Leigh Woods and the Avon silt banks

Back at the start of May, I had a morning trip to Leigh Woods, and it was wonderful – a perfect Spring day, with the clouds whipped across the sky, the light changing continually, from sunny to cloudy and back again.  It was such a perfect Spring day, and I loved exploring the Stokeleigh Camp Iron Age Fort, so on the way back down Nightingale Valley, I turned north and walked up the silt banks, through the long grass, and along the tide lines.   I have photos, and sounds, below, but let’s start with photos.   The album is on flickr, but if you mouse over the first picture, it should bring up a slideshow…

Stokeleigh Camp Iron Age fort

and here’s the map of where I walked – without all the back-and-forth of looking at the same things over and over!

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Silt clouds in the Avon

Yesterday Vik and I were on a walk, and it wasn’t going so well – the walk leaders didn’t have a map, just instructions, and didn’t know where they were going, and that makes me so stressed. So when we got to the Cumberland Basin, we peeled off, and went to look at the river instead.

After the long, long winter, May has been pretty much perfect, and yesterday was a beautiful day.  The sun was low in the sky, and the tide was very high, very still.  We stood on the very end of the Cumberland Basin, looking at the bridge, and then down at the water directly below us.  The first Entrance Lock gates had been opened recently, and clouds of silt were flowing into the river, at first slowly, and then when the second lock gate was opened too, very fast.

It’s one of my very favourite things, watching the clouds of silt under the water – the way they move, like eruptions, or something blossoming.   It’s magical to me, and I always hope I’ll see it.  Of course I wish I’d had my DSLR and tripod with me, as filming on my mobile has limitations, but still, I took nearly 50 snippets of film on my phone.  I’m not posting all of them here, but check out how gorgeous it was.  The light was changing, the water pressures kept changing too, and I was hypnotised.  We spent about an hour and a half there, and then walked home, with everything looking beautiful.  Cross fingers for me that my film photos worked too, because the river was extraordinary!

The sounds to imagine are a base rumble of traffic from the Portway ahead to the right, and behind on the Plimsoll swingbridge; the piercing blackbird song coming from across the river ahead of us, other birdsong layered up; and the sound of the water flowing, with gloops as eruptions of silt hit the surface.  The smell was of river-water on a hot day, so evocative and refreshing.  Spring breeze on my skin and in my hair, the stone of the Harbour edge warm in the sun, and gently-rough on my hands and where I sat.  The water was so high, it was only a metre and a half below us, and I was having fantasies of jumping in.

At first, it was relatively slow

Looking out across the river, the surface tensions were picked up by the light, but it was just too bright for my phone

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Vik’s photos of the Avon snow day

Back in March we had that unseasonable, surprise snow day, and Vik and I walked along the Avon and up into Leigh Woods.  I’m still thinking of how the falling snow sounded on the evergreen leaves, and how it felt under my feet – powdery and perfect.

Vik loves to use her toy cameras – plastic lensed, cheaply made medium format cameras, mostly the Holga and Diana, with no settings, and a ton of idiosyncrasies, like lightleaks, and the way the back of the camera will fall off for no apparent reason.   And with a ridiculously low ISO film, on a day without all those snow-clouds overhead, she wasn’t set up well, so only took two photos.   But wow, they’re gorgeous!

CNV00016

CNV00015

Compare them to my photos from the walk – and check out more of Vik’s photos over on her flickr and her instagram.

 

 

Cranbrook and the Redland Springs, April

In March I was looking at the springs in Redland that lead to Cranbrook, but I hadn’t realised that the Cranbrook leads down to The Arches, and that, according to the Big Blue Map of Bristol, it’s above ground around there. So two weeks ago, Tracy Homer and I went to have a look for it.   My (mostly phone) photos are in my flickr album (if you mouse over/tap the photo below, you should be able to see a slideshow…)  I have a film-ette and some sounds in the post below too.

The makeshift bridge

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My pictures in Photographique

Excuse my terrible phone photo!

Photographique is Phil Searle’s fantastic Bristol print lab: developing photos, printing them from digital and negative, selling frames and doing all kinds of things.   They’ve recently moved into their new North Street premises.  I’ve been using their services, or just dropping in for  a chat, for 10 years, so I was completely delighted when the manager Hamish Trevis, asked me if I’d like to have my photos on their walls this month.

It was a really good process for me.   This Avon Stories project is about a year old, but while it exists in different forms online (including the podcast and social media), and of course all my walks are In Real Life, I haven’t started showing it yet.  In fact, I haven’t had a show, or put photos on walls since my Photography degree finished, nearly 4 years ago.   I’ve really missed the process of editing, and taking this huge pile of stuff I’ve been making, and thinking how I can present it, so my huge thanks to Hamish and to Phil, for giving me this chance.

If you’re in/near Bristol, please do pop into Photographique, 53 North Street, and check out all their services online – and while you’re there, have a beer in Phil’s fantastic pub, The Hare, next door!   And if you like film photography, you can also enter their Analogue Photography Competition from anywhere in the UK, and win cash prizes.  But if you’re not nearby, I’ve put the photos I’m showing into a flickr album.

As well as putting the photos on the wall, Hamish made me a fantastic little booklet to go with them, so if you can’t get to see the pictures in person, here’s what they are, and why I’m showing them.

A weird occurance on the Avon

A gas leak on the closed Avon path

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Royate Hill and down the Frome

Ever since I went to Royate Hill Nature Reserve while walking along Coombe Brook with Tracy, I’ve been thinking about that space.   I was especially thinking about the photos I took of the brook from the viaduct, and wanting more.   So as last Tuesday was a beautiful day, I hopped on the bus to go back.   After the nature reserve, I walked back into town down the line of the Frome – my map is here:

and the album of photos is on flickr – or if you mouse over the first picture below, it should bring up the slideshow.   I have some film-ettes too, which I’ve added in below.

Royate Hill viaduct Nature Reserve

It was such a contrast to last time.  That day was grey and misty, Tuesday was blue skies, and breezes.  As soon as I got into the reserve and was walking up the steps, I could see how spring had changed things in the few weeks since I was last here, with cow parsley coming out, and annual plants everywhere.  All the leaves were that perfect spring acid green, shining in the sun.

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Avon Stories Podcast #23: Soundwalking with Dan Pope

There are so many ways to explore a place, and one of them is through the sounds you find there.  Dan Pope is an acoustic consultant and musician, who also makes sound-art and runs sound walks, and for this episode, we went walking down the St Philip’s Greenway and the closed Avon path, on a soundwalk.

Between stopping to find out what we could hear, Dan told me about various kinds of soundwalks, and how we can come at them from art, science, politics, ethnography, history, psychogeography, planning, and so many more viewpoints.

We also talked about his work, and what can be done to add positive (and negative!) soundscapes to places.

Dan has a fantastic list of sound resources, for people who want to explore sounds in their area:

  • The Hush City app is a great resource to add sounds you encounter to a global community – you can explore their website and see what they do
  • Cities and Memory is a global sound project, collecting sounds and having sound-artists remix them into sound-art pieces.  For example, their Politics of Protest global sound map.
  • The World Listening Project runs World Listening Day every year, with tons of events, including soundwalks – this year it’s on 18th July
  • The Institute of Acoustics has regional branches across the UK, which run events – find your local branch here.
  • The Bristol Walking Festival doesn’t have specific soundwalks this year, but there are tons of interesting walks to places that you can listen to
  • Apps like Titanium Recorder and the Soundcloud app are great for recording interesting sounds you hear out and about – look them up wherever you get your apps

We also briefly talked about some people working in sounds:

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