Ooh, I’ll keep an eye out for this series when it begins on BBC4 on 29 April.
One of my infamous Dawn Raids occurred this morning. It so happened the weather was forecast to be clear, and there was a high tide coinciding with sunrise, give or take a few minutes. I headed out to Hoo St Werburgh, which has rapidly become my local sunrise location of choice.
Swapping lenses on a DSLR always increases the possibility of dust and grot getting into the camera body. Only when I got home and downloaded the images did I spot a small hair in the bottom right corner of many images, caused by my holding an uncapped lens in the crook of my arm while swapping them about. At wider apertures the fibre was all but invisible, but stopping down meant it became clearer and clearer. I’ve had to do a bit of selective cropping and cloning to tidy things up. I was lucky, really, it only encroached in a corner. It has now been removed from the camera body.
For those without Flash, here’s the direct link to the set on Flickr.
If Hoo were chosen, which isn’t unlikely, the question then becomes: what would be destroyed to make way for it? The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has, as usual, the quickest and simplest answer – the wetland habitats of visiting species – but beyond that the losses are less definable, and not so easy to raise a fuss over. Since Dickens’s day, the creeks and marshes of Hoo have had a bleak form of celebrity as the spot where Pip first met Magwitch, and where prison hulks (Magwitch had just escaped from one of them) could be occasionally glimpsed through the mist on the Medway. In fact, the countryside is prettier and hillier than you expect. On a hot day last week, workers from Poland and Bulgaria were spreading straw across fields of strawberries while the knapped flint of Hoo’s several 13th-century churches shone in the sun. There is also a 14th-century castle owned by Jools Holland and a workaday marina, about as far from Cowes in its social atmosphere as it’s possible to get.
It’s no surprise I—as many residents in the Medway Towns and surrounding areas—oppose the plans for an airport on Hoo. I found this a thoughtful piece from last Saturday’s Guardian.
As ever, for those without the gift of Flash, please follow this link.
I got up early this morning to go out to Hoo St Werburgh again, this time with a friend keen to try out his new camera.
I made the conscious decision to shoot black and white. The hazy early morning landscape sort of lent itself to mono today, with very little colour visible even when the sun had risen quite high.
I am quite pleased with the results. Strange as it may sound, I think I am maturing as a landscape photographer. I feel able to pick my subjects, and capture them, without trying too hard. Most of the images I took today are acceptable, but I am getting much better at editing down to the very best, which is why those uploaded represent about ten per cent of the total frames I took.
As the seasons roll round, and the summer heads our way, thoughts turn again to getting out at the crack of dawn to make pictures.
I thought I was alone in my early bird habits, but a friend of mine is keen enough to learn more about his new camera that he suggested we head out together.
So, Friday morning it is. We’ll be heading for my favourite spot of Hoo St Werburgh, by the Kingsnorth power station on the river Medway. The tide will be in, the weather looks set fair-ish, and the sun will rise at a not unreasonable 06.39 BST.
I have to say, I am really looking forward to the trip.
Opponents of a new airport in the Thames Estuary have welcomed a government decision to designate the land earmarked for the project as a new wildlife haven.
The Thames Marshes have been included in a list of 12 Nature Improvement Areas and campaigners believe this could scupper the project.
The RSPB and Medway Council believe the airport would damage the environment.
However, supporters of the idea say the UK needs more airport capacity.
The airport would be built partly on reclaimed land and could be on either an island or a peninsula.
A ray of hope.
Help us to oppose the estuary airport scheme by emailing Boris direct.
BoJo is at it again.
Visit the site linked above, which is supported by Medway Council, Kent County Council and the RSPB, and send an email to the Mayor of London registering your displeasure. I have.
I’ve only just discovered the North Kent Marshes, despite having lived in the area for over two decades. I like the fact there is such a large area of wilderness, sandwiched between the Thames and Medway. I like the fact the unique landscape of marshland is home to all kinds of wildlife, and to hardy souls who live in scattered communities across the Hoo Peninsula. It saddens me that the Mayor of London persists in trying to destroy this place, with some pie-in-the-sky dream of enticing some 75 million Chinese to buy duty free tat as they swap planes for an onward journey to who knows where!
But now the new Transport Secretary Justine Greening has refused to rule out the possibility of building an airport in the Thames Estuary.
Speaking at a conference of airport operators Ms Greening, who was appointed last month, said all the options for increasing airport capacity in the South East would have to be considered – including a new airport offshore between Kent and Essex.
So, it seems the plans, despite being dismissed by opponents could, if Lord Foster gets his way, yet fly.
This thing just won’t lay down and die, will it?
Answers, please: what happens to London City Airport, Biggin Hill, Southend, Manston, Stansted, and all the smaller airfields in the vicinity?
What will happen to the environment? It might look like the Hoo Peninsula is a wasteland, but that’s purely because hardly anything human lives there. It’s one of the few truly wild places left in North Kent, and should be left as such.
Why does a UK hub have to be so close to London anyway? What about all the ex-RAF airfields in East Anglia that could be renovated to act as a hub airport? I’d rather revamp a brownfield site that shit upon a green one.
I am concerned that the newly-promoted Transport Secretary appears to be positive to this project. I had been assured by my local MP that the Government was against such large projects in the Thames Estuary. I fervently hope that Kent County Council, Medway Council and the local MPs continue to oppose Boris Johnson foisting projects on an area which is outside his remit.
Best Beloved came up with an idea. If BoJo wants a new London Airport, how about flattening the West End? It would have perfect transport links to the main northern railway routes.
The Hoo Peninsula is a sparsely-populated collection of mudflats and farmland, situated between the Thames and Medway estuaries. It’s a strange landscape, home to wildlife and bird sanctuaries as well as a string of power stations and oil and gas storage facilities. Right at the end, you come to the Isle of Grain.
I’d like to be charitable about Grain. It has a couple of pubs, a primary school, a fire station, supermarket, a church with an oddly stubby tower, and some sea views. Otherwise, it’s 1960s and 1970s housing estate with a socking great power station next door. I’m not entirely sure why people want to live in Grain. It has to be a self-sufficient community, since it’s nearly an hour to get to Chatham and Rochester. Perhaps the community grew up to service the numerous power stations strung along the north shore of the Medway.
I have been to Grain before. A couple of times on business, and a couple of times to see what was there. Despite various attempts at getting things moving out there, the latest being Thamesport, an earlier one being Port Victoria, the place remains a curious mix of industry and bleak landscape.
Having done some of the Saxon Shore Way closer to the Medway Towns—Hoo St Werburgh and Upnor, chiefly—I decided it was time to venture to the end of the peninsula to see what it was like. I think the journey was worth taking, and I took the opportunity to reconnoitre other likely locations to visit.
Hoo St Werburgh is a place I keep being drawn back to. This was taken in late summer 2009, on my first visit. I feel another trip coming on, if the weather is suitable.