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Friday, 27 May 2016

Aaahhh ......Some reflections on bridges

This week's Sepia Saturday prompt photo is of the Bridge of Sighs in Venice. I've only been to Venice once, back in 1976 on a self-guided post student 'grand tour' of Europe, and I seem to have only taken two photographs in that venerable city, or at least only two that I deemed worth keeping. We must have seen the Bridge of Sighs, but it's not one of those two photographs. One is of St Mark's Square and the other is below,showing the Rialto Bridge and a gondolier viewed artistically through poles.
From Venice we caught a train to Vienna. There was a train strike threatening and we were quite relieved when after a considerable delay the train eventually departed. I took a couple more photographs in Vienna, our next stop, including this one of what is called the Anker Clock, mounted on a bridge between buildings of the Anker Insurance Company. I probably only had a very basic instamatic camera back then. Of course if we visited again I would take a lot more shots, and at least I would be able to see them instantly and know if they were any good or not, rather than just having to bring back exposed films and hope for the best. We've been back to Vienna since 1976 but not Venice. 

There is also a Bridge of Sighs in Cambridge England, where I lived with my parents as a toddler for a year between 1953 and 1954. My mother's trip scrapbooks don't include any photographs she took of it, but the bridge is featured on a Christmas card she and Dad must have received that Christmas in 1953. 

Below is a photograph of my grandmother's cousin Ivy Power, who came to visit us while we were there, and according to the caption, Ivy and I are on King's Bridge.

Mum's scrapbook also contains a program and newspaper article about a concert held under King's Bridge on 26 July 1954, which she and Dad must have attended, and it sounds like a very successful and enjoyable evening, but as it was held on a long midsummer evening, I was probably at home sound asleep, in the company of a  baby sitter.

I've been back to visit Cambridge briefly several times since living there in 1954 but the only bridge photograph I've taken is of the Mathematical Bridge, which is the next bridge after King's. I must have been standing on the nearby Silver Street Bridge to take this shot. Cambridge should really be called Cambridges, there are so many of them over the river Cam.

Photograph taken April 2011

Here are two interesting covered bridges from our travels, photographed on a wander through the old town of Nuremburg on the Pegnitz river in 2009. Very picturesque.


 You can often get good reflections of the bridges and surrounding buildings in the water below, and I like this shot above taken by my husband on our recent trip. It shows the viaduct above the medieval Port of Dinan, Brittany. There's an old stone bridge below the viaduct from which several of the photographs in this little collage were taken, as we enjoyed dinner by the water on our last night in Brittany. 

Back home and far away now, (she said with a sigh), but for more reflections on bridges of all kinds and numerous other things, just click and go to Sepia Saturday #332

Saturday, 21 May 2016

All mothers and babies, please line up!

The Sepia Saturday prompt photo this week shows three babies and their mothers, lined up for an English baby show in 1938. Hopefully baby shows are no longer in vogue, although there are baby photo competitions people can enter if they are so inclined. Every baby is beautiful in the eyes of his or her parents, and the job of judging them must have been fraught with danger. 

Below is a photo created from my late father-in-law Bob Featherston's collection of negatives. The two children are toddlers rather than babies, and the photo must have been taken in about 1947, the year that Mary, Bob's wife-to be, arrived in Australia as a war bride, but unfortunately she doesn't remember who the mothers were. I don't believe they were related to Bob, but they may have been neighbours of either his mother Eleanor or his aunt Dulce, as there are similar photographs taken when Bob and Mary were visiting family in Geelong. It would be a nice photo if not for the fact that the mothers' heads have been cut off, but in that respect it is also a match with the prompt.

Next a couple of snaps of our older daughter Claire with some of her playgroup friends, enjoying the sunshine at a picnic outing to Sydney's Centennial Park in mid 1980, and with friend Andrew sitting on the slippery-dip in cooler weather on another park outing. Sad to say, we moved to another part of Sydney and over the years I lost touch with the mothers, so I have no idea what these three boys are up to these days, but like Claire, they may well be parents themselves by now.

A supporting hand is the only evidence of a mother here, just in case, sitting being a skill only recently learnt by these 6 month olds.

Finally two photos from a couple of years ago, showing Claire's daughter Isabelle and two of her little friends dressed up in cute outfits for a Halloween party, and the whole group out of costume, lined up on the couch. There is a set of twins in the group, and surprisingly only one boy out of the nine. The mothers are not shown here either, but no doubt they were hovering close by.

Our granddaughter Isabelle in her catsuit on the right of this shot 

And she is third from left in this lineup - I think!

That's all I have to offer this week, but if you fancy being the judge of more baby lineups, just check out  Sepia Saturday #331

Friday, 6 May 2016

Sorting the sheep from the goats?

I'm travelling at the moment, but just for fun I searched my Google+ photo file under the topic of sheep, and apart from some photographs that I've used in previous blogs, came up with a few examples of sheep and goats photographed in various countries over the last few years.

The first photo below is of a rather agressive looking ram in a field close to our relatives' farm on the outskirts of the village of Clehonger, Herefordshire. On a walk down the lanes, I hoped the fence between us was without any gaps, but nevertheless I didn't hang around after taking his photograph, just in case. Those horns could do some damage! 

These sheep near Apollo Bay in Victoria could enjoy a spectacular ocean view, but they probably never notice it, being much too busy contentedly munching grass. We were staying nearby in a unit with the same view, and we did find time to admire it.

This is what a drover in the Wairarapa district of New Zealand's North Island looks like, and if you're driving on a country road it may take a while to get past him and his flock, giving plenty of time for photographs. Sheep have right of way here and it's not a good idea to speed, as you never known when you'll come across them around the next bend in the road. Sheep numbers in New Zealand are decreasing but there are still around 6 sheep for every per person in the country.

This photograph shows a statue of a mountain goat in the main street of snowy Smithers in British Columbia Canada, taken by my sister Louisa, whose daughter lives there. We haven't been there ourselves yet, but hope to visit one of these days. Apparently the statue was erected as a tribute to all the local people who work in the guiding business. 

And finally, a couple of sure-footed goats spotted on the steep slope surrounding the walls of the medieval Chateau at Fougeres in Brittany, France, which we visited today. Fougeres is a lovely old town to wander through, with beautiful gardens and half-timbered medieval houses surrounding its moated chateau, of which only the walls and a few towers remain.

    An elevated view of Fougeres Chateau and surrounding old town

So no sepian shepherds or sheep from me this week, but I'm sure you'll find some from other bloggers here at

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Mrs Wu's painting

A late entry for this week, but better late than never! Sepia Saturday prompt #328 shows two women carrying a painting they are saving from destruction. I saved this fine watercolour painted by my Chinese friend Yin-Sun's mother Mrs Wu from being given away to charity a few years ago.  Mrs Wu had given it to my mother Jean many years earlier and she treasured it, but when she was downsizing to a retirement village it would have had to have been given away had I not been there to rescue it and give it a new home. It now hangs on our living room wall, beautiful and elegant in that uniquely Chinese style. 

Mrs Wu and her husband came to Australia from Taiwan in the 1960s and I met Yin-Sun when we attended primary school together as 8 year olds in Canberra in 1961. His father worked with what at the time was the Chinese Embassy but he must have encountered what he felt were some insurmountable personal difficulties there, because sad to say he committed suicide the following year, leaving Mrs Wu to bring up their two sons Yin-Sun and his brother Yu-Sun. My classmates and I knew only that Yin-Sun was not at school for some time, and then came back again. I believe it was only many years later that Yin-Sun was able to discover the possible reasons for his father's death.  It must have been very very hard for Mrs Wu in a strange country, speaking little English, but she had good friends in the Chinese community to help her and her boys did well career-wise, becoming an IT specialist and an optometrist respectively. Mrs Wu painted beautifully and was also an avid Majong player. The boys quickly became Aussies and translated for their mother when necessary.

 Yin-Sun moved to California to work with IBM in the 1970s and married there. He and his wife were divorced after some ten years and we lost contact with him for a while afterwards. Sadly his brother Yu- Sun fell victim to stomach cancer when only a young man in his 30s. He left a son, born posthumously, to whom Yin-Sun was a loving uncle.  Mrs Wu survived into her 90s but suffered from dementia for some 10 years before her death and in the end was unable to communicate with Yin-Sun when he visited her in her care home in Adelaide.

We got back in touch with Yin-Sun in the 2000s and he stayed with us several times on his visits back to Australia, the last time being in 2011. In 2012 we were shocked to hear that he himself had been found to have invasive cancer, which claimed him in just 3 months, aged 59.

 I'm really glad to have this painting and a few photos and other mementoes to remember the Wu family in happier times.

Happy times: l-r Yin-Sun, Mrs Wu, Yu-Sun and Jean, in California for Yin-Sun's wedding in 1983.
R.I.P. to them all.

For more blogs inspired by this week's photo prompt, go to

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

A Right Royal Fascination

The Sepia Saturday prompt photo for this week shows Princess Elizabeth, as she then was, and her sister Margaret, in costumes they wore for a performance of the pantomime Aladdin in December 1943. I found several reports of this Royal event in both the Australian and New Zealand press and have cut and pasted several of the NZ articles below.

Evening Post, 22 March 1944, snipped from Paperspast web site

NZ Herald, 23 December 1943; Ellesmere Guardian, 28 April 1944, snipped from Paperspast web site

NZ Herald, 6 March 1944, snipped from Paperspast web site

I'm not sure why some of the articles published in the NZ press seem to have been repeated several months after the pantomime took place, but it may have been because the then Princess's 18th birthday was approaching. Here is an article about that event, transcribed on the Paperspast site from the New Zealand Herald of 21 April 1944. The witty lines referred to in the fourth paragraph would have been spoken by Princess Elizabeth in the performance of Aladdin above.

Written for the New Zealand Herald When Princess Elizabeth attains her 18th birthday on April 21, she will come of age, as Heiress-Presumptive, but remain a minor, like anyone else under 21, as one of her father's subjects. This paradoxical position has been established as the result of intense researches into the law governing minors by Lord Simon, the Lord Chancellor, undertaken on the instructions of the King, who is keenly anxious that every possible loose end in connection with the status of his daughters should be clearly and firmly tied up. As soon as she is 18, the Princess can succeed her father as a full Queen, with exercise and control of all the Royal powers and prerogatives, and no necessity whatever for a Council of Regency to guide her. And from April 21 onward, she is available and liable. under the terms of the Regency Act of I 1037, amended at the King's request last year, to act as one of the five Counsellors of State who must act for him in the event of His Majesty's absence abroad or severe illness. But not for another three years, till April 21, 19-17, will Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth of Windsor be legally able to sign documents on her own responsibility, deal with or control the private fortune which was left to her by her grandfather, King George V., or otherwise act as a fully grown-up person, unless she becomes Queen in the meantime, in which case she automatically assumes her majority, as did Queen Victoria, who acceded when she was just over 18. 
Knowledge of World Affairs
 So much for the Princess' legal position. But what every one of the millions who will be her subjects in the future wants to know is what kind of girl is she. And because of the fairlv strict seclusion in which she has been brought up, that is a question to which few people know the answer. Tall and slender, the Princess has blue-grey eyes of a very lively intelligence, darkish brown hair with a natural wave in it, a quick brain, her father's and grandfather's eye for detail, and a manner of rather shy charm. Pier voice is clear and well modulated, and she sings in a pleasant contralto of not very great volume. In knowledge of world affairs, of history and geography, with special attention to the British Empire, she is well above the average of well-educated English girls of her own age. and she speaks French fluently, with little accent and a good command of vocabulary. Mathematics is not a strong subject with her, and Latin and Greek are also not her favourites. She has learned a good deal of German and knows many of the poems of Schiller and Goethe by heart, as well as, of course, having Ions: passages of Shakespeare, Tennyson and other English poets by rote, besides Francois de Villon and other French writers. 
An Outdoor Girl 
 But she is far from a blue-stocking. The Princess is emphatically an outdoor girl and she is never happier than when cantering through Windsor Park astride or side-saddle on her chestnut hunter, riding at the side of her father, with whom she has the very closest bonds of affection. She began to learn riding when she was four years old, and like a true horsewoman readily agrees that she is still learning to-day and will go on always learning more about horses and their ways. At present her riding instructor is Colonel Dermot McMurrough Kavanagh. the Crown Equerry, himself an officer of the Hussars, and a martinet for correct behaviour in the saddle whether his pupil is a Royal Princess or a newly-joined trooper. The Princess rides with a ramrod-straight back, and has naturally good, easy hands. She can jump equally well astride or side-saddle, and is looking forward, when peace comes, to adding to her  brief experience of hunting—so far she has been out only once with hounds, when she rode with the Duke of Beaufort's pack during a visit to Queen Mary last winter. One other outdoor exercise has great fascination for the Princess —swimming and diving. She has been able to get a lot of practice at her wartime home in the country, for there is a river close by. Unfortunately the elaborately-equipped private pool which the King had built on the site of the old tennis court at Buckingham Palace for his daughters is wrecked as a result of a Nazi bomb.
 Strong and Fast Swimmer
 In the water. Princess Elizabeth is strong and fast as a swimmer, and she can dive well in n number of different styles. Without any question of the results being "rigged" she won. much to the King's delight, the last Open Children's competition at the Bath Club before that hath. too. was destroyed by a bomb Royal witicisms do not have to be very scintillating to raise a laugh from courtiers, but Princess Elizabeth's sense of humour is genuinely keen, and she can crack a joke with such a serious expression that the point is doubled. In the pantomime which the Princesses give each year in aid of the Royal Household Wool Fund, there were, last Christmas, half a dozen "lines" which carried barbed shafts of wit against various members of the Royal entourage. They were the work of Princess Elizabeth, and when the King heard them for the first time he literally doubled up with laughter, turning round to see how those victims who were in the audience were taking it. All the fun was good-humoured and courtiers who had not been dealt with by the Elizabethan wit were very jealous of those who had! Writing in a neat., round hand, not unlike the King's, the Princess, like her great-great-grandmother. Queen Victoria, is an indefatigable diarist and in addition, all through the war has kept up a daily correspondence with Queen Mary. 
More Public Appearances
 This year will see a certain number of changes in the Princess' life. Her appearance at the England-Scotland match at Wembley was the forerunner of many more public appearances at sporting and other events which she will make after her 18th birthday, but the change will not be dramatic or drastic. There is, for instance, no substance in stories that she will set up her own household, or be given a separate establishment by the King. She will continue to live, as she does now, with her sister Margaret, attended by one footman, a maid and her old nurse. Mrs. Knight, with Scots-born Miss Marion Crawford, the governess.- in general charge. Had it not been for the war, of course, there would have been a fullscale, elaborate "coming out" party for thePrincess as the principal event of a more-than-usually glittering London season. As it is, the Princess will have only a small private dance, of the kind the King and Queen have given several times in the last few months for her, as her "coming-of-Royal-age celebration. She dances well, with a good sense of time and rhythm, as befits one who has had many, many hours oi tuition, and she can perform the intricacies of a Highland reel or fling; as well as the simpler steps of a foxtrot or waltz. "Hot" music does not appeal very much to her. She prefers quieter, "sweeter" tunes, and is herself an up-to-average piano player. She has her own grand, and on it often plays duets with the Queen, who has been a music lover since her girlhood. Princess Margaret, too, sometimes plays with her sister while the Queen listens, and between the two Princesses, one four years younger than the other, there is a, very deep sympathy and understanding. Up to now they have been inseparables; and one of the features of her new life, as she takes a growing part in public affairs, which definitely does not please Princess Elizabeth is that Princess Margaret will not always be with her.
 No New Title 
At Palace parties, for instance, where the King and Queen mingle separately with their guests, the two Princesses remain always together, talking to whom they will, but never apart, so that one fits into the other's conversation with charming effect. Everyone knows now that the Princess will have no new title on her birthday. Though the King will probably make her a Privy Councillor, she will continue to be known as Princess Elizabeth. But few people know that this decision was reached by the King alter asking bis daughter her own wishes. And the fact that she prefers the simple style and title which has been hers since birth is a symbol of the straightforward simple character of the young woman who one day will inherit the greatest responsibilities in the world."

My New Zealand born mother Jean was a big fan of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth all her life, and one reason may have been that they were born in the same year, 1926. Jean would have loved to have been celebrating the Queen's 90th birthday together with her own later this year, but she did not enjoy such good health as the Queen and sadly it was not to be, and she passed away in 2014. 
The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh visited New Zealand in December 1953, not long after the Coronation, but by then Jean and Ian and I were in England for a year, so we were not numbered among the estimated 3 out of every 4 New Zealanders who saw the Royal couple during their month-long tour. One woman reportedly saw the Queen 30 times, and people did things like dyeing their sheep red, white and blue for the occasion, and planting flowers in the appropriate colours. Anyone interested can read more about the tour in considerable detail here in an article on the New Zealand |History web site.
Someone back in New Zealand sent me a letter in this commemorative envelope, dutifully pasted into my trip scrapbook by Jean, but there's no letter inside, so I don't know if whoever wrote it was one of those 3 out of 4 New Zealanders who saw the Queen on her travels. In the words of Elizabethan poet Thomas Ford, famously quoted by Australian Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies during the Queen's visit to Australia in 1963,  they 'did but see her passing by ...'  That was certainly the case when I saw her as a schoolchild that year in Canberra, having waited for hours in the sun to see nothing more than a blurry wave of a hand in a limousine.


So Jean did not get to see the Queen on that NZ visit, but she and Ian did attend a Royal garden party at Buckingham Palace in 1954. I've posted this photograph of them dressed in their finery in a previous post, but it seems appropriate to show it again here.

Jean had a baby Staffordshire Fine China cup that was issued for the Queen's coronation and looked just like the one above, but I'm sad to say it broke and I no longer have it. Mum would have been very disappointed, and perhaps I should buy a replacement, but meanwhile I just have to be satisfied with this:

Coincidentally we are flying off to England tonight, but we won't arrive there until the day after the Queen's actual birthday, and are not expecting to attend any celebrations, unless we run into them by accident. I expect to be on a blogging break for a few weeks.

Now for more Sepian thoughts on this week's prompt, just click here

Saturday, 16 April 2016

A Tribute to Ann

This week's Sepia Saturday prompt shows what was called a Polyphoto, produced by a company whose slogan was "one of them must be good!".  Last week I wrote a small tribute to my late sister-in-law Penny, and this week I'm writing one to my other sister-in-law Ann, who also died too young, at just 52.  I found the following two photographs printed together just as they appear below, in proof size, when I was looking through my late father-in-law Bob Featherston's collection in the hope of finding a baby photograph or two of my husband, Ann's brother. I can't say there were 48, like the polyphoto set above, but there certainly were lots more very similar small photos of Ann, first child of her parents Bob and Mary.

These photos were taken at East Park Hull in June 1950. Ann and her parents traveled from Melbourne to the UK when she was just a few months old.
More small prints of Ann as a young child, now back in Australia. The little red cane chair she is sitting in still decorates the front room of her mother's house.

Ann on the occasion of her LLB graduation in April 1973

Ann went on to pursue a successful career as a lawyer, practising both as a solicitor and later as a senior lawyer in the Commonwealth Government. In her spare time she was a very keen sewer and embroiderer and we have many framed examples of her work. She also travelled extensively. Ann was diagnosed with breast cancer in her early 30s, but she recovered and enjoyed a full life until 2001, when despite never having smoked, she was found to have developed lung cancer. Although not proved, this later cancer may have been caused by the burning effect of the strong radiation treatment that Ann had undergone some 16 years earlier.

A small example of Ann's cross stitch work 

I'm not sure if this is Ann's own garden, but when she wasn't stitching she was a keen gardener

Ann's last Christmas, in 2001, seen here with six of her eight nieces and nephews. She was their favourite aunty, who always made time to have fun with them. They valued her advice and also greatly enjoyed her cooking.

Some of the many faces of our new granddaughter Lucy Ann, named for her Great Aunty Ann, who would no doubt have loved her dearly, as we do. Lucy is just three months old, but the next time she visits her great grandmother Mary she'll probably be big enough to sit in that same little red chair, and we'll tell her stories about Ann.

Ann Lesley Featherston, 1949-2002

For more takes on this week's theme, visit Sepia Saturday #326

Thursday, 7 April 2016

In Memory of Penny

This week's Sepia Saturday image shows a team of men rowing on the Thames with an Olympic flag. I was just reading the other day about the precursor to the first modern Olympics, that were held in 1850 in Much Wenlock, a black and white village in Shropshire that we've passed through several times without knowing anything about this aspect of its history. Next time we are nearby we'll definitely take a closer look! 

    I have one sepia boating photograph that I have posted on my blog previously, which you can see here, but today I'm posting some more recent photographs. They were taken in August 2011 and show my brother and one of his boys on a dragon boat, together with a team of pink ladies from the Dragons Abreast Gold Coast dragon boating club, rowing out into the middle of Currumbin Creek to scatter pink camelias in the water, in memory of my brother's late wife, Penny, who had passed away after a four year battle with breast cancer. Penny would have turned 60 today (7 April) , but sadly was only 55 when she died.

I like to think that somehow the bird flying above the boat as I took this photograph was an embodiment of Penny's strong and courageous spirit. Tasmanian born, she moved to Canberra and then up to the much warmer climate of Queensland, where she and my brother had two sons and several dogs, ran a plant nursery and operated a furniture removals business. Thoughtful and caring, Penny got on well with everyone she met. Life was busy but Penny was always cheerful and positive. We lived in different States so we didn't get to catch up in person very often, but I always enjoyed it when we did.

Dragon boating is recognised as very good exercise for strenthening muscles after a mastectomy, which is one reason why many breast cancer survivors join similar clubs. You can read more about the Dragons Abreast club and in partcular about Penny here on the club web site: My brother very generously donated a new dragon boat to the club in memory of his late wife. 

               Penelope Cruickshank nee Wilson, 1956-2011


                          Vale Penny. Forever Young.