Yin and Yang

I have retreated this winter. I have just felt like hibernating; seeing less of people, doing less, and just feeling quiet and reflective. 

The only time I really wanted to pick up my camera was when I did a walk on my own through the Shapwick Reserve in Somerset, where my photos reflected the sombre and bleak mood of my mind these last few months. I just didn't feel like being creative. I didn't play my guitar, I didn't sing. I didn't write, and I didn't photograph. 

I was reading about the natural yin and yang of the seasons. During the warmer months, we have more energy and spark. We smile, we socialise, and we are active. We can get up earlier, and go to bed later.

Then, when winter falls, we start to retreat. Our energy levels need preserving, and it is a time to nurture ourselves with hearty food, warmth, and the comfort of our home. We can read, watch films, take long baths, and just generally lead a quieter life. 

Only now am I starting to resurface. It helps that we have moved house and are now much more settled. There is still a scatter of boxes and unattended paperwork, but otherwise, we are all happy and content with our new surroundings. 

And the creative fire inside me is burning once more. So, hurrah!! I have been photographing my children and cat, playing my guitar, devising plans for exciting paths ahead, and generally feeling lighter and brighter. Oh, and I can't wait for those warmer months! Please be a sunny summer, South West of England. 

 

 

Little Love.

What a wonderful sight. A mother to be, with her precious cargo safely wrapped under winter warmers, and her man by her side.

This was my first venture out with my camera since we welcomed our second baby, Arabella. Who is now four months.

I've chosen a handful of images to show from the maternity session - I did two locations - the woods and home. 

It was awesome to do this again. And I remembered how much I love it. I hope I get to do many more. 


 

Winter

I love winter. I always look forward to it after the summer (OK, only if we have a good one), but I do love dressing in cosy jumpers and big boots. Wearing hats and taking walks in the fresh air. 

This time last year I was preparing to move from the sunniest place in the world - Perth in Western Australia - back here to Bristol. We were really lucky and found an awesome little home for ourselves, backing right onto a wood... close to the city but you wouldn't know it... 

And as we're in the midst of winter... all my friends back in Perth are sharing all their amazingly blue and sunshine filled photos of the aqua water and white sand... and I must admit, I have a bit of a pang to be there myself. Any warm beach actually, somewhere where I can feel the sun on my skin, and then take a dip in the ocean. 

But it's just this time of year... January/February, where you already start to look forward to the summer again! Bring on the Spring... we have plans to redo our garden a bit, add a BBQ area and my husband is going to make a wood fired pizza oven! 

And look at the woods... still beautiful in the Winter, on what was a beautiful, clear day today. 


Here we are.

I am blind.
I am darkness. 
The smallest cry.
Soft and high.
But I am not there. 
So, where am I?
Into the night.
Into the dark.
To the black and blue.
Where will these arms carry you?
Where will we go?
I am lost, my little one.
Amongst the trees.
And the winter breeze.
Won't wake me. 
And so, beneath the everlasting stars.
With hearts beating fast.
Big and small.
Dear little soul.
I see no more.
I feel no more.
We are weightless.
And we will float into the light.
Bright as the moon.
I am here with you.
My beautiful.
I am your mother.
Forever.
Here I am.
Here we are. 

A poem for Charlotte and Zaani Tiana, mother and daughter who are no more. Who are now amongst the stars. 



 

Buster - Mr Maine Cool

Buster is just too bloomin' cool. Although I'm not so keen on the dead rabbits he presents. That's the thing with cats. They're the best ever, but they are also the best ever at slaying small creatures. Especially Buster. There was the unfortunate case of the pet Guinea Pig escaping. Poor little piggy got eaten. And Buster lay around with his extended tummy on display, looking very pleased with himself... He's a seven year old Maine Coon, and I love him.

Mouse and the Tree

Once there was a cat called Mouse. She lived in a little house with a forest in the garden. She loved the forest. And she loved to go on adventures with her family. 

On this particularly day - a fresh, Autumnal morning - Mouse's family put the baby in the backpack and left for a stroll. It was earlier than usual, and Mouse could hear lots of birds singing in the trees. 'What a delightful sound', she thought. 'I might like to catch a bird.'  

She darted from left to right, through the blackberry bracken, up and down a few small trees, and into a clearing, where her family stopped to take photos. She was having so much fun! 

Mouse thought she'd sharpen her claws on the trunk of the biggest tree, when suddenly a lady and her dog appeared. Mouse kept very still, so as not to draw attention to herself. She really did not like dogs at all. They were silly creatures, who tried to be scary.  And they smelled. 

But the dog, who was big and black, came down towards the tree where Mouse and her family were. They picked up a stick to try and shoo the dog away, but it was too late. The dog had seen her, and there was nothing left for her to do, but run up the tree very fast. 

In her haste, Mouse forgot that she would need to come down when the dog had gone. But she'd climbed too high, and there were no low branches for her to get down. 

Her family heaved a fallen tree and leant it against the tree where she was, so that she might use it to climb down. "I'll let them put that tree up, even though I can get down perfectly well on my own', Mouse thought to herself.

But she was very high up. She was quite pleased about it actually. And for a second she thought she might be a bird. She could see birds. And she could still see that silly dog chasing after a stick. 

Mouse decided to give herself a bit of a clean, after getting mud and bark and grass seeds in her fur. She'd found herself a comfy spot to sit, so she'd just stay there awhile, and enjoy the view. 

But then her family started to walk away, leaving her alone in the tree. And so she thought she should accept their help, and tiptoed out onto the tree they'd positioned there for her. Then just as quickly as she was up... she was down. 

Mouse followed her family home for a nice saucer of milk, and some of her favourite food, and then she found a warm basket and went to sleep. 



Pussycat Walks the Woodland

If you go down to the woods today,
You're sure of a big surprise.
If you go down to the woods today,
You'd better go in disguise.
For there's one cat that ever there was,
Who gathers there for certain because,
Today's the day the pussycat walks the woodland.

P.S But wouldn't you actually be surprised if you were walking in the woods and you saw a cat in the tree?

Also, just a bit of context about this image... We were blackberry picking in the woodland behind our house - Mouse comes with us always - and I got blindsided by the light falling on her - she was actually glowing amongst the trees.

My husband got loads more berries than me. But it was worth it. 


Is a holiday really a holiday with your baby?

OK, so 'yes it is a holiday' - the positives would be firstly that you're somewhere other than home. You get to spend quality time with family. You can eat and drink a bit more (though not really in my case with the wine because I'm still breastfeeding). Visiting lovely places like the beach, cafe's and ice cream vans can happen every day… and… perhaps that's it. 

The 'no it's not a holiday' reasons... You don't really get a rest. But having said that on the holiday we just went on, we could rest a bit more because we went with extended family, which meant our son was not always in mine or my husbands arms. (So that can go with the 'yes' pile). The big no for us was that taking a nine month old away meant awfully sleepless nights. I read an article when we got back that said 'whatever you do, don't go on holiday with a nine month old'… Oops. 

We were averaging about three hours sleep a night, because Wilfred was in with us, and at that age, they get used to their surroundings and environment, so when you present them with something new - new bed, new people, new place, new temperature - they go a bit mental. 

So I think you just have to accept that a holiday might not be what you had in mind. And that early nights should probably be on the agenda.

My tips would be to try where possible not to share the same room with your baby (unless you do at home), and just to try to make everything as normal and familiar as you can. 

Still… we had loads of fun, and I got some lovely photos. And, might I add that St David's in Pembrokeshire is beautiful. And… I have a bloody awesome family. 




Mouse

I thought I'd officially introduce our cat. She's a good, funny sort, is Mouse. She doesn't say much. And her expression rarely changes. When she's awake she's wide eyed and bushy tailed, and when she's asleep she makes you want to cosy up to her. Her fur is super soft, but it's thick and fluffy - and she hardly malts! 

We got her as a six week old kitten out in 'whoop whoop', as they say in Australia - which means in the middle of nowhere, out in the bush. She was in a litter of six kittens, and was the only one left... we soon discovered why... 

She was a ridiculous and insane kitten, to the point of my husband and I actually feeling like we'd made a mistake in getting her. She used to just run wild, up the curtains, up anything she could pin her tiny claws in. With her tail always perfectly upright.  

She made what we called a devil growl - a sort of growly gargle as she'd hurtle around. And she's never really meowed. Maybe a squeak here and there, but it's very rare to hear an actual meow. 

We nicked named her Colin Feral as a kitten. She was really rather horrid! But as soon as she was allowed to go outside, she got much better.

We lived in Perth with her for three and a bit years, and then made the decision to bring her home with us to Bristol. We did consider rehoming her, but as I'd worked with cat rescue organisations, I knew there were far too many cats needing homes, and I just didn't want to abandon her. 

So... a long flight and a two hour car ride, a three month stint in a flat we didn't let her out of because we were going to move again. And now she is superbly content and happy.

We bought a little house at the end of a quiet culdesac, with a towering wood as our back garden for her to explore, climb trees, and come blackberry picking with us. She follows us down the path every time we go. Dogs or not. 

She's an Aussie through and through. She's hardy and very, very casual. And if she could, she'd wear a flannel shirt, with a beer in one paw and a steak in the other.

She's a good, funny sort, is Mouse. 

Look for the light

A while ago I took an online course at the Define School with an awesome photographer Kellie Hatcher. Her class taught me the importance and strength of light in a composition - before I didn't really take much notice and would always meter my camera to the middle for everything. But then I learnt that I could shoot with a variety of metering - and what a difference it made! I now mostly use 'spot metering' for indoors, and 'evaluative metering' when I'm shooting outdoors. And I ALWAYS look for the light... 


Beautiful Baby Wilfie

Meet The Most Beautiful Baby. Baby Wilfie. He's beautiful and he's mine! One of my favourite things to do is to just hang out with him while he's playing, and so I thought I'd take a few photos.

These are some of those every day moments I talk about, the ones we don't play special attention to, because it's not a birthday or Christmas. But they're awesome and so should be photographed! 



The Woods

My cousin came to stay over the weekend and we explored the woodland behind our home - with my cat in tow.

I feel pretty lucky to have stumbled across our little home. It's like it's a secret in our city - we live at the end of a culdesac and our garden backs straight onto the wood. My husband and I take this route with our son to get ice cream sometimes - the second time we did we could hear this jingle of a bell behind us, and it was Mouse following us.

She comes with us every time now. Not all the way to shop yet... but she's getting more adventurous!