Thursday, 20 February 2014

Sepia Saturday 216: Three men - a mystery

This weeks prompt for Sepia Saturday is of three men in hats.

I couldn't find three men in suits but I did find a picture of three men in hats.

The picture was amongst the collection recovered from the house of Ian's neighbour. It's in poor condition but you can definitely see three men and by the looks of it they are in some kind of costume. Perhaps they are in a play or a charade of some sort? I hope that's what it was because if you look closer....

... you can see that one of them is pointing a gun at the other man. They don't look too worried however...

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Sky's on Fire

Last night's sky really looked like it was on fire.
View from the office window

Sky and clouds

Monday, 17 February 2014


Pingy is the name we give to the extending lead that we used when walking the dog when we don't want to let him run free but we want him to be able to sniff and explore things nearby. We use it when we are in parks, or out on long walks where we might come across other people or other dogs, or where we might go close to a road. It's a solid, professional standard lead, that extends to about 10 metres, but can quickly be pulled back in when we need to.

It's not that the dog doesn't understand 'come', and most of the time he is very obedient and does just that when called. It's just that he is a little wilful and if he is doing something interesting he will hesitate before returning. He also has a very high prey drive, and if he sees something fluffy or fast, such as deer or a sheep, a red mist descends and he becomes deaf and blind to anything else other than the chase. He will take off instantly and chase whatever it is he has seen until he has calmed down or lost the scent or until he remembers himself. This can take anything from two to thirty minutes.

Today we went for our evening walk and I noticed that our neighbours sheep were in our field, so we ventured out with pingy. For a while he didn't notice the sheep, but then he got a scent and got exited. He still didn't see them, but then as we came over the hill they were there. I thought I had the lead locked short but it must have slipped, so he took off at full pelt. Realising that when he got to the end of the lead I was either going to dislocate my shoulder or he was going to strangle himself I had no option but to let go.

I watched the stinky dog charge 100 or so metres with the extending lead flying behind him. I watched the sheep run through the hole in the fence from whence they came, and I watched him jump over the fence trailing pingy behind him, getting it caught in the fence for a while and then pulling it free. Dog and sheep disappeared.

I ran over quickly calling him all the time, worried that he had gone down into the woods with the lead trailing behind him; imaging him hanging from a branch or tree, with the sheep gloating in glee at the bottom.

I got round the corner and saw him wandering back, lead still there, looking annoyed that he had been hampered in his sheep chasing activities. Panic over!

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Floods and Eggs

I have been watching the news reports of the extreme weather in Britain, with storms, gales, tidal surges and flooding and actually feeling rather glad that I am not trying to get to work or travel anywhere as I can imagine the sense of panic and the disruption that would permeate everywhere. Of course the sense of catastrophe always seems worse for those of us that are not actually there, whereas if I was 'in the thick of it' I would just be getting on with it and probably wondering what all the fuss is about.

Here we have also had unseasonable weather. This winter we haven't had more than about 5 frosts, and none of them have been severe. Instead we have had day after to day of heavy rain. The ground is now waterlogged, every time the dog goes outside for a wee he brings in more mud, my coat is covered in mud, my wellies are just about holding up and the grass is growing but too wet to cut! We have had our own flood to deal with. Our house and garage are on a slope and the garage is lower than the house. We have always had problems with run-off from the fields when the ground is saturated. It used to hit the rock below the cellar and then sit there. This was solved by building a moat style drain in front of the house and installing a pump. However, we made a beginner's error when the electric and water supply were laid going down to the garage.

We laid the conduit for the pipes but failed to realise that when it rains they become a channel for the water and take the water straight down the pipes and up into the floor of the garage. Ian spent a week out there in the rain, digging and laying another drain to divert the water away from the garage, and we had to unpack everything, check it, dry it all out and put it back afterwards. It wasn't really a problem we wanted to have to sort out, but at least it was something that we could solve, unlike the people living by the River Thames, who can only wait for dry weather and the waters to subside.

Closer to home, the Gironde flooded in Bordeaux a couple of weeks ago, and the left bank and Bastide area was under half a metre of water. The towns of Marmande and Tonniens in the Lot et Garronne were also affected.

So.. what has this to do with eggs? Well apparently the chickens like the milder weather and our local farmer friend in currently getting a dozen eggs a day. He has been giving them to us at the rate of 2 dozen a week! We pass some on to other neighbours but I am running out of ideas of things to do with eggs! I think we will having quiche tonight!

Friday, 7 February 2014

Master Tom Welch, Comedian: Sepia Saturday 214


The prompt for Sepia Saturday this week is of a couple around a piano. It is an upright piano and similar to the one owned by my grandfather. One of my fondest memories of summer holidays as a child was listening to him playing the piano. He lived near the seaside and when we were younger the entire family descended on him and my grandmother for two weeks, staying with them in their small bungalow. The upright piano was in the sitting room; the sitting room that smelled slightly of pipe tobacco, mints, polished wood and musty music. In the evenings we could sometimes persuade Tom to open the piano, take out his songbook and tinkle on the keys. We were enchanted as we watched him loose himself in the songs.

My grandmother told us that Tom could play anything, that he learned most songs by ear, and that often he would just sit and play for the sheer pleasure of doing so, and maybe for the memories.

When they were younger my grandparents used to take part in music hall. I wouldn't imagine this was the music hall of the grand old type, but rather smaller, local events put on for and by communities across London. In the days before cinema and television live entertainment was more commonplace.

Tom started early. Amongst his memorabilia I found the remains of this programme dated April
1913, from the Hemmingford St John football club annual concert and dance

Add caption

On the first page  just before the presentation of the swimming awards, you can see that the 'act' is Master Tom Welch, who was billed as a Comedian and was performing 'Yiddle on your fiddle' maybe sounding something like  this and 'I don't care what becomes of me'.  Tom would have been around 13 years old at the time of this performance.

Fifteen years later, at the age of 28,  Tom was still performing but this time he had a more sedate roll as the pianist at the 'Grand Smoking Concert' held after the final and semi finals of the Domino Championship, hosted by the ECDO sorters (the post office sorting department). (He worked for The Royal Mail for most of his life).


This time he was the opening act for both parts of the evening and the accompanist.

Tom also played the piano accordion, and my grandmother sang with him as a soprano. She once told me that she deeply regretted not following her desire to become a professional singer and have her voice properly trained.

In his later years Tom would occasionally play the piano at the local old folks home and day centres. When he died none of us had room in our small houses and apartments for the piano and my grandmother couldn't bear to look at it so she gave it to the church.

Tom and Dorothy


Saturday, 1 February 2014

China and other stories: Sepia Saturday 213

I'm afraid there is a bit of tenuous link to the theme this week of holidays and suitcases, but I feel that now the time is right to share my secret 'treasure trove' of sepia with my fellow Sepians, and I can't wait for a more relevant prompt.


 I have to start with a bit of background information... Ian's mother used to live next door to two elderly ladies in South East London. They were sisters and shared a large Victorian House until they were both too old and frail. They never married and Ian's mum used to help them our from time to time. When they died she helped to clear their house and acquired a large wooden chest of drawers. When they finally got to look inside, tucked at the back was a collection of old photos. Most of them are on the original glass plates, there are a few negatives and a small collection of prints. Most of them are in poor condition.

No one has ever known what to do with them. The women's father was a Captain A Edwards and I think at one time he had some kind of ambassadorial role in China and/or Japan. The photographs must be from around the early 1900s and as such must have some historical value. In our hurry to move to France we just packed them up and brought them with us and they have remained in the boxes until now, when we have finally managed to unpack a few.

Amongst other things, the photographs seem to be of life in China and the day to day life of these two sisters, who we think were the photographers. So, I suppose the link is to one great big voyage that needed more than one or two suitcases.

The writing on the back of this picture says it was taken in China but that's all I know.  We would like to be able to recover the images from the glass plates, so if any fellow Sepians have any ideas as to how that could be done we would be most grateful.  Until we can find a home for them where they will be appreciated we will continue to be their guardians and maybe share a few more along the way.