Saturday, September 7, 2013

Sepia Saturday 193: 7 September 2013


Some times you just need to be alone. You need space : space to think, space to breathe, space to contemplate your place in the great scheme of things. What better way to find such space than to get into a boat and row out into the middle of the sea. This is what this young lady did back in 1900 somewhere near Estonia. And her trip into the middle of nowhere was recorded and is preserved for ever in the Flickr Commons stream of the National Archives of Estonia. For Sepia Saturday posters who like a theme, there is any combination of girl, boat, middle and nowhere. Sepia Saturday strikes again!


"Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats." Kenneth Grahame Wind in the Willows.

Have you ever read Wind in the Willows?  I didn't really read it.  I listened to it and still have the LP adapted and produced by Toby Robertson for the Argo Record Company .  There were two records but I only seem to have Record 1.  Ratty was Frank Duncan, Mole was Richard Goolden, Badger was Tony Church and Mr Toad was Norman Shelley.  Some quotes still stick in my head - chiefly one about spring-cleaning.  "Bother spring cleaning" I quote incorrectly. It should be "Bother!" then "Blow!" then "Hang spring cleaning".  That's what gets lost in translation.  There were fabulous sound effects.  I still can't listen to the caravan crash without wincing.  I enjoyed reading the back of the record cover this morning.  They sound as though they had fun making it: 




"The making of the records was especially happy, the animals really seemed to be alive and real, even in the severe surroundings of the recording studio.  The producer for the most part found himself addressing the actors as 'Mole and Ratty', seldom as 'Richard and Frank'.  The warmth with which Mole was regarded by the other animals was most touching, and the terror of the Wild Wood seemed very real.' Harley J. Usill, Recording Director.

Boating was certainly very much a part of my childhood.  Not so much since, but on the odd occasion when I have been invited out, boating has filled me with much joy.  My father built a boat - a Mirror - a little tub with a red sail - which we proudly named Owl and Pooh (no prizes for guessing who Pooh was) and which he taught me to sail on Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra.  Here's a rather unfortunate photo of me with my father and a couple of friends getting ready to go boating. I think that's the National Library you can see in the background left of this photo (which was a slide) and Black Mountain as the backdrop.  It would have been taken from Kings Park looking across the central basin.

L to R Judith, Jim, Punna aka Amanda and Alex

I don't know that I was ever in the boat on my own.  Probably a wise idea.  My father let me go out once or twice with a friend on but I'm afraid with disastrous results.  On one occasion I remember we tacked our way studiously to the end of a particular reach, (Tarcoola Reach I suppose) turning around only to have the wind fill our sails and, before we knew it, we were almost flying.  I was hanging on to the tiller for dear life with the mainsail straining against the wind.  We were tearing along!  The wind in our faces, we were laughing  -as I always do when I'm terrified. And then the tiller snapped off and we came to a grinding halt...in the middle of the lake.  I waved the broken bit in my hand until we were towed back to shore by the water police and to my very grim father.  I've always been one to learn by my mistakes I'm afraid.  Here's a tip for novice tars (sailors) - sheets (ropes) don't float.  They sink straight to the bottom and there's one still at the bottom of the lake if you want to go and look for it.

Here's an ad I found on Trove about a life jacket we must have lost on the way home once.

Canberra Times, Wednesday 13 March 1974 - National Library of Australia

When we moved to Sydney we joined a sailing club (I think it was Lane Cove)  and would take great delight in sailing all the way to, what seemed to me like, the Harbour Bridge.  On reflection I realise we couldn't have or wouldn't have and it was probably more like Birchgrove with a view of the Bridge.

My best sailing was done in my imagination in books just like Jo, I read as many of the Swallows and Amazons series as I could and dreamt of going on holidays on islands alone with friends.  Perhaps that's why I enjoyed going to Straddie so much.  Driving onto a car ferry still fills me with a thrill.  Such a sense of adventure and a real excursion.  

But let's go to other photos and exercise our imagination upon them.  

I found this photo online at Gold Coast City Libraries Pictures Gold Coast.

Are you alone in a boat if you have a dog with you?

I think not.



Thelma Collins in a boat with Cinders the dog, in front of Hollywell House at Hollywell, Queensland, circa 1930 [picture] / Photographer unknown.


And I found this rather lovely one on Picture Queensland.


Woman sitting on a beached boat reading a book, ca. 1925

My maternal grandfather had a collection of tiny photos about boating featuring a mystery woman.  I don't think it is my great-aunt (my grandmother had a twin sister).  Here are the photos. Only in one photo is the woman alone.  At least I think it is a woman.  It is a bit hard to tell - the photo is so dark.  These are quite tiny photos and unfortunately I have no idea where they are taken - somewhere around Sydney or Newcastle I imagine.


Mystery woman - was it my great-aunt?


Tom McLoughlin and ?
                           








Here is a photo of my grandfather and grandmother.  
What do you think?  
Are the two women twins do you think?
My grandmother had a twin - is this her sister or someone different?


                                       

     And then there are these two weird photos.  

Different time and place I think.  

Still in my grandfather's album.  

The name of the boat in the last photo makes me laugh.  

These are very Hiawatha type canoes don't you think?






For more messing about in boats head here.


33 comments:

Anne Young said...

Hi Alex we read the same books and I also enjoyed sailing on Lake Burley Griffin :)

Colleen G. Brown Pasquale said...

Love the photograph of the dog along for the ride! ha!

Rosie said...

Gee, I never thought that boating could lead to such romantic situations...

Alex Daw said...

Fancy that! What kind of boat did you sail Anne?

Alex Daw said...

It's a gorgeous looking mutt isn't it?

Alex Daw said...

I know Rosie. I love that photo. It conceals as much as it reveals :)

Alex Daw said...

PS Also adds a twist to "messing about" in boats n'est-ce-pas?

Hazel Ceej said...

A great series. I have heard of Wind in the Willows but never read it either. I think I want to now. How wonderful of your Dad to build you a boat. Precious!

Hazel

Alex Daw said...

Dear Hazel - do try and hear it if you can - it's so much fun with sound effects. My Dad is pretty wonderful. He's just about the cleverest man I know :)

Gail Perlee said...

It certainly appears that is your grandfather with your grandmother and your great aunt - the twins - in that one photo. But one of the women certainly liked to wear pearls - even rowing in a boat! And row boats and punts are romantic. All the great painters have painted lovers in boats.

Alex Daw said...

Dear Gail - it's interesting isn't it? The more I think about boats - and boating analogies - the more I realise that it would make sense to court in a boat. It's the thrill of an adventure. It's an opportunity to be chivalrous or to work together at the oars. You don't want to "rock the boat" as it were. But it might be torture if you didn't really like the person. You might leave them "high and dry" as it were.

Jackie van Bergen said...

Loved Swallows and Amazons, and Wind in the Willows - even seen a live version in the Botanic Gardens in Melbourne years ago - great fun.
Not sure about your mystery lady but love that she rowed in pearls and a skirt - I don't know that I would be so confident.

Deb Gould said...

Loved Wind in the Willows, Alex -- "messing about in boats" became a household expression in my family...can relate to tacking up a reach, then coming about and running with the wind home -- such speed, but such lovely silence, too!

Postcardy said...

I participated in sailing classes, but I was too unsure of myself to actually learn to sail the boats myself. Sailing seems to come naturally to some people, but not to me.

Little Nell said...

That was very brave of you going sailing. I'm still not very good in boats but I'm getting better. Some interesting photos here Alex.

Alex Daw said...

Dear Jackie - a live version of Wind in the Willows would have been fabulous - particularly in the Gardens. Yes the pearls are distinctive aren't they?

Alex Daw said...

Dear Deb - I always marvel at people who invented things like boats - how their brain works - it always seems so audacious to me...e.g. "if I do this and this, it might float or it might pick up the wind and then I might be able to get from here to there." Wonderful stuff.

Alex Daw said...

Yes, I never felt entirely confident reading the wind on the water...sometimes I did...sometimes I didn't. I guess it's one of those things...the more you do it, the better you get. I remember having to learn a great long list of how to put the spinnaker up - I think there were something like 16 steps altogether!

Alex Daw said...

Going in the drink for the first time is always scary and getting the boat back up - particularly with a lifejacket on...always best to do in a nice lake rather than Sydney Harbour. I was always very quick to get back in the boat in Sydney!

Joan said...

Interesting group of pictures. I really liked the picture of the woman reading and sitting by the beached boat -- wonderful picture. Looks to me like that's the twin of your grandmother, for what that's worth. Also liked the last photo a lot too -- she might be in the Nymph, but she looks most uncomfortable.

Loved your sailing stories!! Have a few similar ones.

Bob Scotney said...

Wind in the Willows was one of my favourites at school; read most of Ransome's books as well - still have Coot Club on my bookshelves.

Kristin said...

Looks like the mystery woman had a very romantic day in a boat. The two women in the photo do look like they could be sisters.

Tattered and Lost said...

Probably the most important thing I learned here today is that one simply isn't dressed properly for boating unless one is wearing pearls. Wonderful photos.

I too have never read Wind in the Willows and regret it. I do recall a teacher reading it aloud in elementary school. I will buy a copy next time I'm at my used bookstore.

TICKLEBEAR said...

Love the "lost" ad!!!
Your memories of sailing are quite vivid.
They'll suffice for me!!
That woman reading on the beached boat is a splendid picture.
Nice find!!
:)~
HUGZ

Wendy said...

So much to enjoy in this post -- your funny photo and memories (yeah, I laugh at inappropriate times too - like at a big red sale sticker on the bottom of a lady's shoe as she knelt to take communion at church one Sunday), and your grandfather's beautiful photos with the mystery woman. Rather romantic.

Prenter said...

That was a romantic trip of Tom McLoughlin and the woman with the white beaded necklace. You show us so many photos! Thank you for sharing.

Alex Daw said...

Dear Joan - I love that reading on a beached boat picture too. Thanks for your observations.

Alex Daw said...

Dear Bob - Not sure if I got round to reading Coot Club. There were so many of those books.

Alex Daw said...

Dear Kristin - they are interesting photos aren't they? Ah youth!

Alex Daw said...

Dear Tattered and Lost - I hadn't really noticed the pearls. Being a pearl wearer myself I just think they're normal garb. Now I know where I inherited the trait! :)

Alex Daw said...

Dear Ticklebear - Thanks for dropping by...yes I was quite amused to find that ad. Sailing was always quite an exhausting affair - I'm not surprised stuff got lost along the way.

Alex Daw said...

Dear Wendy - I'm so glad you laugh at inappropriate moments too. I like that Communion story !

Alex Daw said...

Dear Prenter - it was romantic wasn't it? Thanks for dropping by :)