Freedom. Free Time. Freespiral.
Happily retired individuals often ponder how they ever found time to go to work; Amanda seems precisely one of those people. Her downtime (which she describes as including well hunting, walking, reading, swimming and taking a lot of photos) is as energetic as her pre-planned adventures. For the last five years she has been cultivating a rich, varied and involved lifestyle living in the beautiful surroundings of Southwest Ireland – far from where her life began.
Born in Darjeeling, her father worked on a tea plantation until the family moved to England to live along the Essex coast when she was two years old. Incidentally, a fellow Blipper – after a horrendous journey – managed to visit that same plantation and brought her back some tea. Amanda commented that it was, “…a real labour of love and very much appreciated.”
She met her husband in Cambridge, where they both worked at a school, before moving to Warwickshire together to start a family. They had two sons (Crabtree and Joe Clarke on Blip) both also keen photographers. Holidaying in Ireland every year, they knew that one day they’d make it their home and the opportunity finally arose in 2002. “I wanted a mountain, a pub, an open fire and the sea;” so they found a fixer upper and moved in. Amanda continued to work in Ireland, as a special needs teacher, in three rural schools.
Life in Words and Pictures
Amanda has always enjoyed writing, a hobby she has continued extensively into her retirement. She has written history books for children, local history publications and a book celebrating the scenic Sheep’s Head where she now lives. She has her own website (which is currently under heavy reconstruction after a hacking incident), and also keeps a blog.
Two years ago she set herself a project to record the holy wells of County Cork. “There are more than 350, most in very obscure spots, and I have around 50 left to find. This has been fascinating with lots of adventures and learning along the way. I also investigated an International Holy Well month on Blip.”
Beauty Resides in the Obscure
Describing herself as “a bit of a snapper” compared to a large community of photographers that she has been surrounded by in life, it was on a holiday in Scotland, 8yrs ago, when she learned about Blipfoto from a magazine article. Her casual engagement in photography quickly developed into a passionate and time-consuming pursuit. “When I started off I didn’t know what I wanted to photograph and was just agog and excited about having my eyes suddenly wide open – everything was a potential Blip.
Amanda’s enthusiasm for life, photography, and Blip in particular, is wildly addictive and her interests are as eclectic as her free-spirited nature. “I love a nice bit of dereliction and Ireland boasts great potential shots for these – from abandoned tower housesto tiny cabins and old farms. They’re full of beauty and stories, usually left quietly mouldering in a field.”
She’s compelled to the odd and interesting; windows with grotty lace, spider webs and strange artefacts, religious iconography, watery reflections and abstract colour blocks.
Blip is a Family
“There are so many good things about Blipfoto, but the best has to be the other Blippers. I love going around the world on a daily basis, glimpsing other people’s lives through their eyes. You may never meet the people you correspond with daily but they really do feel like friends. It is such a safe and comfortable environment, full of interesting, creative and highly supportive people. We can be ourselves without fear or worry and, as such, it is used by a diverse variety of people in all sorts of different ways. It’s this variety that is its strength.”
Although Blip is an online community there are occasions where fellow Blippers do meet in person. There is always the potential to include a real life meet during a holiday abroad. “I had intrepid Blippers trekking all the way from New Zealand and Australia to visit; recently my youngest son was given a very warm welcome when he and his girlfriend emigrated to New Zealand. I really feel that, wherever you should find yourself, a Blipper’s hospitality would be available.”
“Blip is your journal; upload the images you like that represent what you see. Be bold and experiment! I have found Blip overwhelming in the past, it can be very time consuming. Each major Blip day I have thought, ‘ok that’s it, time to stop,’ but my camera is welded to me and there are too many people I would miss. Now I just enjoy my day, take a few photos and wonder at what delights may emerge.”
Amanda lives with her husband in County Cork, Ireland.
Words by JoeyG (one of Bliposse's crew of writers)
Links chosen by Freespiral