Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgic

Given the title of this week’s Photo Challenge, it seems legitimate to once more raid the archive.  This picture was taken in the early 1980s at the top end of the Trent & Mersey canal near Preston Brook.  The lady, Leah, was living out her days on the narrowboat she once worked with her husband, Jack Tolley, although the boat had long since stopped trading.  There is a sad nostalgic air to her expression which appears in a photo album from the time alongside these words of J R R Tolkien:

I sit beside the fire and think of people long ago,
And people who will see a world that I shall never know.Leah Tolley

I spoke to her and she was very friendly, not in the least concerned at being photographed, just mildly bemused.  I have included this second photograph to show more of her narrowboat; look closely and you will see the traces of a smile:Leah Tolley

(click on the images to enlarge)


  1. Jennifer · July 6, 2013

    Great image. Has a Walker Evans/Dorothea Lange documentary feel to it.

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  4. LaVagabonde · July 6, 2013

    She looks like an interesting character.

    • northumbrianlight · July 7, 2013

      I expect she had many stories to tell from a life we would barely recognise. We only had the briefest of chats, now of course when it is too late, I wish we had talked more.

  5. RobynG · July 7, 2013

    Wonderful portrait!

  6. Tina Schell · July 7, 2013

    Very nice – totally nostalgic!

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  10. greenmackenzie · July 7, 2013

    Lovely photos, and I love the trail of smoke from her chimney in the second shot. She seems full of nostalgia….great choice for the theme 🙂

    • northumbrianlight · July 7, 2013

      Many thanks Seonaid and I am glad you noticed the smoke in the second picture – it was really the thing that prompted me to include it in the post.

  11. restlessjo · July 7, 2013

    So love this header shot too! 🙂

    • northumbrianlight · July 7, 2013

      Many thanks, glad you liked it (the header shots rotate so not sure which one you liked :-))

      • restlessjo · July 7, 2013

        Softest sunlit water on the bay- fabulous. 🙂

      • northumbrianlight · July 7, 2013

        Ah…wonderful Arisaig, the natural world at its best – more at – http://wp.me/p2p6x6-tc
        Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment

  12. Mary Gilmartin · July 7, 2013

    I wonder if the narrowboat is still there, although perhaps she’s not. And, I agree sometimes we should take more time to talk to others that we meet along life’s paths. Like the photograph.

    • northumbrianlight · July 8, 2013

      Good question Mary – the narrowboat is called Mountbatten – it was eventually acquired by another working family, Ivor and Mel Batchelor. The last time I saw it was in 2008, again on the Trent & Mersey, when it was being used as the base for a Canal Ware business.

  13. Madelaine · July 8, 2013

    I love the quote by Tolkien. You’ve captured her so well…..something about her makes me want to cry.

    • northumbrianlight · July 8, 2013

      Many thanks – there is something about her wistful sad expression which suggests her thoughts are mostly with the past.

      • Wayne Boswell · December 7, 2014

        Leah is very well still looks gd.

      • Wayne Boswell · December 7, 2014

        Its my nans sister leah is. my nans name voilet tolley still both look gd and very well. Voilet tolley worked on ferret boat morton claytons

      • northumbrianlight · December 8, 2014

        I am very pleased that both are still doing well – life on the cut obviously suited them. Thanks for letting me know Wayne.

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