The Wish You Were Here project ran for 8 years, and was a collaboration that spanned the globe where photographers submitted one photo per week from wherever they happened to be. A global connection and flow resulted through the project and it was my immense privilege to contribute every week throughout that 8 year time span, and even to have the project exhibited in Paris.
When the project wrapped up at the end of 2021 I decided I couldn’t let go of this habit of savouring time, week by week, and I would continue by myself to pull together one photo roughly every 7 days that maybe summed up a moment I treasured, or where we were, or that I wanted to share. And with that comes a summary, as in previous years, of our year! These summaries started out back in 2014 as purely factual, mere details to accompany images, but have become more wordy and meandering as the years have gone by. Memories becoming etched into my soul, and maybe one day spilling out onto the page. I’m happy to have embraced this side of the project to supplement the images.
2022 started off in Delhi with the familiarity of a lockdown! The kids went back to online school for the first 7 weeks. The city had weekend curfews. And blimey was it cold! Our apartment, built to let heat out, and without any form of heating was mostly colder than outside, and outside went down to 3 degrees!! Add to that the wettest January on record and we spent a lot of time hugging our 2 little radiators and trundling them from room to room! Saffy, like a trooper, sat her GCSE mocks online, wrapped up in a fluffy jacket and woolly socks.
Birthdays were celebrated on zoom, and the girls made me a cake for mine by scheming with our landlady and using her oven. As soon as the exams were done, with the prospect of online school ongoing we popped over to see Tommy in UAE, for some freedom in the mountains and trips to the Dubai Expo2020, a mere 2 years late but certainly worth the wait! We returned to Delhi to a school that had reopened, and news that a meglomaniac nut job was starting a war.
We cycled through Holi and Ramadan, both of which meant visits from Tommy who once some covid restrictons were lifted was thankfully able to visit with a little more ease each time. And then GCSE’s loomed. For Saffy, an autistic kid who struggles in ways that are unseen to most, and seems to the outside world smart and capable this was a challenge. Add to that the fact she’d been to school on less than 20% of the days you would over a typical 2 year period and I really couldn’t be prouder of how hard she worked. I’m always a worrier about her, but she impressed me and blossomed with a newfound confidence and a work ethic that reassured me that she’ll do OK as long as she returns to her internal compass, grounds herself, and continues to focus on her strengths and passions – whether they’re typical school / academic subjects or not.
Our downtime during those hot pre-Monsoon days was spent largely indoors as India suffered a heatwave with record temperatures. We lay like lizards on our marble floors and the disdain we’d felt towards them back in January was reversed. When the electricity supply was overwhelmed we hung out in one room, and I love that the girls are at a stage where we can all just peacefully and comfortably be in the same space together. A benefit of last years lockdowns and the worlds tiniest hotel quarantine room maybe?
We spent time practicing waltz moves in anticipation of a darling friends wedding, 2 years overdue. And on the day Saffy’s exams finished we picked her up, rushed home for showers and were at the airport 2 hours later. Following a flight to Dubai, lack of suitable airline transfers meant we had to be chauffeured to Abu Dhabi, by our favourite UAE resident naturally, to fly from there to Manchester, from where a car was rented, and a coffee fueled drive to Blackpool got us there for 10:30 for the girls to be coiffed and dressed in their bridesmaid attire to be aisle ready by 12:30! Phew! And the most joyful wedding it was too – not to mention that our Strictly Superfans were delighted to be able to try their dance moves on the famous Tower Ballroom floor, with their favourite Rotherham “aunties”.
We then spent time in our teasured Yorkshire spots, including the village I grew up in, which my parents have moved back to. Whilst we miss their amazing uninterrupted countryside view the amenities of the village are so much better. And we got to have fun shopping for essentials for their new home, as well as helping them install them. We had a couple of weekends with Tommy’s family too, including the fun of babysitting the 2 youngest members, which involved a lot of trampoline time!!
And then back to UAE we went. It’s hard for us to get family time together when visiting family or with other pressures on our time so for the Eid holiday we headed off down to the mountains of Oman and managed a 9 day break with hiking and pool time, and a fabulous set of zip lines and an adventure zone, as well as the goat and fish markets and all the nitty gritty things that Indy and I love getting in to! A zoom down to Abu Dhabi for work for me, and friends for the girls was another little break, but I admit it’s always a little weird to visit the place that was home for so long.
The constant “home jumping” can be hugely unsettling and the weird thing is that Tommy’s home looks like our home as he has most of our furniture, art, possessions and the kids childhood treasures, but it’s not home and never will be – it’s a feeling of displacement that’s hard to explain. It feels like every time we get on a plane (and we try reeeeeeeeally hard not to take them whenever possible) we leave a piece of us somewhere. Possessions scattered, and temporary homes in multiple places means often we’re never quite 100% somewhere, no matter how much we immerse ourselves in the present to be content in the moment.
But immerse ourselves in the here and now we do, by grabbing opportunities wherever we can. After a rocky return to school, thanks to a shock covid positive test on the first day which extended the girls time at home, we got settled back in, both in Delhi and into a routine of exploring, on our doorstep and further afield. I joined 7 Cities as a mentor – a programme I wholeheartedly recommend for newcomers to Delhi, having met the most adorable set of friends through it myself when I undertook the programme. And we had trips to Orchha and Pushkar which were a delight, plus a week long jaunt to the mountains of Uttarakhand for some hikes and fresh air over Diwali – simply wonderful.
In the midst of this I continued to create, and to work for beautiful clients, and nurture and guide beautiful souls to find themselves on their photography journey. Photo walks and talks have become part of my days and seeing photography spark joy in others will never get old. I managed to write and teach another class, “Creativity on the Fly”. A topic close to my heart, it embraces slowing down, noticing the everyday and absorbing that into our creative flow so that it slowly infuses into our photography. I believe in the power of curiosity in leading my vision, and the class builds on those intuitive concepts I shared previously in “Photography on the Fly”. I was overwhelmed by the response and number of incredible students who immersed themselves in it, and it remains available to study at your own pace if it’s a creative concept that resonates with you.
The winter holidays brought a trip to the UK for our first Christmas there since 2017. We had a whistlestop university tour so the girls, who’ve never lived in the UK (except for a while during covid) could get to grips with the geography and feel of different areas. There was tree decorating, baking with Nainai, and a return to our beloved panto tradition, hugs and love with cousins, an 80th birthday celebration and long countryside walks. And it was beautiful but exhausting. New year saw a flying visit to Abu Dhabi, where sitting around a living room table with wine and old friends felt refreshingly familiar and the perfect low key start to the new year.
So how to sum up 2022? It felt like the return to “normality” meant it went by far too fast. In short…. Both girls got braces. We did lots more lockdown “Just Dance”. We played flower Holi! We did more jigsaws, and sampled even more delightful street foods from Old Delhi. We continued to have doughnuts every time Tommy left – a tradition now set in stone. And comforting rajma masala every time we arrive back. We explored with the slow luxury of the trains. We hiked Pen Y Ghent again, just for fun. We celebrated Ganesh Chaturthi, Durga Puja, Dussehra, Chathh puja and many others and tried to remember what each festival signified, and probably failed many times over! We tried to speak a little Hindi, and mostly fail at that too – but it’s the trying that counts, right? Indy is an expert at making a big pot of chai every Saturday morning. Saffy is the editor of the school magazine. I presented at a huge international conference again, and told the stories of motherhood on stage, more than once. Indy’s photos were exhibited in Sharjah, and Bath and London, and my work was shown at the Belfast Photo Festival. Both of us won awards and were published more than once. Saffy won a poetry contest with a poignant piece highlighting the daily harassment teen girls can face. We randomly met fabulous Emirati star Khalid Al Ameri by the Jama Masjid one day. Tommy hiked mountains and jumped off cliffs. And suffered the effects of climate change when flooding turned his 7km commute into a 7 hour ordeal. There have been dance practices and choir for the girls, and yoga for me. Plus new friends, and old ones visiting. And books and singing and more dancing again – always dancing, always dancing……
I feel like the low key start to 2023 I mentioned is a sign. A sign to slow down. I hate busy, always have, and the last few years have been a whole huge pile of a lot of layers of stuff for our family – emotions, situations, environments, illness, adaptations… the list goes on – there’s been so much good that we’ve learnt about ourselves but I could have done without some of the seriously shitty times. Whatever this year brings, I’m here for it – but with plenty of slow time to soak it up too, please 😉
Happy 2023, and much love for slow days for you too, Kirsty xx
PS I’m delighted to share that one of the images I chose this year will be part of the upcoming “Eye Mama Project” Book – available HERE or at your usual book suppliers
PPS More Wish You Were Here annual summaries HERE
PPSS (is that a thing?) I’ve had to backdate this post because despite me writing it back in January, life did get too busy and it took me until March to actually hit publish on it! Ugh! NOW it has to slow down right 😉