Pelican Books is the non-fiction imprint of Penguin Books. From 1938 to 1940, a few books within the series Penguin Specials (and thus given numbers starting with “S”) were given blue covers and labelled as Pelican Specials. These paperbacks were claimed by the publishers to be ‘books of topical importance published within as short a time as possible from the receipt of the manuscript. Some are reprints of famous books brought up-to-date, but usually they are entirely new books published for the first time. S16, which I finished reading this morning, is

Here is the frontispiece;

sample pages with drawings and texts;

and, in particular, the plates of the underwater pencil sketches. These were made on xylonite, a waterproof early plastic which would, when suitably prepared, take pencil.

The intense expression in this portrait of Robert Gibbings reveals the penetrating eye that provides his vision for detail; his evident power belies the delicacy of his hand. The strength required to manage his drawing in a fairly primitive helmet weighed down by lead piping to enable him to remain underwater is evident in the striking image.

Gibbings “was born in Cork in 1889 and educated in the snipe bogs and trout streams of Munster.” He attended the National University of Ireland, and in London the Slade School and the Central School of Arts and Crafts. During the first World War he served in Gallipoli and Salonica; in 1924 he took over the Golden Cockerel Press and ran it for nine years, producing books which will long remain some of the finest examples of English printing. It was largely through his efforts that the Society of Wood-engravers came into being. (From the jacket blurb).

This delightful little volume bears the author’s descriptive, poetic, prose; useful information about fish and coral reefs as they were 80 years ago. His eye for colour and form is evident throughout, and he brings an elegance of movement both to the drawings and to the wood engravings.

Originally published at 6d or 2.5p in today’s money, the book is so well made that it remains intact.

This evening Jackie will produce a roast chicken dinner. Before then Giles will collect me and drive me to the bird hide at Milford on Sea where I hope to photograph waterfowl. I will report on that tomorrow.

Reflections On Main Street

Comments from American friends on my recent post, ‘An Historic High Street’, have led me to reflect on our different terms for the main shopping streets in towns. The U.S. ‘main street’ is the U.K. ‘high street’. That of New Milton is Station Road, which I visited with Ian this morning as he needed to have a discussion at the Santander Bank.

When we left the bank, Ian left me at Fagan’s mens’ outfitters where I bought a jacket whilst my future son-in-law walked up to Costa Coffee where I joined him later.

En route from Fagan’s I photographed elements of this high street which could be no more different from that of Brockenhurst, only a handful of miles away.

Station Road 1

This first image demonstrates that earlier architecture has made way for that of the modern era. Sandwiched between a toyshop and the Halifax Building Society is the British Heart Foundation, on of the many charity shops which are taking over from so many defunct small outlets in our towns.

Boutique Charity Shop

That particular shop is reflected in the window of the Charity Boutique across the road. The Alliance Healthcare van speeding through the window display is a reflection of the gradual privatisation of our Health and Social Services.

NatWest Bank

Further up towards the eponymous station the NatWest bank stands at the corner of Ashley Road.

Station Road 2Station Road 3

On the opposite corner stands Boots Pharmacy. On the other side of Station Road is to be found Charles Nobel, one of several jewellers.

New Milton Lighting Centre

The New Milton Lighting Centre gives us Christmas decorations all the year round.

Station Road 4

The Hearing and Mobility Centre reflects the demography of the town and its environs, although Naomi House, a children’s hospice is a sad exception. Pets are a necessary addition to the local households, especially now their children have flown the nests. PamPurred Pets is quite a chain.

Flower Vogue

Flower Vogue has one of the few original shop fronts, and another jeweller alongside.


Morrisons is one of the supermarkets that has a presence here.

Morrisons 2

Satisfied customers are often to be seen outside waiting for a lift or having a fag. I think the fag in this picture was probably something else gripped in the lady’s teeth.

Coral Betting Shop

No self-respecting English high street is without its Betting Shop. This one is next to a greetings cards outlet.

Station Road 6

Although there is a cycle rack outside Morrisons, mobility scooters, like this one outside Boots Opticians, are as plentiful in the town. Acupuncture & Herbs, off-licences and money lenders offer different curative measures.

Barclays Bank

Barclays Bank was also visited by someone with a disability.

Station Road 7

Opposite Costa Coffee can be seen Scope, another charity shop, Lloyd’s Pharmacy and further hearing centre.

Station Road 8

A little further along we find the Lloyd’s Bank building, a rare survivor from the early twentieth century.

This evening Jackie provided a superb sausage casserole, mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, carrots and Brussels sprouts, followed by apple crumble and cream. She drank Blanche de Namur, I drank more of the Sotillo, and Ian drank water.