Coast to Coast | A birthday calling to the sea

With the sun setting down on Southerndown

I am reminded that we are a family who have been lucky enough to rock up and wake up to many beaches in the world over the years. This year has been very different for an obvious reason, so waking up on my birthday with landlocked feelings, I knew we had to go.

We met my parents there, the first outing with them in nearly a year, and they themselves had not seen the sea since 2019. It never ceases to amaze me how we all gravitate to the shoreline when arriving there. It’s like an affirmation that your ‘lost at sea’ thoughts and ideas will become more of a reality the closer you get to that edge. Or is this an ocean’s metaphor… our thoughts are as unique and real as each of the waves that roll in? 

I’ve never been so drawn as I was this day, to the dynamics of people and their lifestyles across the generations, using and playing on this great expanse of space. I was particularly drawn to the wild swimmers. This tribe, so full of exhilaration, freezing limbs and wild-eyed as they came out of the water.

Then the irony of standing at the foot of glorious jurassic cliff faces that meet sandy beach, and experiencing nature’s own million+ year earth-ology joining up with modern-day smartphone technology, as we FaceTime the other set of grandparents and walk them down to the sea. The gasps of joy and wonder coming through a six-inch screen surely has to be the next best thing to being there for them.

Southerndown Beach in South Wales is a well-trodden sanctuary for us, from over the years and we’re lucky to live as equally close to here as we do the Brecon Beacons. But it was this trip that it opened my eyes further to the hold this coastline has, with its ever-changing energy, so many people. My birthday calling to the sea.

“The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach—waiting for a gift from the sea.” Anne Morrow Lindbergh, from A Gift from the Sea.
Welcome to our Coast to Coast loop. We are a group of photographers from around the world, from timezones as far flung as Australia to Canada and in between, each with a different seascape. Coast to Coast aims to document our changing sea views and perspectives – both literal and philosophical – of what the sea means to us, month to month through the changing seasons. To follow the loop go next to the talented Bex Maini 


Seasons of Motherhood | A December Tale

My birthday was at the weekend and it was a special one. Not in terms of years (though I won’t linger too much here!) but in terms of simplicity, location and bucket loads of gratitude.

It’s been months of further lock-downs, school year groups out having to self isolate, and us as parents feeling like she only ever came out of her bedroom for survival purposes. To eat, drink and use the bathroom. The teen’s domain, the safe space, the social hub with every household screen and device holding a friend of hers, all sat within those four walls. I’m certain these friends’ bedrooms must have all looked and felt the same.

This day she became mine again for a few hours. We ran around that shoreline like crazed unleashed fiends until the sun went down. Then we sat drinking hot chocolate on the headland as it finally disappeared into the ocean.

This is Artifact Motherhood; a collaboration of artists from around the world who have come together to share our stories of the joys and struggles of our journey. Through our writings and visual records, we want to create memories that are more than photographs with dates written on the back. These are the artifacts we are leaving behind for our children and for generations to come.

This entry is the third in a series called “Seasons of Motherhood” and is meant to be one picture and one caption that represents our current journey/season of motherhood.

Please visit the next artist in our blog circle, the talented Jess Cheetham and continue through all the artists until you get back to me.


Artifact of Motherhood | A Cornish Escape

A flock of birds bursting out of the rock has come to symbolise just how much that trip to Cornwall now means to me. We nearly didn’t make it. The forecast that week was stormy, working commitments crazy and a decade-long house renovation was making this trip unimportant.

We were all feeling a bit disconnected in early February. The heart of winter didn’t feel like it was shifting, and a yearning for Cornwall, a place I’d spent so many years calling my second home, was calling. We checked in to a clifftop static caravan, which wasn’t so static in 70 mph high winds, rocking us off to sleep and swaying our morning cuppas. BUT, we did call this place home for just a few days, breathed in deep on those wild southwest walks and found some curiosities around every corner. A month later a global pandemic hit hard. I will always be grateful we made it back there, back then.

Artifact Motherhood is a collaboration of artists/mothers from around the world. Sharing stories of the joys and struggles of our journey. Our hopes and dreams for our children. With little nuggets of wisdom here and there. These are more than photographs with dates written on the back. These are the artifact we are leaving behind for children and the generations to come.

Please visit the next artist in our blog circle, the talented April Christopher  and continue through all the artists until you get back to me.


Seasons of Motherhood | Seasons of Change

Seasons of Motherhood

Season of Change

As a new school term begins and she turns 14, I’m transported back to a time when I had her thigh-high at my side, a proper mini partner-in-crime. I can remember most of our conversations from back then. With a few I’ve just left right there, in those happy carefree moments when she couldn’t tell the time and I didn’t look at a watch. We had micro adventures daily, we could write books about some of them, maybe we will. This day was about a walk up to the woods. This was about finding the right sticks to bash away the tree pirates and obviously to measure how much the wheat field was growing. Somewhere into the walk would be the question “Did you bring snacks mama? I want blueberries, have you got some?”

This year has undoubtedly been a year of immeasurable adventures for many of us. Mostly and safely closer to home than usual. She may well be nine years older, but this daughter of mine has skipped into a new school year after six months out, with fresh attitude and a little more sass. Not so much my thigh-high baby buddy, nor holding my hand or brandishing sticks quite so much these days, but here before me is a young warrior who’s carving her way in this world with innovation, curiosity and sackfuls of kindness.

This is Artifact Motherhood; a collaboration of artists from around the world who have come together to share our stories of the joys and struggles of our journey. Through our writings and visual records, we want to create memories that are more than photographs with dates written on the back. These are the artifacts we are leaving behind for our children and for generations to come.

This entry is the third in a series called “Seasons of Motherhood” and is meant to be one picture and one caption that represents our current journey/season of motherhood.

Please visit the next artist in our blog circle, the talented Jess Cheetham, and continue through all the artists until you get back to me.


Family Life the slowed-down way

I’ve kept my camera by my side like another set of eyes, just wanting to hold onto every surreal-yet-normal moment

My first thought, when writing this piece for JUNO Magazine, was to talk about my approach to the family photography I do, and the buzz I get when I know I’m going to peek into a new home and get to connect, observe and tell an honest story for that family on that given day. But it’s evolved, straight into a circle back to my own family.

Family photojournalism or family storytelling (to give it a genre) is thankfully treading the boards of
its own stage in the photography world, alongside stunningly crafted portraits and outdoor
beautifully golden-hour lit lifestyle photo-shoots, and I couldn’t be happier. To be given the
opportunity to engage and record a time in a family’s history that is incredibly real and feeling for
decades to come, quite seriously is the only way for me. Whether it’s photographing the flung
pieces of mashed avocado at meal times, or a heartfelt sorry-cuddle after a sibling stand-off. It’s
these genuine connections and those quiet in-between moments that you rarely get to see unless
you really look, or more importantly we will all need reminding of in time to come. The honestly
told day-in-the-life family album.

I was blessed to spend two different days with two different families earlier this year. They each
epitomised every reason why I approach this type of storytelling. However, both came with a
personal challenge to me. Neither wanted photographs to be shared online in my portfolio for a
variety of valid reasons which I completely respect. Nonetheless, as I sat quietly in a corner of their
rooms watching and photographing them, I couldn’t help but feel my heart sink a little as I clicked
away at some beautifully real moments I knew I would never share with the world. Having said this,
the trust and connections I form with my families mean the most and it’s this that grounds me, I’m
photographing for their family’s future generations, not mine.

Then came a pandemic to slow down life, and enable me to fully turn the camera onto my own
family. It’s no lie that the past few months were hectic leading up to it and

I realised in a heartbeat that I needed to learn to stand still with them all over again.

It honestly felt that our home transformed overnight into a dance studio, classroom, canteen and
cinema. The existing daily vision of a vintage motorbike being built in our family room over winter
and spring, suddenly erupted into a more permanent and expanding longer-term project. We found
our rhythm and it was in our own chaotically effortless way.

Aided by the steady flow of goodness and innovation that began to flow from so many
communities, offering creative and physical support both locally and online. So we flowed ourselves, into our own version of classroom learning. Using our newly plastered stair wall as a timeline for daily questions such as, ‘who was Emmeline Pankhurst?’ and ‘what’s the difference between an asteroid and a comet?’

The usual smartphone and laptop time limit dissipated as
maintaining lost play dates and sleepovers, along with having birthday celebrations through these
devices became a truly lovely and crucial alternative to stay connected with others.
We took to the streets with chalk messages… well wishes to neighbours, love and thanks to
healthcare and key workers. We have felt the sweet moments of giving virtual hugs to friends from
across the road as they scootered by. We drop food bags at grandparents’ doors while waving all
the love we can to them at two metres apart. These are times mixed with some laughter, mindful of
our own needed space and the odd sneaky tear or two. I’ve kept my camera by my side like
another set of eyes, just wanting to hold onto every surreal-yet-normal moment.

Then comes that personal challenge again, this time from my 13-year-old. As I rightly need to get
permission from her for every photograph I want to use. Déjà Vu. Investing in lengthy verbal battles
to explain this is all for family album, particularly in these exceptional times. I won’t continue with

how some days it works, how other days there’s an outright “no” to taking her photograph… these
are the days are resigned to still life and self-portraiture! So it’s that fine balance of respecting her
wishes, without question, to me pleading with her for the sake of her very own family album to look
at in decades to come.

There has definitely been a strong yearning to record the gentle and honest moments of my own family during this compulsory downshift to family life. Which I find incredibly poignant as it is exactly what I strive to do with other families when I’m invited into their homes.

But right now, aside from keeping my family loved, fed and safe, I know I will look back with some gratitude on the days I got to stand still and explore my own home.

 


Artifact Motherhood | Chasing New Adventures

It took us all day to pack up our campervan and leave the home we’ve not left in over four months. The range of emotions around taking to the road for the first time since March was quite intense. The anticipation of journeying anywhere and everywhere to be among new shorelines and landscapes was stronger.

The four walls of our home has been our safe world. Finding adventures in the immediate surroundings, wiping away plenty of tears as well as laughing so hard at times our bellies ached. Looking over at our beloved van, our travelling holiday home, lying neglected on the driveway, I wondered whether we’d ever wander again this year.

So yes, it took longer than ever to load up all the stuff we never need for these trips, put a pin in the map of three hours away and then arrive far later than planned on the south west coast. That last light walk up the hill to the coastal path beckoned and I could feel every tension melt as we got closer to the top. They ran on ahead, she’s very much her father’s girl …though I love how she still checks where I am.

This family.  From lock-down to adventuring once again.

 

Artifact Motherhood is a collaboration of artists/mothers from around the world. Sharing stories of the joys and struggles of our journey. Our hopes and dreams for our children. With little nuggets of wisdom here and there. These are more than photographs with dates written on the back. These are the artifact we are leaving behind for children and the generations to come.

Please visit the next artist in our blog circle, the talented Lauren Webster and continue through all the artists until you get back to me.


Artifact Motherhood | Seasons of Motherhood

Seasons of Motherhood

A Spring Lockdown

So much has changed in our relationship during this surreal time in our lives. Even though I’ve had to learn super fast and hard that she’s fiercely independent, growing up in ways that I’m thankful I’ve had the chance to observe far more in these slowed down, stay at home moments. The bedroom door slams shut more than ever before and it feels like she doesn’t want me quite so much. Then I wake up to an extra body pushing me out of bed in the mornings, her arm slumped over me checking that I’m there. I’ve also had to turn into a mind reader, though I still keep getting it wrong, daily. Furiously casting my mind back to being 13 all over again.

This is Artifact Motherhood; a collaboration of artists from around the world who have come together to share our stories of the joys and struggles of our journey. Through our writings and visual records, we want to create memories that are more than photographs with dates written on the back. These are the artifacts we are leaving behind for our children and for generations to come.

This entry is the second in a new series which we’ve just begun doing called “Seasons of Motherhood” and is meant to be one picture and one caption that represents our current journey/season of motherhood.

Please visit the next artist in our blog circle, Hollie Stokes, and continue through all the artists until you get back to me.


Angela, Maverick Communication

Angela is a personal coach and writer and the talent behind Maverick Communication. Coming from a world of performance, she is now passionate about helping people step out of the shadows and lead with their own light – a beautiful analogy of her stage-lit family’s history.

She’s the niece of the late great George Formby. “My parents always wanted me to follow in my uncle’s fame, but I discovered my own voice and I lead with my light.”


In search of a Hong Kong Childhood | My Family Adventure by Jo Haycock Photography

On a quiet ward in the Royal Gwent Hospital in the stillness of 3am, my sister and I planned a monumental trip, in the gentle rhythm of our grandmother's breathing as she lay between us. Our family lived in Hong Kong when we were children, so some decades later and with four children between us, we made a big plan that night. To retrace where we grew up, went to school and still hold such vivid memories.

Holding her hands throughout the night, we put together a plan of what this trip might look like, already knowing it was going to be one that would spark open some memories of our life from that time.

So it is beyond special to always remember that our grandmother was very much part of our planning for this journey.

Hong Kong family adventure Jo HaycockWe grew up in Hong Kong for nearly four years as our father took up a civil engineer's position with MTR, helping to build the underground rail network back then. Known today as one of the best in the world. Of course, I'm sure that was down to him. After countless questions thrown at our parents about which school, what was the name of that street, what was the name of the station Dad was responsible for building, which beach, and more specific stuff like "what was the name of that island that we regularly cycled along the dirt track and ate noodles at roadside cafe huts?"

The questions came thicker and faster than the answers they could give us.  Oh and just to clarify, it's Lantau Island I'm talking about, and the dirt track cycle path gave way to hosting HK's international airport along with a Disneyland for good measure.

I'd say we are moderately light travellers, even packing for six - three teens and a wannabe tween in the mix. So for a two week trip that included five days in the middle to travel to China, it took some meticulous planning. Imagine the horror when we discovered that three of six cases had not turned up on the same flight we landed on? There was a moment of...

that's it, the whole trip is ruined!

...before we found reassurance in the airport baggage staff and KLM doing all they could to locate and reunite. We all (even those who hadn't lost cases) made emergency buys, and made our way to the AirBnB apartment on Des Veoux Road West. Old Hong Kong at its best, and perfectly preserved in its vision, true to my memory of exactly how I remembered it as a child.

family adventures in Hong Kong Jo Haycock

We stayed 12 storeys up and above the dried food markets, a 7/11 and in our opinion, next to some of the best noodle bars and restaurants. It's right here that I have to give a huge high five to the most instagramable laundrette (coffee bar AND art gallery) in town. All in one compact and retro space. The Panda Laundry   It became our go-to coffee and pastry stop every single morning. Funnily enough, we never once did our laundry there but I hear that they give out complimentary washing power to those that do. I've struggled to find a comprehensive link here, how is this little gem of a space not raved about more globally?... I genuinely miss it.

 

Though the last morning coffee jaunt became a bit fraught as I lost my 11-year-old on a hectic main street, all in the name of a photograph and the assumption she'd follow on there with her aunt and cousins.

 

Thankfully she knew the route so well, and after a heart stopping 10 minutes we found each other. That experience was a total parenting v artist fail on my part!

"Nothing is refined in this chaotic frenzy of an old-school dim sum teahouse experience"

One of our first ventures on the second day was to the Li Heung Tea House and it's is not for the feint-hearted. Best described as a frantic afternoon tea experience on steroids, old-school Hong Kong style. No matter what time of day you visit, each table will be three-deep with people stood closely behind the chairs of people already sat at their table. They are politely watching every last mouthful taken by each table's occupant. The atmosphere is incredible, with steam billowing from the kitchens, the constant clatter of cutlery, chatter and jasmine tea being poured from over-head height into bowls.

There were a few raised eyebrows from other diners at one point, as I drizzled soy sauce over my dessert pastry. An interesting combination, which I hope my expression didn't give away my own surprise.

Suddenly, as if appearing by magic, would be several robust and no-nonsense food trolley ladies moving in from different corners of the room. Diners, seated or not, would flock around them waving food tickets, grabbing plates of  freshly cooked dim sum. With tickets stamped, gleefully they'd go back to their tables for all to tuck in. We got totally seduced in the process and at times, with no idea what we tucking into. With mixed online reviews, it is all about its unique experience. There is nothing quite like this tea house anywhere else in the world.

I wasn't prepared for the emotion felt at first sight of the Star Ferry all these decades later, I closed my eyes. The smells, the sounds, I was 10 years old again.

The hustle and bustle had a 2018 slant, but overall nothing had changed. Even the sight of the commuters-come-fishermen gathered along the harbour side, pulling a single line from their pockets to catch a quick fish or two while waiting for the ferry to come in. Honestly and reassuringly, it felt the same.

Some days later we headed over to Kowloon for a dim sum cookery workshop. Experiencing some of the talent and pride that goes into making these little perfectly formed pastry penguins, squid and flowers was just the mindful pitstop we needed in this perfectly chaotic trip. The next best thing is tasting all your efforts afterwards. So that was lunch sorted... We left to go on and get beautifully lost around the expansive grid network of Ladies Night Market.

It took us an age to find it, getting on and off all the wrong MTR stops until dusk fell and we found it, wandering through the busy labyrinth of market lanes.

Then my 15-year old sleuth niece whispered to my sister, that she recognised the man in the red t-shirt following us since a tube ride a long while ago.

Not to linger too long on this unpleasant experience, we led him straight to some MTR station guards who dealt with the whole situation amazingly as they detained him so we could leave on the next train. It was the only time we felt any fear, it feels important to mention this part of the story.

Running for the No. 6 double-decker bus that third morning was a very important part of the this trip as we knew where it was going to take us. The scenic route up and over Hong Kong island and down to the south where we lived. My sister and I giving each other's arms a little squeeze in excitement and disbelief that we were actually doing this. Pointing at apartment blocks and little inlet bays along the way, reminding each other of the family friends we played with and childhood antics we got up to during those times.

Repulse Bay was the first place we called home back then. We spent a good few hours on the beach looking up at the apartment block, there on the hill. It was also a surreal experience being approached by the loveliest of tourists, who'd just got off their tour bus and couldn't leave without asking to be photographed with our girls.  On to Stanley, with its still-thriving market and more recently, shiny shopping plaza, complete with dog parking. In fact it was quite a sight seeing the immaculately groomed dogs around the beachfront that were being pushed around in doggy-prams. Our girls were in raptures.

The final stop on the bus journey was back in time to Chung Hom Kok beach and the apartment up the road and around the corner, that we knew so well as home. This was by far the strongest of the memory slideshow. I could actually hear the voices and laughter of friends from 30 years ago. The telling offs from grownups, like the time I wrote 'Becky' in my mother's best lipstick on the parameter wall and let my little sister take the blame. And the time I was dared to thrown my shiny red bike off the garage roof and damage the neighbour's car in the process. So powerful, so incredible to experience, almost like hypnotherapy in the awakened moment.

Halfway into this trip we visited Guilin, China for five days. There is no way this incredible trip would have happened without the patience and guidance of  Frontières 56 Travel - they literally took every whim, request and last minute change from us and created a phenomenal experience with mind-blowing scenery and placed us among the friendliest people in the whole world. We stepped straight off the plane and went 100 metres down into a bejewelled cave, then up 100s of metres into the hills of terraced fields full of rice. To eat produce that lunch time farmed only metres away was something else. There was a boat trip along the River Li,

followed by a bamboo raft ride which involved two deckchairs strapped on with string. Steered by a weathered raft man instructing us, by waving hand signals, to raise our feet as we hurtled down the rapids.

The last and biggest mention of this China trip goes to our beautiful patient guide, Annie. Who quickly realised that her agenda was blown to pieces by six females all needing the toilet at different times. This lady pulled off U-turns in arrangements like no other... thank you for your love and knowledge.

Last few days in HK and we gave the girls the choice of theme parks - Disneyland or Ocean Park. We were delighted they choice Ocean Park as this was the hoped for and retro answer - this was the theme park we used to go to when we lived here. It was my sister, Becky's birthday on our last day. So we all chose to go back to Chung beach for a last swim and dance along that shoreline. Walking past our old apartment home a last time, the gate was open

"Girls, you know the way to the beach, we'll meet you there. Your mother and I are going in."

We stood outside apartment 2A for a little while. Debating whether to knock on the door. There were voices on the other side. We decided that was enough and headed on our way to our childhood beach, for a final play in the ocean with our daughters, as we did ourselves so many times all those years ago.

As it was written - the diary notes  

DAY 1: Lost luggage x 3 cases. Emergency buys, plus for those who didn’t lose a case. Canteen noodle bar off Des Voeux Road.

DAY 2: Found Panda Laundry - washing, coffee, art gallery in one retro tiny space. Met lovely man called West, who helped us with Octopus cards. Li Heung Teahouse, weird feeling standing behind diners' chairs waiting for them to finish. Think I ate a mystery organ, and then poured soy sauce on a sweet pastry. Star Ferry smells the same from childhood, bus up to top of Peak passing Bradbury school, caught tram down in error. “I want my luggage now” moment in a store. Luggage arrives by 10.17pm.

DAY 3: April Fools “what do you mean you need to recall the case?” prank call.  Filipino protest on the way to bus station. No. 66 to Repulse Bay, Stanley Market and Chung Hom Kok. Special time seeing our old home and Chung beach. Japanese tourists asking for photos with our girls on the beach. Souvenir necklaces for us all (and one for mum), dogs in prams, dogs parked in dog parks. Best burgers ever at Andy’s place this evening.

DAY 4: Coffee and pastries (now every morning) from Panda’s, first MTR ride from Sai Ying Pun to Sheko (calling it Shreko). Cringy sarong shopping and best Thai meal there out on the terrace.

DAY 5: Star Ferry to Kowloon. Dim Sum cooking class with lunch. Ladies Market at Mong Kok. Crowded MTR to Temple Market. Got followed for ages (Tessa spotted him from earlier on the train) reported to MTR guards. Scary dry mouth, cocktails at Ocean Terminal helped. Take-out noodles back at apartment while we pack, off to China in the morning.

DAY 6: Guilin Province China, met by our guide, Annie. Reed Flute caves, lions in stalactites. Elephant Hill (naming places through shapes and stories). Guilin means Osmanthus (forest). Daxu ancient village from the Ming / Ching Dynasty. Upgrade in the Jolie Hotel, 5* living with bath robes and special tea balls.

DAY 7: Annie accepted 6 females each needing a wee at different times. Feeling bad as we ruined her watertight agenda. The terraced fields, Miao and Zhuang (strong) people. Eating rice cooked in young bamboo shoots and grown right there in Pinga village. The local women with 2 metre long hair, washed in rice water and tea seed oil. Guilin tea farm, lessons in tea etiquette. Fire crackers going off around us, people honouring their dead.

DAY 8: River Li cruise and bamboo rafting, sat in tied-on deckchairs told to lift up feet as we go down the rapids. Dramatic light show on the river this evening, about the story of Sister Lui. Staying at New Century Hotel in Yangshui. 

DAY 9: Spent around Yangshui, no bike riding as busy cars and scooters everywhere. Girls on the tank simulator game, tickled in the face with a feather duster - part of special effects.

DAY 10: Checked out of hotel this morning, fly back to Hong Kong, MTR to Causeway Bay, more like Times Square now. Another great burger meal at Andy’s restaurant,

DAY 11: The girls chose Ocean Park over Disneyland. Retro themepark wins the day. Cable car ride, silent and long. Backs of pandas, plenty of koalas. First ride was very wet. Jeanie on everything x 3. Sculptured and smart outfits worn by tourists. Uneasy about the performing dolphins. Met Ailsa and Bella in Kennedy Town this evening, Great street food venue, took home the best kebabs tonight.

DAY 12: Last day and Becky’s birthday. Admiralty MTR photos for Dad then No. 6X to Chung Hom Kok beach. Noodles, beer and swim. We got inside the building of 68 Vista Horizon and photographed our old apartment door. Speedboat from Central Pier 9 to Rainbow fish restaurant on Lamma Island. Flying home tomorrow.


The radio playing 'school bag in hand, she leaves home in the early morning'

Her alarm clock rang before 6am. She walked into our bedroom and calmly whispered "mum, are you awake?" It felt like my eyes had been blasted with sand. Even so, the tone of her voice didn't go unnoticed ...this was the new voice of a Year 7'r.

I sat quietly in her bedroom watching her, with my cup of tea in one hand, camera in the other, a range of emotions bubbling quietly away inside of me. Thinking of how proud I was to be her mum and how honoured that she was allowing me the privilege of photographing this part of her journey. I also had a strong feeling of reassurance right there, knowing she'll be fine. More than fine.

My not-so-little girl started secondary school this week. I could write reams here about the first time we met, gazing into those just-born eyes and imagining this day, not so far away. I can't help think about all the kindly souls with their well-meaning advice over the years.

"Raising babies to children to adults is like a time machine whizzing you through the events, the years, the worlds. Then before you know it BAM, you'll be seeing her off to high school, university, a new life." 

For some time now, she's put her hand up to her face whenever I pick up my camera. She's pleaded with me, I've pleaded with her. Using only my eyes lately to freeze time while she's lost in a game or reading a book, when the artist in me is itching to make that image so much more. Casting my mind back to the last time I was allowed to hold up the camera briefly, just before the last bedtime book had ended.

So we made an agreement, she delivered on a promise, that I could photograph her from bed to door, as she leaves for the first time to her new school.

It's a huge change. These 11 year olds of ours are now off embracing the next adventure in their life. But from where I sat, on my own 11-year-old's bed, watching her tying her tie and combing out her bedhead, she was always more ready for this day than her mother was. I'd be wise take my lead from her...