It’s difficult to come up with one reason on why I like Shingle Street. But if I had to, I’d say it’s concerned with memory. The place has its own innate beauty being at the convergence of sea, river and farmland – all held together below one of those large East Anglian skies. But for me there is more than the beauty. There are birds of course, and I’ve seen some good rarities here and when I reflect upon that fact, I’m reminded that I’ve found some of my best rarities here – and I’m no prolific rare bird finder! But even this seems less relevant when I consider its place within my psyche. I first came here in 2003 and only because I was curious about its name. Since them I’ve moved into Suffolk and now live a short drive away from the place.
I’ve had my ups and downs over the years, with occasional brushes with stress and depression. I’m a firm believer in the recuperative qualities of nature and Shingle Street has played its part in that healing over the years. But why have I chosen this image? (You may recall a version of it from Exercise 2.6). Shingle Street has more conventionally beautiful and picturesque scenes than this one. And when I took this image the light was warm and low and I guess I was there during that ‘Golden Hour’ that landscape photographers refer to. However, this broken and twisted concrete road (a relic from World War 2 coastal defenses I’m sure) is symbolic of that healing journey I’ve undergone in the past. Stretching the metaphor a bit further (and perhaps a bit thinly too) it is also a refuge and an aid: when trudging across the soft shingle beach the road offers a firmer and easier footing to walk along. So of all the photographic potential that Shingle Street offers I chosen this simple concrete roadway.
To give an idea of the broader landscape potential of Shingle Street I included a contact sheet with some of the other images I took at the time.