A while ago I set the mission to explore Dungeness. My friend and I wanted to spent 2 days at the famous coast in Kent, which apparently is the largest expanse of shingle on earth, to take pictures and find out about the people who live there. See objectives post.
However, for a while it looked like the entire trip was doomed. A day before we were about to set off our accommodation was cancelled. We managed to find something near by in Romney Sands (30min by train) but that meant we didn’t get a chance to chat to the people living directly at Dungeness.
The next blow came from the weather gods who sent pretty much the first and only rain in 2 weeks on the day we were heading to the beach. And I mean it was pissing down. Trapped in a caravan park all day, all we were able to do is to hang out in the pub and play snooker. Ok not a bad day overall but frankly not what we had planned.
Optimistic for a sun rise the next day we set the alarm for 4 am and then for 6,7 and finally 8am until the rain finally stopped. Honestly I was ready to call it a day and head back to London.
But we set off anyhow and after 8 hrs walking along the beach we were happy, exhausted and even managed to get a sun burn (at least I did).
I still want to find out more about the people who live on Dungeness. What you can see is that the few thousand residents are overwhelmed with 1 million visitors each year. It’s a bit like being the attraction in a zoo and happy snappy tourists point their camera directly into your bedroom window. This can’t be fun.
I personally took only a few images of houses and only when they were either not occupied or in respectable distance.
Instead I got obsessed with the decaying machinery and rotting boats that are littered all along the beach.
Enjoy the slide show below.
Obviously we had to catch a ride back on the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch railway, which again supposed to be the smallest passenger railways in the world. To be honest it is very small.
It’s too nice to sit at home right now, so I took a little stroll through East London from London Bridge to Waterloo. Check out the sights for:
- St Dunstant in the East Church Garden
- Borough Market
- The Crossbones Graveyard
- The closed Southward Library
- The graffiti tunnel in Waterloo
St Dunstant in the East Church Garden.
It’s supposed to be a little oasis of tranquillity near Monument. Sadly I miss-timed my visits as it was lunch hour, which meant office workers and tourist groups all had the same idea. But I definitely will go back on a quieter day.
Well it was lunch time after all
The Cross bones graveyard
I used to work in the area and we always called it the prostitutes graveyard but it is so much more. It’s a place where London’s undesirables were buried – single women, paupers and a lot of children. It’s a mass grave that now lies beneath land owned by Transport for London. London is build upon the bones of the dead and there is hardly a place where not a plague grave could be found or some other history trinket. It’s always been like that. But I think it’s also the responsibility of us now to ensure we make space for the past and honour it. There is only so much certification a city can cope with before it becomes soulless. The local community in Southwark has been campaigning for years to give the dead some dignity and recognition. You can find more details on the Crossbones website.
The old Southwark library
Sadly like so many libraries in London this is now closed. I have no idea what they may turn it into (probably a pret) But it’s a nice old building.
The graffiti tunnel near Waterloo station
It may not be everyones cup of tea but I like it.
Objective 1: the photography away day
It’s time to get out of town. I love London but sometimes this town can drive you nuts.
A friend and I planning to head for Dungeness beach in Kent. A strange desolate place that has been featured in various music videos (the Prodigy and Nicki Minaj) as well as in TV, film and advertising. It’s a nature reserve, a place of scientific interest, home to a tiny community and features a massive power plant. The Guardian described it once as, “where the wild west meets the post-apocalyptic”. I had no idea such a place exists in the UK and less than 2 hours away from London. Just google image ‘Dungeness’ to get an idea.
Objective 2: what’s it like to live on Dungeness
Dungeness is private land and was bought in 2015 for £1.5m by EDF who subsequently own and run the local power station. My cynical mind questions how much good will it do for the local community. Surely EDF’s main interest is the plant and their business. According to an BBC article, “It was scheduled for decommissioning in 2018 but is now scheduled to remain open until 2028”.
The area gets roughly 1 million visitors a year, enjoying the landscape and checking out the small community (who pay lease and rent to the new owners). However, anyone planning to shoot for commercial purposes, including student projects and bigger organised photo groups will be asked to apply for permission from the new land managing trust and to pay a fee which can go up to £1200 for the day.
Now what bothers me is that the local shops and properties weren’t in the original deal. If you shoot for commercial reasons or film a Dr Who episode then I think it’s only fair to pay a fee but I wonder how much of it actually goes back into the community?
The truth is, only because you forked out expensive fees to take pictures on the land (especially as a student), you would still need the to ask the locals if they are ok with you taking pictures of their houses and shops – for free. Really what does the community get back from EDF? EDF’s Community Report for May 2017 states:
“EDF Energy maintains its strong ties with the local area through our Land Quality Management Team and continues to support the area through roadway improvements, signage, rubbish clearance and biodiversity improvement programs”
We will be staying with a local artist couple for one night and I hope they’ll be willing to have a chat about what it’s like living on Dungeness and what they think of the new owners.
Find out how it turned out.
So this is it. I am really going to do this. If you landed on this page, I’d like to say hello and welcome to the ride.
This blog is about my way of making sense of what’s going on around me and connecting with the world.
I just quit my job after 10 years working as an Editor and Product Lead for the NHS website. It wasn’t easy giving up something that has been a big part o my life but frankly I wasn’t happy – constantly stressed and close to a depression. There is more to life then 9 to 5 in the office. So I quit.
I have taken a timeout to do the stuff I always have done and loved: travel and photography. And whilst not all of us can work for National Geographic that doesn’t mean we can’t try and fulfil the dream otherwise. I saved up a bit money so that should tie me over for a while and I am determined to make the most of it.
Last year I walked the Camino de Santiago. Roughly 900km from the Pyrenees to the coast of Galicia, following an ancient pilgrimage route to Santiago De Compostela and beyond. I wasn’t sure if I can do it. Would I give up or worse being forced finish because of injury? Would I cheat and get the bus? I posted one picture a day on Instagram as a life sign to family and friend. But It became so much more and I had a blast doing it. And yes I made it and I am proud to say not cheated once (although very tempted at times)!
18% degree decent
Epic long climb
So if you are just a little curious then join me on new adventures or better send me on a mission to explore.
I’ll try to post at least once a week and keep you updated via Facebook and Instagram
So welcome to the mission. Isibue