Thursday, 31 May 2012

Cody takes a bath

The smell was overpowering. Where had Cody been?

By the aroma that was wafting everywhere he had obviously been indulging in his favourite pastime of rolling on the grass. Only this time there must have been deer about..

An immediate bath was called for. At 14 years old Cody knows the routine and sits patiently to be soaped, rinsed and dried - just what is all the fuss about?

Cody being dried
That's better - smelling sweet and no soap in my eyes!

Cody - with a dry tail.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Snap Happy or Happy Snaps

Still in dressing gown and pyjamas as I finished my breakfast cereal - not Sugar Snaps or those that go 'snap, crackle and pop' - when a movement against the wire fence caught my eye. For some reason or another the first thing that came to my mind was that it was a snapping turtle. I should say that we are at my daughter's home in Michigan.

I grabbed my camera not wishing to miss a snapping opportunity and rushed outside making sure that my daughter's four dogs were not able to follow me. There alongside the fence to the corral behind the house a female snapping turtle was slowly making her way up the slope to the gravel drive.

Common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina)
Unfortunately the dogs made their way through the flap in the garage door into the corral the other side of the green wire fence expecting me to play ball with them. They were most unhappy to be shouted at and warned to keep away from the fence - a snapping turtle can give a nasty bite; they are noted for their belligerent disposition when out of the water with a powerful beak-like jaws and their highly mobile neck and head.

This one proved no exception, hissing and rearing up to deliver warning snaps.

The carapace or upper shell may reach nearly 20 inches in length; this one was around 11-12. They can weigh from 10-35lbs.

She had to be moved from the area - to protect the dogs and to avoid her coming back to lay eggs in the gravel drive. Moving her was easier said than done. By now clad in tee shirt and track suit bottoms I had the idea of using a metal snow shovel to move her. But where to was the question. The shortest distance was 50 yards back into the woods and the swamp at the back of the property but that was where she had probably come from.

She was far from happy to be lifted on the shovel, hissing and trying to bite it. Lifting her was not easy as I had to avoid my bottom hand being within the reach of her snapping 'beak.' By the feel of her on the shovel she must have weighed over 10lbs.

My wife had the bright idea of moving her in a small car trailer. She tried in vain to climb up its sides. Eventually I transported her to the end of the road in front of the property and set her free over the other side of the main road. 

We had a happy snapping ending after all. As long as she does not come back.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Maps - Sunday Stamps

I believe I have posted stamps from Argentina and Ceylon before which showed maps of these countries. Rather than repeat them I discovered I had others.

United Nations - world map
This is the only UN stamp I have. 

A Spanish stamp has not only the a map of Spain but shows Peru and Mexico too.

I hope someone will be able to tell me what it was issued for - Fifth Centenary of Printing?

These stamps showing the Indian sub-continent probably date before the country was partitioned and before Pakistan and Bangladesh existed.

There are a number of stamps from Iceland with different maps of the island.

Landsimmi is the Icelandic telecommunications company, now called Siminn. In 1906 a telephone cable was laid from Scotland to the Faroe Islands and Iceland. I believe 1956 was the first time that lines reached the whole of Iceland.

For other views of the world through maps on stamps visit Viridian's Sunday Stamps 72

Friday, 25 May 2012

Rawhide - Sepia Saturday

Last summer when we were in Michigan we had a visit from a little white bull which had decided to wander off.

Little white bull
It may have been a steer but it was enough to remind me of Tommy Steele

But closer to home this cow was photogenic.

Fortunately for her the nearest cattle market at Yarm has been empty for years.

Yarm Cattle Market (c1975)
In fact like many it has been turned into  a car park.

Yarm Old Market (2012)
When I was at Stamford School in Lincolnshire back in the late 40s/early 1950s I use to pass the local cattle market every day. This is the state it was in in March 2010.

Stamford Cattle Market (disused)
(ex geograph; author Michael Truelove; CC A-S A 2.0 generic license)
The description for this photo said, 'Not much changed since previous submissions to geograph. The weeds are bigger but surprisingly the buildings remain intact apart from a covering of graffiti.

How things change and not always for the better.

For more cattle market reflections, hopefully less depressing don't forget to check out Sepia Saturday 127 

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Far from home - Thematic Photography

Carmi could not have picked a more appropriate topic for me; when he posted it we were on our way ti Michigan which is over 3500 miles from home.

This reminded me of a photo I've shared before.

Add caption
It might not have been a night flight and the coasts involved were England/Netherlands/USA but yes Bob was 'creamed crackered' when we arrived.

I haven't had the chance so far to get my camera out this trip but I do have some shots from other spots 'far from home', 

Extinct volcano - Lanzarote
I never had the chance to take photos in many places I've been - examples are Mexico and Saudi Arabia. The 31 hours it took on one occasion to get back home from Mexico would definitely have been classed as a 'red eye' trip.

Much nearer home in 2003 I was lucky enough to spend some time in Monaco.

Monte Carlo - la piscine
I'm sorry to disappoint you but the yacht was not mine. This will be the place to be this weekend for the F1 Grand Prix.

I couldn't even lay claim to any of these.

More Monte Carlo yachts - more modest this time
It may seem strange to have a palm tree  in a central spot, but I wanted to include the cliff on the left. On the top of this sits:

The Palace of  Monaco (by Berthold Werner)

In those days I didn't have a camera to get such a wide field of view. This was the shot I took:

The Palace of  Monaco
But today I'm still far from home and Cody is waiting for me to play.

Patient Cody
To visit other far away places you need to check out Thematic photographic 197 

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Birthday Post - Sunday Stamps

We get so few letters or cards that carry stamps that I wondered whether I would have anything to show this week. Fortunately it was my birthday on Friday and this is what I received.

Great Britain - Second Class stamp - First class birthday
Then a card with a first class stamp.

First Class Machin
And from the USA came these:

USA - Forever 
Balian & Busse plc is the group of attorneys of which my daughter is a member. The Forever Purple Heart stamps are upside down. You know that I have shown dogs on stamps before so you may not be surprised that it was Owney that caught my eye.

Owney, the canine mascot of the Railway Mail Service is commemorated by this stamp. Owney was the favourite of clerks on mail-sorting trains at the end of the 19th century and was hailed as a symbol of good luck. Today his story highlights the historical importance of the Railway Mail Service. In this design by artist Bill Bond of Arlington, Virginia he is shown with many of his famous tags and medals gleaming in the background,

Owney the Postal Dog stamp was issued as a Forever® stamp in July 2011.

For more of this weeks postage stamps check out Sunday Stamps 71

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Creative Chaos - Blog Award

Back in April during the A-Z Challenge Marc Latham of Folding Mirror Poetry fame was very prophetic when he gave this blog a Creative Chaos award.

This was at the stage when I was beginning despair over what castle to cover for X and Z. To make matters worksea load of unscheduled work arrived with urgent non-negotiable dead lines. Chaos reigned supreme - so supreme in fact that it is only now that I can't thank Marc and acknowledge the award.

As usual with these things there are tasks to perform; this is what I was asked to do.
1.  You must tell 3 completely weird things about your habits.  If you claim to have no weird habits, you’re lying and we’ll have to send an investigative team for further analysis.
2.  You must tell why you look at the “glass half full” scenario and ask “what? No coffee?”
3.  Complete one the following essay questions:  A.  You find yourself in a desolate place when your car breaks down.  You have no cellphone service, no Walmart (I know, GASP, right?), and only a candy bar for food.  It is 150 miles to the closest town.  What color are your pants and why?  B.  You find yourself having to ride an elevator quite frequently.  How do you pass the time to show off your creativity?
4. Then you are to nominate 5 random people.
5. Make sure to show proper gratitude to the person who nominated you whether that is to shower them with gifts, prizes, and cash or to see that they are put into a clown costume and photographed for internet mocking.
6.  Make sure to post the award somewhere other than the underside of the toilet seat.
Here's what I decided:
Task 1:
1. I'm told I always park my wife's car in the garage at an angle - an angle which makes it difficult for her to reverse out.
2. On my regular morning walk I try to identify three things that have changed since the day before (and the weather doesn't count.
3. I count the leaves as they appear on our newly planted pear tree,
Task 2:
This is much easier because whether the glass is half full or half empty makes no difference to me. If the contents are alcoholic it's forbidden. So I'm always justified in asking, "What? No coffee?"
Task 3:
I don't have a car and would be unable to borrow my wife's to drive to a desolate place. But if this unlikely event would happen I'd have to make sure that I was wearing my Union Jack pants as and aid to thumbing a lift in this Diamond Jubilee year.
Task 4:
It's a great pleasure for me to nominate 5 random people all of whom have contributed in one way or another to my chaotic blog, if only indirectly and they don't always know.
1 - Hilary Melton-Butcher at for causing me to panic when she chose the same A-Z theme as me this year.
2 - David Robinson at  for his support and good humour over a number of years. I just wonder whether he will tell me what to do with an award.
3. Alan Burnett at for  a weekly blog that forces me and others to try to be creative each week.
4. Carmi Levy at for his weekly creative thematic photographic tasks that enable us to exhibit our photographic skills, if we can.
5. Viridian at for her Sunday Stamps theme which showcases stamps from all round the world. I've had to dust off my albums again for this.
Task 5:
My thanks again to Marc who is quite a fellow not only for his ability to fold mirrors but also for his Werewolf of Oz and his Greengrey stories. 
Finally I shall post this award on my Awards page as a permanent reminder of the Chaos Theory.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Top Hats - Sepia Saturday

This week's photo made me think of parties and then events where ladies get dressed up in their finery and the men wear top hats.

However the pair in my first photo don't look in the mood to party.

A veteran with his wife (1860s)
  (French Archives de la photographie 1840-1940)

He appears to be wearing a British Crimean War medal with bars - although it had previously been said that it shows an American Civil War (1861-1865) veteran, a dubious attribution. His wife is sporting a bonnet with ruffles, a paisley shawl and gloves.

The next pair are in party mode.
Cover of Puck magazine, 1916 Sep 9.
 (United States Library of Congress - Author Ralph Barton))

This photo was captioned:
                       "8:15 P.M.": Man, wearing top hat and tails, looking at extravagantly dressed woman, who is seated on floor with large cushions.

Gentlemen, if it's a cheap hat you want how about this? Not sure about the rest of the outfit though.

John Tenniel Illustration 1869 - Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Back in 1932 no public opening was complete without ladies in hats, fine dresses and of course dignitaries in top hats.

Opening of the Grey Street Bridge, Brisbane 30 March 1932
Governor Goodwin and party walking across the Grey Street Bridge after its opening. Sir John and Lady Goodwin with Neil Campbell and his wife, walking over the Grey Street Bridge. The men are wearing morning dress, top hats and spats. Lady Goodwin and an unidentified woman are carrying bouquets.

The Grey Street Bridge was renamed the William Jolly Bridge in 1955 after William Jolly, the first Lord Mayor of Greater Brisbane.

For more jolly japes you need to pay a visit to Sepia Saturday 126

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Looking Up - Thematic Photography

I often think that we do not look up enough. As soon I saw this looking up theme I remembered two photos I had taken where I had deliberately shot what was over my head.

Brunel's SS Great Britain towers above in its Bristol dry dock.

SS Great Britain
However there was another shot where I lay down on my back much to the amusement of other people.

SS Great Britain - masts and rigging
Last week when the theme was trees I thought about using this shot, taken looking up.

Sycamore branches overhead 
Sometimes though it's not necessary to point your camera straight up as you can get a power shot without doing that. (I just wish we could get some weather like this now!)

Power lines
If you want more things to look up to I suggest that you visit Carmi's thematic photographic 196

Sunday, 13 May 2012

20th Century Women - Sunday Stamps

I don't have anything appropriate for Mothers' Day so I have had to rely on my pet market stall holder for this first day cover from 6th August 1996.

Great Britain - FDC
Dorothy Hodgkin (1910-94) - Nobel Prize 1964 and the first woman to be awarded the Order of Merit (1965) since Florence Nightingale.

Margot Fonteyn (1919-91) - ballerina, DBE 1956

Elisabeth Frink (1930-93) - sculptor, DBE 1982

Daphne du Maurier (1907-89) - writer, DBE 1969

Marea Hartman (1920-94) - sports administrator for women's athletics, DBE 1994

I bought this FDC just to get my hands on the Daphne du Maurier stamp.

Hope you liked my selection. For more appropriate Mothers' Day cards visit Sunday Stamps 70.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Victorian Kitchens - Sepia Saturday

I try to keep out of the kitchen as every time I go in there I'm either given a job to do or I'm told I'm in the way. Nevertheless I've found a couple of kitchens that I hope will interest you.

The Victorian Kitchen, Dalgarven Mill, Ayrshire
The house where I was born had a Victorian kitchen; we had a black leaded grate similar to this and we still have a mixing bowl like the one on the table. However the floor was made of stone slabs which didn't exactly generate a warm feeling.

My second kitchen is located in Lincolnshire where I went to school.

Replica of a Victorian Kitchen at the Museum of Lincolnshire Life, Lincoln 2011
We had a chair just like that but our tin bath was kept and used in an outhouse with a coal-fired copper to heat the water. We didn't have the luxury of a water pumped into the kitchen like in this replica.. Our stone flag floors were soften by rugs like the one shown here made by pegging scraps of cloth to canvas sacking,

These two pictures brought memories back to me as did the video below. It runs for 30 minutes but I've hope you have the time to view it as the old pictures it contains are worth looking at. When you've watched it perhaps those of you who think 'those were the days' will have changed your minds.

This is the first of a series of videos about Victoria Kitchens of You tube)

For more kitchen utensils don't forget to check Sepia Saturday 125


  • The Victorian Kitchen, Dalgarven Mill, 2008; author Rosser1958 - Roger Griffith
  • Replica of a Victorian Kitchen, Museum of Lincolnshire Life 2011; author Green Lane; Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike  3.0 unported, 2.5. 2.0 and 1.0 Generic licenses.

A-Z Challenge 2012 - Reflections

This was the second year that I have undertaken the April A-Z Challenge. Full of good intentions I had chosen my castle theme early in March and had prepared well over half of my posts.

As it previous years the problem was in visiting and commenting on others’ posts. There were far too many for anyone to be able to visit them all. Until about 18 April I was visiting around 20 a day and leaving comments on half of them. I made the point of visiting c7 ‘new’ writers each day, but I found that so many of the people I followed in the previous year were taking part again. I even struggled to keep up with their posts let alone the new ones I had taken on.

I just had to check out Hilary Melton-Butcher’s blog as she had also chosen a castle theme. We only chose the same castle twice and even then we had a different approach to what we wrote. I had tried to keep to castles that were reported to be haunted – this proved impossible to maintain throughout the month. Hilary’s brilliant idea of posting links to my previous day’s post (I returned the favour) meant that readers of our blogs had a host of castles to chose from and provided a lot of cross-fertilisation between the two blogs.

As usual certain letters proved difficult and this time it wasn’t the usual Q, X and Z. I had to go to Germany for X and cheat a bit on V.

The biggest problem that came up was one that I could not have planned for. A request from a local company for help with a pre-qualification questionnaire, and its consequences meant that from 20th blogging suddenly had no priority for me (in fact, I though this reflections post would not be completed either). A number of you must have been puzzled why I suddenly stopped commenting on your blogs. My apologies to those of you who wondered what was going on.

Will I be taking part next year? Well I have already got a number of A-Z lists prepared but that’s as far as it has gone.

Finally my thanks to Arlee and his co-hosts for the amount of work they have put in to make the Challenge so enjoyable again this year.

My sincere thanks to all my followers, old and new (over 40 this year) and to everyone who read and commented on my blog.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Bushes and Trees - Thematic Photography

I've a lot to choose from for this week's theme of bushes and trees. As this fellow is singing his heart out in my garden I thought he deserved pride of place - the tree is just the stage for him.

Song Thrush
Image how old this beech tree must have been before it lost it's top. What's the message it is passing on?

Beech Tree in Preston Park (Eaglescliffe)
How many points would you give out of 10 for this week of art?

The Tree with no name (Artist - Anon)
For some a tree is an essential part of life.

Wait your turn (Photographer - Anon)
You've seen Fountains Abbey on my blog before - it fits a tree theme too.

Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire
Coming closer to home, this is the St Mary Magdalene Church at Yarm.

St Mary Magdalene from the River Tees
Finally we are back to my garden for trees and bushes photographed in April 2004.

Garden View
View from another angle
Some bushes are full of thorns and their appearance may be deceptive like this on my garden wall - the bush is next door.

Pyracantha (1 inch thorns)
For more trees and shrubs please check out others at Carmi's thematic photographic 195