A Smaller, Quieter Life ...

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My days here, are so different from those beautiful days back in Genova.

I miss the bars, and the lovely people who worked there, making the best coffe in the world.

I miss the noise of the city, and the quiet of the medieval centre.

I miss the musicians, and the everyday presence of ancient places. I miss passing by people whose faces look like faces painted in 400 year old paintings. I miss good pasta and sauce, pizza and walking. 

I miss the Genovese.

BUT, I am learning to love hanging my laundry out on Dad's old clothes line, in the garden that smells of roses and all the other flowers he has there. And it makes me so happy to climb into my bed when thesheets smell of fresh air & sunshine. 

I love the sound of the birds ... one of the only sounds as I hung out my laundry at 7am this morning.

I was always passionate about driving ... about wandering, and so I am happy to be driving again. Even if I enjoyed the kilometres I walked on Genovese footpaths, and the buses and trains. And I'm not sure how to avoid weight gain, other than via that boring path called self-discipline.

Reading. I have just finished 3 books, one after another. Reading late into the night, just as I did as a child.

My espresso machine is making me happy, I just need to go find 'the' coffee. 

I love 32 celsius days (yesterday) and sitting here in the kitchen, back door open to the garden, and working. 

Mmmhmmm, I called the plumber today. The bathroom tap is broken and it has leaked for days now. 
Another thing to love, after a life lived in Europe, I phoned the plumber at 8.50am and he said, 'Okay, I'm doing a job just round the road, I'll come to you after it'. It was the same with the washing machine repair guy. That's quite marvelous really :-)

Here I am, just trying to find my balance again, in this smaller, quieter life that I'm living. 
Buona giornata ...

Foto: these chairs, were just there, in this ancient ruin in Genova. I had my photograph taken in one, and couldn't resist the beauty of this still-life moment, Genovese-style.

Where The Magic Happens ...

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The magic happens, sometimes, in that space where you break all the rules ... or accidentally bump the Mode setting onto another, entirely inappropriate, setting.

I love this photograph, taken with my Canon 5D MkII.  It seems like a water colour and is, perhaps, the only way my daughter would allow me to publish a photograph of her.

She's crouching, photographing her exquisite Romanian rescue dog.  Sahara and Sander are there too.  As is the snow.  

I'm up in Scotland today.  -6 celsius this morning, and frozen feet.

In huge news, for me, I managed to light the fire but while applauding my own cleverness, the vent knob fell off.  I went from feeling like Pioneer Woman to Ms Bean - Mr Bean's twin sister, in a heartbeat.

I opted to leave my slippers out of my packing and so,  feet masquerading as blocks of ice, are my new normal here in the north of Scotland.  I'm also missing my external harddrive, my hiking boots ... and my flatmates loved the Italian Christmas cake I left behind. 

I have never forgotten having to throw away quite a bit of my stuff, at the airport, for the flight between the UK and Italy.

Photographically, I am loving Scotland.  But in other ways struggling with the cold.  It seems I have softened in Italy.  That long hot Spring, Summer and Autumn in no way prepared me for this but but but ... it is so good to see family, to catch up on their news, to eat English food :-)

All of that.

 

Golden Days ... Genova

My mornings begin slowly in this golden city in Italy. Morning after morning, I wake to soft blue skies and 30 celsius.  It's changing the pulse of my body ... of my mind. 

I am finding my feet but so slowly. 

Every time I move countries, I have to relocate everything.  The names of simple things change with the language.  Favourite places and people need to be discovered.  And I search for that new rhythm for my days ... for my life.

My holy moment, those breakfasts I love, have to be hunted and gathered again.  Reframed by what is available.  I haven't quite found 'breakfast' here ... not yet.

My skin is becoming brown, my feet have become accustomed to open leather sandals, and I wear that silky clothing I found in the secondhand shops in Surrey.  And I'm bemused because I've never been a silky clothing kind of woman.  But it's hot.  Really hot.

I have this idea now, that wearing clothes only happens because we have been civilised.  In Genova, the heat and humidity dictate that we only cover the skin that we must cover because any more coverage is just plain insane.

But the city and its colour... I began this wanting to try and describe the peachy, golden glow of the buildings here. 

In the past, I've always lived 'in' the city but this time is different, just for a while.  And as my bus rolls down the hill into the city, I see the glow of the buildings and begin to understand that colour is one of the things that has made me fall in me love this ancient place.

Even here, looking out from my borrowed balcony, the buildings are shades of pale yellow through into gold and terracotta.   And yes, then there's the blue sky, arching over it all ... every single day so far.

Life feels soft.  The air, the sea, the colours that surround me.  It's early days and I'm letting myself sink into them slowly.  Knowing I shouldn't but unable to help it.  To rush, to be stressed, to worry ... would be to waste it all.

I have half-constructed that precious breakfast.  There's a coffee machine here so I have my espresso.  Peaches are ripe and cheap at the moment ... they remind me of Christmas, long summer holidays, and home.  And there's cereal but this is definitely only an 'under-construction' kind of breakfast.  The search continues ...

My dinners are mostly about salad.  Paysanne Salade might loosely identify the mix of ingredients that find their way onto my plate.  Sweet lettuce and baby tomatoes,  and a little cooked bacon.  Sweet potatoes (New Zealand's kumara) cubed and lightly fried in some oil, with pieces bread falling into that pan too ... after the bacon.

I'm not sick of it yet.

I have so many stories of good people and marvelous adventures.  It's time to start telling them but first ... you understand, I had to mention the colour.

And so it goes ...

I'm realising how extraordinarily privileged I am, in terms of people I know.  I have so many unplanned adventures gifted to me, like Norway.  And friends who simply step up next to me when they see I need help ... because I'm not good at asking.

When I head off on these adventures, I'm only packing my camera, my laptop and myself, nothing more usually.  And best of all, I get meet more marvelous people who often become new friends.

And so it goes.

These days in Norway have been spent on the edge of Ren and Egil's world, sharing the house with their lovely friends ... Becky and Japhet, Joshua & Jonah.   

And at their wedding I met some of the 'legends' I had heard stories about, people I was so glad to finally meet ... like Lydia Lápidus Radlow, who is as marvelous, or perhaps more marvelous, than I could have imagined.

I met and photographed Richard Pierce, the writer and poet, and count myself extraordinarily fortunate to have been introduced to his writing.  I have been dipping in and out of one his books, Bee Bones - 'sharing' it with Becky (whenever she puts it down) but will buy my own copy when I'm back home.

I met Richard while he was photographing an iron gate at the church and then photographed both he and his beautiful wife, more than a few times.

So many people met on this visit.  I had the luck to sit next to Kjetil and Sølve, with Odd, Marianne, and Kristin, making the dinner so very enjoyable.

And then there is Sissel, captured in the photograph at the top of this post.  Isn't she truly divine.  And her husband, that guy from Scotland, I adored him too, and his stories.

This morning, Marcelle messaged me, offering to pick me up from the airport when I return to England and I almost cried with gratitude.  I had mapped out my route, and was fine with it but to be picked up and taken home ...that's truly unexpected.   And so very very kind.

And so it goes ...

I Believe ...

I will have to make myself step outside today. Perhaps I'll walk down to the lake, putting aside my strong desire to process all of the wedding photographs before leaving on Wednesday. 

I have no problems with choosing to work through while in Norway.  I already know that, rather than explore the cultural institutions of each new country I visit, I prefer the experience of life lived on the inside ... lived with the people who invited me there.

I'll curl up on a couch, I'm happy to cook, clean or arrange flowers but I love ... absolutely love, being there, close to the heart of each story.

It turns out I'm not really a museums and art gallery kind of woman.

I loved Sagrada Familia but was so sad to know no one in Barcelona.  It was the first time that ever happened during these years when I wander the world a little.

I flew in to photograph a wedding in Madrid ... saw nothing of the city but lived an incredibly intense few days with the friends and family who had flown in from all over to celebrate with Kathleen and Manuel.  Opera singers and scientists, all kinds of larger than life, wonderful people.  I cried as I photographed the ceremony.

But I cried when I photographed that wedding in England.  Tears poured quietly down my face as I captured the pride and the love on Clare's Dad's face, as he walked his beautiful daughter down the aisle ... his goal, after a massive stroke turned life upside down, back home in Australia.

I do cry sometimes but my camera, my work ... they take me so close to the heart of everything.  Even this wedding, when the love is so strong, and so powerfully present ...  photographing the groom's speech, the bride's response, the son's speech too.  There were quiet tears, that I'm sure nobody saw as they worked with their own tears.

Photography, and the intensity of it, takes me beyond the every day.  I remember that time I spent in a local neighbourhood for the few days I was in Cairo, working with my client, as she sought out pieces for her Berlin exhibition.  It was only as my plane soared into the sky that I saw the pyramids and remembered ... 'oh, the pyramids'.

And even better, so many friendships from those journeys continue to this day.

And that's how I prefer it.  I love to step inside that bubble of family and friends, of locals.  It's the greatest privilege, the richest experience ...  and then to be allowed to attempt to capture the intimacy between people who really know one another, or who are living their everyday lives. There is nothing better.

This time, to stand here, on the edge of the love that Ren and Egil have for one another, to witness them making that public commitment, and to attempt to capture the love that flows out from them and over their family and friends ... who all give it back to them.  That has been almost overwhelming.

It has felt something like warming myself on a fire after time spent out in the cold.

And to be caught up in the hum and bustle of their home ... full of friends and strangers living together ... for me, that is always the best of travel.

As for my goal ... if I really think about it, it has always been about making an attempt to capture the reality of the emotion and the intimacy between family and friends when they come together to celebrate.

But it leaps over into public events too.  Strangers viewing art, unaware of my camera.  There is often a rawness when someone is unaware of the camera.  They are truly themselves, and perhaps that is the best a person can hope for.

I guess it's becoming clear that I have this idea that there is so much beauty to be found in capturing what is real.  I laugh when I tell people ... oh, I just want to capture something of your soul when I photograph you

People, when they show a little of their soul, are beautiful.  I strongly believe that Photoshop is no more than a tool, to be used in much the same way the darkroom was used.  It's not for improving someone .. not for ironing out wrinkles, softening their features, making them slimmer ... it's for cropping, when you didn't quite get close enough.  For adding light when there wasn't enough.  For straightening ... or that's my idea of it.

I believe ... mmm, I believe that these few days in Norway have been some of the best days.

As always

That Wedding in Norway ...

My beautiful friend was married yesterday, here in Norway. 

Her wedding was a wedding that reminded me of just how huge love can be.  Love was present in every single speech made, every performance given, every dance. 

There was the groom's speech ... the one that made me cry, despite the fact I didn't understand one word of Norwegian.  He undid so many of us, including his wife.

And the bride's speech, that overflowed with a beautiful humility and a massive love that, again, filled my eyes with tears.

Then the bridesmaid and the bride, who spoke so beautifully of their exquisite friendship ... and the son to his mother, and her new husband, another speech that almost made my poor little heart crack open.

And on it went.

But it wasn't just about the obvious.  My table for the evening was full of the kindest, funniest people.  I was so grateful to them for opening their circle to include me, and even more grateful for the laughter ... and the impromptu lessons in Norwegian.

As I sit here this morning, in this sun-filled house that quietly hums with family conversation and smells of good coffee, contemplating the 300+ photographs I'm about to process ... I'm happy.  Quietly peacefully happy.

It's been another truly grand adventure.

I'm here until Wednesday...