Clapham Common and Stockwell Skateparks

In my usual pursuit of landscape or architectural subjects, I often found myself treating people as an annoyance and an obstruction. But a nagging sense that photographic abilities, or a photographic sense of style, which depended on the absence of people was not much cop, especially in London of all places, prompted me to set myself a challenge to make people the focus of my photos for a change.

So it was that I headed off to Clapham Common, the first of two nearby skate parks on the afternoon's agenda.

Clapham Common Skatepark

Under the M4

Checking out graffiti in an unlikely chamber of light, underneath the M4 in Boston Manor Park.

Under the M4 - diagonal

River Brent — from Brentford to Perivale

Following the River Brent through west London from its namesake Brentford up to Perivale, I discovered an eclectic range of sights, including:

  • a 17th century manor house,
  • an 18th century flight of locks,
  • from the 19th century, Isambard Kingdom Brunel's first major structure,
  • from the 20th, a magical accidental motorway-cathedral-island,

all mixed up with some delightful (and some fairly average) parks, and rounded off with a nice sunset.

Abandoned boat on the Brent

Wye Tour, Part Three: Abbey, Bridges and Castles

The final chapter of my Wye tour is an ABC of picturesque, as I test William Gilpin's assertion that the correctly picturesque usually requires architectural intervention by taking in the delights of one ruined Cistercian abbey, a pair of contrasting bridges, and a couple of Norman-going-on-medieval castles.

Chepstow Castle above the Wye

Wye Tour, Part Two: the Forest of Dean

If you haven't read the opening installment of this trilogy, A Picturesque Wye Tour, Part One, then you should probably go ahead and do so.

Because in that piece, I introduce the awfully brilliant structural conceit of following in the footsteps of 18th century priest William Gilpin, who wrote an influential travel book about his 1770 trip to this neck of the woods.

The trouble is though... he missed the woods in this neck of the woods. He followed the Wye, and then scooted off into Wales. Didn't pop into the Forest of Dean at all, really.

So, while I may yet crowbar Rev. Gilpin back into part three, that whole angle looks to be a dead loss for this episode. We'll just have to explore the forest without him...

Sculpture at New Fancy View

A Picturesque Wye Tour, Part One: Symonds Yat and the Kymin

The Wye Valley holds as a particular status in the historical story of British tourism. 18th century priest and author William Gilpin kick-started the notion of Picturesque, feeding into the broader Romantic movement, with his 1772 treatise Observations on the River Wye and several parts of South Wales, etc. relative chiefly to Picturesque Beauty; made in the summer of the year 1770.

As the Napoleonic Wars raged across the continent, the Wye Tour become popular as a domestic replacement for the Grand Tour.

I am lucky enough to live in an age where Schengen has replaced Napoleon, but this borderland between Wales and England remains worth a visit. Camping with my parents, we undertook our own mini version of the Wye Tour.

Looking North from Symonds Yat Rock

Bushy Park

In which I foolishly attempt to walk across the open space of London's second largest Royal Park under the baking sun of perhaps the hottest day of 2012.

Heron Pond

Skyline spotting from London's hills

The Shard has taken most of the headlines by claiming the title of tallest building in the EU (and, briefly, Europe, until overtaken by Moscow's Mercury City Tower). But it's not alone: London has an ever-going range of skyscrapers, some designed by renowned architects; some designs great, some... debatable.

In this piece I do a round-up of some of the best publically accessible high points in London for a panaromic view of London's skyline.

Shard and City skyline from Norwood Park

Wandle Trail

A long-time resident of Wandsworth borough, I have long been aware that the borough takes its name from the River Wandle. This is a river I cross almost every time I go to central London, and yet in Wandsworth town centre is scarcely visible.

This is, hopefully, to change, as I will touch upon later. However, at present the nicer stretches of the Wandle are further from the Thames, as I discovered when I impulsively decided to vary my diet of Thames riverbank strolling with an exploration of my local tributary.

River Wandle in Watermeads Nature Reserve

Olympics in Putney

I didn't really do the Olympics.

When the ticket sales were announced a year or so before the games, I was in scrooge mode. Money could be spent on better things, I thought. Exposure could be better given to other cities, I added, in noble generosity. And how the hell am I supposed to know if I'll feel like watching weightlifting or shotput eleven months next Tuesday?

So I didn't buy any tickets.

Of course, bloody Boyle went and ruined that...

Cycle road race on Upper Richmond Road

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