Wednesday 21st February 2018
I hadn't planned to go for a walk today; there were other priorities. I've had four hard days, including a pre-dawn trip to London. As I open my eyes, looking through the window at the fluffy pink clouds in the dawn sky, through the haze of tiredness I realize I'm not going to get any brain-work done today. Probably best to go for a walk instead.
Train to Moreton in Marsh, bus to Stow, Icomb Hill, Wyck Beacon, Church Westcote, Bledington, Kingham – 13.9km/8⅗ miles, 180m/590ft ascension, 3¾ hours
Wednesday 14th February 2018
I need to write a 'logical sonnet' in a hurry. Too many distractions here, so I take the problem out into the sticks – on a cold, windy, sleaty Winter Warwickshire ridgeline.
Train to Warwick Parkway, Hatton Park, Haseley, Hatton Green, Hatton Bank Locks, Warwick Parkway – 10.3km/6⅖ miles, 90m/300ft ascension, 2¾ hours
Wednesday 7th February 2018
Ever since the railway line from Oxford to Bicester re-opened at the end of 2016 I've been longing to revisit one of my favourite places; Otmoor. It's time I enacted that plan.
Train to Islip, Oddington, Otmoor, Backley, Elsfield, Woodeaton, Water Eaton, Oxford Parkway – 18.8km/11⅔ miles, 150m/500ft ascension, 4¾ hours
How do we relate to the real world? Within the increasingly virtual environment of the modern world, has humanity progressively lost an important part of its own identity? How do you recover that loss? Can recreation become re-creation?
These pages originated from a challenge – my claim that you did not need to travel 50 or 100 miles from Banbury to find beautiful countryside, to the Chilterns, Peak District or Wales; and that, in fact, Banbury is at the heart of its own geographically unique landscape.
It's also about my long-standing belief that developing an attachment to our own 'place' can be a route to making sense of the wider world, and the events taking place within it.
I started to send my photos around, via email, in 2012. I wanted to share the rather wonderful sights it is possible to find in the countryside around the Banbury area.
In part that's the 'wisdom' we can gain from writers such as Arne Naess – it is possible to overdose on the 'spectacular', and so miss the deep beauty inherent within the every-day landscapes/urbanscapes around us.
As part of my work I also get to travel Britain. For that reason, in addition to walks around 'Banburyshire', this journal roams around the country on occasion – documenting the many other seemingly hum-drum places that people take for granted around the rest of Britain. I hope that provides a comparison to demonstrate that the 'Irondowns' of North Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire do represent a specific, special natural environment.
Each photo is intended to encapsulate a moment, and so for each I compose a little ditty that captures the scene; be it prose, poem or complete nonsense. I hope that each opens a little window into the world, and the fun we can share if we slow down and observe the everyday scenes around us.
Most of all, I hope that you'll be encouraged to get out and walk!
Note that the images on these pages are made available for non-commercial/private use under The Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike 2.0 Licence. These and many more (higher quality!) images are available for commercial use if you agree a license first – please get in touch for details.