Category Archives: Photography

Beside the seaside – part 3

This is the final post in this short series (part one, part two.)

These postcards date from 1967 – 1987. We’re firmly in the era of bright, saturated colours. Holiday destinations of choice are firnly located in the West Country.

Brixham, Devon, posted 1967

Brixham, Devon, posted 1967

Mousehole, posted 1970

Mousehole, posted 1970

This postcard from Mousehole is an interesting contrast to the more brooding, grainy image in part 2 – here. This card above was actually posted earlier in date, but it has a later feel to me.

North Devon, posted c.1976

North Devon, posted c.1976

This and the next postcard are the places I spent my holidays when I was growing up. It looked exactly like that.

Start Bay, posted 1987

Start Bay, posted 1987

My parents now live not far from Start Bay and below is a photo I took the last time I visited in  May.  It was taken from almost exactly the same position as the bottom left-hand image on the postcard above.

Start Point, May 2013

Start Point, May 2013

As it was a bit of an uninspiring, grey day, here’s the same image after a bit of 1980’s-style Photoshop jiggery pokery 🙂

Start Point, edited image

Beside the seaside – part 2

The first part of this series can be found here.

Not actually so many seaside images in this batch. I’ve ordered these by how old I think the postcard images are, rather than when the card was posted.

Llanberis Pass, posted 1965

Llanberis Pass, posted 1965

“We have just arrived weather was very good all the way, had a nice chicken dinner and waiting for another meal now.”

Food and weather – ticks all the postcard boxes. This is an ‘artistically’ hand-coloured b/w image”

The Sussex Downs, posted 1971-3

The Sussex Downs, posted 1971-3

I particularly like this pastoral image of shire horses ploughing the Sussex Downs. There’s something very pleasing about the composition and subtle colours, even if the sender wasn’t quite so happy…

“Temperature soaring up to 30F, lying on the beach in 4 sweaters, 2 overcoats and wellington boots. Car broke down, food lousy. Having a wonderful time, see you soon.”

North Wales, posted 1964

North Wales, posted 1964

Another nice image from North Wales, showing Snowdon. A picturesque view and I like the subdued colours.

Southsea rock gardens

Southsea rock gardens

I remember playing at Southsea rock gardens as a child. There’s something about this image that makes me cringe – perhaps the era, the twee manufactured-ness of the gardens, the women sitting around – doing what?. I’ve never liked overly developed coastal towns. My idea of hell is somewhere like Brighton, with tall, brooding Victorian hotels butting up against a bland, stoney shore.

Mousehole, posted 1977

Mousehole, posted 1977

This image is much more my sort of thing – a quaint Cornish fishing village. I make my first appearance on this postcard, sent by my mother to her parents. I was a 2 and a half years old at the time.

“We are having a lovely holiday doing nothing much except bowing to Jenny’s every whim. As the weather has been fairly good we have been going down to the beach a lot, which Jenny loves.”

There are also some scribbly pencil lines on the back of the card – presumably my addition.

Beside the seaside – part 1

On a recent visit to my grandparents’ house, my grandfather showed me another box of old postcards and photos he had dug out the attic. What caught my eye were the holiday postcards, dating from the 1930s to the present day. I’ve split these into three blog posts and will kick off with the oldest, dating from 1931 to the 1950s. You can click on all of the images to make them larger.

Posted from Bognor Regis, 1931.

Posted from Bognor Regis, 1931.

In the photo you can just make out the name of the beach hut – Linga Longa. This was sent by my great grandmother to her husband.  She writes, “I went to see the lady yesterday she let me have it for a pound a week as we seem such nice people.”  Presumably she was writing about the rental of this hut.

St Osyth Beach, Essex, August 1939

St Osyth Beach, Essex, August 1939

This was sent to my great grandmother’s family by friends, less than a month before the start of the Second World War.  They were “having a lovely time here very little rain”. No British holiday postcard is complete without mention of the weather.

Lulworth Cove, posted between 1955

Lulworth Cove, posted 1955

This was sent by my great grandmother to her son, John (my great uncle). I didn’t find postcards from the 1940s in the box – presumably holidays were interrupted by the war. My great grandfather was too old to fight but their son – my grandfather – trained to be a fighter pilot in South Africa.

The Old Mill Camp, St Helens

The Old Mill Camp, St Helens

This postcard was never written on or posted. It looks to be from around the 1950s and kept as a souvenir of a holiday to St Helens.

The Luck, Gurnard, Isle of Wight

The Luck, Gurnard, Isle of Wight

Another postcard not written on or posted that looks from a similar era – the 1950s. My grandmother was a great cyclist and would regularly cycle from London, where the family lived, to the south coast and Isle of Wight for holidays. It would take a whole day to make the 80-mile trip.

The sailing beach, Hayling Island

The sailing beach, Hayling Island

After so many holidays spent on the south coast my grandfather eventually moved there after the Second World War to raise a family. My mother and I were both born less than 10 miles from the place on this postcard.

If you’re trying to date a posted postcard and can’t read the postmark, this is a good website listing the dates different stamps were used to help you pin it down.

The next blog post will look at colour postcards from the 1960s.

Ghana

True to this blog’s name, I’ve been distracted over the last month or so from doing any meaningful writing. The reason for this was the volunteering trip I took to Ghana with the Lightyear Foundation, who teach practical, low-cost science lessons in schools. It was an exhausting, challenging but ultimately very rewarding trip, unlike anything I’ve done before. I’ll write up some of my notes into blog posts in time but for now here are some photos from this picturesque country.

Young pupil from one of the schools we taught at

Young pupil from one of the schools were we taught

Boats at Elmina at dusk, Cape Coast

Boats at Elmina at dusk, Cape Coast

Scientific testing of paper aeroplanes

Scientific testing of paper aeroplanes

One of our volunteers teaching

One of our volunteers teaching

The end of a long week

The end of a long week

Travel writings

Last year whilst backpacking on my own for four months around Indochina and Australasia I wrote a blog. I was resistant at first – travelling writing is not my thing, to either read or write and I thought it would distract me from the business of being on holiday. But in the end enough people had mentioned it that I thought, alright then, and it would be easier than having to write to lots of different people all the time.

It turned out to be one of the best things about the trip.

The blog turned into, if not the raison d’etre, a very significant part of my travelling experience. I wrote 84 posts over 5 months and really enjoyed the discipline of producing short, complete works on a regular basis (every 1-2 days). I carried a notebook at all times and got into the habit of composing whole paragraphs in my head whilst I was out and about experiencing the countries. In effect, I was a writer for those four months.

Bamboo railway, near Battambang, Cambodia

It made me see how much I valued the activity of writing and how I really wanted to do more of it. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but now I really wanted to be a writer. I got a decent number of site visits and many positive comments from my readers (believe it or not, not all of whom were my friends!)

I also now have an extremely detailed account of those four months of my life, which I’ll forever be grateful for.

After I got back, one or two friends started to put the idea in my head of turning my blog into a more polished piece of work. A book even! This was certainly tempting as I’d done such a large amount of work already. Again I was a bit resistant. I don’t know the genre, I didn’t think what I had been through was particularly unique or thrilling. A friend pointed out that often people like to read these kinds of books to get ideas for their own travels – they’re not necessarily looking for life and death struggles.

I also knew that there was a lot more I could include about the personal side of this journey. The blog was more or less a factual account of what I did. It didn’t really touch on how it changed me as a person, which would arguably be the more compelling story.

Clouds at Lake Tekapo, South Island, New Zealand

So, where I stand at the moment is I am gradually copying and pasting all the content into one document, starting to tidy up the writing (I never did learn how to spell Buddhist) and pondering how I could make it more of a real story, rather than just a diary of events. My tentative idea at present is to possibly offer it eventually as a very cheap ebook.

We’re going to the zoo

Paignton Zoo, to be precise, and yes you can come too.

The light wasn't great today, but the sun came out just as we arrived, and lit up the flamingo pool

This orangutan seemed to have weighty matters on his mind

As did this gorilla.

I love the contrast between the sun-lit flowers and the overcast skies

I also liked the beautiful colours of this peanhen against the autumn foliage

Vertiginous snack for a giraffe

I got lucky with the notoriously shy red panda

Not a great quality picture, but I love this moment of tenderness between mother and baby