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On Being Boring

I moved from London to Brussels with my husband nearly 10 years ago. When I told people we were moving, the news was greeted with bemusement: why did we want to move to a city that was possibly the most boring place on earth? Ten years later and I can honestly say that I've had more fun here than I ever did living in London. It might not be the most exciting city in the world but it is a fantastic place to live. It is full of hidden treasures that you probably never get to see as a tourist: wonderful shops, amazing food, great museums and galleries, beautiful architecture, a forest (yes, a whole forest), and so much more... And if that doesn't convince you, well, get on a train and you could be in Paris, Amsterdam, Cologne or, yes, London in no more than a couple of hours... Which other city can you say that about?

Le Jardin Enchanté

It seems so long ago now, that we were all together, that the sun was shining, and that Charlie turned two… I guess Charlie will always be lucky: his birthday is on the 16th of August. He will never have to go to school on his birthday. He will always be able to wake up late (or early – which, I admit, is far more likely for the next few years at least). And he is much more likely to be able to celebrate with his cousins, as he did this year (although, I suppose, he’s less likely to be able to celebrate with his friends or take cake into class). The day was beautiful. I was up early, scouting the long grass for dew-covered spiderwebs. And I was in luck. They were everywhere I looked.
And I found these too. If I could get married all over again, I might have to have these for my flowers. Complete with water droplets. My flower girls would have to have little spritzers. Maybe it’s a good thing I won’t be getting married again.I know my family think I’m odd, with my camera round my neck at all times, chasing children and taking pictures of bricks, rusting baths, clumps of grass and heaven knows what else. But it makes me happy. I can’t really explain it. Even when my subject is a collection of old spades.I thought they looked pretty in the early morning sun too. But I do acknowledge, I am a bit weird. Wait, is this better? Taken a little later that morning.Why yes, she is quite the most lovely girl in the whole wide world. Thank you for asking. Anyway, where were we? Ah yes! Charlie’s birthday. Just the day before, we’d had that big party at Billy and Adeline’s. But that was no reason for us not to all get together again. Hey, it’s not often that we’re all physically close enough to be together so we have to take advantage of the opportunities when they present themselves.

This was a much less formal affair (no-one wore a shirt), consisting of lazing around in the grass, watching the sun go down…Being bitten by gnats and eating about 25 pizzas…And of course there was cake. Rich, gooey, chocolate and honey cake from Nigella. I found some magic, inextinguishable candles (you know the ones you blow out only to watch them fizzle and then burst into flame again). They had Charlie completely perplexed but provided me a couple of chances to get a good shot. So there’s my tip to any brave souls who do photography professionally: magic candles! And they weren’t the only source of magic light that evening (see my smooth transition there? Yes, I know, it’s a gift ;-b). We also had the golden sun light.I love this picture. I know I shouldn’t say that about a picture I’ve taken, but I love the slight flare, the dust particles in the air, the way her hair has turned to gold, the reflected light in her eyes from the sun shining on the house… It’s all about that magical light. And then the sun went down, and more candles came out. And the stars started to sparkles (you can just see them in the bottom two pictures).Again, my lack of tripod somewhat complicated things. The exposure was determined manually, the focus was manually set (poorly, I have to admit) and the camera was hand-held. All in all, rather tricky. But it helps me remember. I can look at these pictures and see things probably no-one else can. Little moments, little details that I would long ago have forgotten without these blurry little snapshots. So they’ll do. And do you know what we did when everyone had left? Charlie (my brother), Alice, Hanno and I pulled some chairs into the grass, turned off all the lights, and stared at the sky for shooting stars. We saw quite a few, but one I’ll never forget. It was so bright and so big. Completely amazing. Sitting in the dark with people I love, listening to crickets sing and watching the stars dance. It doesn’t get much better than that.(The shadow of a tree reflected onto the wall of the house, below the very starry sky – again, a long exposure somewhat ruined by having to be hand-held and hand-focused. I’ll call it “my unique low light technique” and pretend it’s deliberate)

31 October 2012 - 1:05 AM ralph - Cass, dear. Your posts always leave me speechless - each of these is so charming and beautifully shot. I just love them - Charlie's amazing party, your gorgeous Amelie on the swing! Gah. The stunning sun-filled portrait of your friend is as beautiful as you described. And this last photo - it takes my breath away. I think I need that one on my wall. You're amazing. xo

31 October 2012 - 8:11 AM amanda - Beautiful images Cass, so beautiful. Looks like such a dreamy wonderful moment.

4 November 2012 - 12:02 AM Adeline - Cass, toutes ces photos sont magnifiques et les regarder maintenant que l'automne est revenu, réchauffe le coeur de bons souvenirs. Je regrette simplement que ces moments aient été trop brefs!!! Merci encore d'avoir pu capturer ces instants là et de les avoir magnifié avec autant de talent. J'aime ce que tu fais! On vous embrasse tous très fort xxx

4 November 2012 - 12:04 AM Adeline - Cass, toutes ces photos sont magnifiques et les regarder maintenant que l'automne est revenu, réchauffe le coeur de bons souvenirs. Je regrette simplement que ces moments aient été trop brefs!!! Merci encore d'avoir pu capturer ces instants là et de les avoir magnifié avec autant de talent. J'aime ce que tu fais! Merci pour les photos que tu as fait de nous, elles sont juste parfaites! On vous embrasse tous très fort xxx

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