Hello and thank you for calling in...

My name is Helen and I am a Photographer living in England. I started this Blog on the day that my Grandma died, three months after my Father died and several weeks before a third funeral. Initially it was a very personal way to stay connected to the people I'd lost and it helped, it really did. But writing and taking pictures everyday has opened back up a creative side that I had lost during the everyday. A big thank you to my followers, to those who take the time to comment and to new visitors, I hope we will become Blog friends too...

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Happy Birthday Dad

a view on our favourite walk over 'Windy Fields'

Today was my Fathers birthday, is/was how do you say that? To me he still IS, maybe not here for me to see and talk to but i still feel him. Its like the feeling you have when your not alone in the house, when your on your own in a room but there are other people in, the warm comfy feeling that your family is there.
I'm going to take a drive up to the village where we lived, in Derbyshire, with my camera and walk the walks we used to love. We had so many happy times there, that was the place where he wasn't ill, where he had friends and family and future. The place before we knew the nightmare ahead. If we'd stayed there, if we'd never moved to Leicester, carried on along that road instead of taking the fork would things have remained just as they were? Did we alter the future when we altered the course? who knows.

dad's style

All the members of my family are reacting in their own way but individually, which I suppose is how its done. There is no rule book to tell you 'this is how you celebrate someones birthday once they have died' It would be nice to hear how other people do it, if you have a minute to comment? For me, i would like us to all get together, have a picnic as its a lovely day, talk, laugh and reminisce the afternoon away in the sunshine. But my mum wants to stay at home, my brother is working in London and I've had to nag my son to come out with me, so it seems its just me who wants to mark the day. Don't get me wrong, I'm not feeling sorry for myself, thats fine by me.
We don't have a grave to visit, Mum hasn't decided what she wants to do about that yet which today I'm actually glad about as I don't feel like dwelling on death, I feel like remembering life and good times. Fathers Day I was sad and needed a grave, somewhere to go and cry, I felt lost but today I feel like running through the fields and climbing trees I haven't climbed for years! I will post a photograph when I get back, it will be interesting to see what I capture today.

Thursday, 23 June 2011



The Bridge into Morzine, France

'The Kat Eye View of the World' is a blog that I follow which features:

'Exploring with a Camera'

The current exploration is 'Thresholds' which I found very exciting when I read Kat's suggestions on what your own personal threshold picture could portray. I love her idea that the threshold you capture can have a personal meaning to you and this prompted me to choose the image above. It has huge meaning to me and is featured in my blog post http://backbehindthelens.blogspot.com/2011/03/im-in-france-morzine-ski-ing.html taken on a day when I needed to take some time out to do some photography. I was away ski-ing with a group of friends, a week after my Grandma had died, three months after my Father had died and on a day when I was exhausted physically and emotionally.

I took a day off and had some 'me time', walking in the early morning, the half an hour to the nearest town with my camera. It was a glorious day with stunning scenery to capture so all was going splendidly until I realised that the only way across the river and into Morzine was over this bridge. As you can see, its a very long bridge, its wooden and the valley floor is a very, very long way down, eek!

I stopped and asked a local who, with a mocking grin, informed me that there was a road over the valley but that it was another half hour walk away. Wonderful! The group I was ski-ing with were very experienced, fine skiers so I had had many 'brave me' moments at the edge of scary runs that week and quite a few hidden tears in my weakened, grieving state trying to keep up with them. To be faced with yet another challenge on my supposed day off from heroics was a bit of a blow!

Forcing myself, I stepped across the 'threshold' and made myself walk the planks. It was horrendous. Stopping in the middle of the bridge, swaying and giddy, gripping the rails in terror, desperately trying not to look down with tears streaming down my face, I yelled in absolute fury at the universe "haven't i been brave enough these last few weeks!!!"

WOW, it felt amazing!!! I had crossed a 'grieving threshold' and skipped (at 42 years old) the rest of the way over, crossing it in triumph again on the return journey, mad women!

Later that evening I crossed it a third time with the rest of the group, who were so scared by it that they refused to come back over again and we got a taxi back!

The second picture is of an entrance to a building that has stood unoccupied for years, which I always find immensely sad. Buildings that were once full of life, full of people, laughter and goings on. Now they are empty, lonely, you can almost see the building sigh. And that's where my mind starts to wonder......

"A place where you cross over, from one locale to another, whether real or imagined. Threshold images are not merely images of doors or gates, but they are of portals that transport you to someplace different in your imagination"

Thank you Kat, a truly inspiring post, I shall be out and about capturing more 'thresholds' today!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

quote 6 with a big ouch!

"its better to have loved and lost, then to never have loved at all"

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Poor Millie Moo had to go and have a tooth out, shes now lost all of her front teeth but there is hope, we have some catty mouth wash that should solve the problem.
Getting it into her mouth however is another story, as soon as she sees the bottle shes off. It needs to be sprayed directly onto her tongue and you would have thought that they would have made it taste like smoked salmon so she would just lick it right off my hand but it is the foulest stuff that i would object to having sprayed into my mouth daily, so we have no chance with Moosance Nuisance. She is very cross with us!

She is so good at the vets but as soon as he had pulled out the tooth she turned and looked directly at me as if to say "what on earth did you let him do that for!" I tried to telepathy back that it was very necessary but she had already slunk back into her cage and refused to speak to me until some time later when she felt I had been thoroughly punished. Animals break your heart sometimes!

My friends Great Dane died suddenly at only two years old last week, such a shock. An adorable dog, so gentle for his size and utterly adored by the whole family. It reminds you once again how short life is and how we should make the most of the moments we have with the ones we love. It upset me very much not only because of how I felt for my friend and his grief but also because its that 'powerless to stop it happening' thing again.
It was a gastric twist and the vet could do nothing to help him, they just had to watch him go. It brought back a lot of memories. Yes I know Forrest was just a dog but he was a loved soul and one that they had to say goodbye to, when they didn't want to at all.

We tried to get my Grandma to have a dog when she had spent some time living on her own. We had always been an extensive doggy family and my grandma loved to doggy sit all of ours at various times so it seems only logical that she would warmly welcome one of her own. It was later on in her life, all of our dogs had been and gone and her response was "i don't want one, I've had enough of death, i don't want to say goodbye to another dog"
At the time I found that a hideous attitude, why deny yourself all the joy of something for years just because your so scared of something right at the end. Lately I'm beginning to understand what she meant. When we studied Tennyson at school I use to puzzle over the quote above. Surly if you played your cards right Love would never be lost? But I was very young then and hadn't experienced that sometimes Love is taken away through absolutely no fault of your own. Sometimes as my Grandma had said, it is an inevitable conclusion to events.
But i think after puzzling it over again, I still believe even after what has happened to us this year and what continues to happen to those around me, that it is better to have Loved. Even when you have to suffer the enormity of pain when Love is lost, if we don't leave ourselves wide open to those moments of wonderfulness in life and grasp the opportunities to experience them because we are scared of the outcome, then have we even really lived at all.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

father's day

Father's Day has come and gone with a large dose of stiff upper lip on my part. Well almost, I'll admit to two good crys. On the day itself we had a 70th birthday to celebrate on my partners side of the family. They had chosen for the party, the village where we had my Fathers wake, in a restaurant full of families celebrating Father's Day, splendid. You had to laugh.
I took Dad with me, what has now become my 'Dad in a box'.
No its not my Fathers ashes, I didn't put him beside me on the table, as in the hilarious episode of 'The Royal Family - Joe's Crackers' where Joe takes Mary's ashes round to dinner at Jim and Barbra's and they get knocked off the dining table and hoovered up with the new Dyson (Dad would have laughed till he cried at that)
No, its a box that my Father kept beside his bed, a tiny box that he made as a young man, a treasured possession of his and now mine. My daughter went through a magpie faze when she was little and i found the box in her room one day, she had obviously brought it back from an overnight stay at Nan and Grandad's house. I didn't tell her off, not this time, I just put the box inside my treasure box and now I treasure it very much indeed. Inside it there are 3 folded up photographs that obviously meant a great deal to my Dad, one of which is of him before his disease, the face I remember as a little girl. Sometimes it makes me smile, sometimes it breaks my heart, usually its both.
So there I was, a girl without a Father on Father's Day for the first time. It was an odd feeling and odder still that no-one mentioned it, no-one asked, phoned or texted to see if i was ok about it. Except one person, my daughter, who had tried without success to engage with her Father that day. Another girl without a Father on Father's day.
I have always taken the road of trying to make light of his lack of interest in his children since the divorce, along the lines of "daddy loves you very much, hes just not a parenty type person that's all" but I suddenly realised that we now had a common bond, my daughter and I, that I had never appreciated before, different perspectives but the same pain. Something good came out of the day after all, I'll make more of the day next year, me and her together for the both of us.

photograph taken in my garden, it reminds me of a funny story Dad would tell about snails, me and a dead cat but thats another story........

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

quote 5 and Anna Razumovskaya

"its never too late to be what you might have been"

photograph taken in the Maldives

Just about breaking the back of the food poisoning now and getting back to normal. Of course a few days of feverish housework has been required before i could get back to my laptop properly, meals and general goings on having run very smoothly without me but washing, re-cycling and defiantly cleaning seem to have been beyond the capabilities of the remaining healthy members of the household. During my holiday to 'woe-is-me-on-sea' even my eyes hurt so i have read nothing, watched nothing, seen nothing of any interest to tell you about. With my stairs as an insurmountable obstacle and the world beyond the front door a forgotten land, I haven't taken a single photograph in a fortnight, so I'm feeling very twitchy and very dull!!

However, exciting news, if I can face the drive to Birmingham later I have an invitation to meet the Russian Artist 'Anna Razumovskaya' at her latest exhibition.

A strong, confident, beautiful and immensely talented women who has become all that she might have been. I will visit with a mix of awe, intrigue and yes a little bit of envy.

Blue Note II by Anna Razumovskaya

Friday, 10 June 2011

quote 4

"you have to give to the world the thing that you want the most, in order to fix the broken parts inside you"

by Eve Enser, a quote on http://galadarling.com/

When my Father and Grandmother both became sick years ago, I fixed the broken parts inside of me by having children. This quote made me realise that what I wanted the most was family and I added to ours to somehow fix things. Today what I still want the most is family and I realise I've been rather half heartedly looking after mine after all this loss, its time to be a mum and family member again. I spotted the little girl above while out photographing one day, the kind of child you can't take your eyes off, she had such a wonderful manner about her. She didn't know I was photographing her which give the shots of her such a natural feel.

7 years later I now add to this post. A lot has changed in 7 years and I now would not dream of taking photographs of children that I didn't know. We are now far more aware. 

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

quote 3

"Nature magically suits a man to his fortunes, by making them the fruit of his character"

Ralph Waldo Emerson

photograph taken at Chelsea Flower Show