Saturday, 30 September 2017

Passport Portraits of Yesteryear no. 29

Continuing the series of passport portraits from my collection.
Peruse and wonder.
In 1919 it is civil war within Russia and the country is being besieged from without. In the Far East Admiral Koltchak and the Japanese are attacking the 'Bolsheviks'; Germany is attacking in the Ukraine; British soldiers are marching with Russians towards Petrograd in the north; France and Britain are assisting General Denikin in the south. And in all this chaos, thousands of civil refugees are fleeing the country, fleeing the effects of the Revolution and the civil war.

In Egypt, Mohammed Aly El Serouni, a 26 year old seaman, has signed on as a fireman on the S.S. Bruenn. This is his photograph on the seamans passport issued to him by the Egyptian Sultanate at the port of Suez on 19th May 1919.
Does he know that the S.S. Bruenn has been converted into an ambulance ship auxiliary and that shortly he will be standing off the coast of Russia with a British naval fleet, embarking wounded civilians to transport to Constantinople?

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Off the map at St. Louis/Basle

Here I am in the main street of St. Louis, a few metres from the Swiss frontier control and pondering over my location. Luckily there is a street plan provided.


Well, I appear to be off the map.

Barrel organs in Sarreguemines

We managed to time our visit to Sarreguemines to coincide with the 3rd annual international barrel organ festival. How do you like the sound of a barrel organ? I find that the dynamic range of the apparatus (one cannot call it an instrument) is too narrow to give justice to the piece of music it is claiming to present. Or to put it another way: I think they sound awful.
Imagine a street in which twenty barrel organs are playing. Absolute torture.

In seeking refuge from the piped cacophony we came across this splendid organ standing on its own by the town hall. It played the full dynamic range, from piccolo to base drum.

It was powered by steam.

And the steam was British!

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Pottery in Sarreguemines

In 1860 the pottery firm of Utzschneider in Sarreguemines adopted the English type of 'hovel' or 'bottle' kiln. By 1900 they had about thirty of these kilns working.

This is the last one remaining. It sits next to the modern town hall in the city centre. It has been opened up and one can visit the interior. 

The inner cone has only been partially rebuilt just to show what it would have looked like. Underneath the floor the coal furnaces were stoked, the smoke being led away to a separate chimney.

At eye level around the inner cone were spy holes so that the potter could see what was occurring in the kiln and judge when best to withdraw the pots.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Giant woman seen in Beaconsfield.

Well... not exactly. As we were in Beaconsfield I could not resist a visit to Bekonscot which claims to be the world's first model village.

Started in the 1920s in the back garden of a residential house, it has survived through the years by charging an entrance fee and using the money for charitable purposes.

I first visited when I was about five years old and it has undergone several changes since then. I am pleased that the policy now seems to be to return to its original time era of the 1920s/30s.

To the right: the village crossroads. The road is being repaired by a steam roller which runs up and down the street.

The canal basin with a pair of coal barges locking down. The edge of the working fairground can be seen.

The nursing home with a resident at the front door walking to the car and in the background, two men discussing the sports car at the old stables.

The detail is engaging. It is very rewarding to look carefully at the models.  If you peer through the church window not only do you hear the choir singing but you can see them all in their stalls.

The Oxford Blue coach on the left contains passengers and each one is a character.

The airfield, having spent a period as a more modern establishment, has now returned to its original 1930s era.

Throughout the village pervades a lovely sense of fun and mischief. It was never meant to be taken seriously; a claim which belies the effort applied for its realisation.

Here we have the race course with the punters and the bookies watching as the horses reach the post.

But in the foreground we can see a policeman in hot pursuit of a bag snatching thief.

Wordplay is never far away.

And in this village green scene the painter's mate standing at the bottom of the ladder from time to time leans forward to kiss the woman in blue whilst his hapless mate at the top hangs on for dear life.

Bekonscot. If you are near Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire you must visit.

Not only is Beaconsfield famous for this model village but also for a long time resident: Enid Blyton and thus the birthplace of Noddy (1949) closely followed by the birth of another famous author, Martin Lloyd.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Painting pylons on a Sunday.

Well I suppose somebody has to do it. 

Why did they start at the bottom?

I hope the yellow is only an undercoat.