Saturday, 31 July 2010

Sepia Saturday: Tea-break

This slightly out-of-focus photograph of my maternal grandfather, Asher James Gregory, is one of my favourite images of him.

The grandfather clock was working then, and as the time was almost 10.15, Asher had probably just finished a cup of tea, before returning to whatever he had been doing outside. Our daughter has the clock now and, even though the hands have long since stopped, I can't help hearing the slow, regular swing of the pendulum, in my memory.

The table that's showing off one corner is now in our home. There is history to it. My mother used to sleep under it during the war. We have sat around it, as a family, for countless meals and celebrations. Now, my granddaughters sit around it when they visit, and the eldest - Speckly Woo! - draws her world in coloured crayons on it, just the way I did.

The room Asher is standing in, is the dining room. Although, it was always referred to as the 'kitchen'. The room adjoining, is the kitchen but, always referred to as the 'scullery'. Out of shot, in the top right hand corner of the scullery, sat a holding tank, full of spring water, pumped up to the house from a well in the garden. When I look at this picture, I can taste the sweetness of that water.

It looks as though Asher is ready to leave now. He's about to put his jacket on.

As I sit here, watching him, I know the exact smells, sounds and peaceful surroundings he's experiencing in this captured moment. The timeless magic of treasured family photographs.

© 2010, copyright Martin T. Hodges

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Sepia Saturday: Say Cheese!

Family group photographs are probably the mainstay of most family albums. I've never been a huge fan of these formal assemblies, but it's the easiest way for most of us to document the shape and size of our tribal gatherings.

Frankly, unless we can claim to have lives interesting enough for the likes of Dominique Tarlé to come and live with us for a few months, we'll need to keeping seizing the opportunity to squeeze up a bit, smile and stay 'in shot'.

This picture introduces us to some members of Mag's family (including the girl, herself), taken over the Christmas period, sometime around the late 50s.

Left to right, at the back: Nellie Jemima (Mag's Nan), cousin Pat, Aunt Eileen, May (Mag's Mum), Albert (Mag's Dad - looking as though he's straight off the set of 'The Untouchables').

At the front: Cousin John, Mags, Sheila (Mag's sister.

As ever, I kept scanning this photograph for something beyond the faces and the furniture. Not to mention those snazzy slippers.

I think what strikes me is the level of attention the photographer (Pat's boyfriend, Brian) is getting. No doubt, he's saying things to encourage the smiles, but even those who are still only thinking about smiling, are looking right at him. He has gained that momentary degree of control essential when snapping the family group for posterity.

© 2010, copyright Martin T. Hodges

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Still Here?

So, Square Sunshine reaches its first birthday. Who'd have thought it?

I've been on quite a journey. When I began posting, I wanted the blog to evolve around 'the thoughts and observations of a grandfather', but I didn't anticipate that would eventually include trying my hand at poetry or delving into the family photograph album for Sepia Saturday contributions. 

Originally, the intention was to focus on being a grandfather and what that role can entail. Regular visitors will know that Mags and I are proud grandparents to three beautiful girls. Speckly Woo! aged three and a half and identical twins (Curly and Whirly) aged 15 months. They have been, and continue to be, an inspiration, so there should be plenty more posts to come, where they have centre-stage.

In these past twelve months I've learnt a lot, not least, about myself. I've also learnt a great deal about the lives of people around the world who share their wonderful talents and ideas through their own blogs. But aside from the offered insights, the documented domestic details and the eloquent expression, there's a sense of community. Yes, blogging is a two-way street folks. I have been bowled over by the high percentage of comments that have been thoughtful and encouraging. I won't embarrass any individuals by naming names, but there are those out there who have given valuable support (perhaps sometimes, unknowingly) to my efforts with kind words and constructive advice. So, a big thank you to them.

I don't know where the coming twelve months might lead but, rest assured, the sun will continue to shine squarely in this little corner of blogland.

© 2010, copyright Martin T. Hodges

Monday, 19 July 2010

Fairy Song

As Speckly Woo! and I were getting down to some serious colouring today, she suddenly burst into song. I thought it must be something she'd heard on a TV programme, or maybe she'd picked it up from listening to one of her CDs.

I looked to our daughter for some guidance. She informed me, with a big grin that, as far as she could ascertain, this was a Speckly Woo! composition.

You'll have to do without the melody, but I did manage to get the words written down, and they are as follows:

I wish I was a fairy
Landing in the dairy,
Wishing for a cow
And Ballerina Belle
And a spaceship
And a rocket
And a star.

She was singing it in such a carefree and easy manner. A jewel of a moment.

© 2010, copyright Martin T. Hodges

Sunday, 18 July 2010


Where do we find the will to run
With shameless spirit, innocent ease,
To where we had abandoned fun,
And pinned our dreams to a random breeze?

When does a feeling translate to a look
Of irresistible knowing,
Instinctive reaction, emotional hook,
Mutual grounds for not going?

Where, in the heart, are those dials
That read the rate of tears,
Measure distance out in smiles,
Calculate the depth of fears?

For reasons too complex to go into here, we are not making the move to Cornwall after all. Initially, we were desperately disappointed, now we're trying to be philosophical. We're staying put - at least, for now.

© 2010, copyright Martin T. Hodges

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Sepia Saturday: Hanging On To Goat Tales

My maternal grandmother, Hilda May, had a passion for animals. She'd often call cows from the adjoining fields, to her garden hedge. Likewise, horses. She had a soft spot for them, and would tell tales of when, in her teens, she rode bareback on a Cob that belonged to her own grandmother. Her love for them was enduring, despite having taken a fall that left her with a damaged hip for the rest of her life.

She couldn't stand by and watch when animals were ill-treated. My mother recalls how Hilda would chase gypsies through the village on her bicycle if she ever caught them whipping their horses, chastising them all the way.

No surprise then, to learn that one of her dogs was rescued from the back of a gypsy caravan. 'Little Sally' was an affectionate mongrel who arrived wearing a heavy collar and carrying a heavy heart. For the remainder of her days she had the run of almost an acre of garden and was never tied up or collared.

'Little Sally'

In the first photograph, we can see Hilda taking delivery of two goats. Actually, I can't remember these characters staying in residence for long. I can, however, remember a pair of goats called Matilda and History - sadly no photos. Poor Matilda was a sad looking specimen - another of Hilda's rescue stories, no doubt - and History was so sleek….for a goat. If History was a model for Goat Couture, Matilda was the ideal portable clothes rack.

They stayed long enough for us to form an attachment. We drank the milk and took them for walks along the lane, where they tore into the vegetation with gusto. Hilda also used to bring them with her to meet me from the school bus. This might turn a few heads today but, back then, people didn't appear too surprised at anything where my grandmother was involved.

More Sepia Saturday posts HERE

© 2010, copyright Martin T. Hodges