Sunday, 31 May 2015

I Could Have Waited Forever, Dovecote & Door and Concrete & Gold

I Could Have Waited Forever :- It was a chilly but calm late afternoon in December. Due to the time of the year the sun was already setting and throwing its hues around with abandon. The tide had got tired of waiting and had gone out exposing the rocks and leaving behind pools of still, clear salt water. I made my way down onto the pebbles and crunched my way across to the natural border of beach and sea. I stood and watched the colours change, the light fade and the darkenss begin to creep in. The image was taken somewhere between the villlages of Ovingdean and Rottingdean near brighton on the south coast of England.

Dovecote & Door :- A white wooden dovecote sits above a wooden door set in a garden wall. On the other side of the door there's the private garden to a house called "The Elms". The garden used to be much bigger and once included the area that this photograph was taken from along with the other sections that are now open to the public. In September 1897 Rudyard Kipling moved into "The Elms" in the village of Rottingdean with his familly and rented it for three guineas a week. It was very much a family affair as his Uncle, the Pre-Raphaelite painter Sir Edward Burne-Jones* & his wife Lady Burne-Jones lived nearby in North End house and Kipling's cousin Stanley Baldwin (who later became prime minister) lived in "The Dene" which also looked out onto the very same village green and pond. After a few years in this ancient and beautiful Sussex village the Kiplings finally managed to buy their own house and moved in 1902 to Bateman's, in Burwash, East Sussex.

Concrete & Gold :- This is the interior of the Catedrala Ortodoxa Sfanta Treime in the city of Arad in Romania. We'd been driving through Europe for hours, crossing various borders and aiming for our final destination which was to be Constanța on the shores of the Black Sea. We were hungry and in dire need to stretch the legs so as soon as we hit Arad we stopped for a break. I'd never been to Romania before. I was fascinated to see old style trams still trundling through the city streets and after walking down a few roads we came across the Cathedral. It was white and very grand on theoutside but once we entered we were suprised to find it was a mixture of plain grey concrete and ornate, lavish artwork. The artwork was simply breathtaking and seems to stand out more than ever with its grey surroundings. The Cathedral is very new compared to the more ancient structures that you find as its cornerstone was laid in 1991 and was consecrated on December 6th , 2008.

All Photography Copyright © Justin Hill

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Light of Hope, Terrace Steps and Rolling Countryside

Light of Hope :- The title sounds a little "cheesy" but in actual fact that's exactly what you are looking at. I'd been for a long walk over Seaford Head and was aiming to get to the Cuckmere Haven and the famous Seven Sisters Cliffs for low tide. As I got within 15 minuts of the Cuckmere Estuary I came across a place I'd not heard of or been to before called "Hope Gap". There was a concrete and stone set of steps leading down to the beach from a low point in the cliff top so I made my way onto the rocks. After a few minutes wandering around and taking photos I happened to look back at the steps I'd come down and this is what I saw. the sun was setting and had lit up a stretch of cloud which had in turn thrown the cliff at Hope Gap into silhouette and another photo opportunity had presented itself. After this shot was taken i walked across the beach and made my way to the famous beach at Cuckmere before walking all the way back over the cliffs to Seaford once again. Pleasant walk, stunning views.

Terrace Steps :- These are the 1950's built sun terraces on the seafront at Rottingdean Village just a few miles to the East of teh City of Brighton & Hove in Sussex. I remember climbing all over these as a child in the 70's when I'd be taken out this way for day trips to escape the noise and mayhem of Brighton itself. By the mid 80's the terraces were very dishevelled, run down and had fallen into a serious state of disrepair. So they stood like that overlooking the English Channel for (approx) fifteen years with just the odd person brave enough to sit there and take in the view. Then in 2011 the City Council along with Rottingdean Parish Council set about revamping, landscaping and refurbishing the terraces and turning them into a far more pleasant place.

Rolling Countryside :- Nothing but open land. A very refreshing and wonderful sight. We are lucky in Sussex. Much of the land that surrounds the towns, cities and villages is protected which means that we only need to drive 15 to 20 minutes and we are suddenly surrounded by rich countryside. This wonderful view is not even that far away from the built up areas. I drove out to the Telscombe Cliffs area that's between Saltdean and Peacehaven on the south coast and then walked half an hour or so over Telscombe Tye (an open patch of common land). At the other end of that patch of land you come across the village of Telscombe itself which is well hidden and tucked away. The ancient village is less than two miles from the coast but there's no road linking it to the main coast road (A259). The village church has 10th Century foundations and the population of the village numbers somewhere around 50. The entire place is like taking a step back in time. The view that you see in this image was taken from a path / bridleway by the side of St Laurence, the Telscombe village Church.

All Photography Copyright © Justin Hill

Friday, 29 May 2015

Daily Doodle : Roald Dahl Favourite

Today was the last day of the Roald Dahl themed doodles so they threw it open to us and said we choose our own favourites. To be honest I haven't really got a favourite. I do love Charlie, Willy Wonka and all that goes with it but I touched on that yesterday with the "Glass Elevator" sketch so didn't want to go there agian. I  decided to sketch a character that's now a firl favourite of many. As well as being a great Roald Dahl book she's also been the subject of films and now even a musical. Here's Matilda ...

Sun & Chalk, Code Breaking Library and Entangled

Sun & Chalk :- A shot and image taken at low tide looking West towards the City of Brighton from the beach at Ovingdean Gap. The entire City was being engulfed by a heavy storm that had rolled in from the sea. Parts of it were already emptying their load over Worthing and Shoreham in the distance and it wouldn't be too long before Brighton itself got a drenching. At the same time the sun was setting and every now and then there'd be a break in the clouds that allowed the golden light to spill through and illuminate various sections of the coastline. I managed to grab this shot just as the sunlight saw its chance, made a run for for it and lit up the entire face of the challk cliffs. The contrast between the dark, moody sky and beach and the warm chalk face was stunning.

Code Breaking Library :- Standing here now in this peaceful and exquisite library that's within a large mansion house it's hard to imagine what it was like 70 odd years ago. Back then it was hive of activity with everything on a need to know basis. No computers or technology to help back then ... just paper & pencils and a lot of hard work and logic. This is the Library in the Mansion at Bletchley Park and it's in here that the Codebreakers of the Government Code and Cypher School worked. This room became the Naval Intelligence office and had a direct telephone line to the Admiralty. It was also just next door to the office of Commader Alastair Denniston, head of GC&CS. Bletchley park is now open to the public and well worth a visit :-

Entangled :- I love this place. I have known of it for a very long time but it was only last year that I finally got to visit and see it for myself. This is Wistman's Wood set deep within the vast explanse that is Dartmoor National Park in Devon. I knew of it because of the illustrations and artwork by Briand Froud (who went on to create the world's of the "Dark Crystal" and "Labyrinth") and Alan Lee (who designed the entire look of Middle Earth for Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings Trilogy" and "The Hobbit"). They lived on Dartmoor back in the 1970's and many of their fanciful works contained elements of the moors and Wistman's Wood often featured somewhere along the line. It's actually one of the highest oakwoods in Britain as it lies at an altitude of 380–410 metres in the valley of the West Dart River. It's full of mossy rocks and boulders and mainly consists of pedunculate oak but there's also rowan, hawthorn, holly, eared-willow and hazel. Most of the small trees are also covered in mosses and lichens. It's a most enchanting and spectacualr place to fine yourself. Various legends say that it's also haunted or the home of the hellhounds.

All Photography Copyright © Justin Hill

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Daily Doodle : Charlie And The Great Glass Elevator

Ok. Today's Roald Dahl theme for Daily Doodle was the splendid "Charlie And The Great Glass Elevator". I had a feeling that most other doodlers and artists would sketch / draw Charlie and the Elevator or the brilliant character of Willy Wonka so I wanted to try and avoid them and go for something a little different. After some toying around and a little thought I settled on the alien lifeforms of the "Vermicious Knids".

Daily Doodle : Revolting Rhymes

Yesterday's Daily Doiodle theme continued with the writings of Roald Dahl. This time it was his book of Revolting Rhymes that was the subject matter so we had a choice of six classic fairy tales to play with. Having read through each one and given them all equal consideration I ended up plumping for his retelling of "Little Red Riding Hood". Here she is with the wolf ...

The Old Lighthouse, Belfry Flat Steps and Strange Breakwater

The Old Lighthouse :- High up on the cliff top between Birling Gap and Beachy Head (near Eastbourne) on the Sussex Coastline you'll come across the Belle Tout Lighthouse. She's a Grade II listed decommissioned lighthouse and well known British landmark having featured in films, TV series and adverts. Originally the lighthouse started off life as a wooden structure perched on the cliffs in 1828. In 1829 they begane rebuilding her with granite and by 1834 she was fully operational. To keep that light burning and warning ships of the treacherous rocks below it took two gallons of oil an hour to keep her 30 oil lamps going. In 1999 the entire structure was famously moved back from the edge in one piece in order to save it from the coastal erosion. She is now a unique bed and breakfast with various themed rooms.

Belfry Flat Steps :- Moody, imposing and intriguing. These are the metal steps that lead up to the precarious looking door that's the entrance to the Belfry Flat. The building in question is Scotney New Castle, a house which was built to replace the Old Castle between 1835 and 1843. The old Castle is now a ruin and remains a feature (complete with moat) at the bottom of the extensive garden. Whilst Margaret Thatcher was Briatain's Prime Minister she rented the Belfry Flat as a hideaway from her life in Westminster. The reason this Kent location was chosen was because the security services thought it ideal to keep the Prime Minister and her husband safe during their time there. The Castle cannot be seen from the road and is well hidden down a long driveway. It was also a great place for Dennis Thatcher to stay as it was also very near Lamberhurst Golf course. Apparently one of the flat's bathrooms is still decorated with the wallpaper that was put up by Margaret and Dennis Thatcher.

Strange Breakwater :- I wish I could tell you something about this odd looking breakwater that's on the Kemptown end of Brighton beach on the south coast of England but I know nothing about it at all. It looks like it's also an outlet and storm drain for the famous underground network of Victorian sewers that reside well below the City. The concrete bass that it sits on intrugues me because of its cog like styling. I have not been able to come up with a theory as to why it was designed like that, there must however have been a reason for it.

All Photography Copyright © Justin Hill

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Bletchley Window, Still Bridge and Best Foot Forward

Bletchley Window :- Here's a view that was once seen by only a select few. Those few had all been carefully chosen individually and sworn to secrecy on their arrival. This is a window in the wall of Block C which was where all the major details (names, places, radio stations, military units etc) were stored in a huge index. The index comprised of cards that had the information 'punched' onto them using Hollerith machinesand at the height of the operations two million cards per week were being used. This is Bletchley Park - Home of the Codebreakers. This is where Commander Denniston and Alan Turing were based. This is where multiple Enigma machines were "cracked" on a daily basis and also home to Colossus which was the world's first electronic, digital, programmable computer.

Still Bridge :- This is a view from the 'Cascade' lookking back down the lake towards the beautiful 'Five Arch Bridge' in Painshill Park, Surrey. The park was created in the 1700's by the Honourable Charles Hamilton and has been lovingly restored since the 1980's. I found it such a stunning place to wander around and yet the place was surprisingly quiet a free from crowds. There's not a single person in this image, no digital manipulation or removal of figures...this is how it was shot. A magnificent 18th Century landscape free from people.

Best Foot Forward :- I walk a lot. more than I care to sometimes if I'm brutally honest. The village I live in is not serviced all that well with public transport, buses are few and taxi's are far too expensive. I do drive but parking in the City can be a problem and also costly. So I walk. There are several routes that I can choose to take when venturing into Brighton. I can go along the base of the cliff via the undercliff walk or I can walk along the top of the cliffs that follows the route of the main coast road into the city. The quickest and most picturesque of the routes is the one through the old Domesday Book (1086) part of the village and then up the bridleway past the farm and over the path through the golf course which then brings me out intot he Kemptown end of Brighton. This shot was taken on the bridleway near the farm.

All Photography Copyright © Justin Hill

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Cretaceous Coast, Way & 90 and Branching Shadows

Cretaceous Coast :- It's easy to forget the origins and age of the beaches and coastlines of Sussex in England. Children play among the rock pools and others walk their dogs whilst looking out over the sea or watching the sunset but little attention is given to the beach itself. This section of the beach to the East of Brighton is from a geological period known as the "Cretaceous Period". This period was also the last part of the "Age of Dinosaurs" and relates to a time circa 145 to 66 million years ago. Not easy to get your head around but think about that next time you find yourself out on the rocks and chalk beds around Brighton!

Way & 90 :- A shot taken from below the 'Standing Way' bridge that crosses the Grand Union Canal as it passes through Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire. It's looking back up the canal towards an older and more elegant bridge that's numbered '90'. The contrast between the older and newer architetural styles is brutal. There's nothing remotley stylish about the newer bridge, it's practical and does its job, that is all. The older, rounder bridge has much more finesse and is more pleasing to the eye.

Branching Shadows :- As I was wandering through the beautiful Painshill Park in Surrey a few weeks ago this scene caught my eye. All the angles seems to complement each other and the shadows were all falling in the right places. It always amazes me that trees can grow at such angles wiothout topling over. They seem to be able to defy gravity at times as they stretch out way beyond thier base. Of course the network of roots that's below ground probably covers a far wider and greater area than the tree above ground. If you could see through the earth and just see all the roots that are underneath I wonder what it would all look like. A different world completely.

All Photography Copyright © Justin Hill

Monday, 25 May 2015

Daily Doodle : Betty

Today's Daily Doodle (@Daily__Doodle) is something a little differentn and special. The award-winning and bestselling writer-Illustrator Steve Antony (@MrSteveAntony) has joined forces with Daily Doodle and set a little contest to see who can draw his gorilla "Betty". Whoever wins gets a signed copy of "Betty Goes Bananas in her Pyjamas". So here's mine ...

Underworld, Shiny Chalk Face and Dragon's Breath

Underworld :- An often ignored side of the Brighton Marine Palace and Pier (locally referred to as the Palace Pier but uncermoniously renamed the Brighton Pier back in 2000). She's an incredible mass of Victorian iron, her thin spindly legs holding aloft over three million visitors a year. The Pier cost £137,000 to build and opened for the first time on the 20th May 1899. She is an incredible 536.44 metres (1,760 feet) in length and has a mind blowing 136.79 kilometres (85 miles) of decking / planking. She is now a Grade II listed structure and is one of Britain’s most famous and well known coastal landmarks.

Shiny Chalk Face :- With my back to the English Channel this is the view looking north from a beach a few miles to the East of Brighton. Rocks, pebbles, concrete and chalk. Nothing more. It was late afternoon / early evening and the chalk was glowing slightly from the sunlight reflecting off of it. When you look at it like this it's a surreal and strange place that takes on the look of an alien landscape. This is where I often go to get away from it all. The shot was taken on Saltdean Beach.

Dragon's Breath :- There's a whole world out there somewhere. Lurking within the dense sea mist that rolled up and over the cliffs there's the village of Roedean and to the left of the image (you'll have to take my word for it) there's the famous Roedean Independent School which is a girls' day and boarding school. On this paricular day though you couldn't see a thing. This shot was taken from a public bridleway that runs from the back of Ovingdean Village up over East Brighton Golf Course and then down into Kemptown and Brighton itself. It was a strange feeling standing there surrounded by the fog. As I spun 360° I appeared to be in my own little circular domain. A white wall circled me just a 100 yards away, sound was stifled and muffled. No dogs barking, no bids calling (or flying for that matter)and when I got up there the golf course was unsurprisingly deserted.

All Photography Copyright © Justin Hill

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Ashburnham Tower, Chalk Beach and Gated Saints

Ashburnham Tower :- I thought i'd treat you all to a colour image of the famous Ashburnham Tower that's part of the old Scotney Castle near Lamberhurst in Kent, England. This is no movie set or composite special eefect fantasy image ... this is the real thing. The castle was built between 1378 and 1380 by Roger Ashburnham (Conservator of the Peace in Kent and Sussex) due to widespread panic that was caused in 1377 when the French arrived by ship and raided the Sussex coast creating havoc and much damage. So whichever way you look at it this castle is over 630 years old. When you look at this exquisite and ancient structure it's hard not to have thoughts of princesses in towers, spinning wheels, strange little creatures asking you to guess their name and fairy tales in general. However, as I stated earlier this is no fantasy ... this is a very English reality.

Chalk Beach :- When the pebbles stop and the salt water pops out for a while there's san entirely different world to explore on the beach to the east of Brighton. Here you can clearly see vast white chalk beds that were once huge cliff faces that have been worn down and eroded over millenia. The chalk glistens and reflects the evening light to the point where it almost glows while the darker rocks just become black eerie shapes floundering about on the edge. It's peaceful down here. There's no thump of music, no scream from the rides on the end of the pier, no traffic horns, no shouting, no stag do's or hen parties, no lads down from London on a night out, no tourists and no drunks. Just the sound of the sea, the odd sound of the gulls and a gentle breeze. Bliss.

Gated Saints :- An unexpected stop on a drive from England to Romania a coupld of years ago meant that I was forced to stay a night in Hennef, a town in the Rhein-Sieg district of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Having booked into a room and freshened up I then grabbed the camera and ventured out to explore the town. After walking 5 or 10 minutes I spotted a large tall spire sticking up through some trees and went to investigate. The spire belonged to the Church of St Simon and Judas which is a neo-Gothic structure built in 1898. Because it was late afternoon / early evening I thought the Church would be locked up and closed to the public but much to my surprise when I pushed its large wooden door it swung inwards with a creak that echoed off inside. The two saints standing on their own individual platforms behind an iron grill caught my eye. The lighting seemed atmospheric and perfect with the addition of just two lit candles below. Shadows danced and even the silence itself within the large German Church seemed to be echoing off the walls.

All Photography Copyright © Justin Hill

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Throughfare, Tower & Bench and Fool's Paradise

Throughfare :- This is St Mary's Place. It's a lane that runs between St Mary's Church and the Church house and connects St James's Street to Edward Street in Brighton. By day is a handy little shortcut but by night it becomes a place of sinister shadows and dark voids. I stopped to take this shot late one night as it made me think of the old Victorian alleyways lit by gas lamps.

Tower & Bench :- This shot was taken around the back of the old Scotney Castle, a 12th century fortified manor house in Kent. The castle was built c.1378-80 by Roger Ashburnham and the round tower you see in this image is named after him and known as the "Ashburnham Tower". It's the only tower remaining but apparently the manor house would have had a tower at each corner. It's a truly enchanting looking castle.

Fool's Paradise :- This caught me by surprise completely. I'd been down on the beach with the camera, walking out on the rocks and peering into rock pools etc. The day was drawing to a close and evening was preparing to take over, nothing seemed out of the ordinary or special. A few clouds lazily drifted into place, ran out of energy and decided to stay there. The hazy sun dipped gently and then suddenly this explosion of colour happened. Absolutely breathtaking. I danced about on the rocks and beach taking as many shots as I could before the show came to an end. Nature never ceases to amaze. No sunset is the same. There are enough variables to enthrall and excite several lifetimes over. This was shot on the beach at Ovingdean Gap to the East of Brighton.

All Photography Copyright © Justin Hill

Friday, 22 May 2015

Daily Doodle : The Enormous Crocodile

Today's Daily Doodle Roald Dahl theme was "The Enormous Crocodile". The story is very simple. A big cros wants to eat the children and all the animals thwart its attempts until the elephant at the end picks it up and throws it into the sun. I had fun drawing this one...

Thunderous Looks, Stable Yard and Weathered & Worn

Thunderous Looks :- A vast sprawling space full of darkenss and light. It's easy to stand here and look out whilst mistakingly thinking there's nothing there. There's a lot going on out there. The seas slop forward and back as the forces of gravity pull them around creating waves that crash and explode on our shorelines. Clouds bubble up and evaporate at a tremendous rate. Sometimes resulting in nothing and other times creating storms that rage for thousands of miles. Way beyond that a distant star in the center of the Solar System provides all the enery that's needed for life on this small little planet of ours. The giant hot plasma ball warms our skin and its light is captured by plants and tuerned into energy by photosynthesis. Still think there's nothing there? This shot was taken from the beach at Ovingdean Gap just a few miles East of Brighton on the south coast of England.

Stable Yard :- When mention of Bletchley Park is heard nowadays one's thoughts instantly turn to code breakers, cyphers, WWII and Alan Turing. But this site wasn't created or built for that use.The mansion and grounds actually date from somewhere around the late 1870's and were lived in by Herbert Leon (a rich stockbroker), his wife and familly when he purchased it in 1883. This is a shot of the stable yard and clock tower that's situated at the back of the mansion. There are several cottages located here as well as and area that was used for vehicles and carrier pigeons. Bletchley park wasn't purchased by the British Government until 1938 in anticipation of the war. The stable yard is where Turing first worked (in cottages 2 & 3 along with Dilly Knox) in 1939.

Weathered & Worn :- Well, I have had this photo and image on file for a very long time and finally I get around to sharing it with you all. It was taken on the 31st August 2012 as I was on long (5 hour) walk around Cuckmere Haven and Estuary near Seaford on the South coast of England. The Cuckmere Valley is owned and managed by the National Trust. This is where the River Cukmere meets the English Channel and the entire area is one vast flood plain that's thick with flowers, plants and wildlife and has a rich ecosystem. It's estimated that this picturesque beauty spot sees 350,000 visitors per year.

All Photography Copyright © Justin Hill

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Daily Doodle : The Giraffe And ThePelly And Me

I really must catch up on the Roald Dahl books that I never read. Once again today's Daily Doodle (@Daily__Doodle) theme on Twitter was of a book that I'd never even heard of let alone knew what it was about! Thanks to the joys of the internet (how did we ever manage before?) a quick bit of research showed me the way to go with my sketch. The image that you see here is pretty much what i saw in my head straight away.

Mevagissey, Stair Light and Garden Gateway

Mevagissey :- The village of Mevagissey is a fishing port in Cornwall with a rich and interesting history. Fishing was once the village's main industry that has been replaced now by tourism as coach loads of people are shipped in on a daily basis to weave their way through its narrow streets to consume copious amounts of fish & chips, cream teas and ice creams. Evidence has been found that suggest the area was already settled in during the Bronze Age but the village's first recorded mention was in 1313. The harbour itself is built on an old medieval quay. In 1774 the inner harbour wall was constructed. In 1888 an outer harbour wall was added (Which was where this shot and image was taken from) which was damaged a few tears later and rebuilt once more in 1897. There was a time when much of Mevagissey was involved in the smuggling trade and one of its residents was a shipbuilder named James Dunn (1755 - 1842). Dunn owned a few boats and one of them was named the "Clausina" and she was well known to be a smuggling vessel. Dunn also (with his business partner Thomas Henna) built many fast 'cutters' that were also instrumental in the smuggling business.

Stair Light :- A moody and atmospheric shot of the grand staircase that's in the main hall at Scotney Castle in Kent. The Jacobean-style Victorian country house was commissioned in 1835 by Edward Hussey III and was built on higher land which overlooks the old 14th century Scotney Castle that stands ruined on the same land. I had to wait a while to get this shot as many tourists trudge through the house en masse observing its rooms, decor and furnishings etc. Interestingly enough the contents of the house The house include many original items of furniture, ornaments and artefacts that belonged to Christopher and Betty Hussey. Before any of you, that's not a ghost at the top of the stairs shrouded in ethereal light, it's a photographer in shorts who was taking a lieftime to take the shot. Scotney Caslte is not haunted. No ghosts, no apparitions, no clanking chains, no moans ... just a daily onslaught of tourists. Scotney Castle is owned, run and looked after by the National Trust.

Garden Gateway :- When I was a child a read a book by Philippa Pearce which was titled "Tom's Midnight Garden". The story is about "Tom" who's sent to stay with his Uncle and Aunt in their usptairs flat because his brother has the measles. The upstairs flat is in a big house that has no garden. At midnight he hears the Grandfather clock strike 13 and goes to investigate only to dicover that there's now an open back door and that it leads to a large sunlit garden. This happens continually throught to book and he befriends a young girl who he meets in the garden which turns out is set within Victorian times. Anyway...everytime I step through the gate of Kipling Gardens in Rottingdean Village to the East of Brighton on the South coast of England I can't help but think of that book and story. These were indeed once the gardens of Rudyard Kipling when he lived for a short period (1897-1902) in Rottingdean. His Uncle was Sir Edward Burne-jones the famous Pre-Raphaelite painter who lived just opposite so it highly likey that he also wandered these gardens from time to time and that some of the other members (William Morris, Dante Gabriel Rossetti etc) of the PRB (Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood) who visited him also spent some time here. It's quite shocking and disturbing to find out that in the 80's the gardens were at risk from vanishing altogether as plans were drawn up to build flats and other properties on the land. Fortunately for us all in April 1986 the area was saved from development by the Rottingdean Preservation Society and after restoration work and some landscaping was opened to the public as the "Kipling Gardens". The gardens have held the prestigious Green Flag award for several years which is awarded for the best parks and green spaces in England and Wales.

All Photography Copyright © Justin Hill

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Daily Doodle : The Magic Finger

Here's another of Roald Dahl's stories that I didn't know much about. A quick bit of research shed some light on the plot and also pointed me in the right direction for the sketch so here it is...

Heatless, Ninety Bee and Distant Sisters

Heatless :- Back in August 2013 I got a lunchtime message telling me to grab my camera and get myself down to Coombe Road as soon as possible. St Alban's Church had stood in Coombe Road since it was built between 1910 and 1914 and it was now due to be demolished since it had been declared redundant and had ceased being a church since 2006. I was told to grab the camera as a those that had arrived there earlier had got talking to the builders / demolition men and had got permission to enter the Church itself. As I arrived they were waiting for me outside and we entered the abandoned building, now stripped of its fittings, pews and paraphernalia and explored it's rooms. It was quite an odd feeling to think of all those who'd worshipped there and got married within those walls. Now I found myself to be one of the last ever people to stand inside what was once sacred. The building has long gone now as it was flattened several days after our visit but I am pleased I got to take one last look and record what I saw.

Ninety Bee :- I found myself pacing up and down this tow path for a minute or so as I looked up at this footbridge trying to find what I thought was the perfect angle to photograph it from. In the end I settled on this viewpoint as the bridge in question leads in nicely from the top left of the image and is complimented rather well by the light reflecting in the canal to the bottom right. The footbridge is not too far from Milton Keynes Marina and is numbered 90B. It allows access from the west bank of the Grand Union Canal to the East bank (where I was standing) in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire. It's not the sort of thing that many (if any) would photograph but I thought it was visually striking so found myself getting a few funny looks from passers by out walking their dogs or jogging as they tried to work out what on earth had caught my interest and eye.

Distant Sisters :- This is the spectacular view that awaits you as you walk over the top of Seaford Head and down towards Hope Gap and Cuckmere Haven on the South coast of England. This route is all part of the magnificent South Downs Way, a trail that runs for 160 km (100 miles) from Winchester in Hampshire all the way to Eastbourne in East Sussex. The chalk cliffs that you see are collectivley known as "The Seven Sisters" but the rises and dips have individual names which are (from left to right or West to East) :- Haven Brow, Short Bottom, Short Brow, Limekiln Bottom, Rough Brow, Rough Bottom, Brass Point, Gap Bottom, Flagstaff Point, Flagstaff Bottom, Flat Hill, Flathill Bottom, Baily's Hill and Michel Dean. There's also the addition of Went Hill Brow which is a 'newer' eighth hill currently being created by the constant erosion of the sea.

All Photography Copyright © Justin Hill

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Daily Doodle : George's Marvellous Medicine

I have got to be honest and say that I have never read "George's Marvellous Medicine" by Roald Dahl so when I saw that was today's theme I had to look it up and read a quick story synopsis to get a rough idea. I surprised to find out that apart from the book containing a child called George as the story progressed it rapidly became filled with giant chickens and an oversized Grandma. Naturally my warped mind settled on that wonderful mental image so I disregarded George and his medicine altogether and went down the grandmother / chicken route. I had fun doing this one...

Beech Tree, Oriental Crossing and Brighton Horizon

Beech Tree :- Shot back in July 2014 during a very hot and sunny afternoon at Nymans (in Handcross, West Sussex) which is an English garden, estate and house of the Messel family which was developed over three generations and is now onwned and looked after by the National Trust ( This sprawling Beech tree resembled some gargantuan upturned wooden octopus with arms flailing. You can see it's stood here from aeons, reaching up to tickle the sky. It made me think about "Treebeard" and the Ents from J. R. R. Tolkien's tales of Middle-earth and other trees that walked and talked ("Wizard of Oz", Disney's "Pocahontas", The Legend of Zelda etc). It made me wonder just what the trees would say or think. All that knowledge gathered whilst they stand, rooted to the spot for decades and centuries. They see it all as it passes, bending with the wind whilst remaining strong.

Oriental Crossing :- A view looking directly across the 'Chinese Bridge' at Painshill Park in Cobham, Surrey. I happened to be there just as the sun was in the right position to throw the shadow of the railings up the middle of the planking. I'd like to say that I planned it that way but i'll own up and admit that it was simply yet another happy accident. Originally Painshill was over 200 acres in size but today it covers just 158. However the park has been lovingly restored back to it's 18th Century (it was created in the 1700's by Charles Hamilton) splendour and has since been given a Grade I listing as well as being awarded the Europa Nostra Medal in 1998.

Brighton Horizon :- A vast expanse of space is exposed as the southernmost part of the UK gives way to the English Channel. The shot was taken from Worthing's Pier (opened in 1862) and is looking East across the sand. At first glance you hardly notice the coastline in thedistance but if you zoom in or view the image as big as you can you'll suddenly realise just how much you can see. As the coast curves around and leaves Worthing you can see Shoreham and it's old powerstation chimney. Follow the coast around a bit more and you'll suddenly find yourself looking at the entire coastal resort and city of Brighton (that's the part where a couple of white tower blocks are visible).Keep going around and you can just make out the buildings of Marine Gate (near the Marina), Roedean School and Blind Veterans UK (formerly St Dunstan's) in Ovingdean. Then if you look very carefully you can just make out the white chalk cliffs of Rottingdean, Saltdean, Telscombe, peacehaven and quite remarkably Seaford Head. It's a distance of 25 miles along the coast from Worthing to Seaford. What a clear day!

All Photography Copyright © Justin Hill

Monday, 18 May 2015

Daily Doodle : The Witches

Today's daily doodle theme is Roald Dahl's "The Witches". I have to be honest and say that I have not read that book but I did see the film (1990) so I had a rough idea of characters and plot etc. Personally I didn't care much for the was ok but nothing great. Anyway, the obvious thing to do was sketch the head witch along with a couple of her cronies so I did just that!

Misty Mermaid, Sunny Towpath and Different Fences

Misty Mermaid :- A shot that appeared frm nowhwere and caught me quite by surprise. I'd been wandering around a very quiet and silent Brighton Marina with the camera for a while trying to capture the feel of the fog. I usually walk the same way through but on this occasion I'd taken a slightly different route and been down on the lower level rather than the upper boardwalk. I ended up realising that the boardwalk was probably a better place to be so tok the stairs up and walked through one of the passageways that leads out onto the boardwalk and this was the view that I was as I walked out. Perfect.

Sunny Towpath :- An early evening shot of a section of the Grand Union Canal in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire. I thought there'd be a few more people about, jogging, walking dogs or cycling past etc but I appeared to be the only one on the tow path. I'd walked about half an hour or so before turning around and making my way back towards where I was staying. This was shot as I was walking back. The sun was catching the path and I liked the way she shadows, shapes and reflections all complemented each other.

Different Fences :- Sundown on the cliff top between Telscombe and Saltdean to the East of Brighton. Long shadows and gentle breezes backed by the constant thrum of traffic on the constantly busy main A259 coast road. This part of the coast is dominated by chalk cliffs that run pretty much from the Eastern end of Brighton all the way through to Eastbourne with just a few gaps at Newhaven, Seaford and Cuckmere Haven.

All Photography Copyright © Justin Hill