Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Flashes of Colour - Thematic Photography

I found a series of photos in my archives that fit Carmi's flash of colour theme.

The Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge celebrated its centenary in October, but it  was the hoarding in this photo that caught my eye.
Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge & Middlehaven Development hoarding
But somehow we cannot match nature's flashes.
End on to a Rainbow in October

In these days of e-mail it's a pleasure to see a decorated mailbox like this one I passed in Michigan.
Blue Bird Mailbox
Then on a Tunisian beach I snapped this beauty, not so sure she was committed to that parachute ride behind a speed boat.
Hammamet beauty
Finally it was a hotel in Germany that might have been called the Red Lion.
Hotel Zum Löwen, Jestetten
I hope you enjoyed my 'flashes' of inspiration; for more check out Carmi's thematic photographic 173

Monday, 28 November 2011

Haunted Herstmonceux

The facade of Herstmonceux Castle
(By Brian Raine - Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 generic license)

Herstmonceux Castle, in East Sussex, has had a chequered existence and like many of England’s it has it ghosts.

Sir Roger Fiennes, Treasurer of the Household of Henry VI, started building the castle in 1441. It was one of the first major brick buildings and today is the oldest brick building of any note still standing in England.

By 1700 the last Lord Dacre, Earl of Sussex was forced to sell the castle and by the end of the century most of it had been demolished. By the early 1900s it had become a ruin before being reconstructed. In 1946 the estate was sold to the Admiralty and it became the home of the Royal Greenwich Observatory. In 1993 Herstmonceux Castle was acquired by The Queen’s University of Canada; it is now an International Study Centre.

The most famous Herstmonceux ghost is the nine-foot tall Phantom Drummer who frequents the ramparts at night. Some accounts say he was killed at the Battle of Agincourt and ever since his death tattoo can be heard accompanied by showers of blue light from his drum sticks.

Other versions say the drummer is the ghost of an old Lord Dacre who lived secretly in the castle and beat his drum to ward off lovers of his young wife. He applied phosphorous to his face, clothes and drum and appeared round the castle in a drummer’s uniform. His wife became so annoyed she locked him in and left him to die. Unfortunately for her, the sound of his drum could still be heard, frightening her lovers away.

The spectral White Lady seen swimming across the moat at night and standing nearby wringing her hands in torment is believed to be the wraith of a girl from the village. One of Sir Roger's sons had forced his attentions upon the girl; she escaped his clutches by leaping into the moat. Her attacker caught her and dragged her back into the castle. He then assaulted and murdered her.

Visitors to Herstmonceux Castle are now invited take part in a guided tour and become familiar with the stories of the resident ghosts.
Aerial View of Herstmonceux Castle
 (By Welshie - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 unported license)

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Constable's Dog

No this is not about a police dog. Constable's famous painting The Hay Wain has a dog in the foreground as you can see in this photo of the oil painting we have on our wall.
The Hay Wain - Constable
The painting also appears on a postage stamp issued in 1968. In researching the stamp for my post British Art on Sunday Stamps I discovered that it was the first British stamp to include a dog. The stamp did not scan well enough or the dog to be seen.

Now all I need is to find out the breed of dog.

For those who contribute to Sunday Stamps this post is linked to here,

British Art on Sunday Stamps

The earliest stamp in my collection is one of a set of three British Paintings issued on 10th July 1967.
Red Boy - Sir Thomas Lawrence
This painting is often paired with Gainsborough's famous Blue Boy. The Red Boy, actual title 'Master Lambton', is a portrait of the eldest son of Lord Lambton, 1st Earl of Durham.

The next two stamps are from a set of four on British Paintings issued on 12th August 1968.
Elizabeth I - Unknown artist
The Hay Wain - Constable
Interestingly this stamp is first example of a dog on a British stamp. You need very good eyes to see it on here. The oil painting (copy) on my lounge wall shows it clearly. [I'll put up a photo for you to see later]. The dog is in the middle foreground on the edge of the water.

My next stamp is one of a set of four issued on 19th February 1975 to commemorate the bicentenary of J M W Turner's birth.
Peace - Burial at Sea; JMW Turner
Finally I found this first day cover at the stamp stall in the local market for 50p.
Artists - 24 Sir Henry Moore; 28 Edward Bawden; 
33 Stanley Spencer; 39 Ben Nicholson

You can visit other artistic interpretations at Viridian's Sunday Stamps 46

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Gone Fishing! - Sepia Saturday

Alan's picture this week opens up all sorts of possibilities but it was the young man on the right that got me started.
Launceston Elliott
Launceston Elliott, a Scotsman, was Britain's first Olympic Gold Medallist - he won his medal for the one-handed lift in the games at Athens in 1896.

It was the fish on sale that caught my eye so I went to find a few.
Bull Red Fish measuring 36"
Caught in Galveston Bay from Texas City Dike on May 2, 2011
(By Hvn - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 licence)

Before you tell me this fish is not on the shop's list, let's have a roll on the drums.
Red Drum aka red fish, channel bass or spot-tail bass
Caught off the Gulf Coast of Louisiana. Mature red drum not a red bull, the name given to red drum larger than 26" (By Geeklikepi - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 licence)

If you've never thought of a buffalo as a fish, you would be wrong.
Bigmouth Buffalo (Ictiobus cyprinellus)
(ex USFWS National Image Library)

Not all fishermen tell tales about the big ones they've caught,
A 'Tiddler'
But just to prove I didn't waste my time completely.
My 'Prize' Catfish
The earth moved when I hooked that fellow. However it wasn't F M Pointer who moved this.
The House that Moved, Exeter
A c14 house restored and removed to its present position on West Limk
ex  - By Derek Harper - 
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 generic licence

If you want to see how it was done then check here

Of course don't forget to look at other contributors at Sepia Saturday 102

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Muted Thematic Photography

When I saw this week's theme was muted I was stuck for ideas untl I remembered these pictures from Norway.
Mute Swans on Stokkavatnet, Stavanger

Mute swans have orange bills with a black base and knob (less prominent in the female). They are not as slient as their name suggests as they will snort and hiss when annoyed, some even produce a weak trumpeting. But the swan song, the music said to be produced by a dying swan, is a myth with no foundation in fact.
Mute Swan on the River Tees at Preston Park
I was quite pleased to find these photos in my files. So it's time for me to blow my own trumpet - muted of course just like this.
Eddie Byard plays muted trumpet
Trombonist Tom Ebert, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival 1990.
(by I,Infrogmation - CC-A 2.5 generic license)

OK, I cheated as I'm no musician. For other muted contributions check out Carmi's thematic photographic 172

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Dogs on Sunday Stamps

As Viridian has given us a choice and I write about them from time to time I decided to show stamps of dogs this week.

As they are descended from wolves I thought I would start with a Polish stamp.
Next stop is Manama with what looks like a Terrier.
I have a number of stamps from the time I spent in Norway including this one of a dog with a splendid name.
Lundehund or Norwegian Puffin Dog
I had to show this series of stamps from the USA as it includes two breeds owned by my daughter.
Animal Rescue stamps - USA - adopt a shelter pet
Sam and Maxie, Golden Labradors, were my daughter's first two dogs. Although they have gone to the great boneyard in the sky she now has Cody, Scout and Lily - three Golden Retrievers.

Also from USA I could not resist showing this:
The Lady & The Tramp
Finally my favourite set which I have shown before.

I hope you have enjoyed my dogs. To see what others have chosen to post please visit Viridian's postcard blog

Friday, 18 November 2011

Tired Out! - Sepia Saturday

I spent so long looking at the Chevrolet searching for inspiration that I tired myself out, but not quite as much as this chap:
Dog tired.
(By withrow - CC BY-NC 2.0 license ex flickr)

I hope that the tyres on the Chevrolet have been recycled and made into something useful and not just dumped in landfill or carelessly discarded. Here's a use that I entirely approve of:
Recycled tyre doormat attracting a butterfly of similar markings.
(By i am brad - CC BY-NC 2.0 license ex flickr)

I did manage to find a photo of my own but this tyre is in use:
Butterfly relaxing in the shade
And here's a way of relaxing if you're tired like me after researching my family tree.
The tyre swing
(By CaptPiper - CC BY-NC 2.0 license es flickr)

If you need a pick-me-up to get you home then you could chose one like this - but don't forget to take the steps from the tree with you or you will have a tiring climb.
Monster tyres
(By readerwalker - CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license ex flickr)
[This truck is owned by Minco Auto & Truck Accessories in Tallahassee, Florida.]

Before you go don't forget to check out Sepia Saturday 101

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Classic Thematic Photography

Carmi's classic theme gave me problems for a while until I remembered that I am taking part in the Dickens Journals Online Project. I received a copy of  his 'Pickwick Papers' as a prize when I was at school. This sent me to my bookcase to look for it.
Classic Top Shelf
You may not be able to read the titles of the books on the top shelf at the left. There are no banned titles and none obscured so let's take a closer look.
Classic Book Selection
From left to right we have tucked in the corner a once banned book, 'Lady Chaterley's Lover' (D H Lawrence); 'The Return of the Native' (Thomas Hardy); Villette (Charlotte Bronte); Mansfield Park and Emma (Jane Austen); The Canterbury Tales (Chaucer); The Pilgrim's Progress (John Bunyan) and, the thin green book, The Thirty-nine Steps (John Buchan)

Daphne Du Maurier's 'Rebecca' is next before my prize copy of 'Pickwick Papers' and Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein.'
More Classic Books
I think you can make out the titles of the five at the right but from the left after Frankenstein is Mrs Gaskell's 'Cranford', 'The Moonstone' (Wilkie Collins), Barchester Towers ( Anthony Trollope), 'Wuthering Heights' (Emily Bronte), 'Jane Eyre' (Charlotte Bronte) and before 'The Works of Robert Burns' is 'The Diary of Ann' Frank').
I hope you like the classic collection which we have assembled over the years. But before I sign off my attention was drawn to ornaments on the walls and on top of my 'classic' bookcase.
'Real' copy of figure from the Classical Period 530 BC
This plate and the one that follows came from a holiday we took in Crete about 30 years ago.
Plate from Crete
Any voulnteers to translate the inscription?
Any my final classic piece is this:
Vase - Museum Corinth 560 BC Exact Copy
This vase (or jug) is about 6 inches tall.

For other classic collections you need to visit Carmi's Thematic Photographic 171

Philippa Gregory opens Stockton's 'New' Central Libary

Hardly a day goes by without us hearing of the pressures on libraries with the threat of closure hanging over many.

It's a pleasure therefore to report on one that's very much alive. The Central Libary at Stockton-on-Tees reopened on 1 November after an extensive refurbishment. The building hasn't changed but the refurbishment has provided a library to be proud of.

The Library was officially opened on 14th November by historian and best selling author Philippa Gregory.

Prior to the opening ceremony Philippa gave a talk to an audience and signed copies of her books in the Library's packed lecture hall. She recounted the importance of libraries in her life from childhood in 1960s Bristol to becoming a historian and best selling author.

At Sussex University Philippa read English Literature but she was 'hooked' on History by her Professor's dramatic introduction to the subject. 'History does not repeat itself' was the lesson she has never forgotten. At Edinburgh University she studied Gothic heroines and in particular the disempowerment of women in the 1800s. Her PhD research took her all over the country to compile a 'best seller' list from library catalogues. Expecting to find only 10 relevant catalogues there turned out to be 64. Noone has ever guessed the title of the book that topped the list she produced from her research.

When Maggie Thatcher froze the courses for 18th century literature historians, Philippa switched to writing historical novels - all based on women overlooked in British history. A reference to the launching of a ship called Mary Boleyn gave Philippa the idea which resulted in 'The Other Boleyn Girl' which was later to become a TV drama and a major film.

After her talk Philippa signed copies of her books (hard- and paperbacked) for members of the audience.

You can find details about all her Tudor novels and those she has also written on the Plantagenets on her website

Monday, 14 November 2011

Foreign Flavours: A New Anthology from Writers Abroad

Online writing group Writers Abroad have announced the publication of a new anthology of short stories and non-fiction articles, entitled Foreign Flavours.

The anthology takes as its theme food, drink and recipes from around the world. It is a tantalizing collection of fiction and non-fiction, full of spice and flavour and sprinkled with mouth-watering recipes. The wide-ranging, sometimes bittersweet contributions show how adaptable an ex-pat has to be to leave familiar dishes behind and venture into the culinary unknown.

This is the second anthology published by Writers Abroad. All the contributors are, or have been, ex-pats living in places around the globe.  Alexander McCall Smith, acclaimed author of The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series who himself was born abroad, has written the foreword.

Following a call for submissions, 64 contributions were selected for the anthology. Since Writers Abroad is a virtual writers’ group, all the work to produce Foreign Flavours was done online. 

All proceeds from the sale of this book will go to The Book Bus, a charity whose aim is to bring literacy and the joy of reading to children in the developing world.       

Foreign Flavours is available from Lulu at this link from Monday 24th October , price £9.60 (€10.99)

To find out more, please go to the Writers Abroad website,

Writers Abroad is an online writing group, founded in 2009. It provides a forum for ex-pat writers to exchange ideas, views and news on writing and to offer support and constructive feedback on each other’s work. Membership numbers are limited but ex-pat writers can apply to join if they are able to support the group’s initiatives and aims.

.         Alexander McCall Smith is one of the world’s most popular and prolific authors. He was born in the former Rhodesia and was a Professor of Medical Law for many years. His No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series has sold over 20 million copies. His various bestselling series of books are available in more than 40 languages. He has received numerous awards for his writing and now lives in Edinburgh.

·         Foreign Flavours contains 64 contributions. Thirty-four are non-fiction articles and 30 are short stories.  The anthology also includes 33 delicious and appetising recipes. Writers Abroad members supplied 24 of the contributions; the remaining 40 were selected from 96 external contributions.

·         Contributors live in and have written about the following places: Albania, Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Corsica, Cyprus, England, Fiji, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Korea, Malawi, Mallorca, Morocco, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, USA, Wales.

The Book Bus is a registered charity that aims to improve child literacy rates in Africa and South America by providing children with books and the inspiration to read them. Find out more on their website,

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Sporting Sunday Stamps

I was spoilt for choice this week and could have easily got carried away. So I decided to start with a sport I could never attempt to play.
Sweden - Ice Hockey
I played field hockey for years but could not stand up on skates. But staying with the cold how about these?
Iceland - Wrestling and Swimming
I captained the boxing team at school have never wrestled with anything other than a problem nor was I ever much of a swimmer. I haven't tried this seriously either.
Italy - Cycling
Racquet sports I've played a lot.
Great Britain - Lawn and Table Tennis
Great Britain - Squash  
But the sport that I still play but not as well as this fellow who is two years older than me well past three score years and ten.
South Africa - Golf
I guess that now I will never have a score lower than my age. To console myself I'm off to see other sports at
Viridian's Sunday Stamps 44.