Thursday, 29 November 2012

Building Bridges - Sepia Saturday

Back in 1955 I went to St Andrews University to start my studies there. My first trip, by train, took me over one of Britain's iconic bridges.

East Coast Express crossing the Forth Bridge (1928)
Alan's prompt this week is of a flimsier bridge.

Rough Wooden Bridge Over River, Group With Dog on the Shore
[The image  comes from the Phillips Glass Plate Negative Collection, at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, Australia. The Museum provides no further information the location of the bridge but the brilliance of on-line communities is  such that information is soon forthcoming : the footbridge was in Mosman Bay on the north shore of Sydney Harbour. The location of the photograph is not the only question posed by the title - it takes a sharp eye to spot the reported dog.]

The route to St Andrews takes the train over the River Tay. At that stage in my journey I knew nothing about an ill-fated journey on 28 December 1879.

Original Tay Bridge - seen from the north
William McGonagall, claimed by some to have been the worst poet in history, began his 1880 poem, "The Tay Bridge Disaster" with the words:

Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay!
Alas! I am very sorry to say
That ninety lives have been taken away
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time.

The whole poem and some notes about the disaster may be read  here  - 75 people lost their lives when the bridge collapsed and took their train with it.

River Tay Bridge, middle section collapse, - 1880
Aged 18, I knew nothing about this but I did wonder what it was I could see in the water.

Tay Bridge (1981)
If you look closely you will see, to the right of the bridge, the plinths on which the original bridge stood.

During my time at St Andrews I studied geology as a subsidiary subject. This involved a number of field trips. During Easter 1957 we visited the island of Raasay off the West Coast of Scotland.

The Isle of Skye (viewed from Raasay 1957)
We travelled to Raasay by boat but never got to Skye. These days,of course, there is no need for a boat to reach Skye.

The Skye Road Bridge
 I'm sure you all will have heard of the Scottish folk song recalling the escape of Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) from Uist to Skye after his defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. The song tells how Charles escaped in a small boat with the aid of Flora MacDonald, disguised as a serving maid.

I hope you will like this version:

While I was at St Andrews there was a debate in the Students' Union about the need (in those days) for a Forth Road Bridge. The English undergraduate who demanded to to know what had happened to the first three was howled down!

I've driven over the bridge that was built later and also over the suspension bridges over the River Humber and the River Severn. Not wanting to leave without a reference to dogs, this pair used to swim in the River Severn alongside their home.

Milly and Cara (Irish Water Spaniels)
But as this post has mainly been about Scotland perhaps this is more appropriate.

Poppy (West Highland Terrier)
I thought about ending with the theme from the Bridge over the River Kwai but settled for this instead.

Now it's up to you to march off to see who's on parade at sepia-saturday-154

  • LNER East Coast Express Photo by  L&NE Ry; scanned from Alan, Cecil J (1928) The Steel Highway; scanned by Andy Dingley
  • Original Tay Bridge before its collapse, seen from the north (between 1878-1879); scanned by Peterrhyslewis 2007.
  • River Tay Bridge, middle section collapsed, photographed by Valentines in 1880; scanned by Peterrhyslewis 2007.
  • Tay Bridge (1981) The bridge that replaced the ill-fated original; Anne Burgess for - CC BY-SA 2.0
  • The Skye Road Bridge connecting the Isle of Skye to mainland Scotland - 10 June 2005 - by J├Ârn Albring.
  •  Youtube - Paul Robeson - Skye Boat Song, Uploaded by Alberto Truffi on 11 Mar 2010
    From the compilation An Evening with Paul Robeson a famous Scottish folk song performed by the great singer and actor. Taken from an Emitape mono 3 3/4 ips of the early sixties.
  • Youtube - Music Video for The Movie The Devil's Brigade -  uploaded by Johnnyquest

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Things That Fly - Thematic Photography

There is a bit of a mixture in this post. Some can fly, some have flown and some never have or will. I'll let you decide which is which.

Andrew Mynarski VC, RCAF
This statue stands in front of what was once the Officers' Mess at wartime RAF Middleton-Saint- George.You may read about him at hero's salute

During WWII my elder brother served on aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean.  I do not know where this shot was taken.

Ready for war
The new town (well it was once) of Thornaby-on-Tees has swallowed up the wartime aerodrome but there is a reminder on a roundabout of what happened there.

The Thornaby Spitfire
I wrote about this replica spitfire in a Sepia Saturday post here

I've had a few helicopter trips during my working life but few were as pleasant, or should I say 'nice,' as in one of these.

Air Monaco helicopters at Nice Airport
Despite our expertise none of our machines are as manoeuvrable as nature's designs.

Dragonfly - ready for take-off.
Landing isn't always as easy as it seems even when you have the controls.

Young Collared Dove touches down
It has rained for over 36 hours non-stop where I live in the North East of England; the sun is just breaking through for the first time. However it's still too early for snow so there is no need for the robin to take refuge like this one two Christmases ago.

Christmas Robin
Now it's time for you to fasten your seat belts, take off and fly to meet other fliers at Carmi's thematic-photographic-223.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

900th Anniversary - Sunday Stamps

For the commemorative theme this week I went looking for oldest anniversary issue I could find. I came up with two 900th anniversary stamps

Westminster Abbey
This was issued on 28 February 1966, one of two commemorative stamps. The other which I have never seen other than as a facsimile was for 2 shillings and six pence.

My second stamp was one of a set of eight issued on 14 October 1966; again I only have the one.

Battle of Hastings 1066
Six of the set had 4d denominations and there was one at 6d and one at 1s 3d.

As regular visitors to my Sunday Stamps will know I have a pet market stall holder. This week I thought I had struck gold when I found a set of postcards.

Four postcards were attached to this commemorating events  by boat, plane, tram and train in 1938.

The Mallard - New World Record 126mph 
The reverse carried a date stamp of 6 July 1938 at a place called Essendine - a station on the Mallard's route and a place near to my boyhood home.

Add caption
It wasn't until I had carried my 'treasure' home that I realised this stamp and those on the other cards were not real. They were all prints of Great Britain Europa stamps issued in 1988!

Nevertheless I did not feel I'd been robbed as the whole lot cost me 50p.

For other real commemoratives I suggest you visit other posts at Viridian's Sunday-stamps-98

Saturday, 24 November 2012

The Black 'Sheep' of the Family

There are two stars in this post. Their names are Lily and Cody.

Cody is the old boy of the family. At 14.1/2 he still wants to play.

Cody - waiting
Somehow with a name like hers you would expect his playmate to be lily white. But ...

Where's that ball?
... she's the black 'sheep' of the family.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Sisters - Sepia Saturday

Alan's photo this week shows two young girls who I assumed were sisters until I saw their names.

So my apologies to Lala Williams and Elgie Crook but "sisters" will be my theme; not two but three.

Princesses Alla, Nona and Kora Ukhtomsky
St Petersburg, Russia 1912
(By Olga Zavyalova - CC BY 2.0)

Three sisters that have stood the test of time are these in New South Wales, Australia.

The Three Sisters
 Blue Mountain National Park, NSW
(By DooMMeeR - CC BY 3.0)

I thought of including the Scissor Sisters too, until I found out there are more than three of them and only one (I think) is a woman. I settled for LaVerne, Patty and Maxene instead but felt a bit sheepish when this photo turned up.

The Andrews Sisters
A Bluefaced Leicester ewe and her triplets in a lambing pen - March 2006
(By Paul - CC BY 2.0)

Somehow I don't think they would have been in such close harmony as LaVerne, Patty and Maxene.

The Andrew Sisters
  Accompanied by Harry James and his Music Makers, singing "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else but Me") in the 1942 film Private Buckaroo.
(Universal Pictures Company)

Appropriately enough one of their songs with Harry James was this:

However I'm told that sisters don't always get along with one another and may even come to blows.

The Bennett Sisters boxing - between 1910 and 1915
(Library of Congress - George Grantham Bain Collection)

As I don't have any sisters I can't vouch for this, but I do remember George Clooney's aunt.

   Sisters - Rosemary Clooney.
 Now you've seen the trouble Lala and Elgie have landed me in, it's time for you to step across and check out where others went at Sepia Saturday 153

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Rectangles - Thematic Photography

Rectangles creep up on you unexpectedly. They appear in many photos and were the last thing you were thinking about when you took the shots like these.

Swallow on nesting box - Michigan
And maintaining the theme of birds and rectangles:-

Aviary - Preston Park, Teesside
Down in Cornwall I was frustrated by the column that blocks the shot of a terracotta frieze.

Terracotta frieze - Truro Cathedral
Whereas if I had been looking for rectangles I couldn't have found a better place. 

Back in Yorkshire's Wensleydale rectangles even appeared on a roof.

Bolton Castle roof.
I'm told by mathematicians that a rectangle is a closed planar quadrilateral with opposite sides of equal lengths and with four right angles. I just hope that I am not a square, as apparently a square is a degenerate rectangle. Now whom do I blame for that?

Certainly not the others that you can find over at Carmi's Rectangular Thematic Photographic-222

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Geological Giants - Sunday Stamps

My favourite market stall has come up trumps again. This week it was an envelope that caught my eye with five stamps that meet our geology theme.

National Trust - Leicester Centre - FDC Staunton Harold Appeal 24 June 1981
These stamps were issued on 24 June 1981 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the National Trust in Scotland. However only two of the five stamps are covering places there - Glenfinnan and St Kilda.

You can spend quite a time studying the geology associated with the stamps. But if you don't subscribe to science you could walk in the footsteps of giants when you visit Antrim's UNESCO World Heritage Site - the basalt columns that make up the Giant Causeway in Northern Ireland. A simple explanation of how they were created from lava flows can be viewed by following the links to the National Trust  slideshow here

I'll leave you to check out the other stamps  - along with those at Viridian's Sunday Stamps

Friday, 16 November 2012

Love Your Library - Sepia Saturday

When I was at primary school the village library was held there. In those days (1940s) books were available once a week, stacked in a series of boxes. The library was run by the headmaster and his wife with villagers available as volunteers one night a week. I'm pleased to say that the head allowed me to volunteer at the age of 10.

So when I saw this week's prompt I thought that it would be just the theme for me. However it proved more difficult than I thought,

The picture comes from the collection of the New York Public Library and features a group of children avidly reading their books following a talk about books by the staff of the Library. The picture dates back to the 1920s.

Apart from  coats being worn this might have been a scene from the library at Stamford School where I was to go from aged 11 - 18. But  these days  cuts by governments in more countries than just the UK have led to closures and "Save Our Libraries" campaigns. Encouraging children to read is more important than ever  as I hope these old pictures will show:

Children Reading - 1916
Artist - Halonen, Pekka (1865-1933) - Google Art Project

A little later a US congress woman got involved:

US Congress woman Ruth Hanna McCormick - 1928
The photo from the Library of Congress shows her with a group of children reading at a table covered in books.

Children reading - 1911
(Credit: Chicago Daily News negatives collection, DN-0003451. Courtesy of the Chicago Historical Society.)

View of children reading at desks in a classroom at the Robert Emmet School located at 5500 West Madison Street in the Austin community area of Chicago, Illinois. 

Children's Reading Room - New Orleans Main library at Lee Circle - 1913
 (New Orleans Public Library photo)

I have no photos of the library at Stamford School or the library at the University of St Andrews (600 years old this year) in which I spent more hours than I can remember in the 1950s. So I'll end with this rather impressive picture from another place of higher education instead.

Norman Foster Staircase - London School of Economics - 2010
 (By John Picton -

Now all you need to do is love your local library even if it is loaning e-books these days. Don't forget to pop across to check out other bookish types at Sepia Saturday 152


Thursday, 15 November 2012

What light through yonder window breaks? - Thematic Photography

When I saw Carmi's window theme this week I knew I would not have to look far for what I had to post. The question was where to stop.

This first shot was taken looking out of a window in Cornwall where the light really did break through.

St Mawgan interior
A windows theme would not be complete without some stained glass.

Lady Chapel - St Mawgan church
And one much nearer home.

Shorthorn cattle - Kirklevington Parish church
Shorthorn cattle were made famous by Thomas Bates who lived and died in the village.

Moving to the USA I came across these windows at the entrance to the Ford Museum.

Ford Museum, Dearborn, Michigan
Back to Europe for the view of a public building alongside some less imposing panes.

Brussels Royal Opera House
While we are on the subject of the arts, this is a very modern place.

Inside Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (mima)
Finally a much older building which took my fancy which has a window or two.

Timber building at York
For other, possibly clearer, views of windows get your wash leather out and visit Carmi's thematic photographic 221.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Royal Posts - Sunday Stamps

This week we are free to post anything we wish.

On the 350th anniversary of the Royal Posts being made available to the public in Britain the modern Post Office celebrated by issuing this set showing Royal Mail services which has recently come into my possession.

Great Britain - Royal Mail - 350 Years of Service.  
 Issued 30 July 1985

It was on the 31 July 1635 that Charles I issued a proclamation from his Court which extended the use of the Royal Mail to the public. This enabled private letters to be carried along State correspondence. Fixed postal charges were introduced to finance the Royal Posts. For more than two centuries the cost of sending a letter was beyond the means of ordinary people until Rowland Hill's proposals for a Penny Post were adopted by The Post Office in 1840.

To see what others have chosen this week link up at Viridian's Sunday Stamps-96

Friday, 9 November 2012

Give me a bell. - Sepia Saturday

This week's prompt is entitled "Photograph of Women Working at a Bell System Telephone Switchboard".

So where better to start than with the man who started it all.

Alexander Graham Bell
(By Moffett Studio -Library and Archives Canada)

Alexander Graham Bell was born in 1847 in Edinburgh, Scotland. He moved to Ontario, and then to the United States, settling in Boston, before beginning his career as an inventor. Bell's interest in education of deaf people  lead him to invent , in 1876, his "electrical speech machine," which we now call a telephone. News of his invention  spread quickly throughout USA and Europe. By 1878, Bell had set up the first telephone exchange in New Haven, Connecticut.

Those early telephones are worth their place in any Sepia Saturday post.

Bell Telephone - secure connection handset 1879


 Canada is obviously very proud of its connection (no pun intended) with Alexander Graham Bell as this plaque shows.

Plaque commemorating the conception of the telephone in Bell's Brantford, Ontario home in the summer of 1874.
("Courtesy of Harry Zilber")

This short video gives a biography of the great man.

Bell's biography
His invention has had a major impact on our lives even if so many these days walk around with a mobile (cell) phone glued to their ears.

Of cause celebrities soon got in on the act at places like this.

The Mayflower Hotel

(By bdking - CC BY 2.0)

There were a number of historic events that happened at the Mayflower.

  • Charles Lindbergh celebrated his historic flight around the world in 1927
  • Blonde Bombshell, Jean Harlow was so intrigued by the hotels switchboard, she spent a morning in 192 as a stand in operator 
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt wrote the famous line "we have nothing to fear, but fear itself" in Suite 776 in 1933
  • Harry W. Colmery drafted the original GI Bill on Mayflower stationery in Room 570 in 1943.
  • FBI Director, J Edgar Hoover had the same lunch of buttered toast, cottage cheese and grapefruit, salad and chicken soup at the same table everyday for 20 years 
  • Monica Lewinsky was deposed by the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1999 there during the Impeachment of then President Bill Clinton
 Bell would not have been aware of Jean Harlow's interest however as he died in 1922.

Bell Telephone Memorial, Alexander Graham Bell Park, Brantford, Ontario, Canada
 (Courtesy: Harry Zilber - 2009) 
 Before you all rush off you might like to listen to a "sweet" tribute to Alexander Graham Bell.

I hope you remember the line in his biography that he considered the telephone to be a blight on his life and he refused to have a telephone in his house.

Don't let this stop you from connecting with me and others over at Sepia-saturday-151  even if you can't give me a bell..