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Click to buy Bembridge Lifeboat Station framed print (Fine Art America) © Sarah Vernon

This not my usual type of post to be sure but it’s something I find exceedingly worrying. If we don’t do something about the Isle of Wight ferry companies and the truly extortionate prices they charge  — Wightlink and Red Funnel — the Island where I now live will go down the drain. No political party in government over the last few decades has ever seemingly given the Island the money it needs just to maintain the status quo, let alone improve and repair the infrastructure and services.

One of the reasons ferry prices are sounding the death knell is that tourists can’t afford to come over and we can’t afford to get off, whether it’s to visit friends, see our families on the mainland or go to a better equipped and staffed hospital. During the heat wave, Cornwall’s beaches were packed; on the whole, those on the IOW were not.

I could say more about the way the Island has been poorly served over the decades but I won’t. To find out more about the knock-on effect of the ferry prices at The IOW Fixed Link Tunnel Campaign on Facebook and The PRO-LINK Campaign for an Isle of Wight Fixed Link.

As I’ve said before, I have known the Island since I was a child in the ’60s and it is very dear to me. I will not let it go down the plug ‘ole. With that in mind, I beg you if you are a British resident to sign the petition and then re-blog, post on Facebook, tweet, or any other kind of sharing so that the word gets out. A fixed link is the only answer that makes real sense but that’s a long way off. Cheaper ferry prices have to be sought for the interim. It may not happen but the campaign getting headlines could make the right person or persons think again about what can be done.

Empower the UK Government or Parliament to regulate ferry prices.
With current ferry prices being unregulated, companies are permitted to charge whatever they wish for crossings. UK residents living in such places as the Isle of Wight are charged excessive amounts for commuting or travel to see family and friends. Likewise for tourists going the other way.

via Empower the UK Government or Parliament to regulate ferry prices. – Petitions


The IOW Fixed Link Tunnel Campaign on Facebook

The PRO-LINK Campaign for an Isle of Wight Fixed Link

Take care and keep laughing!


I’m still not up to writing about my unexpected stay in hospital, the beginning of which coincided with a hotly anticipated visit from dear Janet Weight-Reed but here are Janet’s Isle of Wight impressions for you to enjoy and a description of her stay in Dorset with a friend from art school.

Part of the beautiful Isle of Wight coastline.

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony”   Thomas Merton. Stair Hole, Lulworth, Dorset – part of the Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage Sit…
Source: When life is manageable | My Life as an Artist (2)

Janet is joining me on the Island next week.

On my Lambretta scooter in 1965 (the same year that the Beatles wrote the song – ‘I’ve got a ticket to Ride’)   My friend Maureen is on the back.   She and I went to art col…

Source: ‘I’ve Got a Ticket to Ryde’…and remembering a much simpler time. | My Life as an Artist (2)

As some of you know, our summer holidays as children were spent in Bembridge on the Isle of Wight where I now live. The other week I trundled round on my mobility scooter visiting my favourite haunts. This shot of Bembridge Lifeboat Station through the trees is just where the steps lead down to the beach and to the exact spot we invariably used for swimming.

It is true the original photograph is rather appealing and some of you on Facebook have already seen it as my header but true to form, I had to play.

I used two textures from Design Cuts — a yellow-based and a green-based one. I ran the photograph through Topaz Impression three or four times to produce different effects. I chose to layer ‘Cezanne 1’ and ’Cavedweller’ (as you do) and blended them with the textures to produce a digital painting. I hope it pleases you as much as it did me in its creation.

Part of a paper read to the Ladies of Shanklin Evening Institute, October 1951.

“It is quite possible that some among you are quite ignorant of everything connected with Lifeboat work […] I have no intention of going back into remote history, or to the founding of the Institution in 1824.  Moreover, I expect you will think that I have gone back quite far enough if I commence with the time of your grandfathers, and I select that particular time because it was then that the proud reputation of the Lifeboat Institution was built up, on the great hearts and stout muscles of the grand old men who served as crews for the small pulling and sailing lifeboats stationed round our coasts.  But to really understand the heroism of these grand old fellows, and to give them full credit for their marvellous rescues, and for their self-sacrificing efforts, one must be possessed of…” Bembridge Lifeboat

Available at the following galleries:
Zazzle US
Zazzle UK
Fine Art America [14 fulfillment centers in 5 countries]
Saatchi Art

Take care and keep laughing!


Hello, My Lovely Friends,

I’m back, albeit at half-tilt. Bless you for your comments. Rather than the lovely break some of you sweetly imagined for me, I was undergoing a traumatic sea-change and I am now living back in Blighty, staying with friends until mid-July before moving to the Isle of Wight where I have bought a 300-year-old fisherman’s cottage.

I plan on lots of relaxation and recuperation for the next week or so but hope I’ll be doing the odd post until I’m back up to speed.


Yachts preparing to race at Bembridge Harbour, Bembridge, Isle of Wight [Wikimedia]

OSBORNE HOUSE.—This view of Osborne from the south lawn is the most picturesque, and gives the late Queen's apartments standing out in bold relief in the centre of the picture. The terraces below adorn the building, and the rosary which extends on the right to the lawn is gay with a blaze of colour in the month of June. Now that Osborne has been made into a Naval College, the grounds are open to visitors on Fridays in the winter, and on Tuesdays and Fridays in the summer season; it is visited by many thousands during the year.

Osborne House is a former royal residence, beloved by Queen Victoria, in East Cowes, Isle of Wight, in 1910 [Wikimedia]

Take care and keep laughing!



Victorian E-type carriage [Wikimedia]

In the mid-to-late 1990s, I started writing a piece of fiction aimed at what is now referred to as a Young Adult audience. As I have started to look back at all my writing to see what can be continued and what might need to be updated, I thought I would give you a taster of The Railway Carriage and see whether it piques your interest enough to  want to know what happens. There are another two chapters which were written at the time, and the story is based around a converted Victorian railway carriage on the Isle of Wight which was owned by my grandmother and was where we spent all our summer holidays as children. If so many of my belongings were not still packed up in boxes from the move to Crete, I would be able to show you a photograph of that very carriage, which had been painted white. As it is, I give you something similar from Wikimedia.

Chapter One

“Why didn’t you tell me it was going to be so painful? If I’d known, I’m not so sure I’d have gone through with it.”

I had to grab the banister to stop myself from falling.  Mum didn’t know I’d heard. She didn’t know I was there.  She was on the phone to her friend Sheila and I guess she thought I was safely up in my room.

I didn’t hear the rest of the conversation because there was too much noise inside my head.  It felt as if someone was drilling a hole in  my brain and pouring plenty of poison into it. So many questions.  Angry ones they were too.

Why?  Why hadn’t they told me?  What had I ever done to them that they should have kept something like that from me?  They’d been living a lie, pretending all the time.  Her and Dad.

Nothing made sense any more.  Apart from their love for Gabi.  No wonder they were so doting towards my baby sister.  Except that she wasn’t my sister, was she?  How can you have a proper sister when you’re adopted?  And what else could I be if Gabi was the first time Mum had gone through the pain of childbirth.

Looking back, I should have questioned Mum about it there and then. I should have walked on down the stairs, waited for her to hang up and asked to talk about it.  But I didn’t.  Then again, if I had, I wouldn’t have got to know Jakob and none of the other things would have happened.

Instead, I went back up to my room and lay on my bed for a good forty minutes.  It took that long for the pain behind my eyes to subside.  I couldn’t cry – I felt numb.

I couldn’t ring my best buddy, Sarah, because she was on holiday in France with her family. I didn’t even have a boyfriend who could give me some support because I’d given Johnny Lace the elbow when he forgot my birthday.  (A bit extreme, I suppose, but it was the straw that broke the camel’s etcetera.)  So I did what I always do when I need solace – I went down to the beach for a swim.

My swimming costume was getting too small for me but Mum had said that it would have to do me a little longer because they couldn’t afford to buy me a new one, what with all the stuff they’d had to buy for Gabi.  Second-best, that’s what I’d been in the weeks since Gabi was born.  Now I knew I’d always been second-best. Always would be.

It was mid-afternoon and the grockles were out in force but that didn’t bother me.  When you live somewhere that most people only go for a holiday, you learn to pretend the tourists aren’t there; either that or go mad.

It wasn’t the hottest day of the summer but it was pretty close and I stormed into the water not caring whom I splashed on the way.  You have to be careful of the rocks and seaweed but I’ve lived on the Isle of Wight all my life and I could draw a map of the rocks in Bembridge blindfold.

I suppose I swam up and down for about half an hour.  The tide was going out and when it was too shallow to swim without paddling miles out to sea, I went and sat on my towel.

A couple of children were trying to build a sandcastle nearby.  They didn’t have any spades or buckets so they weren’t getting very far but it was soothing to watch them.


Bembridge beach, Isle of Wight [Wikimedia]

There was no-one on the beach that I knew apart from Mr. Rozen. And I didn’t really know him.  He lived next door to us in a converted Victorian railway carriage set at the bottom of a small, overgrown orchard.  He kept himself pretty much to himself as far as we were concerned so I didn’t really know what he was like.

I nodded at him when I saw him.  He was sitting further back near the wooden steps that led up towards Swains Lane, watching those same children with their sandcastle. He nodded in return and smiled.  He had one of those very lined faces: wrinkles in places you didn’t think people got wrinkles.

I was glad that we weren’t on anything more than nodding acquaintance.  Right at that moment I needed to be left in peace.  I didn’t have the energy for polite conversation.  How could I when my whole life was in crisis?

Eventually the children nearby were gathered up by their parents and taken off for ice creams and I lay down on the towel and closed my eyes.

I must have fallen asleep because when I next sat up, the tide was right out, almost as far as the fort.  On a really low tide, it’s possible to walk right up to it.  I stared at the fort for some time before the full import of what I’d learned hit me with renewed force.

Only then did the tears start. And I couldn’t stop them, they just kept rolling down my cheeks.  I neither knew nor cared who noticed.  I felt so alone.  I wonder if you know what that’s like. My world had turned upside down and inside out and I didn’t feel able to trust anyone or anything.  It’s a horrible, horrible feeling.

I did once hear someone say that we come into this world alone and we go out of it alone but I didn’t want to feel so alone at fourteen. Who does?

And the tears kept on coming.  My body didn’t judder and my head didn’t twitch but the tears continued to fall.

“Tell me to go away if you wish, but a happy lady you are not.”

I looked up to see Mr Rozen.  I wanted to say ‘piss off!’ but I couldn’t find the right words.

“Would you mind if I sat down?”  His English was slightly accented and rather formal.  I still couldn’t speak and he took that as a ‘yes’.

“Is it possible I could help?”


“No matter.  You do not have to tell me.”

Why wouldn’t he go away?  Couldn’t he see my tears were none of his business?

“I cannot bear to see anyone cry.”

This made me cry even more.

“Olivia?  That is your name, isn’t it?  I’ve heard you being called in from the garden,” he added, as if not to explain would make it seem as if he had been spying on us.  “My name is Jakob.”

My body was shuddering now.  He put his hand on my shoulder but I was crying so hard that I was past caring about strange men on beaches.  In any case, he wasn’t a stranger, he wasn’t offering me sweets, and he lived next door.

It’s difficult to explain but the touch of his hand had a calming effect on me and the tears eventually stopped.   I told him that although my name was Olivia, everyone called me Mouse.

“Except when they are angry and calling you in for supper?” he suggested.  He was smiling now.  Really smiling.

“Yes,” I said, and couldn’t help smiling myself.


Happy old man on the beach [Wikimedia]

“No, no!” he cried when he saw me reach for a corner of my towel to wipe my face.  “You’ll get sand in your eyes.”  He pulled a wad of tissues out of his rucksack and handed me several.

“Thank you,” I said, and hiccupped.

“I have seen you many times swimming.  You are a strong swimmer.”

“I love it,” I said.  “It’s the only worthwhile thing in my life.”

“Oh now.  I am sure there are other things.  And whatever your problem may be, it will be sorted out.  I am certain.”

“How can it be?” I burst out.   “It’s awful!  I’ll never get over it, NEVER!”

“‘There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.’  Come.  Let us go for a walk.”

And I found myself walking all the way round to the harbour with him and back again.  Not speaking.  Just companionable silence.  I will always be grateful for that.  He knew that was exactly what I needed.

Perhaps we made an odd couple because I noticed someone staring at us quite intently for a while.  I’m average height for my age but Mr Rozen was probably about the same as me in spite of being so much older.  I didn’t know how old he was then but I found out later that he was seventy-three.

He never questioned why I was called Mouse but I told him anyway as we walked back home along Swains Lane. “I don’t do a lot of talking but when I do…”

“…you make up for it!”  He stopped outside his gate and shook my hand.  “Perhaps we meet again for a swim, yes?”

I nodded.  “I’d like that, Mr Rozen.”  It would take a while before I felt happy calling him Jakob.

I watched him shut the gate and walk down the grassy drive.  He was incredibly upright and solid for his age and if it hadn’t been for his wrinkles, you’d have thought he was nearer to fifty.

As I turned in at our gate, a  red Volvo drew up opposite.  I thought it was my father’s until I saw the number plate.  The driver stayed where he was and as I closed the gate behind me, I was aware that he was staring at me.

Sarah Vernon © 27-05-15


Take care and keep laughing!


Re-blogged from my history site.

First Night History

Originally posted on The Public Domain Review.

Photograph of a Sinhalese woman by Julia Margaret Cameron, 1875 Photograph of a Sinhalese woman by Julia Margaret Cameron, 1875

Leaving her close-knit artistic community on the Isle of Wight at the age of sixty to join her husband on the coffee plantations of Ceylon was not an easy move for the celebrated British photographer Julia Margaret Cameron. Eugenia Herbert explores the story behind the move and how the new environment was to impact Cameron’s art.

The Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron is currently undergoing a revival with a recent exhibition of her work at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. She has long evoked interest not only because of her distinctive style but also because of her eccentric personality, her dominant — very dominant — role in a circle that in many ways prefigured the Bloomsbury of her grandniece, Virginia Woolf. But there was another strand in her life that was…

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