Sunday, 29 December 2013

Best dressed Christmas window!

Each Christmas without fail - there is a shop in town that always gets it just right. I don't quite know what it is, but when I see the annual Christmas display in Bridport Old Books I can't help but feel Christmas has come. You can't quite see it in my photo, which doesn't do the display justice by the way, but they always have a super piece of antiquarian ephemera which says "Seasons Greetings from Bridport" - splendid. I feel quite sad when it comes down!

Saturday, 28 December 2013

What was in your stocking?

Were you lucky enough to get any fine knitwear like this? Or even a new briar pipe?

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Christmas anticipations

F Gregory Brown - 1921
Charles Burton - 1930
Christmas Anticipations - 1922
Charles Burton - 1931

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Citrus Cheer

Our neighbour has fleetingly returned from his home in Portugal - the gift of his very own home grown tangerines, mandarins and clementines was just the ticket to add some extra fragrance of Christmas to our house. They taste just as good as they look. They were hanging on his trees in Portugal yesterday and now they are here, bringing with them their citrus cheer! 

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Wot's the price of swedes boy?

The last few weeks have been chaotic to say the least. Not in a bad way, but my usual slow pace has been even slower over these last eight weeks due to enforced idleness for knee operation, recovery and recuperation.

So, the bonus of the Bridport Literary Festival, a trip to London to see Uncle Overend and Mott The Hoople at the O2 and a house move was almost as much as a quiet country lad could cope with.

The two events I attended at the Literary Festival were a joy. I was thoroughly entertained by some of the most eloquent speakers I have had the pleasure to listen to (Neil Ansell, Tim Dee, Charles Rangeley-Wilson, David Wilkinson and Dave Goulson) had both audiences spellbound. Special mention must also be made at the entertaining and complimentary way Nick Fisher introduced and managed both events - super stuff!

Eggardon sky
In days gone by when country bumpkins arrived in the smoke to sell their vegetable delights the cockney chaps would shout "wot's the price of swedes boy?" - my journey was hell (diversions and deviations to disorientate the unwary), but worth it when I got there. A walk up to town at home takes an age, not because of the distance, but due to the chatter with bumped into friends and complete strangers met. It's just what it is like and part of the charm. It was a shock when I naively and automatically did the same with all and sundry on tube and bus and a smile was met with a head hung low on my way to the megalith that was the O2 arena. I did indeed feel like said country bumpkin.

Much better inside - a delightful Chas and Dave poster made me chuckle (I like the sound of More Tea Vicar!) and I soon struck up a conversation with Aerial Bender (not of the Allcock variety) and me old mucker Rotters. Uncle Overend and the band played a stormer and with a 74 year old Ian Hunter I felt some of the reviews were a tad below the belt - they were superb. John Robb's excellent review of their Manchester gig sums up the whole scene most eloquently.

Chas & Dave at the O2

A quick beer with Uncle afterwards and home - I stopped in the early hours to breathe in the first proper frost of the late autumn overlooking the Jurassic Coast. In the bright moonlit sky a glorious shooting star welcomed me home.

At that moment I thought I am glad I know the price of swedes and long may that be the case! 

Friday, 29 November 2013

Thursday, 28 November 2013

The edge of everything

I don't know how I missed this delightful BBC4 series which was broadcast back in March. One of the episodes was with an artist who I admire greatly. Norman Ackroyd has always been an inspiration and when I need a slice of St Kilda it is usually to his monochrome etchings that I head for my fix. 

He has a wonderful talent which takes me there right then and right now with my own soundtrack of gull and sea. I am heading to Cape Wrath and St Kilda next year and I guess part of the reason for my fascination with these extremities is down to the art of Norman Ackroyd. It has always added to the mystique and enhanced my enjoyment of these places and so many others.

I especially like the way Norman pronounces archipelago! Splendid stuff.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Saturday Fever!

I don't normally post on a Saturday - either watching footy, listening to footy or fishing! With it being a quiet day on all those fronts I thought you would enjoy this little gem from the 1950's.

I am a football traditionalist and it hurts a great deal at the moment being a Cardiff City supporter - off the field eccentricities have been the focus when we should be celebrating one of the greatest periods in our clubs history. The fans know we will always be blue. We play Manchester Utd tomorrow for the first time since 1974 - we should be in blue and them in red - how times change.

I crave for the simple days of Ninian Park and pipe smoke, the smell of warm Peter's Pies from the Bob Bank kiosk and the pre-match build up that sometimes involved wading through the fug in the Bluebird Club. My Dad would let me go for a pee at half time by myself and this in itself was a journey of discovery to the Bob Bank bogs - my boys don't believe me when I tell them how horrific they were!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Friend or foe?

There are few in the world of angling who understandably see the otter as foe, but many a day riverside has been enhanced by the sighting of this creature. A true barometer of how well our rivers our doing now by comparison to the dark days of constant pollution seen in my childhood. I absolutely love them.

I have a slight obsession with cotton tea towels, so was overjoyed to find this lovely Richard Bawden example on our recent summer excursion to the North of Norfolk. Almost too nice to use!

Richard Bawden

Shell For Quick Starting - Kennedy 1931


Monday, 11 November 2013

Severn and Somme

Ivor Gurney

Ballad Of The Three Spectres
As I went up by Ovillers
In mud and water cold to the knee,
There went three jeering, fleeing spectres,
That walked abreast and talked of me.

The first said, 'Here's a right brave soldier
That walks the dark unfearingly;
Soon he'll come back on a fine stretcher,
And laughing for a nice Blighty.'

The second, 'Read his face, old comrade,
No kind of lucky chance I see;
One day he'll freeze in mud to the marrow,
Then look his last on Picardie.'

Though bitter the word of these first twain
Curses the third spat venomously;
'He'll stay untouched till the war's last dawning
Then live one hour of agony.'

Liars the first two were. Behold me
At sloping arms by one - two - three;
Waiting the time I shall discover
Whether the third spake verity.
Ivor Gurney

Thursday, 7 November 2013

I need to go, I need to go!

It's been slightly chaotic at Straker Towers (ST) - a move, surgery on a gammy knee and much to pack / unpack, which box to move from A to B and then C and back again and much buried treasure found thought lost at sea! Phew!

A bit more vegetable tomfoolery - our lovely veggie box chap thought this would make us laugh in our weekly box and it did. I get that feeling often when looking at a tumbling weir pool!


Awaiting us at ST was a splendid tray of Sunset apples which had been harvested from the trees we are now most excited to have in our garden - what a lovely tray of treasure and they taste amazing.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Friday Face

I resisted all temptation to do anything rude! The time of squash has come. It is the season of squash, cider and fireworks. Hopefully all at the same time! Risotto?

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Market Finds No 8

Three cheers for Mitchell! I've had a run of Mitchell finds of late and I won't make you weep at how much this fine example cost. It is in such lovely condition and like the splendid battle scarred spare spool I found recently will soon be re-acquainted with the river. Pike anyone?

Monday, 21 October 2013

It's grim out there!

A few seasonal images to hopefully lighten up what is a very grim, wet and dark day here today. I can't believe a pal of mine is out fishing today. Actually, I wish I was too!

How lovely is Autumn Hues? My own shrooming season has been one of the poorest ever - not because they haven't been around, I haven't been around. I have had to endure tales of success from fellow foragers, who have been kind I must add and dropped me a few goodies to liven up my toast!

When Wet Travel Underground, It's Drier - CD McGurk 1922
No Wet, No Cold - FS Manner 1929
Autumn Hues - Walter E Spradbery 1936, Curwen Press

Friday, 18 October 2013

The Palace of Light

Was it really 1987? I often wondered what became of The Palace of Light and thanks to the latest copy of Shindig! magazine I now know. I loved this track from their Beginning Here and Travelling Outward LP on Bam Caruso Records. The band had a name change in the early 1990's (Mabel Joy) and released another LP (Wish I Was also on Bam Caruso) - soon to be re-released on Hanky Panky Records

Thursday, 17 October 2013

The Earl of Lettuce

This should also be a post about buried treasure as I had totally forgotten I had this until it was found yesterday. A delightful gift which arrived in the post last year from my pal Demus..........soon to be displayed in my shed!

Friday, 11 October 2013

More go fishing by train........or tram!

Charles Sharland - 1911

Tom Eckersley - 1954

Tom Eckersley - 1954

Connaught Water by John Mansbridge - 1930


Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Buried Treasure Part 6

Flicking through this weeks Guardian Guide I was amazed to see an ad for their first show in 40 years! The mighty Peter Daltrey's Kaleidoscope play at the Islington Assembly Hall on November 17th. I think I read somewhere that they played a very welcome secret gig in the States recently.

Kaleidoscope and PD's other band Fairfield Parlour are never far away from my ears so I do hope the gig is a huge success.

Here's a little treat to keep you going - found a couple of years ago, a rare TV appearance (1967/68) by the boys playing Flight from Ashiya and Holiday Maker. Spot Serge Gainsbourg at the piano trying to act all cool (and very naturally too!!). The blonde dancer is, I think, France Gall - popular French ye'-ye' dancer of the 1960's.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Market Finds No 7

A flurry of market finds of late. There is a certain charm about this battered Mitchell 300 spare spool and case. I think I prefer it a bit battered and gnarled. Found in a box of house clearance, I knew what it was instantly, begging to be bankside once more - you shall return to the river!

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Landscape, Sea, Fields, Rivers and Bees

The darkest west of Dorset doesn't appear to be too much of an obstacle for some of our nicest authors and speakers and for that I am most grateful -  we have been treated of late in Bridport by James Russell talking about the great Eric Ravilious.

Eric Ravilious - Cerne Abbas Giant 1939
I had come across James before, only through his excellent published works on Ravilious by The Mainstone Press and the packed Arts Centre were enthralled. I was not surprised to hear that there were ER obsessives who collected and researched every snippet of his life and it was fascinating to hear how a draft pencil drawn proof for a Puffin booklet on chalk hill horses had been found - lovely story. I was delighted to hear James mention he is working on a book of Ravilious wood engravings which is perhaps the area of his art I find the most interesting. This is to be published by Mainstone in October.

Eric Ravilious - Puffin Picture Book Proof 1942
What I wanted to hear was something about Ravilious the man, what he was really like - I had always imagined ER to be a moody sort of a chap, so it was with some relief James told the audience he was a happy whistler and quite the life and soul at parties. It was Edward Bawden who was the shy retiring type - even too shy to take public transport. 

What never ceases to amaze me about all my favourite artists is the way that many of them are all linked. I didn't know a great deal of this until recently - Ravilious, Bawden, Nash, Piper, Peggy Angus, Edwin Smith, Olive Cook and Tirzah Garwood. They all knew each other really well and the links run deep.

Tirzah Garwood - The Dog Show 1929
A few days later I came across James's excellent blog and was amazed to read he had also visited Chichester recently for a day which almost mirrored my own as reported here a while back! 

The following week we were treated to George Monbiot, Philip Hoare and Callum Roberts for an evening at the Electric Palace - Our Sea Needs Our Say, a debate on marine conservation and Lyme Bay.

I have a soft spot for George Monbiot - quite the noticer and chivvy upper for the environmental cause. His weekly writings, which I subscribe to, are eagerly awaited and enjoyed.

Sixty square miles of Lyme Bay became the first Marine Protected Area of significant size in English waters in 2008. At the time it was hailed as a turning-point in our collective relationship with the sea.
Five years on the above speakers debated how that relationship is going.

The present government is trying to withdraw support from much of what was envisaged five years ago. Of the 127 reserves proposed by the Wildlife Trusts, it selected just 31. A ‘Marine Protected Area’ in Lyme Bay is quite compatible, apparently, with removing 600 tonnes of whelks per year, mainly for sale to the Far East. No Take Zones, tried and tested in New Zealand, Scotland and the Isle of Man, have been systematically kept out of the discussion in England.

Finally, the programme for the ninth Bridport Literary Festival (November 10th - 17th) dropped through the letter box.

The highlight last year was the Kenneth Allsop memorial evening where we were treated to the delightful Richard Mabey. You can watch that talk here.

Friday 15th November sees the KA memorial evening take place at the Electric Palace - Fields, Rivers and Bees. Hosted by Nick Fisher with Tim Dee, Charles Rangely-Wilson and Dave Goulson. Sponsored by Little Toller Books with proceeds donated to Common Ground.

The evening will be introduced by David Wilkinson who has written Keeping The Barbarians at Bay (Signal Books 2013). I had no idea this book had been published until now - The last years of Kenneth Allsop, green pioneer. Using unpublished papers and diaries and with a foreword by Richard Mabey is a book I am very much looking forward to reading. 

Also, as part of the Literary Festival, we have Neil Ansell (Deer Island - two journeys of survival) again in conversation with Nick Fisher on Sunday November 10th.  The venue is the excellent Hayloft Bar at The Bull Hotel. I am just about to start Deep Country: Five Years in the Welsh Hills (Penguin 2011), which was critically acclaimed and very much enjoyed by those I know who have read it.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Go fishing by train!

Quite a few years ago I took great delight in going fishing by train. I would often travel the Cotswold Line from Moreton-in-Marsh to the tiny stations of Combe, Finstock and Charlbury to spend a day on the River Evenlode. There was a paucity of services in each direction and I think I even had to request a stop on occasion. 

FC Herrick 1925

It would have been so much easier to go in the car, but not quite as much fun. The joy of stepping off the train and walking into the open countryside, tackle in hand and fishing within a few minutes was far more appealing. I recall catching the last, but not convenient, service back home when the mayfly were carpeting the river. The trout, dace and chub were feeding with gusto...............just one more cast! I only just made the train and caused some excitement coming on board with rod assembled showing the suits some live mayflies I had in a pot.

Charles Sharland 1920

I nearly got adventurous after my local forays. I was able to fish the lovely Cheshunt Reservoir (one of the most atmospheric waters I have had the pleasure to fish - of HT Sheringham, William Senior and John Andrews fame) near Waltham Cross. A horrible journey by car, but what fun by train as it would include a cross London underground element in addition to the standard Inter-City 125!

Douglas Constable 1932

Alas, it only got as far as the planning stage. I dallied and whilst doing so Thames Water decided to fill in some of angling's greatest heritage from 1836. I managed one last farewell trip after the club had given up the rights and the heavy machinery was on site......... but that's another story!

Kraber 1936

Hope you enjoy these super vintage London Transport posters.   

Monday, 30 September 2013

Nash in Swanage

I have written previously of my liking for Paul Nash and especially the period when he based himself in and around the Purbecks when researching and writing the Shell Guide to Dorset (1936).

1935 Paul Nash - 2 The Parade, Swanage

Swanage and its antiquities appealed to Nash so much that he moved in to number 2 The Parade in February 1935 with its gorgeous views over Swanage Bay. It just so happened, on a recent field trip, that I found myself with a bag of chips looking out at the very same view across the bay. The blue plaque is the only clue as to who lived there.

I was fascinated to read recently that Nash stayed at Furzebrook House near Wareham for a while in 1937 - you can read the excellent article by Pennie Denton here who also wrote Seaside Surrealism: Paul Nash in Swanage (Peveril Press 2002).

2013 - 2 The Parade, Swanage
1935 Paul Nash - Swanage Steps
1937 Paul Nash - Blue Pool Cliff, Wareham