I am currently taking part in the 5 Photos – 5 days challenge after being nominated by Dorne at  https://dorneawhale.wordpress.com.

Welcome to my final (slightly delayed) photographs for this challenge. Yes, you read correctly, for this post one photograph was just not enough to tell the story, so you’re in for a treat of six or so, some  of which are over seventy years old so please forgive the quality.

Firstly, the rules are as follows:

‘Post a photo each day for five consecutive days, and tell a story about each photo. The story can be truth or fiction, poetry or prose.  Each day one must also nominate a fellow blogger to participate in the challenge.’

Day 5.   Iron Men and Wooden Boats


I tell my son his roots go back to the island where my mother was born, to the island where his great-grandparents were born and lived all their lives. I tell him that the he is as strong as the granite rocks that their house was built on. Then, looking at these photos today I think I need to add an addendum to this statement. His soul is part of the sea fished by his fore-fathers all their lives.

boat in seas.jpbMy grandfather went out fishing at the age of 14, before than he regularly helped out on the boats.

This was the time when fishing was brutal and dangerous. A time when you had to be tough physically and mentally.  My cousins, a few who are professional fishermen today, readily concede they work in relative comfort and safety, with their warm spacious cabins, kitchen and dining area and a bridge worthy of a Nasa spacecraft.

two men on boatNo such luxury for my grandfather. No heavy duty machinery to help with the lifting, just a basic winch. The physical work was unbelievably hard and raw, for days out fishing in the cold winters of the North Sea only to return to cramped conditions below deck.

Disappearing boatAnd yet, these were some of the happiest days for my grandfather. Isn’t that wonderful? Life at its simplest, most basic, living every moment to the full, every second counting and the whole experience creating close camaraderie between the fishermen.

inside cabinA museum on one island displays the history of the local fishing over the past two centuries and they have recreated the inside of one such typical boat which my grandfather owned. Talking to his great-grandchildren whilst going around the museum I saw my grandfather’s eyes shine with happiness and then glaze over with memories of time passed, people passed. His words intense, burning their vitality onto our brain.

men on deck.jpbHe spoke of days spent out at sea and once, landing with a catch in Aberdeen, only to send a telegram to his wife, no, he would not be back just yet. The fishing was again so good the following week, that there was another telegram advising of a delay in returning home and then out they sailed from Aberdeen, heading to the sea and to the herring. Four weeks later he returned home to face a few seconds of scolding from my grandmother, followed by her and the children’s joyous love and hugs.

Foto Harbour2


I would like to nominate Jo at https://restlessjo.wordpress.com to carry on this challenge. I hope she enjoys the challenge as much as I am and look forward to seeing her photographs / writing posts!

I want to thank you all for following me on this 5 day photo challenge, which has been inspiring and led me down writing and memory paths I would not have taken otherwise.

Finally, I would like to give special thanks to my mother for the title of this post. Stuck for ideas I gave her a call and she immediately gave me this title; something she thought of many years ago to describe her father and his fellow fishermen.


  1. Pingback: Family Histories: LOSS OF A PATRIARCH – Nothing Gilded, Nothing Gained-Period Drama on Paper at Middlemay Farm

    1. Thank you so much for you warm and interesting comment. That’s real tough to lose your father so young. All the fishermen I have met are wonderful people, unassuming, deep quiet wisdom, infinite patience, loving. My grandfather was able to fish into his late 80s when his bad knees made it difficult for him to get in and out of the boat. We were very lucky, his great-grandchildren sharing the special occasions we would go out with him. Thank you for your visit and follow; I’m now following you too and will take a closer look at your blog and link. Take care.

    1. So glad you enjoyed it Dorne. To be honest it has also got me thinking a lot and remembering so many different events and stories. A sense of responsibility is growing on me to help preserve some of these. Hmm…

  2. Sorry to arrive here so late, Annika! Life sometimes gets ridiculously busy (but still enjoyable 🙂 ). I enjoyed your grandfather’s story. It can’t have been much fun for the wives, waiting and worrying at home.
    I’m sorry but this challenge has been running quite a long time and I used it to introduce some of my Polish family. Thanks for the link. 🙂

    1. No problem Jo and so true about busy lives. That’s the way to live though I agree! I was lucky enough to know both of my maternal grandparents very well and to listen to the stories of their lives. Yes, they did worry and no phones or such luxuries – just the telegram. But they took it as naturally part and parcel of their lives and they worked so hard at home. A treasure to have these stories.

    1. Marge, so glad you liked it. The photos are wonderful and nearly don’t need any words to go with them as they are so evocative. I feel they really do capture the essence of fishing at that time.

      1. Yes they certainly do Annika. It’s lovely going back into your families history. That’s the wonderful thing about having a blog you can upload all this as a much loved memory to share with your immediate family and your blogging community.

      2. Marge, When I started the blog I intended it to be mainly about my writing journey but it has evolved dramatically since, for the better for myself and readers. Yes, the opportunity to share family history is fun and interesting to write and I love reading others family stories too. Nowadays I find I am reading other’s posts much more than the newspapers etc. So much more rewarding.

  3. Wow, these are such great photos – they really capture the essence of just how challenging the life of a fisherman was during these times. I love old photographs, they are such priceless treasures. Thanks so much for sharing, Annika.

    1. You are right Lydia, the photographs are priceless and it is only recently I have started to appreciate them. They have their own intrinsic beauty, so full of vitality. Nowadays we are free to snap away by the hundreds on our digital cameras without cost but then every photo had to count as it would be developed at a cost, so I wonder if the photographers took more of an effort to capture just that perfect moment. So glad you enjoyed reading the post.

  4. Peter R

    Very brave and dedicated men. I’m sure they had a different perspective from those of us who haven’t put to sea in a small boat. I hope you’ll allow a quote:

    “They that go down to the sea in ships; and occupy their business in great waters;
    These men see the works of the Lord; and His wonders in the deep”

    1. Thank you Peter for the beautiful quote – at one with pure nature, God. I think the fishermen had a deep serenity and spirituality of whatever form that would take. Where is the quote from please?

      1. Peter R

        The quote is from The Bible, Psalm 107, and is used also in the Book of Common Prayer as a prayer to be said at sea.

  5. Mike

    What wonderful photographs – and what an apt description. It reminds us that they may heve been simpler times but they were much harder and hazardous. We often complain about the slightest problems in our lives but this puts it in perspective. These days we don’t really know we are born.


    1. It’s strange though, I don’t think they thought of it as particularly hazardous, it’s just what they did. Each era has its own dangers and stresses but I think when they were out there they did feel the full force of living.

  6. Mirja

    Absolutely fantastic Annika. Such a very strong story and yet also very emotive.
    You feel how these men loved the sea and their work but also their homes.
    The photos are wonderful and I hope you have saved them well for you and of
    course your son.
    Thank you!

    1. Thank you so much and I tried to capture the strength of these men; I was concerned I might not do them justice. The photos are indeed safe and I treasure them more now than before. Thanks again for your comment, Mirja.

    1. Thank you so much. The photos are a real treasure and tell such a story on their own. Morfar told us so many stories that were always interesting and full of life, as is so typical it is only recently I started to jot them down.

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