Sunday, August 30, 2009

Pennsylvania Pics

A weekend with friends.

The boy with friends.

Some of these photos were taken quite late in the evening.

Just a few things I saw while on a walk with my friend in the Pennsylvanian countryside. The flowers were lovely, I still have to look their name up.

A little graveyard, sitting almost in someones front yard.


Friday, August 28, 2009

A London Child of the 1870's, by Molly Hughes

My book review of 'A London child of the 1870's' by M. Vivien Hughes. Is a delightful autobiographical addition to Persephone books. It is maybe not as flowing in a literary style, but does capture the essence of a child growing up in a middle class family of that time period.

Mary Vivien Thomas, born in October 1866 the youngest, with four older brothers, Tom, Dym, Charles, Barnholt and parents who in many ways are very liberal in their attitude to bringing up children. In 1870 they move to Canonbury, North London and live there for nine years. Their father works in the City, something to do with stocks. They have their ups an downs financially, but are never poor and have a couple of servants.

It's a charming review of a child's life. how did children play back then? What did they play with? Learning at home, the books she read, relatives who often visited. Her joy of life, wit and insight fullness.

The highlight of life was visiting her mother's family in Reskadinnick, Cornwall. These accounts are full of Cornish life back then, and I love the quotes from the locals. My grandfather came from Somerset and I can relate to that pattern of old speech. She mentions a manchet loaf of bread, that was not put in a tin to form, and if it was cut, must not be left on the table, a superstition. She also mentions her mother's family money coming from the tin mining business, which goes all the way back to the time of the Phoenicians who traded tin from Cornwall. Mollie mentions a trip that her aunt Tony took to Norway with her grandfather to buy Norwegian logs for pit props. Just interesting history.

There is a lot of mention of reading of those very pious religious Victorian books to teach morals, that mostly taught fear.

With all the liberalness of the family Mollie was not taken out on trips as much as the boys were, such as the Lord Mayor's Show, a steam boat trip to Greenwich. In fact she says, "Of course I was never allowed to go there myself." And further on that page she says "Strange as it seems I was never taken to anything more exciting than a picture gallery, not even to a Pantomime at Christmas..." Mollie does not resent this, but states it as a fact. "My father's slogan was that boys should go everywhere and know everything, and that a girl should stay at home and know nothing."

One entrance that caught my eye was a visit to Bumpus Book Shop in Oxford Street, London. It seems it was a very large and well known bookshop so here is a link to Bumpus Book Shop, don't you love that name? I think we would have liked to visit Bumpus Book Shop.

All the photos below are from the first book, except for the first photo of the author.

I wrote this a couple of days ago before the above review.

I had totally not thought about this book, 'A London Child of the Seventies', as I do not have this book as a Persephone publication. I was driving home from work today and it suddenly flashed into my mind, that I had this book, in fact the trilogy. I was so excited thinking I could do a review on it when I almost missed my exit to go shopping.

I first ran across the autobiographical works of M.V. Hughes over twenty-five years ago, in the form of a paperback discard from our local library which I happened to buy. It was 'A London Girl of the Eighties'. I so loved this book that I read it over several times during that time period.

In more recent years I realized that it was part of a trilogy, 'A London Child of the Seventies' and 'A London Home in the Nineties.' So I thought let me try and find it on ebay and in my first week of looking I came across A London Family 1870 - 1900, by M. Vivien Hughes. What is so nice about this is I have the 1947 trilogy, first published 1946. Full of photos. The three books having been first published in 1934,1936,1937. I don't know if the Persephone publication has photos in, so thought that I would post some here.

I always felt that these books would make wonderful reference works if you were writing a fictional novel in that time period. You would be able to capture the period by reading these books. But of course the writings are far more than a reference book you feel you have walked those streets with Molly.

I do have one question of Persephone. Why did they choose A London Child of the Seventies? Persephone calls it A London Child of the 1870's. As opposed to, what I personally think is the most interesting of the trilogy, A London Girl of the Eighties. That opinion could be totally subjective.

In any case try and read both, the last book of the trilogy is not I feel quite as interesting.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Mrs Pettigrew Lives for a Day, by Winifred Watson

Persephone Challenge, first book, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day.

I'll start out by saying that it is just a delightful book. It's like a bubbling brook as it runs along, or a child skipping along, a little hop, skip and a jump. That is what the dialogue reminds me of. It flows so very freely. A bubbly, bouncy, burlesque kind of story, in the genre of the old time music hall. Miss Pettigrew a very tired greyed out middle aged spinster , who is a nanny, seeks a job, in a very greyed out period of 20Th century history, at least for some. But not if you have money. There are two types of money, that of the rather boring suburbia families, living still within the rules of Victorian morality and then there is the entrepreneurial nouveau rich. Who have cast off restraints of society themselves, and don't hold others to such high standards either. Who accept you for what you are and do not judge you by your pedigree background.
Into this is cast Miss Pettergrew desperate for a position, never given a leading role to shine is sent by her employment agency to the apartment of a night club singer, Miss LaFosse, here it all begins. We enter into the comings and goings of gentlemen folk at Miss LaFosses's apartment.This early paragraph sums up our entrance into the story."...She knew she was not a person to be relied upon. But perhaps that was because hitherto every one had perpetually taken her inadequacy for granted. How do we know what latent possibilities of achievement we possess? ..."

Miss Pettigrew's thoughts on one gentlemen, Phil.
"... I do,' she apostrophized her shocked other self determinedly, 'I don't care, I do. He's not quite ... quite delicate. But he's nice. He doesn't care whether I'm shabby and poor. I' m a lady, so he's polite in his way to me.'
The relationship between Miss LaFosse and Miss Pettigrew grows. Who would be right for Miss LaFosse to marry? Can Miss Pettigrew stave off the wolf?

Her thought about Nick.

"His glance flicked over her and Miss Pettigrew became aware at once of her age, her dowdy clothes, her clumsy figure, her wispy hair, her sallow complexion. she flushed a painful red. Her mind disliked him at once: her emotions were enslaved."

As the day goes on.
"... But these people! They opened their hearts. they admitted her. she was one of themselves. It was the amazing way they took her for granted that thrilled every nerve in her body. No surprise: they simply said 'Hello', and you were one of themselves. No worrying what your position and your family and your bank balance were. In all her lonely life Miss Pettigrew had never realized how lonely she had been until now, when for one day she was lonely no longer..."With the acceptance of Miss Pettigrew and her witty dialogue come a new wardrobe.
"... She had never worn real silk underclothes in her life. at once they made her feel different. She felt wicked daring, ready for anything. She left her hesitations behind with her home-made woollens."
I will intersperse here some personal thoughts. A dear friend of mine whose mother never had access to an education, told me that her mother never left home without dressing to the nines. She would say to M. I feel more confident and people sum you up, by first appearances, how you dress.
I personally had that experience some weeks ago. Feeling somewhat down and not bothering to dress even somewhat better, I went into a store, where I've shopped often and never been asked for ID to accompany my credit card, but on this day I was. My whole persona came across as down and the shop assistant thought of me accordingly.
I love this sentence.

"She breathed Ambrosial vapour."

Is a romance in the offing for Miss Pettigrew?

Well read the book. You will not be disappointed. Christy

Saturday, August 22, 2009

What Can You Buy For a Dollar?

What can you buy for a dollar? Quite a bit at my local library. This pile of books is what I bought from the discard shelf. It's always fun to go, because for a thrifty person, you can come away with quite a bit. It's probably why my house is beginning to look like a second hand book shop. Not that I would mind running a second hand book shop, that or a tea room.

Have you ever listened to an interview with Oliver Sacks, especially in reference to his childhood. You should, it's most interesting.

Last and least, yes I will defend myself on these type of books. I ask you Louise L'Amour, please. But what caught my eye was the title Sitka. Sitka part of the state of Alaska is a little island that sits some way off the coast. We visited Sitka when we went to Alaska, and it's just beautiful. It has an interesting history, especially as Alaska was once owned by Russians and America bought it off them. Many of the buildings reflect that Russian influence.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

My Husband's family Name, Gordon

Gordon Weathered

Red Gordon Muted

Red Gordon Modern

Red Gordon Ancient

Gordon Muted

Gordon Dress

Gordon Ancient

Gordon Tartan

How can you go to Scotland without thinking of Tartan. I thought I'd feature the Gordon tartan, as this is my husband's family name. I had no idea that there are so many Gordon tartans, the most familiar one to me, is the bottom one. What child didn't have a tartan skirt, or kilt when I grew up. Hope to pick up some lovely tartan fabric or a nice tweed.

Which are your favourites? Mine are Gordon Dress and Gordon Weathered.


P.S. You probably figured it out but the names of the tartans are below each tartan.

My Dad and the Austin A 30 Van

This is my dad probably late fifties, with our Austin A30 van. I'm sure we were camping in Devon. We always camped when I was a child. First a home made plywood tent, with a canvas taupe over it. This homemade tent bolted together. We progressed to a canvas tent, then a caravan.

My dad had side windows put in the van, as it did not come with them. Our van was grey. We had it almost ten years, went everywhere in it. One of my happiest memories is lying on the feather mattress, beside my sister (pre-side windows) looking out the front window, because we were off on holiday. Before the era of seat belts and specialised camping equipment.

While traveling through London, a London taxi cab driver said, "What yu got there mate? Everything but the kitchen sink." Never forgot that.

A couple of better pictures of the A30 Van that I found. Ours was the grey one.


P.S. You know what I miss on the modern cars? Those little quarter window on the side at the front. They were just right for fresh are, without being blown away. Plus you could position them for wind flow.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Book Page, Compliments of Your Library

The Book Page, which is supplied by my local library, is a lot of fun to browse through and see what's new book wise. This magazine comes out every month.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My Old High School, Hadham Hall

The main hall there was our assembly hall and changing rooms for gym, also hang out rooms when it rained. In front where you see grass was the playground. The little timber fronted building in the background, was where we did sewing and the domestic science kitchens were there. As you can see we walked a lot from one building to another, it was spread all over, not just one modern building.

As you face the front door, which was a huge door with a small door cut into it. We had history class in one of the turret rooms, middle window on the right. I remember sitting there one snowy day, on the radiator looking out over the snow covered cedar trees, just lovely, eating marmite sandwiches our staple snack.

The headmaster Mr. Douglas and his wife lived in part of the main house. There were offices in there and the boy borders lived there. Mostly sons of farmers, as Hadham Hall was heavy on the sciences, including agricultural science. I was a day pupil, that was mixed, boys and girls.

I must say it was a lovely school to go to. I do think the setting is very important and feel that sterile modern school building does not nurture the inner longing for beauty.

If you click on the link at the top, it has a history about Hadham Hall and the School, also there are other links to the whole area I grew up in.

Happy Memories

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