Saturday, 26 December 2015

Two-Thousand-and-Fifteen


I'm finding it harder these days to distinguish the years and their events from the next. 1999, 2008, 2015... I can barely remember what happened and these numbers mean little to me when trying to recall the emotions I felt, the people I cared about and the places I visited. 
This is why photography is so powerful; that frozen capture of a singular moment can bring back a forest of memories, heart aches and butterflies in the same way that smells and songs do, for me. 
In the future, I'll look back at 2015 and it will feel monumental. 2015 is the year I got engaged. It should feel like an enormous, life changing event that paves the way for my future - but the truth is, that it doesn't. Nothing has changed, George's and my relationship has remained the same, except that now we get to plan a wedding (which quite frankly, we both always knew was on the cards). I am glad of this however, for I don't think I want our relationship to change. We want to marry because we want it to stay this way; secure, loving, gentle and full of play, adventure and goofing around. I want to promise my best friend that I'll stick with him forever. 
I kick started last year with a few goals in mind, I knew I wanted to take this blog semi-seriously. Semi, because I didn't want any content to be non-genuine or something that had been contrived for the sole purpose of blogging. That wasn't why I wanted to blog - I wanted an organic, lyrical biography. A place with a sense of whimsy and creativity. I had set myself a target of reaching out to people to gain exposure for work so that I could push my photography business and have a better standing as an author in the future. Being the hobbit that I am however, I spend as little time as I can on the internet, and so I failed at things like 'twitter chats' and harassing people to notice my blog. That just wasn't what I was like. Instead, I got wrapped up in other things like photographing dancers at Uni and exploring some of the little, picturesque villages outside of Bath in my attempts to shake off the winter blues.






I've actually forgotten how long ago it was that Milly joined our family. It feels like only yesterday but also forever simultaneously. She is the most berserk, ridiculous and stroppy Springer Spaniel that I have ever met, but she never fails to make me chuckle and I love looking back at the winter dog walks with Nan through the valley, the woods and on the beach. Early January was filled with those sorts of things, last year. Wellington boots, muddy paths and splashing about in little brooks. George and I had made it our business to spend as much time as possible outdoors despite the cold weather and spent a memorable afternoon on a particularly pretty walk in Monkton Coombe just outside of Bath where we found the most beautiful lake filled with turquoise algae. 












Reluctant to stay inside, despite the lofty March winds, we braved a sunset picnic with our friend Jess at a nearby lake called Chew Magna. We filled our flasks with hot chocolate and packed up my warmest, homemade rugs (thanks Nan!) and spent the late afternoon bird watching and rambling around the lake. Spring arrived with haste this year, and it wasn't long before my best friend and housemate Jess and I were spending afternoon upon afternoon out in the sunshine on long walks, soaking up the warmer weather and marvelling at all the little flowers coming back into bloom. 
I had feared it would be a long winter, but I needn't have worried. It was a long and beautiful spring - possibly my most favourite yet, filled with beautiful blossoms. The easter fair came to visit and I had the most GLORIOUS afternoon with George and Jess munching on candy floss, watching the rides whirl round and round and then enjoying the sight of the hot air balloons launching from the park. 
















 In the spring, I collaborated with the Cornish hair accessories company 'Crown and Glory' to photograph and style the contents of their glitterati boxes. It was an exciting new venture as I didn't have much experience before with hair but it inspired me to try all sorts of spiffy new hair does AND photograph floral accessories. 
I had a lot of fun with George on the canal tow paths, taking my retro roller skates out for a spin. There's some really funny photographs of me almost falling over, and George showing off and being really good despite my boots being four sizes too small. Some people are born with coordination, others are not. 
I think that this is the year I decided that I really didn't like winter. I was so grateful for spring that I had the absolute time of my life. It was also my first academic year on my new degree and I was ABSOLUTELY LOVING EVERYTHING. The creative writing degree was everything that the photography degree wasn't and I met some incredible, like minded and quirky souls on that course! I am delighted to be among such peculiar and delightful creatures as the Bath Spa Creative Writing crowd. I had also made a conscious decision in the new year that I was going to learn to love the city this year, and enjoy it no matter what. 







This was the time I picked up a delightful, vintage, pink dress and wore it for Jesses look-book project. I also tried my hand at being a woodland Nymph (the things I do for my friends) and put together a very, ethereal shoot with Jess in the grave yard. 
With May, came the Cow Parsely and the summer. I can't stress how much time we spent on the canals, just sitting and chatting on the pontoons for hours, whiling the time away and drifting along the narrow, flower lined pathways. The light was golden and the weather was fair and we basked in the whimsical and somewhat ethereal atmosphere that May brings. 



















This year, I managed to make more contacts and photograph some more weddings for people to boost my portfolio ready for when I go freelance upon graduation. We also had a rad trip to London in the summer (one of many!) which were becoming more frequent, because to our delight, one of our best friends Josiah moved back from Brussels and now lived only one and a half hours away by train! 
One afternoon, my housemates and I took a picnic to a quaint little boating station on the river and watched the punters drifting serenely past. We made friends with a dog and smelled all the dreamy flowers that were by now, in full bloom! We also discovered the most joyful pontoon to play on at Weston lock, right near our house, and it became a regular spot for visiting in the light and airy evenings, bathing our feet and chatting. We took the days slowly and cherished every single one. 














On what was one of the by far, most memorable afternoons of the summer, Jess, my Cath Kinston zoo skirt and myself packed ourselves into my yellow car and trundled over to the little town a few miles over from Bath called Bradford upon Avon and found THE most jolly, little fair-trade-vegitarian cafe and then proceeded to explore the nearby countryside and stumbled upon THE BEST EVER MEADOW OF WILD FLOWERS. I was in my absolute element. I had never felt so much like a creature from a fairy tale or old, english highly romanticised novel about life in the countryside. We skipped and leapt about in the long flowers and took soooo many photographs, bathed in the river nearby and watched trains from the fence at the tiny level crossing. It was idyllic and I look back on days like this with such fondness and reverie. 
When June rolled around and Dad came to pick me up and bring me home for the summer I was ecstatic. I had missed the sea so dearly and the prospect of a long, blue, idyllic Cornish summer had never been so appealing. We took the ocean road home through Devon, following the coast back to our forgotten and quiet end of the island where it proceeded to be not sunny for the rest of the summer. 










Despite the chillier days and grey afternoons, there were evenings where the clouds parted and the golden sunlight peeped through and cast the coast in a warm and dreamlike glow. We snatched many evening walks this way and rambles on the downs where we went to watch the shooting stars, free from any light pollution. 
In July, it was my birthday and so Dad and I took the island hopper plane over to Scilly, the archipelago just 15 miles off our coast (that's less than from my house to penzance!) and we had the most wonderful time, stumbling across hidden, empty white sand beaches and gazing at the turquoise tropical looking water. I am already making plans for visiting these islands again this summer! I've been having a lot of dreams about them recently and I always wake up yearning for them. 
This summer I made some new friends too! Who says that college and Uni are the only places to meet people? Funnily enough, these two beautiful humans I met through blogging and social media due to our mutual love of art, photography and most importantly - Cornwall. I've made some lovely memories with Laura and Alex, Alex and I have even become so close that I'm absolutely honoured to be her bridesmaid at her wedding in September! I'm really looking forward to coming home for good and spending more time with them :) They're both such wonderful company. 












In August, we picked up the keys for our new flat in Bath and visited the hot air balloon convention in Bristol. Something I had always wanted to do. Our little excursion was fun and exciting, and moving in properly together was a big step for George and I (although it certainly didn't feel like it) however, it was with a sigh of happiness that I returned again to my misty, gloomy, beloved coast. 


























Towards the end of August and early September, I was taking a lot of photographs for other people. The light was beautiful, as it always is in Cornwall in this time of year and I felt so pleased with the captures of these memories and these windows into peoples lives. September was the month of dreamlike light, and I look back on it remembering several evenings of running through the waves at Rinsey head in just my underwear, shouting and splashing and throwing myself against the turbulent water. I remember another evening, where we stood on the cliffs and watched a rather spectacular cloud roll in and engulf us. We stood inside it, welcomed the droplets of water on our faces and me being me, had to take a million photographs of it. To immortalise the memory of standing inside a cloud by the sea. 













Autumn lasted forever this year. Perhaps it was because summer ended so quickly, or never really happened, or because we're still waiting for real winter to properly rear its head. It truly was a spectacular one filled with joy and visits to the deer park, fulfilling my dream of exploring the magnificent Kew Gardens in London with its majestic, victorian green houses. I visited North Wales involving an epic van journey with an old friend through Betws-y-coed and Snowdonia which is absolutely b r e a t h t a k i n g and we witnessed a dear friend become married. Autumn was filled with crispy leaves and nature, even in the cities its presence was undeniable for it filled the streets with carpets of leaves and pearly light and it ended perfectly on a most unusual and celtic Halloween/Samhuinn in Scotland, where I asked George the most important question of our lives























December became one of the toughest ones of my memory (which I admit, isn't really up to par) with working two jobs, photographing people, third year degree deadlines and spending every spare moment generating ideas for my novel planning folder. The weather was mild (and still is) grey and wet but I was suitably cheered up when Alex came to visit and she got to meet Jess, and we had a shamelessly indulgent evening on my couch watching Ponyo and eating Chinese food together. I even snatched three days off work where I nipped home in the car because I needed the ocean so much (and I missed my family and the pooches of course!) 





This year has been comparable to the scene from Bambi where he's trying to walk on the ice - tricky, slippery and all over the place but also fun and joyous with plenty of silliness. Looking back at these photos, I think of how many happy memories were made. Then there's the times in the photos I didn't take, and I stain hard to hold onto those days and moments because my brain struggles to recall events without prompts and that makes me sad although I think a lot of people struggle with this. I think it's pretty normal. But even so, the thought that maybe I won't remember this today in a few weeks time. That this day will have nothing to mark it. I suppose that's partly why I love creating, so that every day has something to show for it. 
Most important, is the journey I've made this year. I've learned to stand up for myself, I've learned to trust my heart and be certain of what I want from myself and life. I've learned to respect myself and believe in my mantra of treating others with kindness (or at least I hope!). I have this expectation and vision of the person I want to be and I work hard to toe that line but sometimes I trip up (normally on days where food is withheld for whatever reason). The moment when I realised how comfortable I had become in my skin and how that had changed my outward behaviour, was the other day when one of my managers at work turned and said to me; "Sarah, you're the kind of person people want to be friends with". 
That sentence was monumental. It hit me like a flipping huge train coming at three hundred miles per hour and took me by utter surprise. Nobody had ever said anything like that to me before; I had been a dork my entire life. As a kid, I was the weird one who believed in mermaids and fairies and I couldn't pay the other kids to hang out with me. Secondary school, I was a total no-body and generally ignored. I got a fair amount of stick of for being a Sea Cadet (which I'll have you know, is not as dorky as it sounds!) and  I had to go to a Surf Life Saving Club 10 miles away from my nearest club, to avoid all the cool kids from school as I knew they'd make fun of me. In late secondary school I had an EMO phase and that made me a social Pariah, but by college, I had made a pretty decent bunch of friends that taught me to just enjoy the value of good company and all this hype around 'coolness' just dissolved (I'll be honest, I never really cared about what was cool, just that it usually needed to be avoided). 
But in this past year, I've really learned to accept myself and be okay with being me. Since letting go of all that baggage and worry regarding what other people think, in particular stopping worrying about how I looked compared to other girls, it set me free and I've been so much more comfortable in my skin. I can be myself now and one hundred percent only care for the opinions of the people whose opinions I value and learning that life skill has really helped me so much. 
I'm really excited to think what I'll learn in my next year and what new, positive ways of thinking I can adopt. Today, I thought about how sorry for myself I was feeling about not being allowed to go home for Christmas because of work commitments and then how I thought that this had taught me to feel compassion for those who work every year in retail or hospitality and rarely spend it with their families. I had always taken it for granted that people spent their christmases at home in their communities but so many people have to work to ensure that other people have wonderful memories and sacrifice their own. That act of selflessness is so monumental, I truly appreciate those people but had I not had a poopy christmas myself, working my butt off, I never would have learned this empathy. I would have carried on every christmas taking those people for granted, and the thought of that terrifies me. 
So rather than set myself resolutions this year, I want to set myself mantras to live by, good habits to learn. They're not specific, because I'm not sure what they are. I just want to learn and for my heart to grow. I want to be as compassionate and gentle as I can and most of all, learn to not take out stress on the people closest to me. I want to learn how to be healthy on the outside as well as inside and to always stick to the quote:
"Admire somebody else's beauty, without ever doubting your own", or... the Derek Zoolander words of wisdom;
"There is more to life than being ridiculously good looking" :P 
it's easy to get hung up on material things when those things don't really matter. What really matters are concrete experiences, wonderful people and the wonderful thoughts we have because those are the things that define us. The places we love to frequent, the company we keep and how we look at the world; those are what is left behind if you turn the world upside down and shake all the tat away. Let the cars, make up and clothes fall into the sky, along with the iPads and selfie sticks... what is left behind (providing we held onto the trees hard enough) is the land and each other. Those things are eternal (or so we hope) and those are the roots that support my little tree of a life. 





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10 comments

  1. This post is so cute babs! I miss you! Can we make more memories when I come back? Please and thankyous, much love! xoxo

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  2. This is a wonderful post, dear Sarah. I truly know you would be a person I would love to be friends with! I fully concur with that person who said that. You have heart, Passion, kindness, beauty, generosity and a love of life and nature that only the truly beautiful at heart have. I am very excited for what you might achieve!!!x

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  3. So many beautiful pictures!! I've really loved reading your blog this year :D I really hope we can meet at some point in the new year as well!

    hellomissjordan.com xx

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  4. I've only been following your blog for part of the year but I really love it. I think I'll feel like you when I get engaged... it is going to happen and while it will make me happier than anything I know everything will be just the same <3

    Gisforgingers xx

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  5. I love your pictures girl, and you did so much in the year who cares if you don't do twitter chats, your content is FAB.
    My fav. pictures are the ones of the coast with the golden light. Ah beyond perfect.

    x Carina / Running White Horses

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  6. I love this post so much! I think a reflective end of year post or even just writing it down on paper for yourself is good and helpful. The pictures are beautiful as ever and I love the new blog layout.

    http://www.lifewiththeroofdown.com/

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  7. Oh my gosh, this post is just gorgeous both to look at and read - your photos are stunning and I can't believe I've only just discovered your blog! I love reflecting and looking back at the year, it's comforting, emotional and life affirming for the year ahead. Wishing you all the best! - Tasha

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  8. Aahh, I feel like I say this on every single post of yours, but this is beautiful. Both the photos and the writing are just wonderful. I wish I could photograph like you! It sounds like you got up to a lot of fun things in 2015. I hope 2016 will be less shaky, but with just as many fun moments!

    Mimmi xx
    Muted Mornings

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  9. Wow, beautiful post!

    moremindfulyou.blogspot.com

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  10. Absolutely loved this! Your photography is just so beautiful and I find it so inspiring too.
    I completely relate to the worry of what others think. Even at the ripe old age of 27 I still sometimes have invasive thoughts along these lines. I guess it just takes time and a little mental effort to learn and get into the habits of not thinking in those ways.
    Just so you know, I was a Sea Cadet too and it is by no means dorky ;) x

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