Ship Ahoy!


This rather spectacular postcard is of Capstone Hill, in Ilfracombe, in the county of Devon in England. Above is my work in progress – still in its early stages and I suspect I may never finish it, as it’s ‘just for me’ (well, you know how that goes..)  – and below is the original postcard. Click once or twice on either to see them larger, the view will open in a separate window or tab.

I find the blurriness odd, particularly the way the clouds seem to have cosied up to the cliff and then suddenly thought, “no… wait… gotta stop here…” and pulled back a bit. I can’t make up  my mind if that is a haze from the printing process or actually a break in the clouds just at that point.

There are so many people in the photo… and all those deckchairs, and the wonderful bandstand and what was probably a restaurant with stained-glass windows, and… so much more.

But what fascinates me most is the sailing ship. I’d love to know more about it – if it had a name, where it sailed from, where it was going. It seems to have two dark sails, maybe with a design on one or is it just intersecting another? And were the dark ones black, red, brown, dark blue? And the rest of the sails are pale.

Someone who knows a lot more about boats than I do (aka ‘nearly everyone’) could probably tell what type of boat it is from the masts, the number of sails and their shape. Or I could look it up and get very, very distracted and never get back here to finish my post. That’s what happened a few weeks ago when I visited one of the blogs I follow, Textile Ranger, and got absorbed in her post Sailmaker on Board some of which (climbing the rigging – eek!) made my timbers shiver. But this is a brilliant blog about textiles that I love, do take a look. And if that post wetted your appetite, she has more on the theme of sails, some or all of which can be found via her tag ‘sails‘. Also, if it hadn’t been for her, I’d never have known how to embed a Google Streetview into my blog posts, a couple of which you can see and visit, below.

This is Capstone Hill as is it today. Click and drag inside the photo to move around in it and use your mouse wheel (if you have one) to zoom in and out.

And should you want a 360°  view (with click and drag) from the top of Capstone Hill, here it is:




26 thoughts on “Ship Ahoy!

  1. This scene looks so cool with its glass pavilions, and so much more humdrum in modern times, although it’s really nice that you can still climb to the top of that hill. And I love that you find the same scene nowadays. I think the card is coming along great, it already looks so much more alive.
    I don’t pretend to know anything about ships, but a few years ago, I did get to sail around on a tiny two-masted schooner for a week (a replica of the HMS Sultana), and pretty sure that’s a small three-masted schooner on the postcard. The dark sails are odd, but maybe, like my socks on laundry day, and they didn’t have matching stuff left clean.
    I also don’t know anything about film developing, but when I was in high school, a coworker of my mom’s let me in on a secret – there was an old darkroom in their building (they worked for a college) and he had the keys. He showed us some basic developing techniques, and I wonder if the clouds were actually the photographer “dodging” them in, to add interest to the photo.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s possible that the clouds may have been dodged, I hadn’t thought of that, though it takes a delicate touch to do it without whiting-out the detail completely. I’ll have to look at the original again with the sepia desaturated and adjust the tonal levels to see what’s left. Thanks for the suggestion! I’ll also have a look online at some images of three-masted schooners, thanks.

      Too much has changed in current times, hasn’t it? I wish they’d left the pavilion and the bandstand. Now, also, opposite from the postcard view but in our time, there are a couple of structures that look like chimneys and they’re, apparently, a theatre! (Though not sure how that is, with two of them.)

      For me, part of the delight in colouring these photos, though the originals also have this effect on me, is imagining that I am there, in them, in their time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I haven’t been there yet, but the little town in Pennsylvania, where my sister is going to college, has a collection of stereoscope cards – – the ones with two pictures, like those View-Masters we had when we were kids, where it looks two-dimensional. Those really work well for time-travel. Did you ever read “Time and Again” by Jack Finney? That’s how the book starts out, going to 1882. Every few years, someone says they’re going to make it into a movie, but they never do.
        I did notice those chimney structures, and wondered what they were.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Unfortunately I’ve lost (or never completely had) quite a bit of my binocular vision so most stereograms are lost on me. I had a few when I was a child which I enjoyed, so maybe it’s just gone over the years (I’ve several spatial problems, too. And another visual problem that – considering what I do, is quite surprising! I may write about them sometime… it’d certainly make a blogpost, lol!

          No, I don’t know that book… which is a bit odd as I’m addicted to time-travel topics.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Well, even without the stereo affect, they’re neat old photos, sometimes the only photos there are, of a particular place and time, like the postcards you rescue. There’s old postcards on Ebay, by a very distant relative, Robert Teel, who ran a small-town newspaper in White Haven, Pennsylvania, but to be honest, the ones I’ve seen are pretty dull, unless you live in that town.
            That book is great! In the ’50’s Finney wrote the book that became “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” so you know he’s a class act. (I never saw the ’50’s movie, but I watched the ’70’s remake, with its weird alien pods, and developed a fear of okra that lasted for years). But Time and Again is nothing like that, it’s time travel in New York City and really good story. No okra.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Haha – I’m also not a fan of okra, and haven’t even thought of Invasion of the Body Snatchers for it! 🙂 I’ll look out for Time and Again, thanks.
              I’d like to see your relative’s photos on Ebay (maybe send me a link by email?) but currently I only buy from the UK as, until they bring the price down (if they ever do) I refuse to pay the high customs and Royal Mail surcharges on overseas mail.
              It’s strange, though, what you say about them being dull unless you live in that town, because I find myself drawn to photos from towns that I’ve never seen. There’s a guy on Flickr (I’ve forgotten his name) who posts his family’s old photos from a dusty dirtbowl of a town and I’m fascinated by them – there’s nothing much there but because of that there’s atmosphere.

              Liked by 1 person

  2. That is an interesting place. There is a lot going on in the post card. I see why it keeps you busy. I like the use of the 360s to get a better sense of perspective.

    Textile Ranger has some interesting posts. I mostly interested in the wildlife ones.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Spectacular is the right word! I love the green of the hillside, and the light and dark shades of pink you chose for the stained glass. What purpose do you think the large arches originally served? Just above the top one, there’s a woman sitting alarmingly near the edge, though she’s probably on a bench, so she may not be quite the daredevil she appears to be from this distance. She’s looking intently at something in her hands (a book? knitting?). I wish I could stroll nonchalantly by and see what it is.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I’d wondered about that woman, too. I think it’s probably just an optical illusion that she’s right on the edge, as there is wire fencing all along that stretch. She may have her feet through part of it, possibly. Also, can you see to the left of her and up a bit, by the stairs to the next level, there’s a woman who looks like she’s taking off a jacket or coat? She reminds me, by her shape, of Olive Oyl out of the Popeye cartoons!

      The arches were probably meant either for storage (deeper ones in the UK are usually for that purpose) or as a break in the visual monotony of a plain wall. There might be something about their purpose, online, but I’ve not yet looked. The lower ones in this photo are being used for stacked deckchairs, and a sun-shelter for people sitting in the opened deckchairs.

      Thanks, Brad. I’m glad the colours work – though they will probably change later, as all my colourings go through many changes as they progress. I’ve not yet adjusted the light/shadow balance yet, either.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I see that Ilfracombe is on the north side of England’s southwestern peninsula. You’ve added one more incentive to visit the region someday (the only place in the country I’ve been is London).

    Do you know the year of the old photograph? I’m surprised how similar everything looks today.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t know the date but, from the clothes, I’d guess early 1920s. Almost certainly after WW1.

      Yes, it’s in North Devon. Devon’s a lovely county. Also worth a visit are Cornwall, Dorset and Wiltshire.


  5. The ship is a gaff-rigged schooner, and the dark sails probably are tanbark. The old song? “Red Sails In The Sunset”? Tanbark sails. There was a reason for tanbark in the days of cotton sails, when rot was a problem. To combat rot, they would soak the sails in tannins from tree bark, resulting in a colored, “Tanbark” sail that was more resistant to rot, mildew, and mold. My suspicion is that at one point all of the sails were tanbark, but as they wore out, they were replaced with white.

    If you do an image search for tanbark sails, you’ll find the color.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank. The time it takes depends on the complexity of the photo and on how much, if any, restoration is needed. Anywhere from an hour to several days or a week or more, depending on my schedule.


Pleasant comments welcome.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s