A Divided Countryside

I don’t get out into the country much. Most of the posts I make on My London Diary are, not surprisingly about London and things happening in London, but there are parts of my life that don’t feature in that on-line diary, or for that matter on Facebook. Things that I want to keep private don’t feature on either, where I assume, whatever the privacy settings, anything may become public.

Although my first web site back in 1995 was called ‘Family Pictures‘ (and is still on-line with minor code updates and on a different host) I’ve put very few family pictures onto the web, instead sharing some with named individuals via Dropbox or e-mail. That first site too was written with help from two of the main people featured. And although I have published elsewhere a few pictures of my family, particularly when young, I never got them to pose for the kind of stock photos that many photographers produce. Not that there is anything wrong in that, but I’ve always used my photography to follow my own ideas and projects and only worked for others where this overlapped with these interests.

Even photographing protests. Though I’ve occasionally accepted commissions and almost always made some attempt to sell my work, that has never been the reason for me taking pictures. When I began it was because so many went either unrecorded or were poorly recorded and I felt that like other events I was busy recording they were an important part of our society and I wanted to say something about them and provide some historical record.

I don’t always post pictures of my family walks, and when I do so you seldom see pictures of those members of the family I’m walking with. Most of these walks are around the western edge of London, as was this one, not far from where I once worked in Bracknell.

Again and again on this walk I was reminded of the differences between rich and poor and between town and country. Of course there is plenty of rural poverty, even in the Home Counties, but it is largely well hidden.

This region was not long ago important farming land, but much of it now produces little we can eat, though some hugely expensive livestock that occasionally races around nearby Ascot. For around five years I drove past the racecourse in a Ford Cortina driven by a colleague and we would share our plan, come the revolution, to turn it into allotments. Occasionally we’d take a longer route home, along roads including those on the walk route.

This is now prime commuting counry, not just for the wealthy from the CIty, but internationally, just a short drive from Heathrow. Large estates owned by millionaires and billionaires, often foreign and largely resident abroad. I stepped onto the verge for Rolls-Rooyces and Range Rovers as well as more humble vehicles.

Of course it’s not all like this, and the pictures show it. Unusually we went into two pubs, both nice places with decent beer, but in the first the fish and chips we finally ate had a much fancier description on the menu (‘Punter battered haddock with hand cut chips, tartare sauce and peas’) and cost about twice as much, though I doubt they would have tasted better.

More pictures: Winkfield Walk


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My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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