Parting Shots

The last couple of days have been among of the most painful I’ve ever experienced. Strangely, Grandma’s funeral last Thursday wasn’t the worst part – the emptying of the bungalow she called home the following day takes that honour. Something felt very wrong. It was all very surreal and immensely sad as the furniture was carried away. One of the more common sentiments among many of the village residents present at the funeral and afterwards, was that it was the end of an era for the village community. It certainly felt like the end of something you never thought would end.

I had packed a couple of cameras with me and i’m glad i had them. The day of the funeral started as a bright but foggy morning – perfect for getting some moody, atmospheric shots among the trees and around Thorpe Malsor. To be honest, it was great to have a distraction, but the photography also served a deeper purpose of recording the village that had been part of Flint family life for so long. That relationship, that physical connection, has finally gone. Was the photography a form of therapy? Undoubtedly i’d have to say yes.

I took film cameras rather than the DSLR. I did pack the digital camera but then decided to stick with a 35mm SLR and the 6×6. Later it seemed right to be shooting these final (?) images of the village using film. After all, as a teenager, I’d had great fun going around Thorpe looking for images, armed with my trusty Miranda MS2 (my first SLR camera) loaded with Boots film. Fortunately the light was great during my final stay. I’ll be publishing the 35mm and 6×6 images on the blog very soon.

Finally i come to the image above. My iPhone developed major battery problems so that it could only be used if plugged into a power socket. I would have liked to have posted some images, audioboos and tweeted more as i walked around, but it wasn’t to be. Instead i took this image, using my Nokia, of the snowdrops in the churchyard at Thorpe Malsor. For many years, my Grandparents lived in the house opposite. The proximity of the church, combined with living in a fabulous old country house, made it feel very olde world England. The snowdrops in the photo add a feeling of new life. Renewal. A new start.

It was dark when i left the village. Will i return? Well i prefer to use an au revoir rather than a definite goodbye. If I’m nearby, I’ll stop to remember some childhood memories. When it comes down to it though, the Thorpe Malsor residents were right – it is the end of an era.

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The Last Time

No it isn’t a great image, and no i’m not becoming one of those ‘visual artists’ who use images from Google Street to make art. This screen capture image, though fuzzy and blurry, is an important find…. at least to some people.

Last weekend, the last in the line of my grandparents died. My Grandma was 93. The family is still coming to terms with the events of the past ten days. Somehow you believe that people will always be there. We fool ourselves into thinking that time stands still when everything, in fact, points to time passing by and people getting older. Then you get hit with the fact that connections to people and places do come to an abrupt end.

Next week I’ll be down in Northamptonshire for the funeral and to empty Grandma’s bungalow. It will be a sad event in more ways than one. We will have also lost the last  family connection to the village of Thorpe Malsor where my father spent much of his childhood and my grandparents lived right until the end. The village itself was part of the family with so many memories. It was the place where i first got drunk on a rather tasty, but very powerful, home made rhubarb whiskey from my Granddad’s extensive wine cellar. You name it, and my Granddad had probably made a very good wine from it. It’s going to be sad to think that we have no one to visit there any more.

While having a wander through Thorpe Malsor on Google Earth today, I suddenly came across this familiar looking person walking their dog. Was it? Is it? Yes! It is my Grandma walking Trixie. I actually recognised Trixie first – no face blurring on dogs. Grandma seems to be just turning the corner for home after returning from a walk down Eagle Lane. They used to walk miles. The image was taken nearly three years ago, back in March 2009.

I imagine she had no idea what the Google Street car was, or what it was doing. Trixie is certainly giving the camera a wary look 🙂 I had no idea Grandma was on Google Earth until today, but it’s certainly a nice way to remember her – just out walking Trixie.