Today I went back to my old home town of Great Harwood, and walked around for half an hour with my camera. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for years.
It’s grim up north, but it’s where I grew up, where I spent many a happy summer day playing in those backstreets as a child, befriending stray cats and scraping my knees climbing walls. Great Harwood the town has changed, but turn a corner and you instantly go back in time. The red bridge is still there, as you can see in the photos above. I remember climbing through that same gap in the railings, and going down onto the little pebble shore. There was – and still is – a dreadful chemical smell rising from Hyndburn Brook, but when I played on that beach, skimming stones across the water, in my mind I was on a beautiful desert island in the middle of the pacific.
Nearly twenty years ago, I worked in Slough for around six months. I wasn’t immediately impressed with the town back then, and followed some advice to stay in nearby Windsor instead. I found myself a B&B where I settled for the duration, and since then I have been a regular visitor back to Windsor and Eton, with my wife tagging along. We always stay at the Castle Hotel, but with every trip there is something new for us to discover, as well as comforting familiarity.
This time we discovered the grave of the author M.R. James, in Eton Cemetery. We also discovered how lovely The George Inn is – it’s on High Street, Eton, and well worth a visit for food and/or drink. We enjoyed a mulled wine sat by the open fire.
Whenever I visit Windsor I always want to return to my old haunts. Alma House B&B is still there, where I stayed in 1999, although it has changed quite significantly since then. The Viceroy of Windsor, a fantastic Indian/Bangladeshi restaurant is also still there. I have memories of spending many an evening enjoying a spicy curry. My old favourite was “Murgi Mussala” – Chicken and minced lamb, medium spicy, with egg – and imagine my delight to find it still on the menu as a house special!
Here are two pictures I made of Stocks Reservoir. I’m not really a landscape photographer, but these are interesting because they are both of the same scene, captured from The Causeway in Gisburn Forest, but they were taken twenty-two years apart.
The weather conditions are obviously different, as is the water level!
The first photograph was made on black and white film in 1994. Back then I was still living with my parents. The second photo I captured with my DSLR a couple of weeks ago. Now I’m married, and my wife was with me.
Another big difference I remember is how back in 1994 I had to hold my camera up over my head in order to get that first picture. I took it blind without knowing what the view was like, or what I would get. This time around I could see over the wall, but the strange thing is, I was already fully grown in 1994, so it’s not as if I got taller. I can’t really explain what happened there.
Also worthy of note is the fact that for some reason I didn’t get around to developing that black and white film until c. 2009, so I waited well over a decade to see the result of that over-the-wall shot, even though I never forgot the day I took it.