Christmas has taken most of my energy for the last three weeks. For the first time in a number of years, both my children and my daughter's family were staying for Christmas. One from Vancouver, and one from the French alps.
Recent Christmas's have involved long journeys to the mountains of Canada, and epic organisation by my daughter. This year she did the travelling, and I did the epic organisation using a large spreadsheet of days, activities, meals, ingredients and a shopping list.
It worked. We were ten for lunch on Christmas day, preceded by a pantomime trip on Christmas Eve, and a visit to more family on Boxing Day. Two cars, three trips around the M25, 16 people for Boxing Day lunch, and a lot of lego. No snow, no skiing, but some good muddy walks and lots of meals.
I was prepared. The freezer was stuffed, and I was able to enjoy the few days without having to do endless cooking. I even did some knitting in the midst of serving Christmas lunch, to untangle some dropped stitches for my grandson who was entertaining himself between courses.
And now they are all gone. The house is uncannily quiet. The lego is all cleared away and there is a pile of washing to work through.
It was a very special time. So special that I didn't stop to take a single photo. Not one. I will have to rely on my memories, and the new decorations on the Christmas tree, including a brown bear with a fishing rod, to remind me of my camping trip in Washington state with family last May. I was the only adult present on our pitch who was able to set up a fishing rod. That surprised everyone! A childhood spent casting endlessly on the River Wey was not wasted. I don't remember ever catching a fish, but that's not really the point.
The first thing that I did when the house was officially empty was to go for a walk in the woods. I left OH ( my other half) pondering the puddle that keeps appearing in the middle of our kitchen floor during the night ( AAAARGGGHHHH...........), and escaped.
I tramped through the mud, passing many dogs and bobble-hatted children.
The low winter sun was just breaking through, and it felt good to be out and able to think in peace. I filmed things that caught my eye as I walked; catkins, leaves, birch bark, the stream, the mud, some crows, bobble-hatted children, and more mud.
You can see all of these on my Instagram feed here
I then returned home, ate some more left overs and chucked the remains of the Yule log into the food waste bin, as there was no one left to eat it.
It was time to get back to my normal life.
So what next for my creative endeavours? I have been working hard on a book for my FRPS, and am now awaiting feedback, to see whether it is up to the required standard. Being all about litter on the beach, it is somewhat unusual, and I don't want to say too much at the moment. Every time I look at the layout I seem to change it, so I am leaving it alone for a week or so.
The image below is currently 'IN' the draft book.
None of the images work well as stand alone images, which means that the book structure is vital to bringing them together. It has made me think about how and why I make images. Working in a series is, for me, more satisfying than single stand alone images that might be framed. In the middle of arranging my book I received notice from the Royal Photographic Society that a book for submission should only contain 20 or 21 images. That threw me somewhat, as I have never before had to work to a certain number of images when making a book. I am not sure that I agree with a restriction for this particular submission format, but will keep going for now. One way or another, a book will come out of my months of trawling the beach for litter and items washed up from the sea.
I need to move on. I don't want to spend the rest of my life photographing litter, even if I do keep picking it up. I am ready for a new chapter.
Caroline Fraser - an ordinary life
on life, suburban living, art, creativity, photography, book art and travel.
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Welcome to Caroline Fraser Photography
Colourful abstracted and traditional photographic landscapes, book art and workshops. Capturing the moods and beauty of nature whether in wild open places or in small sanctuaries in suburbia.