Whitstable Beach, February (2018)

The latest Kick-About prompt was Robert Frost’s 1922 poem, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Night, which returned me at once to the snowy winters in the woods in the village in which I grew up.

I was always struck by the impression of the bases of the trees, very black against the white snow. To me, they looked like the foot of some huge pachyderm or similar, with the thickening around the base of the tree like the moment when the foot of the creature starts taking the full weight of what is being carried above it.

Back in February 2018, the UK was struck by ‘the beast from the east’ – a blast of exceptionally cold weather that brought with it an ice-storm. I went out to the beach to find everything glazed with ice, with even the stones on the beach in that sort of shell of ice you find around individual prawns in the supermarket freezer cabinets.

Whitstable beach is shored up with wooden groynes that extend into the sea to keep the beach from washing away. I was reminded of my childhood in the deep dark woods of the village, less because of the proper cold (which is the way I remember – rightly or wrongly – all the winters of my youth) and more because of the way the exposed wooded groynes against the white of the beach and the frozen slate-coloured mud looked like the skeletons of sea serpents or fallen dragons.

Throwback Friday #32 Swimming Pool (2020)

Just days before the first lock-down here in the UK, we were out in France at the old house. It was the first time we’d been out there so early in the year. The rooms of the house were chilly, the worst of the cold kept at bay in a select few of its rooms by the roar of the wood burning stove. It was often more temperate outside the thick stone walls of the house, with periods of unexpected sunshine and warmth. We spent a lot of time remonstrating with the endless creep of the surrounding undergrowth, but also picking our way through the denuded woodland, enjoying the confetti of pale yellow primroses growing in impressive colonies.

At the close of one day towards the end of our stay, I took my camera out to capture the unexpected splendour of the hibernating swimming pool, with its blue cover, pooling rain-water and litter of fallen leaves. The light was milky, the sky peachy with the sunset, and the colours of this artificial lagoon irresistible.

Oare, Late November (2020)

Last time we went to Oare, it was back in May for the golden hour. This time, we got to the nature reserve for the last rays of the late November sunshine. It was cold, but the light was turning coppery-through-pink, a big moon already rising to dust the water with subtle silver scales. The reeds held onto the reddish light very stubbornly, and all the this-way-then-that-way of the long grass looked put there by the tips of coloured pencils – and always the sound of the curlews, and less frequently, the tall grey ghosts of herons. Magical.

Film: Lost In Fields Part 6 – Tankerton Slopes, November (2020)

Getting Lost in Fields is a series of little films prompted into life by the Kick-About #6, which saw me attempting to evoke the rhapsodic sensations of being out and about with my camera in the fields of Kent during the Spring lock-down. I didn’t know there would be a fourth film – or indeed a fifth, but there’s something simple and satisfying about combining these impressionist photographs with Kevin MacLeod’s evocative musical miniatures. I didn’t know there would be a second lock-down either, and this new film results from two very peaceful afternoons spent walking along the Tankerton seashore at the outset of the new restrictions, with just the sound of the waves for company and the dying of the light.

Tankerton Slopes, November #5 (2020)

Okay, so when I said in my previous Tankerton Slopes post that it was my ‘final batch of martime tuftiness’ I lied. Or rather, I went out again a few days later to catch the sunset in the same spot, having left the house too late the first time to capture the way the sunlight was strafing the hirsute undulations of the slopes. My second visit didn’t disappoint, with some amazing displays of colour under pellucid November skies.