Monochrome Monday

Here is the first of a series of posts on the theme of ‘alliteration days’. I have noticed that on several blogs I follow, fellow bloggers will publish ‘Wordless Wednesday’ or ‘Friday Flowers’ and the like. So with my self-imposed challenge and attempt to beat lockdown lethargy, winter woes, and January jadedness, I’ll start the week with Monochrome Monday.

When walking around Stapenhill Gardens and Woodland Walk by the river Trent I am frequently drawn to this Victorian gothic-style shelter. It is in a quieter and less well known part of the walk and yet still close to the footpath along the side of the river. It may well date back to the 1860s when the woodland walk was first laid out as one of the earliest public parks in Burton on Trent. It has been suggested that it was built from stone from the 12th century medieval bridge which was replaced in 1864.

The Victorians were fond of ‘follies’ but at least this structure has a practical purpose and has provided welcome shelter from the rain to countless walkers over the years. To me it has a slightly eerie atmosphere even in daylight. I wouldn’t be surprised to find a hermit in there one day!

The river Trent at Stapenhill

Our morning walk today was by the Trent, mainly because we were interested to see how much the river level had risen. Fortunately not as much as floods in some parts of the country but enough to cover a few of the footpaths making them impassable in parts.

This meant that one of our regular circuits was not possible but it was still an enjoyable walk, rewarded at the end by the sight of daffodils pushing through the wet ground and the remaining autumn leaves.

A welcome reminder that, in the words of C. S. Lewis, “There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

Death of the humble postcard?

Looking back over the last twelve months I realised that we didn’t receive a single postcard during the whole of 2020. As outlined in the ‘About’ page, the sending and receiving of postcards has been in steep decline for a number of years and the pandemic has accelerated the decline. We were down to receiving just two or three a year and those people who could be relied upon to send us an obligatory ‘Wish you were here…’ rarely left their homes in 2020, let alone travelled to a destination worthy of a postcard. It’s not that long ago that we would enjoy receiving postcards from near and far, and pin them to our notice board where they would remain for several months until eventually being despatched to the recycling bin.

A few years ago, a duty which made me think more about postcards was that of clearing out mum’s apartment. In so doing, we found an old biscuit tin containing a good selection of the postcards she and dad had received over the years. They dated back to the 1950s and were from a wide range of family, friends and neighbours. Looking through them was a welcome trip down Memory Lane.

The limited space available forced the sender to be succinct but each one told it own short story – of seaside holidays in Skegness, Blackpool or Great Yarmouth or further afield of fishing villages in Cornwall, walks in the Lake District or of visits to Scottish lochs and castles. Later, with the availability of package holidays, the more adventurous folk would send postcards from Spain, Italy, Germany, Switzerland or Austria. I remember those latter ones were my first encounter with foreign stamps.

Now, with texts, emails, FaceTime and mobile phones readily available, it is understandable that people prefer the wonder of instant communication rather than rely on the snail-mail pace of traditional postcards. Sadly the switch to modern communications does mean that old biscuit tins are no longer being filled with postcards for someone to discover in years to come.

I can’t remember the last time we bought, wrote, stamped and posted a postcard. I sometimes use an online service to upload my own photo whilst on holiday and send it as an actual postcard – usually printed and posted in the UK and delivered the following day so the best of both worlds.

Questions…. Did you receive any postcards in 2020? When did you last send a postcard?

Farewell to 2020

Our village Peace Park is a good location to see the sunset at this time of the year. I must admit to a feeling of satisfaction at seeing the final sunset of 2020 as we say farewell to such a challenging year. The silhouette is of the memorial stone erected to the memory of the men and women of Winshill who served their country in the two world wars and other conflicts. Wishing you a happy, healthy and peaceful year in 2021.

Lichfield Cathedral Illuminated

Little did we know when this photograph was taken in December 2019 what lay ahead for us in 2020.

We had planned to visit the ‘Lichfield Cathedral Illuminated’ event again this year but sadly it was cancelled due to coronavirus restrictions. It really is a special event with lights and music in the cathedral close and this impressive ever-changing light display inside the cathedral.

We used this photograph for our Christmas card this year and are now delighted to post it for our blogging friends and followers. A very happy Christmas to you all and we wish you a healthy and peaceful year in 2021.

John and Sue

Dark clouds and blue sky

Look carefully – the blue sky IS there!

‘Those are dark clouds’, said the boy. ‘Yes, but they will move on,’ said the horse. ‘The blue sky above never leaves.’ From ‘The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse’, by Charlie Macksey

After months of restrictions, lockdown, changes to our daily routine, not meeting friends and family (the list is endless), we are now beginning to hear of people we know personally, having the vaccination – four so far this week.

Roll on 2021, roll out the vaccine, roll up your sleeve!

Captain Edward John Smith

Two recent posts about Titanic museums by fellow blogger Andrew Petcher Andrew’s post reminded me that we have a Staffordshire county connection with the captain of the Titanic, Captain Edward John Smith. In a quiet corner of Beacon Park, Lichfield, just about as far from the sea as it can be in England, there is a statue of Captain Smith. It is larger than life at nearly 8ft (2.4m) tall, mounted on a granite plinth, and cost £740 to commission and manufacture. It has stood there since 1914. The artist who sculpted it was Lady Kathleen Scott, widow of Captain Robert Scott, a victim of yet another ill-fated excursion; two tragedies entwined in one statue.

Smith was born in Hanley, Stoke on Trent, so why did the statue end up in Lichfield, some 30 miles away? There are two main theories.

One suggestion is that it was put there because although the people of Hanley had initially raised the funds for a memorial statue, they, or the authorities, later decided they did not want a statue of a man associated with such a tragedy, and that they would be embarrassed to have Smith’s statue in the town.

Secondly, that Lichfield was picked because it was on a major tourist and coaching route, halfway between London and Liverpool, where the head office of the White Star Line was, and a good place for American tourists to pay their respects to the man who went down with his ship. Because of the cathedral, Lichfield was and still is the heart of the diocese which includes Stoke and Hanley. A further possibility is that the bronze statue may have been cast at a foundry in Lichfield so it was already there and would not incur any transportation costs after the people of Hanley had rejected it although there is no evidence to support this.

So there is nothing new about statue controversies. A few years ago there was an unsuccessful attempt to get the statue relocated to Hanley but it now seems certain that it will remain in the museum gardens of Beacon Park looking towards the distinctive spires of Lichfield Cathedral.