A picture may vividly evoke a moment in time and place, remembered or imagined. Look again and the hints and connections of memory may lead somewhere completely different.

On the surface this picture prompts a simple, recent memory for me, a visit to the Villa Borghese gardens on the last day of a brief holiday in Rome.  My mind’s eye can see the wide vista of roof tops, domes and spires that my camera failed to capture on a hazy day.  If you’ve visited Rome the image may prompt memories for you too, perhaps a similar scene from a different viewpoint.  My picture may reinforce your memory or add another perspective.

If I let my eye rest on the curled wrought iron to the left of the picture, the threads of memory take me back many years and many miles.  This early memory is a composite from a number of visits to the same house, the home of family friends in Letchworth Garden City.  The early houses in this idealistic, planned community were designed in Arts and Crafts style; solid and well built using traditional skills alongside modern innovations.  As a small child, the detail that grabbed my attention was the wrought iron catches of the casement windows, the hand grip formed by an elegant, spiral curl. The soft curl of the hard iron fascinated me, as did the variations between the catches on different windows.  If I’d known it was possible, I might have decided then and there to be a blacksmith when I grew up.




If I let my mind wander, wrought iron gates and rattling catches bring me to a twenty-five year old memory and a very slow walk with my two year old daughter.  Anyone who has spent time with a two year old knows the intense concentration that a small child can focus on the little things of everyday life. Time runs differently for the very young, the very old and the busy people in between. On this walk, the child in question had just discovered gate catches and along the length of our narrow, Victorian street the clanking handle on each and every low front gate was carefully wobbled and tested. It was a sunny day, I wasn’t in a hurry and the neighbours were friendly so it’s a memory I can revisit with affection. Rain, a pressing appointment or hostile neighbours would have made this a memory to file for oblivion.

Another thread in the net of memory takes me back (or forward) from the investigation of gate catches to a wide-eyed view of Rome, on a holiday filed in family memories as the Grand Tour. Twelve years on, the curious toddler and her little sister were growing out of childhood and ready to see some more of the world.  Invitations from friends in Munich and Rome led to us planning a holiday by train, taking in those two cities along with Cologne and Venice.  It was my first visit to all those places too and impressions from more recent visits to Rome are overlaid on those shared memories. Enquiring minds make good travelling companions.

A book given to me by a bereavement councillor, many years ago, described investing in memory as a technique for working through grief and looking to the future.  Choose the memories you want to keep, reflect on them and reinforce them.  The phrase ‘investing in memory’ came back to me as I explored the threads of memory linked to this picture.  In some ways that’s what blogging is about for me.  As I select pictures to post and words to go with them I’m investing in my personal store of memories for the future.  Sometimes the words and pictures I choose spark new ideas or resonate with other peoples’ recollections.  Memories are for sharing too.


This post was inspired by the weekly Discovery Challenge Memory.