Some times you just need to be alone. You need space : space to think, space to breathe, space to contemplate your place in the great scheme of things. What better way to find such space than to get into a boat and row out into the middle of the sea. This is what this young lady did back in 1900 somewhere near Estonia. And her trip into the middle of nowhere was recorded and is preserved for ever in the Flickr Commons stream of the National Archives of Estonia. For Sepia Saturday posters who like a theme, there is any combination of girl, boat, middle and nowhere. Sepia Saturday strikes again!
"Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats." Kenneth Grahame Wind in the Willows.
Have you ever read Wind in the Willows? I didn't really read it. I listened to it and still have the LP adapted and produced by Toby Robertson for the Argo Record Company . There were two records but I only seem to have Record 1. Ratty was Frank Duncan, Mole was Richard Goolden, Badger was Tony Church and Mr Toad was Norman Shelley. Some quotes still stick in my head - chiefly one about spring-cleaning. "Bother spring cleaning" I quote incorrectly. It should be "Bother!" then "Blow!" then "Hang spring cleaning". That's what gets lost in translation. There were fabulous sound effects. I still can't listen to the caravan crash without wincing. I enjoyed reading the back of the record cover this morning. They sound as though they had fun making it:
"The making of the records was especially happy, the animals really seemed to be alive and real, even in the severe surroundings of the recording studio. The producer for the most part found himself addressing the actors as 'Mole and Ratty', seldom as 'Richard and Frank'. The warmth with which Mole was regarded by the other animals was most touching, and the terror of the Wild Wood seemed very real.' Harley J. Usill, Recording Director.
Boating was certainly very much a part of my childhood. Not so much since, but on the odd occasion when I have been invited out, boating has filled me with much joy. My father built a boat - a Mirror - a little tub with a red sail - which we proudly named Owl and Pooh (no prizes for guessing who Pooh was) and which he taught me to sail on Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra. Here's a rather unfortunate photo of me with my father and a couple of friends getting ready to go boating. I think that's the National Library you can see in the background left of this photo (which was a slide) and Black Mountain as the backdrop. It would have been taken from Kings Park looking across the central basin.
|L to R Judith, Jim, Punna aka Amanda and Alex|
I don't know that I was ever in the boat on my own. Probably a wise idea. My father let me go out once or twice with a friend on but I'm afraid with disastrous results. On one occasion I remember we tacked our way studiously to the end of a particular reach, (Tarcoola Reach I suppose) turning around only to have the wind fill our sails and, before we knew it, we were almost flying. I was hanging on to the tiller for dear life with the mainsail straining against the wind. We were tearing along! The wind in our faces, we were laughing -as I always do when I'm terrified. And then the tiller snapped off and we came to a grinding halt...in the middle of the lake. I waved the broken bit in my hand until we were towed back to shore by the water police and to my very grim father. I've always been one to learn by my mistakes I'm afraid. Here's a tip for novice tars (sailors) - sheets (ropes) don't float. They sink straight to the bottom and there's one still at the bottom of the lake if you want to go and look for it.
Here's an ad I found on Trove about a life jacket we must have lost on the way home once.
|Canberra Times, Wednesday 13 March 1974 - National Library of Australia|
When we moved to Sydney we joined a sailing club (I think it was Lane Cove) and would take great delight in sailing all the way to, what seemed to me like, the Harbour Bridge. On reflection I realise we couldn't have or wouldn't have and it was probably more like Birchgrove with a view of the Bridge.
My best sailing was done in my imagination in books just like Jo, I read as many of the Swallows and Amazons series as I could and dreamt of going on holidays on islands alone with friends. Perhaps that's why I enjoyed going to Straddie so much. Driving onto a car ferry still fills me with a thrill. Such a sense of adventure and a real excursion.
But let's go to other photos and exercise our imagination upon them.
I found this photo online at Gold Coast City Libraries Pictures Gold Coast.
Are you alone in a boat if you have a dog with you?
I think not.
Thelma Collins in a boat with Cinders the dog, in front of Hollywell House at Hollywell, Queensland, circa 1930 [picture] / Photographer unknown.
And I found this rather lovely one on Picture Queensland.
Woman sitting on a beached boat reading a book, ca. 1925
My maternal grandfather had a collection of tiny photos about boating featuring a mystery woman. I don't think it is my great-aunt (my grandmother had a twin sister). Here are the photos. Only in one photo is the woman alone. At least I think it is a woman. It is a bit hard to tell - the photo is so dark. These are quite tiny photos and unfortunately I have no idea where they are taken - somewhere around Sydney or Newcastle I imagine.
Mystery woman - was it my great-aunt?
|Tom McLoughlin and ?|
Here is a photo of my grandfather and grandmother.
What do you think?
Are the two women twins do you think?
My grandmother had a twin - is this her sister or someone different?
And then there are these two weird photos.
Different time and place I think.
Still in my grandfather's album.
The name of the boat in the last photo makes me laugh.
These are very Hiawatha type canoes don't you think?
For more messing about in boats head here.