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Happy Nowruz!

Today at 4:15pm GMT Iranian all over the world celebrated Nowruz, better known in the Western world as the Spring Equinox. Nowruz, meaning new day is the start of the Persian year and signifies new life and fresh starts.

Celebrations start on the eve of the Wednesday before New Year, better know as Chaharshanbe Suri. Adults and children alike light bonfires and carry on the age-old tradition of jumping over them. With music playing and families singing and dancing, the celebrations go on into the night.

Haft Seen

The Noruz table is a significant part of the ancient celebrations. Called Haft Seen, the table consists of seven items beginning with the letter S, all of which symbolise different aspects of life.

1. Somagh (sumac) : symbolises the color of sunrise
2. Serkeh (vinegar): symbolises age and patience
3. Senjed (dried fruit from lotus tree): symbolises love
4. Samanoo (sweet pudding): symbolises affluence
5. Sabzeh (sprouts): symbolises rebirth
6. Sib (apple): symbolises health and beauty
7. Sir (garlic): symbolises medicine

Haft Seen tables often also include painted eggs and a goldfish!

Little boy peers over a counter behind the Iranian Haft Seen table at New Year
Haft Seen table at my mother-in-law’s home.

 

Haft Seen at the Tower Building Museum, Tabriz
Haft Seen at the Tower Building Museum, Tabriz
Iranian women stands behind her haft seen table for Nowruz
Latifa shows off her Haft Seen table.

 

The exact moment of Nowruz differs every year. This year Iran celebrated at 7:45pm local time. The day would have been spent preparing the delicious traditional dish of dolmeh (grape leaves stuffed with rice and minced meat) which is often left cooking as the new year passes. Last year I had great delight in preparing this traditional dish with my Iranian family in Tabriz.

Two ladies prepare dolmeh for Nowruz
My sister-in-law shows me how to prepare dolmeh the Iranian way.

 

plate of dolmeh cooked for the Iranian New Year, Nowruz
Dolmeh

After Nowruz, days are spent visiting family, eating great food and sharing stories. During my visit to Iran we spent many hours at our relatives houses and each time I was offered a vast array of sweets, nuts, chocolates and fruits. Every household wanted to display the best hospitality and it was a real treat to see how welcoming the Iranian culture really is.

Little boy sits cross-legged waiting for lunch
Elman waits patiently for his Nowruz lunch.
Hannah prepares a bowl of sweets for guests at her home.
Hannah prepares a bowl of sweets for guests at her home.
vibrant selection of treats available for Nowruz
Food offered at my partner’s Nana’s house.

If you ever get the chance to celebrate the Iranian New Year, please, don’t turn it down, you definitely won’t regret it!

I left my heart in Lanzarote.

After a long time waiting I was finally able to settle my travel excitement by hopping on a plane to Lanzarote. It was only a short 4 hour flight however, it felt like an eternity. All I wanted was to see some hot Canary Sun and take in another corner of the world.

This beautiful little island just 78 miles off the coast of Africa makes up part of the wonderful paradise of the canary islands. although windier than some of the other Spanish islands the all-year-round hot weather can draw a lot of attention.

With an abundance of wildlife coming into the shallow waters of Playa Blanca at Puerto del Carmen, there was plenty to do and see. Rocky landscapes, blue waters and sandy beaches were perfect for a bit of holiday photography. From sunrise to sunset and everything in between there was definitely plenty to get my teeth into.

The first few days on the wonderful island were filled with “100 things to do when it’s really windy on holiday”. Number one on the list: lie on the beach while sand blasts against your skin, giving you a free exfoliation. We were on our way to very smooth skin!

Once the wind had died down we booked ourselves onto a catamaran tour of Playa Blanca. I’ve never been on a catamaran before and it turns out when the waves start getting choppy you end up very very wet. They way down to Playa Blanca was fabulous. We had the fresh sea air billowing its way into our lungs, the great canary sun warming our skin and a large plate of Spanish paella to curb our appetite. It was heaven.

Once we anchored down, it took a while to decide whether our snorkels were going to have their fun. The sea was definitely cold.

We finally plucked up the courage to jump in and what a surprise. There were so many fish. It was truly amazing. Sadly, we hadn’t yet invested in an underwater camera so maybe next time I’ll capture some marine life. For now, the photographs are all above sea level.

The last few days were spent wandering around the town, buying tourist-focused gifts and eating ice-cream. We even had a go at the mini golf outside our hotel. Lanzarote provides such a laid-back way of life and Puerto del Carmen was the best place to have our first holiday. I’m so ready to travel again!

atlantic ocean crashing against lanzarote rocks

Playa Grande in Lanzarote looking back at Puerto del Carmen.

Rocky landscape in Lanarote.

Small coastal pathway leading between island villages.

landscape photograph of the Lanzarote coastline

Sunset in Lanzarote looking over the Atlantic.

Sunrise in Lanzarote looking over the Atlantic.

Sunrise in Lanzarote looking over the Atlantic.

Aeroplane wing in the sunset.

 

University of Northampton. It was nice to get to know you!

Thursday 11th June saw the opening of the University of Northampton’s Summer Degree Show. Three years of hard work – over. It was quite emotional getting together with people I met three years ago when I started the HND but also seeing those who I have only had nine months to try and get to know since starting the third year of my journey at Northampton University last year.

 

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The summer show private view had such an incredible vibe to it. Gourmet bbq’d burgers, a protest about tuition fees and free ice-cream. Every students dream. Everyone who was exhibiting just seemed ecstatic that their work was finally out there for public scrutiny. It is our first step into the world of public showings. You probably can’t even begin to understand my excitement when I was approached by a gentlemen who was more than happy to help me to push my documentary series, In Love with a Serviceman to the newspapers. I will update you again on the progress of this!

 

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Kindly tweeted by @uninorthants
 

I have met some great people since embarking on my photography degree and some who I guess I won’t be expecting to see any time soon, but I do believe each individual I have come across has given me something. Wether that be positive or negative, a challenge or a confidence boost. I have definitely preferred the amount of people around during this third year of university. The numbers of students on the HND dropped to around 10 after the two years but having at least 30 on the BA course was a really great experience. There were so many more people to bounce ideas off and there was a much bigger feeling of community rather than everyone grouping off together.

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I have dabbled in fashion, street, editorial, studio, documentary, graphics, still life and each time I gained a little bit more knowledge and understanding of how the photography sector works. I understand that as a photographer you do not need to be affluent at every aspect of photography but in fact should pick a pathway and do your absolute best to achieve your highest potential in that particular sector. This is actually harder than it sounds!