Arriving! Picture Postcards

You may remember that I recently published a nostalgic post about the picture postcards that used to be sent from holiday destinations.
If not, here’s a link.

I added my address to the post, so that people could send me one, if they wished to do so.

***Please note***
I know, it is almost unheard of to publish your home address online. I don’t recommend doing that, and I am not suggesting you follow suit, especially if you are a young female, a woman alone, or a vulnerable person of any gender. But I live in a small village, and have a very unusual dog.
I can be found very easily.

I am delighted to report that I received my first card on Saturday morning, kindly sent by Paul S, a fellow blogger. He even used a first-class stamp!
Thanks, Paul!

I have been advised that I might be getting some more, and when I have them all, I will feature them on a post, photographing the front and back of each one.

So if you feel like changing your mind about sending me one by post, (mail only please, no E-cards) the address is on the link. For those of you that like to create your own cards, or use a postcard-creation app with your own photos, why not send me your own portrait selfie, or a scene you have taken a photo of? Don’t forget to add your name (or blog name) so I know who they are from. I leave the message on the card up to you.

Thanks in advance, Pete.

My Pets

Many readers will be aware of Ollie, my dog. He is the star of this blog, and my constant companion, since 2012.

But long before Ollie, I had many other pets. I think of them as typical ‘childhood pets’, though one was owned when I was much older.

When I was around 8 years old, I volunteered to take the class hamster home, and to look after it during the summer holidays. It was a lot smellier than I expected it to be, but I enjoyed watching it spin around in its wheel. Of course, my Mum ended up being the one who cleaned it out. I just enjoyed holding it, feeding it, and watching it scuttle around. But I had forgotten about our usual two-week holiday in Cornwall, so we had to enlist the help of my Mum’s sister to feed it and care for it while we were gone. After school started again, I took it back, but it died the following day. I didn’t know how short-lived they were, and was convinced that I had somehow hastened its demise by neglect.

My next pets were some goldfish in a bowl. It didn’t occur to me that it was rather cruel to keep two good-sized fish in a small bowl, and I soon became very bored with watching them constantly swimming in circles. My only interaction with them was to feed them, and so I overfed them, unintentionally. One day, they were both dead, floating on the top of the water, which was not much more than a cloudy soup of nutrition by that time. My Dad flushed them down the toilet.

Dad decided to get a ‘feature tank’ instead. I chose the tank ornaments, including a large clam shell, a pirates’ treasure chest, and an arch that they could swim through. My Dad bought plants to help aerate the water, and we had six fish of different sizes. But they constantly attacked each other, and took chunks out of each other’s tails and fins. Before long, three of them were found dead, and the rest lasted less than a year.

Everyone had a tortoise in those days. They often had their names painted on the shell, and some owners drilled a small hole in the shell too, to tether the poor thing to a long string, so it didn’t escape. I loved to feed our tortoise, and would also stroke its head when it popped out for food. It didn’t die in our care, but we had to move to a place with no garden, so it was given to a relative. It lived for a very long time after that, but once we moved again, I lost touch with it.

When I was 15, we moved to a house with a big garden. My Mum got a dog, and she also acquired two angora rabbits. They lived in hutches outside, and she would brush them carefully, saving the soft hair that came off. She later used this fur to knit things, and produced some incredibly soft knitwear. My job was to feed them, and clean them out. I adored being able to stroke them, as they were unbelievably soft. But the big male was very aggressive, and managed to injure all three of us at one time or another. They lived less than four years, and we never replaced them.

In 1978, I was 26 years old, and had just moved to Wimbledon. I didn’t want to be tied down with a dog, but thought it would be nice to have a pet. I got a long-haired guinea pig, called a ‘Sheltie’. I named him Oskar, and my uncle built me a pine hutch for him to live in, in the garden. During the winter, he came inside, and stayed in a huge old fish-tank, in the dining room. I looked after him really well, fed him all the best things, and brushed him every day. When we went on holiday, my sister-in-law looked after him. He lived for over five years, until one morning I found him dead in his fish-tank. He is buried in that south-London garden.

But there is no doubt that Ollie has been the best pet I have ever had.

Wish You Were Here?: Holiday Postcards

Are you old enough to remember when we sent picture postcards from our holidays? Nice scenes of the place where we were staying, photos of sunny beaches, or the traditional British ‘saucy joke’ cards?

The modern advance of phone cameras, Facebook, Instagram, and many other social media platforms has more or less killed off the hand-written postcard. That along with the cost of postage, and the chore of buying them, writing them, and buying stamps to post them. I remember them with great fondness though, and I was still sending them regularly, as recently as 1990.

The first picture postcard officially recognised as such was sent in 1840, in London. The Victorian era in Britain saw the practice quickly taken up by holidaymakers though, as rail travel broadened the horizons of ordinary people, and they were keen to tell their friends, family, or work colleagues just what a great time they were having, by sending them a suitable drawing of the resort.

These ‘cute’ cards continued to be popular until the 1930s.

In Britain after WW2, family holidays became more commonplace. But the postcards they sent from their destinations began to change. This was the advent of the ‘saucy’ card, which usually had nothing to do with the resort, or even being on holiday.

Some of these became so rude, they were actually banned at the time!
Like this one.

Once the ‘swinging sixties’ arrived, sauciness was on the way out, unable to compete with what could be seen every day in the streets, at the cinema, or on TV. But they kept going with the saucy cards, all the same.

When organised holiday camps became popular here, people would send back postcards showing the camps themselves.
You have to remember that this was what was perceived as ‘luxury’ for working class people in 1960s Britain.

Once I started to travel, I was always keen to get the cards bought, written, and sent home as early as possible.
It was not unknown for us to return from our trip many days before the cards arrived.

I was lucky enough to go to places thought to be ‘exotic’ at the time.
Tunisia was considered to be an unusual destination then.

And very few British people travelled to the Soviet Union in the 1970s.
So I was sure to get cards sent back from Leningrad.

I understand why picture postcards have lost their appeal. And I can see why new generations of holidaymakers would find it crazy to buy a photo and send it home with something written on the back, when they can share a picture of themselves by the pool within seconds of arriving.

But I would still love to receive a holiday postcard from someone.

The Roaring 20s: Wedding Day Photos

I think I missed my time in history. I have always wanted to live during the Jazz Age of the 1920s. Fabulous music, Art Deco architecture, and fashions to die for.

Here are some wedding photos from the period, when people knew how to dress! They were all taken in England, from 1920-1929.

Some happy-looking Bridesmaids.
And an uncomfortably awkward Page Boy. 🙂

Nice flowers, and suitable cloche hats.

A fashionable large hat for the occasion.

Marrying a sailor. He wore his uniform of course.

The bigger the bouquet, the better!

This might have been taken twenty years earlier. If not for the hemline, and the white silk stockings.

Photo-bombed by a grumpy schoolboy. 🙂 Spot the tiara!

It didn’t matter if you were not that attractive, as long as you looked smart.

Strange how wedding photography has not changed that much, in almost 100 years. But the dresses have certainly changed, with many brides choosing to reveal far too much of their chests, and sleeveless and backless bridal wear to showcase the now-common tattoos.

But one day soon, those 1920s fashions will be back in vogue. Mark my words!

Holiday Time: Old Photos

As it is August, and the peak time for summer holidays, I thought these might be seasonally appropriate.

Taken between 1902 and 1907, these delightful old photos show people enjoying a variety of holiday activities.
And almost all of them did them wearing their best clothes!

In 1902, ladies did not get changed by holding a towel in front of them. They got ready in mobile ‘bathing machines’, which were then wheeled into the sea so they could get straight into the water without being ‘ogled at’ 🙂

Some didn’t bother to wear any swimming attire at all, but went in wearing their street clothes.

This attractive elegant lady is posing on the deck of a cruise ship.
Her outfit is beautiful. Different times indeed.

Sometimes, just standing on a jetty above the lake was close enough!
I’m guessing the lady in the middle was either expecting a baby, or the wind had billowed out her dress. 🙂

The braver ones might hire a rowing boat, and venture out onto the lake.
But they made sure to wear their best hats for the occasion.

This lady was photographed in Long Island, USA. She was admiring the waves of The Atlantic Ocean, and turned to pose for the shot.

Shell-seekers on a New Zealand beach, in 1904. Ten years before WW1.

Well-dressed holidaymakers thinking about taking a trip along the beach in a horse-drawn carriage. USA, 1907.

I was wondering what they would make of topless sunbathers, thong bikini-bottoms, jet-skis, and Kindle e-readers. 🙂

Historic Britain: Castles

There are a great many castles in the British Isles. Records show that over 4,000 were built in England alone, and many others in Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and Northern Ireland. With so many still standing, as well as some beautifully restored to become popular tourist attractions, I can only show a few on this post. I have tried to represent all four countries of the UK, and to include those still accessible to visitors.

Bamburgh Castle.
Situated on the coast, in one of the most the picturesque parts of north-east England, this was originally a Celtic fort, destroyed by the Vikings, in 993.
A bigger castle was built there by the Normans, after the 1066 invasion. It is one of my favourite English castles.

Bodiam Castle.
This castle in East Sussex was built in 1385, as a defence against possible French invasion. During the English Civil War, Lord Thanet owned the castle, and fought for the Royalist cause. After their defeat, he had to sell the castle to pay fines to Parliament. Since 1925, it has been owned and managed by The National Trust.

Dover Castle.
This castle dominates the Channel Port of Dover, in Kent, and is the largest castle ever built in England. Originally an ancient hill fort, it was developed by the Normans after 1066, and finished in 1088. But it was another 100 years before it looked like it does today, after further building ordered by Henry II. Then came the addition of a barracks during the Napoleonic wars, with further extensions down the face of the famous white cliffs. During WW2, it was used as an underground hospital, and as the military command base for that region.

Manorbier Castle.
This small castle is situated right on the beach, not far from Tenby, in south Wales. Originally built by the Normans in the 11th century, it was rarely involved in any fighting until the English Civil War, when it was captured by Parliament, in 1645. Unusually, it is now privately owned and run. It has been used in film and TV dramas, and is also a successful wedding venue.
If you book in advance, you can even stay there!


Pembroke Castle.
Originally built in 1093 on a site once used as a Roman fort, this magnificent castle dominates the town of Pembroke, overlooking the Pembroke River in Wales. Rebuilt in stone in 1193, it became the seat of power in Wales for the Norman English, and was used as a base against the warlike Welsh tribes who resisted them. During the English Civil War, it was besieged and captured by Oliver Cromwell, in 1648. It is now jointly managed by the former owners, the Phillips family, and the local Town Council.

Rochester Castle.
Overlooking the River Medway in the Kent commuter town of Rochester, this castle boasts one of the best preserved Norman Keeps (main tower) in Europe. Dating from 1089, the huge Keep was added in 1127, when the castle was given over to The Archbishop of Canterbury. This castle saw a great deal of action in its time, from The Baron’s Wars of 1215, through to the English Civil War, in 1642. It then fell into disrepair, but later renovation saw it open as a tourist attraction managed by English Heritage, and it was used extensively as a location in the film ‘Ironclad’ (2011).

Warwick Castle.
Rebuilt in stone during the 12th century, Warwick survives as an excellent example of a late Norman castle in central England. Protecting the bank of the River Avon, and the nearby town, this castle saw little warlike use until the English Civil War, when it was besieged by a Royalist Army. When their cannon failed to have any effect against the stout walls, they had no alternative but to leave the garrison unmolested, and withdraw. It is currently owned by an entertainment group, and has many special attractions throughout the year, including jousting.

Carrickfergus Castle.
Ideally situated on the shore of Belfast Lough in Northern Ireland, this Norman castle from 1167 protected the lake and the town. In its history, this important castle saw a lot of action. It was attacked by the English King John, in 1210, and also put under siege by the Scots, the French and the Irish. It is also famous as the site where the new Protestant King of Britain, William III of Holland set foot on Ireland, in 1690. This was the ‘King Billy’ still celebrated by Protestants in Northern Ireland to this day. It was later used as a garrison in both world wars.

Edinburgh Castle.
Last but not least, the wonderful castle that crowns the capital of Scotland. The current castle dates from 1139, and was originally built during the reign of the Scottish king, David I. Later additions and renovations left us with the huge building we see today. It is built on top of a huge rocky outcrop, called Castle Rock. The castle has a long history of association with the British Armed forces, housing regimental museums, and holding the annual display known as The Edinburgh Military Tattoo. It is one of the most reconisable buildings in Britain.

Whatever part of Britain you visit, you will never be far from a castle worth seeing.

Houseproud: People and houses in old photographs

When paying for photographs became more affordable in the early 1900s, it seems that the first thing many people wanted a picture of was their own house. And they wanted to be seen standing outside it too. Some of the better off even managed to buy their own cameras, and took similar photos of their families outside the house.
On the Internet, there are literally thousands of such photos, and I have selected just a few, all taken in Britain, from 1899-1902. I think these are a fascinating part of social history, and I hope you will think so too.

I lived in a house just like this one, from 1978-1985. It was built in 1901

This couple lived in a rather sloping house, which seems to have been built on a steep hill. They were sure to get their little dog included in the photo.

The family members outside this house appear to have worn their best clothes for the occasion of the photograph.
Or perhaps they were just back from Church?

The two women look uncomfortable, posing for the photograph. But the baby doesn’t mind too much.

The man appears to be more proud of his bicycle, than his wife and children. He has ensured that the bicycle is prominent in the photo.

A large family, standing proudly outside their house. At that time, many women had a child every year!

In the countryside, we see two ladies outside a substantial country house. No doubt they were proud of the topiary that had been done on the hedges.

Another country home, with the man of the house wearing his Navy uniform for the occasion.

Perhaps we should revitalise this tradition? All have a family photo taken outside our houses.
In another 120 years, someone somewhere will be fascinated by the images, just as I was.