Tuesday, 27 November 2012


This will be a miscellaneous post of bits and pieces that have caught my eye looking through my photo files.  I'm still not travelling anywhere and have had to put all travel plans on hold because of my mum's continuing health problems.  We are getting around and doing some fun things, though.

My new header post - well, what is it?  I don't know.  I couldn't find a label when I snapped it two years ago in the museum in Damascus, but I wanted a photo because it seemed strangely compelling.  I hope it has survived the sad situation which has caused so much damage in a city and country which I grew to like very much.

So I'll start this miscellaneous post with a photo of a temporary staircase, apparently made of chipboard, near the bus station in Venice.   These people seemed to have settled down for the afternoon, beneath a greyish blue sky.  I thought it made a nice composition, though I did wonder why they'd come all the way to beautiful Venice and then chosen to sit on a chipboard bridge next to a noisy bus station!

And here is another bridge - Tower Bridge, in London, opening up.  It's a fine sight when the bridge opens and a large boat sails through.    They put those blue gates across just to stop anyone who feels like rushing on while the bridge is opening, and leaping the gap.  I am sure that there are people who would!

I encountered  this scary gentleman in a garden in the picture-postcardy Wiltshire village of Lacock.    Lacock was used for filming the BBC's 2007 period series  "Cranford"  and the 1995 "Pride and Prejudice" and its quaint cottages have featured in the Harry Potter movies, among others.

The villagers were having a scarecrow contest.  Well, it scared ME.    I think he's modelled on the Fat Controller in "Thomas the Tank Engine."

And talking of scary, here's the ghost of the decapitated Marie Antoinette in a London street for Halloween - note the red line round the neck - hehhehehehe!

And still on the scary theme, what about this bullet hole in a cafe door in Alphabet City, New York? I didn't want to be sitting outside there and having coffee, and nor did anyone else, apparently.

But let's switch to something nice. Icecream at the Lincolnshire seaside town of Cleethorpes.  He is leaning on a giant sized Mr. Whippy and eating a real one which tastes far better, I am sure.

And it was a wonderful surprise strolling through Parnu, Estonia, one autumn evening to find that the local theatre was doing a show for people passing by.  A large crowd had gathered.  At the top you can see a line of figures with candles, and dancers with silhouettes of musical instruments were performing to music in the illuminated windows.  What a great idea. It was free, too.

Although summer has gone, I took this reflective autumn photo of the last remaining nasturtiums one sunset in our communal garden.

Autumn is peaceful and reflective, but I'm not particularly so myself. I like the idea of cycling through a sunny Spanish winter.

Or I could enjoy settling down with a pint and a meal in the "Cat and Custard Pot" pub in Paddlesworth, Kent, dodging the low flying aircraft of course.  Well, it is the highest pub in Kent, and very near the Battle of Britain museum, so I guess you do need to be careful about what might fly through the windows   If you are interested in pubs and World War 2, drop into this pub next time you're in the area and check out its  collection of plane memorabilia. 

Since this is a "MISScellaneous" post, let me end with this newly discovered poem on the theme of "MISS" by Lewis Carroll.   Poetry was a passion with him, and he was fascinated by how poetry worked. His own literary ability only came out when he was writing things he thought didn't matter, though.  He was constantly making up rhymes and stories to entertain children,  friends or family, and thought they were nothing (he even thought "Alice in Wonderland" was nothing). But if he wrote prose or poetry about topics that he and his fellow Victorians thought were truly important, like religion, virtue, sin and morality,  he became self conscious, tense and dull.

I guess it wasn't easy being a Victorian clergyman if you preferred silly stuff.

(Here's the Caterpillar in "Alice in Wonderland" - thanks Marjorie!)

This poem, (only discovered this year in manuscript) is for a woman called Bessie Hussey.   In it, he's asking if he should call her  "Miss" Hussey (which was the polite thing to do in those days) or if she'd let him call her "Bessie" - far friendlier. Asking to use first names was a slightly cheeky thing for a man to ask a lady in those prim and proper days, so he is also asking her not to be offended.  

When I read this quaint little period piece, I thought it couldn't mean much to modern readers, but I liked seeing how he has put it together, using the word "miss" in so many ways, the clever use of alliteration, the easy, swinging rhyme and even the numbers of syllables in the words - and the way it leads up to a clever punch line.

So I expect Miss Hussey was pleased to get it, and I was pleased to find it. 

"Take not amiss this missile dread
Nor maim my mystic hope
Miscalling me a much misled
Mistaken misanthrope!

My missive’s meant to murmur this
With mute mysterious touch
If I should merely miss the “Miss”
Would you, Miss, miss it much? "

(Lewis Carroll in his early twenties)


  1. some really cool bits and pieces...the silhouette dancers are really cool...as is marie antoinette...the kid eating ice cream and hugging the mascot made me smile...cute...

  2. Jenny - you don't have to travel about to have material for truly engaging and informative posts! Your pictures and ruminations of same are wonderful today! Loved each one and the caption stories they told. Especially loved the MISS poem by our Mr. Carroll. Clever fellow, he. This might be a fun one to use with my students - ripping it apart for grammar, wit, and meaning with a history lesson on the etiquette of the day.

    Now, as to your desire to take Thanksgiving here stateside - you are welcome anytime. I promise I won't go on about that naughty King giving those poor pilgrims such a hard time that he drove them away. Funny - he ended up giving them the charter to come to America. So thankful for our English heritage in this country, though. Swiftly losing it, I daresay.

    Joy to you, milady!

  3. Your travels have taken you near and far and you treat us with that interest with wonderful photos. Thank you for your talent . . .

  4. Great Post!
    Quite fun to see a variety of photographs

  5. A beautifully eclectic collection of photos.

    That poem shows Carrol at his finest! Thanks for sharing it.

  6. Interesting photo in your header. Enjoyed this post and got a chuckle out of the poem. Nowadays even sales people and telemarketers feel it is fine to call you by your first name :-)


  7. I loved the assortment of pictures and topics. Referring to the request to use a lady's Christian name, I think those times must have been great. Now it's first name only, I am called Valerie by people I don't or never will know. Then again, the media uses surname only for men and women. I find both rather sad.

  8. This post explains well the meaning of “miscellaneousness” with the varied topics to non-native speakers of English, Jenny. I didn’t know it but now understand well.

    In fact, it’s not crows that are scared by the scarecrows in the dark but we humans. Here in my place, autumn is refreshing with cool and crisp air, blue skies and is inspiring with its final burst of glow. The nasturtiums photo is my favorite. The poet looks to have enjoyed playing with words. (My miscellaneous response.)

    Take care of your mother.Yoko

  9. I enjoy a good mish-mash, Jenny! I'm none too familiar with orderly and organized! Wonderful snaps. I must say the Estonian freebie show I would so personally liked to have seen! Enjoying your travels, indeed!

  10. I, too wondered about the folk on the chipboard bridge>. So much so that I had to go back to it, as though some clue might jump out of the photograph at me. It didn't.

    But I also had another look at Laycock, an old stamping ground of mine. Thanks for bringing back the memories.

    Brownie points for a massive - and massively interesting - post, I think.

  11. 1. Nice new header

    2. Those people on the chipboard stairs - they looked like they sat there for a photo shoot. For you! :)

    3. I think I'm one of those people who'd probably want to try and leap on the bridge while its opening if there's no gate installed

    4. Fat Controller rocks! Hahaha
    Aaahh... Thomas The Tank and stuff - memories. Son has outgrew the obsession for anything Thomas years ago. *sob*

    5. Ice cream is always nice. Great to enjoyed in any season. :)

    Hope your mom will get better. Take care.

  12. Love the Halloween costume with the red line around her neck. Think I might have to use this one next year ;o)
    Hope things are well with your mother, enjoy the time you have with her.

  13. Your new header is fantastic … although a bit startling because I didn’t expect it. Your musings about miscellaneous events, along with your choice of photos, are more meaningful in many ways than some of the dryer travelogues. The temporary staircase tells an interesting tale about society today. There is no connecting going on between the people on the stairs. Everyone is enraptured with their own little worlds inside their cameras and cell phones.

  14. That is a great shot of Tower Bridge opening. I think I could be one of those people that would rush on to leap the gap, but I have no idea why because I'm not really that way inclined. :D

    Maybe the people sitting on the chipboard bridge were so used to the beauty in Venice that they no longer saw it anymore?

  15. what a jewel this post was---best health to your mom <3

  16. That was a pleasant arm chair trip.

  17. I like the poem, a clever way to avoid the prim and properness of the times.

  18. What a wonderful, random, collection of pictures. And I was in Lacock one year during the scarecrow festival (they do one in Urchfont as well - that's particularly wonderful).

    Do hope things calm down for you soon.

  19. Curious story in miscellaneous photographic love. A hug and good week, snow and cold here, and I get the harsh winter.

  20. I love this far-flung series and got a nice chuckle from Marie Antoinette and that pudgy Lacock figure. Was wandering around Alphabet City just over the weekend and remembering when Ave "C" meant chaotic and "D" meant death - oy, things maybe haven't changed too much! Sending good wishes for your mother's health.

  21. All of your photos are fascinating but I especially like the header post. It's definitely a bat, but obviously his wings were clipped through the cruel years.
    Carroll's clever provided me with a big smile.

  22. Nice ... I just love the randomness of it all.

    Vicky x

  23. A marvellous miscellany Jenny. I do like your new header object too.

  24. I like the silhouetted dancers - a clever idea. Lewis Carroll's poem is ingenious but a bit cringe-making nowadays! I'm sure it went down well at the time though.

  25. I think that is a Pharoah Hound in the header. This has been a lovely post. I hope your Mum feels better.

  26. That was odd...while typing, blogger abruptly decided to take me back to the previous blog I was visiting!

    I enjoyed this post that had a little bit of everything in it! The flowers at sunset were gorgeous, and I plan to pass on the poem to my daughter who is taking and writing poetry this semester.

    Hoping your mother improves soon!

  27. Hi Jenny,

    What a wondrous, magical, thoughtful and varied visual delight. And the miscellany somehow all connects. Hope your mother will soon be feeling better. And with that, I'm off for a journey through the looking glass...

    In kindness, Gary

  28. Jenny, I loved everything about this post, from beginning to the ending poem, "MISS". I think it might possibly be the most perfect post for the entrance of winter (I know we have a few weeks). I am going to do a bit of research on the piece in your header. I hope you are having a wonderful week. Bonnie

  29. Yes, of course, he is Sir Topham Hatt from Thomas the Tank! He doesn't look too happy though! What a great collection it was really enjoyable to see the different views. I do like your new header photo- quite different, but I will miss your flowers they were so cheery!

  30. I loved this post - can we have more of it?
    Best wishes for your Mum's health... I don't know how old she is, and how realistic it is to expect a full recovery, but all the best for her and for you, too.

  31. Thank you Klahanie for the kind thoughts. Helena, the show was brilliant and I spoke to some local people who (if I understood them right) said that the theatre often put on free performances of various kinds to integrate culture into the life of the town. Yes, Darla and Valerie, I know what you mean. Not that I exactly mind being called by my name but sometimes I prefer to be formal rather than friendly. Thanks for the invite Kathy! It would be so interesting if you use the Carroll poem to your students, and if you do please post about it! :)

  32. A great miscellany. The first bridge was probably an exhibit in the Venice Biennale!

  33. Haha Alan, I hadn't thought of that! :) Thanks Meike, and I think there will be more "bits-n-pieces" posts in the coming weeks just because I'm not travelling anywhere too far since I had to cancel the Swiss trip. Still, I have taken the chance to visit a couple of interesting places. Ah, yes, Sir Topham Hatt, Karen. Thank you. I was digging in my memories of cooking supper while little folks listen entranced in the background to the boring old adventures of Thomas!! Thanks for the kind wishes, Jo, it is still pretty hairy really. I think they have scarecrow contests in quite a few places, another excellent one is in Metfield, Suffolk.

    Hmmmm A Pharoah Hound! I have never heard of that but it does look as if it should be something like that. I just love it. Now I have found out how to change the photos on the header (I told you I was stupid with technology, Alan) I will probably change it more often, although I might come back to the flowers from time to time.

    Nick, if you look into Victorian middle class life you will find that most of it is pretty cringe making. No wonder everyone wanted to bundle them away for years after. I always think the 18th century was much more alarming and disturbing, to say the least.... but a lot more fun too.

    I think Alphabet City still figures in quite a lot of news reports, but the real bad stuff seems to have gone somewhere else, Lulu, (so remind me not to go wherever it is, right?)

  34. Oh, and more comments to reply to. I think I have been enabling them in reverse order or something. I am sorry if I miss your comment out in these replies. It is because they are appearing in muddled order on my screen.

    I find it interesting how many people would try to leap over the gap. I think it's the same feeling as I get when I have an irresistible urge to chuck my phone into the river when crossing a bridge, a kind of mix of horror and "Well, what if....."!

    There's an amazing old photo of a bus jumping on the gap which is on a postcard you can buy. I think it was not a fake but a real stunt many years ago -not with passengers in I hope :)

    Yes, Jon, it is bat like and I was struck by the wonderful colour of the wings, lapis lazuli? But it could be a dog or a leopard or something. Or possibly it is nothing real but made-up. Wish they'd had a label on it.

    Stephen, you have hit the nail on the head, I think the poem was a way of getting around the idiotic conventions without seeming pushy. Bonnie and Dave, thank you so much for your nice comments. Carlos, I hope your winter is not too cold!

  35. Love your header, whatever it is, and all your photos - very interesting!

  36. Love your header. Is that lapiz lazuli?

    So many fabulous photos in your post. I especially love the chipboard bridge and the bullet hole in the NY window, very inspirational.

  37. Yes, Your header got me right away and then away we did go- This post is so much fun- traveling without any discomfort! Thank you! Curious steps in Venice, which should be placed somewhere else pretty quick- climate change will stop at nothing- I think about that and all the treasure in Venice ending up in the bottom of the sea.We have much the same climate as England- but I miss England so much- the amazing day trips and wild history- I miss her.

  38. Those chipboard steps are neat. I've never seen anything made out of chipboard quite like that.

  39. How lucky of you to have traveled to Damascus. Don't know when tourists would want to go back due to its current state. It not very nice to have that gentleman to hide in the bushes like that. Hmmm, you would think the cafe would fix the glass asap to not scare away any potential customers.

  40. hat a lovely collection of photographic bric-a-brac. You do get around, don’t you.

  41. Hope your Mum feels better.
    I really love this post and enjoyed the pictures!!

  42. I think the poem is enchanting -- and I love the fun of discovering many new things in your miscellaneous post! A perfect title! Thanks so much for popping by and your comments on my recent post. Yes, I too hope we will sometime find a cure for mental illness. Warm greetings to you...

  43. I've been across Tower bridge in London once and it opened up while I was crossing it too - I must have been stood just about where you are. Well worth the small delay just to see the bridge in action.

  44. A lovely enjoyable and interesting post Jenny and perfectly rounded off with LC's missive!

    Anna :o]

  45. Jenny,
    I came to know"miscellaneous" is such a wonderful and attractive word!!
    The ghost of the decapitated Marie Antoinette with the red line round the neck is very interesting, but also overflowing with pathos.
    The poem reminds me of the days when a man falling in love would send a poem to his lover. I wonder what a present young man sends to his girlfriend, maybe e-mail??
    I hope everything will be alright soon.

  46. So much! Such fun traveling through your post. ;)

  47. Delightful tour here, through your own quirky looking glass, topped off nicely with a delightful rhyme. If I had been Miss Bussey I would have laughed aloud (behind my fingers, of course) with pleasure at having received such a witty request for increased familiarity.

  48. It's raining a lot right now here in Sicily, lightning and thunder. I hope Venice doesn't get flooded again. Your pictures are fabulous, it's like travelling virtually. I hope your mom feels better.

  49. Cute poem...is that a thing to say about Lewis Carroll? I love your pics about town, especially I love the London Bridge opening up for water traffic.

  50. Really great header, oh so special Jenny.
    I enjoyed your randomness posting so much. Marie Antoinette certainly caught my eye too!
    Cheers now :D)

  51. Thank you so much for putting this poem on your blog!
    Will you add it to your book?
    Just a thought...when I lived in England in 1985, I noticed that as an American, I was used to calling people by their first names but it was considered rude to do so unless first asked. In other words, the whole time that we lived there, my neighbor was "Mrs. Tibbles" to me. Perhaps this has changed and it is one more thing that makes you more like America?

  52. Yes, my first thought was Sir Topham Hat (I think that's the correct spelling) from "Thomas".

    The header photo looks like a flying squirrel. Do you have those? We do (although, thankfully, not in our area, as MY WIFE thinks they are absolutely creepy things and I'm sure she'd spend half her day screaming if she saw them gliding from tree to tree.)

  53. Just another note to thank you for your kind and thoughtful comment on The Marmelade Gypsy. Suicide is a tough thing to write about and I appreciated your comment so much.

  54. Hi Jenny,

    Thank you for unearthing more Lewis Carroll treasures! Who knew there was more to discover. I do love the auditory qualities of his poetry as much as his imagery. Well, I've stayed too long outside the rabbit hole, so I'm glad you've pushed the door open again.

    Your new header is fascinating. It's so reminiscent of the ancient near eastern artifacts my husband and I got enthralled with at the Met Museum. Whatever it is, it makes me wonder if I should kneel and bow down low to it ...

    And what a coffee shop you found in Alphabet City! I had a dear friend who lived in that area and I would often go and meet her for dinner there or whatever. I don't think we ever noticed this bullet-ridden café! Not that we would have stayed long had we noticed that hole in the window.

    I really hope your mum gets better and you are also looking after yourself. (My mum was sick for 5 yrs. and everyone's life seemed to be on hold during that period, especially my dad's.) You seem to have taken enough photos from previous travels to keep us going until your next trip. So don't worry about us -- we're enjoying your archives!

    - Jenny

  55. Nice pictures! If I was needing a break, those stairs would be a nice place to stretch out and people watch. lol Cheers!

  56. Good fun. Particularly like the Spitfire

    Wishing YOU a sweet week,
    with Aloha from Honolulu
    Comfort Spiral

    ~ > < } } ( ° >

    > < 3 3 3 ( ' >

    ><}}(°> ~


  57. Wishing you well and thinking of you and your family Jenny, and I so enjoyed your 'bits and pieces' post!

  58. An interesting post of miscellany and I was very taken with the charm of the poem.

  59. I've no idea whether my comment went - Blogger threw a wobbly. Enjoyed the post and the charming poem.

  60. Your memories of travelling around seem to became more and more vivid as time pssing by....for me it's like a dream. I enjoyed your collection of memories very much. Take care of your mother and of yourself.

  61. I enjoyed your selection of photos Jenny. The Tower Bridge photo interested me specially. It was unusual to see the 'road' at that angle. I would have enjoyed a lick of that Mr Whippy soft ice cream too! - Dave

  62. I really love that stair picture. Love it!


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