BLOG

Category
  • Losing my dad.

    I want to start off by saying my father was absolutely the most adorable person to have been placed on this earth.

    Everyone saw and felt the pure kindness that he was. The joy and passion he felt to share his stories and his experiences of all the things he went through from surviving the earthquake of his home town in Sicily, to how London was when he first got here to Italian history. He was so proud to be italian and knew all the stories about his countrys history and how he could remember dates so easily was insane. My papa just was the best story teller.

    I have left this so long to post because the night my dad died I most definitely lost apart of myself deep inside. The hurt you feel when you lose someone THAT dear is so deep it’s indescribable. No matter how prepared you think you are, your not. No words could ever explain how deep it runs and for me to only truly understand is to feel it… to experience it… and that is something I wouldn’t want anyone else to feel.
    To write this means I am announcing it out loud…. which means that it really did happen….. which means he really is gone and how do I learn to let him go? To accept that my life from this point on he will no longer be in it to advise me, guide me or to share big moments in the future.
    My dad was so modest he really understood what it meant to appreciate the smaller things in life and how those smaller things were actually the important things in life. He hated people fussing over him but I believe that everyone should know the amazing person that was known as Vincenzo Secolonovo. The most amazing person in my life and I am so lucky to say I had him as my father for 32 years to guide me and advise me to be the person I am today.

    My dad taught me so many lessons in life… or at least tried.
    He taught me to be kind. If you are going to do something, anything you do it with your heart and to expect nothing in return.
    He taught me to be self-sufficient where I should not rely on anyone but myself and to be independent. To be strong and to have courage and to work hard for what I want.
    To listen to others better, to have more patience and learn to control my emotions and my temper. My dad had so much patience with me he always found a way to stay calm especially when I was upset. He never got mad or shouted at me.
    He tried to teach me to try and see the difference between good people and people who do not have my best interests at heart and to be cautious.
    Sometimes I get this wrong and my dad would say I need to be more careful and not give so much.
    You know my dad just got me, he understood me without me having to say so many words…. He knew I didn’t always want to talk.

    Growing up you didn’t want to upset my dad. When we went out and the minute me and my brother misbehaved all it took was ‘that look’ and we knew to zip it.
    Or even better when my mum would say ‘Im going to tell you dad’. That was what you said to get us scared!! LOL
    Or on a funnier note the true italian that he was I remember him telling me. "France, dont call me dad or daddy. I want you to call me Papa!".

    My dad never complained, he would wake up at any hour of the day or night to pick me up or drop me off no questions asked. He was kind, compassionate, charismatic, honest and believed in family above all not to mention he had such a strong faith in GOD.
    I would remember one of my earliest memories when I was younger Id be afraid to sleep in the dark so he would sit by my bed and I would hold his index finger because his hands were enormous with my entire hand just for one finger! He would pray by my side and would stay there until I fell asleep.

    I still wake up every morning listening from the loft if I will hear him downstairs pottering about. Or if he will call me ‘France come downstairs’… unfortunately it is still silent… and I am starting to accept it always will be.
    I started rummaging and searching for every picture that I have of him and as a photographer I thought I wish I had taken more pictures of him… or more videos. The thought that with time will I forget the sound of his voice or the little features that make him, him.
    As terrible as it is sometimes I think there has to be something out there working for us. The Monday before he died I was due to work however I woke up with the feeling of absolute sadness in my heart and the feeling of being poorly that I called sick. I think was there something out there in the universe pushing and influencing to make me feel like that knowing that my dad was going to leave this world the following night. That Monday was the last day I got to spend with him.
    Stranger still at 2:25am I woke up suddenly. I laid in bed thinking mmm something doesn’t feel right and I wanted to call my dad but due to the time I didn’t want to wake him as I was sure he was asleep. Anyway, I fell and asleep and 15mins later I got the call being told my dad died. I know in my heart that it was my dad who woke me up a 2:25am as a way of saying goodbye because I KNOW that there is no way my dad would ever have left this world without saying goodbye to me.
    He wasn’t ready to leave me, my mum or my brother. He wanted to live. But this is the problem with us humans we think we have more time but we dont. We are all victims to this way of thinking.

    Just like that….
    That one phone call changes your life, flips your world upside down..
    Was like someone switched off the light switch and my world went dark instantly. Someone disconnected my inner wiring and my body went numb and all sounds just totally faded out until I heard…… nothing.
    I didn’t feel a thing nor did I shed a tear. I fell head first into the darkness numb and emotionless.
    How do you get over loosing someone who was such a big influence in your life. The person who has been there since the first moment you took a breath??.. I feel robbed and I never thought I would loose my dad so early in my life.
    Loosing someone so close to you changes you. You don’t come out the other end the same. Things that scared me don’t seem to scare me anymore. To be scared now seems so pointless.
    Anyone who has lost someone to cancer you know that it isn’t pretty and it’s a pretty lonely experience. Watching someone decline in health I learnt to be more patient, compassionate and needed to show more love than ever. Not to mention to dig REALLY deep and find strength from somewhere, anywhere. This is something I know I will need to continue to do and he made me a better person from a really dark and horrible experience I just hope that I did enough.


     
    Being so open about this on social media isn’t everyone cup of tea. However I believe that there is no shame in showing your vulnerability or your emotions. At the same time I am also great at putting a smile on my face and as I may seem like an open book only very few really know what’s behind that smile of mine.
    Emotions and vulnerability is what makes us human and the human race to me there is no me or you there is only us. We will all go through the same experiences and I believe its important to show to others you are not alone. To all other people loosing someone or has lost someone you are not alone and believe me many times I feel like I am but I know I am not. Take your time. Feel what you feel. Its fine to not have your shit together and the people who love you will know that and give you space, love and encouragement. The people that don’t wont and that is absolutely fine too and sometimes you need to decide to cut the cord. It’s a time to have positive people who love, appreciate and honour you.
    I find as time passes the harder is seems to get. I have waves of emotions and I cry at any moment with no warning. When this happens I imagine my dad every time saying to me ‘DON’T CRY, please daughter I don’t want to see you cry’. But, my dad truly deserves every tear shed and I miss him dearly.
    I’m a deep person and I don’t know how to have meaningless conversations or write blasay blog posts. I only know how to write what I feel no matter how deep that is and the people who connect with what I say and get it are my type of people.

    I am proud to say I am my father’s daughter and I can only hope that I can be half the person my papa was and everyday that I think of you I think how much I really miss you.

     

  • Tapas and Flamenco in Seville

    WOW, it has been a very long time since I have blogged a holiday.

    Seville was a place that unexpectedly blew me away. From the food that was amazing to the history and architecture. I hired an apartment from Airbnb which was the most adorble place ever! Oh did i mention that i visited in June where temperatures were 40 degrees! I have never felt that kind of heat before and I can tell you that 40 degrees is HOT! lol

    I walked absolutely everywhere and everything was just stunning however the things that come to mind that literally blew me away was The Alcazar which was STUNNING and Plaza de Espagna! I remember just walking around the corner and BAM getting the full view of it was just mind blowing! I have not enough good things to say about Seville. It was literally so beautiful that it is hands down the most beautiful place i have been to in Europe.

    Icecream, Tapas, flamenco... had to do it all! Not to forget a day spent in Cordoba.

    Being in Seville i must say i wasnt exactly the luckiest of people! The heat rash and nose bleeds were to be expected in 40 degree heat but AS always something was bound to happen to me. Story number 1.... While i was walking down an alley a pigeon literally pooed and thankfully missed me but due to the epic force that it must have pushed it out it hit the floor at super fast speeds and bounced off the floor and splattered all over MY FOOT AND LEG!!!!! Of course no tissues could be found and was forced to rip a section of the map to swipe it off! argh... how i can laugh at it now! haha

    Story number 2... one night was we went to get ice cream there was one place that was really good. So off i go checking that its dairy free. I get the all clear so i begin to dig in. 5 mins after i have eaten it i start to feel my lips tingle! So... i start to say.. mm i think my lips are tingling!! mm Sure they are. Within seconds i get out my mirror and my lips have swollen twice the size! I swear to god they looked like i had fillers gone wrong!! Well i must at the time it was hilarious! But as i told my nurse friend later she said i was insane that i didnt go to the hospital to get it seen too! Unfortunately my voluptuous lip were not made to last and by then next day they were back to normal!!!

    Everywhere that we had eaten was so good. But i was waiting for that one place to just blow me away. THEN on the second to last day that moment happened! The place is called La Brunilda. If you are in Seville you MUST go to this place. It does get super busy so get there early or be prepared to wait! But trust me, its worth it. 

                                                                                              

  • 2016- a year in pictures

    WOW, here we are. My review of 2016 in pictures. I wanted to do this last year however I did not manage to make the time! My bad, so this year I am making sure I get it done.
    I think it is fair to say 2016 has been pretty rough for many and for me its been pretty emotional. I feel like I have done 10 rounds with Tyson but I find and remind myself that I have the strength to pick myself up and you dont realise your strength until you hit rock bottom.
    Firstly I would like to thank all my brides and grooms this year.. especially for all your patience! Nicole and Laura, Sepera and Joe, Karen and Paul, Chantal and Tom and Laura and Chris. You have all been my highlights of 2016. I am forever thankful that I met you guys as you were all fantastic. I am also very grateful that you allowed me to shoot your big day. I do not take this lightly and I feel very honoured and privledged.
     
    For as difficult as 2016 was I am also seriously thankful. As I look back at my pictures I am reminded that I had a lot of high points and it makes me feel very nostalgic.
     
    I met some amazing people, I was reminded how fucking awesome my friends are and how fortunate enough I was to travel and see soooo many beautiful places. With 2016 coming to an end... what can I say?!.... Learn from our experiences from 2016... let all the negativity go.. its time to make a fresh start. Push and keep pushing towards your dreams or whatever it is that your heart desires. We have the capability to make 2017 the greatest year yet and that is exactly what I intend on doing.

     

     

  • La Bella Vita Tuscany

    It was a dream come true that i finally got to shoot a wedding in Siena Tuscany!

    Obviously i added a few extra days to really make the most of my time there and i stayed at Borgo Sicelle which is located in Castellina in Chianti. Franco who runs the place with his family was super nice and really helpful! Man has patience especially with all my emails and questions. Oh and i have to mention right outside our door step was a beautiful restaurant called Uscio E Bottega Sicelle. They dont have a menu as everything is fresh so they tell you what they have for the day and at night they switch on the fairy lights whichmakes it look so magical....I WILL be back! I still dream about that meat. Oh and for all you gluten free dairy free eaters. It was great to see how much they had to offer in the supermarket.

    Considering how nervous i was to drive i was pleasantly surprized by how the drive in tuscany was soo nice and relaxing. Again i shouldnt even need to say it but the FOOD!... OH THE FOOD .... was amazing and for all you meat eaters out there there is no beating that tuscan meat! Wild Boar Ragu??... Oh my lord!

    The landscapes in tuscany are unbeatable and is seriously criminal to not take a few minutes to just stop, reflect and take that view in! It was really hard to not imagine living out in the beautiful countryside with my two dogs running a quaint little B&B... no i have not thought about it ... that much lol

    My only regret was time, and that lack of it. I feel like i barely skimmed the surface and i will for sure go back with alot more time to spare. The next time i will go and visit the natural springs which was my number one thing to do but i didnt realise it was like a 4 hour drive away... and thats what google says, so i'd say add another two for me.

    Oh, 3 months later i got a little surprize through the post. A nice juicey speeding ticket.... apparently i have a heavy foot when i drive. LMAO.

                            

                                        

  • The Red City of Marrakesh

    For the last 4 years or so i have wanted to go to Marrakesh, The Red City so badly but for one reason or another it just never seemed to manifest into reality.

    When it worked out that mine and my friend Sonja's days off crossed over at the same time it just seemed too good of a chance to miss and not take this chance to go away together. So, off i went on Expedia and found a bargin of a deal, £250 for flights AND accomodation for 3 nights at a really beautiful Riad Palais Calipau. I was finally going to Marrakech so i had to make sure that we got to see absolutely everything so it was my goal to try and maximise our time while we were there.

    So the plan was as we arrived on Friday early morning we would spend 2 full days in Marrakesh and one outside of the city with a private driver and organised tour on the last day. We saw all the usual sites Jemaa El-Fnaa, Majorelle Garden, Koutoubia Mosque, El Badi Palce and Saadian Tombs. I think that about covers the sites and i must add that we WALKED everywhere! There were times when i thought that my feet might bleed. I even had blisters on the first night on the HEEL of my foot! Like what the hell i never had them there before!

    On arrival it was like being on a different planet in a different year. We were given advice to not carry our backpacks, not to talk to anyone unless we really had too. I have to say it made me all abit to paranoid. I found it hard to walk away from people when they would talk to me. It is not really in my nature to walk away from someone who is talking to me or not answer someone back. I really did feel abit rude.

    I found that most people were very helpful and only trying to be kind. When i look back there were people telling us to walk on the right side of the street as we were walking against the traffic and we might find it easier. People were very kind to stop and help point us in the right direction. I did however try to keep my head covered as it did make a difference. People (men) did not hassle us as much.

    My favourite topic as anyone who knows me is FOOD! Marrakesh has some pretty bad ass food and everything i ate was out of this world delicious. Looking for a restaurnt i would mostly definately recommend Al Fassia. I know me and Sonja will forever dream of their home made morrocan biscuits. Oh have mercy! So after all the walking in two days we decided that we would have a traditional Hammam which was a must do on my list.

    For our Hammam we went to Hammam de la Rose. I have never had a Hammam before and neither of us had any idea of what to expect. So to start with as soon as we open our lockers we are greated by the most ugliest disposable knickers. I was not entirely sure what exactly it was meant to cover.

    So as soon as we get undressed and put on our flattering knickers we both get taken up to the Hammam and at the entrance we are instructed to 'Now take of your robes'.

    I know i booked for two Hammams but i didnt expect us to do it together. So off we go practically naked sitting next to eachother while this lovely lady is scrubbing down my breasts and all and then moving over to Sonja. The awkward british people that we are we filled the room with nervous laughter and we made a pact to only keep our eyes UP to eye level ONLY! We totally bonded on a whole new level. lol

    My skin and hair felt soo soft it was the perfect way to end the day.

    I was totally looking forward to our day trip outside of Marrakesh and i booked with Desert Majesty for a private tour to the High Atlas, Telouet and Ait Ben Haddou. I was pleasantly surprised by the landscape in Morroco and had we not of known where we were it easily could have been in Colorado, USA. It made a great change of not walking miles each day and i really enjoyed watching out the window as it was such a scenic drive and i got to take so many pictures it was heaven.

    Anyone looking to go to Marrakesh... GO .... DO IT!... Its an experience you will never forget. 

                                                                                                  

  • A little peek into Monte Carlo

    Monte Carlo was soo pretty but I must say it has to be the most expensive place I have been so far. The pebbled beach was not a highlight as my feet are way too soft for them. It literally feels like each pebble is spearing through the soles of my feet. I have to say that unless there is sand i never really consider it a real beach lol. But i must say the water was prestine with the smell of freshed printed money in the air. You can tell that this is the place where the rich come to play and to be honest I am glad it was only a weekend because the money literally flew out of my wallet.

    We came into Monte Carlo from Turin by train. It was a total eye opener to see how many people were trying to smuggle in over the border from Italy to France. Totally crazy and what a way to live.

    Lucky for us we was visiting our friend Federico and he was so nice for letting us stay with him for the weekend. He had such a lovely place with a stunning view of the sea. Life could not be better.

    As our little treat to end our awesome weekend we went jet sking which was the most exhilarating thing I have ever done. I felt so alive it was amazing. 

                                        

  • A little peak into Sicily 2015

    I sit here on a Saturday afternoon feeling slightly nostalgic.
    I sit here thinking about the amazing holidays I have had so far, the wonderful people I have met and friendships I have continued to nurture and love.
     
    People I love and wish were not so far away….
    Time… wishing there was more of it to do, see and create things that I feel my soul needs to full fill.
    Sleep…. Is it really that necessary? I feel I need to find a way to function to my full ability on only 1 hours’ worth of sleep. Or maybe sleep a full 24 hours and then that would last me a full 7 days of work, creating….. living.
     
    That time of the year has come where I think about what an amazing summer I have had and wish it could be like this 365 days of the year. That entire year I have waited for this one season and now it is almost over. I make a conscience note to put as much effort into autumn and winter as I do in the summer.
     
    All the life experiences, moments and memories we have created together. I want to remember it all. I don’t want to forget a single thing. I want to store it all in a special sack I keep in my wardrobe where only the absolutely best moments get kept, that way they will never ever be forgotten and I could rummage in my sake for memories I’d love to re live and see and hug certain special people whenever I wanted.
     
    From seeing old friends, making new friendships, overcoming my fears and arguing/ disagreeing with a dear friend yet all I want to do is relive it all over again!
     
    Summer starts with my dear friends Francesca and Cristian getting hitched at the end of July. The afternoon was an absolute sweat fest with it being over 30 degrees in the church. Just looking at all the guys in their suits made me seem to sweat 10 times more and fanning myself with warm air with a hand fan didn’t help, but seemed like warm air was better than none at all.
     
    Most of my friends know that I suffer from Vertigo and one scorching afternoon the group decided to go visit Scala dei turchi which is well known for its white cliff. Our new friends (Frank and Briana) were visiting from the states and Briana had never seen it. All I can say is Briana got the extreme cliff experience. Not only did she see it we all got to climb it.
     
    10 mins into the walk down I realise holly crap this doesn’t look good, is it too late to go back?
    Foot paths with only enough room for one, slippy, no grip, no support and absolutely nothing to hold on to. In between the moments when I wasn’t crying I really did consider for my sake and everyone else’s  that its better I just throw myself off the cliff as I was that scared! One guy who was going the opposite direction to us even said ‘Hey guys it gets worst that way’ … ‘WHAT!... what you mean worst?... seriously guys.. ‘It was great knowing you all!’.
    Luca and Cristian even walked with me holding my sweating hands because there were moments when I couldn’t go on and thought I am sitting here until you get me a helicopter to get me OFF THIS GOD DAM CLIFF!.
     
    Thank god for sunglasses because I was crying like a baby! Moments I thought ‘HELL NO’ you want me to leap over that gap in the path with only the sea below?. Traumatised? That was one way of putting it.
    It’s funny and I can giggle about it now to myself. But had you laughed back then, I swear I would have punched you square in the face or one better… pushed you over the cliff. Lol…. While I was dealing with all of this I didn’t realise my friend Francesca ALSO suffered from Vertigo. The point that I realised this was when I was already on a safe path on the cliff and looking back all I see is Francesca sitting down clearly not able to make the leap of death!
     
    Ferragosto we FINALLY after years of trying to organise this 11 of us rented 2 boats to sail away along the coast of Castlemare del Golfo!
    Not only do I suffer from Vertigo I had a fear of swimming in deep water. The thing is that I actually know how to swim…. And float…. So your thinking what’s the problem right? I don’t know just knowing I cant touch the floor when I get tired freaks me out!
     
    So here it goes.. I threw out the floating doughnut and ta da… I couldn’t believe how easy it was to float and swim in deep water. It was amazing…. You couldn’t get me out of the water.. I felt like Nemo for the first time in the big ocean. Come and find me people because there is a whole other world down here.
     
    I have promised myself once a year we got to rent a boat and I need to be more prepared. The things I need for next time are:
     

    • Fins
    • Underwater camera
    • Mask to see underwater


    Thank god a few of the guys were better prepared and I had the opportunity to look under water. All I can say was that it was amazing… seeing all the fish was beautiful!!!
    Nothing this good could go without one form of drama happening. Apart from the first stop our anchor getting stuck under a rock but on our final stop we all jumped off to explore, but when we went to swim back to our boat had somehow managed to move 1000 miles away. Thinking about it now it was so funny how your giving it your all but it’s absolutely useless as the current keeps you in the exact same spot!
    Was anyone on the boat? Yes, Luca… but he was fast asleep and none the wiser that we was sailing away into the sunset. LOL

    Luckily Frank was on the second boat and drove closer to us and picked us up and saved the day…. Oh summer I do miss you.

                                                                

  • Competition Winners: Mandi & Ben Engagement Shoot

    Its been a while since my last post but here are my competition winners for 2015.

    I went down to Bournemouth to meet them and spend a few hours for their engagement shoot. We had a really good time and i can not wait for the wedding to go up!

    When i say these two have known each other a lifetime, I mean it! They have known each other since they were 7 and been ‘boyfriend’ and ‘girlfriend’ since they were 15 years old and they are only 28 years YOUNG!

    That’s crazy yet absolutely amazing how these two have already been together for half of their life!

    These two had a bad experience from another photographer leaving them both in a very tricky situation. But never mind things happen for a reason and I am so glad to announce them as my well deserved winners. Here are a few pictures from their engagement shoot soon to be followed by their wedding pictures!

          

  • Sicilian Landscapes

    Living in London i find it a must to get away even for a few days just to escape the hustle and bustle and gain abit of mental clarity.

    This would be the very first time i would have visited my island in the spring and beautiful it certainly was. Weather wise....Grey and cloudy. So not exactly the spring sunshine i was hoping for but a sense of quiet and calmness of the island is beautiful. Quiet streets which made driving enjoyable even for a fear of driving freak like me. Taking in the beauty of all the lush greeness surrounding me i had to remind myself to keep my eyes on the road!! lol

    Wild flowers and the never ending green fields which made a difference to all the dry dead fields i am used to seeing in the summer. I have added a few pictures taken in Palermo which was nice but i think i could have done with a better guide. LOL ;)

    What i loved most during this trip was visiting the ruins of Poggioreale. Poggioreale is one of the ghost towns in the Belice Valley which was totally destroyed by the 1968 earthquake. The current town was re built a few kilometres below which leaves the ruin completely isolated which makes it one of a kind, especially the view driving up. 

    So, me and one of my closet friends take the drive up and unfortunately when we arrive the gate to the ruins were locked. So what did we do? We turned around and went home..... mmmm YEA RIGHT. I was definitely not going to let a closed gate stop me, so the adventure begun by jumping the fence.

    From the minute my feet hit the ground i felt like i had jumped back into time. A time where this was a place where people lived. People walked this path that i was walking and could not believe how in a single moment peoples lives as they knew it literally crumbled to the ground. The atmosphere was eerie but there was a strange sense of peace like we were the sole survivers of an apocalypse.

    Certain paths were blocked by fallen walls and bricks and others by over grown shrubs and bushes. Considering health and safety im sure it was not the safest thing i have ever done especially with all the scafolding surrounding us just to keep certain buildings stable. Id be lying if i didnt think every now and then that at any moment anyone of these walls could fall by my feet but all i could think about was... wouldnt this make an awesome picture!

          Here is a picture of what the view above looked like back in the early days... i think this is amazing.

                

  • Sicilian Adventures 2014

    As those who know me Sicily is my must go to destination. Every year without fail i go to Sicily to spend time with my family and my friends. I visited a few new places but what took my breath away was the little town of Erice. 

    Perched on a hill at 750m above sea level overlooking the town of Trapani is where the historic town of Erice can be found!

    Parking is a massive pain and let me tell you make sure you bring SOMETHING WARM! Obviously with it being so high up shorts and a t shirt just wont cut it! Learn from my mistake :D

    I also visited for the first time the beach at Selinunte where me and my friend found some raw clay.. Of course we smothered ourselves with it and i can tell you i never felt my skin feel so soft! 

    Enjoy.