Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Wooden Boats


Welcome to my neighbourhood everybody, it's about time I showed you all around! The truth is, if you've been reading my blog long enough... you will have already had a few snippets of where I live as the Kennet and Avon canal system is a regular haunt of mine and a place I will truly miss when I graduate at the end of this year. 








It's funny how when you realise that your remaining time with something is limited, that thing suddenly becomes precious and you tread more carefully around it. I have taken Bath for granted a lot over the last few years that I have been studying here, but now I know I will be going home at the end of the year, I am endeavouring to cherish every inky, lamplit street, each passing hot air balloon in the sky and the sound of buskers in the streets. The opulent architecture has ruined me for every other city (Except Edinburgh of course) and suddenly I realise that I will be going back to a sleepy land where shops don't open on Sundays and going-out culture involves a bonfire on the beach, acoustic instruments and an abundance of mulled mead and scrumpy (the latter, I much prefer).
Although it is beautiful to look at, I always find myself on the outside of Bath life, for the culture here is largely focused around buying and luxury and well, I'm the kind of girl who buys second hand clothes, picks up walking shoes from the car boot sale and trades a lot of my stuff with friends. Like these dungarees for instance, they used to belong to Alex, but I swapped them for a jumper my Nan had been trying to find a home for because it was too small for me. Now we're both happy and we didn't have to spend a penny. It's not that hard, I like to think it keeps the clutter down too. I feel guilty buying new things when homes need to be found for things that already exist, otherwise they go to waste and then all the effort put into their creation was for nought. You may think, she's an only child; what does she know about hand-me-down life? Most of my childhood was spent wearing clothes that Nan had been given by my older cousins Emily and Mary-Ann and I never minded one bit. I think I would be just fine living with the Weasley's. I love big, noisy families; I guess that's why I love George's family so much. I love the chaos, the community and the fact that it's perfectly normal to spend an evening singing sea shanty and folk songs at a family get-together or that between them they know absolutely everything there is to know about country living. I love that we do archery and air rifle shooting in the back garden on a Sunday afternoon like a bundle of hicks and that his Granddad knows how to skin a rabbit (sorry vegetarians for that bit of tmi). 
Here is the locks behind our house. I absolutely love sitting out on the grassy parts in the warmer seasons, watching the boats chug by whilst eating dinner and thinking how wonderful it is that this little oasis exists inside this valley of buildings and spires. I think most of all, I'm going to miss Bath's chimney pots and water ways. I always find it entertaining when walking along the canal, that I can out-walk the barges- they are so slow, but I think there's something in that. I imagine to drive one, would slow down time for you, you could look at everything with more intensity and take more time to take it in. I think we do things too quickly these days, that's perhaps why life goes too quickly. Everything is about speed and efficiency. We hate being stuck behind slow people in the crowd, or slow cars on the motorway but to chug along a canal ever so slowly - I reckon that's a fine thing. Did anyone else go as mad for Rosie and Jim as I did when we were tots? Seeing these little rag dolls gave me all the feels. 






I am delighted to say, that I am planning on taking this year a whole lot more slowly. I have left my  retail job. Although I love the brand, I found retail difficult for somebody like me; I am clumsy because of my dyspraxia and I was constantly getting bruises and injuries from damaging myself on railings, hooks and clothes hangers. It also saddened me on Christmas eve and boxing day, with customers flooding through the doors that people would rather be out spending money and buying stuff on this precious, family holiday than be at home with their loved ones. That utterly shocked me and broke my heart. Those aren't the reasons I left though, I left because I had well and truly bitten off more than I can chew - I need to not only focus this year on my dissertation modules, but also on working on preparing myself for life after uni. I want to be part time freelance and better my creative skills, push my photography business and expand my skill set so that I can offer more services such as illustration and design. With two jobs, plus my wedding photography work, and third year degree, it was a surprise I found any free time at all and I was slowly going bananas, my humanity ebbing away with my youth as I slowly transformed into a work-mule. That's not who I want to be, I want to live my life for myself and values/people I believe in. That's why I want to try my hardest at being self employed because then I can create work I truly believe in for lovely people. It will also permit me to live my life in the place I love. 
How considerate that somebody took the time to make a little puddle bridge? This afternoon I went on a little walk by myself with camera and tripod in hand for the sun shone weakly for the first time in a good while. I do love the winter light, it's charming and silvery and with the temperatures as lukewarm and mild as they have been, I barely had need for a jumper. I still can't get my head around the fact that December is the height of summer on the other hemisphere! Australia are all feeling pretty sun soaked right now, meanwhile here all our chimneys are puffing away. Still, no snow coming our way down south and I've got a sad feeling that it won't be at all this year. 






People ask me a lot of questions about photography, mostly if I can do a photography post. I did one back in the summer where I thought I'd try and cover everything that was important about shooting on a DSLR in manual, but people still ask, so you guys, please ask me exactly what you want to know :) I'm here for you! While you can see from these photo's that I'm by no means perfect, particularly when it comes to self portraits. This is one of three times when I've taken it upon myself to take self portraits and it's an art I'm still getting the hang of. Despite the fuzziness and imperfections, I'll tell ya'll what I know anyhoo :) 

  • I highly recommend a 50mm lens for portraits and ease of carrying around. It's not great at landscapes but if you want a lovely portrait or detail shot, you have to take the plunge and brave shooting in manual. Put your F number down to something nice and low like F/2 or F\2.8 and you'll get a nice shallow depth of field (blurry background). This entire post was photographed on a 50mm Nikkor lens for Nikon. I am a firm believer that everybody can benefit from a 'Nifty Fifty!' :) 
  • Winter light is BREATH TAKING. I know it's raining a lot right now, but the moment the skies clear it's time to jump outside and get snapping. Because the sun is lower in the sky, everything is in permanent sunset mode but with a more silverly, weaker and delicate light. You won't have problems that you normally get shooting in the warmer months with stark daylight portraits, you can get out at midday and take lovely lit shots without any harsh shadows and awkward contrast. Winter is the time for taking some great portraits. 
  • If you're like me, trying to take self portraits for whatever reason, be it for blogging, fun, college/uni projects, vanity (not judging here!) then a tripod and remote shutter are your best friends. I put my settings onto 'remote mode' with a 2 second delay after I press the remote button, as this gives me a chance to sneakily hide that little control so that it doesn't invade my shots and look obvious :) 
  • Focusing this way is a pain. Stick to manual focus and use something nearby like a distinct rock, branch or plant that you can go stand by. I still haven't mastered this... 
  • I edit in Lightroom although I appreciate that it's kind of pricey and not everyone has the budget for this. It depends how seriously you take photography. If you don't care much about editing, there's some free editing sites online so the fates tell me, however I have never used one of these. I had the fortune to always have access to Photoshop at Uni and then last summer, I saved up to buy Lightroom. If you can get the exposure right in the first place though when taking the photographs, you shouldn't need to edit :) I don't do a great deal to my pictures unless I'm trying to bring things out of the shadows or bring detail back into a bright sky. 



























Dungarees: Free people c/o Alex   |   T-shirt: Joy   |   Shoes: Vans  




















 Some people's neighbourhoods are houses, but we're lucky because we get to have houses and boat neighbours. The community of people who live in the boats is a vibrant one and people always smile and bid you good day as you pass by. Their pets sometimes rush out to greet you and you get all sorts of smells of their cooking wafting out (and sometimes rather herbal smells :P). Ocasionally, they're out chopping wood or painting their boats and its such a charming, if not chilly-in-the-winter way of life. I would dearly love to live on a canal boat or in a small log cabin, but the Mr has more grandiose ideas about central heating. hot water and fridges. sigh.

So here it is, all fresh and new; 2016. For me, it doesn't at all feel like a fresh start but a rolling continuation of days, dusks and inky nights. Although the calendars forge our pathways and dominate our plans, I don't set a lot of personal store by them. I feel more in tune with the weathers, solstices and tangible, physical elements like seasons. Dates and calendars are just a concept, for instance in other countries, their new year is completely different to ours. Learning this has only diminished their importance to me. It's nice to make a marker though for the year and be able to reflect on what has happened in the space of that time, but my chapters weave their beginnings and endings through experiences rather than the passing of time. Sometimes those chapters overlap like experiences; new relationships, new ventures and new places.  For me, coming to Bath was the beginning of a chapter, a marking point and this summer marks the end of that chapter. I know that I'll look back into my memories and photographs and reminisce about the time I lived somewhere else, the time I didn't live in Cornwall. That's why I'm glad to have this blog, because it allows me to do just that - but with words too. Words are like smells and songs, they help repair a fading memory.

Friday, I am excited for George and I will be packing our suitcase and venturing to new places, places I have never been to before to visit old, old friends. Friends who speak a different language to us. I've been manically watching cartoons and listening to radio shows in their native tongue in my efforts to recall all of what I know of that language, for I couldn't bare to have forgotten how to communicate with her. My darling Clementine, my little Orange, I will see you soon.











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21 comments

  1. I love the sedate, serene nature of the waterways. You cannot hurry there. Like Ratty and Mole. Something about being close to water calls my soul, anxieties diminish so I am all agog to imagine living near it.
    I am sure you have a wonderfu future ahead of you, post Bath.
    Your photos are delightful so I'm not surprised people want to know your secret! Mind you, you did start a photography degree so I'm not surprised you are so skilled.
    Take care x

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    1. Yes! Ratty and Mole!!! Oh, I miss Wind in the Willows and all those other beautiful children's books.
      I feel if I'm honest, the photography degree didn't do a lot for me. I didn't start pushing myself until I took photography seriously and started to photograph for other people (weddings, etc) :) It's definitely motivation to up the skills when someone else's happiness is at stake :D I find I work best when the stakes are upped cause it gives me the kick up the bum I need ^_^

      Thankyou for taking the time to always leave such lovely comments and visit my space! I truly appreciate you Kezzie <3 Have a wonderful week xxxxx

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  2. So much love for these shots!! The light, the composition, those boats!! Stunning 👌🏻 I was just thinking this afternoon how I wish there were more characterful blogs full of great photography- yours is such a winner! And I am too excited for my next trip up to beautiful Bath again - for artist smock-wearing and rooftop swimming! ^_^ xxxxx

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    1. Why thank you! that is high praise indeed! Don't wait too long for that trip to Bath... I'm waiting! :D <3 xxxxxxxx

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  3. These photos are just gorgeous. The light especially! Bath seems so beautiful. I've never been, but I'd love to go someday! It seems to be exactly my kind of city. I know what you mean about working retail during Christmas - it makes you a bit sad seeing people buy stuff just for no reason, without thinking. I still really like my job the rest of the year though! Congrats on quitting your job, and here's to a calmer, more relaxed 2016!!
    Mimmi xx
    Muted Mornings

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    1. I think you'd love it Mimi :D It's sort of like a smaller, quainter version of Edinburgh's 'New Town' nestled in the middle of a valley :) Very romantic :D
      Thankyou for the good wishes :D I'm glad you're having fun in your retail job ^_^ Come down and visit us in Bath when you get a chance :D xxx

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    2. Sorry, that's three M's in Mimmi! Typo on my part!! D': I've been typing in French all morning and 'Mimi' means cute, which definitely sums up you and your blog!! :D It was a subconscious accident ^_^ xxx

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  4. Incredible photos Sarah, they're so simple and beautiful, the light is amazing. I'm also super duper impressed that you manage to take such great portraits on your own with a tripod, I'm going to have to get practicing as Adam finds taking photos so tedious I don't like to ask him that often. Alice xx

    www.woodenwindowsills.co.uk

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    1. Haha George hates it too! I really think that the boyfriends just don't get it ;) I'm glad you like the photographs ^_^ I've still got a long way to go with getting the focus perfect and stuff but I love the learning journey ^_^ If I was perfect, I'd have nothing to learn and that wouldn't be any fun :P

      Have a lovely day Alice and good luck with your tripod and camera endeavours! :D xxx

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  5. Always feels so totally zen and calm when I see your photos - love the light in all of these, you look like you're bathing in them hehehe :p I've only been to Bath once or twice and it was always very rushed but would love to revisit some day, but definitely looking forward too alllll your Cornwall goodies :D Hope you've had a lovely week so far, Sarah!

    Cherie x
    say hi at sinonym

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    1. Thankyou Cherie! :D I was so happy to go out and see the light this way, it was utter therapy. The world felt so ethereal ^_^ Bath is very busy, particularly in the tourist season but the canals are like a little secret hidden beyond the hedgerows of the park :) Thankyou for your kind wishes, I've had a busy week but now I'm relaxing in the French mountains :D Hope you're week is also full of wonder and joy xxx

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  6. "It also saddened me on Christmas eve and boxing day, with customers flooding through the doors that people would rather be out spending money and buying stuff on this precious, family holiday than be at home with their loved ones. That utterly shocked me and broke my heart."

    I completely agree with this! This is also one of the reasons that I would struggle to work in retail. It's just so sad that people would rather go to the shops - which let's face it are horrible during the sales - than spend time with their loved ones.

    Such gorgeous photos, I love this sort of post which is full of thoughts and pretty photographs. Simply lovely!

    Sam xx
    Oh! Hello

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    1. Thankyou Samantha :D
      My head is always so full of thoughts which is why I keep this little blog ^_^ it's a place for them to spread themselves out and as for photographs... I cannot exist without taking them :D I'm glad you enjoy it and it's nice to know I'm not the only person in the world who can't bear the thought of shopping during precious family time :) xxx

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  7. I love these photos, so still and serene. I used to live by the canal in Birmingham and it really is a little oasis of calm in a city, I miss it now. But you've captured the calm and adventure in these photos as you always manage to do!

    http://www.lifewiththeroofdown.com/

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    1. Thankyou Rachel :D <3 Perhaps there is a new Oasis awaiting for you where you live now, to be discovered ^_^ xxx

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  8. Gorgeous photos as per usual Sarah!! I love canals they're just so beautiful <3

    hellomissjordan.com xx

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    1. Thankyou Jordan :D
      Canal waterways are just so romantic ^_^ we don't have them in Cornwall so they utterly fascinate me :) xxx

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  9. Gorgeous pictures of a gorgeous place! It's funny when nostalgia kicks in before you've even left somewhere. I get that feeling whenever I visit my parents these days, as I know I'll be heading far away from them after a week or two. Time of change can be great though - wishing you all the best for 2016. Sounds like it's going to be a busy and fantastic year!

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    1. Thankyou so much Sorcha :D <3 Change is simultaneously scary and exciting. I hope you have a wonderful 2016 too ^_^ xxx

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  10. As usual your photos are beautiful! Thank you for sharing the tips, I'm really getting into photography and recently got a 50mm lens and I love it so much! What lens would you say is best for landscapes? I currently have a kit lens and 50mm. I can't seem to get crisp enough shots with my kit lens (although I suspect that's due to a distinct lack of tripod).

    At the minute Adobe are doing a Creative Cloud package whereby you pay monthly. If you choose the photography package you can get lightroom and photoshop for desktop and mobiles for £8.57 a month for anyone desperate but financially short. I'm using it now and I can't believe I've never used it before!

    Your posts always make me miss the South. We live in landlocked Derbyshire and as beautiful as it is up here I've never quite got over the claustrophobic feeling being so far from the sea gives me.

    I hope your 2016 is wonderful and happy and full of all the joys in the world.

    B x

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  11. I use a kit lens 28-70mm for my landscapes ^_^ I find by putting it on the smallest mm (i.e. 28 in this case) and having a tiny aperture yield the best landscape results, but this means either sacrificing the shutter speed/ISO if it's gloomy, this is where a tripod is ideal but you can get away with it :D For my hand held landscapes I normally shoot at F:5 and upwards. It's not as good as it can be, but it allows me to keep the shutter speed high enough so that I don't need a tripod and it has an okay amount of detail ^_^ I guess it all depends on how seriously you take landscapes :) I'm more of a portrait person but I'd love to get better at landscapes :)

    As for Creative Cloud, it's great! it's what my partner George uses. He's subscribed to Lightroom and photoshop ^_^ it makes it much more affordable :) I'd always recommend it.

    Living landlocked is such a struggle isn't it when you're used to the sea? I hope one day you find your way back again :)

    Have a wonderful year and thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog :) <3 xxx

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