(Lock)Down by the River

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Funny how these things go, isn’t it? It’s more than 14 months since I added to this blog. We’re embroiled in the biggest peace-time emergency that I and almost any of you reading this will ever experienced. Consequently, most of us are living under “lockdown”. And here I am, adding a new chapter to my writing about the landscapes in my life!

Not how I planned it, of course. 2019 was a difficult year for me. I’d have liked to share with you some photos from my trip to Venice last March. However, while I was there, I picked up quite a severe gut bug, which affected me for several months after I returned, and by then, the Venice visit was something I really just wanted to forget.

Then, I began to develop chronic problems with my knees, which ended up greatly restricting my ability to get out and about with a bagful of cameras. They were not a whole lot better by September, when we set off for two weeks in the Dolomites. It was a trip I was really looking forward to, but I hadn’t counted on EasyJet. I had hand luggage full of camera gear, and a big bag of hold luggage containing everything else. We flew to Venice airport, where we had a hire car booked for the fortnight. Trouble is, EasyJet never actually loaded any hold luggage for our flight. I had, quite literally, what I stood up in on arrival, and it had been a warm morning when we left home. To cut a long and intensely frustrating story short, it was five days before the luggage caught up with us at our hotel in Cortina d’Ampezzo. The arrival of our boots, jackets, warm tops, etc coincided with the start of an extended wet spell of weather and a flare up of my knee troubles. Another trip best forgotten. And don’t get me started on the wettest UK winter in recent memory….

So why am I kickstarting this blog in the depths of the coronavirus pandemic? The pandemic hit northern Italy very hard. It was one of the first areas to suffer really badly. We’d got flights and a hotel in Venice booked for the end of March. Both were early victims of the pandemic close-downs. But I digress….

The coronavirus lockdown permits me to get out for daily, local exercise. Gyms and most other places are shut, of course. After a few weeks exploring walks to places within reach of home that I’d not visited for a while, I found myself walking beside the River Medway most afternoons. This coincided with a spell of rather good weather that suddenly gave way to rain. This reduced the numbers using the path considerably. It also gave me some quite dramatic photos of familiar places.

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On tv, there are currently a lot of programmes making “virtual” trips to museums etc, for the entertainment of those currently unable to visit them, because those museums are under lockdown themselves, of course. I’ve been contributing to several things like this myself, because there didn’t seem to me any point in my photos gathering dust in cyberspace. The great team that looks after the Medway River Park had been posting some nice shots of the Medway Path, and they responded very positively when I asked if they were interested in me also tweeting, over a series of weeks, the set of photos that formed the basis of my 2016 exhibition “Watching the River Flow” (about which, see here if you missed it at the time).

This was a great bit of fun, and a stroll down a memory lane mostly full of good memories.

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I gained several new followers on Twitter, and heard from numerous appreciative fans of the Medway Path. When all 35 or so photos used in the exhibition had been shared, it occurred to me that I could carry on for quite a bit longer, using the best of the images that made it to the exhibition shortlist but, owing to lack of space, not to the exhibition walls. At time of writing this, that’s what I’m up to. If you’re on Twitter, look up the hashtag #WatchingtheRiverFlow to see everything that has been posted there. I’ve also (within the limitations of Twitter’s allowed 280 character per tweet) told a bit of the story behind the individual shots and the exhibition itself.

This also allowed me to show off the photo I’ve used at the head of this blog. I think of it as possibly the best monochrome landscape image I have produced. It’s taken from one of two spots I seem to return to time and again with camera in hand. It seldom disappoints.

About tomsprints

I am a Masters athlete and freelance photographer living in Kent, in Great Britain. I'm a sprinter. As well as competing, my camera and I work regularly for the British Masters Athletics Federation and the European and World Masters Athletics organisations. For pleasure, I'm (principally) a landscape photographer. I have been blessed with the chance of spending quite a lot of time in the European Alps in the last 30 years. My web site is a vehicle for a my photographic work, and is at http://www.tomphillipsphotos.co.uk I run two blogs. One is about what it's like to be an older athlete ( http://tomsprints.wordpress.com ) and the other is basically about my photography ( https://ablogscape.wordpress.com ), although they often overlap.
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