Lavender has a special place in my heart. It means a great deal to me, bringing back happy memories of summers in my Grandma's garden. It featured in a big way when I got married in 2008. Instead of flowers, I decided to fill the church with lavender from Grandma's garden. I carefully tied bunches to the end of all the pews, and if I do say so myself, it looked and smelled amazing.
Every year since my girls were born we visit Mayfield Lavender farm. It's a spectacular place, and getting ever-more popular. Every year there seems to be a few more picnic tables next to the shop where you can sample the lavender lemonade, biscuits and other delights. Every year, there seems to be a few more cars arriving in the car park. It's all good for the farm, as this hidden gem seems to no longer be hidden!
As a professional photographer I am always behind the lens, rarely in front of it. That's one reason why I try and get professional photos done of our family every year or so. However, we also make the annual trip to the lavender farm, not just so I can take photos of our family, but also so I can briefly hand over my (very precious) camera to my husband.
It means we get a few pictures of me with my girls in a stunning location. I make sure the settings are all perfect on my camera, and hand it over for a brief moment. He does a very good job, too (thanks, husband!). I am then itching to take it back, and get some photos of my girls and my lovely husband, and of course the beautiful farm.
This summer I am feeling a tad sentimental as it's the last one before the girls embark on their next adventure in life. The calendar is flipping past way too quickly and September is fast approaching. Starting school. Such a big milestone. So, it seems having these family moments are even more precious this year.
This year we made our annual trip a little later than normal - I have been so busy with shoots that I haven't had time to go until now. We normally tend to go towards the end of July, when the lavender is in full bloom. This year we went on 15th August. It was really interesting to see how the lavender looks when it has been harvested, and the difference a few weeks makes.
Every year we also have a photo of myself and my husband carrying our girls. It was lovely for the first few years - fellow twin parents will know how strong your arms need to be. However, I have an inkling this will be the last year we can do this. Our pair of four-and-a-half-year-olds weigh six-stone combined (nearly 40 kilos), and it was a struggle to say the least!
With the family snaps done we went on a bug hunt. "Who can see the most bugs?", "What bugs can you find?" Once the bugs were located, I got out my macro lens. I really enjoy playing with this lens, you can see the tiny little hairs on the Honey Bee as he takes-in the lavender nectar. We found Grasshoppers, Ladybirds, Crickets and all sorts of insects I couldn't name (as a general rule, I try to steer well-clear of anything with more than four legs, but made an exception at the farm!).
I think it's an unwritten rule that the child of a photographer must always be cheeky and do exactly what's not required when in front of the camera! I always find it far easier to photograph customers' children than my own. So, when cooperation waned and the tongues came out, I guessed it was time for a break. Happily the farm shop was close by and provide respite from the sun. We snacked on lavender biscuits and lavender lemonade. Lovely, just a hint without being overpowering.
After our refreshing break, we went for a final stroll in the lavender, played tickle games, giggled, danced (the girls, thankfully not me!), and then said goodbye to the lavender farm for another year. I have come home with a gorgeous candle, so I can light it in the depths of winter, and still smell the most amazing lavender in the comfort of my own home.
If you have never been, Mayfield Lavender really is worth a visit.
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