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...

Sunday, 30 October 2011

a letter by candlelight

Firstly some 'spooky' pictures for Halloween.......

I came across a site that has a pen pal exchange and it reminded me of how much I want to write letters again. Actual letters on writing paper with envelopes and stamps - remember those?

Oh the absolute thrill of receiving a letter from a friend in the post, I wonder how many people still do that. Facebook is wonderful, being able to interact with friends at any time of the day (or night) and of course reconnect with lost school friends. I am going to meet up with some in three weeks, people I haven't seen for twenty years, only talked to on Facebook.
I have letters in my Garage, bundled up in pink ribbon from those friends that we sent to each other when we were all 14 or 15, endless ramblings of how dull our lives were and what they were going to be in the future but we took the time, even though we saw each other everyday, to write, draw little pictures, stick on decorations and spray with perfume. It went on for a very long time, until we left school actually and then we stopped which is such a shame as we were entering a very changing time of our lives and probably the most interesting to write about.
how does all this relate to photography? well it started with the trip to Scotland. Its only when you drive through our little country that you realise that actually its a blooming long way up to the top and we started from the middle. As I said in a previous post I loved our trip to Scotland, the scenery and the colours were magical and although we literally drove to our work appointment and back again over two days, I went along for the few five minute photo stops on the way and during this 'photoshoot' there was a lot of time to think and discuss. It coincided with the anniversary of the Internet (well almost) so, seeing the remote villages in the highlands that are cut off in the winter combined with thoughts of how much the Internet has changed the way we communicate, I began pondering the lost days of letter writing, as those highland villagers would have had to do in the past as their only form of contact with the outside world in those long winter months. This weeks photo shoot with my photography group was at Calke Abbey in Derbyshire, a forty minute drive from my house but I had never been to visit.

So I toddled off thinking we were visiting a grand stately home and I had such a thrilling surprise and one of the most inspiring, moving, magical photography days of my life. Calke Abbey had been taken over by the National Trust in the 1980's when with soaring debts the Harpur Family could no longer see any other way out to save the house which had fallen into a bad state of disrepair.

But instead of restoring the whole house the National Trust have restored the entrance hall and initial rooms only. This is where you begin your tour, ikea like, shepherded around the house on an amazing journey from opulence to decay of the most inspiring kind and this is where the photography opportunities and photograph related musings explode.
The rest of the house has been spring cleaned but in essence left exactly as it was when the Family moved out, peeling paintwork, 18th century wallpaper falling off the walls, the families possessions piled in corners as though Julian Fellowes himself had constructed the set.
And as you walked from the restored rooms to the 'real thing' the lights are dimmed and become less, then turned off altogether, the gorgeous blistered window shutters closed ever so slightly more and more in each room to transport you back into the past.

You feel like your Cora herself hurrying along the cold, dark crumbling corridors, your skirts swishing on the dusty floor and when entering one of the many grand drawing rooms, now stooped under the weight of time passed it makes you want to sit down at one of the dusty wood wormed desks and ......... write a letter by candlelight.

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