Dad was the photographer in our house and I mean steeped in photography ~ not so much obsessed with equipment but a student of the subject.
He was bed bound for the last ten months of his long life in 2010 and it was only then that I started to take a few shots as a way of bringing the natural world that he loved so much into his room.
He had dementia but mercifully he retained the analytical part of his brain and was delighted to be able to advise me about aspects of taking photos.
It was on evenings like this that I would bring down five or six photos for him to critique and he spread them out carefully on his bed and assess each of them like an external examiner. I would wait for his comments like a young student and know that I would get the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth from him. He always believed in being honest when it came to teaching but he always managed to find some redeeming features, to use one of his favourite turns of phrase.
He’s very much on my mind tonight as his 97th birthday would have been tomorrow (June 10th).
I was looking through some recent shots and wondering which ones I would have brought down to him for our birthday chat. These are the ones that jumped out at me:
I’m not a bit sure which one he’d like the best but I know we’d have a good laugh over them as I was put through my paces!
It’s almost two weeks now since I embarked on my quest to get back to running. As you may recall, I’ve designated my approach as Phunning ~ a combination of gentle running and taking a few photographs along the way.
I’m delighted to report that I’ve now had six outings to The Anne Valley Trail in Dunhill and that it seems to be getting shorter by the day.
Yesterday was one of those stressful days with a few fork-in-the-road kind of appointments so I tore out of the house early this morning to find the calm that phunning is now bringing with each stride.
There was a lovely soft light and I found myself doing a lot more running than walking. Among the biggest changes since that first day is that I’ve now stopped counting paces and am letting my body dictate when it wants to stop for for a breather.
I’ve also reached a point where I’m less likely to stop running just because I see people coming towards me. It’s nice, though, to stop and have a little chat with fellow travellers, like this friendly man this morning:
Dunhill Castle overlooks the Anne Valley Trail and I can’t seem to resist going up there to soak in the history, scenery and tranquility:
It’s fascinating to think that the sea used to come in as far as the Castle and this morning there was a real sense of sea as the wind was coming from that direction and I could hear the waves back the mile and a half or so:
Within the ruins of the Castle itself, the light danced on the old, thick walls:
This new exercise regime requires plenty of healthy eating:
There’s no doubt that blogging about Phunning is adding greatly to the experience and I got a great giggle from Roy’s reference to ‘Phogging’ in his latest post and Robin’s comment about ‘Phalking’ in response to my first post on this new madness.
I hope, dear Readers, that you’ll come up with some more thought-provoking words to keep me motivated over the coming weeks!
I would like to thank everyone for their birthday wishes and for your interest in my Festival of Bridges which is running from today until October 31.
Sandy, from the great blog Hoarder Comes Clean, sent two stunning photographs to set us on our way.
Here’s what she says about this one:
This the old railroad bridge is just west of my hometown in northwest Missouri. The Missouri bridge is one we used to play on as kids, and walk out on the rafters. The trains don’t go through anymore, so the old railroad tracks have been taken up and it’s just a walking path where they were. This is the only bridge left.
And here’s her second amazing contribution from a trip to Alaska a few years back.
I’m absolutely enthralled by these photographs and love the idea that they’ve come from places and in weather so different to Tramore here in the Sunny South-East of Ireland.
I am really looking forward to being able to bring contributions about bridges, loosely defined ~ in words, art, photography, music, or a combination of same ~ to the world through this Festival of Bridges over the coming weeks. Please email me at email@example.com with the bridges that matter to you!
Yesterday was my father’s 4th anniversary and it seemed only right to head off on what was a gorgeous day and just ‘be’ with him.
The notion that ‘time heals’ isn’t one that I buy into. I think that a huge amount depends on what one does with the time and also the very idea of ‘healing’ doesn’t quite fit with the way I feel about loved ones who have died.
As I have said here before, I feel very strongly that those, like my father, with whom I was very close, remain very much in our everyday lives because of the extent of shared histories and experiences.
Father loved nothing better than to spend a September day off taking photographs and he would lose all sense of time in the process.
Yesterday was very like that. It was a day that was full of colour and nature seemed to be in celebratory mood.
Four years may have passed but Father’s presence is as strong as ever.
Flowers can be highly symbolic both during life and as a comfort after the passing of a loved one.
I totally associate sunflowers with my late father. He introduced me to Van Gogh’s great paintings of these bright, cheerful flowers and he loved to take photographs of them.
I bought him a huge big bunch for what I knew would be his last birthday in June 2010 and later that Summer brought him photographs of some beauties which people grow by their gate way on the road which he loved between Tramore and Annestown.
I’ve been keeping a close eye on the progress of those sunflowers over the last few weeks and headed out there this morning in the mist to see if they were in full bloom.
The whole experience gave me such a strong sense of connection to Dad and I can only smile as I write this and think of the delight in his eyes when he saw me arriving with the bunch that day on his birthday.
It’s well worth finding out your parent’s preferences about flowers ~ if you don’t already know them ~ and weaving them into your relationship with them. They can have such a calming effect and it’s always great to know that the flowers will continue to bloom year after year and appear in all sorts of different places, such as poetry and art.
Tramore, Co. Waterford in the sunny south-east of Ireland is the place where I was born and the place that has been home now for the last twenty-five years.
Yesterday morning I was woken by puppy, Stan, who lured me out for a walk at dawn. It was one of those golden mornings and I felt absolutely blessed as we strolled along a route which is beyond familiar to me but which is ever-changing.
Rather than heading to the three mile long beach, from which Tramore takes its name, we stayed at the top of the town. This took us passed the two churches, which merge in my mind as the child of a mixed marriage.
The Victorian Doneraile Walk, which has such wonderful vistas of Tramore Bay, called us. It is the place where my mother walked every evening when she was pregnant with me and I just love the views it provides of Tramore Bay. From there, we went to the Pier where the boats were tugging and waiting for the tide to rise. One man, though, was up bright and early paddling in his kayak.
The Cliff Road is the place that I associate with my own pregnancy almost twenty years ago now. I walked it daily for the nine months and got to know every nook and cranny along the way.
And our final destination was Newtown Wood which has the little bridge that I consider to be my very own social bridge.
I hope you enjoy this short slideshow of the photographs which I took on Sunday. I know that Tramore will never, ever look exactly the same because its beauty is ever-changing with the time, tide, light, weather, season and, I suppose, the mood and interests of the beholder.
Between your birthday on Tuesday and Father’s Day tomorrow, you’ve been very much on my mind.
I’ve been taking hundreds of photographs and I kept thinking of how you used to tell me to bring down the one that I liked the best so we could discuss its merits or otherwise. I hope you know how much I treasured your opinion, even when we disagreed!
Well, I’ve gone through them all a few times and this is tonight’s offering. It was the lines that got me hooked and the sense of Summer. What do you reckon?