Post Early For Christmas… Again!

Christmas_Mail_09343u_original
‘Christmas Mail’ (c. 1910-15)

In recent years, we’ve met the world’s most organised dog, a clumsy wartime comic and some of the people of Christmas, Florida (watch out for more from them soon!), who were all united in explaining how to get your cards, presents and letters to Santa in the post in plenty of time for the festivities.

I’ve been a bit rubbish with my Christmas post this year, but I loved these festive mail-related images. The black and white photographs are all American, probably taken in and around the Washington DC area, and the brightly coloured adverts (below) are from wartime Britain again.

Continue reading “Post Early For Christmas… Again!”

Meet Cheeky Squirrel…

IMG_0606

A few months back, I wrote a post about my local wildlife, which many of you seemed to enjoy. You’ll be pleased to hear, then, that the foxes are still being daft, the parakeets are still being noisy, the Pidge family are still quietly getting on with it (whatever ‘it’ is in the world of wood pigeons), the magpies are still bouncing round like they own the place, and Cheeky Squirrel is still as cheeky as ever.

Actually, Cheeky Squirrel is now letting me take photos of him, and you can see an example above. This is something of a development – I’ve tried snapping him before, but he’s always run away before I could even get my camera focused! This time, he sat quite still, watching with interest as I photographed the autumn leaves on the trees and then posed for a portrait or two.

As you can see, he’s all fluffed up against the cold, and quite rightly too – the temperature is rapidly dropping further as winter approaches here. The trees are almost bare now and food will soon become scarce unless he’s cached some nuts somewhere (he probably has). I’m sure you will join me in wishing Cheeky Squirrel the best of luck in getting through to the spring…

To Dare Is To Do: Farewell White Hart Lane

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I grew up on the Beautiful Game. I’m of the generation whose pre-Premier League childhood memories associate the game with dodgy perms and mullets (hello Chris Waddle…), the final years of standing on the terraces as the norm in the top flight, and the weekly Saturday afternoon ritual of listening to the wonderful James Alexander Gordon read the classified football results on the radio. It wasn’t a girl’s world back then, but I was still utterly entranced by it all.

Continue reading “To Dare Is To Do: Farewell White Hart Lane”

A new avian supermodel?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“Aaaaand… hold that pose. Beautiful!”

While I was busily looking at blossom and daffodils on yesterday’s riverside walk, I was quite astonished to turn a corner on the towpath and encounter this heron. I’ve posted about herons before – but I’ve never managed to get so close to one in all my years of exploring the area. It really didn’t seem at all bothered by the many Sunday strollers milling around, and it let me get within a few feet of it to snatch these shots as it happily posed. Having consulted the bird guide on the RSPB website, I suspect this may be a juvenile bird, which might account for it showing off for us humans! A supermodel in the making, perhaps?

Watch out Kate Moss – there’s a new kid in town…

Christmas in London: The First Trafalgar Square Tree (1947)

O Christmas Tree

Back in 2012, I wrote about the history of that well-loved icon of a London Christmas – the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree. Recently, while looking for something else entirely (as is always the way!), I came across a couple of vintage pictures of what appears to be the first tree to go up in the Square back in 1947, which I thought I would share with you this Christmas. From two different sources (click on each image for more information), these pictures were taken from different angles and seemingly by different photographers, but they clearly show the same tree and the crowds of Londoners who came to see it.

Continue reading “Christmas in London: The First Trafalgar Square Tree (1947)”

Autumn again…

Autumn colours

After my recent post about all things autumnal, I felt some more seasonal colour was needed round here. I thought I might go to the local park and see what was on offer for my camera there, but while I was pondering that I noticed this tree, which happens to be almost literally on my doorstep. This lovely, still part-green tree is not in the sylvan surroundings of said park – it’s in the more prosaic location of the carpark attached to the block of flats I live in (not visible in the photo: one of my neighbours sitting in his car giving me a strange look while I repeatedly pointed my camera at the tree…!)

An Autumnal Morning in London

Autumnal morning

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

From ‘Ode To Autumn’ by John Keats (1795-1821)

The last few days may have been a bit overcast and cloudy, but Friday was a beautiful early autumn day in my little corner of west London. As I went about my business, the morning skies were that fading, mist-tinged blue that I associate with such early October days; the sun a little lower in the sky and the trees just on the turn. Give it a week or so, and the full colourful impact of the season will be revealed right across London – and there are plenty of green spaces in the city where you can see the most glorious displays of colour as the trees prepare for the changing seasons.

Continue reading “An Autumnal Morning in London”

Battle Abbey: 1066 and All That?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I often talk about the fact that there are places where history exists in layers, where you can physically feel the weight of the past on the present. Battle Abbey in East Sussex is one such place. The importance of what happened here in October 1066 is still palpable nearly one thousand years later, for this is the site of what we now know as the Battle of Hastings – one of the most crucial moments in all of English history.

It all began (and ended) with the death of a king, as these things so often do. And, as is also so often the case with medieval history, that’s where it all gets a bit complicated. On 4th January 1066, King Edward (‘the Confessor’) died. He had no children and thus no direct heir. As a result, his death was likely to leave something of a power vacuum in England.

This was a problem in the making, since the English throne was among the most desirable in all of Europe due to its significant economic and military strength at the time. Unsurprisingly, amongst all the interested parties there were a number of claimants sniffing round the throne (although who claimed or promised what to whom will never be known with any accuracy now), with three in particular having perhaps the most legitimate claims to the English crown at the time.

Continue reading “Battle Abbey: 1066 and All That?”