Thursday, 26 November 2015

An Open Letter to River Man

For those of you who have been following my FB/Twitter updates about River Man over the last several months, I thought I'd give you a fuller picture of the ongoing River Story. If I ever end up speaking to him, this might be some of what I'd say...

Dear River Man,

I'm not wanting to plagiarise Adele, but, hello - it's me. You know, the girl who also walks to the river at lunchtime and likes to stare at the ducks too? (And talk to them - though I've never seen you do that, more's the pity). While you do wear the exact same clothes every day - and are therefore very easy to recognise - I emphatically don't, but I know you know who I am. Well, I know you recognise me, at least. I see you spot that it's me and quickly avert your gaze back to your intent river-staring, don't deny it. 
The down-streamiest bit of my River Walk 
I really love my lunchtime walks, whether you're there or not; they give me a chance to stop and observe. I know a lot of people like to walk and think, but I like to walk and not-think. They're space to breathe in a day sat still in an office. I've usually come from a morning where I've answered five emails in a row about completely different elements of my job, then worked intermittently on another three, and my brain has been going at 5,000 miles per hour. My ten minute walk lets some of that settle while my brain isn't working, and I focus on anything (or everything) else. Listening and watching for birds is a favourite activity, as well as laughing at squirrels (they're never not funny), walking 'at goose-speed' (so you feel like you're going for a walk down-stream with the geese as they swim), trying to befriend the ducks (though they just don't seem to want to know if you don't have food for them), and, of course, observing the other River People. 
They don't want none unless you got bread, hun.

And that's where you come in.

The thing is, River Man, you are by no means the only person I see every day: a regular stranger presence in my life is nothing unique. There are a whole suite of River People who brighten my daily life. There's Professor Grey (you know, the slightly scruffy, eccentric-looking man who's out each lunchtime, with scraggly greying hair and fully grey-black attire?); and Red-Coat-Black-Hat-Lady who always walks towards me on the wrong side of the path when I'm cycling in each morning (and who gets her name wrong during the warmer months when her coat is blue and she doesn't wear a hat); and Lovely Libby the Librarian, who looks like she'd never hurt a fly, but also struggles with the 'keep to the left' aspect of the highway code. Heck, River Man, there's even a man I see walking his dog every morning just as I leave my house (not technically a River Person) who actually says good morning to me as I cycle past him. Says good morning. Crazy. But none of these people are so awkwardly in my life as you are. 

You are stand-out in your separateness, but I can't quite figure out why. You're an intriguing River Person to observe. Maybe it's because you genuinely do wear the same outfit every single day (don't those trousers ever get dirty? Do you have more than one pair that specific colour? I freaked out a few days ago because someone came into the office in your outfit while I was cleaning my glasses and in my blurriness I thought it was you...Would I even recognise you in different coloured trousers?) Or because you switch from staring intently into the river to aimlessly wandering so quickly and without reason. Or because instead of just acknowledging my presence like the other River People, you often so staunchly ignore me. Or because I so rarely see you smile, even when you're on the phone. Or because you always seem just a little bit sad. Or because you acknowledge my presence in your manner but not to my face.

But it's got a bit weird now, hasn't it? 

We have this almost-daily wandering past each other, or behind each other, or whatever. Never any eye contact, but often a bit of loitering (from you, not me - you know as well as I do that if I'm loitering it's because I'm looking for a bird in a tree). You definitely loitered this week, and it was a bit odd.

What were you doing? 

Wander with me...
Specifically, on the cold day, I started walking back to the office from downstream, all bundled up in my hat and gloves for the first time this season. And then you started walking as I approached you, meaning I had no choice but to dawdle behind you. You made me feel like a dawdly, bobble-hatted stalker: that's hardly fair. But then when you got to the corner you stopped. I hadn't noticed this as I'd already stopped, distracted by a robin. This happens. This really, really happens. But when I went to carry on you were still there. What do I do? For a moment I thought I was going to have to awkwardly shimmy on past you? Like a confused tourist in a big city you were looking at your phone and then looking up the path as if you didn't know quite which way to go. I mean, we both know that wasn't the case. You do that walk every day, dearest RM, you hardly need a sat nav. I approached again you hastened on your way, rather than making me shuffle past you, and allowed me to keep dawdling the stalky-walk behind you back to our neighbouring offices. 

There are SO many questions, RM. Why do you come out every day too - do you secretly love ducks as much as I do? Are you loitering deliberately so I'll catch you up? How long would you have loitered there if I'd ended up having a full-blown conversation with the robin, or realising the family of long-tailed tits had come back? Do you want me to talk to you? Because you know that I talk to people: you've seen me run into my co-workers out by the river and have conversations within your earshot. And you know that I smile - you saw me laugh at a sneezing duck only yesterday. Gosh, that was hysterical. A sneezing duck. Honestly. (OK, or maybe that's why you avoid me...)

I'm not asking for a Christmas Miracle, River Man. (Or a Thanksgiving Miracle, or a Mid-Autumn Miracle (that's a thing, right?)) I'm not expecting you to become my new best friend, or lunchtime buddy, or to persuade the ducks to be my friends with me. But, this holiday season, I'm going to hope for a couple of things. The first is that I'll catch you having a phone call where you're smiling, rather than fraught. That must be possible. The second is that you will allow me to look you in the eyes and smile, one time. Because we're all just River People, after all, it's OK to be in it together.

River Girl

Sunday, 13 September 2015

37 Things You'll Understand if You're Emily Sturgess

So, a while ago, my good friend Claire and I were discussing how the list articles (on the feed of buzz, and so on) are getting somehow both more specific and more generic at the same time, meaning that almost every list you click on thinking 'oh yeah, I bet I'll get all of this!' (like, '20 things you'll understand if you have a sister') turn out to be completely irrelevant to your life. Where are the lists that relate to me? we started musing.

The pinnacle of this conversation arrived this week, when the article '24 problems literally only the Queen would understand' was posted online. Literally only the Queen?! Well then, if we're doing entirely personalised lists now...?

I wouldn't normally create something so narcissistic (I still haven't bought the domain...), but as I've been hauled up in my poorly bed this weekend I thought I'd at least do something creative with my time, and that hopefully will make Claire (who has heard me voice my passions and complaints on the below items), if not anyone else, chortle.

While I'm sure a fair few of these entries will be relatable for many, and I'm not even sure there's even one or two that are entirely mine... I'm fairly certain I'm the only one who will relate entirely to all of them? But I want to know if I'm wrong - let me know if you're actually my twin!!

OK, off we go: 37 Things You'll Understand if You're Emily Sturgess

1. When you're trying to stave off the midmorning sugar crash healthily, but your banana wants to be squashed everywhere in your bag rather than be eaten.


2. Giving yourself a pep talk to walk yourself through adulting well.


3. Being able to hear kissing while you're trying to read in your room.


4. The sad day when the kids go back to school and you have to negotiate cycling through Oxford traffic again, including past a primary school and all the crazy parents.


5. When you just need to pop into town to go to the bank, and 800,000 tourists have stopped just outside to look at something on the other side of the street.


6. Stopping and staring intently into a hedge because you've heard a bird, and passing people assuming you've lost something, or are mad.

7. Feeling the need to say hello to every duck you pass, because they could be your new best friend.


8. Popping into Tesco on the way home from work and there being one loaf of gluten free bread left, just for you. (But also, sorry other gluten intolerants: we're all in this together and no-one wins.)


9. Realising a few more of your closest friends are leaving Oxford.


10. Trying not to be a massive introvert but being absolutely done with everyone by Sunday lunchtime every week. #bringmemynetflix


11. Having trouble not quoting Miranda in every situation and conversation #barewith #suchfun #nooomummysaidthatdaddysaidwecanthaveanicesculptureofthetajmahalatthewedding


12. Not being able to not respond to someone saying "Question - " with "tell me what you think about me."
(which, while we're at it, is not a question, but that doesn't mean I don't say it anyway.)


13. The rising passion when anyone says anything remotely negative, or even ambivalent, about Harry Potter.


14. The bliss of clean sheet night.

15. Seeing the same people every day to and from work and never ever talking to them.

16. Being sent pictures of your friends and family's pets, when you don't have any of your own.


17. When someone rallies the end of their public prayer with, 'and all God's people said...?'
#iknowhowprayerswork #imnotatholidayclub


18. When someone plays Be Thou My Vision with the new Rend Collective arrangement but the old words.


19. Cycling through town on bin morning.

20. When someone in the office rings the tea bell.


21. Spotting something entertaining on the way home and wondering whether you can explain it wittily and concisely enough to post it on Twitter, but regretting you don't have a photo of it to post on instagram.


22. Trying to take photos of the river with your brain as you cycle over donnington bridge on bright, crisp mornings.


23. When people aren't quite sure why you'd do a whole masters in Species Identification.

24. Actually having food in the cupboards and clean laundry.


25. Freewheeling down the high street late at night when there aren't any buses, or annoying pedestrians


26. Knowing that the ways to your heart aren't entirely conventional



(This'd do it.)
27. Never having completed a to-do list, because the list never ends.


28. Having one of your favourite kids tell you they love you


29. Going to a restaurant that has a specific gluten free menu, rather than just making you guess.


30. Genuinely wanting to be a thin person, but also really loving food.


31. Having to wait an entire summer for new series of Once Upon a Time, New Girl and Brooklyn the knowledge that you've watched all the episodes of Community that will ever be made.
32. When you and the old uni gang get back together

33. Hearing that some more of your friends have gotten engaged.

34. When you spot a particularly glorious moss

35. Finding a time that you, your sister AND your cousin are all free to hang out

36. Discovering you've run out of porridge
37. When you're being particularly cheeky and you think you've probably just about gotten away with it

OK, I know that as I fall asleep tonight I'll think of even more, but I think that's exhaustive enough for now. What would be on your list? Do you relate to my obviously entirely relatable list? #iamtheplumbline 
Let me know!
Until next time, when I might post something more sensible (perhaps, perhaps not),
Em x

Thursday, 14 May 2015

I, um...gosh, sorry. It's been a while.

I just checked the last time I posted a blog, and it was FIVE MONTHS ago. I couldn't be more sorry. Because of that, I thought I'd give you a few significant blog-related updates on my life since the last post, and then try to think about how I might blog a bit more regular-like, and that sort of thing. 


1. And we're starting with a biggun: I LOST MY CAMERA. 
I know, I know. The third crucial element to 'Love it, Laugh at it, Photograph it' is now sorely lacking. The story of how it was lost is a tale of intrepid adventure, a long wait at a train station just east of Barcelona, a stupid girl (that's me), and an accidental lack of travel insurance (closely linked to the penultimate item on the list). I won't tell it now, because you can pretty much guess what happened. It's really sad. I am thankful, though, that I still have almost all of my lenses, bar one, so will [eventually, when I've saved up] just need to replace the body. I'm also really glad that I still have my old bridge camera, so can still take some photos when out and about - they're just not so fancy. I do miss my old beastie though.

As a side note, the camera contained some AWESOME pictures of Betsy and I that were taken on the beach in Santa Susanna, that the world will now never get to enjoy. I know you're all incredibly disappointed by that. What's better than me in a raincoat on a rock looking windswept but joyful? Not much.

2. I've actually been blogging...somewhere else.
It's a little painful to admit this, but there has been another blog that's stolen my creative energies since New Year. The blog is not my own, it's a community blog for Christian 20's and 30's to explore what it is to be a Christian 20/30-something, called Threads. It's fun and interesting, and since New Year I have had the honour of being a regular contributor! However, it has a very different aim/tone/structure to Love-Laugh-Photograph, so I'll not let it replace this at all. I have to be a bit more sensible over there. You can't keep that up all the time.

3. I'm actually quite well.
It seems a weird thing to say, but I am quite well, and it does make a difference to life. You might remember about nine months ago I wrote a post about having been unwell with fatigue, and then having an operation that set that all back...yada, yada, yada. It turns out it takes a long time for bodies to get well. But, having discovered that I am gluten-intolerant (but not a coeliac), and also recently been confirmed that there's been no regrowth of the tumour (hooray!), I am actually in a relatively good bill of health now. ACTUALLY, I'm writing this on the tail end of a gross cold, which has knocked me out a bit in the last week, but other than that I am good, and with some extra energy than just to do my job. This bodes well for having creative energy to write and photograph, and the like.

It also means I have a new interest in food that I didn't have before (other than just eating it. That's not really new). Before we get ahead of ourselves, this is in NO WAY going to turn into a food blog. But. Now that I'm having to eat gluten free I'm that bit more aware of what's going in, cooking with good ingredients from scratch, eating well, and all that jazz; so I may allude to/link to some great things I come across, as and when I come across them. Just a tentative heads up. 

4. This might actually be most importantly: I have finally been to my first jousting tournament!
Now, this is all the doing of my dear friend Betsy. Bets is from Nashville, and has wonderfully romantic notions about how we Brits live. In her time here, it has been a passionate desire for her to come to a jousting tournament AS IF THAT'S SOMETHING WE STILL DO. (I jest, she lives in the real world really, but this was something wonderfully not-of-this-world that she really wanted to do that I told her didn't exist.) I scoffed affectionately at the notion when first she mentioned it, until it turned out that there was going to be a jousting tournament at Blenheim Palace (which is about seven miles away from us) on this Bank Holiday Monday just passed. My words had to be eaten, much like Paddy Ashdown's hat.

I was, while surprised, ridiculously excited to go. And I kid you not, I had the most fun I have had in an incredibly long time. I can totally see why they used to do it, and I don't know why we don't still? Well, I do, it was incredibly dangerous - so for us it was largely fun because it was so obviously staged and safe and funny. But, watching genuine hunks (plus a few old dudes - who I'm sure were plenty hunky in their day) on genuine horseback, galloping up and down an arena, showing off their prowess and jousting each other with lances...Well. It was QUITE something to behold! Lances were splintered and everything. We laughed a lot, and I now feel like I can tick something off the bucket list that I don't actually have. Maybe, like those to-do lists you write where you put something you've already done on it so you can cross it off and immediately feel productive, I should start a bucket list and put this on it?

Anyway, until I think up something a bit more inspired to blog about (if it genuinely ends up being my bucket list you have my permission to disown me), I'll leave you with some over-excited jousting pictures (taken on the old camera), and some glorious jousting from A Knight's Tale, whose tone, irreverence and musical accompaniment were not dissimilar to that of our day...
Just a quick Old Skool selfie before we begin (ps, hi, this is Betsy)

The Noble Blue Knights

Mm, valiant.

A full-on sword-fight

A short-lived moment of victory

If this is a life with jousting in it, I'm all for it.

A small example of some lance-splinter, on an actual human target. Poor sod.
Until next time... :) x

Saturday, 13 December 2014

On meeting your idols - furry, or otherwise

This week has had an unusual theme running through it, almost like those contrived situations on Scrubs where all the characters experience their own version of the same scenario at once, allowing Zach Braff to give a rousing yet humorous summary that ties everything together over the closing credits.

To give you a leading example of this, this morning I read a post on Buzzfeed (classic Saturday chill-out), about a teenager who was SO EXCITED to meet Harry Styles at a book signing (one fifth of One Direction, in case any of you are living under rocks) that she had a full-blown panic attack. Then, being the angel that he is, he fought through the crowds to comfort her. What a sweetie! 
Pics from

While I might not see the appeal of 1D, nor understand the hysteria that teenage girls are able to work themselves into about them, to have your idol go out of their way to come and see you and make sure you're OK must be the most wonderful feeling, and it was really lovely that he bothered to.

There are not a huge number of people that I would fantasize about meeting - and only a few more that I would go out of my way to make sure I met. I could probably boil it down to five:
So close...but not yet BFFs

1. The cast of Harry Potter. TBF, that's a ridiculously large cohort (and does encompass a HECK of a lot of awesome British talent), but obviously I really mean Emma, Rupert and Dan. I love them all. (Shush, I know that's three-in-one)
2. David Tennant - I feel no explanation is required here
3. Chris Hemsworth - none here either. Although despite his gorgeosity, and being voted the sexiest man alive this year, he's still below David Tennant on the list because DT is the King of wondrousness
4. Zachary Levi - because I actually would quite like to marry him, if at all possible, cheers? (Is it OK to write that on the internet?)
5. Miranda Hart, OBVIOUSLY. I'm fairly sure we could be best friends.

At the end of last week we had a little frisson of excitement in the office. For context, my office is based in our church building, so is home to the church offices, but also runs as a conference centre during the week.

On the Friday, the centre received a call from a Casting Agency saying that they needed a room on Monday (as a rule, don't make your bookings that last minute, people) to do some extras casting for a Major Hollywood Blockbuster that would be filming near Oxford the following week. So, no Hollywood megastars in the building itself, but the opportunity to be an extra was open to all of us. We could be in a Hollywood film! Can you imagine?! 

Not-so-secretly, we all wondered if it would be the new Bond movie...

Monday came around, and the mood was...well, it was frankly hilarious. There was this mixture of excitement, mockery, enthusiasm and incredulity (in both good ways and bad). Some of the (part-time) staff went to get cast as extras, others of us (full-time) remembered that we actually already have jobs and couldn't just swan off to be in a film (shame), while others scoffed not-so-quietly in the corner.

As the day went on, we gathered bits of information about what the scene would be, and who might be there...and eventually found out what the film was... And, I don't think I'm allowed to say what it is. Sorry. BUT, yes, it is a Hollywood blockbuster; no, it wasn't what we thought; and yes, it was quite cool.

But none of the stars in this film were people on my list. And probably not in my top 10 either (which would extend to: 6. Emma Thompson, 7. Eddie Izzard, 8. Andy Samberg, 9. Stephen Mangan, and 10. James McAvoy - read into all of that what you will)

I realised at that point that any excitement I might have had about being an extra would not really have been about being in the film itself (although I know how long you can eat out on that one: 'Look, there's half of my left ear in Harry Potter!' - niche in-joke reference for you there) For me, it was much more about who I would have the potential to meet.

I've had a fairly practical week at work this week, doing mail-outs and such, and so have listened to a lot of radio in the form of Chain Reaction. Several people mentioned meeting their idols - I think one of them (Barry Cryer, perhaps?) told the story of calling his idol when he was drunk, then actually being invited over for a drink, getting to know him quite well, and it being an unusual example of when meeting your idol 'works' as you'd imagined. 

But while I joked about me and Miranda becoming best friends if we met (I've stood near her, as shown above, but never actually met her...), I can hardly imagine that it would actually be so - can you? It's a nice idea, but does it really happen to anyone?

Later on this week my sister and I went to see comedienne Sara Pascoe at an intimate gig at the Old Fire Station. I really like her - she's very real, clever and quirky. She told the story of a celebrity-stalk that went 'to plan', much like in Barry Cryer's interview: that of her mother camping out to meet her father, a 70s pop-star, who eventually fell for her. They soon got together, and had three daughters. It's just not what happens to real people, is it?

As it goes (and the theme continues), I actually did get to meet someone famous who I admire at this point - K and I decided to do our traditional gig-routine of hanging around the stage door after the gig to get an autograph and a picture (it's so far worked with Russell Howard, Milton Jones and Ed Byrne!) Surprisingly few people seem to do this, yet it's such a great way to meet them, and say thanks for the show! (Have I just given away a great secret...?) It's not as committed as camping out for several years to meet someone and then marrying them; but it has good short-term returns!

Sadly, Sara was in a rush to run for the train, so we literally just got a hug and a hi, before she ran away to the train station. However, we did get a lovely tweet afterwards :)

So, all in all, I had my opportunity to meet some (short, scientologist-y) Hollywood stars at the beginning of this week and decided not to bother; and did get to meet a comedian I really like, but only fleetingly and with little evidence. No new BFFs, no friends in high places, and no 'plans working out just how you imagined'.

But. I did get a very special meeting this week which made me more excited than is probably normal. On Tuesday, the centre hosted a Christmas party for a group of old people's homes. As part of that party they brought in two BEAUTIFUL reindeer that would welcome the guests as they arrived. I went to say hello before all the action kicked off, then admired them out of the office window until they went home.

Honestly, they were so gorgeous, and so calm and majestic and funny. And I fed them lichen (which is what they eat in winter, who knew?!) 

So, while I may not have made friends with any Hollywood superstars this week (and I think I'm ok with that, but if you see Rupert Grint anywhere do let me know), it's nice to know I'm actually pretty contented with the non-famous animals. They're more snuggly than famous people anyway. (And that's why I did ecology...)

That said, I'm guessing these guys know Santa, so perhaps my excitement to see them will mean they'll put a good word in for me this year ;)

ANYWAY. Eat your heart out, Zach Braff.
'Til next time, Happy Christmas!

Friday, 31 October 2014

Throwback Thursday: Happy, happy birthdays

Now, I have a confession:

FIRSTLY - I was meant to finish this post yesterday, hence why it was a Throwback Thursday.

SECONDLY - Today is only a 'Throwback Thursday' because I took these photos earlier in the summer, loaded them onto my computer and then forgot to do anything with them. Bad Emily. This is made even worse by the fact that I was *asked* to take some photos at this party, specifically. Even worse Emily.

Better sort that out, quick. 

So - I have two excellent friends called Dave and Claire, who happen to be married, and are both excellent. Until September Claire and I worked in the same office, and as Dave's 30th birthday was approaching I was let in on plans for a surprise birthday party! I would never describe Claire as devious, and I think how stressful she found keeping things from Dave is testament to the openness and good communication of their marriage - but the day finally arrived without anyone having told Dave that the party was happening, and Claire and I pottered down to the lovely Isis Farmhouse down by the river to set up...

This was entertaining because it was Claire's party. It wasn't Claire's party, it was Dave's party, but Claire was the star ;)

It was a reaaaally breezy day and the banners and balloons
did not co-operate well, despite Claire's sterling efforts

Birthday Barbeque :D

The men congregate around the grill for tea and meat.

Dave has arrived!! I was too excited in the big reveal moment that I forgot to take any photos of him arriving.
Bad Em.


The Lovely Ladies :)

Team effort in the Extreme Breeze

Deep Breath!
(There's a lot of candles...ahem...)

Good to acknowledge that there were the tallest and the smallest of friends in attendance

C'mon, dish it out.

I worry about Simon's commitment to this friendship...

Ah no, wait, there we go :D

Lovely Joash does some exploring

I think he was just checking the spelling on the card.

The bubbles!!

Good work Na'amah!

Lots of love at the party
(and a slight clue that maybe I can't take the credit for all of these pictures...)
That's all folks! There'll be more fun coming your way soon - hopefully not at a three month delay like this one was...

Saturday, 11 October 2014

The Old Pine fell.

If I remember rightly, I first went to the Oxford Botanic Gardens almost exactly six years ago, as part of my Biology induction as a fresher. It was one of those times where you're like 'compulsory attendance? Can we stay here ALL DAY, thankyouplease?' 

We were shown around by the brilliant director, Timothy Walker, who sadly-sadly relinquished that role this summer. He was one of my favourite tutors, actually - in the first tutorial I had with him we spent the first five minutes in hysterics over an Armstrong and Miller sketch we'd both watched the previous day, while he ate his lunch. It was certainly a good way to break the ice before we delved into the scintillating world of the alternation of generations. (Yeah, I can even remember what the tute was about, six years later. Boom.)

I can only imagine all the things he did for that garden over the years - and it didn't take much of his story-telling and insight to make me fall in love with it. For example, did you know that the yew tree at the bottom of the first section of the garden (the oldest tree in the gardens, for that matter, planted in 1645!) used to be one of a pair - one of each sex - but when one was blown down in a gale in the '70s the remaining tree became hermaphroditic so it could self-pollinate? Genius.

(bee-tee-dubs, I tried to fact check this last nugget of information but found it nowhere, so you'll have to trust me that I think it's right...maybe.)

J.R.R. Tolkein and his beloved Black Pine
He also introduced us to Tolkein's Tree, the Black Pine (Pinus nigra). Understandably, this beautiful old tree was Tolkein's favourite, inspiring the tree-characters of his famous stories. Apparently he would sit and write beneath its branches. This picture was the last ever taken of Tolkein, and it was beside his beloved tree.

In my first year, the Botanic Gardens (or Bot Gards, as they affectionately became known) were my retreat. I lived in college, right in the centre of town, and the walk down the High Street to the gardens felt like leaving town completely. You can step inside the walls of the garden and forget the hubbub of the city entirely. It was (and sometimes still is) my complete escape. It's the place I go when I don't know where else to go; and the place I take people when they want to see My Oxford. And the best place to sit? Just to contemplate life? To journal and pray? To drink tea in a takeaway cup and discuss the twists and turns of life and love with a friend? Under the black pine, of course.

I can't really explain how you can get so emotionally attached to a tree. Honestly, it sounds bizarre. But I can't count the number of times I've sat underneath it and admired it's huge, curving boughs, run my fingers over the rough bark, and marveled at the way it looks utterly beautiful, regardless of the season or weather. It dominates the landscape of the garden. I have taken more pictures of this tree than I care to divulge, at every time of year, and in every mood. 

Just over a year ago, I took this photo, which I captioned, 'May I ever return to this spot. In the words of Sheldon, this is my 0,0,0.' I just loved the idea that no matter how much had changed, I could have a spot under a historic, yet living, landmark that I could always come back to.

However. Earlier this year the Black Pine suffered significant storm damage, and two of the boughs came down. After seeking the advice of professionals, the only option the gardens had was to fell the tree completely. This week, they released this video, of this beautiful, historic, landmark tree coming down...


I can't pretend I didn't cry the first time I watched that.

But, the Black Pine was my favourite photographic subject. So, in honour of one of my favourite things, here's a collection of shots I've taken over six years, in varying seasons, on different devices, with some of my favourite people. 

My lovely, lovely, tree; the gardens will never be the same without you.

18th January, 2009

David, not wanting to ruin his nice coat on the bark, but showing affection nonetheless
18th January, 2009

You can never get it all in one shot...
18th January, 2009

Straight up
10th December, 2009

Heth and Mike
10th December, 2009

3rd September, 2011

With Philibean
1st March, 2009

Tree love with Heather
13th March, 2009

Basking in sunshine
22nd May, 2010

24th March, 2010

Self-timed love
25th October, 2008 (When we'd only just met!)

Dad, joining our big family picnic under the boughs. That bench you see in the background? That's where you sit and contemplate life.
13th June, 2011

17th October, 2008

1st September, 2013

My joyful place to be!
2nd March, 2009 (the date on the picture is wrong!)
To leave, what song could be more fitting than the glorious classic, Old Pine, from Ben Howard? "As the Old Pine fell we sang, just to bless the morning."