Category Archives: Europe – Northern Europe & Scandinavia

Austria, Belgium, Germany, Scandinavia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzogovina

The War Horse at Mottistone

I re-watched “War Horse” a few nights ago, that wonderful film from the book by Michael Morpurgo that tells the tale of a brave horse and his human friend who both come through the horrors of the First World War after many trials and are finally united. **  As always, it reminded me of the story’s links with a real-life war horse and the man who bred and raised him on the Isle of Wight.    

Portrait of General Jack Seely on Warrior by Sir Alfred Munnings

The original horse that served in the war was called Warrior and his story was told in 1934 by General Jack Seely in a book called My Horse Warrior, re-published in 2011, then again in paperback in 2013 and 2014.  It tells the story of Warrior from his birth in a field on the family’s estate on the Isle of Wight and how, due to a combination of character and some twists of fate, he was able to survive Ypres, The Somme and Passchendaele in a war in which over 8 million horses, donkeys and mules died.  Warrior lived to the age of 33 and died at his home in Mottistone, Isle of Wight, in 1941 and in 2014 his bravery was rewarded posthumously with an honorary PDSA Dickin Medal (the VC for animals).

From a happy life in the fields of the estate on the Isle of Wight, Warrior was sent to war along with his owner, where as a result of his being able to survive so much, he gained a reputation for bravery under fire and was adopted as his formation’s mascot, as well as earning the nickname ‘the horse the Germans couldn’t kill’ – this from the Canadian cavalrymen he led.

His owner was no less brave. On the Western Front he was involved in some of the defining moments of the First World War and led one of the last cavalry charges in history at the Battle of Moreuil Wood, on his faithful horse Warrior, in March 1918.

And so we come to Mottistone Manor, first mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086 and today a National Trust property.  The Manor as it stands today however, was created during the 15th and 16th centuries but the gardens we stroll in came much later.  These were laid out in the 1960’s, to the original design, with seasonal plantings which are a delight even in winter.

Mottistone Manor

Mottistone Manor was bought in 1861 by Charles Seely who was a Liberal politician and philanthropist who had made his fortune in the Industrial Revolution, and the Seely who owned Warrior was General Jack Seeley, the First Baron Mottistone, known to all as ‘Galloper’ Jack. 

Below are a few images of the gardens from last time I visited.   

Of course, Warrior never wandered through these gardens but whenever I visit, I think about that horse and all the other animals that died in The Great War.  For me, Mottistone is a very fitting place to remember the brave Warrior.

The War Horse is now available on the National Theatre’s new streaming service National Theatre at Home. The iconic and multi-award-winning production of War Horse, based on the novel by Michael Morpugo, is available on demand for the first time since its premiere 13 years ago.

** The film was directed by Stephen Spielberg from a script by Lee Hall and Richard Curtis and starred Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, Emily Watson, Jeremy Irving, Peter Mullen, David Thewlis and Celine Buckens.

Lens Artist Challenge 164: Look Up, Look Down.

Linked to Lens Artists at Sofia’s here

The challenge this week is to show how we look up and then look down when we are photographing. I’ve dug through my images and come up with these.

Can you see the tiny church on the mountain top? It’s almost in the centre of the image. This was taken from a Gondola coming down from Mt. Pilatus near Lucerne in Switzerland.

And now we are going up in the funicular to Mt. Floyen in Bergen

And now for something completely different. Look down on the beach here, this is Utah Beach in Normandy, France, scene of the D-Day Landings during World War ll. Up these cliffs the Allied soldiers had to climb, cut down by machine-gun fire from the entrenched enemy in concrete bunkers on the top of the cliffs, and this after having waded to the beach from the landing craft. No wonder so many thousands died on that day.

The second photograph is looking up at the effigy of a soldier hanging from the steeple of Sainte Mere Eglise in Normandy. On 5th June 1944 a US paratrooper of the American Airborne Landing forces was caught on the steeple as he descended. He feigned death to escape being shot at and was eventually taken down by an enemy soldier from whom he escaped. The village has kept the effigy (hanging just below the white flag) as a reminder of those days.

Linked to Lens Artists at Sofia’s here

Life in Colour – Gold

Photo Challenge 26

Connected to Jude’s Life in Colour here.

A direct lift from Jude’s site tells us that this month we will be looking for Gold, the colour of wealth, of power, of gods. Gold-leaf applied to paintings, gold crowns and coins. But look also for golds in the natural world, a fish, a sunset or sunrise, flowers and autumn leaves or sunlight on water. Or capture the light in the ‘golden hour’.

So I managed to find two golds, but neither of them are my own photographs. They are images I’ve just received from a friend who has a pond stocked with Koi and this golden one is his newest addition to the waters.

Golden Koi

He also has some lovely ducks, some very colourful, but at the moment all attention is on the chicks, fluffy golden yellow ones with yellow webbed feet.

‘Hello’ world. My feet feel too big for me at the moment.

A Few More Reds

Linked to Life in Colour at Jude’s here

I’ve found a few more reds, two from St. Malo (France) and two from Belfast (N. Ireland)

First up St. Malo and my favourite restaurant which serves up moules in every way you could wish. My all-time favourite is the traditional mariniere style, and I like a spoon and some good fresh bread to sup up the delicious liquid that remains in the navy enamel bowl after the moules have been dispatched.

One Word Sunday – Bridge

A selection of lesser known bridges away from the crowds in London, where life is slow, barges are still transporting goods on the river, and the peace and calm is a far cry from the hub and bustle of the Thames we are more familiar with.

Then a hop over to Seville in Spain, where there are some spectacular bridges over the Guadalquivir River. These are just two, the first one being the modern Alamillo Bridge by the famous architect Santiago Calatrava, and the second one, built in the mid-19th century, is the equally famous Triana Bridge.

Life im Colour: White/Silver

I didn’t think I’d have another picture to add to Jude’s White/Silver challenge but I suddenly remembered the whiteness of lovely Stavanger in Norway, and I offer a selection to link to Jude here.

A hilly, colourful street in Stavanger

Link to Jude here.

Summer was Yesterday

Summer was yesterday, today reverts to normal English June weather. But click on the image and look there in the distance, two ladies sitting on deckchairs, the wind being deflected by a windbreak. Say what they like, but we’ve got grit in bucketfuls in the UK: it takes more than grey skies and chill winds to put us off sitting on the beach.

Spring’s last Flush of Colour

My one rhododendron has been magnificent this year but over the last few days I think it’s decided enough is enough. I see a fading beauty now whereas once I looked upon a blowsy pink lady. So I shall sadly say goodbye to her as I welcome the summer shoots that are already in evidence in the borders.

Rhododendron

Also saying goodbye to spring are the early tulips. In the mornings they are stately and closed up, standing erect and proud as tulips do, but by afternoon as they open to the sun I see a deterioration.

And looking towards the summer is my new baby Acer, still in a small pot but due to be transferred when the wind dies down, and the older, lovely red Acer which I’ve had now for 5 years.

Looking for Bluebells

The only ones we found

With a friend today to the National Trust’s Borthwood Copse on the Isle of Wight to search for bluebells. Normally at this time of year the woods are carpeted with bluebells and other shade-loving plants but for some reason this year, a cold spell at the wrong time probably, there were none to be seen apart from the lone clump in the photograph above. Nevertheless, the walk was enjoyable although I missed the picnicking families, the bounding dogs and the sight of squirrels darting up trees to escape their attentions, but we had the pleasure of intense birdsong as they celebrated spring with us.

Borthwood Copse was originally a royal hunting ground and it was bequeathed to the National Trust in 1926 by one, Frank Morey, who had purchased it a few years earlier to preserve it for wildlife. The land has been subsequently added to and it now covers a total of 60 acres.

Below are a few of the pictures I took today.

There are some ancient oaks, a grove of beech trees, coppiced sweet chestnut and some hazel trees: the woodland is one of the very few examples of working coppice on the Isle of Wight. Many small paths lead through the woodland which is particularly popular during the spring for the wild flowers normally found in abundance there and in the autumn for the vivid colours of the foliage: it is also home to large numbers of red squirrels.

Maybe next week the bluebells will be out and maybe next week I’ll manage another trip to Borthwood.

Guess whose shadow is falling on the flowers?