The village of Pill, my home in North Somerset, clusters (once attractively I hear) around a deep, muddy, tidal creek formed by the Martcombe Brook rising just a couple of miles south of the village. A ‘pill’ is the West Country and Welsh name for a tidal creek – there are several pills along this stretch of the river, each identified with its own prefix, our old, ‘proper’ name is Crockerne Pill, see below for explanation. The Martcombe Brook spills into the River Avon, two miles or so south-west from where it joins the Severn. Shirehampton is only the river’s width across from us (but a different world Continue reading
Proud neon sign in the excellent Kelham Island industrial museum
Two and bit years ago I visited Sheffield where our son Will had been living for a few years during student days at the University and later working there. He loved the city and had made many good friends but was about to move to Vienna to join his Austrian girlfriend, so this was probably a last chance to explore the city with him to follow up on some family history connections I’d not known about on earlier visits to see him.
I knew my father’s family came from Sheffield but little else of the family’s history at the time Will started at University in 2005 but it was interesting how quickly he felt at home in this city of his ancestors and took so readily to the nearby Peak District that had beguiled my paternal grandparents – they met when they were both members of an early 20th century rambling group I believe and later named their house in Oxfordshire after Winnats Pass. Continue reading
Setting off on a job to photograph Weston-super-Mare’s Enterprise Zone recently, the car began emitting bad sounds and demanded immediate attention from our Motorman in Avonmouth. Now Avonmouth is somewhere that’s always looked pretty dismal in my view and I’ve had no cause to explore it before but with time to kill there while waiting for the repair I wandered about the streets near the station to see if I could find any endearing qualities. Continue reading
The Post Office Curtains
Placescape – Caerwent and Lower Wye area
Living on the far left hand margin of the West of England is pretty good in terms of places to visit for a non-urban day out; within a 35 – 40 minute drive we can be amongst sand dunes at Berrow, leaning into the wind on the craggy heights of Brean Down above the Severn, looking down Cheddar Gorge from the top of the Mendips, wandering in the lush pastures of the Chew Valley, paddling in a stream in a wooded, flowery valley on the Cotswold Way, or admiring wading birds in the Severn wetlands at Slimbridge.
These are very roughly south, east and north of home but, within the same time scale, if we go west we can be in another country, and a different world, Wales. We can see the Black Mountains across the Severn from outside our village Co-op and for me they are always alluring. Continue reading
This set of photos resulted from an impromptu tour around a really odd mix of bits of Bristol last Saturday. No particular purpose, just decided to see how things were changing in the Enterprise Zone area around Temple Meads and moved on from there. Not everyone’s top choice for spending a Saturday but it’s good to take in a panoramic view of your Continue reading
I don’t remember the first time I saw the mysterious chalk creature leaping across the downland turf at Uffington, but I was a kid, and probably under the inevitable ‘horse-love’ spell of girls of a certain age. But along with the more prosaic, and very recent, white lion etched into Dunstable Downs not far from my childhood home of St Albans, and the puzzling and spindly Long Man of Wilmington in Sussex with his parallel poles, these pictures scraped out of the chalky soil Continue reading
This post started out as a piece about a visit to Stanton Drew late one afternoon in November last year where I’d taken some photographs; but the process of selecting the photos (amongst the text) set off a sequence of recollections about previous visits, and that in turn led to memory detours into different stone-made territories, and dowsing….
Stanton Drew is a large, but little visited group of three stone circles just south of Bristol set in the fields next to the River Chew; legend has that the stones sometimes go down to the river to drink, they must, after all, be thirsty after all their cavorting – these are wedding guests who were tempted by the devil to carry on dancing into the Sabbath and for their sins were turned to stone. The long ridge of Dundry Hill provides a backdrop to the north that includes the sculpted Continue reading
Now that I’ve invented an excuse for posting inconsequential items about place within this new ‘placescapes‘ theme here’s a throwback to September 2012 and a holiday spent largely in the Kent and Sussex area known as The Weald. I hadn’t set out to document this ‘touring holiday’ and I can’t remember why we chose to go there (apart from a middle-aged yearning to visit the gardens of Sissinghurst and Great Dixter), but it turned out to be a bit of a revelation.
Some places may have felt a bit over-preserved, others were just what you might expect in 21st century south-eastern England, with miles of bungalows and sprawling factory estates, but the remarkable variety of landscapes, architecture Continue reading
There’s an accumulation of notes and images that I’ve made over some time (and are continually added to) that are loosely about ‘place’, and had thought would become a single post on this blog. They’ve been drifting around for while now – certainly since writing an earlier post on ‘particularity‘; but I’ve been waiting to unearth some keystone of information to bring the strands together in a coherent story-arc. No such thing has yet emerged and some de-cluttering of the desk and head are needed.
Although some might become focused and considered pieces of writing with illustrations, I’m going to put most of the notes and images in a series of occasional posts largely as they are, a hotch-potch of thoughts, memories and images about places; places I’ve been to, or that I’ve seen or heard of through other people via paintings, prints, photographs, writing, music…often those places are landscapes but they’re also town streets, marginal land, gardens, places in transition such as demolition sites or scrub clearance in fields; or ‘temporary places’ where something stays only a while but transforms a space, like a temporary public artwork, or a street market. They’ll be under the category of Placescapes.
For decades now I’ve been having continuous conversations, usually with myself, about what makes a place and why Continue reading