Thursday, 28 February 2008

Auntie Edie


I collect bookmarks. (“No accounting for tastes!” think my readers). With the exception of a couple I have never bought any and only a few have been given to me as presents and yet I seem to have acquired dozens and dozens. Sometimes they just turn up in old books that have been in the family a while. This one appeared when I picked up Mum’s old Bible.

The Bible was given to her upon her christening by her Auntie Edie. The state of Mum’s Bible comes from her having used it her whole life. It was still in use when visiting St David’s Church, Childwall, each Sunday in her nineties.

Auntie Edie with her children Claude, Gladys, Flora, and Muriel c. 1904
The Christening was on August 8th 1909 and it was upon that day that my grandfather fell out with Auntie Edie and never spoke to her again. As one of the Godparents, Nana’s sister, Edie, was holding the baby and was the one asked by the vicar what name was being given to this child. Instead of the agreed “Flora Irene” she handed the baby to the vicar saying “Flora Edith Irene” . Thus was my Mum christened and my Grandfather never forgave Auntie Edie.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

A 21st Cake

I had two 21st Birthday parties – one in Leeds with my college friends and one in Liverpool with library and school friends. The one at college was little better than a drunken orgy without the orgy bit because I was too drunk! Sad really as there were about thirty people crowded into our usual room in the Vic and only two of those were male – myself and my school-friend Paul who had come over from Liverpool for a couple of days. One advantage of doing a course in Librarianship was that my fellow students were all girls – a situation I thoroughly enjoyed because I generally prefer female company. That was the last time I was ever inebriated - enough was enough, I decided! At the time I had no camera because I had been forced to sell it to make ends meet while a student.

My celebration in Liverpool a few days later was a far more sedate affair, partly because it was held at home. Although Mum and Dad went out for the evening I wasn’t the sort to take too much advantage of that. Before they went Dad took a photo of my friend Babs and I.

He also photographed my cake which was made by a chef on one of the boats that Dad had contact with and was a real work of art. It was in the form of a book with the Leeds coat of arms on it. (The photo is worth clicking on to enlarge it as the fruit bowl makes a perfect still life.)

Friday, 22 February 2008

The Irish Coast


More loft clearing revealed a Liverpool Echo photo of our visit to Irish Coast ( I can only recognise four people other than myself... I haven't seen two, Geoff Rowley and Ray Lever since leaving school. Geoff is on Friends Re-united which tells me he is married, living in Derbyshire and working for a Housing Association. I think Ray's motorbike was the first one I ever rode - he lived next to a useful little unmade cul-de-sac. One of the others was Jim Moore who was a close friend at one time and I have a photo of him in his back garden; which I'll not embarrass him by showing. He helped me destroy some of my model planes and things by fire so as to make realistic photos! He was last heard of living in West Kirby in the same road as my brother in the early 1970s and at the time was a Police sergeant.
The fourth, Iain Muir, not only followed me over to Leeds (sleeping on my floor for a night or two when flat hunting) but married Julie, a friend of mine who had worked at Childwall Library with me. Julie is one of my e-mail friends to this day even though she and Iain have deserted their native city and live in London.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Rydal Water


In the 1970s and early 1980s I had a few walks around Rydal Water in the winter – usually February. One of those days was brilliantly sunny and cold and resulted in some great pictures.

Sorting through the photos in the loft I have comes across some of Dad’s including this one of Mum and I on Nab Scar during one of our round Rydal water walks in February 1984.

The Three Shire Stones


In 1965 I toured the Cotswold area on my bike. Part of the route was along the Fosse Way and a few miles south west of Bath I came across the Three Shire Stones. OS Ref (GB): ST795700 / Sheet: 172. The stones are just off the Bannerdown road ('Holy Hill'). Looking far more ancient than it really is, the structure was erected in February 1859 and the 'opening' was given wide publicity in local newspapers and national journals. These reports added that in the hole excavated for the upright stone on the Gloucestershire side three skeletons and a coin of James II were found. The stones that were used are thought to have been from a nearby ancient chambered cairn. There are three small dressed stones inside, each dated 1736 and with the initial of one of the three counties whose boundary they mark - Wiltshire, Somerset and Gloucestershire. These smaller internal stones were described in 1859 as - "three Stones of the dimensions ordinarily used for mere stones in Common field lands; and they were in such a position that travellers could not possibly be attracted by them; and that even those, who knew of their existence, could not at once discover them." The total cost of erecting the cromlech was £34 5s and 8d. a "Dinner to the Workmen" was listed as one of the expenses.

As can be seen from my picture, when I visited it in 1965 the spot was clean and tidy but a recent report commented - "As usual at such places there was litter everywhere - this despite it being apparently miles out, and not all of it could have blown in from the road. Rather fortunately some of the rubbish was plastic bags, so I collected two whole bagfuls and took them back to the car. People eh. It is bound to be the haunt of pissed teenagers but I wonder what they think they're sitting under."

Tiffany stained-glass window of St. Augustine, in the Lightner Museum, St. Augustine, Florida. (Detail)
Tradition has it that St.Augustine met the British Bishops at this spot.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

A patchwork cushion


This patchwork cushion was created by my Grandmother from scraps of material used in her sewing. I can recognise bits of dress material and curtains, cushion covers and dressing case linings. I think it is a lovely idea making not only an attractive cushion cover but also a memento of times gone by. Sadly, although it is not too obvious from the photo, the cover is now too delicate and worn to be used. I had thought of creating a cushion cover of my own to match this but once my thumb ‘went’ I had to stop all my embroidery and cross-stitch.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

My Rucksack


My rucksack has just given up the ghost. It was one of those cheap ones from the market and lasted about four years which is not bad considering how much I’ve used it. But it does not compare with the rucksack shown above; pictured on Steel Fell, overlooking Greenburn Bottom in the Lake District. Dad bought this for me, second-hand, when I was about thirteen. It had a big metal frame and weighed a ton even without its contents. The inside space was comparable to a Volvo Estate and it had half a dozen extra pockets and various straps leather for carrying tripod, etc. It had been up virtually every Lakeland fell that I have climbed and around North Wales, Scotland, the West Country, and various other parts of England. Eventually, after about twenty years, I swapped it for a camera gadget bag

Water Mills


We used to holiday some years at a wonderful farmhouse in Dolwyddelan set above the River Lledr on the lower slopes of Moel Siabod. Part of the farmhouse included an old water mill but unlike the rest of the buildings it was a ruin.

One of the reasons that comparatively few water mills survive is that the tremendous vibration of the turning wheels would gradually damage the walls meaning that a lot of them fell down quite soon after they stopped being used. This is the water mill at Rosset in Cheshire, photographed in the 1960s or 1970s.

One of the holidays GB and I had with Phil Moss, Mum and Dad in the mid 1960s was in Mid-Wales but I don’t remember much about it. The area was pretty enough but at the time I was so in love with the Lake District that a week spent anywhere else was a waste. This was the water mill on the Afon Teifi near Cenarth.

On the river nearby was a chap in a coracle. I’m not sure whether pulling on one’s ear helps it to go round in circles or not?

Lower Slaughter Mill

Monday, 18 February 2008

The 1974 Cup Final


And I was there!

One of my most memorable days. I had been to plenty of football matches over the years but this was my first (and only) trip to Wembley to the Cup Final. I got the ticket from a friend in Leeds as a result of which it was supposed to be in among the Newcastle supporters. As I was waiting outside the ground in my Liverpool scarf and colours a lad came up with a Newcastle scarf and a ticket for a Liverpool area of the ground. Being a trusting sort I agreed to his idea of swapping tickets provided we got a policeman to check they were genuine. An obliging bobby did that for us and I set of for the Liverpool end. (Note these were the good old days when managers were called "Mr." and weren't sacked every two minutes.)

One of the main things that Liverpool supporters wanted out of the match was for Supermac – Malcolm MacDonald, a big-mouthed Newcastle player – to be humbled. And he was. We won 3-0. (Actually it was 4-0 but Alec Lindsay’s perfectly legitimate goal was disallowed!) Kevin Keegan scored two and Heighway one. Just about every Liverpool player made a major contribution to the game under the captaincy of Emlyn Hughes. One of the players who kept Malcolm MacDonald out of the game was Tommy Smith who in those days was the Liverpool 'hard man' (something every team had one of). A match report in The Times of 21st August 1972 had read as follows - "A minute into the second half Wall collided with Smith, an involuntary exercise as discouarging as trying to chop down trees with the bare hands. Lengthy repairs."

The goals from the Final can be seen on YouTube at

On the way back to the station we saw a car painted in black and white stripes and actually felt sorry for the occupants driving so sheepishly through the crowds of joyous Liverpool supporters. I got the train back, jumped off at Aigburth station and ran all the way home to arrive in time to watch the highlights programme on TV. What a glorious day.

Chain Bridge


This is the Chain Bridge Hotel near Llangollen, taken in the 1970s. This spot has one of the oldest roads in the country (the A5), one of the oldest canals, one of the oldest steam railway lines, one of the most famous bridges to cross the river Dee and the river Dee itself. The original chain bridge was built in 1814 and later strengethened but in 1928 it was swept away when floods rose four feet above the level of the bridge. A new and stronger bridge was built in 1929 and survives to this day.

For many years we would drive out to park in the trees above the Hotel, feed the birds and walk along the canal towpath – either to Llangollen or in the other direction to the nearby Horseshoe Falls.

A couple of years ago GB and I had lunch at the Chain Bridge Hotel and a pleasant walk along the canal.

We were accompanied at one stage by a Mummy Duck and her little ducklets.

A few years earlier Mum and Dad had a trip on the boat along the canal while I walked alongsied. On another occasion we had a trip along the valley in the steam train but those photos are still hiding in the loft at the moment.

Friday, 15 February 2008

Liverpool Show and other events


When I was little visiting the Liverpool Show was one of my favourite days out. It occurred once a year in mid-July and lasted three days. Initially Dad and I only went once a year but in later years thanks to complimentary tickets from Phil Moss (who got them through his business) and GB (who organised the Show for the Council) we would often go two or three times. We would try to be there at the end of the third day when the plants were sold off cheaply in the flower tents.

Some of my first photos were taken at the Show as I attempted to catch the horses going over the jumps. Slow shutter speeds, a fairly primitive camera and dull days made for photos which by modern standards were pretty poor but I was pleased with them at the time.

Once colour films came in I enjoyed capturing the different coloured horses and the red or black coats of the riders – even if slower film speeds meant even poorer photos!

Although show jumping was the perennial favourite in the show’s arena other events were regularly held and I would wait for ages to capture shots of these. Nowadays we would reel off dozens of digital photos in the hope of getting one decent one but in the days when film had to be bought and developing paid for it was important to waste as few as possible.

The result, of course, would not be known for a couple of weeks until the film came back from the processors and one would go through the box of 36 slides with some trepidation hoping for that one shot that made it all worthwhile.

Another event that Dad and I went to each year was the Police Show at Mather Avenue police training school. Watching the dogs chase and bring down the villains was my favourite part of that show with the dog obstacle course coming second.

But it was the police band and the police horses that provided the best pictures.

The Commonwealth Arts Festival of 1965 was another event in which GB was heavily involved and for which he got me a free ticket. I took quite a few photos but with little success. This pair of Fijians in national costume were one of the few triumphs.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

A College Scrapbook


I have kept a diary for much of my life and while I was at college (1969-1972) I supplemented it with scraps of news cuttings, adverts, and anything else which was of interest. In those days, before I hid my politics behind a mask of Local Government neutrality, I was exceedingly left-wing. “Private Eye” was an essential and enjoyable part of my weekly reading and Ian Smith of Rhodesia was my Public Enemy No 1..

Public Enemy no 2 who also who made it into the scrap book part of the diary was Her Majesty’s Secretary of State for Education and Science who had just scrapped school milk and was attacking the student unions.

Fortunately the scrap book had its positive side as well and then, as now, horses were favourite topic. From my earliest teens I have loved photos of horse’s heads that could be sketched or painted. Whereas I only bet a couple of weeks a year now – the National meeting and the Gold Cup meeting – I supplemented my income rather well whilst at college. Most notable success came with the 1970 Gold Cup where I backed the winner L’Escargot at 33/1 and then the following year when I predicted and backed the winner, second and third – L’Escargot,, Leap Frog and The Dikler. In the 1970 Grand National I backed the winner, Gay Trip at 15/1. and the third, Miss Hunter, at 33/1. I cannot recall much about my flat race successes – they were mostly in minor races but I was great fan of Brigadier Gerard and Mill Reef.

Nowadays, I cannot tell one car from another but in those days I was interested enough to put the new Citreon DS in the scrapbook.

Cigarette adverts were a major contributor to magazine revenues in those days and the best were by Benson and Hedges, John Player Special and Marlboro.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Holt School societies


So far as I can recall I was in three school societies at one time or another – the chess club, the rambling club, and the transport society. This latter enabled us to visit places and means of transport which were otherwise not available to the public.

One of our trips was to see over the Coast Line ship “Irish Coast”. Irish Coast was launched in 1953 and sold in 1968 to Epirotiki Lines. She received the names Orpheus, Semiramis II and Achilleus in quick succession, before settling with Apollon XI. This was rendered as Apollon 11 in 1980. She was sold in 1981, and was lost in a typhoon in 1989.

I think it was the Captain of the Irish Coast who gave the society its life belt.

The rambling club took me to the Lake District a couple of times, including a trip up Jack’s Rake on Pavey Ark which is graded an easy rock climb and led to me joining the climbing club at Leeds. A perennial trip for the club was up Tryfan and the Glyders in Snowdonia and this photo was taken on one of those occasions.

On another occasion, on the same mountains in 1965, our party got split up in the mist and for a while we were missing my friend Keith Foddy and a couple of others. Fortunately Keith was never without his radio and he played it full blast to give the teachers a clue as to where they were. The tune, a top ten hit for Dusty Springfield at the time, "In the Middle of Nowhere".