I'm going to dive deeply into very personal stuff today on the blog (if you're looking for wedding films and table decor inspiration then keep scrolling..), this is a post and a project I worked on just for myself. I took a series of photos last year and couldn't face looking through them and editing them for a while, but eventually did, and these are a few favourites.
This is my Grandpa's house, he passed away in June 2015 and I took these photographs not long after his house was sold, just as things were starting to be divided up and packed away into boxes. He was truly wonderful and I miss him every day.
Grandpa's house was five minutes drive from the house I grew up in, in a neighbouring village. The driveway was downhill towards the house, it felt steep when I was small and I remember sometimes almost losing my footing under little legs when I would run down to the front door. I'd stretch up on tip-toes to try and reach the big brass knocker - 20 years later my eldest daughter Vivienne would reach up in exactly the same way. At the end of visits, in the car ready to go home, we'd shout "be a monster!" out of the rolled-down window, and Grandpa would chase the car as we left, with us in the back squealing as he roared through the glass.
My sister and I would beg to get the board games out of the cupboard, favouring Mousie Mousie, dominos and Boggle. When we stayed overnight in the blush-pink twin bedroom at the end of the house, we would tiptoe down to the living room in the morning before Grandma and Grandpa were awake to find games, activity books and pens looked out on the glass-topped coffee table as if by magic.
The whole house step-by-stepped downhill towards the living room and sun room, and the garden sloped to a stream which ran through the bottom of it. There was a pond, which my sister fell in one year when we visited to water the plants while they were away, and a rockery water feature that we believed turned on and off by saying 'the magic words'.
The carpet in the entrance to the house was possibly the loudest geometric and floral pattern I've ever seen. The walls were cork-effect, and stretched down a long and narrow corridor leading to the bedrooms. There was Grandpa's bedroom, which we rarely went in, the twin-bedroom where we kids would sleep over, and the guest room, which had a thick shaggy white carpet and a dressing table with a brush and mirror set laid out on top.
In the pantry/utility room adjacent to the kitchen, we would line up tins and products and open a shop through the connecting door; the shelves on the wall for lining up our wares to sell were perfect for our make-believe.
The pantry led to the den, which led out to the sunroom at the bottom of the house. There were various knick-knacks in the sunroom, and even as adults he'd ask us to spot how many animals there were in the room; we'd have to scan and name them, from the koala bear souvenir on one of the lights to the tiny wooden mouse hidden in the top corner of the window.
It eventually came to the point where the house was sold and very soon it wouldn't be 'Grandpa's house' any more. I met my Mum there one day with my camera and my baby daughter in her carseat who never got to meet her Great-Grandpa ("I'm not Grandpa, I'm Great-Grandpa"). I took photos with myself in reflections in the house, and with Sylvie in them too. He would have loved her.
My Grandpa helped me to buy my first 'pro' camera back in 2010 when I was trying to get started with photography. He questioned me, then believed in me, and without his help then, when I was 21, I never would have reached this point. I owe him endlessly for many things over the years, but I've never forgotten that he's also where *this* all began too.
Despite the appearance of this project, it's not the house that I'll miss, it's that the house was the setting for so many memories and so many moments. Seeing the empty rooms without the person who was always there during those times makes my heart ache so strongly that I lose my breath, but it's not the house itself.
It has nothing to do with the things I loaded into the car to take home that day, the birthday cards I've saved with his handwriting on them, each time I sing a little song he taught me ("Right said Fred, both of us together.."), or say something he would say ("Mum, I'm hungry" "Hi Hungry, nice to meet you"). It's really not about those things. Those things, and this project, and every other photograph I have of him are all there to help me remember as fully as I can, because the memories of my Grandpa are now all I have. I don't trust myself to remember as much as I'd like but here I am, trying my hardest to insure my own memories. I realised not so long ago that this is my 'why' - I'm always trying my hardest to remember everything.