Appreciating the Small Things in a Time of Pandemic

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Appreciating the Small Things in a Time of Pandemic


Appreciating the Small Things in a Time of Pandemic.

1: A Pink and Blue Dress

Hello dear friends, (En français ci-dessous)

How are you? How are you coping at this extraordinary and difficult time when naturally we feel fear for ourselves and our families and desolation for others who have been so horribly affected?  

For those of us who are blessedly free of the virus, our worlds have suddenly shrunk and we are having to adapt to confinement. So I’d love to share with you one of the things that is helping me get through this dark time – a creativity that isolation has brought me.

When we first went into Lock Down I was sure there would be no more photography for me.  I like to wander the streets looking for a story that speaks to me – with people and preferably with a dog too. Now, of course, that isn’t possible.  Here in France we may only leave our homes once a day and walk no further than one kilometer.  I’m blessed that I live in the country – there’s always a tree to hug – but I’m not a flower photographer. I don’t ‘do’ landscapes. There are no dogs and people wandering around my neck of the woods anymore.  So the camera stayed on the shelf.

Then, a few days ago the need for exercise got me out beyond my garden and I walked up the track and along the road above.  Suddenly, because my ‘camera eye’ wasn’t looking for people or dogs, a world of small things opened up.   I ran back home, grabbed my camera and started out again.

Whether you are in a city or live in the countryside, you will start to notice an interesting texture on a wall, perhaps a doorknob you’d not seen before or some wonderful rust on an old gate. Photographers love rust!  Anyway, you start to see things you hadn’t noticed before and because you are alone somehow the things you do notice, however tiny, tell a story or trigger long-forgotten memories.  Perhaps that is why our eye is drawn to something in the first place.

Then go back home and the same thing happens. Look around – that light coming thru the window is magical.  Perhaps those shapes created by a pile of different sized plates are interesting.  An ornament on the coffee table – perhaps that too is telling a story of the joys of reading.

Friends, just grab your iPhone or your camera and wander about your home or take a short walk – you’ll be amazed at what you see, what you really see. And what a great time to write about or photograph your children.  Create a diary of these extraordinary times.

This photograph is part of an old gate I passed on my walk yesterday.  Pink and blue immediately brings forth a memory for me. I was perhaps six years old and my father had just come back from India where he’d spent several years during the war and he’d brought back a gift for me.  It was a pink and blue dress with a smocked top and short sleeves that finished with a frill. How I loved that dress. But my mother told me that pink and blue didn’t go together, that they clashed.  I must have let her opinion wash over me because I’ve always loved the mix of pink and blue ever since.

Go find your pink and blue memory… 

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Bonjour chers amis,

Comment vas-tu? Comment faites-vous face à cette période extraordinaire et difficile où naturellement nous ressentons de la peur pour nous-mêmes et nos familles et de la désolation pour les autres qui ont été si horriblement touchés?

Pour ceux d’entre nous qui sont heureusement indemnes du virus, nos mondes se sont soudainement rétrécis et nous devons nous adapter au confinement. J’aimerais donc partager avec vous l’une des choses qui m’aident à traverser cette période sombre – une créativité que l’isolement m’a apportée.

Lorsque nous sommes entrés pour la première fois dans Lock Down, j’étais sûr qu’il n’y aurait plus de photographie pour moi. J’aime me promener dans les rues à la recherche d’une histoire qui me parle – avec des gens et de préférence avec un chien aussi. Maintenant, bien sûr, ce n’est pas possible. Ici, en France, nous ne pouvons quitter nos maisons qu’une fois par jour et marcher au plus un kilomètre. J’ai la chance de vivre à la campagne – il y a toujours un arbre à câliner – mais je ne suis pas photographe de fleurs. Je ne «fais» pas de paysages. Il n’y a plus de chiens et de personnes errant autour de mon cou des bois. L’a est donc restée sur l’étagère.

Puis, il y a quelques jours, le besoin d’exercice m’a fait sortir de mon jardin et j’ai remonté la piste et longé la route au-dessus. Du coup, parce que mon “œil de caméra” ne cherchait pas des gens ou des chiens, un monde de petites choses s’est ouvert. Je suis retourné chez moi en courant, j’ai attrapé mon appareil photo et j’ai recommencé.

Que vous soyez en ville ou à la campagne, vous commencerez à remarquer une texture intéressante sur un mur, peut-être une poignée de porte que vous n’aviez pas vue auparavant ou une merveilleuse rouille sur une vieille porte. Les photographes adorent la rouille! Quoi qu’il en soit, vous commencez à voir des choses que vous n’aviez pas remarquées auparavant et parce que vous êtes seul d’une manière ou d’une autre, les choses que vous remarquez, même minuscules, racontent une histoire ou déclenchent des souvenirs oubliés depuis longtemps. C’est peut-être pour cela que notre regard est attiré par quelque chose en premier lieu.

Rentrez chez vous et la même chose se produit. Regardez autour de vous – cette lumière qui traverse la fenêtre est magique. Peut-être que ces formes créées par un tas d’assiettes de différentes tailles sont intéressantes. Un ornement sur la table basse – peut-être que cela aussi raconte une histoire des joies de la lecture.

Amis, il vous suffit de saisir votre iPhone ou votre appareil photo et de vous promener dans votre maison ou de faire une courte promenade – vous serez étonné de ce que vous voyez, de ce que vous voyez vraiment. Et quel bon moment pour écrire ou photographier vos enfants. Créez un journal de ces temps extraordinaires.

Cette photo fait partie d’une vieille porte que j’ai croisée hier lors de ma promenade. Le rose et le bleu me rappellent immédiatement un souvenir. J’avais peut-être six ans et mon père venait de rentrer d’Inde où il avait passé plusieurs années pendant la guerre et il m’avait rapporté un cadeau. C’était une robe rose et bleue avec un haut smocké et des manches courtes qui se terminait par un volant. Comment j’ai adoré cette robe. Mais ma mère m’a dit que le rose et le bleu ne vont pas ensemble, qu’ils se sont affrontés. J’ai dû laisser son opinion me submerger parce que j’ai toujours aimé le mélange de rose et de bleu depuis.

Allez retrouver votre souvenir rose et bleu…

45 Comments

  • Avatar
    Carole March 28, 2020

    Beautifully written Jilly and I am inspired but this challenge to look for small details. Thank you

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      Jilly March 28, 2020

      Thank you so much Carole for writing. So happy this inspired you. Our worlds are smaller now aren’t they? Big hug to you xxx

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        Moira March 29, 2020

        Arhh! The memories that keep us moving along with the tide and riding the emotional wave, but thank God we have those memories as at this particular time they are the only thing keeping us going. I imagined you that little girl in the pretty dress given with love, thank you Jilly xxx

      • Avatar
        Jilly March 29, 2020

        Thanks so much for your comments, Moira. I’ve been wandering about the place, looking at old things and retrieving those memories. I think it’s the forced slowing down that is making us more sensitive as we have more time. Funnily enough I can’t remember wearing the dress. I just remember that wonderful day of receiving it! Take great care, Moira.with love xxx

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      SHIREEN March 29, 2020

      You are so right Jilly, my daughter Linda does a lot of photography maybe not at this moment in time, & my father when he was alive did a lot of photograpy, as for me just with the camera on my iphone I find myself looking at things in a different perspective now.
      Bravo your photography has always been superb !
      Stay well please in this very nerveracking & anxious time, & do keep photographing.
      With love,
      Shireen & you must meet Francesca one day .

      • Avatar
        Jilly March 30, 2020

        So glad you are OK Shireen. You take great care and thank you for your comment. Think we all need a creative outlet at the moment, be it cooking, or writing or photograpy or even re-arranging our homes! Being restricted seems to slow us down and perhaps think more. Count me out for the cooking though! We’ve been saying for years we must get together and for me to meet your Francesca and yes, once all this is over, let’s do just that. Take great care, Jilly x

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    Richard March 29, 2020

    Well done and well said Jilly. So glad to hear that you like Katie and I are still surviving. Be safe.

    • Avatar
      Jilly March 29, 2020

      Am so glad to hear Richard. And lots of love to Katie. Take the greatest care. We’ll get through it and come out the other side eventually. x

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    Lena March 29, 2020

    Totally true. In the quarantine there is the opportunity to see the little things we lost in the normal hectic pace. An opportunity for reflection. Instead of complaining, you can actually take advantage of the small moments of simple joy.
    In Sweden, quarantine is not yet as tough as in France. I feed small birds outside the window and enjoy watching their beautiful feathers and behavior at the bird table.

    • Avatar
      Jilly March 29, 2020

      Thanks for your lovely message Lena. It seems this is going to go on for some considerable time and so it is the small things that will keep us going. I too feed birds, most blue tits and robins here and aren’t they a joy! Take great care. x

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    Donald March 29, 2020

    What a joy to receive your blog .
    Your inspiration has ensured that I will not forget to take my iPhone out with me when walking my dog this very cold morning in Worcestershire.
    Stay safe . XXX

    • Avatar
      Jilly March 29, 2020

      Absolutely, you never know what magic you may find. Thanks for your comments dear Donald and you take great care xxx

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    Irene Mulcahy March 29, 2020

    Havent seen one of your posts for ages. This one has come at time when we do need a bit of colour and your inspiration. The “shabby chic” decor is a colour that combines the pinks and blues very well.

    • Avatar
      Jilly March 29, 2020

      Yes I thought it was about time, Irene! And of course no excuse with so much time at home. Always loved shabby chic! Take great care, Irene xxx

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    Valerie March 29, 2020

    What a very special surprise to hear from you again. For some inexplicable reason I suddenly stopped receiving your wonderful photographs and could not work out why. Please keep sending it is a wonderful tonic. xx

    • Avatar
      Jilly March 29, 2020

      Valerie,you had stopped receiving notifications because I’d not been writing this blog. I’ve always continued posting on Facebook and Instragram but now, with this enforced confinement there is no excuse for me not to post. So I’ll be back. Thank you for the lovely words Valerie and please take great care xxx

  • Avatar
    Don March 29, 2020

    Good to see you are back in action Jilly.
    Keep safe. Don

    • Avatar
      Jilly March 29, 2020

      Yes, confess I’d be lazy about this blog, only publishing on Facebook and Instagram. Now,in confinement a good time to write it more regularly. Take the greatest care you two. with love xxx

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    Susie March 29, 2020

    Dear Jilly,
    Bonjour from South Australia where we are slowly welcoming Autumn amidst this new world . What unprecedented times in which we are living.
    Over here we are not in lockdown but are asked to stay home except for essential errands like shopping, exercising and drs appointments and are not allowed to be in with more than 2 people.
    Apart from cleaning out cupboards and generally sorting out our lives, I feel the slowing down of life has given us time to think and reflect and see things differently and even appreciate life more. A perfect time to photograph new things and I adore your cherub!
    Lovely to hear from you again from my favourite Gorbio, Take care and keep photographing!
    Love and hugs
    Susie xx

    • Avatar
      Jilly March 29, 2020

      Hello Susie, thanks so much for writing. You are in a similar situation to us except ours is enforced and how. But we all have to do this if we are to beat this thing. I so agree that the slowing down has made a great difference – at first I think it was hard for many of us, but perhaps we’ll all come out of this with a kinder attitude. At least the planet is learning to breathe again! You take great care and I’ll publish more here. You know tho to find me on FB and Insta where I post regularly. But a blog, with words, means I can take more time. Good for me too! So glad you are pleased to hear from Gorbio.It is a lifesaver to be part of such a wonderful community. You take great care in Oz, Susie. xxx

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    Céline March 29, 2020

    Bonjour from Canada,
    A nice way to start my day by reading your post ! Good to read that you are doing well.
    I love photography and especially in these days of isolation, it is a way to stay connected with others, with other part of the world.
    Stay safe and if you can, please send us more news, more pictures !
    Merci,
    Céline

    • Avatar
      Jilly March 29, 2020

      Celine, thank you so much and yes I will. Not, as the blog says my normal style of photography but I’ll post regularly about life here in France and what it’s like to live through it. Photographs are, as you say, a great way to keep connected with each other. So you too! And you, stay safe, be ultra vigilant. x

  • Avatar
    Kris March 29, 2020

    Love this Jilly. Such a beautiful post and I love your memories of the pink and blue dress! Thanks for sharing.

    • Avatar
      Jilly March 29, 2020

      Oh Kris, thankyou! So happy you enjoyed it. It’s strange, as we slow down, memories seem to be more easily triggered. Take the greatest care, dear Kris. xxx

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    VE March 29, 2020

    Keep safe – we are appreciating our lovely garden and thinking we are extremely lucky.! X

    • Avatar
      Jilly March 29, 2020

      VE.thank you for your comment. Too right, those of us with a garden are so blessed. You enjoy yours and take the greatest care – xxx

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    Lisa March 29, 2020

    So nice to wake up to your lovely blog post today Jilly! Happy to hear you have camera in hand now. I actually laughed out loud when you said, “photographers love rust!” I can certainly agree! Stay well my dear friend.

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      Jilly March 29, 2020

      Lisa, thanks so much. Ha yes true we love rust, umbrellas, bicycles, nuns … and much else of course! Take great care, dearest Lisa xxx

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    Kate March 29, 2020

    I think I lost my long response!

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      Jilly March 29, 2020

      Dear Kate, Thanks so much but you are right, it got lost. The joys of technology! But thanks so much for reading it and lots of love to you both. Take great care Jilly xxx

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    Doug March 29, 2020

    Very nice thoughts in these difficult times. To slow things down even more, I have taken to shooting film again. Looking forward to coming back someday for a hike in the mountains above your little town.
    Doug

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    Kriss March 29, 2020

    Loved it!

    • Avatar
      Jilly March 30, 2020

      Hi Kriss, Thank you so much! Take great care – Jilly x

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    Erika March 30, 2020

    Bonjour from California USA! Very much enjoyed this post Jilly (as I’m not on Facebook) . Thank you for reminding us to think of the little things – which I’ll be looking for in my garden or walk with the dogs (they haven’t forbidden us from doing that yet!) Best wishes, be well and safe. Erika

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    Erika March 30, 2020

    Bonjour from California, USA! Very much enjoyed this post Jilly (as I’m not on Facebook). Thank you for reminding us to think of the little things – I’ll look for them in my garden or walk with the dogs (they haven’t forbidden us from doing that yet)! Best wishes, be well and safe. Erika

    • Avatar
      Jilly March 30, 2020

      Hello Erika, thanks so much for writing. Yes, thank goodness we can go out in our gardens. We are lucky in that we have a garden – I feel for people who are in an apartment but even then there are thngs to notice. And you take the greatest care too. Jilly x

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    John March 30, 2020

    Great to have you back again after a long time.Not on Facebook or Instagram so really missed your blog.
    Great photographs, very difficult as a wildlife photographer at the moment here in the UK.
    Best wishes and looking forward to hearing from you a lot more
    John

    • Avatar
      Jilly March 31, 2020

      John, Thanks so much for your comment. Yes I realise how difficult it must be to photograph wildlife at the moment. We are all restricted in what we can photograph. I suppose you might have the odd fox arriving in your garden but what is the chance! And yes plan on keeping up this blog more often – and thanks again for your words. Take great care, John – stay safe. Jilly xxx

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    Trevor March 31, 2020

    Lovely to receive your email in these troublesome times. I have to say that I still miss your photos of daily life in Gorbio and surrounding areas. We are lucky enough to visit Menton regularly and when you captured everyday sights with your camera it brought a sense of real happiness and contentment to us.
    Take care and keep safe.
    Trevor

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      Jilly April 1, 2020

      Trevor, thank you for your kind comments. Yes I rather concentrated on specific photography and particularly dogs over the last few years and only with a few specific Gorbio and Menton photos. Maybe I’ll rethink things a little once all this is over as I want eventually to work on a Gorbio book. But meanwhile the dog book takes precedent for the moment. I still post on Facebook and Instagram but realise a lot of people don’t see those platforms. Take the greatest care, Trevor and again thanks for writing.

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    Des and Teresa March 31, 2020

    Hi Jilly
    Great to here you’re back on your feet and out with your camera. Nice to hear from you. Glad we took the opportunity to come to Menton in January for the Broc-Troc. Who Knows when we will be back there again! Sorry to hear of the 1Km restriction but it. seems you are making good use it. Keep safe and keep clicking.

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      Jilly April 1, 2020

      Hello Des and Teresa, thanks so much for your comment. Yes I think no one knows when we will be travelling again but meanwhile stay safe. Am sure you’ll be back here one of these fine days. Take great care – Jilly x

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    Bridget April 7, 2020

    Such a beautiful post Jilly, I agree with you – I’ve too have started to notice the little quieter beautiful things around me.
    Your photos are gorgeous, as always.
    Be well. xx

    • Avatar
      Jilly April 7, 2020

      Oh dear Bridget, thank you SO much. So glad the same thing is happening with you. We’ll all get through this time and learn lots along the way and one of these fine days, you and I will be sharing a meal in your beautiful Venice. With love to you xxx

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    Richard May 4, 2020

    Dear Jilly,

    As fate would have it, I have been stuck at home with my wife and son during these trying times when I stumbled upon a Coffee Break French episode in which you appeared. (And I didn’t even know of the existence of CBF at all before the pandemic!). So I decided to see if I can find your work online and here I am. I am certainly enjoying all your photos and stories, and hoping one day I will have a chance to pay a visit to Gorbio!