Just Life – I suppose?

Kinver Edge (1)

Well, here I am…… apparently letting all the things I cared about slip further and further away. Disappointed in myself…. letting my writing slip, letting my photography slip, letting my interest and enthusiasm slip.

Life is different, very different but I don’t think I have the enthusiasm to pick up the things that are on offer. Perhaps it’s too hard – to step out of the door and build a new life…… the me I used to be doesn’t seem to be here anymore….. or perhaps this is me and the other me was just a façade that enabled me to do the job I had to do?

I knew leaving everyone behind would be tough, but I don’t think I was prepared for feeling so alien!  There’s a lot to be said for driving home along familiar routes that hold the memories you’ve grown up with, and very little to be said for driving home where nothing means anything, nothing connects to the person I am. And it’s not just the physical environment……. I’m constantly encountering attitudes and an outlook that I don’t share.

Enough of the self-indulgence though – it’s not all doom and gloom…….. there are so many positives to being here – Birmingham’s thriving cultural scene on my doorstep (once I shake off this lethargy and get out there to find it!), easy access to places via a well-connected transport network and , of course, family….. the point of this whole exercise!

They have to be the one huge plus out of this whole business……. whilst allowing for the irritations of any close family! I see them two or three times a week, whereas before it was once every month or maybe six weeks. Sunday lunch with Mum has become the norm (now the new kitchen is finally finished!)  – and Friday night fish ‘n’ chips too! Shopping trips with my daughter-in-law (who can shop for England believe me) where we have reached a mutual misunderstanding – K searches every aisle in every shop in case there’s something she might need, or a bargain to be had, while I go straight to the item on my list and only browse the stores that really grab my interest or serve my purpose for the day. My granddaughter calls in on her way home from school (providing Nanna keeps the cake tin replenished!); she sleeps over when Mum and Dad have an early start for work the next day; we bake together; we watch films together; we share music (hmm….. more hers than mine!!) and I am able to experience the glorious, unpredictability of an hormonal 12 year old girl at first hand instead of having it recounted to me by phone or text!

And I have made new friends….. three individuals so far who I get on well with, seem to have hit it off with and are turning into regular contacts for coffee, lunch, Tai Chi and craft sessions (interestingly all three having moved into the area recently), a lively group of ladies I meet for lunch in Birmingham each month, plus other faces becoming more familiar day by day.

Oh how I miss the familiar faces of friends though, and the places we used to go. Sitting for a coffee or a meal with someone who knows me through and through, who knows why I think the way I think, why I am the way I am, the people who have shared the highs and lows of my life with. Yes they’re all still there – just a call or a text or a PM or a FB photo away…… yes they’re just 200 miles along the motorway away, just a 3-4 hour drive away …….. but sometimes it might as well be the other side of the world!

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Summer Harvest

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Some of the fruits of my summer……. those that are still untouched by the family, although I’m not sure how much longer that will last.

Lemon marmalade, courgette chutney, bramble jelly and strawberry jam…… and any number of cakes and biscuits that were very quickly consumed!

Yes, I am still here, but it’s been a busy summer, entertaining friends, travelling and keeping up with the produce from my son’s allotment.

Sunday Strolls (5)

Time to revive my Sunday strolls I think! It’s not that I don’t go out in the winter, just that weekends have been busy and I’ve either been away or had visitors.
Last weekend I was staying with my son. They moved house last summer and they’re still discovering their new area so they decided to show me somewhere I hadn’t been before. The morning was foggy, but it made for some great atmospheric shots, although by the time we had walked across the headland and onto the more commercialised seafront the sun was burning through the mist and families were out in force, on the beach and along the promenade. It seems it’s never the wrong time of year to build sandcastles or eat ice-cream!
Walking across the narrow estuary that creates the ‘Island’ was an eerie experience – the sand was still wet and boggy with the recently ebbing tide and moving shapes loomed out of the mist, although the ‘ghost ship’ seemed to be securely anchored in the small harbour. I didn’t get close enough to see if it was still in working order or had actually been abandoned! Away from the harbour and headland the Island becomes a typical seaside resort, hard and sharp in contrast to the soft contours of the sand and coastline. The beach huts are brand new and a welcome burst of colour on what started out as a very grey morning. The local council are still deciding whether to sell them individually or rent them out during the summer season…… quick short-term profit or long-term investment? Wouldn’t mind one myself!
The seafront cafes behind the prom were busy and enjoying a boost in trade on a beautiful day with many people opting to sit outside, even if they were wrapped in winter coats, scarves and hats – but we managed to find a corner to have lunch in the sun before heading home!

(I will explain that the vignette effect on the harbour wall is not deliberate – well, not quite. The filters that I had for Christmas were the wrong size for my lens fitting so we had to buy an adaptor. I leave it on so I can add filters when I want to but it creates the ring around the edge unless I use a lot of zoom. Usually I crop it afterwards but there are some pictures where it just seems to look right – so I leave it.)

My New Year!

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I’ve had a hectic couple of weeks with lots of visitors, lots of cooking, lots of cuddles with my granddaughter and lots of walks in the fresh air! Eventually things will get back onto an even keel and I’ll be able to post regularly again.

Meanwhile I took this shot on Tuesday as I walked along the coast path just a few minutes from my home. We’ve had real Jekyll and Hyde weather this week – yesterday, by contrast, struggled to get properly light all day and yet this morning the sun was streaming into my bedroom again. At the moment the wind is howling and driving the rain against the window as I type!

Christmas provided me with a host of new gadgets for my Nikon – a tripod, a wide-angle lens and a set of filters plus a ‘Dummies’ guide to my camera. Seems there’s no excuse now to get out there and find out what I can really do!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Humanity

I’ve been away from the WPC for a few weeks…. or possibly a couple of months? Things are settling down into a bit of a routine now, so I’ve had time to think around this week’s theme but, having chosen the photos from my files I then couldn’t decide which order to post them in, so here they are, all together! I’ve concentrated on the idea of humanity as people, not the emotion, and then I had to think about how I could best portray humanity and what it means to me.

There’s the mass of humanity that we encounter most days in various contexts, whether it be shopping crowds, motorway queues, airport lounges, on a bus or in a crowded train, at a sports event, music festival or, as here, on the streets of Edinburgh during the festival. People coming together to enjoy the artists, to mingle and perhaps meet new people some with a shared interest, others just passing by.

Away from the crowd humanity is the love of a good friend, sharing experiences, exploring culture, chatting, laughing and, sometimes, crying together. Being comfortable with each other, knowing when to help, when to encourage, when to step back and watch from afar….. knowing they will always be within reach no matter how far away we are.

But most importantly for me humanity is the love of family, not just my own children but also the people they choose to share their lives with. I love this family shot – it was the beginning of a holiday and within an hour of arriving from different parts of the country we were sitting round a table, sharing food, catching up with each other and planning the week ahead.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Extra!

Extra

Lots going on at the moment so a last gasp entry this week!

An extra chair – hopefully waiting for me to sit in. Well – I did, but not for long as the family had been resting while I wandered around them with my camera and were just about ready to move on by the time I sat down! The dogs had already decided it was time to go and had wandered out of the shot! So I let them all head off around to the other side of the lake while I enjoyed a few moments of peace and quiet – and I got some good shots of them walking with the dogs across the water!