows into it has burst it's banks a couple of times. Our last walk around there was a couple of weeks ago and it was full to the brim. The weather was also cold and sunny.

It's hard to believe that we walked across this bit of the lake back in October.

Despite the sun, it has been cold and so we are only seeing the first signs of blossom and green shoots. Actually we aren't complaining as once the weather warms up we will be back into the cycle of cutting crass, pulling weeds, and generally trying to keep on top of the green bits.

The last few mornings have been frost free but the cold is set to return for (hopefully) it's last burst before spring. There is snow in the north of France and the South of England and it is heading this way. It reminds me of the first time I came down here in one Easter and we were caught in snow on the drive down.

We have been very busy with various projects for other people, so have made little progress on our own project. At those times I have to remind myself that we are living here and not commuting back and forth from London to Eastbourne (and spending 12 hours stuck in the snow)!

Friday, 1 March 2013

Women's work:Sepia Saturday 166

This is a photo from my mother's collection and is of her and her colleagues from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. It was sometime in the late 1950s and the Ministry was based in prefabricated buildings in Stanmore, Middlesex. My mother was a shorthand typist.
Work Colleagues Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries 1956-7

Lovely's mum
This is her on the front row, bottom right. My mother worked there until I was born. I think she worked in the typing pool, but then from time to time she worked specifically for some of the Chief Executives. She told us one story, almost as a warning of the apparent dangers for women in the workplace. Apparently one of the CEOs had a bit of a reputation and when his regular secretary was away the temps would last a day or so and then run out of the office in tears. One day mum was assigned to his office. All was going well but after a couple of days he asked her to go over to the low table across the room and look up a phone number for him. As she lent over he jumped on her back and asked her to carry him across the room! She was shocked but kept her cool, stood up quickly, dislodging him and turned to face him. From that moment on she never turned her back on him. She told us he was extremely high up in the Civil Service but she would never reveal his name, even years later. How times change! Women then were expected to just put up with this type of behaviour and manage it as best they could. I have to say her tips stood me in good stead in my working life, as I certainly came across my share of slimeballs!

My mother worked in various secretarial posts. For a long time she worked for an accountant who did the accounts for the cake factory next door. She got me a summer job in the factory one year and my job was making cardboard boxes! I got very fast at it and was then told I was too fast and if I didn't slow down they would make the rest of the production line work faster. I slowed myself down by readiing the paper at the same time as making the boxes.

Mum's last job was at the Commonwealth Development Corporation.  While she was there she met Prince Charles!

Lovely's mum meets Prince Charles