A History of a Holiday in Fifteen Trees – Two

Blogging challenges, Catalonia, Spain

El Llano de Los – or the Plain of the Bone. That’s today’s photo. It’s hard to believe, but back in 1900, here was Premiá de Mar’s newly-built shipyard, with carpenters busily engaged in crafting boats and ships, mainly for the fishing industry. Onlookers jeered. ‘Lazy lot, those boatmen. They’ve got a bone in their back that doesn’t let them work.’ With a great deal more justification, the carpenters hurled the insult back at the idlers watching them. So there we have it: the Plain of the Bone. Now all of us who enjoy a quiet moment here are idling away a few minutes during a pleasant stroll along the seashore, towards the port that these days is full of pleasure-craft – not a fishing boat in sight.

#TreeSquare

A History of a Holiday in Fifteen Trees – 1

Blogging challenges, Catalonia, Spain

And … we’re back from a more-or-less internet-free month in Spain. We’ve been with my daughter and partner, who five months ago became parents. This had been the first window of opportunity to get there, what with Covid travel restrictions.

We got to know and love Anaïs, as she mastered rolling over, sitting up, and enjoying English nursery rhymes to complement the Catalan ones her other yaya (granny) sings with her.

And we got to know and feel quite at home in the seaside town that Emily and Miquel moved to just before Anaïs was born. Only 12 miles from Barcelona, it’s assertively un-touristy – no hotels, AirB&B, catch-penny souvenir shops or menus in several languages.

So let’s start off with what the Spanish do best, and enjoy a drink in a bar shaded by the trees that line the streets.

#TreeSquare

A Whiter Shade of White?

Blogging challenges

Casting around for suitable ideas for Jude’s Life in Colour – White – challenge, I remembered a post I’d written two years ago. Not only does it work for Jude (up to a point) but it fits the bill for Fandango’s Flashback Friday. Here it is:

IDENTICAL?

I’ve never been much good at twiddling with the controls on my camera.  I even joined a photography course recently, in an effort to get to grips with apertures, shutter speeds and ISO controls.  But it just made my head hurt, and I reverted to ‘Automatic’ as my default modus operandi.  I decided I’m a snaphot-ist, not a photographer.

Yesterday however, just for a bit of fun, and having an hour to spare, I turned to the ‘palette’ settings and took an identical shot using every single one. Though I forgot to take one on ‘Automatic’, so the tale isn’t quite complete. Can’t do it now. This little twig of blossom (cherry?), a chance discovery found in the road, wilted in the night.

Which do you like best?  As ever, click on any image to see it full size.  They’re in strict alphabetical order – no favouritism here.

Bleach by-pass

Three posts in three days. That’s a bit much. But I’ve pushed out all my last thoughts before taking a blogging break. I just might post the odd thing – such as Six Degrees of Separation at the start of next month – but so total will be my break that – sorry – I may not even read your offerings, fellow bloggers.

Birds not of a feather don’t flock together

Blogging challenges, Wildlife

I was quite amused a while back while at our local nature reserve, watching an egret and a heron occupying the same patch of shallow water. They were both fossicking about feeding in a desultory sort of way, and they simply didn’t seem to see one another. They passed so close to each other from time to time that a cursory glance might have seemed in order. Nothing. Here they are:

Here are a few more unrelated birds showing they really have no interest in each other at all.

Bird Weekly Photo Challenge

Click on any image to view full size.

Mere shadows of themselves ….

Blogging challenges

Poor old window. Poor old washing line. They each wanted their five minutes of fame as a Monday Window, and as a Monday Washing Line. And instead their shadows grab the limelight.

If you want to know why the window seems a bit curvy, that’s because the wall it’s projected on is pretty old. Vestiges remain from the days when it was first built, in the 15th century, for lay brothers from Fountains Abbey who lived and farmed here.

Let’s Get Wild on Parys Mountain

Blogging challenges, Wales

The Lens-Artists Photo Challenge this week invites us to consider wild landscapes, untouched and unspoilt by the hand of man. I’m going to break the rules (no change there then). I thought a lot about what to showcase, but suddenly had a Eureka moment, and remembered a holiday in Anglesey, off the coast of Wales, some years ago. Anglesey is bucolic, pretty, with mighty seascapes as well. But in the far north of the island is something else, Parys Mountain.

Once, a century ago, Parys Mountain was alive with people: men, women and children hacking deep clefts and canyons into the earth, in search of copper-bearing rock.  Now the area is bleak, desolate, abandoned.  The poisoned sulphurous soil supports little but odd clumps of hardy heather.  Yet this large site, with just a single set of abandoned winding gear, a single ruined mill is strangely beautiful, elemental, and we fell under its atmospheric spell.

Gazing upwards at Canary Wharf

Blogging challenges, London

Last week meant a visit to London, to see the family we haven’t had sight of since last August. This was no tourist trip, but on our last day, the children securely occupied at school or nursery, we did venture forth – more of that another day. Today, I’ll simply share views from the escalator at Canary Wharf Station, because I always find this sight optimistic and full of light.

Monday Window

The world looks blue and green

Blogging challenges, Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, Yorkshire Dales

If like me you live in the country, the world does look blue and green. To fulfil Tina’s Lens-Artist Challenge, looking at the cool palette of blue and green, today I’ve rarely looked further than a few miles round our house. All I’m doing today is presenting a gallery of quiet images from the natural world. Most are from the gardens of Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, and from the Yorkshire Dales. I’ve ventured to the North Sea, and to the Aquarium of the Horniman Museum. That’s about it. I think I qualify for Debbie’s Six Word Saturday too.

Off to the Shops Revisited

Blogging challenges, London

Last week the visit to my London primary school way back sixty years ago seemed to go down quite well, so today for Fandango’s Flashback Friday, we’ll go back to that era again, to the post I wrote in 2016. But this time, we’ll go shopping.

Off to the shops

In 1953, my family moved from Yorkshire to London.  At first  we lived in Earl’s Court.  In the years following WWII, it was where Polish immigrants congregated and lived, so that’s probably how we ended up in this busy, grubby, cosmopolitan area.

The area round Earl’s Court Station, near where we lived for a time.

It had shops – exotic shops to country hicks like us.  There was an Express Dairy, a supermarket,  one of the earliest of its kind.  Rummaging round on the shelves, my mother found unknown surprises such as yoghurt.  It was thin, acidic, an improbable shade of pink and none of us liked it.  Not even my father. Yet my father taught my mother to set out soup bowls of milk to sour and eat as a cold, refreshing soup.  It was a part of his Polish heritage.

She found chinese gooseberries.  We didn’t like those either.  These days we call them kiwi fruit and realise the ones we had bought must have been rancid and fermenting.

Tachbrook Street in the 1950s.

Now let’s go on to Tachbrook Street Market.  That’s where we mainly shopped, once we’d moved to Victoria.  I loved it.  It was a whole community of shopping streets and market stalls.  Even though I didn’t then drink coffee, I loved to pass the coffee blenders’ shop, and smell the rich aromas drifting through the door as the coffee beans gently roasted and toasted on giant metal grates.

Jonathan Farber: coffee roasting, Unsplash.

I remember the neighbourhood Italian restaurant.  We didn’t have the money to eat there, but I could see through the window and watch as waiters wielded those giant pepper grinders they seemed to like so much.

Tachbrook Street Market. (www.23ashleygardens.com)

We’d pass the neighbourhood grocery store – ‘Home and Colonial’ .  I seem to remember we actually got our groceries in Sainsbury’s.  There was a Tesco store, a very early example of a supermarket.  We didn’t shop there  (‘Supermarkets won’t catch on’ opined my mother).

A ‘Home and Colonial’ sign

There was a MacFisheries.  I was fascinated by the glistening fish laid out on the marble counters of the open shopfront and watched as my mother’s choice for the day was expertly de-boned and filleted in seconds.

There were dozens of adverts, designed to encourage you to eat fish every day of the week (MacFisheries archive)

There were fruit and vegetable stalls.  I loved to hoard the richly decorated tissue papers that protected each orange, each tangerine.  Occasionally, in late summer, my mother would buy us a peach each, as an exotic treat.

A Sicilian orange, carefully protected (Daily Mail)

Once I got to be about eight or so, I’d be sent off to Apple’s the Hardware Store to buy a gallon of paraffin (Aladdin pink, as opposed to Esso blue) to feed our paraffin heaters.  There was Mr. Apple himself, with his bristly grey moustache and his grubby brown overalls.  The paraffin glugged out of its storage tank into our can.  I’d count out the money, then I’d struggle home, the heavy can banging against my shins, the contents splashing my socks, along the street, and across the busy Vauxhall Bridge Road.

This was the offending paraffin stove. Dangerous but efficient.

Because my father was Polish, we did quite a bit of shopping at the delicatessen near Buckingham Palace Road.

Here were thin sticks of kabanos, the drier the better.  Nobody but me ate this at school, and my friends assured me it was donkey meat.  There was Polish boiling ring – a horseshoe shaped sausage that was my favourite meal, boiled and served simply with mashed potato and cabbage.  Sauerkraut of course, and bigos.  The plain cookery of 1950s Britain was largely unknown to me apart from school dinners, but that’s a whole other story.

Kabanos

Besides Polish foods, we’d often have pasta or risotto or wienerschnitzel.  Oh – apart from two things.  On Saturdays, my mother always bought a pint of brown shrimps from the above-mentioned MacFisheries.  Saturday tea times would see us all sitting round the table with a pile of brown bread and butter, peeling those fiddly shrimps.  And she was very partial to a kipper too.

I can’t leave out ordinary grocery shopping though.  We went to Sainsbury’s in Victoria because it had fresher, better goods according to my mother.  It wasn’t a supermarket.  We’d go into the shop, with its brightly-tiled floor, and there, to left and right were the counters. Dry goods, dairy products, bacon and ham… and so on.

Here’s a 1950s branch of Sainsbury’s. Not ours, but a branch in Streatham, London (sainsburyarchive.co.uk)

Young women, their hair concealed under net caps, skilfully wielded wooden butter pats to reduce great slabs of butter into manageable half-pound portions..  Others bagged up sugar into dark blue ‘sugar paper’ bags.  There was always a man at the bacon slicer, turning a lethal looking metal disc to slice bacon and ham according to the customer’s particular requirements (Thin?  Thick?  Gammon rasher?) .

There were glass-topped tins of biscuits – digestives, custard creams, Lincolns, nice, arrowroot…..: these were sold loose.  People on a restricted budget would choose a mixed bag of broken ones.  My mother regarded all of these with disdain.  We made our own.

And when it was time to pay, we’d find that all our receipts, from each counter we’d visited, would have arrived at a small wooden kiosk near the centre of the store.  An efficient type would add it all up, we’d pay her ( it was always a ‘her’) and we’d go off with our groceries.

The scenes played out here are so clear in my mind, but I can’t find a single image to support them.  Not one.  Can anybody help?

One thing we never had to buy at the shops was milk.  That was delivered, every single day including Christmas Day, in glass bottles which we rinsed out and returned, on an electric-powered milk float something like this….

A milkfloat

I remember our shopping trips fondly. They were time-consuming, certainly. But the rich variety of a morning walking from shop to stall to shop again was quite a highlight in my week.