Friday, 18 December 2009

Blue air, white ground

I get the train from Braintree Freeport Station every morning.

Because of ice and snow on the stairs which lead down to the platform, they've been cordoned off using the highly professional method of tying some tape to some cones and leaving them at either end.

The snow has once again turned the air blue. It's also turned everything strangely beautiful again -- solid and ethereal simultaneously.

I was walking home as it was snowing, the night before I took this photo. It was outrageously cold, the snow was coming down almost horizontally, and by the time I made it home my face was raw from the wind and wet.

I ate an apple in that blizzard, and I don't know if it was because of the snow, but that apple was probably one of the best I've ever eaten -- and I've eaten a lot of apples.

I was walking to work, so it would have been about 7:28am when I took this.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Woodland Trolley

I walk along the alley between Stubbs Lane and Millenium Way every day.

During the summer I found this trolley dumped in the entrance to a small wooded area that runs alongside the alley.

At first it looked to me like it had been placed there as some kind of magical bung, stopping any nature seeping out from the tiny wood into the alley. That idea fit quite well with the 'Trolleys As Instruments of Ritual' hypothesis I was running with the time (and by no means have abandoned).

But now it looks more like it was abandoned during an aborted shopping trip into the wood. That someone would attempt to get the trolley up that bumpy incline and them wheel it amongst the shrubs and gorse and trees seems oddly rational to me.

I was walking home, which would normally mean it would be about 18:30 that I took this, but according to the image's metadata it was 17:29, so I must have come home early that day.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Car Park Feeling

I walk through the Braintree Freeport Carpark every day.

The day before this picture was taken was the day that the winner of an art prize I was in the running for was due to be announced. I checked my email and the prize's website every 15 mins to from 9am until 11pm to see if I'd won, but didn't hear anything.

That night, I had a dream in which one of the other nominees one the prize, and I woke up with a feeling of disappointment that I tried to shake by telling myself it was just a dream. I checked my email while I ate my toast and there was no word from the organisers. I checked the website while I drank my coffee and found that I had, in fact, become a runner up. Someone else had won.

My walk to work was desolate. I had already spent the prize money in my mind, and I desperately needed the recognition that the prize would have afforded me. When I came to the car park, half-full of the cars of faceless commuters, I felt it said something about my mood, and took this picture.

On the train, I fell asleep. I dreamt that I became a volunteer in the police force in order to win the chance to go on a date with Florence Welch, of Florence and the Machine, and won. My date with Florence involved catching the train back to Braintree Freeport (where I'd got on the train in waking life), and she had brought three male friends, one of whom was wearing bottle-top spectacles, another who was chubby with a shaved head. She was much shorter in my dream than I imagine she is in real life, as in real life she appears to be about 7' tall, and she was normal size in my dream. Her voice was reedy, thin and annoying, and she was far too theatrical in conversation for my taste. I didn't particualry enjoy her company, although I identified with something desperate and sad in her male companions.

When I woke up at Liverpool Street, I felt amazing, and totally over the fact I'd missed out on the art competition, although I couldn't work out why.

I was walking to work, so it would have been about 7:25am when I took this.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009


I walk across the threshold between King George's Field and Clay Pits every day -- if the short area has a name, I'm not sure what it is.

As well as duming trolleys, eating Pot Noodles and kicking saplings in half, the youths in this area also seem to hate bins.

Each bin in the area is rooted to the ground with large pieces of concrete, but as can be seen above, if you look closely, this doesn't help. With enough effort the bins can be rocked back and forth until the entire bin, along with its concrete foundation, comes loose. It can then be tipped up and emptied, rolled into the road...

That wasn't enough in this bin's case, though. In this case, the plastic outer shell was shattered, which meant that the inner the metal sleeve could be removed and stamped flat, ensuring that the bin would never be useable again.

The Local Authority, in its wisdom, has not replaced the broken parts of the bin, choosing instead to place the base of the bin back in it's spot.

Adorably, the bin remains in use. People walking past still drop their rubbish into the base as though the rest of the bin was still there. This serves as yet another example of the presence of ghosts in Braintree: in this case the ghost of the bin.

I was walking to work, so it would have been about 7:09am when I took this.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009


I walk across King George's Field every day.

Recently, I've been worried about the effect that the various rituals, perpetuated by youths, are having on the area.

But I'd forgotten about the local Authority. I mean, they were the ones who made a ghost of the original playground. But I thought that was it.

But now they've done this. And I have no idea what it means. Numerous lines of sand dragged across the field. Some of them look like they have perforations into the grounds running through them.

And this feels like the first stage of a larger work. That these lines are the both initiation and the foundation for something more radical.

And it's also hard not to imagine what these lines look like from above, viewed from the air. Which leads me to further worry, because the next step is to imagine what would be viewing these lines from the air.

I was walking to work, so it would have been about 7:10am when I took this.

Friday, 21 August 2009

On Eardley Crescent

Courtesy of the wonderful Andy T Geezer (and his equally wonderful lady friend):

"This was taken by my girlfriend on the way home to her house and sent on to me to send to you for Trolleys. She particularly like the sign...

"Dumping prohibited. Offenders will be prosecuted"

As I have a puerile mind, the phrase 'Dumping prohibited' has more than one meaning -- the ironic one, because someone's dumped that trolley, and of course the other, which infers that people are prohibited from doing poos near the sign.

Even posh people dump trolleys

Courtesy of Andy T Geezer:

"I was out in West Hampstead just the other day and saw this trolley dumped in a strange place and thought of you."

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Ninety Degree Tree

I walk down London Wall every day.

Now, there's nothing very profound left to say about London, which is most of the reason that I haven't mentioned it as part of my daily journey before.

Hundreds of writers more talented than myself have spent their time thinking about what makes London special, what makes it wonderful, what makes it awful, what makes it tick and so on and so forth.

But I can't help feeling that this tree has been under represented.

It has grown with a gap in it which allows peopleof up to just over 6' tall to pass underneath without stooping, and this gap has grown at a right angle. We see right angles everywhere, but that's because people who make things love them -- I can't think of many places that they appear in nature.

But there's this one.

I was walking home late at night, so it would have been about 2250 when I took this.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

The ritual continues

I walk across King George's Field every day.

Sometimes, I think that the ritualistic behaviour on King George's Field is a figment of my imagination, that I've taken random occurances and linked them tenuously together to make a bizarre, slightly compelling whole.

And then I'll come across things like this. Again, it's a 'Trolley In An Odd Place' -- but for it to have been placed here, in mockery and salutation of the rugby posts, leads me to beleive that the ritual is real, and that it continues.

I was walking to work, so it would have been about 7:10am when I took this.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Gummy Gravel

I walk along Dunstable Drive every day.

Along one of the houses is a thin strip of gravel, which seperates the property boundry from the pavement.

Someone has purposefully added a selection of multi-coloured sweets to this gravel.

I honestly can't think of any reason this would have been done, other than to brighten up the gravel. It's possible that the sweets had been dropped accidentally and then swept into the gravel -- but surely the natural thing to do in that situation would be to sweep them into the road, on the other side of the pavement?

And so, this was done on purpose. Perhaps it's part of the continuing, random ritual beign carried out irregularly by the shifting, amorphous groups of youths that control the landscape at this end of town. The group that drags trolleys away from Tesco even though the wheels lock magnetically as soon as they're out of the carpark. The group that scrawls bizarre and pointless messages up and down the lamposts of Braintree. The same group that furiously destroys every sapling tree in their path.

But what spell are they casting with their actions, what is this ritual, and when will it be complete?

I was walking to work, so it would have been about 07:10am when this was taken.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Hello, sky

I walk from the Braintree Freeport Branch Line Platform every day.

Some days, I don't walk home. I get picked up in the car by my wife. Invariably, she is anywhere between 5 and 10 mins late, and I am left waiting.

Normally, I kick gravel around the floor while listening to my iPod, or play with my phone, or find something comfortable to lean against (there is nothing comfortable to lean against).

And one day, I looked up, and noticed how amazing the sky was.

I was waiting to get picked up, so it would have been about 6:30 when I took this.

Goodbye Stubbs Lane

I walk along the path between Stubbs Lane and Millenium Way every day.

For a long time I was convinced that the path was called 'Millenium Way', and then took notice of a sign I'd ignored for 3 years, and started calling it 'Stubbs Lane'.

And then I noticed the sign that said it was 'Millenium Way'. And then I realised that the path simply connected Millenium Way and Stubbs lane. And the path had no name.

I was walking to work, so it would have been about 7:20 when I took this.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Non-Braintree Trolley Interval

This photo was sent in by Andy T Geezer, purveyor of the REAL Wall.

"Hello there Gareth... Today on the way home from the pub I saw a trolley on a balcony in Goldhawk Road, and only had my Sony handheld camera handy"

If anyone else sees a Trolley In An Odd place, and would like to see it here, email me at the regular address. As displayed by my previous 'Gurney In A Odd Place' post, don't feel constrained to shopping trolleys.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Always walking ahead of me

I walk across King George's Field every day.

By some remarkable twist of fate, as I walk to work my shadow lays in front of me, the sun rising behind me. And then, on the way home, the sun sets behind me, and my shadow is again laid out ahead of me.

When I was younger and more vital, my shadow was a source of great pride for me. It would thin out or disguise the parts that I wasn't happy with in real life, and because of the lengthening and foreshortening, it would always look like the silhouette of a superhero of some kind.

I was walking home, so it would have been about 18:40 when I took this.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Gurneys in odd places

I walk across King George's Field every day.

When I started collecting these photos and stories, there's been a proliferation of shopping trolleys dumped in odd places along my walk to and from walk.

Never did I expect that I'd see a gurney dumped next to a playground. I think it's the kind that come in ambulances.

Which suggests to me that an ambulance has been stripped, and that spread out across Braintree are the rest of its contents.

The kids who normally eat Pot Noodles in the park, haul shopping trolleys into bizarre positions, overturn bins and insult eachother in text on lamposts are getting bolder.

I was walking to work, so it would have been about 7:10 when I took this.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Noticing Trees

I walk across King George's Field every day.

It's surrounded on three sides by trees.

Walking around London every day, it's not uncommon that at some point I'll look up and feel awe at the scale of the buildings. And I doubt I'm the only one.

But I haven't been doing the same with trees. Until the other day. The tree in the centre of this picture is easily as tall as a four-storey house, probably taller. And there are scores of other trees on my walk to work which are as tall, or taller.

Why is it that we don't find trees remarkable?

I was walking to work, so it would have been 7:10 when I took this.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Day at night

I walk along the path that connects Millenium Way to Stubbs Lane every day.

During the winter, it's dark when I walk to and from work.

There is a football pitch alongside Stubbs Lane that on some nights will turn on floodlights in order to make it possible for football to be played.

The light is extraordinary. It shines through the trees and gives the area an ethereal quality. It's impossible not to think of aliens and Level 3 encounters. It is impressive, and transportive.

For the birds though, the light has an even more dramatic effect. The floodlight is bright enough that the birds think that dawn is breaking, and they all sit in the trees singing accordingly. But the quantity of light doesn't change, as it would during daybreak. And so the birds are trapped in time, announcing the arrival of morning until the football ground's caretaker goes home for the night and turns the lights off on his way.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Goodbye Millenium Way

I walk along Stubbs Lane every day.

I've been doing so for around 3 years.

And up until about a week ago, when I noticed this sign -- a sign I've walked past twice a day for 3 years -- I was convinced it was called 'Millenium Way'.

In the background there are about 10 rabbits. There are rabbits all over this part of Braintree.

I was late coming home, so it would have been about 21:45 when I took this.

Hot Snack Undergound

I walk across King George's Field Every Day.

Like most spaces frequented by teenagers, for whom the use of bins must be terrifying, King George's Field is often covered in litter.

Most of it comes as expected. Crisp bags, scraps of paper (often from exercise books), beer bottles. That type of thing.

But there's also a bizarrely high number of empty Pot Noodle containers. I imagine there being a localised fad amongst the youth of Braintree for carrying flasks of boiling water around with them, solely for the purpose of making hot snacks in a park. Probably to give them the energy to hoist trolleys on to the top of fences, or to kick fledgling trees in half.

I was walking to work, so it would have been about 7:11 when I took this.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Facing Off

I walk through the transitional area between Clay Pits and King George's field every day.

One morning, on the way to work, yet more trolleys had been left in odd places. I found this pair facing eachother at the entrance to King George's Field.

Often when I find things like this, I think maybe that they're just the product of random experience. But this...

...this was on purpose. Why, I don't know. The two trolleys describe a line, but I'm not sure what it intersects. I wasn't sure whether to corss it either... at 7am, anything confusing is a potential threat, so I was tempted to turn around and sit at home until the whole thing had blown over.

But I didn't. I just hopped over it, and carried on my way.

I was on my way to work, so it would have been about 7:10 when I took this.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Bad Draw Times

I walk across King George's Field every day.

I've often had the suspicion that the world is generated as we travel through it, rather than being continuous. Once, whilst looking out of a plane window, I thought I saw a contrail being rotated into position. It was as though the people who put contrails in the sky had forgotten I'd be flying that day, and were rushing to get it finished.

This happens in computer games. To save memory, the environment is built as you get nearer to it, rather than being present all the time. This is called 'draw time'.

King George's Field can get very foggy. And when walking through the fog, it's like the world's draw times have suddenly got really short.

I was walking to work, so it would have been about 7:10 when I shot this.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Empty Carpark

I walk across Freeport Shopping Village's overspill carpark every day.

There's something about empty carparks that I find disquieting.

It's similar to the feeling you get in an empty school, or a large office building after everyone's gone home. They're more than empty, extra empty, because they're normally so full.

And the sky over an empty carpark has the same power. Like it's ready to burst with a force that's the culmination of everythnig that's natural. Supernatural, in the most literal sense of the word.

And if it's late, and I'm walking home, Freeport's carparks will be empty. And I enjoy being a part of that emptiness, in the knowledge that I'm only passing through.

I was walking home, so it would have been about 21:45 when I took this.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Ditched Trolley

I walk across King George's Field every day.

On my way home one day, I noticed a number of shopping trolleys which had been abandoned in odd places. This is the second one I saw. It had been mercilessly tipped into this ditch, which runs along one side of the field, next to the path.

This is the sort of thing you could see every day. I'm sure there are thousands of ditches with trolleys dumped in them.

An observation about shopping trolleys: When taken out of their usual context, there is something anomalous about them. They tend to draw focus, and if not dominate, then at least subvert their surroundings. It's possibly because their shape is so unnatural. They don't look like they should function in conventional space.

But this one, lying on its side in this ditch, all alone, just looked pathetic.

I was walking home, so it would have been about 18:40 when I took this.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Nighttime Light Corridor

I walk along Stubbs Lane every day.

Sometimes I don't get home before nightfall, and have to walk along Stubbs Lane in the dark. The alley is lit at four points by streetlights. When it rains, and water settles on the path, the light from the streetlight from the streetlights reflects off the ground.

It always makes my walk home seem more mysterious when it's like this. Like I'm walking down a corridor that's both indoors and outdoors at the same time. Or that I'm walking along a boundry between two worlds.

I was walking home at night, so it would have been about 21:35 when I took this.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Most Peaceful Place On Earth

I wait for the train at Freeport Station every day.

I say "Freeport Station" but it's just a platform, on a branch line. The train comes in every hour on its way to Braintree, and 15mins later comes back through again as it heads back to Witham.

The platform sits in a little man-made valley, surrounded on two sides with trees. It's been very well designed to keep the sound of any passing trains contained in its hollow. And very little sound leaks in from the rest of the world.

Some days, I'm late, and miss the train. And I loiter in the platform's shelter, with three quarters of an hour to wait, alone, before the train returns.

Out there, it feels like the quietest, most peaceful place on earth.

I decided to record this silence one morning. And after 8 seconds of bird song and the rustle of leaves, I got bored, made a bizarre tapping noise and stopped recording.

As I'd missed the train on the way to work, it would have been about 8:00am when I filmed this.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Trolley In A Fence

I walk along the path that connects Millenium Way to Stubbs Lane every day.

On my way home one day, I noticed a number of shopping trolleys which had been abandoned in odd places. This is the first one I saw. It had been hoisted up onto this fence. The fence is about 6' tall, maybe taller.

It occured to me what a frenzied effort it must have taken to get it up there. Trolleys are deceptively heavy, but not only that, they are unweildly -- once they are off the ground, they are spastic in space.

Whoever got it up there could not have done so gracefully. Sheer, shaking fury would have been necessary to get it up there, even if it was a group exercise. Especially if it was a group exercise.

What sort of person would decide on that course of action, and then be bloody-minded enough to follow through?

I was walking home, so it would have been about 18:35 when I took this.

Ritual Snow Pile

I walk across King George's Field every day.

Earlier this year, when it snowed very heavily, King George's Field was transformed, in the way that snow always transforms a landscape: it smoothed it out, covered it over, painted it white.

Early in the morning, the sun not yet fully in the sky, the light reflected off the snow and turned it blue.

As the days went by, and people participated in the snow, moving it about, piling it up, throwing it around, the landscape changed again, and became slightly alien, pitted. There were black spots in the snow: twigs and rubbish and exposed dirt.

And as I was walking to work one morning, this came looming through the thick, heavy air. This pile of snow, with twigs inserted in apparently random arrays. At one point, it could have been a snowman, but it didn't last long. It was early morning, and it had refrozen, stuck like this.

I couldn't help seeing it as an artifact, a part of some ritual conducted hastily through the night by cloaked agents. Or even a ritual carried out randomly, unwittingly, the product of frenzied action by the same kids who displace the trolleys and leave Pot Noodle packaging in the through-road.

I was walking to work, so it would have been about 7:12am when I took this.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Buried Playground

I walk across King Geroge's Field every day.

It used to have just the one playground area, but then they built a snazzy new one a few hundred yards across the field and then there were two.

And then one morning, I found that the first one had been dug up, and in its place there was this patch of earth, as though they'd buried it.

They've built a new one since, a third one, only a few steps away from where the first one stood. Grass has started growing on this square of dirt now, but it's a different colour to the rest of the field, like it's a ghost or something.

I was walking to work, so it would have been about 7:15am when I took this.