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  • Writer's pictureSofias Country Gardens

A little get away


As I have said this winter was tough, and so it was with a special kind of joy that I took a little holiday to West Dean College in England for a course in DSLR cameras. I have a new camera called Mark (as in Canon EOS mark IV) that I found hard to get to grips with. I'm not very technical, and I compared it to any new relationship. "Oh, Mark is so difficult!" I complained, "he is over intelligent, super complicated and I really don't know if I can make this work!" But I'm not one to give up, and so Mark and I went on a make-or-break holiday over a long weekend.

The course was run by Jacqui Hurst who is my real life hero when it comes to garden photography. I find her pictures to be so incredibly inspiring and herself a truly beautiful human being. She has the kindest happy demeanour, and always makes me feel safe to explore my creative side even when the technicalities of modern DSLR cameras seem too much for me to grasp. Shutter speeds and light... the zoom not focusing where I want it to... my problems were endless. Not to worry though, it is a wonderful hobby to be explored for years to come and after the weekend I feel that not knowing everything is actually really nice as it is a continuing journey of discovery.

Getting away from home always brings things into perspective (pun intended) and being surrounded by others with the same interest gives me so much joy and new impulses. I didn't care that it was a miserable grey and drizzling weekend, as the warmth and fun in class more than made up for it. Spending time with and getting to know new people is something I have missed during the months of isolation I've had, and the evenings with long conversations over dinner truly woke me up from my slumber. There are so many stories out there in the people we randomly meet, ranging from tragedies they live through to difficulties they overcome and absolutely joyful happenstances to quietly happy lives. Spending time with others and really listening to their experience is such a gift.

Regardless of the bad weather I also truly enjoyed the surroundings. In the beginning of February there is little on display in the gardens, but in all its austerity there is profound beauty. Living in Finland where the winter landscape is white and a range of nuances of blue to grey, I'm always fascinated with the deep greens of the English winter garden. There is a distinct smell in the air, a mix of log burners and sweet box (Sarcacocca), witch hazel (Hammamelis) and winter sweet (Chimonanthus praecox). Old trees are majestic with their dark silhuettes against the grey skies, and the simple fact that there is something - anything! - blooming in the midst of winter seems a miracle to me.

Regardless of the bad weather I also truly enjoyed the surroundings. In the beginning of February there is little on display in the gardens, but in all its austerity there is profound beauty. Living in Finland where the winter landscape is white and a range of nuances of blue to grey, I'm always fascinated with the deep greens of the English winter garden. There is a distinct smell in the air too, a mix of log burners and sweet box (x ( (oo (


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