Category Archives: gifts

Lost. Found. Recovered.

Some of you may recall that I recently had a bit of a run-in with one of my neighbours. Welcome to the second instalment…

 

About ten days or so ago I decided to order a copy of this picture as a large canvas print.

Beach Post

Beach Post on Pebbles Beach, Carlisle Bay, Barbados

It was meant to be for my fab hubby to remind him of our perfect Caribbean holiday, which seems so very, very long ago now. We’re having a bit of a tough time right now, what with dodgy finances and (the FAB Hubby’s) heart surgery and a distinct lack of purpose in life, coupled with an increasing feeling of having been tossed onto the scrapheap of sentience. I don’t want to impose my life complaints on everyone, but these circumstances are not helping my increasingly severe depression and most days I spend staring at my computer screen, trying to find any kind of motivation to get something achieved.

Curtains
I have occasional spurts when I try to ‘pull myself together’ like a pair of curtains, but these rarely result in much tangible success, although I do keep on trying.

So actually gathering  enough *oomph* to select and order this picture was a major happening for me. I was so pleased with myself for achieving something.The picture is particularly sentimental for us as it is of Pebbles Beach, in Carlisle Bay, Barbados, where I learned to swim as a small child. Taking Mark there was one of the first things we did when we got into the hire car – the satnav wasn’t working, but I managed to guide him to the place without too much of a detour, largely based on forty-year-old memories and a keen sense of direction. To be fair, the island is only 14 miles by 21 so it’s pretty easy to navigate around, but I was still chuffed to have found it so easily.

Standing on the exquisite white sand in the most brilliant sunshine, I was suddenly eight years old once more, in my tiger swim-suit (long story !), whiling away my days, collecting precious shells and rolling in the surf on Pebbles Beach. The Aquatic Club bar – ‘Pebble Beach Inn’ as it was known then – also had a swimming pool although it’s gone now, having been redeveloped in the intervening years. Patrick (my bestest of boy-friends) and I spent day after day either in the sea or the pool, only being dragged out to eat or drink something then back in the water we went, like a pair of water babies. It’s a strange misnomer, because there isn’t a single pebble on Pebble Beach – and there never has been as far as I can recall, so it was shells that we collected on the rare occasions that we emerged from the water.

Showing my husband of thirty-six years this precious memory meant that finally we could share it together and this of course called for a stroll along the length of the beach. I snapped the picture from the top of the steps, then he helped me jump down the steps and being a rather rotund shape these days, I tippled forward and he, being the gallant knight that he is, staggered forward to help me, so that I would be spared the indignity of rolling into a ball on the hot sand. He’d been taking his specs off and replacing them with his new sunglasses – another, whole different story –  so this process was interrupted during the rockin’ and rollin’ around in the sand.

Fast forward for about an hour as we stroll the entire length of this gorgeous beach and begin our return journey. By now, the heat has gone from the day and the sun is beginning to set -the light is fading exquisitely albeit rapidly, as it does in the Caribbean, being so much closer to the equator and all that. I’m happily snapping away with my new camera at the scenery, the sand, the water, the sky, everything in fact. I turn to take a snap of the FAB Hubby; he’s looking puzzled and just ever-so-slightly panicky.

Why’s he fumbling in his shirt pocket?‘ I ask myself. Then I ask him the same question of course, to which his terrified face blurts out ‘I’ve lost my specs!’.

Now, I should probably explain here that FAB H is virtually blind without his specs. Modern technology has reduced the thickness of the glass these days to something that resembles one of those convex coffee-table paper-weights that people have favoured pressed flowers encased in, as keepsakes or whatever. Jam jars are a thing of the past. Well, mostly anyway. The thing is, he genuinely cannot see a thing without them. So this was a BIG deal.

The entire holiday was on the verge of ruin, for without his eyes, how would he see everything? How would we manage?  Plus, the damned things had just cost an arm and a couple of legs to ensure he had them in time for the holiday. Usually he has photo-chromic lenses which means he doesn’t need separate sunglasses, so there was considerable cursing of the incompetent optician’s assistant whose fault it was that we were now having to negotiate our holiday of a lifetime, minus the ability to actually see anything, since the actual reading glasses had taken themselves off for a little holiday of their own.

It’s quite a long beach it turns out.

We retraced our steps, trying to remain positive, in spite of the increasingly fading light, turning every grain of sand over with our hands and feet, checking to see where they may have been washed into the sea, for, of course, just to complicate matters a little further, the tide was coming in. Fast.

We’d almost given up as we arrived back at the steps to clamber back into the car.

And then I saw them, quietly, even contemplatively, watching the sunset  sitting squarely in the sand, exactly where he’d knocked them out of his pocket when he chivalrously came to my aid earlier.

Lost. And then found again. Just like the beach was.

Perfect.

Now, let’s get back to the present shall we… stop all this lazing around on tropical beaches!

So, I’d ordered this picture to remind him of our wonderful holiday and perhaps to help motivate us both into better frames of mind. I got a great deal and ordered it in a large size – my pictures are meant to be viewed in large formats. This one was about 60cm x 80cm. That’s about 2 feet by about 2 feet 8 inches for those who don’t do decimals.

Thrilled I was.

When I received the email saying it would arrive on Tuesday, I was still feeling thrilled.

On Tuesday I went out of the house for the first time in about … well forever… to go help some friends hang an exhibition in Scarborough hospital. I almost asked my other neighbour to keep an eye out, but she was busy with her three children, so I left it, thinking ‘We’ll be back in good time, it’ll be fine.

Famous last thoughts. ‘It’ll be fine.‘ HAH!

Upon returning home the neighbour and her offspring were still in their garden so I asked about the parcel and she told me our other neighbour, the chap from downstairs, the evil one who made me clean his drains out recently, he was the one who’d taken it in. I sent my son round to go pick it up, but there was some confusion about my apparently ambiguous instruction and the long and short of it was that no-one went to get the parcel that evening. I fretted and worried and got antsy and my *long-suffering men*  ignored my slightly manic state and pressed on with the heavy responsibility of watching TV (or rather, snoring in front of the telly) and raising hell in some imaginary computer game world. Ahem.

Fast forward again to the next morning, when, as usual we were woken by the sound of the recycling truck and staff collecting the recycling waste. Thinking nothing more than ‘Did you put the bins out?’ I turned over and went back to sleep, whilst the FABH got up and pottered about downstairs for a while.

When I rose,  Cleopatra-like, from my slumber a little later on, my first thought was about the picture so I asked if FABH had yet retrieved it and he agreed to put some trousers on and go to collect it. It’s best to not ask about the trousers – just let that one go for now, OK? 

He returned, empty handed, reporting that our (despicable) neighbour had no knowledge of any parcel whatsoever.

I was distraught.

I was beside myself with tormented thoughts.

It wasn’t adding up.

How could he not have known about the parcel? What could have happened to it? Where did the UPS chap leave it?  Did anyone see what he did with it?  These and many more questions began encircling my tiny brain Liz birdies– like the little cartoon birds that used to fly round Sylvester or Tweety Pie’s head when they crashed into something.

I fretted a little more. I envisaged every and any possible scenario regarding my parcel’s fate. Each  a more grisly fate than the last.

The FABH of course remained implacable in the face of potential chaos. He phoned the delivery company (UPS) and we had a delightful conversation with a lovely lady called Sarah, who assured me that the records showed that the parcel had been left in a porch around the back. I explained that this property isn’t what it seems and that ‘around the back‘ are two separate, distinct apartments. She sympathised and suggested that the delivery man might call me himself to explain where he left the parcel. We thought this was an excellent idea and readily agreed.

Then we waited.

Only, I’m not really very good at waiting.

The ants in my pants told me to do it.

I went downstairs and around the back and knocked smartly on my (beastly) neighbour’s door. He was on the phone and clearly, visibly, ignoring me. I could see him through his window. Eventually he gesticulated for me to let myself in, which I did. I asked him about the parcel and he flatly denied all knowledge of it.I described it in detail and he shook his head and threw up his hands, asking me what I wanted to DO about it?

I asked for permission to check his outbuildings- an aluminium shed and another, smaller, store-box, but it wasn’t there. I was even more puzzled now and asked him what I was supposed to think when I’d been told that the delivery man had left it in his domain, but it seemed to have simply vanished. As he sagely nodded his head and attempted to stand up to encourage me to leave, he slumped, in a drunken stupor, to the floor. After helping him to the nearby sofa, I took my cue and left. Clearly, I wasn’t getting anywhere there.

Upon my return, the delivery driver, Carl, rang and we discussed the situation with him. He suggested that usually in these cases, the ‘thief’ makes the mistake of putting the packaging into the rubbish bin, to which the FABH calmly stated that it’s unlikely he’d find any rubbish in the bin as today was collection day… and then we both looked at each other in horror as the realisation of what might have happened set in.

With tears (of anger, frustration, utter disbelief and the ultimate pain of loss) rolling down my face, we thanked Carl for agreeing to pop by the next day to check on the location of the parcel and then all we could do was sit and wait. Again.

I am really rubbish at waiting – we’ve already established this – so around six-ish, I went to call on our other (Polish) neighbour to see if perhaps Carl had been mistaken and left it in his kitchen instead. He hadn’t. And it turned out that our Polish friend had actually seen my parcel in the other neighbour’s kitchen.

What can you do when faced with such evidence? Clearly, I live next to an unstable and apparently vindictive man who thinks nothing of stealing our mail. I considered going to the police, as well as our mutual landlord, but persuaded myself these options seemed drastic. I even emailed the council in the hopes that someone might have spotted the brand-newness of my parcel and put it aside perhaps… to no avail of course. I didn’t sleep a wink and when Carl arrived the next day having taken a good look around the neighbour’s property, he agreed that the only thing to do was set everything in motion to replace the picture. He promised to drop the necessary paperwork off early next week and then he left.

Imagine how delighted I was yesterday morning then when Carl arrived with my replacement parcel! He confided that the paperwork hadn’t been required since, upon ‘further investigation’ (I know not what that entailed), my dastardly neighbour had admitted that he’d taken the parcel in and then put it straight into the recycling collection. Part of me still mourns for that lost picture, but at least now it’s sitting where it’s meant to be – above the sofa across the room from the FABH, so he can be re-inspired each time he looks at it.

Lost. Stolen. Recovered. Or at least replaced.

It’s a picture with a story to tell…

Thanks for reading again!

 

 

 

 

 

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A yellow rose

My FAB hubby has bought me flowers almost every week since we married nearly 36 years ago – except for Valentines’ weeks, when I simply object to the ridiculous over-pricing of this simple expression of love. I’ve taken many photos of the various bunches of flowers over the years, but this one, THIS one is as close to perfection as I can find. I just had to share it with everyone.

Yellow has long been my most favourite colour for roses – and I don’t know if this happens to you when you see one but I’m always playing a snippet of ‘The Yellow Rose of Texas’ in my head each time I see them. No? Just me then!

So, without further ado – I give you Liz’s Yellow Rose.

Yellow rose sm

A perfect yellow rose

*sigh*

Possibly perfect.

 

‘The Insect Play’ – preparing for life outside the bubble

It’s a funny old world.

For thirty-odd years we have had at least one child in school and in all of that time I have watched or participated in a great many school plays, either as a parent or as a teacher. This was to be the last one, as our youngest performs in his final production before graduating from high school (sixth-form college) in the coming week. It’s a teeny bit momentous really, for us as parents. Huge for him too, of course, but none-the-less an important milestone for us.

So what was this final production about then?

The GUS came home earlier on this year and announced that his group would be performing an adaptation of ‘The Insect Play’ by Karel and Josef Capek, a collaboration of Czech brothers, first performed in 1921 at the National Czechoslovakian Theatre in Brno. Their esteemed head of department at York College, Tony Ravenhall adapted the play from the original which has long had mixed reviews and I was intrigued to see how the enterprise would turn out.

Magnificently is the answer.

For those who do not know the play, I’ll give you a brief overview. A tramp in a park observes the lives of a variety of insects and (this is the clever part) draws analogies with human life, in all its glorious stages, from cradle to grave with diversions such as reproduction, gathering ye seeds while ye may, haves-and-have-nots, politics – most notably Communism, working for the greater good, nihilistic wars and Napoleonic world-conquering neuroses. Life and Death in sixty minutes. It’s genius is the crystal clear comparison of insect behaviour and life cycles with human ones.

The butterflies at the beginning of the play are hunted by a slightly loony lepidopterist (brilliantly portrayed by Emily Furness) their nymphomaniacal fluttering and flitting about is observed by the Tramp (equally well played by Josh Sissons) who (perhaps through his drunken haze) interprets their actions in human terms, as ‘bright young things’ from a Roaring Twenties champagne party. Some clever word-play, flawlessly expressed, coupled with well-choreographed movements drew the audience in even closer than the unusual ‘Promenade’ participation accorded and we were hooked, mesmerised by these young actors’ performances.

With just a tinge of sadness at the death of Victor, snaffled by a bird (off-stage), the butterflies flit-flutter off and the Tramp is intrigued to come across a pair of dung-beetles, carefully rolling their nest-egg, the sum of their life’s work, around to find a suitable place to hoard their ‘Lovely’; both Mr and Mrs Beetle are clearly obsessed with what they have amassed, lavishing far more love and attention upon it than towards each other. Mildly comical in appearance, the Gus made a very convincing Dung Beetle – a fact that concerns me not a little! Still, this is the hallmark of a good actor, being convincing, so now I am on the horns of a dilemma – proud  of his ability to morph into another character effectively, slightly disgusted at the idea of my son, the dung beetle. But, I digress, yet again!

The story moves on with the arrival of the Crickets, bedecked in The Green, with accompanying Irish characterisation, well portrayed by Anastasia Crook as a heavily pregnant Mrs Cricket and Louis Hague as her doting husband, Mr Cricket. Their poignant representation of the Middle Classes, concerned with a ‘nice new pair of curtains’ rang true with many of the audience; tragically they succumb to the voracious appetite of the Ichneumon Fly (played by Dan Burton), who is singularly obsessed with feeding his precious larvae, a  spoilt brat magnificently portrayed by Tasha Connor. The Parasite, assuredly played by Kirsten Allison, dressed in a proletarian shell-suit and achieving an impeccable Geordie accent, rammed home the pertinent message of the narcissistic, ‘Me-First’ generation.

After a short interval Act Three, The Antics of the Ants, presents an altogether ominously dark representation of life in a commune, with workers mindlessly following their leader’s instructions, all to achieve the most efficient and profitable outcome for the State. The snide provocation of War, in order to glorify the newly-self-appointed Empress Ant (authoritatively portrayed by Claire Rimmington) results in the chaotic breakdown of society, reinforcing the idea that pursuit of power, for its own sake, is reprehensible and will always end in total failure. The tramp, disgusted by what he has seen finally interferes with the insects’ lives by killing the leader of the victorious colony of ants, which ultimately causes his own demise. He dies. The Chrysalis, who has been interjecting continually throughout the play so far, is finally born as a beautiful moth, but dies almost instantly, with only the moths around the flame to sing a song of mourning. The three moths, Isobel Leger, Lydia Potter and Emma Berridge’s haunting, exquisite rendition of the newly composed song of the cycle of life and death cast an air of finality over the proceedings.

A delightfully comedic epilogue in which two snails painfully slowly steal the show, cleaning up the carnage and thereby renewing the cycle of life breaks the tension magically. The moving symbolism of other humans acknowledging the death of a fellow human being with the placing of a single rose upon the corpse of the deceased Tramp is not lost upon the audience.

I was struck by the importance of all of these messages to our young people, who are embarking upon their own careers forthwith. This version of The Insect Play clearly concerns itself with the greater questions of how to live in this world once life is bestowed upon us. The lampooning of human greed, complacency and selfishness emphasizes the relativity of human values and the most pressing need to come to terms with human life. How much more pertinent could a final performance be? It was a breathtakingly brilliant choice to undertake the retelling of this vital story. I’m sure that all involved will hold its message dear to their hearts for many years to come. I know Toby will.

The Insect Play, York College cast and crew, 12th June 2015

The Insect Play, York College cast and crew, 12th June 2015

Thank you to all the staff at York College for such insightful and valuable lessons to our children, who have matured into interesting, informed and intuitive young adults under your tutelage; may I offer my good wishes to all the graduates for success in the future.

Thanks for reading once again, my friends!

 

 

Kitten Therapy: Bae style

A little while ago – on my daughter’s thirty-somethingth birthday (that would have been on the fourth of February – I am not so addled that I don’t recall the day of her birth in exact detail!) – she announced that the family would be joined by a new member very shortly.

What has a short, needle-shaped tail?

What has a short, needle-shaped tail?

This little life would be around eight weeks old, have two fairly pointy ears, blue eyes (probably) and a short, aciculated and very furry little tail. My heart went flip-flop.

Oh, my!  How very exciting!

I love kittens. Who doesn’t? Their sheer joy at discovering all that life has to offer is just so intensely palpable and who could not be moved to mush by the sight of a tiny creature clearly accumulating understanding and intelligence before your very eyes? How often do you get to see THAT happen?

So I was thrilled to bits to hear this lovely news. She told me all the details and within an hour of arriving home, we were Skyping so that I could meet the precious one.

Jet black from head to toe, with the cerulean windows on her little soul staring right through me, I fell in love instantly. What a beauty!

What gorgeous eyes you have my dear...

What gorgeous eyes you have my dear…

She had been instantly inquisitive, following her nose to explore the room upon arrival and release from her travelling basket. No nervousness apparent, just intense curiosity about her new surroundings. She’d had a little while to explore the physical area of the room and now her slaves had presented her with a fenestral rectangle that showed a strange humanoid, who looked remarkably similar to the human who seemed to be the one in charge in this new establishment, gushing and gooing, smiling and looking like she too might make an excellent slave. The kitten repeatedly sniffed at the I-Pad and batted it experimentally to gauge its purpose. Each time she did this, excitable sounds emitted from the device as I drank in my virtual kitten therapy.

Bae knows what she wants

Bae knows what she wants

It was a couple of weeks before we could meet in person, during which time this ritual of regular Skyping became ever more exciting for me, but possibly less so for Bae.

I was a little confused at first, as I thought my daughter had said her name was ‘Fay’, but no, this little kitten is destined to have a much grander name. Not that Fay isn’t a grand name – of course it is. Just not quite as impressive as ‘Bellefire Rover Nightshade Everitt’.

Or ‘Bae’ for short.

Natalie patiently explained that Bae was a derivative from Bellefire (at least, that’s what I think she said…) and that it suited her perfectly.  I checked out ‘Bae’ on Google and discovered a hotbed of controversy surrounding the use of the word, the consensus of which seems to be that it is a TLA (three-letter-acronym) for ‘Before All Else’. That or urban slang for a significant other, as in ‘my bae (baby) is my life‘ amongst other equally vomit-inducing sentiments that I simply cannot bring myself to type. Regardless of  wrangling about etymology, I actually agree that it is a name that suits this little ball of fluff.

Toby and Bae - just hanging out

Toby and Bae – just hanging out

We finally met last weekend. She is totally adorable. We were completely captivated by her antics, which included an indefatigable inability to ignore any tiny scratching noise made by the GUS’s fingers on the sofa – this guarantees her pouncing presence within three seconds of her hearing it. Once she had ambushed his hand for the thousandth time, she would move on to the needle-sharp nibbling of the fingers, often accompanied by inquisitorial osculation, presumably testing the waters in the same manner that a human child explores the world through their mouths. Toby has many tiny pinholes in his hands to show how much she loved playing with him too.

Harrie simply loves Bae

Harrie simply loves Bae

The little girls (Harriet and Scarlett) simply cannot get over the fact that they have a real, live kitten in their lives. All the time. Harrie would be very happy to spend every waking moment in the company of this small creature, as well as every sleeping one too. Preferably though, there would be none of that time-wasting on sleeping. Play. Play. PLAY time is precious!

Bae has developed a healthy wariness of Harrie’s chubby little hands as they bear down upon her, relentlessly. Harrie can’t help it, this kitten has us all in the pad of her purr-fect paws, so utterly charming is she. Fortunately, kittens are generally much faster on their feet than four-year-old human children and she’s keeping on top of that situation, which is reassuring for all animal lovers I hope.

She even melted the heart of my FAB hubby, who has repeatedly insisted that no more small furry creatures will invade our lives. Even when faced with an epidemic of tiny rodents who insist on sharing this large farmhouse with us – and I’m really beginning to get why the Farmer’s Wife chased after them all with a carving knife – he has resisted the temptation to get another cat of our own. Bae worked her magic whilst we popped out to play on the park with the children (our grandchildren, not just some random small people, ‘cos, well, THAT would be wHeird!), by playing with his feet whilst he did some washing-up and purring *very loudly* when he bent down to pat her. I think she hypnotised him with her Jedi-Cat Mind Tricks. It’s the only explanation. Well, she is a black cat after all…

We were very carefully monitored each time we left the house this weekend, to ensure that Bae wasn’t being cat-napped in one or other of our pockets. It was a distinct possibility, that we might ‘borrow’ her for a few days/weeks/months/years. But I’m not a complete ass – I know she belongs to my daughter. I just get to have a kitten-fix whenever I feel the need for a little while at least. And we can all do with a little kitten therapy in our lives, I’m sure.

Thanks for reading again my friends!

 

 

 

Serenity

A new piece of art this evening – a simple digital collage from our walk in the woods a couple of weeks ago. I love the way the light found its way through the trees, creating an atmosphere of serenity. I hope it gives you peace to see it.

Serenity

Serenity

Empty Nests

I’m back.

For a while there I was engulfed in a mortified mire of misery, submerged in suffocating self-loathing as ‘dark as the helmsman’s bark of old that ferried to hell the dead‘ as A. C. Swinburne once said.

When I get so depressed that all I can do is try to beat the world at Scrabble or match rows of analogous ‘Bejewelled’ gems to pass the time, and then bemoan my lack of purpose so that this is almost the only thing that keeps my grey matter from stagnating utterly, I cannot write at all. I should, because the whole process is rewardingly cathartic as I discovered yesterday. I should make myself a motivational poster to put up on my pinboard above my desk to remind me of that fact.

See, now I have a purpose again.

It makes a huge difference.

A while back I visited a local village and took a bunch of photos around the churchyard there. If you click here (or visit the link on the sidebar for the archives in October 2014) you can see the original story. Only if you want to of course… I’m not trying to be bossy here.

Anyhoo, (NOT a typo there – it’s a word I use frequently) you may recall I took a picture of a small bird’s egg lying amongst the leaf-litter between the gravestones and a yew. The fact that there are usually yew trees in graveyards in England (and possibly elsewhere I imagine) is a constant source of amusement between my youngest daughter and I as, having spouted this *fact* as we strolled through her Oxfordshire village one sunny afternoon, I failed miserably and in spectacular fashion to identify a yew in someone’s garden – she’s teased me about it ever since. It’s not really funny now of course – I guess you had to be there – but whenever I see that word it raises a smile in my mind. Which is always a good thing.

Where was I?

Oh, of course!

Back to the story.

Ahem.

ANYHOO…

The bird’s egg.

Well, of course, I had actually been out that morning to catch something *interesting* to enter into a photo competition that I was keen to tackle. This was to be the second competition that some fantastic people had organised over at the Creative Group for Bedlam Farm which I’ve mentioned before, once or twice, perhaps. The theme this time was ‘Nature’.

A slightly conspiratorial atmosphere prevailed as my FAB hubby and I dressed for our outing in the pre-dawn October darkness. The plan was to go and capture the sunrise over the pumpkin patch on the Pickering Road, about six or seven miles away. It was magical and I was pleased with some of the shots achieved, hoping I had captured something worthy of entering in this contest.

During the first contest earlier in the year I had sent in what I had thought was a winning shot of a bee *visiting* a flower, but it hadn’t even placed, so I was apprehensive about what a winning shot might look like and how on earth I could achieve it. I had agonised for days about which photo to send in and was genuinely devastated when my eventual choice was overlooked for a prize. I was very aware of the deadline approaching for this second match and determined to find something to compete with.

With the sun fully up by eight o’clock, we’d headed home, passing through Rillington on the way. There was something special about the light that morning – cool, bright, crispy and properly autumnal. I had to stop and take some more pictures. I snapped away enthusiastically at kaleidoscopic leaves, briskly babbling brooks and ghostly gravestones in the hoary churchyard. When I wrote about it later I imagined a moment of time travel, being transported through the years to visit the lives of those commemorated in stoney memorials.

And then came a moment of pure clarity. Lying on the leaf litter between the tombstones and the aforementioned yew tree was a forlorn-looking half-eggshell. The edges crazed and fissured and inside was complete empty. Devoid of residue from the albumen or anything else in fact. My eye was drawn as if by some powerful magnetic force to the whiteness and the blank inanition of the fragile shell; I dropped to my knees instantly to find myself almost at eye-level with the fronds of grass and detritus on the ground. This was an automatic move that my brain seemed incapable of controlling – my photographer friend, the inestimable Jeff Anderson, has repeatedly instructed me to ‘get down low’ and search for the light from the right perspective – his words ringing in my ears gave my legs the clear message to move myself into an advantageous position.

It looked even more ethereal from this viewpoint.

I could almost hear the little chirruping that the tiny new life would have made as it freed itself from the confines of the protective shell. Perhaps its mother was answering her offspring’s uncertain pleas, gently encouraging and cajoling the tiny birdlet to cast away their fears and spread their wings so that they could emerge into this wondrous world, continuing a line that is older than Time.

All that remained now was the discarded shell that had cherished its cargo until it was no longer needed.

And I saw myself for the first time.

I’ve been a mother for over thirty-four years and my two eldest children fledged an age ago.

My Neanderthal often reminds me of a baby penguin...

My Neanderthal often reminds me of a baby penguin… *(see note at end of this article)

But I still have my Neanderthal at home, for now at least. He will be eighteen in just a couple of days time – in fact with a labour that lasted for thirty-four hours, it should have been his birthday today, but that’s a whole other story that I hope you’ll tune in for on Tuesday. Not long after this momentous occasion he will depart from our nest and start his own adulthood. I am fully aware of this – it’s not like it’s any kind of surprise, I’ve know this day will come since he was first conceived.

The thing is, now it is almost here, and it is tapping me on the shoulder and shouting ‘BOOM’ in my other ear.

I’ll have an empty nest for the first time in my adult life.

I deliberated for weeks about whether or not to send this picture in. It seemed a little simple. Black and white simple.

I played around with the image, giving it different colours to see how it affected the feel of it. Eventually I settled on this hint of green, symbolising envy and perhaps new beginnings, coupled with a dash of blue to add just a touch of sadness to the ambiance of the image.

It turns out that I’ve struck a chord with people, who like this image for its simplicity. I am pleased to say that it won the competition – much to my genuine surprise.

And the judge’s comments, coupled with the congratulatory messages from my fellow Farmies have lifted me back into the Land of the Living. They gave me a moment of real life. I’m so very grateful.

The Empty Nest

The Empty Nest

And I’ve received a gorgeous certificate, designed by the very lovely and extremely talented artist, Barbara Berney – thank you! CGBF photo certif Liz Gregory

Thanks for reading again!

* The penguin image is from a very informative page about African Penguins that can be found here

Post Script: December the 13th was my mother’s birthday. She would have been ninety-four this year. I mention this because of her connection to the Neanderthal’s birth, which you can read about here, if you wish! 

Thank you Royal Mail

As I was washing up the breakfast porridge this morning I heard the familiar scuffling noise as the postman delivered the morning mail and I sing-song-shouted my usual ‘Thank you!’ to his rapidly disappearing frame as he trundled back down the lengthy garden path. He raised his arm in a gesture of acknowledgement and I swear he was chuckling to himself as he went on his way.

The reason for the chuckle soon became very clear as I bent down to pick up the solitary item on the doormat. A letter, about A5 sized (approximately 8 inches x 5½ inches) sat there, beaming up at me. It was addressed to ‘Nana, Grandad + Toby’, so I knew who it was from even before I picked it up.

As I picked it up, smiling inside, I turned it over and this is what greeted me:

A hand-made envelope with a special little helper to ensure proper delivery...

A hand-made envelope with a special little helper to ensure proper delivery…

There was a fair amount of glue and sticky tape holding this little bundle of love together, which required some very careful and rather tricky negotiation, but eventually, we managed to prise it open and feast upon the great gift held so tightly within its depths.

Auntie Donna (that is Harrie’s aunt, not mine of course, because that would be a very difficult relationship to explain… Donna being my daughter and all… 🙂 ) had been looking after Harrie on Monday as she was too poorly to go to school, after a weekend of coughing, raised temperatures and the now familiar consequences.

What super writing Harrie!

What super writing Harrie!

Harrie simply adores school and was terribly miffed at not being well enough to be with her teacher so she had asked Donna to help her to do some schoolwork, such is her devotion to her studies – dedication that many others could learn a great lesson from (mentioning no names, Mr Neanderthol… 🙂 ). Let’s not forget, Harriet is nearly four now, so these things matter a great deal to her. Donna had found an excellent compromise – let’s write a letter to Nana!

I give you the contents of the letter – I am sure Harrie won’t mind me sharing them with you all, because I challenge anyone to not feel instantly cheered by the wonderful simplicity of this fabulous message, in pictorial form – ‘You are my lovely family, I think of you often and I love you so very much!’. For those who need to be more literal, I’ll interpret the drawings for you: Back row, left to right Toby, Grandad and Nana (the one with all the hair – boy, she’s nailed that one!) all holding hands; front row – Harrie, eating a doughnut. Of course.

Harriet's first letter to us all

Harriet’s first letter to us all

Yep, feeling very pleased to be a loved Nana today!

Thanks for reading again!

 

Challenging Social Media

For the past week or so you may have noticed that Facebook, in particular, has been awash with the Five Day Black and White Challenge, where friends post a new picture each day that they have either taken in black and white or have digitally altered a colour photo that they have – there were few rules other than that already stated, so really there shouldn’t be any great pressure. Not like the horrendous, infamous Ice Bucket Challenge that swept cyberspace recently – now that was the antithesis of how this photography challenge has been. I refused to partake in the IBC, which whilst initially being devised to raise a) money and b) awareness for a very worthy cause, I felt that it rapidly degenerated into a ridiculous free-for-all that meant very, very little to some of the people who took part. Not all, of course; I am very aware that a good many of the people that I know personally who undertook the challenge, did so in the full understanding of the significance of the ice on the central nervous system but I would still ask many of the people who did have a go, to name the illness they were purporting to support, (without looking it up online) a few months on from their dunking. For those who simply cannot recall it was in support of ALS and you can refresh your memory here if you need to.

I’m not saying that participation in the IBC was a bad thing, far from it, but there was a significant level of pressure to follow the crowd with that one, which is something I have always resisted, even when it’s good for me. I am rather bloody-minded sometimes.

That’s why I liked the B&W Photo Challenge. For me at least, I can say that I felt no pressure in the challenge at all – I was truly honoured when my friend from America nominated me, given his impressive photographic achievements, it felt like a nod from a magnificent mentor and I was all agog for trawling through my stash of nearly 20,000 photographs that I have stored on my computer, taken by me. Actually, that took me rather by surprise to start with – I have captured so many more photos than I had realised! And that figure doesn’t include the ones I have stored on various external media either… I’m almost beginning to think I might be addicted to photography…

And I was indeed particularly thrilled when one of my entries was chosen to be the banner header for one of the groups I’m involved with. So pleased!

I’ve decided to pull my efforts together in one place as if I don’t, it’s entirely likely that they won’t be seen again for a long time. I enjoyed the challenge also, in part, because it gave me an opportunity to really think about some of my images. Why did I take them? What was I hoping to achieve when I snapped them? How have I enhanced the images by working in a monochromatic palette? What emotion(s) did I evoke through these images? What have I captured?

Whilst asking myself these key questions I realised something. This is what an artist does, every time they create a piece of art. Without these kinds of thoughts in an artists’ imagination, how can they create work that has meaning and resonates with others?

And that led me on to my next thought.

I think I may be an artist.

Now THAT is a REAL biggie for me people! I may have toyed with the idea before. I may have made artwork, whether as painted pictures, sculpted in various media or stitched textiles. But I’ve never really thought of that work as the work of an *Artist*. Not until now. Right now.

This is monumental!

And so, for your perusal and I hope, enjoyment, here are the five days of challenges, including my notes about why each on was chosen and published. My first recognisable art works. Yay!

Day One:

I am absolutely delighted that my friend, Russell Davidson has nominated me to take part in the 5-day Black and White Photography challenge – I feel privileged to simply take part! So, for today, the first day of my challenge, I’m offering up some stormy Scarborough seas. I took this photo about a year ago, on a wild and windy day when the tide was whipped into a frenzy. I like the image because the spectral ruins of Scarborough Castle sit glowering on the clifftop, although the sun is clearly shining upon it, whilst below the dramatic swell of the sea is in full sway. I hope you like it too!
DOH! I nearly forgot to nominate a friend of mine who’s into photography too… so today I’m challenging my old hockey team-mate who is a fab-u-lous photographer, Dawn Olsen to participate – in the hopes we get some fantastic HK images too

Scarborough Castle keeps  a watchful eye on the North Sea

Scarborough Castle keeps a watchful eye on the North Sea

Day Two:

So, it’s day 2 of my five-day photography challenge (thanks Russell Davidson!) and I’ve had a play around with a photo taken a couple of months ago in Hartlepool. For those who may not be aware, Hartlepool is a heavily industrial coastal town up on the north-eastern coast of England – off-shore wind-farming is the latest in a very long line of industries that the rest of the country has frequently shied away from. There’s a grit about Northerners, particularly Northeastern folk who have a long and proud history. I love this image because whilst it is the same sea as yesterday’s photo, today it looks like a millpond; but the sky is much more heavily laden with ferociously ominous-looking clouds, suggesting the calm before the storm perhaps? Anyway, I’d love to see your thoughts once again! Oh, and today I’d like to challenge my photographic pal from Down Under – who’s actually a yorkshireman Dave Smith – I challenge you too

Hartlepool harbour under a glowering stormy sky

Hartlepool harbour under a glowering stormy sky

Day Three:

And so to day 3 of my Black and White Photography challenge – thank youRussell Davidson for the nomination! Today I thought I’d take you all back in time, to yesteryear when magnificent beasts roamed this land, before Beeching sharpened his pointly little sword. The North Yorkshire Moors Railway has recently celebrated forty years as a National Heritage Railway and is a huge tourist attraction here, made even more popular of course because it featured in the Harry Potter films, as Hogsmeade Station. I like this photo because the perspective of the train snaking back along the track follows the curved line of the platform and as it was about to set off, a good head of steam was starting to billow. I am looking forward to reading your comments about it! Today I’d like to challenge another of my old friends and colleagues (he won’t like me calling him ‘old!) Ray Atkinson to join in with this challenge, from his gorgeous home in France. I can’t wait to see some of his super shots too

The North Yorkshire Moors Railway has achieved Heritage status

The North Yorkshire Moors Railway has achieved Heritage status

Day Four:

OK… sorry I missed day 4 yesterday, but I was a bit poorly and didn’t get to the computer so I’m pretending it is yesterday so I can post day 4’s pics now For day 4 of my Black and White Photography challenge, thanks to Russell Davidson of course, I give you this: when combing the beach on one of our walks, I often come across interesting or intriguing objects. This picture is on some rubbery organic seaweed, which in reality was a grimy colour, a dark dull green, which of course is entirely functional in nature, but isn’t particularly attractive or aesthetically pleasing. The textures though, slightly slimy, with odd patches of bumpy, rough surfaces, these were interesting and when converted to a monochromatic palette suddenly popped, creating an ethereal, other-worldly feel. I think it looks like alien dancers, weaving their frond-like bodies together in some attempt to communicate with us. OK. I know I’m a bit wHierd and should stop talking, now, and go take my tablets… Let me know what you all think please! And for day 4, I’m going to nominate a young lady whom I taught at QBS, many years ago – Katie Latter Photography – as I’d love to see what she will make of the challenge! (Perhaps her mum, Joo Lee, might let her know if this message doesn’t get directly through Thanks!) Looking forward to seeing some of those pics Katie!

Ordinary seaweed  transforms into an alien life-form...

Ordinary seaweed transforms into an alien life-form…

Day Five:

And finally, I’m on day 5 of the Black and White challenge -thanks to Russell Davidson who nominated me in the first place. It seems that almost all of the Farmies are busily posting some great Black and Whites… it’s hard trying to work out who has yet to be challenged, but if I’m not mistaken, I don’t think the remarkable Lisa Dingle has, so I’m going for her today. She’s a fabulous photographer and I know there will be some gorgeous shots to come So… my parting shot is a simple one, a mere mollusc, straining for all he’s worth (I have no idea of its gender, but just go with me here people, I’m using ‘he’ just because!) I like this one because whilst just a lowly snail, this creature is clearly pushing himself as far as he possibly can, so that his tender body almost abandons his protective shell, as he reaches for his goals. His path is strewn with bumpy obstacles and irrelevant debris and detritus, but he’s definitely concentrating on achieving his goal. There may be dark days ahead, but somehow, with this ‘can do’ approach, I am rooting for him to get there, making it to his Nirvana, wherever that may be. I feel like it’s a metaphor for life. I hope you like it!

My amiable mollusc- whom I think I'll name Brian - strives for perfection

My amiable mollusc- whom I think I’ll name Brian – strives for perfection

Thanks for reading once again!

 

Imminent arrival at our destination

Thirty-five years is a long time, a lifetime, donkey’s years, or a coon’s age. It’s also a blink of an eye, a jiffy, an instant, a mere moment. It sort of depends upon your yardstick really doesn’t it?

It’s the length of time that has passed since I met my partner in crime, my love, my soul-mate – actually, that and a little bit more in truth. We’re not celebrating an anniversary or anything, it’s just that for most of that time it has been us and our progeny against the world. I note, in passing, that our next anniversary will be our thirty-fifth. Of course, as soon as this thought entered my head, I found myself Googling ‘thirty-fifth wedding anniversary’ and discovered that the traditional gift for that occasion is coral – with ‘blood coral’ (found only near Italy) being the most precious – whilst the modern gift is jade and the precious stone is emerald. I can see a Chinese carved dragon of coral and jade, with glowing emerald eyes looming in my future, which seems to cover all the bases there!

For almost thirty-five years though we have not been alone. Our first child, a beautiful and much-loved daughter came along fairly quickly, followed by her cherished sibling just eighteen months later, so our early years together were as a complete family unit. As our girls grew and our horizons expanded, we ventured further afield and found ourselves in the Far East, Hong Kong before the handover. Our teenagers accepted the challenge of a third child arriving on the scene, doting on their little brother with obvious pride and joy. And then they left to pursue their own lives – which is exactly as life should be. The call of university in far-away England was always going to be strong and for several years, it was a really difficult time for us, as parents, with our girls so very far away. Pride in their achievements, both personally and academically lay hand-in-glove with the heartache of missing them so terribly much.

How grown-up they all seem!

How grown-up they all seem!

Our son became almost an only child; perhaps many perceived him as such if they didn’t know of our older children. He’s only seven years older than our eldest grand-child which seemed almost negligible when he was smaller. It’s been challenging at times to re-experience parenting from such a different perspective. I think, for my own mind at least, it may be easier to raise two children together than doing it with a singleton. Childhood is more fun when there’s a close sibling with which to share everything. An important element that featured in my own childhood, I think Toby has experienced more solitariness than I would have liked. On the other hand, of course, there’s the up-side – he is not afraid of ‘being alone’ and has a level of self-confidence that being an only child often brings. And on top of that, he has sisters, grown adults now of course, with whom he shares a different, more relaxed relationship; they are connected by a strong bond and are finding more to like about each other as each day passes. They look forward to being adult siblings, supporting each other through all that life throws at them.

But now he is ‘The Neanderthol’, a strapping almost-adult with magnificent strength and character, of whom we are very proud. His life lays before him as an open book, waiting to be written. He has ideas, some of them hugely entrancing, that will require a great deal of hard work and commitment to achieve, but I have little doubt that he will succeed. He’s that sort of chap. When he says to people that he wants to be a feature film director, their initial smirk of experience soon yields to a genuine smile of appreciation and often develops into the unmistakable glow of awe as they realise that this is not pie-in-the-sky for him, he just doesn’t yet know exactly how he will achieve this lofty desideratum.

So, we find ourselves this autumn, pondering the next step with him.

Options are multitudinous. The most obvious is university – we’ve travelled this road before, although it’s a little different today, with tuition fees, student loans and all the considerations of future employability weighing heavily in the mix. and so it is that we find ourselves travelling from circus to circus – sorry, that should say ‘Open day to open day’ – at the various institutions that offer courses in film-making, television or alternative media. Many of these are channelled through acting or performance-related options and the purpose of seeing a number of different facilities is to try to make sense of which is the most suitable option for him. It’s a minefield though!

At each event, we cruise through the corridors of power – although I am heartily sick of seeing endless corridors that lead to studios or black-box suites where our offspring COULD be learning how to fade-in camera 4, if only the rooms were unlocked for this inaptly monikered ‘Open Day’, which might be better called ‘Closed Day’ in many cases.  The best experiences are those in which the tour-guide has an engaging and outgoing personality (which is what you might expect from ambassadors for a performance arts programme) coupled with an intimate and authoritative body of knowledge about the courses, the facilities and the general pros-and-cons of this establishment, which should persuade you to enrol immediately. So far, we’ve only really come across this in Salford.

Salford is, for those who don’t know the place, not a salubrious or particularly beautiful part of England. Even the people who live there, known in the Urban Dictionary as ‘Salfordians‘ would probably agree that whilst beauty is always in the eye of the beholder, one would not necessarily be beholding the town at the time. There is definitely a distinctive pride in the town of the significance of their heritage – the dark and gloomy Victorian mills were a mainstay of the growth of Empire, built on the backs of the workers who churned out goods to be shipped far afield, the manufacturing centre of the universe in the nineteenth century. These buildings’ purpose now long redundant, the area has faced the challenge of regeneration as effectively as the Time Lord, ‘Dr Who’, with the creation of the brand-spankingly new Media City at the core.

Gone are the slums, the filthy rows of mean terraced houses of my youth. L.S.Lowry would not recognise the place any more – many of his straightforward representations of the local landmarks look completely alien when compared with the modern landscape of the town. As a youngster, living in nearby Stockport, being a huge football fan I was occasionally treated to a visit to Old Trafford, the most hallowed ground conceivable in my mind at the time. I recall wending my way through row upon row of red-bricked houses, usually with gleaming white-painted, scrubbed-within-an-inch-of-their-lives stone doorsteps and hundreds of dodgily parked cars for what seemed like miles around the ground. None of this is there any more. I snapped a few photos of the new (to me at least) vista with Old Trafford across the river from Media City. It looks serene these days.

Ah, the hallowed turf of Old Trafford beckoned...

Ah, the hallowed turf of Old Trafford beckoned…

We visited a couple of weekends ago, with a degree of trepidation – Yorkshiremen and Mancunians have long held each other with suspicion, harking back to the Wars of the Roses I think, which raged during the fifteenth century. Five hundred years of rivalry, in business, on the sporting field and in pretty much every respect means that each is at least a tad wary when not on home ground. It’s taken me this long for my Yorkshire family to forgive me for being from ‘The Other Side’. It felt oddly comforting to cross the M62 into Lancashire after such a long absence. I’m not sure my FAB Hubby and the Neanderthol felt the same! The view over the ‘Clouded Hills’ (William Blake’s words from ‘Milton’, immortalised in the hymn ‘Jerusalem’) is definitely one to inspire though.

Did the Countenence Divine shine forth upon our clouded hills?

Did the Countenence Divine shine forth upon our clouded hills?

As Toby delved deeper into the increasingly attractive facilities that Salford University has to offer, I found myself looking at the surroundings with a photographer’s eye. (What? You’re surprised? Who knew?)

Media City - a utopian experience?

Media City – a utopian experience?

Media City is where television is made now in England, for the most part, the BBC and ITV moved many of their London-based operations to the new conurbation in the north a couple of years or so ago; it is pretty self-contained, but possess it’s own, modernistic beauty.

The Peel Centre re-interpreted with pampas grass from the gardens

The Peel Centre re-interpreted with pampas grass from the gardens

The buildings are functional, of course, but also less bleak than I’d imagined. There’s a real ‘buzz’ in the air. It *feels* creative. I can’t define that. I can’t put my finger on what makes it so.

Maybe some of these pictures can help define it for me?

 

As it says on the tin... the University of Salford, which lies at the heart of Media City

As it says on the tin… the University of Salford, which lies at the heart of Media City

Glass buildings are wonderfully reflective

Glass buildings are wonderfully reflective

Petra - the first Blue Peter Dog - has a statue in the Blue Peter Garden

Petra – the first Blue Peter Dog – has a statue in the Blue Peter Garden

A Blue Peter Badge is something to treasure!

A Blue Peter Badge is something to treasure!

The Blue Peter Garden, transferred from the roof of Broadcasting House in London, delights children of today so much more because of its accessibility to all in its new location at Media City.

The Rudbeckia is still flowering profusely int he Blue Peter Garden

The Rudbeckia is still flowering profusely in the Blue Peter Garden

The ITV building...

The ITV building…

Delightful opportunities to appreciate perspective...

Delightful opportunities to appreciate perspective…

... and the BBC

… and the BBC

The Lowry Museum intrigued from inside and out…

The Lowry Museum roof is a  testament to simple lines, shapes and textures

The Lowry Museum roof is a testament to simple lines, shapes and textures

The Light Railway tram to Eccles made me think of times long past

The Light Railway tram to Eccles made me think of times long past

… whilst other structures, such as the cable stayed footbridge over the water, are all about the linear qualities.

The bridge over to The Other Side

The bridge over to The Other Side

Now… I wonder if you can recognise the original inspiration for these orbs?

Of course I orbed it!

Of course I orbed it!

Ok... this one is a bit of a give-away!

Ok… this one is a bit of a give-away!

Yet another give-away ...

Yet another give-away …

I cheated with the colours on this one though...

I cheated with the colours on this one though…

This one should be easy!

This one should be easy!

I'm making this too easy, aren't I?

I’m making this too easy, aren’t I?

But there are two different BBC buildings!

But there are two different BBC buildings!

All I can do is hope that, if this is the place where my neanderthol chooses to stride out on his own towards, it’s a place where he might do well. Find success.

Then we will truly have achieved what we wanted in life. And being alone, without the constant presence of at least one scion will seem less like a challenge and more like a new adventure. We’ll be waiting for that chapter to unfold.

Thanks for reading once again!

 

Family weddings for fun

A couple of weekends ago our nephew and his lovely fiancée were married at the Gomersal Park Hotel.

As always here in England, we all worried about the weather; an unnecessary concern as it turned out, because the day was perfect, slightly cooler in the morning, so that all the important people didn’t soak their precious garments in buckets of perspiration, lovely and warm with intermittent sunshine during the afternoon, giving photographs a glorious quality of bright, sparkly light.

I had been asked to take some photos by Lee and Lyndsey at least a year ago, when they first floated the date within the family – August Bank Holiday weekend is notorious for downpours and this probability was high on my radar for potential difficulties on the day. Of course I agreed to do the honours – I do like to take a couple of pictures every now and then, which, if you’re a regular reader, you may already be aware of. I decided to take a positive approach. If I refused to believe that rain might spoil the day and mean that I have to engage in Plan B, then it simply WOULD NOT happen. I’m quite impressed by the power of positive thinking sometimes!

It was probably just as well, because Plan B was not very well thought out.

In fact, it didn’t really exist.

I’m prepared to admit this now, two and a half weeks later, when its actuality is irrelevant. It was never needed, so why worry about it?

So, Plan A was simple.

  • Go to the bride’s house (actually, the bridesmaid’s house but let’s not get too picky here!), an hour and a half’s drive from mine, arriving by eight-thirty on W-Day.
  • Take a bunch of *getting ready* pictures.
  • Follow the bride to the venue.
  • Get out of my car ahead of her arrival in order to capture her arrival.
  • Capture the Wedding Party as they began their traipsing down/up the aisle.
  • Rush to the front and capture the Father of the Bride giving his daughter away.
  • Capture as much of the ceremony as possible, as well as some of the audience/witnesses expressions during sai ceremony.
  • Rush to back in order to capture the newly-weds as they embark along the aisle towards their new life, together.
  • Go outside & capture the guests’ joy at what has just happened -including the throwing of rice or confetti over the new Mr & Mrs Deaves.
  • Begin the process of photographing everyone in every possible combination known to man and mathematicians;
    • NB: Allocate Ushers to the job of ensuring people are where they are needed at appropriate times
    • Make sure the Ushers have a copy of The Plan.
  • Include some of the bride’s personal requests regarding particular images she wanted to capture (there’s a rather fetching log to drape brides over – presumably to show the dress off to maximum advantage).
  • Try to survive this PLAN without having a heart-attack or personal meltdown.

OK. Looking at it in black and white like this, I can see that there are some minor faults.

Perhaps, it may not have been as simple as I had thought.

The first part of the plan went fairly well… I arrived early enough, drank tea, fiddled with my equipment and took about four hundred shots – many of the adorable new addition to the family, ten-day-old Evelyn. I have to say that her Zen-like approach to the occasion may well be an important lesson for all of us to emulate! I have many shots like this one, where she was napping peacefully, looking like a perfect angel.

Ten day old Evelyn lends a Zen-like approach to the proceedings

Ten day old Evelyn lends a Zen-like approach to the proceedings

Lots of preparation shots, including some adorable ones of The Dress, went well too. There was the inevitable photo-bomb, when snapping away on the upstairs landing, *someone* (notice my discretion there – not naming the culprit!) popped out of the bedroom, right behind the bride and her mum, to ask for some assistance with their dress – their state of undress could have been embarrassing. Fortunately, the two subjects shielded the ‘bomber’ and everyone’s dignity was maintained. Phew!

Everyone was readied, one by one. The Page Boys and Flower Girl looked particularly angelic, for a few minutes at least. The bride’s parents adjusted each other’s buttonholes/sprays and smiled lovingly at each other. People always forget that parents have so much invested in these occasions – that little look an indication of the lifetime of commitment they have given to each other, culminating in this special day for their child. It is the look of love. The bridesmaid arrived downstairs, looking perfect. And then finally, here came the bride. Shining with inner joy, she gracefully posed for photos with her family and the wedding party before they all departed, leaving only the bride and myself to wait for her father’s return. Those last few minutes seemed to take an age. I’m particularly pleased with some of the images from this time.

The, at last, her dad returned and smiling broadly, they posed for a final picture at home. Folding the dress into the car, checking all the doors’ ribbons and finally driving off to the venue. Not a sign of nerves.

Then things went slightly awry – I managed to take an alternative (some would say *wrong*) route to the venue, losing the bridal car in traffic and arriving some ten minutes after them. Fortunately, FAB hubby HAD plan B tucked away at the back of his mind and managed to take some shots for me whilst I found the *right* route and rocked up eventually, a little flustered, but not a lost cause. No siree, not me!

The ceremony went exactly as planned and then we were into the home stretch – just the ‘formal’ pictures to capture.

I may have been a little more successful if I had experience in kitten herding! I think, should I embark upon a venture such as this in the future, I may invest in a Border Collie, a special whistle and take a few lessons in shepherding from Jon Katz and the exemplary Red. That, or maybe a loudhailer. Or, perhaps, a magnum of champagne – that way, I simply won’t care if I’ve managed to photograph everyone!

When all was said and done though, it was a beautiful wedding, enjoyed by all and I hope that the bride and groom will enjoy looking through the three or four hundred photos that I will have eventually have whittled the occasion down to (from the eighteen hundred ++ that were taken!), when they get back from honeymoon in Mexico, later this week. I hope they’ll like them. Then it will have been worthwhile.

Congratulations to Mr and Mrs Deaves!

Thanks for reading once again!

 

 

 

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