Reward ~ Weekly Photo Challenge

I enjoyed this Weekly Photo Challenge!

Fry's Five Boys

Fry’s Five Boys

I was what was known as a sickly child in the 1940s and 50s.  It turned out that I had Rheumatic Fever which left me with a variety of problems and no appetite (how times have changed!).  Because of this I was often unwell and my mum would get me Lucozade and a bar of Fry’s Five Boys Chocolate with Five Centres.  I guess it could be called a reward because 60 years later I remember every sensory detail!

Five Centres was produced from 1934 to 1992.  It was similar to today’s Fry’s Chocolate Cream in that it had a dark chocolate coating, with fondant inside.  But instead of peppermint cream there were five different flavoured fondant centres. In the early days they were strawberry, orange, raspberry, lemon and pineapple, all of which I loved.  In later years coffee, lime, and blackcurrant replaced strawberry, lemon and pineapple but I don’t remember ever having those.

The wrapper was deep blue and it had what looked like 5 boys’ photos on it.  But really they were just one boy in a sailor suit who was photographed with five different facial expressions.  The photo was taken in 1885 and the boy was called Lindsey Poulton.  He was, appropriately, 5 years old.  His father and grandfather took the photos and Fry’s chocolate company in Bristol paid them the considerable sum of £200 for exclusive use of the set.  The photos appeared in adverts and in shop windows for years.  As my grandfather had a little general store in Newcastle on Tyne in the 1950s the enamelled metal sign on the outside wall was very familiar to me.

I’m very grateful to pocketbookuk for explaining the facial expressions and I would urge you to take a look at their fascinating blog.

The five faces of Fry’s Five Boys chocolate on an enamelled metal sign. Desperation – no chocolate, Pacification – the promise of chocolate, Expectation – the prospect of chocolate, Acclamation – happiness at receiving chocolate, and Realization – eating the chocolate, and discovering that it is a Fry’s milk chocolate bar!


I can’t really leave out a couple of photos of my grandson and his rewards.  He is such an active lad, 11 now and always busy so he is used to getting rewards for his labours.  He is a boy scout and his uniform is covered in the badges he has earned.  He also plays football for his school team and a local team.  He sometimes plays in goal and is often man of the match, receiving cups and plaques as his reward.

Being a nature lover I have to include a few photos of rewards in the natural world.  Firstly there is Jock, the silver backed gorilla who lives in a family of 6 at Bristol Zoo and is a very popular animal.  He is so magnificent and such a good role model for his youngsters that he deserves lots of fruit as his reward.

The robin created a grand residence in a large plant tub in my garden.  He and his made laid one egg then disappeared.  I was really worried that they had abandoned their nest with this egg in it.  But weeks later they returned and more eggs appeared.  Apparently this is quite normal and the first egg hatched out with the others which surprised me.  I was so pleased to see the robins back that I overcame my squeamishness and rewarded them with a daily quota of live mealworms.

The beautiful carp was the first fish I ever caught ~ reward for my hours of patient fishing

Lastly the basket of apples were a reward for finding a beautiful open orchard in a church yard.  No-one seemed to be collecting these gorgeous fruits so i helped myself to as many as I could carry after checking with the vicar!

I have to say one of my favourite rewards after a day out is a whippy ice cream.  I share this passion with my husband and grandchildren!

Reward for walking all day in the heat at Bristol Zoo

Reward for walking all day in the heat at Bristol Zoo



A beautiful sight but a terrible day! What an understatement…

I recorded a TV programme this week entitled “Cosmonauts: How Russia Won the Space Race”, because it is a subject that intrigues me.

I find Russia fascinating:  The architecture, music, language, iconography, culture, and history, are all so different from what is familiar to me.  It appears exotic and intriguing.  I have been lucky enough to visit different parts of Russia several times and it never disappoints.  You can read about these visits by following these links to previous blogposts.

The reason that this particular programme appealed to me was because of something I stumbled upon during a visit to St Petersburg in 2003.   But before I explain, do let me tell you a little about my trip to this fabulous city.

By rights I should not have been in St Petersburg at all!  President Putin was meeting the leaders of the G8 and the European Union countries for a summit meeting and to celebrate the city’s Tercentenary.  Apart from VIPs, dignitaries and invited pop stars like Paul McCartney and Elton John, no foreigners were supposed to go to St Petersburg during the celebrations so that Russians could take pride of place.  Of course I didn’t know that when I made my arrangements!

St Petersburg is built on land reclaimed from the sea and made up of 101 islands linked by canals.  Its unofficial symbol is, appropriately for a great shipping port ~ a ship, while Russia’s symbol is an eagle.

The city has changed its name several times since 1703 when it was built by Peter the Great.  During the First World War it was called Petrograd.  It was here that the October Revolution started when a cannon was fired from the battleship “Aurora” ~ accidentally I was informed.  I saw the ‘Aurora’ which was still on the River Neva.  In 1924 after the death of Lenin the city was renamed Leningrad.  Then in 1991 after Perestroika, the first democratically elected mayor of the city, Anatoly Sobchak, returned the city to its original name of St Petersburg.

Many of the people in St Petersburg live in communal apartment blocks.  Indeed the first place I stayed in was a tiny flat in one of these buildings.  It was reached by going off the main street, behind some shops and up a very dark and dingy staircase to a door which, like all the others, was padlocked, chained and reinforced with steel! Not quite the self contained apartment I was expecting!  But as I went to put my cases away it got worse – I found a strange old man sitting on a dining chair – in the wardrobe!  This is the absolute truth.  I never found out why he was there and I moved out as soon as I could.

Despite this I found St Petersburg as a city incredibly beautiful.  I was there during the period of the “White Nights” when the sun never really sets and the night is as light as daytime.

I was spellbound by the beauty and grace of the canals, rivers and bridges; I was overawed by the beauty of the churches, the cathedrals, and the mosque; I was impressed by the well-kept parks and gardens; I was overwhelmed by the sheer scale and grandeur of the architecture; And I was mesmerised by the Hermitage and countless other museums stuffed with cultural treasures. To me St Petersburg seems to have the best bits of London, Rome and Bruges all rolled up in one great city.

The Hermitage Museum is of course world famous for its outstanding collections which cover every aspect of art, history, geology and culture. I was overwhelmed to see Rembrandt’s masterpiece, “Return of the Prodigal Son”.  This painting is huge and it was placed just inside a vast room but facing double doors so that as the visitor steps into the room through the doors, it seems as if she is stepping into the painting to be welcomed and forgiven by the loving father.  It was truly an emotional experience.

Having asked a Russian friend to rescue me from the tiny flat with the ‘lived-in’ wardrobe, I stayed in a luxurious apartment block next door to where Alexander Pushkin, Russia’s best-loved poet, lived and died after being shot in a duel.  Daily I walked up and down the worn stone stairs which Pushkin himself would have climbed.  I also visited the flat where Fyodor Dostoevsky lived and wrote Crime and Punishment.

By default I got to enjoy St Petersburg at its best with a full programme of activities planned for the 300th anniversary.  The Festivities started in earnest during the last week in May, the 27th being the official birthday, and continued throughout June.  Celebrations included a parade of ancient ships on the Neva, folk festivals, sculpture projects, orchestral concerts, fireworks on the river, sailing competitions, sports events, laser shows, a carnival procession, and art and history exhibitions.  Most of the events were outdoors and free!  There were new gardens being planted with countless trees, and rose bushes specially bred to withstand the very low winter temperatures.

Huge stages were erected in Palace Square for Alexander Rozenbaum and Elton John’s concert, and while I was there Paul McCartney and his then wife, Heather Mills, arrived to launch a new children’s charity.  Very appropriately Heather Mills announced she was expecting her first baby!  Sir Paul also received an honorary doctorate from the University.

Now to get closer to the point of my blogpost I will tell you about my visit to the St Peter and Paul Fortress where the first stone was laid for the foundations of the new city.  It was a memorable visit in many ways.  Firstly, I didn’t realise until I saw the blue and white flag flying on the fortress, that St Andrew is the patron saint of St Petersburg as we’ll as Scotland!  This fascinated me, especially as I know that our St George is also the patron saint of Moscow!  It’s a small world isn’t it?

The weather was also very memorable, as there was the most amazing storm while I was at the fortress.  Following a lovely start to the visit in glorious sunshine, there was torrential rain, thunder and lightning, then hailstones to follow!  I got soaked to the skin and took refuge in a deserted low building,  a sort of museum that was unknown to my Russian friends, and was not advertised or publicised in any way.  It turned out to be a real gem full of information, photographs and technology about early space exploration.  It was the actual building where the solid and liquid fuels were first developed for the rockets which enabled space travel.  Inside this museum, which surely would have been secret until very recently, we saw the actual Sputnik artificial satellite and all the technology that went into developing it.  I was amazed by how small and cramped it was.  There was also a display dedicated to Laika, the first dog to go into space and the preserved bodies of Belka and Strelka, the first two dogs who survived being in orbit.  Among many other fascinating displays of capsules, docking vehicles, probes, rockets, and space shuttles, there were the remains of the Luna and Soyuz spacecraft, and a display about Yuri Alexseyevich Gagarin (1934-1968) who was a Russian cosmonaut and the first man to orbit the earth, in 1961.  There was also the actual St Petersburg flag that had been on the Mir Space Station for 161 days.  The flag was returned to earth in time for the tercentenary.

Sadly there was no printed material about this museum and we were not allowed to take photos or film so it was just another wonderful moment to drop into the bottom of my memory.  But the thing that struck me most and has puzzled me since, was that it displayed in great detail the co-operation that had existed between the USA and USSR since the early days of space exploration.  I always thought that there was deep rivalry between the two superpowers but it seems there was actually a lot more co-operation than people generally knew.

So I watched the programme and it was confirmed!

I learned that rockets were being built as early as the 1930s but it was the 1945 Hiroshima bomb that kick started the Russian drive to build a rocket as a weapon because they felt threatened.  The Russian Sergei Korolev was part scientist, part engineer, part manager of the project.  By 1957 he had developed the R7 rocket which was 9 times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb but hopeless as a missile because it was too big, too heavy and too slow.  But it was kept for space exploration which was Korolev’s passion.  In October 1957 this rocket would carry and launch the first satellite to orbit the earth.  It was named Sputnik, which means ‘fellow traveller’.  It travelled at 18000 miles an hour and beamed radio messages back to earth.  Nikita Kruschev was president of USSR as it was then and he asked Korolev to develop and launch another satellite for the 7th November holiday.  To everyone’s surprise this was Sputnik 2 and it carried a passenger, the ill-fated stray dog Laika.  Although she had a capsule with food and water, the cooling system failed and poor Laika died of overheating within 6 hours of take-off.

By 1961 a man was prepared to be launched into space.  As everyone knows, his name was Yuri Gagarin and he must have been incredibly brave.  It took him just 11/4 hours to circle the earth.  His re-entry was alarming with flames rushing past the windows and a burning smell in the capsule followed by ejecting at 7000 metres above the earth.  However he landed, off target but alive, and he became a world hero.

In 1965 another satellite, Voskhod 2 was launched by the R7 rocket, this time with two men squeezed into the capsule.  Once in orbit around the earth one of the cosmonauts went through the air lock and drifted in space 500km above the earth.  He was almost lost as his space suit expanded due to the greater air pressure inside it.  His hands and feet were tingling and he knew he would not fit back through the air lock unless he took drastic action. So risking being starved of oxygen, he had to release air from his suit and get back into the raging hot air lock as fast as possible.  He did it but lost 6kg in that one day through sweating.  On the return trip the cosmonauts again had to eject and landed in a forest where they had to wait for 2 days to be found ~ no GPS or mobile phones then!

Unfortunately things started to go badly wrong in USSR after these triumphs.  The genius Sergei Korolev died in 1966 aged 59 after a routine operation.  In 1967 the cosmonaut, Vladimir Komarov, in Soyuz 1 was killed on re-entry. Yuri Gagarin was killed in a plane crash in 1968.  And in 1969 an explosion wrecked the N1 rocket and the entire launch complex.  The worst disaster happened in 1971 when 3 Russian cosmonauts were asphyxiated on re-entry due to a technical failure.

Meanwhile the USA was forging ahead realising a successful moon landing in 1969.  This was a great achievement but did not lead to further exploration, whereas the USSR was working towards manned space stations where people could live, work and carry out research in space.  By mid 1980s the first permanent orbital station was ready.  It was called MIR which was taken to mean peace, world or village; but actually “the word “mir” referred to a Russian peasant community that owned its own land”.   On MIR cosmonauts could live and work for over a year.  In 1991 as the MIR space station orbited successfully overhead the USSR disintegrated here on earth.  Money for the space programme was cut, indirectly causing another near disaster.  The cargo ship bringing supplies to the MIR space station crashed into it knocking out the electricity.  For a while the cosmonauts observed the sheer beauty of countless stars, polar lights and a spectacular aurora, from a position of the total darkness and absolute silence that can only be found in space.  One of the astro-physicists on board that day was an Anglo/American called Michael Foale, who recently retired.  In the TV programme he repeated the comment that it was “a beautiful sight but a terrible day”.  After this the MIR space station was abandoned to its fate and it burned up eventually when it re-entered the earth’s atmosphere after 15 years orbiting the earth.  It is amazing to think that over 100 cosmonauts or astronauts, male or female, from 12 different countries visited MIR.  MIR brought together two superpower adversaries from a long “Cold War” and taught them how to co-operate.  Mir also showed that we can live and work in space if needs must.  Men and women of courage can overcome terrible problems, and survive life-threatening situations by working together.

The International Space Station ISS, was launched in 1998 to replace MIR.  This is a collaboration between the USA, Russia, Canada, Japan, Italy, France, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, Brazil, Malaysia, South Africa, South Korea and Spain.

I don’t pretend to understand the work that is done on this space station, and I may be very naïve, but I do think that this peaceful collaboration can only be a positive thing.


Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Rule of Thirds part 2

Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Rule of Thirds part 2

I am still learning about this Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Rule of Thirds and it has made me go back over some old photos which I love to see if they fit into the rule.  I am finding it hard but maybe if I draw the grid on some clear cellophane I could put it over my photos and judge them that way.  I guess it is going to take some time to learn to see with a photographer’s eye but I am enjoying learning from all the brilliant photographers on wordpress.

Visual of the Rule of Thirds

Visual of the Rule of Thirds


Weir at bakewell in Yorkshire

Weir at bakewell in Yorkshire

Deer at Dyrrham park

Deer at Dyrrham park

Black faced lambs in the Cotswolds

Black faced lambs in the Cotswolds

Memorial to the Unnamed Soldier near Red Square, Moscow

Memorial to the Unnamed Soldier near Red Square, Moscow

Storm Clouds Gather over Wheal Coates

Storm Clouds Gather over Wheal Coates

grandson in Sandford Park

grandson in Sandford Park

Feeding the geese at Mary Arden's House

Feeding the geese at Mary Arden’s House

Rhododendrons at Warwick Castle

Rhododendrons at Warwick Castle

Sunsets over the sea  at Findhorn, Scotland

Sunsets over the sea at Findhorn, Scotland

Wet and Windy in Wiltshire

Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Rule of Thirds

Ben and Rosie set out on a treetop adventure

Ben and Rosie set out on a treetop adventure


This week was half term for the local schoolchildren.  As often happens, the weather, which had been mild for February, decided to turn nasty, wet, windy, and very cold.  Now I know from my daughter who is snowed up in Vermont that we have nothing to moan about in the Cotswolds, but I did feel sorry for the families who had planned to have days out during the holiday.  As I take my grandmother duties very ‘seriously’, I had planned all sorts of exciting things to do with my own adorable grandchildren.  There are lambs being born at the farm park, there is a baby rhino at the wildlife park, and the woods are full of snowdrops.  Oh what fun we could have ~ if it would only stop raining!  Undeterred we opted to go to Lydiard Park early to see if we could have some fun.

Having never been there before I decided to let the SatNav direct me.  This caused great hilarity as I had set it to stay off the motorways and we ended up on some of the tiniest country lanes with the weirdest names.  We made up a game of seeing who could find the funniest or strangest name.  I kid you not we found a house called Tadpole cottage, at the end of Tadpole Mews, in Tadpole Lane in a place called Tadpole Garden Village!  It is a new village built on the site of… you guessed it…. Tadpole Farm!

At last, and in a very cheerful mood, we reached our destination.  Lydiard Park is a beautiful historic estate in Wiltshire.  Back in medieval times, there was a deer park and manor house on the land as well as St Mary’s Church.  The estate as we see it today dates back to Elizabethan times and was owned by the same family for over 500 years until 1943.  There is a beautiful Palladian House, the medieval church and a restored walled garden, set in 260 acres of parkland.  In the grounds there is a lake, woods, sweeping avenues which are great for walkers and cyclists, and a superb ice house.

Despite the rain we had a great time.  The children braved the treetop adventure course which has over 50 hair-raising activities including zip wires, cargo nets, Tarzan swings, see-saws, rocket slides, wobbly logs, and tree trekking.  We warmed up and drip-dried in the café drinking hot chocolate before setting off to take photos of the snowdrops and the ice house.


I wanted to use my photos for the Weekly Photo Challenge but I really am not sure that I have the skills.  I could blame the weather, or my iphone camera but really I just haven’t understood the Rule of Thirds.  I took some photos of my garden hellebores and tried to crop them to the rule of thirds. Did it work?  Do let me know how I could improve.



Weekly Photo Challenge Symmetry

Happy Valentine Day

Happy Valentine Day

As I am posting this on valentine’s day I decided to use a photo I took in Dorset.  I was at the Abbotsbury Swannery on Chesil Beach and it was a wonderful experience.  The photo is not brilliant but it captures a beautiful moment shared with two swans that have mated for life.  Ahh x x x

I’m also quite partial to a few other photos taken a while ago showing symmetry of sorts

All Lives Matter

I was very moved this morning by the news that over five thousand people had gathered yesterday for the funeral of the three students who were murdered on Tuesday in a brutal attack at Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  This is on top of the three thousand who attended a candlelit vigil for them on Wednesday night.

I didn’t know these young people, but they were clearly much loved and respected by their community.  The people who did know them best, their friends, relatives and fellow students, describe them as inspirational, happy, caring people.

Deah Barakat, aged just 23, was known for his charitable work and volunteering which inspired others to do the same.  Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha  was his 21 year old wife and they were described as very much in love and recently married.  Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha was Yusor’s sister and was devoted to the couple.  She was only 19.

A neighbour has admitted killing them apparently.  How and why someone could do such an awful thing is beyond my comprehension.   Maybe he is mentally ill.  Maybe he is evil.  Maybe he was jealous of their youth, happiness and popularity.   Or, maybe he was prejudiced because of their religion, they were Muslims.  Whatever the reason, he is in the minority of wicked people who are destroying our world, and our ability to live together with peace, justice and compassion.  And today the world is a sadder place because of his actions.  As John Donne said in his famous poem

“Each man’s death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind”

But the crowds of people who gathered to pay their respects and honour their memory are, in my opinion, the normally silent majority who, though usually powerless to make change, are prepared to stand in solidarity when something is clearly wrong.

This is the mark of a caring community and a civilised society.

It is up to each individual of whatever age or background to decide whether they wish to be anti-society, or part of the silent majority who want to make the world a better place for all; not just for the people who look, think, dress and act like themselves.

I would ask today that we think about it.  And, in recognition of the tragedy that has befallen these lovely young people and their families, let us all do something, however small, to make our bit of the world a better place; a place where everyone is respected for their humanity, and is treated with dignity.  Find someone who needs your kindness, a child, a young parent, a teenager, a troubled adult, a carer, a frail, disabled or elderly person, and give them your time and attention.  Listen to what they are saying and make them feel that they are valued.  That their lives, however different matter to someone.


No man is an island,

Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

John Donne



Fascinated by the photos on the Weekly Photo Challenge, I thought I would join in this week.  The prompt is ‘scale’ and I just had to post a photo of scale model of a hare.

In recent years there has been a spate of large scale ceramic or stone objects appearing in towns and cities of the UK. Having mentioned it to my daughter last night I know that they have been seen in the USA too. The first time I came across it was when my grandchildren, Ben and Rosie went to London and were photographed alongside large colourful elephants. Wallace and Gromit were in Bristol recently too.
Next I heard of a Gorilla festival in Torbay and Exeter. There was also a festival of decorated horses in Cheltenham in honour of the races. Then it was 5 foot tall hares in Cirencester.
Why hares you might wonder?
Well Cirencester was a very important place in Roman times. It was called Corinium and had very good road links to the rest of the UK, such as Ermin Way and the Fosse Way. In 1971 during an archeological dig in Beeches Road near to the River Churn, a Roman mosaic was discovered depicting a hare. The original is now on show in the Corinium Museum.  Hence the theme of hares for the festival. There were about 50 hares around the town. Most of them were 5 foot tall and decorated by local people including schoolchildren, members of the public, celebrities and artists. All of the large hares were named to reflect their sponsors.  One of the most beautiful hares, named Tess, was on display in the Corinium.

Here are some of the others for you to enjoy ~