Wednesday, 21 July 2010

The Gallery - Always Winter but never Christmas

For this week's Gallery, Tara has set us a novel idea.  That's it.  A picture inspired by a novel.

And I've found this, I think, the hardest one of all. Which is odd for a girl who takes a lot of photos and reads more books.  I just didn't know where to start.  Do you start with the book, and take or find a photo that represents it? But if so, which book of the thousands I've read, and hundreds I've loved?  Or do you start with a photo and move from that to the book?  But if so, which photo, because they are all, for me, so redolent of the time or place on which they were taken, that it is hard to associate them with anything else.

So I did both, I browsed my pictures and I dredged my memory, and I thought about the books that had stayed with me.  And I found this...

It's not the greatest picture in the world.  It was taken, not by me, clearly, from our roof in February 2008, when London shut down.  The transport, the hubbub, even the birds, silenced under the thickest blanket of snow we'd seen for decades.

And it felt, and still feels, like Narnia.  A world locked in silence and ice.  Where it is always Winter but never Christmas. Words which still give me goosebumps, some twenty five years after they were first read to me.

Because I loved those books, whatever others may think of the dodgy allegory. Every one was a world of excitement: of horses chased by terrifying beasts, of water clear as glass and inhabited by wondrous creatures, of animals that spoke, of lamp-posts that grew, of grown ups who understood.   Of turkish delight (whatever that was), sleeping heros, sea monsters, snakes, witches and knights.  Of evil, good and everything in between.

And when I walked out into that snowy day, with L holding my hand,  and when I look at that picture now, I know how Lucy felt, when she pushed through that wardrobe, past the cold silk of the fur coats, into the purer cold of the frozen world beyond. Because snow is magical, still, even at 33.

And I hope that my girls will feel that same excitement, that same transporting sense of wonder and enchantment, when I open those books with them and take them into that world.  And when they do, that really will be magic.


  1. Beautiful picture just right for a fabulous book that shouldn't be connected with anything else other than imagination! Lovely!

  2. Nice photo. I like the way it's been taken from above, it makes it all the more interesting. Good interpretation of the theme.

  3. I love the book too, still remember that February when we had so much snow mu hubby couln't get to work and Isabelle was tiny and played in it for ours ;)))

  4. I loved this. Beautiful picture, beautiful words. Those books, even despite the Christian allegory, have stayed with me and always will. It was brilliant seeing my son read them and love them for the first time.

  5. Oh great idea and great photo....when I think of the books as a child it draws me back in to this complete new world although I hated reading them to my son for some strange reason.He liked them though :0S

  6. I have to say, where I live it's like that all the time... ;-)

    Hard to imagine in the throes of winter that we could get weather like we are currently, isn't it? Snowy scenes always make me think of Narnia too and also, the other side of the coin, His Dark Materials.

  7. Such a great photo - though I now have visions of you doing a Santa impression and balancing on the roof?!?

    I love snow :)

  8. Ah lovely! You know, i can't remember this snow AT ALL!! And yet I was definintely living in London. I can only remember what felt like constant snow earlier this year, and snow in January 2009 when we'd just moved to Suffolk.

    But February 2008 is a total blank for me. I was in the depths of 2 under 2 then though...;-)

  9. I can't wait to start reading the Narnia books with my boys. They will love them and I can't wait to read them again with grown up eyes and understanding.

    Lovely picture, very evocative!

  10. My daughter (age 10) is re-reading the Narnia set with her eyes a-sparkle! I loved them, my eldest two loved them, she loves them and I can't wait to read them to Bonus Boy! We had a similar Narnia moment last winter and, you're right, it was pure magic. That silence...perfect!

  11. snow is magical, and I love that it makes you think of narnia. for me it's giant old fashioned wardrobes...

  12. ahhhh i remember that day so well

    my other half and i were up early to go to the gym - it was still dark and we were stood at the bus stop marvelling at how quiet it was

    suddently someone on ski's (!) went past and shouted to us that all transport in london had been cancelled

    so we went back to bed, lazed around for a few hours then walked to the pub to meet all our friends! the atmosphere in that pub was fantastic!

    great post - thanks for bringing back happy memories =)

  13. I loved the Narnia books too, this photo is great for them:) Jen

  14. Even as an adult I still love the world of Narnia - I re-read the books last year and can happily sit through the entire BBC series'.

  15. Wonderful post - and a fantastic book choice. I can't wait to share Narnia with Chipmunk

  16. Great shot. I love how snow transforms a landscape.

  17. Beautiful photo - I loved Narnia as well. Sometimes cant wait for the children to get a bit older so I can share my favourite books with them!

  18. Classic!!!!! :)
    your garden had more snow than mine... not fait!!! :(

  19. I love The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe too. And that snowy day in London when everything stopped, was completely magical. A silent city, save for children playing.

  20. Oh, brilliant shot. Perfect. And very Narnia.

  21. Love the picture, I love snow!

  22. Eek! Two weeks later and I appear to have totally failed to thank you all for lovely comments. I am so sorry!

    jfb - imagination, snow, wardrobes, it's all of them and more isn't it? Thank you!

    Greysqrl - thank you!

    Mirka - it was great wasn't it?! (although sadly B works from home, so didn't get the day off!)

    Deer Baby - That's exactly what I'm hoping for!

    Nova - you hated reading them as an adult? eek! I hope I don't feel like that, will be such a disappointment.

    BlogupNorth - I know! Am slightly freaking out about the Scottish winters to come!

    DawnieBrown - don't worry, it was a flat roof!

    Spudballoo - I suspect, if I hadn't got the picture to prove it, I'd have forgotten it too (we had three under 2 here at the time and I can't remember much about that six month period at all!)

    Pants with names - me too!

    Christine - Lucky her! I can't wait to read them to my three.

    Livi - isn't it just?!

    Tiddlyompompom - it's wardrobes too, and pushing through coats - we've got a long thin downstairs loo here, and B suggested we should use it as a hanging place for coats too, but you'd have had to push through them to get to the loo (it's that thin) and I thought it would be a disappointment every time you came out and there was just a toilet, and no magical world...)

    Kerry - It was fab wasn't it? A&S were about eight weeks old, so we didn't go very far, but it was still a magical day (although that's when you realise the downside of having a husband who works from home!)

    Jen - thank you!

    Vic - Me too - although I still find the Lucy they had irritating....

    Bubbleboo - thank you!

    Cathy - it's amazing isn't it? Even my garden looked good!

    Northside Mum - I know! I've got them all on the shelf waiting and ready...

    Urbanvox - we had LOADS! (am slightly concerned now what it'll be like when the same thing happens and I'm living in Scotland...!)

    Victoria - it so was, wasn't it?!

    Rosie Scribble - thank you! Glad it's not just me that thinks so!

    Mrsshilts - me too!


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