Friday, September 30, 2011

Sepia Saturday 94 : A Brace Of Walkers

I missed out on a Sepia Saturday post last week so I have allowed myself two dips into the Family Stash this week - and I came up with a brace of walking snaps. My last Sepia Saturday post had a picture of Uncle John and Auntie Doris complete with brown paper parcels. Well, here they are again, still walking, but with no parcels this time (unless they are concealed within one of Doris's bags). The interesting thing is that once again they are striding along a street - and unless I am very much mistaken, this is the seaside resort of Blackpool. One striding photo might be chance : two such photos and it has to be a Walking Snaps photograph. Granted, the Blackpool variety has none of the polish of their Bridlington cousins, but the chance capture of a happy holiday couple doing battle against what looks like typical Lancashire weather has all the ingredients of the Walking Snap genre.

My second image is the real McCoy : a Bridlington Walking Snap of the same vintage as the one features in my Sepia Saturday 89 post. And it is a perfect match, because whilst #89 showed my mother, Gladys, and Auntie Annie, this one shows their other halves - Uncle Harry (left) and my father, Albert (right). The stylishness of Annie in the earlier photograph is matched by Harry's casual jacket and vest (it is probably slightly too early to call it a T-shirt, but what Harry was wearing in 1950, Marlon Brando was wearing a year later in Streetcar Named Desire). Albert is slightly more conventional in dress, but look at that head of hair - a mating pair of sparrows could nest in that.

Where were the two of them off to?  The background doesn't match the earlier photograph of Gladys and Annie so it is unlikely that it was taken at the same time (and if it was, where are my brother and myself). From the smile on their faces, I rather suspect that Roger and I are happily playing on the sands with Gladys and Annie, and the menfolk are just about to call in for a lunchtime pint. The very thought of it makes me thirsty - so I will leave you to have a look at all the other submissions for SEPIA SATURDAY 94 (follow the links from the Sepia Saturday Blog) whilst I just go and pay a call.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Upgrade .... and Update!

I am due for an upgrade tomorrow. So here I sit, knowing that part of me is about to be replaced with a new improved model, feeling a strange fellowship with an iPhone 3G or a monochromatic Kindle. 

Over the years I have had enough experience with computer upgrades to know that the path to technological improvement is often paved with uneven flagstones. I can almost remember being driven to tears when Windows 95 swept away Windows 3, wondering what on earth had happened to my familiar landscape. But with computer hardware and software you always have the option of stepping back, sitting this one out on the digital dance floor. But this upgrade is far more personal than that : it is an upgrade to my very sensual being. As of 10.00am tomorrow morning, it is goodbye to the old, slow, dusty Alan Burnett and hello to the sleek new Alan Burnett 5.

Yes, for the first time in the 13 years since I received my cochlear implant, I am to be upgraded to the all new Cochlear Nucleus 5 system. Now that might sound like small beer to you lot, but believe me it is a pretty important date in my calendar. What you hear and how you hear it has a considerable impact on your view of the world : and my own view of the world might be considerably different tomorrow morning at 10.30am. I have read the manuals and watched the instructional video with the enthusiasm of a devotee. I know much of what I can expect : the delights of my new remote assistant - "the ultimate in personal control - at the touch of a button" - and the ability to put together my own programmes to meet the demands of any situation. But I still dream of what might be in there - hidden away among the small print. Will there be a setting that automatically translates Spanish into English? Will there be a masking mechanism that automatically shuts out any comments that I find offensive or marginal disagreeable?

All I know is that in less than 24 hours time, things are going to be different : and I am as excited as a kid counting the days down until Christmas. And just in case there is even a single person out there who thinks I am making fun of a serious situation let me stress something in, what for me is, a rare moment of sincerity. For the last 13 years, each morning I have woken up and given thanks to the scientists at Cochlear Ltd who developed the system, the medical and technical staff at the Yorkshire Cochlear Implant Service who enable me to benefit so much from the system, and to the absolutely brilliant National Health Service which has provided me and thousands of others with the gift of being able to hear. And with the new Nucleus 5, I expect that daily vote of thanks to continue.

UPDATE (11.10am)
The post has just been. Only one letter.  "Dear Mr Burnett, Due to unforeseen circumstances it has become necessary for us to cancel the appointment for Friday 30th September at 10.00am. Please accept our sincere apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused you. Another appointment will be sent to you at a later date."
Ah well, back to Windows 3.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Picture Post 1031 : Toasting Bread On The Walls Of Estepona

Alan Burnett's Picture Post 1031 : Estepona, Spain. September 2011
It is a lovely day outside, warm for the time of year. But this warm spell has the feel of a final tour by some ageing rock star : you are drawn to the experience because this might be your final chance before the cultural - or the climatic - winter sets in. When we were in Spain a couple of weeks ago I had the same feeling : a feeling that I should somehow soak up the last of the heat before the cold days and nights set it. Maybe we all have some of the cold-blooded genetic material that our Darwinian ancestors had : maybe that is what drives us to beaches or to hug stone walls heated by the Mediterranean sun. This particular picture, taken one evening as we walked around the small town of Estepona, just radiates heat for me. Perhaps I will print a big version off and toast bread on it over the winter months.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Scarborough Fayre

Back from a splendid weekend in Scarborough feeling refreshed and refurbished by some excellent hospitality (thank you Carrie and Rob) and some outstanding musical performances (thank you Scarborough Jazz Festival). Like all Festivals, there was a mixture of the outstandingly good and the sessions which left you more puzzled than enthralled, but the good more than made up for the indifferent. In the outstandingly good side of the scale has to be listed the brilliant National Youth Jazz Orchestra, the innovative Mina Agossi Trio and the breathtaking 13 year old jazz guitarist, Andreas Varady. Compare and Scarborough Jazz Festival stalwart, Alan Barnes always turns in a memorable performance, and 2011 was no exception. On the downward facing side there was a degree of self-indulgence in some of the gigs that left you questioning whether it is ever a good idea to provide composers with blank cheques. In my book - and I am no jazz critic - jazz needs to be either entertaining or exciting. When it ticks both boxes (which it did during several occasions over the weekend) it is a memorable experience, when it ticks neither ..... well it is simply time to go to the bar for another pint of the quite excellent Wold Top bitter. Good music and good beer - is there a better way to spend a late summer weekend?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Picture Post 1030 : On A Summer's Day

If you have ever seen the opening sequences of the splendid 1960 film Jazz on A Summer's Day you will recognise both the inspiration for, and the content of, this photograph I took during a walk around the yacht harbour at Puerto Benus a couple of weeks ago. The water was the most amazing colour and the reflections of the anchored yacht have had most of their harsher colours bleached out of them. And talking of jazz, I have a weekend at the Scarborough Jazz Festival planned. I know it is not Newport, but it is Yorkshire.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Book Is Dead, Long Live The Book

Technology has a way of sweeping through a familiar landscape radically changing whatever might get in its way.  So often we reject such changes, not because they diminish convenience or choice or quality, but because they remove that very familiarity that provides us with a strange kind of comfort. Which photographer - old enough to have cut his or her milk teeth - did not at one time say that digital cameras could never replace the familiar solidity of rolled film and clicking shutter? Which avid music collector did not curse magical MP3s whilst caressing in his or her hand a real disc of pressed vinyl? Which book lover can run his or her fingers along a familiar bookshelf and dream instead of a shiny new Kindle?

And yet we all now carry digital cameras and welcome their functionality. We all now walk the dog with MP3 players plugged into our ears rather than making the poor creature pull a little cart loaded with a record player and a pile of 78rpm records. And, at some stage along the way, we may all snuggle down at night with the comforting feel of an eBook reader next to us on the pillow.

The advantage of the sweep of new technology is not that it replaces but it enhances. Before digital cameras, photography was for the specialist or the professional and thousands upon thousands of ordinary moments in peoples' lives went unrecorded. Look at any kid's Facebook page and you can see how digital photography has changed all that. Before MP3 players, music was a static experience and hi-fi and high-price were familiar bedfellows. In terms of books, technological change should enable us to enhance the publishing experience, democratise it, widen it and enable us to preserve more. The book is not dead : the book is merely changing.

These thoughts have been stimulated by two things going on in my life at the moment. Yesterday I discovered that the British Library had just published a special iPad edition of Lewis Carroll's  handwritten original manuscript of Alice in Wonderland. In addition to be a stunning visual and literary presentation, this particular edition makes full use of technology by giving you the choice of either reading the book yourself or having it read to you. And if you are still not convinced it is worth adding an eBook reader to your early Christmas present list, I should add that - for a limited period - the new edition of Alice is available free of charge from the iBook store.

Wonderful as eBooks may be, there is still room for good, old-fashioned paper and pasteboard affairs that can physically sit on bookshelves. Technology will not destroy such things : it will simply enhance them and widen their functionality. And that brings me to the second thing that is occupying my time at the moment - my parents, Albert and Gladys. As I have mentioned before, this year is the 100th anniversary of their birth and I have set myself the challenge of publishing a little centenary appreciation of their lives. This is not something which is going to be read by anybody other than a close family circle. But when it is finished, hopefully, the two or three copies can be kept in the family, handed down the generations and thereby provide a permanent memorial to a special generation. Because it will be bound and professionally produced it should survive and not fall victim to changing technological fashions. Changing technology means that I can embark on such a project knowing that the total costs will be just a few pounds instead of a few thousand pounds. And just in case I am wrong about the survival of traditional books, I think I will publish it as an eBook as well.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Picture Post 1029 : Terracotta Temples

Returning to my trip to Spain a couple of weeks ago. The whole length of the Costa Del Sol is lined with terracotta temples to tourism. The relentless sun banishes all gradations, turning pictures into patterns. This was a small shopping centre between San Pedro and Estepona.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sepia Saturday 92 : Brown Paper Parcels Tied Up With String

I am staying with the Family Stash, but by chance I seem to have almost managed to get on theme this week. The theme was a railway parcel office and here we have a photograph of my Uncle John and Auntie Doris carrying brown paper parcels. I suppose the photograph was taken in either the 1940s or the 1950s : and back in those days people did seem to walk around and awful lot with brown paper parcels tied up with string under their arms. What on earth was in hidden away in there?

John Arthur Burnett was born  in 1899. He joined the West Riding Regiment in 1916 and was eventually transferred to the Western Front. In June 1918 he was posted missing but it later emerged that he had been taken a prisoner of war. In 1922 he married Susannah Cooper and they had, I believe, two children - cousins who I have never met. A few years later, John and Susannah were divorced and all contact with his first family was lost. In 1948 he married for a second time to Doris Metcalfe - Auntie Doris.

There is a host of stories I could tell about Uncle John and Auntie Doris - they were both characters in their own way. But those stories will have to wait : for the moment let us just wonder what might have been in those brown paper parcels.

There are lots of splendid things tied up in the digital brown paper parcel that is called Sepia Saturday. To untie the string, just go along to the Sepia Saturday Blog and follow the links.

Friday, September 16, 2011

1,000 : The Stained Glass Windows In The Cathedral Of My Soul

I suspect I have a photographic memory. Now don't get me wrong, I am not suggesting I have the ability to tell you what the 13th word on the 237th page of War and Peace is, nor can I find your lost key ring. If it is a photographic memory, the photographs tend to be old, and cracked and blurred : a little like those I often feature on Sepia Saturday. But when I look back through the 1,000 posts that today make up the full News From Nowhere archives, it is the images I remember best. And once given an image I can start to reconstruct what the post might have been about. So today, to mark my 1,000th News From Nowhere post, I give you the images. Yes all 1,000 of them and a few more to boot (some posts had more than one image). To you it is probably a meaningless jumble but to me ..... I was going to say that to me it was the story of my life for the last five years, but in fact it is a bit of a meaningless jumble to me as well. But that is quite appropriate because my life has been a bit of a jumble - and I stopped looking for a meaning to it years ago.

I have managed to compress all those images into just three mosaics : think of them as stained glass windows in the cathedral of my soul. If you click on them they will become a little larger, but don't expect any meaning to emerge.

Philosophically, I would probably list myself as a bit of an hedonist - I enjoy enjoyment. And as I get no pleasure at all from seeing other people unhappy, frightened, dispossessed or unfortunate, I like to think that my brand of hedonism is inclusive and life-enhancing. 

Looking back on the first 1,000 News From Nowhere posts, I have to say that they have given me great pleasure. I have thoroughly enjoyed blogging : both writing my own blog and reading those of the many other bloggers that I regularly follow. At the end of the day it is the interaction that makes it all worthwhile : it is in the comments and thoughts of all those who have read these last 1,000 posts that the pleasure lies. So as I go off to contemplate Post No. 1001 let me pause for a second to say ..... THANK YOU.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Countdown to 1,000 - 1 : Three Tenors On A Towpath

And so to my final archive selection. This countdown to my 1,000th News From Nowhere post has featured a few randomly chosen posts (although I have re-arranged the selection into chronological order) and I was pleased to note that my final selection features images as much as words. We are only stepping back eighteen months now - to March 2010 - and the post dates from the time when I first thought of consolidating all my blogging activity into just one endeavour. 

News From Nowhere  Friday 19 March 2010
Searching For Balance On A Canal Towpath And Discovering Thermodynamics

I have this grand dream : I will simplify my life by consolidating all my blogging activity into one super-blog. It will be the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young of Blogs, the Three Tenors of on-line journalism. Some days it will feature photographs, other days it will rely on the usual fare of circuitous ramblings that I call writing. It will incorporate my efforts on Theme Thursdays and Sepia Saturdays and serve up the whole thing accompanied by a glass or two of my meditations on beer and brewing. But if it is going to work I need to master the art of balance : when featuring images, for example, I need to know when to stop wittering on and let the images do the talking.

I was musing on this problem yesterday whilst I took Amy The Dog for a springtime walk along the banks of the Calder and Hebble Navigation Canal just down the road in Brighouse. The canal is a grand old piece of industrial archaeology, over 250 years old and brimming with history. The stone markers (above) that record the distance to the next lock deserve to be preserved behind a glass case in a museum, but - I am glad to say - are not.

Every time you come to a bridge you can trace where centuries of wear by the heavy ropes - used by horses to pull barges - have carved their story into the stone. You could sit a class of children around such stones and design a week's learning project on almost every aspect of science, history and art.

And there is the sheer tranquillity of a place where a rich vein of nature intrudes into the original test bed of the industrial revolution. My third picture shows the lock-keepers cottage at Ganny Lock a few miles east of Brighouse. In the background you can just make out a featureless concrete warehouse defiling the rustic romance of the scene.

But hold on a moment. When the great eighteenth century civil engineer John Smeaton, designed the canal his proposals represented the very latest thing in technology. His plans were opposed by many a land-owner who believed his stone-lined cut would ruin forever their slice of nature. But Smeaton was a modernist who worshiped at the altar of progress. Not only did he build canals, bridges, harbours and lighthouses, he was also a noted physicist. Did you know, for example, that old John Smeaton was responsible for some of the most important developments in the theory of thermodynamics in the eighteenth century. Without his work it is unlikely that the Wright Brothers would ever have managed top get their plane to fly. It all revolves around what is known as the Smeaton Coefficient (k) in the equation L=kV2ACl, where L is ....... Alright, I will stop right there. I don't want to lose my balance do I? Especially when I am walking along a canal towpath.

Looking back, I am glad that I went ahead and combined the images with the words to make the consolidated blog that News From Nowhere has become. Back in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s there used to be a thriving area of the media known as photo-journalism - based on magazines such as Picture Post, Paris Match and Life - but this has now become something of a backwater relegated to the occasional colour supplement. I suppose I like to think of News From Nowhere as a paean to that tradition.

So now I need to go and think what on earth I can do for my 1,000th post tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Countdown To 1,000 - 2 : As Old As A Typewriter Ribbon

Some days you just wake up and feel older than your years. Your muscles ache and your bones have an archaeological feel about them. With me, it is normally the result of satisfying my well-documented love of beer a little too enthusiastically : but not always, as the next dip into the archives shows. Let me take you back to March 2009.

News From Nowhere : Monday 2 March 2009
How An Old Typewriter Ribbon Made Me Feel Suddenly Very Old

For the last few months I have been caught up in a Kafka novel. It started with a letter from some Government Department - God knows which, they change their names so often in order to re-brand themselves - which stated "According to our records you are now sixty and therefore entitled to Old People's Winter Fuel Supplement". There was a form to fill in which I duly completed and this gave rise to a second letter from another Department - or probably the same one which had re-branded itself in the week or so since the first letter - which said that they couldn't pay me the Allowance because they needed proof that I was old enough to receive it. I tried the approach of "I have a letter from you saying that I am entitled to it ..." but this got me nowhere. I was told that I would need to write to another Government Department and get a copy of my birth certificate. This I did, enclosing my £8 fee.

So this morning the copy of my birth certificate arrived. I cannot recall ever having seen a copy of it before and therefore the first thing I did was to double-check that I wasn't adopted (for many years I have had a strong belief that I am the last surviving Romanov) but there it was in black and white, I was the son of Albert and Gladys Burnett. The shock came when I checked my date of birth only to discover that I was born on the 17th June 1943 and not, as I thought, the 17th June 1948. This is the kind of news that can have a profound effect on a person and it is no exaggeration to say that in that moment I aged five years. Trust me, a lot runs through your mind when you discover that you are five years older than you thought you were : your bones ache a little more, your eyes get a little dimmer and, if you are lucky, you forget the name of the Prime Minister. 

It was whilst I was planning what to do with my back-pay from the Old Age Pension people that I examined the rest of the certificate a little more closely. When I came to examine it my mother wasn't Gladys BURNETT but Gladys DURIIETT. And here was a surprise, my second name - which I have always assumed was Michael - was in fact IIichael. Even worse, I wasn't a BOY but a DOY! And come to think of it, I couldn't have been born in June 1943 because if I had that would make me just five weeks older than my brother which, I suspect, is physiologically impossible. It was 1948 I was born, I'm sure of it. And wasn't 1948 the time of post-war economic desperation. The cold winter, the country bankrupt by the war and in debt to America. Belt's were being tightened all over the place. I could almost imagine the wording of the Memo which cam from the head office of the Government Department (no doubt the same Government Department that sent me a letter sixty years later plus or minus a few re-branding exercises). "Every effort must be made to save money and, in future, typewriter ribbons will only be replaced after six months of usage. By order of TIIE DEPAIPTIIENT OF IADOR"

It is a good example of blogging about something and nothing - and that is the real joy of blogging. It can be about something (the state of the world economy) or it can be about nothing (lamp-post design in the 1980s) - the choice is yours and yours alone. After years of penning worthy articles about European Union Directives on Employment and Social Affairs, it was such a sudden burst of freedom to be able to write about something and nothing, it was almost life-enhancing. I suppose it made me feel five years younger, which in view of the above story, was not a bad thing.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Countdown To 1,000 - 3 : St Gothard And The Gatepost

Continuing my progress towards the big 1,000, today the random number generator has chosen a post with a certain mystical flavour. In May 2008 I directed my attention to the gatepost and equally to my coming 60th birthday. I regret to announce that my intention to "restore churches, establish schools, and build a hospice or two" is still in the planning phase : I must check to find out how long St Gothard continued his labours before settling down and concentrating on his blog.

News From Nowhere : Tuesday 13th May 2008
Saints Alive, It's A Miracle

I'm normally a fairly sceptical type of a chap, not given to seeing signs or visions. Miraculous Revelations don't normally play much part in my daily life : I would rate them on a reliability index only just above Daily Mail editorials. It might therefore come as a bit of a surprise to followers of this blog, when I reveal that I have received a message from on high. And what's more, the message was hand-delivered by a saint.

Over the last few days Cousin Dave - assisted by his apprentice, the Divine Jennifer - have been repairing and repainting our front wall. Whilst painting a fiddly bit, the Divine J accidentally knocked the wooden nameplate off the front gate. The nameplate proclaims that the house is called Inglewood, a name which I have always considered so ridiculous I have never used it. But when the wooden nameplate fell to the ground it revealed the original name of the house carved into the stone of the gatepost : St. Gothard.

Now even though I'm a bit of a sceptic, I am as keen as the next man to follow up on a passing augury (only last week I was occupied in mapping the pigeon droppings on the bonnet of my car in case they provided a clue to the meaning of life). So off I went to try and discover who on earth St Gothard was and what he did, other than possibly building a tunnel through the Alps. As it turns out the only connection between Gothard (or Godehard as he preferred to be called) and the tunnel was that someone built a church dedicated to him on the top of the pass. Gothard was a German and his main claim to fame was as Bishop of Hildesheim, in Germany. He was nominated Bishop in 1022 by the Emperor Henry, but tried to turn the post down on the basis of his age - he was just 60 at the time. The Emperor would have none of it and insisted that Gothard should undertake the task irrespective of his age. Butler's Lives of the Saints takes the story up : "He threw himself into the work of his diocese with the zest and energy of a young man. He built and restored churches he did much to foster education, especially in the cathedral school ; he established such strict order in his chapter that it resembled a monastery , and, on a swampy piece of land which he reclaimed on the outskirts of Hildesheim, he built a hospice where the sick and poor were tenderly cared for".

I have been thinking a lot over recent weeks about my approaching sixtieth birthday, wondering what life has in store for me as I slowly limp downhill towards old age. I have been a bit rudderless. Searching for a sign. And there it is : carved in Times Roman on the stone of our gatepost. Starting tomorrow I will restore churches, establish schools and build a hospice or two. I will be the St Gothard of the twenty-first century.

Before searching back through the archives to discover which particular post the fickle finger of the random number generator was pointing to, I had completely forgotten about St Gothard and the gatepost. Which just goes to underline another benefit of blogging - you get quite an interesting life-journal as a by-product. Not the "got up, washed my face, walked the dog" kind of thing, but a gentle reminder of what occupied your thoughts, what made you angry and what made you smile. Hopefully, over the 1,000 posts, there have been more smiles than outbursts of anger.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Countdown To 1,000 - 4 : News, Comments And A Grazed Knee

There is a little counter on Blogger Dashboard that reports on the number of posts you have made to your blog. Over the last week or two I have been watching it creep up to the 1,000 mark and I thought I might mark the final countdown with a short series of retrospective posts. This is not the "Best of News From Nowhere" : you know me, I far prefer a series of random dips into the lucky bag. So I have dusted off my random number generator and asked it to provide four random numbers between 1 and 1,000. Counting from the first post (7th November 2006) I have converted these numbers to four random posts which I will re-publish leading up to the 1,000th post which (if my calculations are right) will appear on Friday. The first random number takes me back to 2007 and a post entitled "Self Abuse"

News From Nowhere : Tuesday 13 November 2007
The main BBC One O'Clock News has just finished. As it closes, the newsreader says "a reminder of our main news today, the BBC has learned of concern among senior doctors about the tide of teenage alcoholism". Yesterday, at the same time, the same newsreader said "a reminder of our main news today, the BBC has learned that treating children who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) with drugs is not effective in the long-term". As I write this, the local news is on. The story starts : "it is BBC Children In Need on Friday and we look back on some of the schemes your money has helped in the past".

There is, of course, a common factor to all these stories. They are self-generated and manufactured to support the broadcasting schedules. The ADHD story was, in fact, a trailer for that evenings' Panorama report. The alcohol story is based on responses to a BBC survey, but as yet they are not saying why they undertook the survey. No doubt we will discover that it forms the basis of a BBC Special. And "Children In Need" will dominate the BBC schedules on Friday evening.My moan is not with self-publicity. The BBC should be able to produce publicity about its own shows just as any other organisation might do. (By the way, the latest episode of "Fat Dog To The Big Apple has just been posted, don't forget to read it soon). The complaint is disguising such "promo's" as news. Worse still, headline news.

During my early days (months, years) of blogging I did not have any regular followers - although I note that one anonymous wag (who obviously knows me) did comment on this particular post. But comments are such an enjoyable part of blogging and I now feel proud to have such a loyal and entertaining group of followers. And so often the comments add so much added value to the original post. Take for example this short note I received from my brother Roger in response to the picture I published on Saturday :

"Enjoying the photos of Aunty Annie and family.  On the last one you'll notice a plaster on my left knee.  From a fall running down the hill to Grange Road school.  I still have the scar!"

Call back tomorrow to discover where else our tour through the News From Nowhere archives takes us.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Picture Post 1028 : Hemingway And The Donkey

There was a wonderful little Spanish cafe that Jamie and Bev took us to last week (each morning on his way to work, Jamie calls in there for a coffee). There is a window in the main part of the restaurant which allows the donkey that lives in the field at the back to stick his head through and join in with the meal. One suspects that the health and safety people would frown on such practices in this country, which is a shame. The rest of the room is a testament to popular Spanish culture which seemed to work better in monochrome than in vivid colour. You half expect to see Ernest Hemingway sat on a corner table, sharing a conversation with the donkey.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Sepia Saturday 91 : Happy Faces, Happy Times

Let me take you back for a moment to the last photograph I shared on Sepia Saturday. It was a "Walking Snap" taken in Bridlington in 1950 which showed my mother, Gladys, and my Auntie Annie. Now look my featured photograph this week - the next photograph in the recently discovered Family Stash. What is immediately obvious is that in the picture above they are wearing the same clothes as in the Walking Snap and therefore we can assume - ignoring the fact that clothing was more expensive in those days and would re-emerge from the wardrobe with commendable regularity - that it was taken during the same seaside excursion. I would have been two (maybe looking a little young for my age - but haven't I always?) and my brother Roger would have been 7.

But this is not a Walking Snap : there is no commercial imprint on the photograph and no adventurous professional photographer would have wandered so far out to sea in order to capture this stunning view. This must have been taken with the Box Brownie featured in the photograph last week and I suspect that the photographer was my father, Albert. I have to say, it is a good photograph : framed well, good composition, interesting angle - if I have any photographic talents, it is clear to see who I inherited them from. Above and beyond its technical merits (those old Box Brownies were pretty primitive cameras) the shot just seems to sum up the very essence of a family photo - happy faces, happy times.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Picture Post 1027 : Casares

Back from Spain and a return to the wet grey skies of West Yorkshire after five days of vibrant blue skies and  radiant heat that warms the body and gently toasts the spirit. Jamie and Bev were perfect hosts who constantly took us places, showed us places and enriched the whole experience with their company. The sun shone, the planes flew on time and Andalusia was quite beautiful. I took a fair number of photographs and I will show you a sample over the coming days. As I select them and post them, who knows, maybe a little of that warm sun will come shining through. Today's picture shows the lovely old village of Casares which is a few miles inland from Estepona, between Marbella and Gibraltar.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Went To A Party Down A Red Dirt Road

"So I bought me a ticket 
I caught a plane to Spain 
Went to a party down a red dirt road 
There were lots of pretty people there 
Reading Rolling Stone, reading Vogue".

I must apologise for not being around recently but life has been rather hectic. The Lad is back from Africa and we spent a splendid week with him at home before he went back to University. And now we are about to head off to Spain for the best part of a week to stay with the Spanish Chapter of our family. The picture above shows the roof of their house with the mountains of Andalusia in the background and the smell of the Mediterranean Sea in the air. There will be sun, there will be sea and there will be Sangria : but you know I would be rather sitting here in chilly Yorkshire writing blog-posts. Until I am back next week, let me leave you with the lovely Joni Mitchell singing the above lines.

Daffodil On The Water

When I was young, back in the early 1950s, our family’s annual seaside holiday would alternate between Bridlington on the east coast and New...