Month: January 2011

Scan and scan some more

I’ve started something here. Scanning old photos. (See previous post – very old photo) I have got it into my head that I should scan these precious pieces of history so I have them backed up. Backing up. Who would have thought I’d ever back stuff up. That’s the influence of Gav of course and maybe just a little Paperclipping Roundtable, I love that podcast. Go Noell!

Anyway I have been scanning old photos and come across some gems to share.


This is my great Grandmother. Ellen. I love how ordinary this picture is. Just her standing the yard with a washing hung behind her. I love the apron. She is probably wondering why someone, whoever that someone was, is taking her photograph.

This group is from the other side of my family tree. I’m not sure who they all are but know that the old lady was my Great Grandmother Elizabeth and the woman front right was my great aunt Alice. This must have been in the 1920’s? They were not wealthy people but look at the clothes, all wore hats and even the odd bit of fur! (ugh)


Sitting on the beach. Amazing. I cannot imagine sitting on a beach all dressed up hats and all. But it’s wonderful to see this snippet of life way back then. The gloves just cast aside on top of the little case. Perfect.

A wedding. My Grandfathers sister. My Granddad, who I never knew, is stood far right. Again it is fascinating to see little things perhaps strange to us now. They are stood on some kind of carpet? to stop their heels sinking? This must have been around the late 1920’s.

I am in awe of these pictures so rich with information about my ancestors. Wanting to know more and knowing I never will. There is something strangely sad and wonderful at the same time in that knowledge.

What you find when you really look

As part of the online workshop I’m doing over at Big Picture Classes I needed to dig out some old photographs. I have old photographs in terms of from my childhood, the years from then till now and also old in terms of my grandparents era.

I had collected some of these pictures years ago when I began my quest for details of my families history. And I recall one particular day sitting down with my Gran (fathers mother) and chatting about a pile of old pictures she had dug out for me.

We both marvelled at a little brown note book that had only a few pages inside but those pages were filled with treasure.

Finding a photocopy of that little book in amongst all the pictures was as wonderful as it had been looking at it with my Gran all those years ago. I knew I had it but seeing it again and reading it again was pure joy.  

The little book contained the story of a trip my great grandfather took to London in 1914. The photograph below is him. I found this too but have no idea when it was taken.

The concept behind the Yesterday and Today workshop over at Big Picture is to focus on the stories, words and pictures that you want to get down and leave behind you but one of the ideas Ali tries to get across is the notion of past perspective. What do I want to know about the past which might influence the stories I want to tell now and the way I tell them.

There is an acceptance that we can’t know the stories in these old photographs but what they show us makes us question what we’d like to know and steers us in the directions of our current storytelling.

So when I picked up the little booklet I knew I had a rare thing. I had the acual story, right there in his own immaculate handwriting. And that was as I say pure joy. It isn’t filled with amusing anecdotes or anything special that happened to him that day. It is simply story of what he did that day, where he went in London, how he got to where he was going, where he ate and just one or two personal notes about how a couple of tourist attractions were not open for him to see.

An initial though I had while reading was that I wished he’d been more descriptive about his feelings but by the time I finished reading the notes I was bowled over by the wonderful insight he’d given me into that day in his life. 

And there were amazing things to pick out when I really looked. The sheer distance he travelled in one day how many things he saw and the Lyons tea rooms he visited. It seems they were on every street corner then – just like Starbucks is today!  

If I hadn’t have taken the Yesterday and Today workshop I woould never have needed to ‘look’ in a different way at this piece of history I’m certain I’d have missed the wonder in its pages.

Sometimes it is important to have a different perspective. I’m so glad I did and I’ll be telling this story in my album for the class.

Take a walk with us

Join Buddy and me on this amazingly sunny January day as we go to the park for a walk.

I have probably said it before but we are so lucky to live within ten minutes walk of this amazing park which, on a day like today, is calming, inspirational and worth every moment spent there.

(Note about photography…… I’m learning. These were all straight out of the camera and shot using the Canon 550D 50mm 1.2 lens.)

A film review

This is a first. I’m putting thoughts down on ‘paper’ about what I thought of the film I went to see today.

Before I get to the review I want to add for the record that I went to the cinema by myself. Oh yes, all alone. And I love going to the cinema all alone. I got very used to it when I was obsessing about Twilight.

How did vamps sneak into my post about Keanu?

Anyway the film I chose was Henry’s Crime. I had spotted it when surfing around the IMDB and I love Keanu so popped along earlier to see what it was all about hoping for romance as well as comedy. Comedy. Hmmm….. I did laugh but not much.   

It’s the story of Henry who ends up in Prison for a crime he did not commit. After his release he decides not to play along with life anymore thinking he can’t change it and takes action instead.

It was a shock for me to see Keanu in a film where he didn’t look hot! He’s getting old too which is also truly depressing. Having said that though Henry was a totally ordinary guy and he pulled that off. I liked Vera Farmiga’s character and she played it very well. I also loved the way The Cherry Orchard – a play by Anton Chekov was interweaved and reflected part of the plot of the film. Clever.   

Not my usual safe movie and a little strange it was totally believable and worth a visit to the cinema.

Fifty minutes later

Sometimes I am full of enthusiasm for cooking. Today was such a day.

I had a tiny portion of Butternut Squash left in the fridge and fancied soup for lunch. So I made some. Go me!

I started with two little onions from the last of  our home grown ones. Chopped small and fried in a little oil and butter.

Then I cut up the squash.

And after letting the onion soften and turn translucent I added the squash to the pan.

I also threw in some dried sage and let it all cook for about five minutes. I watched it just in case it caught a bit too much. I then added enough boiling water from the kettle to just cover the squash and let it simmer with a lid on for 20 minutes.

I used a hand blitzer blender thing to puree the soup and checked the seasoning. It was a tad thick so I added a bit more water. Then back to the boil for a couple of mins and it was done.

Perfect. Nothing fancy but delicious, nutritious and home made goodness for a winters day.


I like to read. Always have, well from about age 13.

Unfortunately my silly and weird restrictive brain won’t let me read just anything. Same with movies but that’s another story…… I aim to make sure that any book I read has a happy ending and a happy romance. I heart romance. I’m that corny, yes.

I haven’t always being so dull though. I used to read allsorts including crime novels like the Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell and I am a lifelong Agatha Christie fan. But lately if I read detective stories or thrillers they just sit in the back of my mind niggling away and have found that avoiding them is the answer. Maybe I’m getting more sensitive as I get older although how that would be possible I don’t know.

Anyway, I’d just finished a marathon read of Agatha books, I wanted to make sure I’d read all Poirot and Miss Marple (I’m sure I had when I was in my twenties but I digress),when I ran out of things to read. A few months later I was chatting to my friend H, and she told me that she was going to read a book a month in the coming year. That was 2008. And she was going to try stuff out her comfort zone, classics new and old.

I thought that was a brilliant idea and set myself the target of reading 20 books in 2009 and to have some new authors and classics in the mix. I exceeded my target by 2 and was really pleased with myself. So pleased in fact I did a scrapbook layout about it.

Now you’ll notice that there is a considerable range of different types of novels in my list. From The Great Gatsby to Twilight. That’s just the way it panned out. There are a couple of crime books too and yep they sat right at the back of my mind for a bit until I eventually got over them.

Last year I wasn’t really going to do the target thing again when my Mum bought me a cute little bookmark set with a bookmark for every month from the Royal Horticultural Society so I was inspired to try the ‘how many books can I read in a year?’ thing again. As I read and used a bookmark out of the pack I wrote the books I’d on the back of that months bookmark. I was thrilled to find that I’d read 23. Yay.

Three of the books are missing from that pile which were The Oxford Murders by Guillermo Martinez, Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman and The Stone Monkey by Jeffery Deaver. Now don’t go making judgements that 7 of the 23 were vampire stories……..

So we come to this year and again I wasn’t going to bother but I love the idea of a challenge and it’s a great reason to push myself into reading stuff I wouldn’t normally go near. If you only read five authors normally and they only bring a book out a year you have to try something new or else the books read will only be 5!

I’m going to up my target to 26. I know lots of people will read way more than I do and lots way less but if I manage a book a fortnight I’ll be really pleased. Going to have to do some research as I’ve almost run out of Sookie books……..(darn those vampire stories)

Lucky for me there are lots of web sites which have reviews on as well blogs and the two TV book clubs that have been around in the last few months.

Remember I’m picky. I won’t just read Wolf Hall because it won the booker prize or Mrs Dalloway because it shows the stream of consciousness narrative off to its best. I’m more likely to go for A Christmas Carol just because I like Christmas or the latest vampire romance because um…..I like vampires?!

But whatever I manage to force myself to pick up and read I’ll report it back here in blissful tactless ignorance.

A new view

Through a 1.4f stop lens. Here’s a brief recap of my end of the conversation with Gav about buying a new lens for the Canon 550 DSLR.

Lets get to grips with the lens it came with first.

We don’t need a new lens.

We don’t need a new lens.

Fine, buy it then.

Okay, I can’t focus it.

Oh! I see it’s on auto focus.

Huh, it looks like it might be alright.

Wow. That lens makes me look almost human.

Last year we bought a digital SLR. I had dabbled with an SLR a few years ago and almost every shot was underexposed so I gave up. But with a DSLR you can learn right there because it’s instant playback! So we took the plunge and bought one just before we went Stateside in September 2010. That was such fun – two cameras and a video camera on the mad road trip – but I digress.

The camera be bought came with a lens. Not a very good one by all the reviews we read but we couldn’t get one without a lens in time for the trip so we went with the alleged substandard lens.

I thought it was pretty good considering we are both learning but Gav likes to buy new toys so we bought a 50mm 1.4 lens.

And boy oh boy it’s fantastic. We are still pants in the whole photog skill level but I’m seriously impressed so far.

We took it with us when we went to the park the other day.

I love this. look at that shallow depth of field. I think that’s what it’s called?!

Gav took the camera to show me how irritating it is to be a subject when the photographer take forever to get a shot. Needless to say he didn’t get that many decent ones as he was trying to be flashy. I included this because I think it shows that lens has potential. But I REALLY hate the picture of me.

I’m going now to throw out that hat and get a face lift. Oh and start the diet.

And finally….

days 17 to 25 of the December Daily.

I didn’t mention in my day entry that the bauble was bought for me by my sister and is from the Rockafella Centre in NYC!

Day 18.

Day 19.

Loving the fact that Buddy adores the fires in this house and stares at them for ages before settling down.

Day 20.

Day 21.

Day 22.

Day 24. Mostly photos of the kids in our lives.

Day 25.

The envelope was just adhered to the back of the album cover. It has lists and notes inside that I made over the month.

So there it is 2010 December Daily completed.

I admit to being thankful I can put it away. Even if it’s not perfect. What it is a reflection of December with the great, good and not so good. This is the third year I’ve done this little album and love that too. They will be amazing to look back on in a few years.

December Daily days 8 – 15

Better late than never. A quick whizz through day 8 to 15.

Day 11 is a good lesson. Jot down what you did that day otherwise you could end up wit a totally blank page! I thought and thought but could not remember what we did that day…..

Just a few more days to upload.

It is strange doing this in January but……

New Year, New Ponderings

I listen to TV cooks talk about the relationships they had with mothers or Grandmothers and wonder why I don’t have memories, stories to tell or old recipe books from my grandmothers.

My Dads Mum, Kathleen, was a baker.

 And in the 1950’s my Dad parents owned a small bakery. My Grandma did the baking and together they ran the shop.

My Mum’s Mum, Olive, was a ‘cook’.

She worked ‘in service’ all her life for the various Judges Lodgings around the north of England. Judges as in judges in the law courts. I think she started as a house maid or scullery maid in the 1920’s and went on to be the cook.

This subject popped into my head about a month ago when I was watching Nigella talk about her Grandmother and a recipe she passed down, on one of her TV shows and I wondered why I didn’t have such stories to tell as cooking ran through my veins because of my Grandmothers.

More recently I have been thinking about this again as part of the brainstorming I’ve been doing for the Yesterday and Today class I’m taking through Big Picture Classes with Ali Edwards.

The concept of the class is focussing on 12 stories about your life that you would like to tell\leave behind. They are to be indepth stories – big chunks of writing, meaningful things and this whole process has had a mixture of reactions in me. Amazement at remembering some parts of my childhood I’d forgotten, sadness at thoughts of things I can never be or have and  joy at thinking about my life with Gav.

A whole range of emotions.

And one of the things I was remembering was my love of cooking. I went to college to train to be a Home Economist. I admit that this wasn’t my dream job. And in fact I never got a job as a Home Economist but it felt like the right choice at the time and I think that was because food was woven into my life – even if I only realise that now.

In the last few years my love of cooking has diminished and I’m not sure why but I remember that my Grandma showed me how to make cakes creaming the butter and sugar – with her hand, yes her hand, then adding the eggs and flour again all with her hand.

My Nana also only used her hand and not a wooden spoon, for mixing things like cakes. I watched them both cook and must have gleaned some interest in cooking from all the time I spent in their kitchens.  Nana also used to make amazing cheese souffles which were hailed by all the men in the wigs as a triumph. And the most wonderful dumplings, melt in the mouth wondrous balls of fluff.

So I do have memories and stories to tell about these two women and the impact they had on my life. I just needed a little push to remember them all. I love that this hobby of mine, scrapbooking, lets you wheedle out those memories and get them down on the page. Not just for my nieces and nephews to look back on but for me to look back on.

Stories are cool. Do you have stories you’d forgotten about but should be telling?