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Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Underneath the Arches

This week's prompt shows the Taft Bridge in Washington DC. I've been to Washington a couple of times and could well have driven over this bridge, but here's the thing with bridges: you can drive or otherwise travel over them and be totally unaware of the magnificently engineered structure that you are crossing. If you don't have the chance to stop and admire them from a vantage point, you can miss them completely.

 I particularly remember the following two bridges because I was able to view and photograph them from below. The first two photos come from slides that were taken by my 17 year old self in 1969 and show the Mungstener Brucke, a steel rail bridge in the countryside known as the Bergische Land near the town of Solingen in the German state of North Rheine -Westphalia. I was lucky enough to win a 3 month scholarship to travel there and attend school while staying with a local family from December 1969 to March 1970. One day my hostess Frau Felix very kindly took me on a tour of the local sights, including this bridge, which spans the valley of the River Wupper. It was completed in 1897 and at 107 metres is still the highest rail bridge in Germany.


Like the half-timbered black and white houses in England, the romantic old fachwerk houses like the one you can see here in the snowy, frozen landscape framed by the bridge are very common in the Bergische Land. The name of the area comes from the former duchy of Berg. We also visited the reconstructed Burg Castle and the Altenberger Dom, a former medieval abbey. When the time came for me to leave, my hosts held a farewell party and I was presented with a great book of primarily black and white photographs of the Bergische Land, signed by everyone at the party. 

Below is a postcard I brought back and posted in my scrapbook, but of couse I didn't get to see the bridge on a sunny summer's day like this!

The other bridge I can distinctly remember visiting is the Iron Bridge near the town of of Coalbrookdale in Shropshire or Salop as it is sometimes called. This bridge crosses the River Severn and was completed a hundred years earlier in 1771. According to Wikipedia, it was the first major bridge of its kind in the world to be constructed from cast iron. This photograph dates from 1976, and was taken when we were being shown around the district by another lovely lady, Mrs Janet McTaggart. Janet was a third cousin to my grandfather on the Cruickshank side of the family. My parents had met Janet previously and she was only too happy for us to come and renew the family acquaintance. That evening she entertained us at great length with talk of numerous mutual cousins. I wasn't into family history at that stage and had no idea who all these people were, but it did not matter. We enjoyed a very pleasant overnight stay with Janet and her husband Ian in their Telford home and we also met their son Andrew and his wife, with whom we are still in contact.

      A black and white house can be seen through the Iron Bridge too.  We re-visited and walked over this bridge in 2012 but unfortunately I don't seem to have taken another photograph. In 1934 it was designated for pedestrian traffic only, after being declared a National Ancient Monument.  You can read about the interesting history of the Iron Bridge here in Wikipedia.

I'm currently in the city of Brisbane for a few days so to finish, here's a photo I took this morning of the attractive William Jolly Bridge, the second of several bridges that now cross the Brisbane River. It was completed in 1932, just a few days after the Sydney Harbour Bridge and was originally named the Grey Street Bridge, but was renamed in 1955 after the death of Mr William Jolly, who was the Mayor of the city at the time it was built. It was said that Mr Jolly was offered a knighthood but declined because he thought it would interfere too much with his gardening.  The State Library of Queensland web site includes historic photographs of its construction and an excellent essay written by the granddaughter of its builder, Manuel Hornibrook, describing the history and unusual features of the bridge.

This morning at 7 a.m. I participated in Parkrun Southbank, which is a 5 km run crossing a couple of bridges over the Brisbane river and passing by several others. Parkrun is a movement first established in the UK and now has events on many places around the world. You don't have to run, jogging and walking are fine too and it's not a race. I am basically a plodder but I get there in the end!  Recovered now and off to catch the River Cat and see the river and its surrounds  in a more leisurely fashion.

Postscript: Another bridge across the Brisbane river. This is the Story Bridge, lit up at night. It was opened eight years after the William Jolly Bridge.

For more blogs bridging gaps in space and time, go to Sepia Saturday #378

Thursday, 20 July 2017

With the Wind in their Sails

The prompt photo appears to show a family watching a movie while on board. I immediately thought of my sister Louisa and her then husband Danny, who sailed from Darwin Australia to Florida USA in a very small boat back in the early 1980s. I've mentioned this before in an earlier blog post that you can read here and see a photo of Little Boat.

This is a pencil drawing by Danny of 'Little Boat' that Louisa sent us from her sailing days. There's a note on the back:

   " A day of stacking the canvas up. The fish are dorado which always jumped all around . With so little wind the sea was so flat and shining bright blue. I hope Claire and Kim can find a place on a bedroom wall for 'Little Boat', the home of Louise and Danny. ( The spinnaker-come- parachute-come topsail is a purple colour but actually our sails are white. Danny used to have red sails and it was more colourful to draw."        
Dorado are also known as Mahi-Mahi or dolphin fish, perhaps because of their jumping ability.  The framed drawing still hangs on our wall.

Louisa and Danny's first two daughters were subsequently born in the States and the family lived there for several years before investing in a slightly larger boat (36 foot) in which to sail back across the Pacific. In 1986 they were moored in Port Townsend for some time while selling jewellery at a stall in the Pike Place Market in Seattle and both we and my parents Jean and Ian were able to visit them there. Here are a few photos from those visits. No movies or TV aboard their boat. 

     Mother, daughter and granddaughter on deck

 Jean celebrating her 60th birthday onboard.

 Granddaughter Mia showing her Nan how things have to be shipshape below decks.

  I don't have any photos of us on board during our visit, but one of our photos shows Danny rowing to or from the boat to fetch supplies from the dock. One day we all went to Seattle with by car and ferry from Port Angeles, but it was so foggy that we could not even glimpse Seattle's famous landmark, the Space Needle.

The sailing family arrived in the Bay of Islands New Zealand in 1991 and decided to settle there. The next photo shows Jean and Ian (in shadow) with Louisa and the two girls on a visit with them there that year.

In January 1994 we took our family 'across the ditch' to meet their cousins again, including the latest family member who was born back in New Zealand. They no longer lived on the boat, but on a beautiful clear day they took us out sailing in the Bay.


             A nice shot taken by our 10 year old

                         Sisters' reunion
             Mother and youngest daughter

                Cousins out on the bowsprit


Danny still owns the boat and apparently has recently sailed to Fiji. Coincidentally I've been on the water myself today. A ferry trip isn't really sailing but Somes Island in Wellington Harbour is an interesting place to visit. 

A bit wet and wild today and I doubt whether any of these boats I can see from the hotel window will be going out sailing.

For more blogs prompted by this week's photo, set sail for Sepia Saturday. Whatever you do, just don't miss the boat!

Friday, 7 July 2017

Water play down the decades


Somehow I can't seem to take the gentleman in the Sepia Saturday prompt image for this week seriously. It might be because of the way he is turning his head aroind to look at the photographer, but if he was really about to dive in, I hope he had checked that the water was deep enough and that there were no submerged objects in the vicinity, particularly as there seems to be a rather  large rock poking up not far away from the platform. 

Here are a few snaps of yours truly, posing firstly aged about two and a half on a footstool above our backyard paddling pool in 1955 and secondly in 1960 on the edge of a local public pool with my mother and siblings. In neither case could I have actually dived in.

Jumping off the steps seems to have been a popular activity, as shown below in this shot of us with our neighbours, two sisters who often came over to play. My sister Louisa is on the steps with Elfriede. I imagine the paddling pool must have required frequent refilling with the garden hose as a result. Much fun was had by all, getting splashed and cooling down in the process. Mum's album contains many more paddling pool snaps over the years.

This next shot was taken by Mum on a visit she made to her brother Graeme and family in Los Gatos, California and shows my American cousins Mike and Pat having fun in their home pool in 1973.

On to the next generation and here are our children and their cousins enjoying the above ground pool at their paternal grandparents' home in the early 1990s. It was a popular place for the eight cousins when we visited for Christmas in the hot Canberra summers and they were all sorry when it was finally dismantled and its place in the garden was reclaimed for a rose bed.


In 1989 we moved into a home with an inground pool, and these two photos from the same decade show a) a pool party and b) the family in and around the pool.

Our two older children actually had some diving lessons at the Ryde swimming pool in Sydney. I can imagine I was probably secretly glad that the Olympic diving tower was closed that day as the sign indicates. That top tower was pretty high!

Fast forward to Christmas 2016 and back to paddling pool fun, with our little granddaughters, then aged two and 3/4 and 11 months respectively, cooling off in a very small version, just big enough for the two of them to enjoy. I don't think their mothers would have wanted me to produce a diving/jumping stool!


For more blogs inspired by this weeks old photo, please dive in here at the deep end.