top of page
  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

Odds and Sods February 2022

To enable me to catch up on a huge backlog of posts, I am posting my Odds and Sods with no commentary. If you have any questions about any of the photos please ask in the comments or on the Facebook share.

For the last two months I have been restoring lost blog posts after the Photoblog website went down in October 2021. Luckily some members had the foresight to make back up copies. I have now restored about 300 posts mainly because of the writing that I had added as commentary, which took a lot of time and research. My photos themselves were always backed up on numerous hard drives. If you are reading this then you have found my new blog site. Welcome. Going forward I should be making more new posts as the greatest part of the task of restoration and salvage is now behind me.

So here is a selection of randoms from February 2022.

These are two tasters from an ancient church I visited which will be posted soon.

February was a month of storms.

“There is always in February some one day, at least, when one smells the yet distant, but surely coming, summer.”

— Gertrude Jekyll

April is supposed to be the cruellest month according to T.S. Eliot, but looking at these, I am really not so sure.

In Salcombe we witnessed one of the lowest tides of the year. It reveals how shallow the ria really is, with just a couple of narrow navigable channels.

The lifeboat is permanently on standby, and manned by volunteers, even at this low ebb. The ria may not be particularly dangerous but the open sea along this coast is notorious for shipwrecks, being very rocky and one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.

The latest tally for lives saved by the RNLI in it's history is 143,100, in 2019 alone it was 8,941 lives saved. Paid for 100% by donations from the public.

27th February 2022, Mother and daughter rescued after being stranded on rocks, cut off by the tide. The daughter called the Coastguard on her mobile.

Plymouth lifeboat was also called to aid in the rescue and while they were standing by, rescued a capsized kayaker who also got into trouble.

So it looks like the commentary is appearing anyway as if by magic, despite all my best efforts. So much for that idea.

Sun Alliance Group plc was a large insurance business with its main offices in the City of London and later Horsham. It underwent many expansions by merger following its 1710 roots as the Sun Fire Office or Sun Fire. It merged with Royal Insurance in 1996 to form the Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Group. The company began as Sun Fire Office trading as Sun Fire, the oldest documented insurance company in the world.

Fire insurance marks are metal plaques marked with the emblem of the insurance company which were affixed to the front of insured buildings as a guide to the insurance company's fire brigade. These identification marks were used in the eighteenth and nineteenth century in the days before municipal fire services were formed. The UK marks are called 'Fire insurance plaques'.

This is the entrance to the ria which is also notorious. At high tide it looks very wide but as you can see when the tide is this low there is a nasty sand bar waiting to catch unwary boaters.

This portrait of the queen, below, is made from pearl buttons and is a visual pun, in case you didn't realise.

Pearls were hugely treasured in history as they were rare and only worn as jewels by the richest members of society. Today they are considered quite feminine, almost exclusively so, but historically they were worn by men and women alike.

Tudor portraits of men often show them decked out in pearls. They were the stuff of kings and queens.

La Peregrina

This beautiful pearl has a long and storied past. It was discovered near Panama in the 1500s, and then given to King Phillip II of Spain, who gave it to his wife, Queen Mary. Its name, La Peregrina, translates to The Wanderer. This pear-shaped pearl is huge, weighing almost 56 karats. After Queen Mary died, the pearl passed through the hands of other queens of France and Austria, and then to Napoleon Bonaparte. In more recent times, Richard Burton bought it for Elizabeth Taylor as a Valentine’s Day gift.

Just moments after Richard Burton gave Elizabeth Taylor the La Peregrina Pearl on Valentine's Day 1969, she lost it. Landrigan, who sold Burton the 55.95-carat pearl for $37,000, then heard a crunch. One of Taylor's dogs had the pearl in his mouth. Fortunately, when Taylor forced her Lhasa Apso to spit up the pearl, it had only suffered a few minor scratches.

But I digress. Back to the visual pun below. The image styled on the classic British stamp design complete with serrated edge pattern, is suggesting a Pearly Queen.

Pearly Kings and Queens, known as pearlies, are an organised charitable tradition of working-class culture in London, England.

The practice of wearing clothes decorated with mother-of-pearl buttons is first associated with Henry Croft (1861-1930), an orphan street sweeper who collected money for charity. At the time, London costermongers (street traders) were in the habit of wearing trousers decorated at the seams with pearl buttons that had been found by market traders. In the late 1870s, Croft adapted this to create a sequin suit to draw attention to himself and aid his fund-raising activities. In 1911 an organised pearly society was formed in Finchley, north London.

Back to the digressing. Speaking about traditional British stamp designs, British stamps are the only ones not required by international law to display the country name. This is a privilege granted due to the fact that Britain was the first country to use postage stamps. No living person is allowed to feature on a British postage stamp other than the ever present profile of the monarch. Every British stamp ever produced features a portrait of the monarch.

Until 1964, only members of the Royal family had appeared on stamps. The first non-Royal was William Shakespeare.

Sir Rowland Hill invented the postage stamp and the major innovation was that it enabled pre-payment of postage which was subsequently delivered with no charge to the recipient. Innovations like these always seem obvious after someone else thinks of them.

The first ever stamp the Penny Black was soon replaced by the Penny Red as it was realised that franking marks could not be clearly seen on the black colour.

Even though today's stamps are carried on a backing sheet and are self-adhesive, ready to be peeled off and stuck with no licking involved, they still feature the famous serrated edges as they did when torn from a sheet.

According to Guinness World Records, the most expensive stamp in the world is the British Guiana 1c magenta. It was sold in New York on 17th June, 2014. The final selling price is nearly one billion times the original face value of the stamp. It sold for $9,480,000 which is £5,588,577.


bottom of page