Postcode: bs9

bristol’s bs9 postode ~ photos and short stories

[o] village, impression

‘village, impression’. high st, westbury-on-trym, bs9 (16/06/09)

early summers evening in westbury, painting. depth of field and murky window softening lines and smudging colour.

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oranges + lemons (charlecombe court, bs9)

i found a hand-written a-board outside a shut charity shop. “it’s back! by popular demand! the sale rail!” it said, quite understated. i wanted it to be the focus of the shot but still to have a human element, so waited for someone to appear in the distance whilst cornering an available drain-pipe and shop frame.

once i got my shot, i head a bit further up to a bakers, wandering in to get some breakfast and a coffee. placing my camera down on the counter to rest my wrist, i catch the back end of the ladies’ conversation: “…. and he was taking a photo of a DRAIN PIPE!”, just as one of them turned around to take my order. i wasn’t sure whether to say anything (“yes, but have you SEEN that drain pipe?!”) but didn’t. i just smiled inwardly and waited.

i left (with camera) to head back outside into the sun whilst their conversation skipped onto another topic.

next door to the bakers was a newsagents with one of those info windows where people can advertise or request services, products. i was quite happily framing a shot (having forgotten the ladies in the bakers), when i heard a voice. initially i didn’t think she could have been talking to me.

“what ARE you doing?” shouted the 50-something lady – a new customer at the bakers – leaning towards, with an incredulous expression (the bakers-ladies lined up behind and either side of her, looking on with anticipation).

now, the vast majority of people i meet are interested in what i am taking photos of and why in a kindly way. they recognise that i am there because i see something of beauty. but every now and then i meet people who really are not comfortable with me and/or my camera. i don’t know if it’s because i look suspicious. i suspect it’s got a lot to do with fear of the unknown; they are not used to street photographers taking an interest in their community. i know that they cannot see exactly what i am seeing so i try and make myself available to put people at ease where i can.

but i think there is a way to ask – i didn’t really appreciate her accusatory tone. i wasn’t annoyed but i thought i’d have some fun.

not wanting to shout, i re-entered the bakers and replied “i’m a street photographer, i’m taking photos”, looking down at my camera. “i like the shop front next door. i’m not taking photos of you. is that ok?”

“yes” she replied.

“what are you doing” i continued, smiling, “buying bread?”

she looked at the bread sat on the counter, “yes” she said.

the ladies behind the counter said nothing. i left.

i know i need to be aware of other people around me and respect that some people feel uncomfortable having their photo taken. it is for this reason, mainly, that i tend not to listen to music whilst shooting anymore (though i also find it more relaxing to hear sounds of the city and nature). the odd hello, brief conversation and longer chat also help me feel more connected to the people and places that i visit. even the bakers.

thank you for reading don’t forget the sun. take care. k x

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village, impression (westbury-on-trym, bs9)

i haven’t posted for some time now. in fact, i haven’t been out taking photos for a while. i’ve been away over the weekends (in mind, body or both).

but subconsciously i have also been waiting, and having taken delivery of my new camera and lens – excitedly – i’m out again. and so is the sun.

i have a half-years resolution for weekdays: i plan to get out of bed earlier and make the most of morning light; also stay active into the evening… it’s 5pm as i head out of my front door, virgin equipment in hand and peculiar nervous excitement in my stomach.

and so – on with new things – comes another: westbury-on-trym, bs9. just north of the downs (beyond stoke bishop), this little village of 10,000 or so buzzes with the sound of commuters heading home plus the occasional motorised wheelchair hurtling around the roundabout merrily, hugging the curb.

it is, perhaps, an elderly populus. and as i look around me the pavements are eerily clear. tea time. 

but the sun shines on. and it’s that beautiful intermittent sky: sun, clear blue sky, with great big servings of meringue cloud (a technical term). these sugary dollops roll randomly, morphing, occasionally blocking and necessitating a patient waiting game on any given ledge; a chance to breathe and take in the surrounds.

there are several charity shops, a couple of cafes (locally run by the looks of it) and a pub advertising an available lease, although it remains open. at the centre of the roundabout is a wreathed war memorial.

new light draws me up again. i look around to see twin chimney stacks seemingly mirrored with twin helpings of meringue. ground level, there’s bright barricading encircling and protecting two road signs (though there could be roadworks, i suppose). the shadow created by the housing to my right appears a good fit to the shape of the barricading, as if once joined but now separated by the gradual path of the sun.

i walk on. around the corner and toward the end of the high st there are various restaurants of mixed spice and splendour. one – a thai – has a vivid bolt of light shining through its’ front door. a bit further on there’s a bridge with the river ‘trym’ trickling sedately underneath. back up the high st i spy some traditional old red phoneboxes – three in fact, all in a row – and wander over for a peak inside and out. into and through.

i’m asked by a walking-stick wielding gentlemen if i’m taking photos. i wander briefly if he’s perhaps annoyed, inquisitive or just a bit mischievous (as it is clear that i am indeed taking photos). “yes, i am”, i reply straight faced and respectful. “it’s lovely here” he replies, immediately, and quite informatively. followed by “good day!” as he walked of f with less speed than haste.

“you too, sir”…

who knows, but i imagine he may have lived here in this village for many years, possibly all his life. if you were to ask him of home, “westbury-on-trym” would be his reply, “bristol” at a push (with geographic reference to westbury thrown in proudly).

i head back up the hill whence i came in no great hurry despite my rumbling tummy. the rythym of the village, of the day, seeps in. all thoughts of yesterdays and tomorrows are lost. first things first: enjoy the walk home. 

an architect’s dream – kate bush

thanks for reading don’t forget the sun. take care. k x

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