Monday, 25 July 2016

The Krakow Ghetto Pharmacy and a visit to Aushcwitz

Hello, I’m back from my break and looking forward to catching up with you all. If you have a question or would like to leave a comment, please do, I love to hear from you.

Taking a blogging break gave me the opportunity to read some of the books I've accumulated over the last few years. Unfortunately or perhaps fortunately I can never resist buying more so the size of my must-read pile remains virtually unchanged! One new book on the list is The Kracow Ghetto Pharmacy by Tadeusz Pankiewicz. I heard about it on a recent trip to Poland and was lucky enough to find a copy at The Oskar Schindler Factory Museum (Fabryka Schindlera). Tadeusz Pankiewicz was the only Pole living and working in the Kracow Ghetto from its inception to its liquidation. I’m sure it won’t be an easy read but when was anything worthwhile ever easy? Having seen the remnants of the ghetto walls and visited Auschwitz and Birkenau the Holocaust is uppermost in my mind.

This is the entrance to Auschwitz with the words “arbeit macht frei” which translated means “work will set you free."

According to the BBC historian Laurence Rees the sign was erected by order of Commandant Rudolf Höss. Made by prisoner-labourers the sign features an upside-down B, which has been interpreted as an act of defiance.

We thought we were ready for Auschwitz, but nothing prepared us for the overwhelming sense of sadness that prevails. The feeling of the place seeps into your bones and will not be left behind.

The complex is divided into three major camps: Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II-Birkenau, Auschwitz III-Monowitz and several sub-camps. During the Holocaust gas chambers using Zyklon-B claimed the lives of roughly one million people. Most of the victims were Jews, and the majority killed in this way died at Auschwitz II-Birkenau.

Auschwitz III provided slave labour for the I G Farben plant founded at Auschwitz in 1940. Farben produced synthetic rubber, along with high-performance fuels, various plastics, methanol, nitrogen and pharmaceuticals. The Zyklon B gas used in the gas chambers was produced by Degesch a subsidiary of I G Farben.

Auschwitz II - Birkenau

Entrance to the infamous Auschwitz - Birkenea death camp.

Several of the buildings have been converted from barracks into museum rooms. The rooms are used to house the "Material Evidence of Crime." This consists of piles of shoes, glasses, suitcases, kitchen utensils and the most chilling of all human hair. The Nazis not only murdered millions of men, women and children, they also "harvested" some of the remains. In the early nineteen-forties, a brisk trade emerged between the death camps, and German felt and textile manufacturers who used the hair in the production of thread, rope, cloth, carpets, mattress stuffing, and felt insulators for the boots of railroad workers. According to historians, it's quite possible some of the products are still in use in German homes today.
Auschwitz I

The collection of shoes is possibly one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen. Most are in the same dark grey colour, but a few are made from red leather, a poignant reminder of the red coat worn by the little girl in the film Schindler’s list. The guide who accompanied us around the museum said it will soon be 'updated' with new interactive exhibits. I’m not so sure that is a good idea. At the moment it is a stark reminder of just what humans are capable of and maybe it needs to remain that way.

Shoes and clothing of prisoners found at Auschwitz-Birkenau 
Photo Credit: US Holocaust Memorial Museum


If you are planning a visit to Auschwitz expect a tough day in more ways than one. Don’t assume you will find wheelchair access or level paths because you won’t. The site is not disabled friendly. It is also far larger than I ever imagined, and the only way to see it is to walk. We didn't find it too much of a problem, but if you have difficulty getting around do check before finalising any arrangements. 

I'm sorry this is a sad post, especially as it’s the first one for a while. I promise the next one will be more cheerful

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Books from my Bookshelf - Hans Andersen's Fairy Tales

This week I'm sharing another treasure from my bookshelf. When I found this almost twenty years ago it was in a very sorry state which might explain how it ended up in a charity shop. Thankfully, none of the colour plates were missing but the covers had suffered dreadfully. Covered in grime, falling apart and completely unloved I doubted it could be restored, but I needn't have worried because the book binder did an excellent job, and the book has smiled down from my bookshelf ever since! It still shows some signs of its previous history, which is perfectly fine with me. 

Hans Andersen's Fairy Tales
First published in 1913
Publisher Constable, London
Illustrations W. Heath Robinson

The Peasant's wife at the door of her cottage reading her hymn book. 
(The Wild Swans)

Yes! I will go with thee, said Tommelise, and she seated herself on the birds' back. 

We will bring him two little ones, a brother and a sister.
(The Storks)


The seventeen fairy tales are; The Marsh King’s Daughter, Tommelise, The Snow Queen, Elfin-Mount, The Little Mermaid, The Storks, The Nightingale, The Wild Swans, The Real Princess, The Red Shoes, The emperor’s New Clothes, The Swineherd, The Fling Trunk, The Leaping Match, The Shepherdess and the Chimney-Sweeper, The Ugly Duckling and The Naughty Boy.

She stood at the door and begged for a piece of barley-corn

Then began the Nightingale to sing
(The Nightingale)

Round and round they went, such whirling and twirling 

Suddenly a large Raven hopped upon the snow in front of her. 
(The Snow Queen)

"He did not come to woo her," he said "he had only come to hear the wisdom of the Princess"
(The Snow Queen)

The bud opened into a full blown flower, in the middle of which was a beautiful child
(The Marsh King's Daughter)

She put the statue in her garden
(The Little Mermaid)

All the images shared here are from my copy of Hans Andersen's Fairy Tales. This is just a small selection from the seventeen colour plates and more than eighty black-and-white drawings.

The Book Reader below is via Archive.Org, clicking on the link will take you to a larger more detailed version. Source:, Public Domain (Digitizing Sponsor: New York Public Library)

 Hans Andersen's Fairy Tales with illustrations by W. Heath Robinson:

Source:,Public Domain (Digitizing Sponsor: New York Public Library)

I'm going to be taking a short blogging break in a day or two, but I hope to visit all your blogs before then. I will be back at the end of July.  Thank you to everyone who visits me here, if not for you there would be no March of Time Books.

Me off on my blogging break with Terry in hot pursuit!

I leave you with this tiny posy from my garden. I wish I could share the wonderful aromas of Lilly of the Valley, Thyme, Daisy, Saxifraga, Veronica and Forget-me-not.  I know some of you don’t like to see cut flowers, but I promise it did no harm to the plants, and they will come back bigger and better next year.

Much love, see you soon. 

Monday, 6 June 2016

Aunt Rose a Guest Post by Brian Moses

Aunt Rose lived in a cottage in the Kent countryside. Just her house, the house next door, a farm down the lane, and then nothing till the village, a mile and a half away. She was a small, stoutish elderly lady and I used to stay with her for a holiday. it was a great place for a young boy. There were woods to play in where camps could be built. There were trees to climb and fields to run through. But there was one big disadvantage. Aunt Rose talked non-stop, mostly about things like knitting and jam making, things I wasn't the least bit interested in.

Aunt Rose could have talked for England. She was an Olympic winner in non-stop chat and everyone knew about her. The postman would draw up in his van. I could see him looking into Aunt Rose’s garden to see if she was about. Then when he thought she was nowhere around, he’d leave the safety of his van and scoot up the garden path. He’d push letters through the letter box and be half way to his van before she appeared. Then she’d call to him, ask him to do something for her, some little thing, anything, to keep him from getting back to his van.

Every time I stayed with Aunt Rose, there’d be a morning, when we’d wake up to find that cows had invaded her garden. The cows from the field next door had shouldered their way through a weakness in the hedge and were busily munching on her cabbages and lettuces. I’d be upstairs, looking out of my bedroom window when the door downstairs would open and little Aunt Rose in her dressing gown would appear with a tea towel in her hand. Then she’d hurtle down the garden towards the cows flapping the tea towel till it cracked like a whip. She’d bring this down on the backs of the cows but they didn't seem to feel a thing. They were far too interested in her home grown vegetables. For a few minutes she’d yell like crazy and slap down her tea towel on each cow in turn, but nothing stopped them. Next she would come back to the house and carry on alternately muttering and yelling while she got dressed and left the house to walk down the lane and tell the farmer to remove his cows from her garden. She had no phone so she couldn't ring him but it did seem strange to me that the slapping with the tea towel was a ritual that had to be attempted before she’d go and fetch the farmer.

By far the very worst thing about staying with Aunt Rose was her outdoor toilet. It was really just a wooden box in a shed. Inside the box was a bucket.  A round hole had been cut into the top of the box and there you had to sit until what was needed to be done had been done. For someone used to an indoor bathroom with a flushing toilet this was all too primitive for me. Occasionally it crossed my mind that someone had to empty the contents of the bucket when it got too full but I quickly moved away from that thought. All I knew was that it sure wasn't going to be me!

Equally worrying were the spiders. As I sat in the shed I was aware that all around me, hanging from corners and crevices, there were spider webs. And where there were webs, there had to be spiders! I wasn't terrified of spiders, but I wasn't too fond of the larger ones. In the semi-darkness I convinced myself that there were eyes watching me, small pinpricks of red in the gloom. Worse still were the ones behind me, the ones I couldn't see and who were probably ganging up and planning a mass bungee jump the next time I entered their territory.

At night, of course, the house was locked up. There was no way to get to the toilet outside, even if I was brave enough to risk it. There was, however, a pot beneath the bed - a 'po', as Aunt Rose called it, or a ‘gazunder’ (because it goes under the bed!) If I woke in the night and knew I couldn't get back to sleep unless I had a pee, that was where it had to be done. I hated it. I’d be desperately hoping that I could get back to sleep without using it, but many times I couldn't. And there it had to sit, beneath the bed, for the rest of the night. I was then supposed to carry the pot and its contents down Aunt Rose’s  narrow, twisty staircase and out to the toilet in the shed. No way was I going to do that! I knew what would happen when I tried to get down her stairs one-handed. I would be sure to slip and the contents of the pot would cascade all over me. There had to be a better solution.

So every morning when I woke, I opened my bedroom window, grabbed the pot and emptied its contents onto the flower bed beneath. I wasn't doing anything wrong, just following on from all those people in history who used to do the same thing. But they had emptied theirs out into the street and often over some unfortunate passer by. At least all I was doing was watering the flowers. “Strange,” Aunt Rose remarked one particularly dry summer, “Those delphiniums under your window are looking very healthy.” I'm sure she knew what I was doing, but for once she kept quiet!

Aunt Rose is an extract from Keeping Clear of Paradise Street; A Seaside Childhood in the 1950s by Brian Moses. Brian has published over 200 books for children and teachers and has been a professional children’s poet for 28 years.

He wrote this his childhood memoir in response to questions asked by the children during school visits.  He would tell them;

When I was a boy we only had black and white television, and that only had two channels: BBC and ITV. If we wanted to change channels we had to get up out of our seats as there were no remotes. We had no computers, no mobile phones, no Internet, no Playstations, No Xboxes, no X Factor, no DVDs, no iPods, no shopping malls, no pizzas, no MacDonalds... How did we survive?

If you would like to connect with Brian, please visit him at If you are interested in purchasing any of his books you will find all the necessary information on the website.

Brian hopes Keeping Clear of Paradise Street will be a crossover book in that adults who had their childhoods in the 1950s and ‘60s will enjoy the memories and find something to spark their own memories.

It certainly sparked memories for me. I read the extract and responded to Brian as follows;
The cows in the garden had me spluttering into my morning cup of tea – I remember it so well!  Only with me, it was my mum, tea towel in hand shouting and hollering as the cows trampled her prize Dahlias. We lived right next to the Dutch barn and cow sheds, so she only had to run to the yard (assuming the men were not all away in the fields) but even so, those cows could cause some damage!

If you enjoyed this post and would like to leave a comment about your own childhood memories or anything else, please do.  Your comments are always welcome.  

I received no financial compensation for sharing the above post and have no material connection to the brands or products mentioned.  

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Have You Read The Go-Between? A Guest Post by Simon Harding.

There’s so little time and so many books that you’d be forgiven for not having read every great work of literature out there – but there’s one novel you absolutely must put on the old bucket list and that’s L P Hartley’s The Go-Between.

First published in 1953, the story starts with an elderly man, Leo Colston, fighting nostalgia while looking back through his old diary from 1900, when he was just the tender age of 13. The majority of the book focuses on the summer that Leo spent in Norfolk at Brandham Hall, home of school friend Marcus Maudsley.

As a poor boy suddenly thrust in with the wealthier upper classes, Leo feels as though he doesn't fit in, although he’s made most welcome by his hosts. However, the story takes a somewhat darker turn when Marian Maudsley makes use of Leo to ferry messages of a romantic nature to Ted Burgess – a tenant farmer a lot further down the socio-economic scale than Marian herself.

Of course, the pair can never marry, something that the young Leo fails to understand. However, he grows increasingly uncomfortable with his role as go-between and tries to put a stop to it, but is compelled to continue by Marian. The story comes to a tragic and shocking end – but you’ll have to read the book in order to find out how it reaches its conclusion!

The book has remained popular over the years and has been adapted numerous times for both stage and screen. In fact, you can actually book a Go-Between theatre break in London right now if you love the novel that much you can’t wait to see it acted out in front of you. Make sure you watch the 2015 film as well so you can really immerse yourself in the world L P Hartley created.

Thank you Simon, I have to admit I've not read it, although it's been on my must-read list for ages. I haven't seen the film or the stage production either - very remiss of me!

Have you read The Go-Between? Or perhaps you've seen the film or the stage production?

I received no financial compensation for sharing the above post and have no material connection to the brands or products mentioned.  

I've been looking for an opportunity to share a couple of recent photographs with you. Our granddaughter Lilly was four last week so what better time than now…

Strike a pose Lilly – beautiful, thank you!

Lilly’s big sister started school this year; here she is at her first sports day. Well done Zoe it looks like you had a lot of fun!

With thanks to Karen & Steven for the photographs.

That’s all for now, I hope you are having a wonderful week.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

British Eccentricity on show at Chelsea

If Heath Robinson were alive today he would probably feel right at home in the Harrods British Eccentrics Garden. Spinning trees, shrubs that bob up and down, a flower border rotating around an octagonal folly, window boxes repositioning themselves and a roof that tips its hat!  

Diarmuid Gavin the brains behind the garden excels at the unconventional. In 2011, he designed a garden which he suspended 82 ft in the air!  In 2012, he recreated Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree, see previous post here. This year he pays homage to English cartoonist William Heath Robinson. “I like to have a bit of fun and try something new,” he explains.    

Heath Robinson best known for his cartoons of fantastically complicated machines died in 1944, but his madcap inventions have never been forgotten. To describe something as Heath Robinson is to portray something complicated in a funny way which is not particularly practical. The British Eccentrics Garden may not be practical, but it is certainly funny.

Imagine your surprise if you found yourself walking through this garden;

I agree with Diarmuid this garden sums up everything that is wonderful about Britain.  You don’t have to be mad to live here, but it certainly helps! This is British eccentricity at its very best.

William Heath Robinson pictured at his desk in 1929 via 

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

The Author behind the Pseudonym

Have you ever wondered why Charles Lutwidge Dodgson wrote as Lewis Carroll? Or why Theodor Seuss Geisel better known as Dr. Seuss had not one but two pseudonyms? Find the answers in the following infographic reblogged with the kind permission of Jonkers Rare Books.  

The Author Behind the Pseudonym #Infographic

I've been playing the literary name game and came up with Bobby Anne Harding for a possible pen name. This combination of my nickname, middle name and mother’s maiden name has quite a ring to it don’t you think?  If I wanted to disguise my gender, I could use the shorter and more masculine sounding Bob Harding.

What pen name would you / do you use?

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