Tuesday, 28 June 2011

A Log Blog - Thematic Photography

Carmi’s photographic theme this week is ‘rough’; his photo introducing the topic is a piece of wood with a large knot in it.

This reminded me that four years ago I set out to trace the origin of a small wood near the village where I live in the UK. I visited the wood at fortnightly intervals through most of the year taking photos that interested me and which show what was happening as the year progressed.(See: )

Boot Wood
The village in the background is located in North Yorkshire. Most days of the week I walk along the road on the left by the small wood which I christened ‘Boot Wood’ because of its shape.

In March I discovered this log lying on the ground:

Hollow Log
As you can see from its condition and its end it could only be of use for firewood although rabbits were using it as a hiding place:

End view
It was several months before I photographed it again and in the meantime I had been distracted by something you would not want to meet in close-up on a dark night.

Auriculeria judae
Despite its fearsome appearance it was soft and velvety to touch – not rough at all.

Jew's Ear Fungus on an Elderberry Bush

By July the log had begun to fall apart something or someone one had given it a rough time.

Roughened Up!
In November its usefulness to the rabbits had gone; it was beginning to rot and now it was the ants' and insects' turn to put it to use.

Christmas present for ants and insects
I have other pictures from the wood which fit the ‘rough’ theme but I’ll save them for another time.

Meanwhile check out some more rough spots at: Carmi's thematic photographic 151

Friday, 24 June 2011

My Brother's War

One of my earliest memories is what my elder brother told me to say if anyone should ask where he had gone.

At the start of WWII I was only two and Arthur would have been eighteen or nineteen. He had signed up for 22 years service in the Fleet Air Arm.

I don’t know which year it was, but probably 1940, when I told the wife of Air Vice Marshal Sir John Baldwin what Arthur said. At the age of three it would have been difficult for me to see over the top of the gate to the drive of our cottage. But I did as I was told and explained to the lady, “Arthur has gone to stick a bayonet up Hitler’s arse.”


My niece recently sent me a video containing over 120 frames of Arthur’s wartime photographs. I am converting them back to individual photos. This is the first:

George Arthur Scotney
Amongst the rest are a series of photos of planes which I think meet this week’s theme.

Landing on Aircraft Carrier(My sepia effect)
 No problem apparently with this one’s engine, but perhaps the engine of the next was too heavy for the plane.

Nose Down
The engine on the flying boat below is plain to see, but perhaps the aircraft should have landed on the sea.

Flying Boat 'grounded'

I am still trying to identify the type of planes and the name of the aircraft carrier. What follows is at this stage conjecture on my part.

Another of Arthur's photos is an aerial view of a port under attack from the air. I’m reasonably sure that it is the Italian port of Taranto which was attacked by Swordfish aircraft from HMS Illustrious on the night of 11 November 1940. This successful attack is said to have been used as a model for the later Japanese attack on the US fleet at Pearl Harbour.

I know that Arthur served on the Illustrious and visited Malta as part of his service when the carrier protected convoys supplying the island. Was he aboard when the Illustrious was bombed by German planes?  On 10 January 1941 HMS Illustrious made it to Valetta’s Grand Harbour with 196 of its crew killed and 91 injured – the convoy arrived safely.

I have a lot more detective work to do.

Arthur died in 1977, aged just 56.

This is a Sepia Saturday post; there's more at Sepia Saturday 80

I Never Promised You A Rose Garden

As I watch it rain in Michigan I must beg your pardon. I never promised you a rose garden.

The flowers on the chives in the herb garden at my daughter’s home are a favourite with butterflies and dragonflies. I have had to spend time on the web to identify what they are. If I’ve got their names wrong please let me know.

Silver-Spotted Skipper
This butterfly was reluctant to fully open its wings:

Silver-Spotted Skipper
However this little beauty was more obliging:

Pearl Crescent
It was an elegant dragonfly that really caught my eye:

Widow Skimmer
The most prolific dragonfly was this vicious brute seen here on a post to the deck at the back of the house:

Chalk-Fronted Corporal
 This was more at home on a rock by the lake:

Chalk-Fronted Corporal
What looked like blue-flying matchsticks just stayed on the reeds. It was only when you look closer you can see they are stripped.

Double-Stripped Bluet
Meanwhile the roses in the bed in the centre of the back paddock are ignored by butter- and dragonflies alike.

“I beg your pardon.
I never promised you a rose garden.”

You will have to make do with these pictures instead.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

When Rocky Met Bambi

At dusk as the sun goes down behind the wood, the shadows lengthen and the light begins to fade.

Now’s the time for Rocky to appear to clear up the daily debris left at the feeder by the birds. It’s a mystery how he can squeeze his body through the small gap beneath the left-hand garden gate. But this is what he does each night and evades the watching dogs. Perhaps they see him, perhaps they are too tired to even bother to bark, let alone chase him back under the gate into the wood.

This is also the time when deer emerge from the wood to feed long its edges. To the left of the fenced-off compound one stretches its neck to nibble leaves from the lower branches of the trees. To the right stands Bambi, tail twitching, her eyes fixed on the feeder – or is it Rocky that has caught her eye?

Her tail twitching still, Bambi’s back legs tense. Will she run? Has Rocky scared her off?

But no, it’s the other way round. As Bambi springs athletically over the steel wire fence Rocky runs for cover, back under the gate to his refuge in the wood.

Unconcerned, Bambi lowers her head and begins to eat the grass enhanced with discarded bird feed.

Rocky’s courage returns and so does he, back under the gate where he hesitates, not sure of the welcome he will receive. He scuttles up the side of the left fence and circles across the lawn approaching from Bambi’s rear. She, head lowered, continues to eat with her tail flicking from side to side.

Reassured Rocky decides he should take his place and settles down facing her. The complimentary meal is enjoyed by them both.

In the gloom the paparazzi camera clicks and clicks again, no flash to pierce the gathering dark.

The photos will be published next day under the heading, “Secret Rendezvous! When Rocky Met Bambi.”

Monday, 20 June 2011

Birding in Michigan

Despite my daughters dogs I have managed to catch a few birds at the bird feeder and in the grounds all within 50 yards of the house. The drawback has been that most of the birds are on the ground.

I suppose that I have to show the Michigan State bird first:

American Robin
This frequent visitor to the bird feeder is more colourful than the British Jay:

Blue Jay
The most brightly coloured visitor is this red bird

I'd really like to get better pictures of the Cardinal and the Red Winged Blackbirds but I cannot get close enough:

Red Winged Blackbirds
The picture does not do them justice they look much better in flight..

My last shot is of a bird on top of its nest box.

Tree Swallow
It has young birds in the nest which have no feathers at all at this stage. We don't have tree swallows in the UK; our swallows would not use a nest box like this

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Signs of Humour - Thematic Photography

While on holiday in Cornwall recently I saw this sign:

No customers and not a camel in sight.

I've always been a fan of warning signs. This one I found in the late 1950s certainly amused me:

To see more selected for Carmi's sign theme please check out Writteninc.thematic-photographic 150 it will be worth your time.

Note: the town of Padstow is on the estuary of the River Camel.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

At Leisure On The Beach

It seems strange posting views on English beaches when I'm on holiday in Michigan but here's two I'll share.

The first was taken in 2008. You may say this is not an old photo, but as it was taken while we celebrated our golden wedding I think that makes it qualify.Doesn't my son look lonely paddling in the sea?

Beach on Tresco in the Scilly Isles
The second photo is of my late father-in-law and one of his daughters, we're not sure which but the photo must be approaching 70 years old.

For more beach scenes visit Alan Burnett's Sepia Saturday.79

A Death At The Seaside

A STAC Casebook Crime Book - by David Robinson.

Review by Bob Scotney

A quarterly trip of the Sanford Third Age Club (STAC) to Filey and Scarborough is marred by the disappearance and subsequent death of Eddie Roberts one of its members. Joe Murray the proprietor of the Sanford’s Lazy Luncheonette and chairman of STAC uses his deductive skills to unravel the circumstances leading to Eddie’s death.

This short book is filled with the clues that lead Joe to the solution. Anyone who has been to Filey and Scarborough will recognise the location from David’s descriptions as well as the Yorkshire humour that permeates the text.

STAC members’ ages range from 50 to 85. The outings main events – a 60s disco night and an Abba tribute band – and club members are subtly drawn as are Joe’s foils, his assistants from the Lazy Luncheonette, the widows Sheila Reilly and Brenda Jump.

From their base at the Beachside Hotel Joe, with Sheila and Brenda, uncovers the facts behind Eddie Roberts’ disappearance, accident, suicide or murder. His investigation takes him from the unsuitability of Eddie’s personnel effects for a fishing trip on a hot day, via his own ransacked room, and a balaclava clad mugger to the climax back at the Beachside Hotel where PC Flowers has recalled STAC members at the end of their trip to make statements.


This book is available from Amazon and Smashwords. It's an entertaining read ad I'd recommend it to all.  You can find it at:

Lulu Store

Amazon Store

Smashwords Store

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Michigan Wild Dogs

Yesterday I mentioned boisterous dogs frightening birds. Here are two of them, admittedly when they were a bit younger, resting after their exertions..

Lily and Scout
Those of you who followed the April A-Z Challenge will have read of Lily's escapades before. Neither they nor the older dogs, Cody and Gem, are really wild dogs although their ancestors were many years ago, There's nothing that they like better than to live up to their Retriever genes when chasing after a tennis ball.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Michigan Wildlife

It's only the second day of our visit to my daughter's home in Michigan and already I've had my camera out. However with four boisterous dogs to contend with photographing birds has proved impossible. I did succeed with this butterfly though, if  I only knew what it was.

I had no problem identifying these birds on Oxford Hills golf course today, even if the photo is from last year.

Sand Cranes
My next task is to gets some pictures of the 'hundreds' of dragonflies round the lake in the grounds - watch this space.

Can anyone identify the butterfly? Just leave a comment please.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Cornwall's Cathedral - Sepia Saturday

One of the frustrating things about photographing cathedrals is that often there is in sufficient space to get a full view of their glory and their spires. Truro Cathedral is no exception to this, but I tried:

Nave with High Altar at the end

High Altar - Truro Cathedral

High Altar and Reredos

The spire may not be as high as Little Nell's Salisbury; Truro Cathedral was not started until 1890 so is comparatively modern - an impressive building nevertheless.

More high achievers at: Sepia Saturday 78

Friday, 3 June 2011

Train Spotting - Sepia Saturday

Train spotting is not a hobby of mine but back in February I came across two iconic trains. They appeared originally in a thematic photography post; here they are again. I hope you can make up your mind whether (get it?) they qualify:

Regular contributors to Sepia Saturday posts will know that I have often said that I had no old photos of my family. That has changed -- my niece has sent me over 100 from an album covering my elder brother's wartime experience in the Fleet Air Arm in the Mediterranean. To my delight I found this:

Now all I have to do is to find out where and when it was taken.

I will share other of my brother's photos when appropriate.

Don't miss the other trains at Sepia Saturday 77

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Ghostly Jaunts in June

Phantom trains, Cavalier lovers, King Arthur and his knights, a spectral black dog and even a schoolboy ghost are on jaunts in June.

In 1944 an ammunition train with 51 wagons and hundreds of 500lb bombs caught fire and exploded at Soham in Cambridgeshire; every window in Soham was shattered and the station destroyed. Bert Ginbert, the driver survived but the twenty-two year-old fireman, James Knightall and Frank Briggs the signalman were killed instantly. The day before the explosion Knightall is believed to have told the driver that he did not think he had long to live.

On 2nd June a phantom train is said to run on the tracks at Soham railway station.

The Civil War has given rise to ghostly cavaliers in more than one location.

Goodrich Castle
(Michael Eccles - CC A-S A 2.0 generic license)

Today Goodrich Castle is a majestic ruin near the River Wye in Herefordshire. A Norman Keep surrounded by a red sandstone square castle with drum towers on the corners it has a natural dry moat. Built in 1806, major upgrades occurred when Edward I was king. By the 16th century it was unoccupied.

In 1646 during the Civil War it was besieged by the Roundheads led by Colonel John Birch. His niece, Alice, took refuge in the castle with her Royalist lover, Charles Clifford. When attempting to escape the couple died together in the river.

On or near to June 14th, particularly if it’s stormy, it’s said their cries came be heard and their wraiths be seen, urging a phantom horse into the swollen waters of the Wye. On other occasions, passersby late at night have seen their poignant specters staring sadly from the ruined ramparts.


In 1980 the caretaker at Hitchin Priory in Hertfordshire was doing his rounds when he sensed that he was no longer alone. He turned round and saw the figure of a woman floating above the stairs at the end of the corridor. He said that the woman was dressed in grey and a short sleeved blouse with a pearl around her neck. The caretaker was so frightened that he refused to go back to the corridor on his own.

One theory has it that the grey lady is the ghost of the sweetheart of a Cavalier named Goring who met his end in the park. At the time of the Civil War Goring was hiding in nearby Highdown House where his betrothed was staying in an attempt to avoid capture by the Roundheads. Goring was forced to flee when the enemy searched the house. He did not get very far and was executed on the spot while his sweetheart witnessed the whole event from an upstairs window.
Now on 15th June every year, the anniversary of his execution Goring’s headless ghost is seen riding on a white horse towards Hitchin Priory. Is the grey lady the ghost of his sweetheart?

Cadbury Castle from Corton Ridge
(Joe D, modified by Jim Campion: CC A-S A 2.5 generic license)

 Between the North and South Barrow, near Castle Cary in Somerset there was an ancient causeway. On 20th June (Midsummer’s Eve) King Arthur, with a ghostly escort of mounted knights and teams of foot soldiers, follows this route supposedly from nearby Cadbury Castle to Glastonbury. (Cadbury is thought to be Arthur’s Camelot.)

Another legend says that every seven years a door opens in the hillside so that Arthur and his company can leave to feed their horses.

West Kennet Long Barrow entrance
 (Gazimoff: CC A-S A 3.0 unported license)

West Kennet Long Barrow in Wiltshire is one of the many prehistoric monuments that are part of the Avebury complex of Neolithic sites. It is one of the most impressive and well-preserved burial chambers in Britain, as well as being one of the most visited.
On 21st June, Midsummer’s Day, a spectral black dog is said to appear. Black dogs are a particular feature of English folklore; they were the guardians of graveyards. This claim could be the ghost of such a guardian.

Other sources recount the appearance at sunrise of a priest dressed in white, accompanied by a dog with red ears.


St Mary's Church Beaminster
 (Mike Searle; Geograph Project Collection  CC A-S A 2.0 generic license)

St Mary’s Church, Beaminster, Dorset is the place to be on 27th June to see the ghost of the schoolboy John Daniel, who was murdered there in 1728. He was buried without an inquest as his mother had testified that he suffered from fits.

An account of the Beaminster Ghost Story first appeared in the Gentleman's Magazine in 1774. The apparition appeared in broad daylight and was seen by five children, one of whom never even knew John when he was alive.

The Beaminster School used to be held in a gallery of the church to which there was an entrance from the churchyard. On Saturday 27th June 1728 twelve children had stayed to play ball in the churchyard after school. Four boys returned to the school to search for old pens when they heard a noise in the church – they concluded that someone was hiding in order to frighten them. A search by all the boys found nothing but as they returned to their sport they heard a second noise in the school. Running round the church they heard the sound of preaching and the singing of psalms – these noises only lasted a short time.

Later one of the boys returned to the school for a book where he saw a coffin on one of the benches. He fetched the others and they thronged the school-door. Five of the twelve saw the apparition of John Daniel, who had been dead for more than seven weeks, sitting some distance from the coffin further in the school. John’s half-brother recognised the apparition and threw a stone at it, whereupon the apparition disappeared.

The lads were examined by Colonel Broadrepp, the magistrate, and based on their descriptions of the apparition and the coffin, the body was disinterred. At a coroner’s inquest a verdict was returned that John Daniel had been strangled. No steps appear to have been taken to bring anyone to justice for his murder.