Green London: Nunhead, Dulwich and Blythe Hill, a set on Flickr.
As part of my ongoing project to travel the whole of London by bike, taking photos of whatever interests me, and whatever I think reflects the state of London at this particular time in its history — the ongoing manifestation of a hideously greedy property boom, for example, or the luscious greenery brought about through endless rain, which is very probably a sign of serious climate change — I’ve just posted to my Flickr account my tenth set of photos of London, and the first in a sub-set of photos of “Green London.”
This project of mine — to record London by bike — began two months ago, through a need for exercise after six years of sitting at a computer, a need to experience the sunshine — whenever the sun emerged — after the rainiest March and April in living memory (a trend that continues), and through a renewed fascination for photography (a love of mine since I was a teenager) after my wife bought me a digital camera for Christmas.
As opposed to the photos taken on specific journeys — around the Isle of Dogs, for example, or through Canary Wharf, or alongside canals to the East End, or in search of the Olympics — “Green London” will be an occasional series, capturing particular green environments — parks and cemeteries, for example — as well as other examples of wonderful greenery. These photos will, in general, be glimpses caught on longer journeys, or just one-off photos, as things that are green and growing constantly draw my attention, their organic forms so complex compared to much that is man-made, their patterns a permanent source of fascination.
I hope you enjoy this green world, as a contrast to the grey blocks that make up so much of human life in London and elsewhere. With so much of London seized upon by developers, I remain permanently grateful for those who — mostly in Victorian times — fought to keep or to establish parks and other green spaces, resisting enclosure, and preserving the lungs of the city, and its spaces of freedom to roam and to play and to think and to breathe, without which the pressures on our mental health would be even more sustained than they already are.
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed — and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Flickr (my photos) and YouTube. Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in April 2012, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and please also consider joining the new “Close Guantánamo campaign,” and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.
On Facebook, Jo Ann Ryan wrote:
very nice indeed. Like your posts as well
Thanks, Jo Ann. Very glad you like the photos – and the words!
On Digg, cosmicsurfer wrote:
LOVE Green London. I fear what it will look like after 2 weeks of tromping, galumphing, touristy types chased by police and military (since G4 didn’t bother to hire enough people…Security being SO VERY important in a Police State)
I see the government got the anti-aircraft and weaponry on the roofs though
Thanks, cosmicsurfer. London’s so big that many of the green spaces will be fine, but I dread to think how unpleasant everything will be in and around the Olympic Park, or any of the other places where events are taking place. Fortunately, I’ll be away for the first few days of the Games. After that, I’ll see if I can get around by bike at all, and see how much they’ve wrecked Greenwich. They’ve already turned half of the ancient park into a horrible building site.
On Facebook, Carol Anne Grayson wrote:
Lovely images and I imagine quite a therapeutic journey… thanks for sharing…
The journeys are very therapeutic, Carol, yes. Glad you like the photos. Many more to come …!
Carol Anne Grayson wrote:
Good… therapeutic for me to view too
Louise Gordon wrote:
Those are beautiful. They remind me of the Heather Garden near the Cloisters in New York.
Dave Colding wrote:
Nice project andy!
Thanks again, Carol, and thanks, Louise and Dave. Your support is very much appreciated.
Patricia Sheerin-Richman wrote:
Andy, have you noticed any ground-to-air missiles in the parks on your travels? Here in Wimbledon Park the green spaces are getting smaller and smaller – military-style compounds and the building of a THIRD car park.
I haven’t noticed any ground-to-air missiles, Patricia, although there were some on Blackheath at some point. They have made a complete mess of Greenwich Park, however, which they turned into a giant building site, and then closed the road through the park and limited pedestrian access, so that on a Sunday when I visited recently, it was almost impossible for myself, my son and the throngs of foreign tourists to move about freely, even though no work was being done, the road remained closed, which was simply infuriating.
Ann Alexander wrote:
These are beautiful photos, Andy. So many magnificent old trees. Could you still read the dates on the old gravestones in Camberwell Old Cemetery?
Thanks, Ann. Much appreciated. I didn’t try reading the dates, although I’d imagine that many of them are legible, as they are in my local cemetery in Brockley. A lot of it depends on the type of stone they used …
You have to be in the right mood to read gravestones, I find, with their infant mortalities and other suffering. They’re extraordinary places, though – nature reserves, and museums to mortality, as well as, occasionally, being actively used.
Ann Alexander wrote:
In Aberdeen the old cemetery is right in the centre of the city. People sit on the flat gravestones to have their dinner. In the Arburthnott graveyard where many of my ancestors are buried some of the graves have metal “stones” and I was told that if people needed money they sold the “stone” to be passed on to someone who could afford to buy it. There is a suicide grave just outside these cemetery gates. As you say, Andy, they are extraordinary places.
Thanks again, Ann. Lovely comments. My family’s graves are in Lancashire and Yorkshire, so I don’t have a direct connection – but I suppose I feel about them like I do about ancient sacred sites. They’re the ancestors, and they deserve a respect that those rushing around being as greedy as possible and not seeing beyond themselves cannot understand.
Investigative journalist, author, filmmaker, photographer and Guantanamo expert
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