Secret places bewitched me as a child. Tiny caves between two rocks. The corner of an overgrown orchard busy with buzzing bees. The mass of wild, yellow flag iris – and their heady scent on a hot July day – begging to be investigated at the edge of the river – even though I was bound to be late home.. and in trouble – because it was where a woman had drowned in the previous year. Secret, unknown places bewitched me.
I once worked on a day long event with Common Ground – the charity organisation that promotes a greater bond between the people in a community and their environment. It celebrates what I love most to photograph, or draw – the places and spaces that catch our eye with their breath-taking beauty, as we go about the business of our day. These are not the iconic and famous landmarks, landscapes or buildings of world-renown – already celebrated and not requiring help to be known and valued.
There is often little known at all about some of the places I’ve photographed..although this does not mean these places are without a story to tell. Some will have surprising anecdotes attached. My house, Larglea, is not famous or even well-known.. and yet it was once the home of the first driver ever to win a Grand Prix race for Lotus, in the USA. His story died with him..but not any longer if I have anything to do with it. More of this in a future post.
Opposite my new house is The Ship Inn, a simple and very good small country inn. Here – in a room opposite my current bedroom is the room where Dorothy Sayers wrote Five Red Herrings.. a novel that pre-dated even Agatha Christie’s successes. Agatha Christie – as the wife of Sir Max Mallowen – was the governor of my primary school. I met her when she presented me with a writing prize for a story that involved a white horse falling into a paint pot and experiencing colour prejudice (!). A fact of which I am misguidedly proud and which will feature inside the cover of “the novel’ I may never write.
These stories involve relatively well-known characters. What of the stories of the rest of us.. your stories.. mine? The real fabric of time woven from the warp and weft of our lives, our loves..our losses?
We are surrounded by wonderful places – and their unknown stories – in our everyday home environment and landscape. It’s time we accorded them the appreciation they deserve.
Someone was doing just that when they created this snowman/woman.. on the hillside above Gatehouse Of Fleet. She (I’m fairly sure) has a view all the way to the Isle of Man – some 50 miles distant across the Solway and out to the Irish Sea. Henry Moore style-snow sculpture made by an unknown hand.
Each of these images was taken today, in a four hour time-frame, within a 10 mile radius. Some, right outside my door.
By these unknown places I remain..