I grew up in London, a vibrant, multicultural metropolis that has sprawled out from the Thames over thousands of years, swallowing villages on its way. Over time I have made my way further south.
My understanding of the landscapes, culture and wildlife of southern England has been gained from living in the region for over 20 years but also from walking, reading and travelling around it.
I began exploring southern England as a photographer, writer and volunteer in earnest in 2011. The deepest knowledge I have about any landscape is that of an area of woodland in south-east London known as the Great North Wood, spreading from Deptford in Lewisham to Selhurst in Croydon. I worked and volunteered in that landscape for over 7 years. There I learned from many amazing people about woodlands old and new, urban wildlife and the need people have for green spaces in cities. I particularly learned about the need I had for these spaces.
From 2011 to 2018 I walked the North Downs for recreation, writing a series of short pieces under the banner of a North Downs Diary. During this time I learned as much as I could about chalk grassland, its rare wildlife and human influence. It gave me a sense of relief from London’s pressures which are very real and can be hugely unnerving for people. The chalk hills of the North Downs felt like a gateway into thousands of years of European history and into some of the rarest habitats in Europe.
Living close to Clapham Junction station for a few years gave me a quickfire route into the New Forest National Park in Hampshire. This ancient woodland landscape is of European importance and I have written about some of my walks there. It is somewhere I return to several times each year so it is not a closed book.
Now based in Sussex, my focus has shifted to the South Downs and the Sussex Weald. The landscapes I dreamed about in London are now very close at hand and it has taken a lot to get used to. New placesnames fill my head and I am forgetting other things. I am grappling with new pronunciations, the heavy influence of Anglo-Saxons and invading Normans down here.
The personal driving force behind all this is the desire to learn as much as I can about the history of southern England, its landscapes and wildlife, in order to better understand the present. Ultimately, all this I put on here is to raise awareness about the natural and cultural treasures we have, how fragile they are, and how much we all need them to develop a sense of place.
Thank you for looking at my website, I hope you enjoy what you find.