Messing about on the river

Woman in 1st world war on boat with dog

Living in the city – in a flat with no outside space – I have no pets. It always seems wrong to me to confine something with 4 legs to staying in doors when they might not want to. And I don’t like fish or small wriggly things. And I really don’t like birds in cages.

So I do a bit of pet fancying. People who follow me on Twitter may have noticed my slight tendency to ask for pet photos. I’m not far gone enough to go to websites with funny animal pictures on them. But if I know a person and I know a pet, I like to see images. And sometimes in parks I eye up 4-legged things a-frolicking.

In amongst my collected bits of paper I don’t have many found photos (that is a whole other meme, not going there) but I do have a couple of nice Edwardian ones featuring ladies out and about. Initially it’s a costume thing that draws me to a photo (or a shop thing). Images of ladies trussed up, boned, be-ribboned, hatted and shod going about their business are endlessly fascinating to me. I like an illustrated fashion plate. But I also like social historical photos that show a nice bit of real fashion. Or costume, as academics would call it.

This photo is dated about 1915-18, so probably during the 1st World War. I have no idea where it was taken. But it is also a bit out of time, simply a really nice image taken on a warm summer day somwhere on a river. It’s a lovely rowing boat and a lovely perky dog.

The woman looks very tidy indeed in her striped shirtwaist blouse, silk tie and panelled wool skirt. Women’s fashions were understandably more circumspect during war years. Certainly there’s nothing frou frou going on here. Even her gorgeous straw hat – although wrapped about with a patterned fabric – has a nod and a wink to the military helmet about its silhouette.



the dog’s brilliant. Are they in a punt? I know it’s got oars, but still looks like a punt. And has she scooped something out of the water with her left hand to throw at the photographer? Very spirited the pair of them.

shelf appeal

Now, how would I know what is a punt. And what is not a punt? She may well have a scoop in her hand, good spot.

Julie Anixter

Lovely sensibility! Question for you — where is the shelf in this post? I am being dead serious…I am curious about your point of view!

shelf appeal

That is a very reasonable question. But this is ..a blog about things, anything, you can put on a shelf. And I have worse offenders than a photo. That can be put on a shelf. I have posted about websites, museums, exhibitions..none of which can actually be put on a shelf. I could tell you Shelf Appeal is all about material cultures but that smacks of one of those catch-all academic titles that make me shudder. So, like many a blog, you have to take it or leave the content to the vagaries of the author.


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