Banburyshire Rambles Photo-Journal

Paul Mobbs’ photographic record of his walks around ‘Banburyshire’ and ‘The Irondowns’, and occasionally, as part of his work around Britain, the areas beyond.

From simply posting the odd photograph around email, since 2012 the ‘Rambles Journal’ has grown to document more elements of my time spent outdoors; from documenting our local ancient sites, to monitoring the construction of HS2.

In these pages I reflect upon some of the deeper motivations behind that; as well as tackling some of the most politically sensitive issues such as, “what or where is Banburyshire?”

This introduction explores the background to the Banburyshire Rambles Photo-Journal – looking at the area I walk and why I find it of interest.

The beginnings of the ‘Rambles Journal’

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 seriously documenting the local landscape in photographs around 2010, and began routinely sending them around via email in 2012. I wanted to share the rather wonderful sights it is possible to find in the countryside around Banbury.

In part that's the 'wisdom' we can gain from writers such as Arne Naess – that it is possible to overdose on the 'spectacular', and so miss the deep beauty inherent within the every-day landscapes/urbanscapes around us.

I hope that provides a comparison to demonstrate that ‘The Irondowns’ of North Oxfordshire and South Northamptonshire do represent a specific, special natural environment.

The evolution of the ‘Rambles Journal’

As with any natural organism, leave it long enough and it will either die or evolve.

At the core of the Journal, and what was behind its original creation, is an exploration of what a lifetime spending time in the countryside has given to me: The realisation that the modern lifestyle robs us of our essential, vital sense of who and what we are as biological beings; and the stress that separation creates is a blight on modern society – as outlined from the work of Carl Jung on the natural world half a century ago, and more more recently Theodore Rozak's explorations into ecopsychology.

Spending time in nature on a regular basis, stripped of all those artificial cocoons and distractions, allows us to appreciate those realities and discern how we should organise our relationship with both the natural world and technology.

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.

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!