Mother’s Day and remembering mothers

Agnes-Ashe-hand-painted-silk-scarf-Ophelia-goldMy mother is no longer with us, but, she still lives on in my memory. Of course, she was not always a mother and she had some fun times despite growing up during the war years. She was an entertaining storyteller and liked to reminisce. I remember her vivid retelling of how when she was a teenager she and a friend secretly went to a call for extras for a film and she was picked. Unfortunately, my grandfather was absolutely furious when he found out and would not allow her to take up the offer. When she was older she enjoyed amateur dramatics and particularly loved dancing. Naturally, as a teenager she liked to dress like the Hollywood stars of the day and people often remarked she reminded them of Rita Hayworth.

MotherThis will be the eighth Mother’s Day when I’ve not been planning a special lunch for her and it only seems like yesterday I was painting a silk scarf for her in her favourite colours. If she was still here today I think she’d like one of these scarves with plenty of old gold, mustard and a hint of chartreuse.

She used to joke she was a blonde in a brunette’s body. She was a spirited, golden girl with amber coloured eyes and one shade or another of blonde hair. Much missed.

What is the painting?

Reminds-me-ofDuring a recent visit home my daughter was trying out my new, preloved camera and the new, also secondhand, prime lens. You can see she was having a go at capturing the ‘infinite’ reflections disappearing down the tunnel created by a pair of mirrors opposite each other.

However, when I saw this photograph downloaded from the memory card it immediately reminded me of a very famous painting. My daughter’s photo had not remotely been an attempt to copy the original Manet painting. That would have been a technical feat, with the intriguing image the artist achieved on canvas, but I do think there is a familiar quality about this photo’s composition. I think that my daughter’s fringe, the mirrors and the cluttered sideboard are also significant details. A little slice of life imitating art, don’t you think?

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The Bar at the Folies-Bergeres, by Edouard Manet
‘A Bar at the Folies-Bergère’ (Un bar aux Folies Bergère) – Edouard Manet. Oil on canvas. 96 cm (38 in) × 130 cm (51 in) Courtauld Gallery, London

 

 

Ipswich Maritime Festival

Ipswich-Maritime-Festival

Every two years the Ipswich Waterfront hosts a Maritime Festival. Held over a weekend the event is a nautical celebration featuring boats, international street food and a temporary fun fair.

Earl-of-Pembroke-1

Visiting boats line up along the quayside and the largest visitor this year was the Earl of Pembroke (1945) all the way from Bristol. Originally a schooner, the Earl of Pembroke was restored between 1985-1994 and commissioned as a three masted eighteenth century barque. You may have spotted her in Tim Burton’s film ‘Alice in Wonderland’ or in the TV series ‘Longitude’.

Another sailing beauty, the slender Essex smack Pioneer CK18 (built 1864), was moored up at the Waterfront joining some of the Old Thames barges (Victor, Thistle and Centaur) recently returned to the quayside for the Festival.

It wasn’t just sailing boats that were flaunting their nautical credentials. One of the last surviving steam inshore craft, Vic 96 (built 1945) was tied up alongside the tugboat Motor Tug Kent (1948).

This year’s theme was the recapture of Ipswich from the Vikings in 917AD and we did eventually spot a small group of folk with their historically accurate helmets and mail vests sitting at the back of the fun fair area. I am not sure authentic Anglo Saxon or Viking food would have been big sellers, but there were wild boar burgers, venison sausages, and a full hog roast available for hungry visitors.

Many of the ships and boats around the marina were decked out with colourful flags, but the best part of the weekend was the closing firework display. My photos were all shot through the rigging of the Earl of Pembroke.

I think the firework finale (below) flashing and banging over the ship gave a hint of what it might have been like in the past in the midst of a naval skirmish.

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PS – Newsflash – July 2018 –

As of this year the Ipswich Maritime Festival is to take place annually. Perhaps this August I will get better firework photos!

 

 

 

Working waterfront – Sunday snapshot

CruisersAt first glance visitors to Ipswich Waterfront see a marina packed full of yachts and motor boats all bobbing up and down on their moorings.

 

However, it’s not long before you realise there is much more to the area than weekend sailors and their cruisers. There are three boat trip vessels based at the marina, one of which is Victor, a magnificent old Thames barge.

Tourists can board Victor for river trips down the River Orwell towards Harwich, Felixstowe and the North Sea.

Docked-SuntisDuring the week there is also working traffic. Ships, such as this cargo ship, Suntis, shown here delivering a cargo of timber, arrive from ports across the North Sea. Boatyards dotted along the quays are busy even during the summer months moving sail boats and cruisers lifting them in and out of the water for regular maintenance.

Ipswich-working-dock-marinaThese big old, Thames barges have been sailing up and down the River Orwell transporting cargoes to and from Ipswich docks for over 100 years and the other weekend another four joined Victor mooring up at the Neptune Marina.

Four-Thames-bargesAlthough the boatyards are closed on Sundays, it can still be busy at weekends as various motor powered RIBs and other inflatable craft buzz around the dock area in between the tacking dinghies.

Tacking

So that is a Sunday snapshot of Ipswich, one of England’s oldest towns, reinventing itself for the 21st century.

busy-Sunday-sailing

It’s all about the pecking order

Arrival

Last month whilst staying with my father I hid behind the Venetian blinds and poked my camera lens through to see what was occurring at the bird feeders. There were several phases of activity when several birds arrived at the same time.

Fat-for-me

This very beautiful long-tailed tit, timid and nervous, only really managed to tuck in once the other birds had flown away.

Long-Tailed-Tit-looking

Then a noisy chattering of starlings (well six or seven) turned up to muscle their way in.

Starling-squeezes-in

After initially flying away the long-tailed tit eventually plucked up enough courage to fly back and hang onto the feeder and wait for his turn again. He obviously knew his place in the pecking order.

Pushy-starling

Not all the birds were interested in the fat ball. The greenfinches were happy to peck away at the sunflower seeds. Much to my amusement I did see the starlings make an attempt at landing on the perches, but they were too big, and, after unsuccessfully flapping around and wasting energy, they gave up and returned to the fat ball.

Greenfinch

A few of my favourite things (brightening a dull February)

winter-beach-walkI know it’s known as the short month, but sometimes February simply feels too long. I often find it more gloomy than the dark days of November. Perhaps it’s the closeness of the much anticipated spring compared to the everyday reality of more grey, depressing drizzle. So I thought I’d consider some uplifting, diversions and a culinary treat!

Blue flowers – no fresh ones in the garden yet, but these saved and dried from last year.

dried-winter-flowersPhotos – capturing the delicate winter light at the waterfront,

harbour-winter-sunor, that brief moment of low February sun at home.

low-winter-sunCake. Making a naughty, but nice treat. . . .  and naturally eating it!

dada-cake-treatMemories. A moment of sentimental recollection on finding long forgotten toys during an otherwise fruitless search of all those boxes in the attic.

andy-pandy-toy

 

Winter visit to the beach

windy-weather-waxham

It’s been a hectic few weeks and it’s nearly the end of January and Christmas has faded into a hazy memory!! Finally, in a quiet moment I eventually uploaded photos from our visit to the beach on Christmas Day which is now a family tradition. This year we ignored the weather forecast of heavy grey skies with the odd shower and drove over to Waxham.

waxham-beach-sand

Naturally, as is often the way, the coast has its own weather and although it was very, very windy it was sunny skies and racing white clouds. It was delightfully refreshing. However, there was a downside and that was the occasional slap in the face from sand whipping along the shore. And, boy did it sting!

It seems each time I visit there are additions to and deletions from the sea wall graffiti. These new, free form ‘faces’?? may yet be filled with colour before the images are either painted over by the authorities or worn away by the winter waves.

update-waxham-graffiti

One poor little seal pup had missed the receding tide and was stranded on its own between the rocks at the top of the beach. I used a telephoto lens for this photo. The pup didn’t look too happy and I didn’t want to disturb it further by getting closer. We hoped all the dog walkers would keep their pets away too.

lost-seal

Immediately the other side of the sea defences, on this part of Norfolk’s east coast, farmland runs along the dunes. It looks a little odd to see sheep grazing on muddy earth, but they are actually grazing the brassica crop, which looks like it’s turnips.

sheep-waxham

Time to leave. Interestingly, and I’m not sure why but there were far fewer walkers this year than in previous years. Maybe the WRONG weather forecast had put people off!

leaving-waxham

Taking it for granted

flying-out-from-heathrowIt’s a while since I’ve flown out of Heathrow and had such a good view. Not only did I get a window seat just clear of the wing, but it was a bright day and I had my camera to hand. It is surprising to see when you look down over the immediate area south and west of London how many reservoirs store the capital’s water.

I was so busy taking pictures I didn’t look up and check the route we were flying, but the chalky cliffs of the south coast are unmistakable. We passed over Brighton and if you look carefully you can just make out Brighton Pier. As we flew out and on over the Channel the chalk cliffs ran along to the famous Beachy Head. The chalk headland is a distinctive landmark with the town of Eastbourne a blurry mass of buildings a little further up the coast.

over-the-alpsPeople these days take flying for granted, but when you can see and recognise the places below there is still a little thrill. And, who can deny the drama of snowy Alpine peaks as they break through the mountain mists.

alpine-peaks-from-airplane

Summer seals

Horsey-beach-rocks-and-seals

It was very windy last weekend and the sea was rough with plenty of white horses. On the sandy beach granite rocks are strategically strewn across the shoreline in attempt to reduce erosion, but what’s that? – a rock just moved.

grey seals on the beach
A few members of the grey seal colony at Horsey Gap, Norfolk.

Walking down towards the sea we find members of the Horsey Gap grey seal colony flopped out and sunning themselves. Or, playing rough and tumble in the surf.

Or, simply having a little nap.

The seal colony at Horsey Gap on Norfolk’s east coast is popular with visitors in late winter when all the pups have just been born. We were surprised to find so many seals on the beach in August. Of course, there are always one or two of them watching the watchers. . . .

. . .  especially when some of those watchers come a little too close and then the whole colony clumsily, but speedily move a couple of metres towards the water and away from the nosey humans.

Humans-visitors

You can’t see in these photos just how windy it was, but every now and then a gust whipped up the sand stinging any exposed skin. It reminded my father of the Shamal that blows down from Iraq and across Kuwait almost continuously during June and July each year.

It-was-very-windy

 

Seen from a train

Summer-baked-FensJust over three weeks ago, when we had our mini heatwave, I was on a train crossing the Fens. It’s an agricultural and market garden region famous for being flat.

Fenland-green

Up to the 17th century it was wet, low-lying marshland, until drainage schemes transformed the landscape. The Earl of Bedford brought the Dutch drainage engineer, Cornelius Vermuyden, to the region and, with royal support from Charles 1, draining began around 1630. The King received 12,000 of the 95,000 acres of the reclaimed Fen land for the Crown .

Criss-cross-Fens

The process of draining was not entirely supported by the local population but gradually over the course of the 17th century the marshland became arable, workable farmland.  Eventually, over 300 years the marshes evolved into the Fenland landscape we see today.

The sepia picture was taken from the train. The original capture looked less interesting.

I had more luck when the train pulled into Ely and was stopped for a few minutes. One day I’ll get off and go and make a long overdue visit to the magnificent Norman cathedral known as ‘The Ship of the Fens’.

Ely-Cathedral-from-the-train

 

A quintessentially English weather drama

Clouds-bringing-rain

Suffolk is well-known for big, open skies. These skies of cool blue with puffs of white cloud were made famous in the paintings of Suffolk-born, John Constable, from Dedham Vale on the Suffolk/Essex border.

Flatford-Mill-John-Constable
Flatford Mill (Scene on a Navigable River) by John Constable   1816
Oil on canvas. 52.4 in × 6.4 in × 62.3
Tate Britain, London

However, it’s not always sunny in Suffolk and recently there have been spells of speedily arriving storm clouds and heavy summer showers.

rainbow over sea
Dark skies, heavy showers and bright rainbows over the North Sea at Aldeburgh.

These conditions, combined with the evening sunlight, have resulted in some spectacular, brilliant rainbows. Sadly, I didn’t get the best shot as it was gone by the time I’d run back indoors to get my camera, but one rainbow looked like it was dipping into a pot of gold in the depths of the sea. It was the brightest, most vibrant rainbow I’ve ever seen.

The next morning following the stormy showers it was the return of blue skies and white clouds complementing the painted houses bright along the seafront – a very English view.

Next-morning-sunny

Still, what’s to do on a stony, shingle beach with a very calm sea, ah yes, skim stones.

Pebble-Beach-Aldeburgh