Anecdote: Reliquiæ

At my folks for Christmas, and showing them my copy of Reliquiæ 3 I received a week earlier for my birthday.

My dad turns to On the Sadness of Thrushes by EJ Moor:

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On The Sadness of Trushes, EJ Moor, in  Reliquiæ 3

 

“This isn’t right, you don’t get mistletoe thrushes in the spring, they’re wintering birds in the UK”.

I shrug my shoulders. My dad was a keen birder when he grew up (and nest-rustler, in a time when such a pursuit was not seen negatively) on the Lincolnshire coast, so I trust his word. But then, I find it unlikely that Reliquiæ would be printing a mistruth.

A quick web search suggests that yes, missel thrushes are present throughout the year. But then, a more specific search (missel thrush overwintering scandinavia), and there it is: “A few Scandinavian and northern European Mistle Thrushes winter in the UK, especially down the east coast.” Maybe my dad got his information not from some text book, but through his own witnessing, perhaps bolstered by asking other Grimbarians.

So, two truths, and both in some way anecdotal. A glimmer of seasonal joy: to learn something new about British birds; and to tap my dad’s all-too-infrequently-shared knowledge.
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http://www.garden-birds.co.uk/birds/mistlethrush.htm

“Reliquiæ is an annual journal of poetry, short fiction, non-fiction, translations and visual art, edited by Autumn Richardson & Richard Skelton.” For more information, and to order Reliquiæ 3, visit http://www.corbelstonepress.com/reliquiae-3.htm

Thanks to Corbel Stone Press to allow use of the text from Reliquiæ

Richard Long: Time and Space; and a walk

Today, with time to spare, I went to Bristol’s Arnolfini Gallery to see Richard Long’s retrospective. See HERE. The following notes were made immediately after my visit, and are largely verbatim. Notes from the dark room are of the exhibition in near darkness, called By the Mark, the Deep, by Matt Davies and Milo Newman. The Photographs are from a walk I took after visiting Arnolfini, where I attempted (and failed) to find Richard Long’s Boyhood Line.

First Impressions

Liked the repeating motifs – the word association poem of a Scottish walk mentioned FLOOD as an associated word (associated to what I can’t remember); and then, on an adjacent wall, a photo from a walk entitled Flood, of somewhere else (possibly somewhere in Africa)

Circles in several circumstances, white wooden board on the floor in one room, photos of circles of boulders, remains of round buildings

A photo, taken outside a cathedral, showing a circle of white limestone, while in the gallery, a huge cross, using similar stone. The stone cross inside, more likely to be thought of as an X (this is an artist of maps and landscape, after all)

But viewed as a cross – divine, like a little church or sacred marker to the landscape outside

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Dark room – very dark at first

Anyone there?

Where are the walls?

Big, dull bulbs, and tiny LEDs

‘Soundtrack’ cracks, pops, a decomposing tape, I’m told.

Felt like a wildcamp, carefully pacing around, nervous about what or who might be around

A while passed and my eyes adjusted; someone entered, sat straight down

No stress. Eventually sit down myself, feeling comfortable, relaxed

Walk the room’s perimeter, trace the wall with my finger; a familiar space now

But still – all space, no place, just like that brief moment on a wildcamp, never to be visited again (though I will, to both previous wildcamp spots, and this dark room)

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On my way out, buy an academic journal on ruins, and a book of interviews with Richard Long

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These notes, written at the Lloyds amphitheatre, skaters making their own lines in the landscape.

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Saint George: Fir Tree Lane

12/07/2015

I get the bus home from work, and from the bus stop a walk down a very steep lane. But recently I decided to descend the slope via a different route. A quick look on Open Street Map revealed a road called Fir Tree Lane, which would only add a few minutes to the walk. Maybe, if I was lucky, it would be less steep – I have dodgy knees, hips and feet, so anything of a gentler gradient would be much appreciated. Turns out it is probably just as steep – and anyway, it joins my previous hill before the steepest section. But Oh! what a tremendous route. Bristol often surprises me with green spaces, but this went beyond the usual manicured parkland. This path, in places, feels like a walk through a country village.

At first, a church, probably built in the 19th century, then a quaint wooden Scout hut with field. On the right, 100 year old cottages with overgrown gardens and dillapidated huts. This is still near the top (though sloping downwards), and the pavement-less road feels all the more rural for stone wall hemming its sides. Through the gaps in the buildings, it’s possible to glimpse Trooper’s Hill nature reserve, with its charred golden grass, purple flowers and abandoned smoke stack from its glory days when this was a working quarry (I can’t remember if they quarried coal here and shipped the copper ore for smelting, or if this was the site of a copper mine, and they brought in the coal – I’ll be looking in to this more in the future).

Further down the road (here called Firtree Lane – note the conjugation), the character returns to suburban, as is most common hereabouts. Buildings are in various states of completion as developers aim to fill any gaps not yet built on. But further still, and the road narrows to a path – steep enough for steps. It was raining today as I took my photos, yet this section remains dry – to my right a thicket of tall fir trees edge a garden and shelter the path.

Growing between the cracks in the stone slabs: lush, verdant plants, and filling between the plants are fine, colourless pine needles. Despite no rain making it on to the path, this can be a slippery walk; the needles shifting with each step. I imagine it would be easy to slip and fall here, though I’m relieved this is yet to happen.

Towards the bottom of the steps, the path curves, obscuring the view. It’s dark, and this all makes it feel everso slightly surreal. Yes, I’ve walked it many times before, but still, it’s not hard to feel a little bit of magic. I wonder: how old is this path? Why was it never widened to take traffic? In whose footsteps do I follow? I once saw a dead magpie in this darkened section – though it had vanished a day later when I retraced my steps.

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Saint George, Bristol: Paths, Cuts, and Lanes. PROLOGUE

I have decided to document the paths and lanes around where I live. I live in Saint George, Bristol, or possibly Crews Hole, depending on who writes the address, or which map you look at. Our flat is a few hundred meters from the River Avon, though despite our ellevated vantage point, the river cannot be seen, though its route is clearly visible as it wends its way downstream.

It is, however, just possible to see Crews Hole Road [sic – the lack of apostrophe in ‘Crews’ is not my doing]. We can also just spot the peaked roof of the recently-reopened Bull Inn, just beyond the cliff-clinging Buddleia plants that edges the flats’ carpark.

The aims of this project (at this point of time, leastways) is (1) to document some of the hidden, and not so hidden, routeways of the area; and (2) to learn how to get the most out of my oft-neglected Nikon F65 SLR (film) camera.

So some more detail. First, the paths and lanes. There is quite a variety of walkways roundabouts this steep valley slope. There are the roadways that plummet straight down the hill, the narrow paths cutting between houses and past backs of  gardens. There’s Trooper’s Hill nature reserve with gravel-surfaced paths through the heather, and the tarmac’d River Avon path. Some trails are overgrown and unused, such as the path that starts at the end of our car park, and there are rat-runs through pavement-less narrow lanes, unnerving for walkers who find themselves facing a suped-up Mitsubishi, or impatient van driver.

Second: my camera. I have owned the camera for about 8 years. For a good few years it’s been mothballed, collecting dust in the spare room. I recently got a copy of Natural-Light Photography by Ansel Adams (1952: 1971, Morgan & Morgan: New York) from Bristol Central Library. It’s pretty technical, recommending all sorts of light meters, and discussing the merits and demerits of various, and largely obselete, film types; but depsite that, it is the philosophical approach to natural light photography (a term that refers to not only outdoor shots, but the process of photography that does not use specialist lighting equipment) that is inspiring.

I intend to use a single film per routeway. This means about 36 shots each time – so I will have to think carefully about every photograph. I documented a path today and used about 2-and-a-half films! Using a digital compact camera has certainly made me lazy about photos, with its vast memory and instant results. I look forward to slowing things down, to take my time; and from this, become more attentive of my local area.

There is another aspect to this approach which I hope will be useful. There will always be a lag between photographs taken, and photographs developed (barring converting the spare room into a darkroom). It means it is possible to write some notes about each path during or immediately after, perhaps with some research. But once the photographs are developed, it is hoped I will have a new perspective – perhaps something I missed during the excursion, or that ability to look at something in its fine, static detail.

Essentially, I envisage that the process will embody three key elements:

  1. Close observance and photo-framing during the walk
  2. Writing and considering my thoughts and feelings of that walk
  3. The close study of the returned photographs in all their pristine, and not so pristine, detail.
St George/Crew's Hole

St George/Crew’s Hole area. Click map to got to OSM.

Sun-ways not Widdershins – revisited

On 16th October 2014, I published a post of a walk through the field near work. This week, I took another close look. But this time from the start of the summer.

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TOWERING TREES

varicose veins | flames of green buds | cumulonimbussing conker tree

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SEVEN HOLED SURFACES

 

* * *

FLOWERS OF MEADOW & HEDGEROW

unknown with grass | willow grass | lesser stitchwort | nettle: stinging and dead | hawkweed | elderflower

* * *

FRUITS OF SUMMER COMING, SUMMER PASSED

elderberry | blackberry | fig

* * *

CRAWLING

spider nest | honeydew | scorpian fly | cuckoo spit | anthill | humble bumblebee

* * *

EPHEMERA

If Bristol were flooded.


* Video is my recording of a film shown at Millenium Square, Bristol, on 03/05/2015. The original film Cheers, Drive! can be viewed at: http://www.triplegeek.com/portfolio/visuals/cheersdrive.

* Boat images are of the Withdrawn exhibition in Leigh Woods, near Bristol, described as “an unexpected encounter with a flotilla of abandoned fishing boats installed in the depths of the woodland”. More details at: http://www.lukejerram.com/projects/withdrawn

Three Processions

I set out alone in brilliant sunshine
Along the green river, a shop
The town; the Gloucester Road

The first Saturday of May
To see the procession
Or at least, its terminus upon ancient common

Gloucester Road to Filton Road
Crowds outside pubs thicken
“Are these all for the Jack?”

Police on foot, horseback, riot vans
Match day. Blue and whites
I arrive at the common

(Avoiding the busy streets)
The common is empty
The road alongside, suddenly

Gets noisy: proud chants
Supporters escorted on a
Pre-planned route

This is not the procession that I
That I was expecting
But it carries its own values

Sense of occasion
I wait for mine, sat here
Too early, and realise

This is a solitary procession, all of my own.