Posts Tagged ‘walking’

Enjoy the country

Thursday, March 19th, 2020

The Corona virus seems to be bringing out both the worst and the best of people and organisations. So while we have the incredible spectacle of a billionaire island-owner and airline boss threatening his workers with redundancy and demanding compensation from the government (and has avoided paying a fair share of tax and sued the NHS for a large cash deal in earlier years), there are also other business owners like Gary Neville who has announced there will be no redundancies or unpaid leave and has handed his hotels over to the NHS for extra capacity, and companies like Greggs who are offereing free hot drinks to all Emergency Service Personnel, Health and Social Care Workers.

The National Trust has had to close its houses, but is making its car parks and gardens free for all, good news for those who have to self-isolate but are still able to get out and get some exercise. Of course we can also do so in all those NT sites that are always free to the public as well as the rest of the countryside – and even in towns and cities so long as we keep well away from others.

I don’t have a car, and there are few NT sites within my cycling range which normally have admission fees, but its a welcome gesture. And since there are few if any events now taking place that I could cover even if I were not a high-risk case I may well find myself doing a few more country walks or rides now that I have time on my hands. Though so far I’ve spent most of that extra time in front of a computer, getting some of my old black and white images scabbed and retouched ready to go on-line.

I’ve always liked to walk, both in country and city, though my legs are not quite as good as they used to be. Most of the walks I’ve done in recent years have been with small groups of friends, but in the current situation I will perhaps revert to wandering on my own – with a camera, though perhaps not to the extent I did around London in the 80s and 90s, when I was out a couple of days most weeks filling the pages of my A-Z with ten or twelve miles of wandering and taking several contact sheets of photographs.

The pictures accompanying this slightly meandering piece are from an afternoon walk last October in a not particularly spectacular area of the countryside around Unstone Grange, a residential centre between Chesterfield and Sheffield where we were attending a weekend conference. There are a few more at Unstone, Derbyshire.

Stoke Newington to Hackney Wick

Friday, October 11th, 2019

This short section of the Capital Ring is one of my favourites, or at least goes though some of my favourite areas, as this was the first time I’ve actually walked the whole section as a continous walk. It’s also one of the shorter sections of the London walk, which makes it rather easier for me now that my legs aren’t as young as they used to be.

Walkers too often have a distance fetish, where the purpose of the walk becomes a matter of getting as many miles (or kilometres) as possible under your feet, heading from A to B without deviation or even stopping to enjoy the points in-between. I’m more of a wanderer and an explorer, happy to go where the mood or interest takes me. And if you look at the pictures you will find that we didn’t entirely stick to the published route.

I spent around 20 years wandering around London in this way with a camera (or two), walking with a starting point and sometimes a few likely points of interest marked on a photocopied page of the A-Z, wandering until I felt tired or time was up, then finding a bus stop or station – never far away in London – to make my way home. It’s a practice that is celebrated in my self-published ‘London Dérives‘, images from 1975-83, still available from Blurb as a PDF or expensive hard copy – or direct from me.

Some of these pictures were more like coming across old friends, locations that I’d photographed perhaps thirty or more years ago, while there were other parts of the route that I’ve walked many times over the years. Perhaps some of them are more pictures of loss than records of the present, taken because of what was there before rather than what is there now.

Around 1983 I made an unsuccessful attempt to get funding for a photographic project on the River Lea and the Lea Navigation, submitting a small portfolio of pictures I had already made of the area and a brief description, along with a letter of support from a well-respected photographer I knew and a CV in which the major (in fact the only significant) entry was a large exhibition in a provincial art gallery – much also now in another self-published book and web site.

At the time I was naive in the ways of the small elite controlling awards in the UK and failed to realise that the support of a leading member of the London Salon was the kiss of death. I didn’t make any further applications for funding and until 2003 the only official support I got for photographs came from the Arts Council poetry funds, payment for a portfolio and pictures in several issues of a magazine.

I went ahead and completed the project without financial support – fortunately a full-time teaching post giving me both enough to live on and relatively long holidays as well as weekends – even though during term I was putting in an average 60 hours a week into teaching, preparation and marking. Another self-published book, Before the Olympics, contains many of the pictures from this as well as later work, and more can be seen on my River Lea web site.

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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.