Saturday, 18 November 2017

I'm booked in ..

It's as if it was meant to be ..

I was invited to a breakfast networking meeting the other day, down at a chateau near our gîte. As I turned into the drive my car began to make the most horrendous screeching noise, and a cloud of grey smoke rose from under the bonnet. I crawled into the car-park and pulled up, with a rather red face, next to a guy and lady who had driven in before me. Folks, they were car mechanics! A couple who moved to France a year ago and were, like me, at the meeting for the first time. Even better, their workshop is less than 2 miles from our house. I'm booked in for Monday ..

Into the meeting and we all start to press the flesh. "A photographer? .." asked one nice chap who turned out to be an estate agent "You don't do property photography do you? .." I'm booked in for the first week of December ..

Coffee and bacon butties were served. The lady handing out the goodies just happened to be the owner of the chateau. "We're having our Christmas Fayre this Saturday .." she said "You couldn't take some pictures, could you? .." I'm booked in for 11 am ..

It's as if it was meant to be ..

Ps: This isn't the garage I'll be going to, but a lovely quirky old building in the next village down from ours that seems to have been turned into some kind of impromptu museum. Très cute ..


Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Man of the land ..

There's an old photographic adage - and if there isn't there should be - that says you should always photograph what you're given so, yesterday, in the absence of a Wedding or a PR shoot, I shot what was in front of me, namely the stunning French countryside. The funny thing is that landscape photography has never really 'done it' for me before. I've looked at shots of hills and lakes and mountains and, I'm afraid, shrugged and said 'So what?' .. but yesterday something started to click. I was only out for an hour on my bike but photographs started to jump out at me all over the place. The setting sun, a returning flock of lapwings, autumn leaves dropping from the trees as new crops nudged their heads out from the delicious chocolate coloured soil .. it was incredible. And it was the exact opposite to the way I've always worked, with newspaper deadlines and hungry brides dictating the speed at which I've needed to work. More than that, I actually enjoyed myself and I'm really happy with the results. Expect more of the same, folks. I'm hooked ..

(Click on the shots to them 'em larger!)

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Time to remember ..

Remembrance Day in France is marked with events on the actual day of November 11th, rather than the nearest Sunday to the date, so means that today I'll be at the little war memorial in our village to mark the Armistice, and I'm flattered to say that I've been asked to photograph the occasion by the lady who runs our local monthly magazine. It's the first 'commission' I've had since moving over permanently, and it feels great to get back 'hands on' again after a break of several weeks. It's also lovely to be accepted into the village so quickly and I can safely say that both Lesley and I feel really at home here, even though we've been here such a short time ..

I've photographed Remembrance Day for many, many years. This photograph was taken at the Cenotaph in Eccles in 1977. Imagine that! 40 years ago! Just think how many men from WW1 would love to be able to say that. As I remember the war dead I also remember my past, and realise once again how fleeting this life is. It's a shame it's wasted by fighting each other ..  

Monday, 6 November 2017

Seasons in the sun ..

I've visited France during the winter, and the Spring, and the summer .. and now the Autumn .. but I've never been here for a long enough period to actually notice the seasons changing. So it's lovely that I've already had enough time here to witness the slide from Summer to Autumn. When I arrived here in September it was gloriously sunny and hot and now, as I type this, it's minus 4 degrees outside! Winter is on its way and it won't belong before I get to 'enjoy' what the locals say will be at least minus 17 degrees ..

It's so lovely though! We know for a fact that our winters here won't be like the wet, drawn-out affairs we endured in England. Yesterday Lesley and I walked for almost two hours in glorious sunshine, through empty fields and quiet lanes, feeling the warmth of the sun on our faces. There is, in fact .. dare I say it .. a drought here, with people worried about potential water shortages soon. We put that to the back of our minds as we strolled through the countryside and, with Christmas in mind, I photographed the huge bunches of mistletoe - or gui, in French - covering the trees around us, and kissed my 'old life' goodbye ..

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

The pace of life ..

Nobody said that moving to France was going to be easy and man, I can't believe today's gruelling schedule. I'm going to be exhausted by tonight. We start off with the weekly coffee-morning at the community centre - a great way to get to know our new (and lovely) French neighbours; then it's time for a more structured linguistics session this afternoon - French and English speakers teaching each other new words; then I'm at a new Yoga session that's starting in the hall - thought it'd help me relax (ha ha) .. and then we're off to a Curry and Quiz night in the next town along from here ..

So, all that painting and plastering I need to do .. it can wait. Well, it's not as if we're in a rush, is it?

Monday, 30 October 2017

I live in France now ..

Almost four weeks into 'the rest of my life' and things are going really well! Wardrobes are built and filled, bikes have been bought - and ridden! - and I've been invited to have an exhibition in the local community hall. Just as importantly, the gîte has been occupied for all the time I've been here, and we've just taken our first Christmas booking, which we're really rather delighted about. I've changed the name of my website, too. You can now find me at .. which is a damned fine name, if you ask me!

My UK Wedding career still has a presence though, as I'm in the middle of designing three albums from Weddings I shot earlier this year. However, I am in the rather curious position of wondering whether I'll ever go back to any of those venues I worked at for all those years. Something tells me I won't. I live in France now ..

Thursday, 19 October 2017

A land of milk .. and baguettes!

A vending machine .. for milk. And one for baguettes. Outside! On the street! Two minutes in the UK and these would have been smashed to bread and butter pudding. Just another reason to love France and, two weeks into living here 'all the time', that list just gets longer and longer ..

We've been unpacking solidly for those two weeks, too. God knows how we own so much stuff! And where is it all going to go? Still, every day is like Christmas as we tear into boxes and packages to find all this .. er, stuff .. but the end is in sight and we're almost straight in the house. Almost ..

Photographically it's early days but I have had another Wedding enquiry for France, been volunteered to offer a 'Pet Portrait' shoot as a prize for a local animal charity and been offered an exhibition at the local Salle de Fêtes - or community centre - so people are starting to know I'm here ..

.. which is a very nice feeling indeed!