This weekend the bloke and I went out brandishing our cameras. Our initial target was one favoured by artists - most notably Constable - Bodium Castle in Sussex. The bloke really wanted to get there for dawn to catch it in that special light every photographer desires. But, aside from the thought of dragging me out of bed at some ungodly hour without pre-arrangement, it was unlikely that the National Trust would've allowed access. Pity ... as having visited, although it is a rather nice castle, with a working moat, in pleasant grounds, on a slight rise, it really does need great light to make it special.
The bloke had also cast his knowledgeable eye over the geography and whilst it ticked the basics for castle locating, he was somewhat dubious. Having done a bit of reading in the on-site museum, he was unsurprised to discover the castle had been built as a bit of a vanity project. It turned out to be more of a manor house which had been built with the necessary towers and crenellations so that it could claim the title of castle. I chuckled ...
So, with the day still offering loads of light and not much in our cameras to be pleased with, the bloke set to pondering. One suggestion later and I'd programmed my sat nav for part two of our outing. We skirted Rye - having visited previously - and headed for Lydd. On the way we went through Camber - the first sandy beach I'd visited in England all those years ago. I began to notice that signs to Lydd were co-inciding with signs to Dungerness. I'm pretty ignorant on that subject too ... with the singular exception of the nuclear power station.
I can't say for sure what I expected - but it wasn't what I found. The access to the area is via a long, flat nature reserve, but there's also the almost Gerald Scarfe-esque vision of giant pylons walking across the land towards that blot on the landscape. The power station sits at the far end of the Dungerness Estate, all square, ugly and utilitarian. But the Estate itself was quite extraordinary. There were very few traditional dwellings - most resembled beach shacks - although some were clearly very modern designs. The buildings are spread out and being built on shingle, there are no traditional gardens. There is a fair amount of plant life, but its rather scrub like in appearance. The sea is lined with long abandoned fishing boats and the rotting ephemeria of that trade. The whole area is dotted with piles of scrap metal and other detrius. It was like being in a post-apocalyptic setting, with glimpses of something from Depression-era America.
But the light ... the light was utterly glorious.
And the subject didn't need to be pretty to be photogenic.
I'm not at all surprised to hear it has appeared in many a feature film and music video. I left absolutely itching to craft a story around what I'd captured on camera and in my mind's eye.
Have you any stories to share of unusual places to visit?
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