Growing up in the countryside meant being thrown out of the front door during school holidays and told to go play. We had a Sega Mega Drive (in fact it’s sat in front of me right now, begging to be played on) but our time on it was restricted, and to be honest I can’t really remember being as crazy about it as my brothers are about their Playstation. Not knocking the wonderfulness of the Sega of course, I think we just loved playing outside more.
We used to spend our days down by the river, in the woods building a base and climbing trees or throwing ourselves down the big scary hill at the end of our road, on a variety of wheeled contraptions such as bikes, rollerblades and a go-kart my dad had crafted from an old buggy base and some bits of wood and rope.
The thing my school friends can remember about coming to play at my house was my huge dressing up box, again crafted by my dad, full of cast offs and shiny things that could make us princess pirates for hours and hours. My friends didn’t have anything like it at their houses. I can recall spending most of the summer in 1996, aged 9, wearing a huge circle denim skirt from the dressing up box, laying in a musty hammock that my dad had dug out from somewhere and strung between two of the fruit trees in our garden, reading Enid Blyton. Can someone say born in the wrong era?
I didn’t realise how much I missed greenery till I moved to London in 2008. Having lived primarily at home and then at university (in Bournemouth, only 10 minutes drive to some form of nature, be it the beach or a big old woody place – I actually use to walk through the woods everyday to get to campus) I was used to being surrounded with calm.
I lived in the Big Smoke for 2 years, living in Wood Green (not as pleasant and full of nature as it may sound) and then Bermondsey. Both places were great for getting into town, but not so great for the calm and escape that I now realise I need. Luckily, in that first year, we lived very close to Alexandra Palace, and the wild gardens there became my sanctuary. Even if the dogwalkers thought I was a mental person for walking around there with no dog and a satisfied smile on my face.
I took a few pictures so that even if it was raining and cold, I could be in my secret places, even when I was in bed.
I thought I’d share them for those who are caught in cement cities, like I was, and need some shrubbery, like I did.
(Please note, I’m not a fancy schmancy photographer like P, I did all these with my little point and click, hence why they aren’t up to his fab standard.)