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Book Review: Maiden Voyages by Siân Evans

Maiden Voyages: Women and the Golden Age of Transatlantic Travel caught my eye in the library. I had already renewed it once before I began reading it, but once I began it I was hooked.

Siân Evans has done a huge amount of research to discover the stories of many women in the 20th century, who worked or travelled on transatlantic ships. Some of the stories are tragic; others have surprising outcomes in the way they have affected history.

While I was reading Maiden Voyages we heard the news of the P&O Ferries’ redundancies. This was another example of how badly seafarers have been treated historically. In the past there were no laws to protect workers. Now there is no excuse.

Before I had finished reading Maiden Voyages hubby began reading it. He is also finding it extremely interesting.

The strapline on American editions of this book is Magnificent Ocean Liners and the Women who Traveled and Worked aboard them.

Please note: For the month of April Sue’s Trifles will be participating in the Blogging from A to Z in April Challenge. There will be themed posts every day except Sunday. Read more about my A to Z Challenge 2022.

Fashions in handwriting

This post is a change from a book review. I have not been spending as much time reading recently, because I have embarked on a voyage of discovery. From the comfort of my home I can explore the past. Have you guessed? I am researching the family history of various branches, particularly my mother’s maternal line and both lines of my mother-in-law. I have made more progress with the latter as people had more varied and less usual names.

I like to look at the original transcriptions of census records. Enumerators copied the information from the forms filled in by heads of households. Some of the writing is almost indecipherable. Typed transcriptions are available. Often some of the details have been omitted or incorrectly transcribed.

A contents page fom a school project on the history of books
An example of my earlier handwriting. Notice how upper case T and I were written.

At school I was taught cursive writing. I didn’t find it easy to write neatly using this style. I held my pen too tightly and tried to write too quickly. In my teens I changed to italic script. However, many of the records are written in the style I was taught. Some capital letters are quite different from most of the fonts we are familiar with today.

An older style of writing was copperplate. It is a very even form of joined-up writing. Many historical documents were written in copperplate.

I have managed to deduce what some of the indecipherable words were by looking at census records for the same families at different times. What I jotted down as ‘Renul Maker’ turned out to be Pencil Maker. Pencil-making was an important industry in the Lake District. There is a pencil museum in Keswick, where the history of he local industry is presented.

But back to fashions in handwriting. By the time my children were learning to write, the style chosen was much rounder than earlier generations had been taught.

Styles of handwriting are also different from one country to another. In the past I used to correspond with pen-friends in France and Germany. Their style of writing was different from that taught in English schools. Where our n and m had arches theirs had gullies like our u.

How were you taught to write? Do you still use the same style of writing?

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Paint chip haibun

Linda Kruschke’s Paint chip poetry prompt is for a Haibun. For the definition, the paint chip colours and examples of her haibuns please visit her post.

What I would like you to do is write a haibun in the form of a travel journal or diary entry. It must be nonfiction. I want to hear about your adventures. End your poem with a haiku (for those of you who were hoping for haiku this week, you won’t be disappointed). You can include additional haiku if you like.

The paint chip words and phrases that you have to work with are before the rainmountain peaksupernovatumbleweedtropicalin the dark, and dust bunny.

I would like you to use at least five of the paint chips, including one in your haiku.

And there is no need for a title with a haibun, much like the haiku that has no title. But you can add one if you like.

Haibun inspired by journal entries in my Decomposition Book

Monday. We were driven from the airport towards the sun, setting bright as a supernova.

Pool in Japanese garden

Pool in Japanese garden

Wednesday. In Portland’s rose garden we explored the paths, read many labels and ate our picnic lunch before the rain. Then we visited the Japanese garden.

Waterfall beyond
a pool wherein koi carp
swim near the irises

Saturday. Visiting Mount Tabor we caught a glimpse of the mountain peak we had last seen from the air. Walking up a path we reached a gap in the trees. Mount Hood, which had been hidden by clouds on Monday, was clearly visible. An awe-inspiring surprise view.

It was June. Light evenings meant we rarely stayed out in the dark. We walked a long way in the city and its suburbs.

Tree-lined avenues
diminish tropical heat
of Portland’s sidewalks