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, 19 September 2012

Stoneleigh Abbey and the visitor that changed everything

It takes some talent, or not, to go to a house as stunning as Stoneleigh Abbey in Warwickshire and not take one single photograph to be proud of! To be fair as I have done very little photography this year, it will take a while to re-find my eye and I know to be patient. Today was the first step in getting back into the swing of it and having been invited onto the Jane Austen Tour at the Abbey I put my camera where my mouth was yesterday and took a few shots when the tour was finished.
My friends and I found the tour a little odd as it turned out that Miss Austen only set foot in the house for 10 days in her entire life but it was sold to us that these 10 days were the inspiration for Mansfield Park. It was amusing how enthusiastically the tour guide pressed the notion upon us, with rather overly hopeful links to chapters in the book, that it "must have been Stoneleigh"  Her joy that the handwritten manuscripts for Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Predudice would have been within Stoneleigh's walls during the stay was charming and we were directed to the many pieces of furniture that Jane would have seen as though the novelists gaze had turned them to pure gold. Such belief and delight held a mirror to me that I hadn't really felt that enthusiasm for anything much this year.
 Life is better, much more peaceful but I have felt numbed and dampened down, not in humour as I've laughed more in this last year than for several years previously but in the ability to be immersed in anything really deeply. I lost a lot in a year and its bound to take its toll, it'll take time but today was a huge step forward, I'll be trudging down country lanes in pursuit of that perfect shot again before we know it. The gate has been shut but its about to open again.

Monday, 17 September 2012

After the Storm

After the Storm was a Nick Butterworth story that I used to read to my children when they were little. Its a tale of Percy the Parkeeper and the animals that live in the park who are of course his friends. One day a huge storms hits the park, causing damage and disruption the the lives of the animals and good old Percy gives them support and love and rebuilds everything until all has settled again.

I have had my storm and am still in the aftermath, feeling 'very sniffy' like the fox in the story. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a mess, I have been very brave and steadfastly determined. I have committed to developing my house, worked hard at my job and spent lots of lovely time with friends and relations but I've done no photography or artwork at all.

My heart was broken at the choice that I had to make and somehow it has been unthinkable over these last 9 months to tap into 'emotional me' to be creative. Emotional me has been too broken.

A great artist, they say (whoever they are) is someone who has suffered and lets all of that pain and angst out into their work, creating pieces of much greater depth, feeling and brilliance. Well, like I told my counsellor, I haven't wanted to let it out, it can stay nicely packed away in the moving boxes that still stand in the corner of my bedroom thank you very much.

But after a conversation with the photographers and creative types at work yesterday I began to think that that was an awful shame, and a waste. I think, actually upon reflection I would like to try a little emotional creativity after all now. Slowly at first I think.....

The photograph above was of a storm that hit us a couple of months ago on what had been a lovely sunny day. The sky went very very black and all of a sudden the most enormous hailstorm and hurricane took over our world, denting all the cars in our town, smashing windows, conservatories, destroying roofs and flooding houses and shops. It was unlike anything anyone had seen before and my car still resembles a golf ball! Things have been put back to normal and now all that remains is story swapping and knowing chuckles whenever you see a fellow golf ball driver, life goes on and I feel very lucky that it does. I shouldn't waste my given talent, more is to come.

Monday, 9 July 2012

I own a home - at last!

I haven't taken any photographs since I last posted, not one. I haven't blogged, I haven't painted or done anything creative at all, unless you can call decorating creative. Today at long long last contracts have been exchanged and I own a home. Its taken so long! Ive been renting, in limbo just waiting, waiting, waiting. Its been tough a rollercoaster of lost deads and renegotiation and lost hope and refound hope and all the time dealing with heartbreak that I never expected to be so deep or last so long. But now a new beginning and a better life and a time for me to refind my love of photography and art. I work full time now at a photography studio and I am renovating a very dilapidated house but I will endeavour to squeeze in blogging time and photographs whenever I can.

Monday, 27 February 2012

a bit of photography time squeezed in

I had stopped blogging, I don't know why...

not enough hours in the day possibly but probably more that I am still living in a bit of a limbo land and am not settled into any sort of routine. Hopefully this will be the week I sign contracts on my new house and can start to move in. I am looking forward to having a desk and some 'me' time in which to set aside hours in the day to write. I have been a headless chicken for the last few weeks dividing my time between work, visiting my daughter, seeing friends and driving endlessly backwards and forwards between them and where I am living. There has been no time at all for photography. We had a whole lot of snow one day though and I made myself take some time to go out with my camera. Keep fingers crossed that this is the week my new life starts and I will be blogging away again I'm sure!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

frost at last!

What a glorious frost we had this morning! I was straight out into mums garden in my jamas and dressing gown!

I have a lot of frosty leaf and berry pictures from last year so I was looking for something different to add to my portfolio.
There are a lot of balls in the garden, Madge is still pretty much a puppy and I just love the frost on this yellow one!

There are a lot of stones too, I wish I'd seen these a little earlier as the frost was starting to melt by the time I got to them. Perhaps we'll have another frost, its still January after all!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

full moon frolics

My mothers house is surrounded by countryside and it has been lovely to be in a rural location again after living in a town for years. We all trudged up to the top of a nearby hill the other night as my brother (26) wanted to let of Chinese Lanterns and take photographs of them against the full moon. Myself, my son and my mother were in charge of the lighting and release with a little help from Madge the dog!

It was actually quite fun and the sky was gorgeous with wispy clouds, followed by clear star scattered black with glowing orange from the city of Leicester in the distance. The lantern lighting wasn't hugely successful as we were trying to let off all 8 at once and so had unfolded them all and laid them all on the ground. In hindsight we think this had made them damp but we did manage to get a couple up in the sky. I hadn't taken a tripod and only grabbed my camera at the last minute as it was my brothers show really but I do like the effects that I got all the same with my camera set on night shooting and just the built in flash. As my laptop is still in hospital, i don't have any editing facilities so what you see is what you get. There are no special effects or editing done on Madge's portrait, it just came out that way!

Sunday, 8 January 2012

alan rickman and the packmen

I've had a bit of a disaster in that my laptop has crashed, lots of little pack-man like creatures appeared on the screen followed by a lovely message saying 'beginning system dump'. I switched it off quick but alas tis no more and won't even boot up. A trip to the laptop hospital is scheduled for the morning but it means I am having to borrow my sons laptop. I was loading a video off You Tube of Alan Rickman, one of my favourite actors as my friend and I were having a Saturday evening Facebook conversation about the joys of watching Alan. The clip in question was of him in 'Die Hard' but as soon as I opened it boom, meltdown. I'm sorry Alan but I will never see you in the same light again!
Now I was sure I had my USB stick in the handbag I have brought to mums whilst I live here temporarily but its not in there so I don't have any photographs to put on here! I have a few on another stick that I did bring, which are actually quite lovely to look at as they were taken mid summer last year, a world away from the grey days were having at the moment. Mum has a long hedge running the length of her driveway which is a magnet for Bees. Legs full of pollen they were buzzing furiously from flower to flower oblivious to my camera lens beside them. ooh I can feel the warmth of the sun on me now!

Yesterday I began the task of packing up my belongings at my former home. If all goes well I should be in the new house in 3-4 weeks so I began with my studio room outside and the garage. It wasn't too bad actually, I would think the hard part will be the things inside the house but I am able to leave that until I have the new one so I'm hoping excitement will keep tears at bay. It was strange to pack away our Christmas decorations, dividing them up between us so that we each had a tree and baubles for next year. Each year previously I had wondered to myself if my partner and I would make it to another Christmas, such was the precarious situation I had lived in. There was always the dark cloud hanging over me, the insecurity of why he wouldn't marry, why he still wanted everything to be separate even after all those years and worryingly his history of failed relationships. Although I had hoped and tried to make something more of us than my partner had wanted to be and I felt I had made a family despite of that, I knew in my heart that I was still on trial and would probably never make the grade. So this Christmas it was time to stop trying, to pack up the decorations for the last time in the way I had feared I would have to one day. Yesterday was that day.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

get into the groove

A very windy, cold day found my friend and I at Syston's Watermead Park, a series of man made lakes which are home to many species of birds, types of grasses and a few interesting sculptures.

One of my Father's favourite songs was Noel Harrison's Windmills Of Your Mind and the photograph above reminds me of the opening line 'Round like a circle in a spiral ' I had saved quite a few of dad's old favourites on my ipod to play over Christmas dinner when all the family came round as a way of having him with us. That didn't happen of course but I have been listening to the playlist quite a lot over the last three weeks and it has been a comfort. No music in there to remind my of my partner or my former life, just ones that bring back happy memories of childhood and dad dancing around the living room. My parents loved music, Elton John's 'Crocodile Rock' would always have them jiving together whatever the time of day and of course as a child I loved to see them so happy.
I had to have a MRI scan a few years ago which before hand was met with worried faces by some and "its awful inside inside there" warnings by others. You could choose the music to be played inside the machine and I chose 80's music to bring back happy memories and hopefully let me drift away in thoughts whilst I was scanned. It worked and it was that day I really understood the power of music, it transports you right back to the time when you were happy, to what you were doing and to how you felt. Music Therapy is fascinating, live music was used as a therapy for injured soldiers in both world wars and is used to treat all manner of mental illness' and disabilities today and if you have a chance, read about the

Nordoff-Robbins School of Music.

I used to watch the TV programme 'Ally McBeal' written by David E Kelley, an American legal series. One of the quirky lawyers, John Cage, had a theme tune (Barry White) that he would switch on and play inside his head whenever he needed a confidence boost. As the programme was essentially a comedy drama of course we would hear the music as he started to jig around to it, despite the bewildered looks of all around him but it worked for him and soon the co-stars were joining in and I liked the idea!

I adopted Madonna's 'Get into the Grove' as my theme tune, not the best song ever but as a teenager, I always felt incredibly confident when I danced to it at clubs and it worked! Whenever I needed a bit of umph I would hear it in my head or even put it on and dance around to it. I haven't used it for a few years but I think I will begin again now.

As I was just typing that and humming my theme song in my head I received a phone call and I've just bought a house! Positive thoughts - blimey!!

I think 2012 will be a year filled with music for me, I don't hear so well, my right ear isn't the best (thickening of the bones in my ear) and I have tinnitus (too much time around rock bands as a teenager) so I can only cope well with one, maybe two noises at a time. This means I generally put music on when no-ones around as anyone trying to talk to me or making other noises and I get a headache pretty quickly. With someone always around at home I had got out of the habit of playing my music so its something I'm going to bring back into my life. My partner never liked live music and concerts so hopefully this year I will be able to go to some of those as well! I intend to surround myself with positive things after the negativity of recent times, things that make me happy and feed my injured soul. Music is the first!