Bewildering Cares by Winifred Peck

Bewildering Cares by Winifred Peck was first published in 1940, but  Dean Street Press reprinted it in 2016.

The setting is Stampfield which is a market town in the English Midlands and it’s a week in Lent.  Camilla Lacely is married to a vicar, and it’s the busiest time of the year for them. The book is Camilla’s diary of that week, there’s a lot to write about and she does it in an often witty style.

Camilla gets herself into a fankle (tangle) with the parishioners as when the curate preached what they regard as a pacifist sermon, she slept through it all, so she has no idea what they are up in arms about! They are all for running him and his family out of town, and she can’t admit that she was having a nap behind a pillar.

The country has been at war for about six months, it’s the period generally referred to as ‘the phoney war’ as not a lot had changed, rationing wasn’t that bad yet and ‘blitzkrieg’ was yet to happen.

Naturally Camilla is worried about her son Dick as he is at a training camp and presumably will be in the thick of it soonish.  Memories of World War 1 are coming back to her and she writes: Already I recognize the syptoms of the last War, when it grew more impossible to pick upthe newspaper, so that I often discover Dick learnt more about  the years 1914-18 at school than I did by living through them.

But this isn’t a grim read, there’s a lot of humour and although the vicar and the work that he does is very much appreciated by his wife, it’s evident that Camilla is the one with the heaviest burden dealing with the locals, all unpaid of course. This situation was very true to life right up to the 1970s for women who had chosen to marry a minister/vicar, like my sister-in-law, but nowadays I think that most spouses have their own careers to keep them busy. So making cheese rolls for tramps at the manse door probably doesn’t happen now!

There’s an introduction to this book by social historian Elizabeth Crawford, and Penelope Fitzgerald described (her aunt) Winifred Peck as being ‘A romantic who was as sharp as a needle.’

The book cover is a detail from Village Street  (1936) by Eric Ravilious.  I love his art, he became a salaried war artist during WW2 and sadly died when the RAF aeroplane he was in disappeared without trace in 1942.

Bags-I the Georgian house in the middle of the cover!


First jigsaw – The Westbury White Horse

Jigsaw Of Westbury White Horse

It’s that season again – jigsaw time. It’s of The Westbury White Horse, which is in Wiltshire. The painting is by Eric Ravilious and the jigsaw puzzle has 1,000 pieces. So far it hasn’t been too frustrating, but all of those green bits might get me down. I love the wee steam train chuffing away on the left hand side.

During World War 2 the artist Eric Ravilious was a war artist. Sadly he died on active service in 1942 when the aeroplane he was in disappeared over Iceland. I really like his style of painting.

Art from the Second World War

 Art from the Second World War cover

Art from the Second World War is one of the books that I got for Christmas. It was published by the Imperial War Museum and it’s their collection of artworks.

I’m interested in the war although mainly from the social home front aspect, and many of the artworks depicted in this book are of war workers and even of people queuing outside a fishmongers and poulterers.

It’s a lovely book although some of the images are quite disturbing – such as the one of bodies in Belsen. I prefer to concentrate on the more domestic images.

It contains works by Paul Nash, Graham Sutherland, Henry Moore, Mervyn Peake ( I didn’t even know he painted), Laura Knight, Eric Ravilious and many more.

The image below was painted by Evelyn Dunbar.

Evelyn Dunbar

And the one below by Laura Knight (Dame) is of a balloon team.

A Balloon team Laura Knight

From the Guardian Review

Eric Ravilious Train Landscape

In Saturday’s Guardian Review section Michael Prodger wrote about Eric Ravilious who was a World War 2 war artist who didn’t survive the conflict. You can read the article here. I’ve always loved his art but all I have of his is a Wedgwood dinner plate which was designed by him. Prodger seems to think that Ravilious’s paintings of England were of a place which never really existed but the Train Landscape above brings back memories for me of sitting in a train compartment exactly like that one, going to visit an aunt in Sussex. The only difference is that the chalk figure picked out on the hillside was the Long Man of Wilmington, not a horse. You can see more work by Ravilious here.

Sarah Crompton writes about Poldark, old and new, here.

And if you’re interested in Orson Welles and particularly Citizen Kane you might be interested in reading this article by Peter Bradshaw.