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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...

Friday, 1 July 2011

the gate back to childhood

I would highly recommend a visit back to the place
where you grew up, its like putting on your comfy clothes. The village where I grew up hasn't changed in 42 years, in fact its hardly changed since my great grandma was a child. Standing on the top of 'Windy Fields' looking back over the village, I realised how much my eyes had missed this place. Revisiting all my 'secret' places was so lovely as my son was genuinely interested in my stories. He and I had some funny moments during the day, which have made new stories of our own.

I've only revisited once during my children's childhood, briefly, to show them where mummy grew up and now I wonder why. I think because this was once my place and I had a new life now somewhere else, with different people and the two just didn't seem to mix.
As a child I spent hours wandering the fields and moors with my dog, making dens and campfires, making memories. It was a heavenly childhood but of course you don't realise that at the time, as you grow your itching to get away, to get into the city, into LIFE!

I'd left it all behind, I'd moved on and it was a place I didn't want anymore. Also I suspect it was a place that was too painful to go back to while we were living with Dads illness. Somehow to go back to the time before that damn disease got us would have been like rubbing our noses in it, "look what you had and look at everything I've taken away". No I didn't go back, I had filed those years away under 'memories' and they were far far away.
What I hadn't realised was that they were waiting for me until I was ready, when I went back on what would have been my Dad's birthday. Now I know that my childhood place isn't past, its present too and I can go back to it anytime I want to and with that I can go back to Dad, how he used to be when his body worked, when he walked the fields, flew kites, played tennis and he loved his life.

My son and I walked to the two locations that meant the most to me, my tree on Windy Fileds that I have climbed and sat in for hours and hours and hours and 'Little Blackpool' the place where the sun was always shining, where my grandmas picked blackberries to make jam while my cousins and I bothered the fish hiding under the rocks in the stream. That is the place I think of whenever I think of my childhood and its still there - what a joy!

We lived in two different houses in the village but they are not where I lived, I lived in the fields, in the streams, the leaves, the sounds and smells of my countryside and going back after all these years to find them just as they were was like stepping back into childhood again, magical, and the best medicine anyone could ever have.

The gate above made me smile, a threshold! Its the new gate into the field we called 'Little Blackpool' that stops the cows wandering in. It has a bolt on it so you really have to 'open it' to cross the threshold, how wonderful, the gate back into childhood!

As we entered the field I could almost see my family playing rounders, i ran up the hill where I used to sit and spy on doggy walkers as they went by. I told the story of the day my friends and I threw a bottle with a message in it into the river which got stuck under a branch. Walking the branch, I precariously reached out to free the bottle and nearly drowned when the branch broke.
How symbolic it was to find a bottle lying in the river there on that day!

There are so many stories I could tell, so many memories but I would think we all have our places and stories that mean equally as much to us. Do we use them wisely? to wrap arms around us, make us feel warm and snuggly and remind us who we once were. Do we use them to connect with people we have lost, to heal us when we are lost, confused and unable to make sense of the things that life throws at us?

Some people write diaries and it must be wonderful to read back years later, it must be so helpful when you inevitably question yourself but its never too late to write a diary and I think I will, a diary of my memories, just for me because if a day back in my childhood helped me so much then I want to remember every blooming bit of it!

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