In a few days I will be welcoming Gavin Thurston into the Library for my book club which is part of our new club “Friends of Highclere”. Combining lenses and penmanship, he has written a fabulous book called “Journey into the Wild, The Secret life of a cameraman” which shares stories of his time behind the scenes during the course of many years filming with Sir David Attenborough.
Cameras and equipment have undergone such change in the last thirty years in the same way as I have moved from pens with ink cartridges to fingers on a laptop.
Gavin has kept nearly all the call sheets from his various filming projects which prompted his memories about travel, the funny scenes, the personalities and the stories.
Views from where I write, here, are pretty amazing but Gavin’s office is something else: out there in the wild, beside a tree, on the ice, in a jungle or waiting very early in the morning on the edge of a savannah. Much of his time is bumpy, he is bumping along in a car or train or some other vehicle of dubious off road ability and his stories are often a testament to resilience for example sorting out an upside down landrover whilst being a day’s walk from any help.
Sir David Attenborough wrote the preface and read it too for the audio book, with his familiar, reassuring, low pitched tones. What comes across to me is the modesty of both men. The TV programmes and films are a gift to all of us and the passion and commitment are life-changing with a strong and clear message to everyone living in this world. We take so much for granted and we should not.
David Attenborough is 96 years old and when he was born there were 2 billion people on this planet. Now, I believe there are nearly 8 billion. From “The Human Planet” to “Life on our Planet”, David Attenborough keeps the focus on what is happening and how fragile and endangered we have made it, in order to keep nudging us to change.
It is always far easier, however, not to change, to do nothing, to leave it to others and to think it will not happen to us. Many of us have a little too much fluff in our ears to hear, but he never gives up.
I still remember dropping my son to nursery school with various key things in his school bag for the beginning of each week for “show and tell”. Although somewhat older, the work of David Attenborough and cameraman Gavin is to do just that: to show and tell each and every one of us and to ask us to change small things in each of our lives.
The films that capture the lives of those with whom we share this world are so beautiful. The way a huge whale pirouettes out from the waves, or a leopard lithely crouches watching, waiting, fading into its environment, tiny birds diving towards a pond’s surface for a drink, or an elephant delicately breakfasting on an acacia tree. The wonder of a jungle with so much life and diversity at every level and the majesty of an old northern forest.
Thinking about what to ask Gavin, I am not sure where to start. However his book opens with a square “brownie camera” which he had when young as did I. Both of us photographed feet which we would only discover when the roll of film was developed a week later. Some of his photographs were extraordinary and ignited a passion, mine remained a subject of merriment in my family.
I would like to catch every small gem and insight although we will only have so much time. Passion, understanding and imagination can all lead to understanding, to love in its broadest sense and thus to hope that we can indeed make a difference.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I’m sure you & Gavin will have heaps to talk about, & I can see him happily filming away inside the Castle & out for the whole day!
Have a lovely time, Good Luck, love from
Dear Lady C.,
Is there any way in the world!! that you could record his talk and allow those of us on the other side of the Atlantic to marvel at his words? A small fee collected for a worthy cause in nature could be the entry to watch the recording.
Oh please try!
Gratefully and with much affection,
Carol from CT. USA
It will be recorded and saved but on Friends
Good morning from Fort Worth, Texas. I always loved to write with a fountain pen because of the smooth way my pen would glide so easily on paper. Unfortunately, the ink cartridges would start leaking. My fingers were stained with ink for a long time. To pen a letter without splotches was a challenge. On another note, I have come to believe that a single small act of kindness has the power to change the world. This not only pertains to human beings, but to our planet and all the magnificent creatures who live here.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I wish I could hear and see this presentation. How lucky you are to have this excitement buzzing around the castle. Dave Attenborough is a very special man and the stories his camera man can tell and depict with his photographs and film will be jaw dropping I am sure. You are indeed a lucky lady to have this opportunity to host him.
Oh how I would like to hear your book club conversation with Gavin Thurston. Maybe you can ask him about that photo of the up-side-down LandRover! I wonder how that happened.
Thank you for sharing about his new book.
For all the sensible things Gavin talks about, this is a story I will be asking about!
Lady Carnarvon that will be very interesting. My husband and I will be visiting 18th August to celebrate or Golden Wedding Anniversary really looking forward to it
Dear lady Carnarvon lovely the lenses and my favourite is Dave Attenborough and you and lord Carnarvon have a lovely weekend and lovely to visit highcelere castle and l am fan of Downton abbey and thank you for send me your email very kind of you
Greetings again Lady Carnarvon,
Wonderful Monday morning blog again and congratulations on hosting him for your Book Club gathering as it will be very interesting, educational and entertaining. Certain he will love being inside and out of beautiful Highclere Castle especially where your farm animals and dogs will be when he is there with you. Any chance you may feature your time with him on one of your Pod Casts as well?
Enjoy your time with him and continue to remain well.
I don’t know who said “the world is an oyster” but she or he must have had a camera in hand! What fun it is to teach a child the mysteries of what can be captured simply on a daily walk with a camera. Or into the world of unhappiness, of want – places indeed we need to help change. Anywhere one goes there is a story through a camera.
It is exciting to know that we can view Gavin’s world with the help of remarkable David Attenborough! I am a ‘Friend of Highclere,; and I look forward to the book club!
I hope you enjoy the book club with Gavin
Dear lady Carnarvon lovely pictures of lenses and my favourite David Attenborough and you and lord Carnarvon have a nice weekend and l lovely to highcelere castle and lam fan of Downton abbey and thank you for send me the email it very kind of you
Our granddaughter was an Attenborough groupie. Her first favorite TV was “Life of Birds.” She made me narrate her play in the voice of David Attenborough and sometimes I had to be Gavin filming her antics.
What a rare opportunity to chat with someone – it will be quite the experience.
I am so excited to fulfill a lifelong dream of coming to the UK next week. It’s one of my big bucket list adventures with my sister. We will be seeing your lovely home next Monday and can’t wait as we are huge Downton fans. We are so lucky that you invite all of us strangers into your home – we are blessed to have gracious hosts that allow to live our dreams if only temporarily.
How very kind of you
Good Morning Lady Carnarvon,
It was so nice to see one of the original “BOX” type camara’s in your collection of memorability!
My grandfather was a professional photograph in the 1890’s early 1900’s. He had his won developing business in the cellar of there house.
Seeing that old camera, sure brings back a lot of warm memories of my childhood, and at 75, that’s a lot of memories!
Have a great day, and blessing to ALL at Highclere!
John L. Roberts
I am happy to bring back warm memories of your childhood
Good Morning, Lady C,
This will make the perfect gift for a photographer friend for Christmas. He is difficult to shop for — but will love this book.
Also you gifted me with a gift of my Daddy. He got a Brownie just before our vacation in the Great Smoky Mountains in the SE United States.
Gorgeous forested mountains, rushing waters, bears, deer, etc.
Mama picked up the film at the local drugstore that had developed it. We had three roles of photos taken up Daddy’s nose.
The one saving Grace was they weren’t in color.
Have a great day.
Bon in Bama
Pleased to help with your Christmas shopping!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I love photography and am always amazed at what a photographer can capture with their lense. Photographers have such an amazing “eye” in which they can capture movement, emotions and beauty. I would love to know what inspires Mr. Thurston to take the “shot.” What is it about the composition that speaks to him.
I look forward to your Friends of Highclere book club featuring Mr. Thurston.
Make a date in your diary Thursday at 7pm
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
How does someone in the US-CA join your book club?
Warmly, Linda Garvin
Please follow either of the links below for more information on ‘Friends of Highclere’
http://www.friendsofhighclere.com or http://www.highclerecastle.co.uk
PS: I just ordered Mr. Thurston’s book. The cover above is SO much more appealing than the American version, which has the cliche of a monkey sitting on an antique tripod about to take a pic on an old box camera.
I think an interesting question for a photographer (particularly one that deals with the natural world) would be if he has any fond memories of a sunrise photo or possibly was there ever a place that he remembers the smells of the place while he was waiting for the perfect shot.
I hope the event is smashing and I am saddened by the thought of missing that talk in such a special setting.
I will make a good list of questions and I do recommend his book
I loved your blog this morning. My sister and I both had Brownie cameras as children, just like the one you pictured. We lived near a small swamp. We used to take those cameras into that swamp and took pictures of the vegetation and small animals — pretending that we were nature photographers and that our pictures were destined to be used in nature documentaries. That little swamp was a magical place. Unfortunately, it was eventually covered over and turned into a housing development.
This has nothing at all to do with the recent post but I keep forgetting to ask – it jogged my mind with the above picture of the library. That huge rug is a design from the late 19th Century, early 20th Century Art and Crafts movement, which originated in England, if I am not mistaken. Also the huge run in the saloon, too. Do you know when they were purchased for the Castle? Just curious.
I commissioned them and therefore helped create the design … so not as exciting as your lovely suggestion
Happy Monday Lady Carnarvon!
Your blog is the ONLY reason I look forward to Mondays!! I’d love to hear more about your conversations from this lovely visit!
Thank you so much for bringing us this information. I loved seeing the old camera; I had one that was similar, the “Brownie Target” in the 1950s. I had to thread the film into the intake spool. Such a great memory! I hope to tune in on Thursday.
Best regards from Alaska,
Wonderful ! I just like Gavin too .. good person
Our life is like a camera lens: you must focus only on what is important and capture the best intense moments. Photographs are our memories which remain for the future and conserve our emotions.
So we are the real actors in the film of our life. And we wish that the audience will be good and we’ll have a great success…
Looking forward to hearing from book club news, many thanks for your precious post and guests ! Best regards
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
How wonderful to be able to host such wonderful talent. I wish I could be a part. Perhaps he is someone you could interview on you wonderful podcast? I so enjoy listening and am always looking forward to the next. I listen and wish I was back in England. Thank you for bringing a slice of England to the states. Wishing you and yours all the best. Cynthia G
I will ask him about a podcast – good idea
I would be interested in knowing what his most challenging photo assignment was.
I am sure you will have an engaging conversation.
MADAME , LE POEME DE VERLAINE DIT TOUT : “JE ME SUIVANT DES JOURS ANCIEN ET JE PLEURAIT ET JE ME’VAIS AU VENT MAUVAIS, QUI M’EMPORT DE CA, DE LA, PAREILLE UNE FEUILLET MORT.” LE MONDE ÉTAIT PLUS CHAUD, TROP FRAGILE, LES OISEAU, LES FOREST… JE SUIS TROP DESOLE POUR LE PLANET, LES PERSONS SONT TRES PRECIEUSE,,MAIS ILS NE COMPRENDRE PAS DE CHOUSE. JE SUIS TROP DESOLEE
Dear Lady Carnarvon:
Thank you for your informative Monday blog.
May I ask, where was the “on the ice” photograph taken?
As a Friend of Highclere, I look forward to the presentation regarding Mr. Gavin Thurston.
Until then, have a good week.
Thank you – I am not sure but it is on his book and will look it out!
How exciting to find out the behind the camera secrets and back stories of Gavin Thurston’s adventures. I love watching anything David Attenborough narrates because of the amazing filming of nature and the knowledge gained from his programs. I hope to find his book on Amazon.
Lady Carnarvon, so very much looking forward to your conversation with Mr. Thurston. No doubt it will delightful and informative. Stay well and cool. Cheryl.
MY DEAR LADY CARNARVON,
GOOD AFTERNOON FROM BRAZIL,
MILADY, GAVIN THURSTON , PHOTOGRAPHED “THE AMAZON RAINFOREST” ???WITHOUT FEARS AND APPREHENSIONS,
WHAT HE WOULD SAY ABOUT IT ???
THANK YOU VERY MUCH, IN ADVANCE.
RIO CLARO – SP
Dear Lady Carnarvon — I was blessed a few years ago when I was treated to a visit to Highclere Castle, courtesy of my former wife, best friend, and Downton Abby fan, Sharon Clark. The first thing I did when we arrived at Highclere Castle was to hug the outside corner of the castle building! I loved being there. And as we were guided through the vast rooms I touched the chairs and sofa that the cast had sat on. It helped me feel close to them.
And when I went to see the new movie “Downton Abbey: A New Era”, I wore a tuxedo with a bow tie — I wanted to feel part of the family! And I did!
How wonderful to ‘hear’ and reflect on someone else’s thoughts about this world. He is one of the ‘special ‘ people I’d consider extremely knowledgeable about the times we live in and relate it to both future and past, animals, plants, and the land. He’s very intelligent.
It’s so nice to hear about your Book Club- I only wish it was in closer proximity to my friends and I.(!!)
Keep us all up on what your Reading Club is discussing and reading.
We’d love to try to join you in our own small way here in the MidWest – United States.
Sincerest Regards, Jane Hrabak