Hilly Fields in the Snow, a set on Flickr.
On Friday, when the snow began falling on London — something that is not even necessarily an annual occurrence in the UK — I took a tour by bike around Brockley, my home in south east London, and also visited Ladywell, Lewisham and Greenwich, taking photos as the first snow fell.
I posted the first set of photos yesterday, and was planning to post the second set, featuring Greenwich, today, but then it began snowing again, more heavily than before, and I spent this afternoon on another photographic trip — first of all, taking my son sledging in Hilly Fields, the hill-top park in Brockley that is one of my favourite places to visit, and then cycling through Brockley and on, via New Cross, to Deptford, capturing one of my favourite urban environments in the snow.
This set, the 73rd in my ongoing project to photograph the whole of London by bike, features the first part of today’s journey — the sledging in Hilly Fields, which is always packed out when the snow falls. I hope to post the other sets soon, although I also have other sets to post from my recent visit to the US, and, in particular, of New York, which is as visually mesmerising as London, and which, between appointments dealing with the ongoing disgrace that is the prison at Guantánamo, I had the opportunity to get to know better than ever before.
In the meantime, as the snow still falls, and as I prepare to go out on my bike once more to take some night photos, I hope you enjoy these glimpses of winter parklife in London. Hilly Fields is rarely as busy as it is when the snow falls, and it’s also wonderful to see children and their parents out in force, enjoying pastimes that nature provides, and which have been enjoyed for hundreds of years, as a refreshing alternative to the corporate toys that take up most of our free time — my camera and my computer included, of course!
Admittedly, it is possible to splash out on top-end sledges and toboggans, but, as one teenager demonstrated, if you don’t have a sledge, you can also use an estate agent’s sign — which to my mind, is a distinct improvement on its intended use!
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, Kassandra Allbright wrote:
We haven’t had anything approaching that level of snow since 1985. Thanks for the interlude of joy, Andy.
You’re welcome, Kassandra. It gives me great pleasure to provide an interlude of joy amidst the generally unrelenting bad news. I think it will last a little longer, at least. My son went to sleep fervently hoping that school would be cancelled tomorrow. Can’t blame him! Maybe we could make it the start of that general strike that ought to happen when we have a government of unprecedentedly scandalous cruelty and economic ineptitude. “Snow triggers revolution!” I’d like that, but dammit, I’ve just burst my own joyous interlude, haven’t I?
Ruth Gilburt wrote:
Was up there myself with Rubes, though didn’t see you. Mind you, I only chatted to the people directly alongside me as the snow was lashing my face!!! It was lovely though x
I was there with Tyler for about an hour, Ruth, and then he went off to meet friends and play on Telegraph Hill, and I spent a few more hours cycling around, with a permanent blizzard of snow flying into my face! It was wonderfully exhilarating!
Emanuela Brahamsha wrote:
Fab pics Andy!
Kassandra Allbright wrote:
Everything here has been about guns in some form or other since the massacre at that elementary school in December. The thought of snow and London, well, it is a form of relief. I hope your son’s wish comes true.
Jackie Sherman wrote:
love this bit….
‘- it’s lying all over London like a 1970s-style shagpile carpet,’
Jackie Sherman wrote:
oh.. and the pixs were great too..lol!!
Paul Astles wrote:
The first one is the one Andy, with the To Let sign
Thanks, Eman, Jackie and Paul. You’re right indeed, Paul, the use of the “To Let” sign speaks volumes.
And Kassandra, your eloquent explanation of why you were so happy to see people playing in the snow in London without a gun in sight was very moving. Thanks again.
Beverly Hendricks wrote:
How fun! We never had a snow like that in London the whole time I lived there, nearly three years.
It’s rare, Beverly, that’s for sure. A real treat!
Christopher John Webster wrote:
nice to see some people in your photos Andy…
Yes, apparently I can’t avoid people entirely, Chris! And just last week I had all those people dressed in orange jumpsuits in my photos, to mark the 11th anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo in Washington D.C. I have some more empty streets coming soon, though …!
On Facebook, when I posted the photo, “Hilly Fields in the snow,” I wrote:
So here’s one of my favourite photos from my most recent set, of snow and games in my local hill-top park, Hilly Fields, taken yesterday afternoon and posted last night. Check out the lad on the right, using a “To Let” sign as a sledge, and hunched over like some biblical penitent.
Jaq White wrote:
That was my favourite from the set – timeless!
Jennah Solace wrote:
Looks like fun! Way to capture a joyful moment
Kevi Brannelly wrote:
Can u send some of that snow back our way? Haven’t had a proper storm in years
Ann Alexander wrote:
Great photos that makes me think of home. My favourite is the one of Tyler.
Thanks, Jaq, Jennah, Kevi and Ann. Good to hear from you all. Not sure what’s happening with the weather, Kevi. The amount of snow that fell was not normal, and it was a shock to come back from the US, where it had been particularly mild, to a very cold London, followed almost immediately by the snow.
Glad you liked the photo of Tyler, Ann. “Aw, cool,” as he would probably say …
Chris Smallaxe McCabe wrote:
Good to see kids playing out…
Yes, it’s all part of that hugely important “civil society” that the Tories are devoted to destroying, Chris. Thanks for the comment!
Writer, campaigner, investigative journalist and commentator. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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