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3 March 2012
snow patrol
Now Playing: snow patrol - chasing cars
Topic: london

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I'm from a country where it doesn't snow in the cities.

If you're lucky it might snow in some alpine areas a couple of hours out of the city (see Victorian and New South Wales snowfields), but mostly you only see snow if you go hunting for it, and rarely do you ever see it actually falling. If need be, the holiday resorts manufacture their own snow so that they can maintain a ski season in years when the snowfall isn't up to par.

I think the first time I saw snow was in about sixth grade when my parents took us away for a day to the Victorian snowfields, and my brothers and I had our first experience of throwing snowballs at each other, making a snowman, and just generally mucking about in the snow. I can't recall ever attempting to ski, but my memory may be fuzzy on this.

Apart from that, and being sleeted upon in November 2006 whilst tramping around the Tongariro Crossing area of New Zealand (I wasn't brave enough to climb the scree with Hugh and Jamie, who subsequently got properly snowed upon), my heaviest actual snowfall experienced previously was pretty piddling - a flurry in Birmingham city centre a couple of weeks after arriving in the UK in 1999, and a similarly brief "white Christmas" in Newcastle a few weeks later.

Even in the 2.5 years I lived here previously, most of the snow I experienced was already on the ground; including waking up one morning to go to work between the Christmas and New Year holidays to walk out of my front door in Reading and stop on the doorstep utterly perplexed at what confronted me. It took a good couple of beats before my sleep-deprived brain registered "It snowed!" Having snowed overnight whilst we slept, I had still not been snowed upon, good and proper; and since I had to work, I left my housemate and my then-boyfriend to run around in said snow in their boxer shorts throwing snowballs at each other whilst I attempted to venture into town without falling on my arse.

So you can imagine that I was pretty excited by actual snow, actually falling, at the start of February right outside my house. There were a few preliminary flurries over the weeks leading up to it, but I'd managed to blink and miss every single one. And given the windows to my bedroom are quite high up, and mostly obscured from view by the sloping loft conversion ceiling when I'm sitting at my desk, it was only because I was talking with my housemates at the time and my landlady mentioned it, that I even noticed.

Suffice to say, despite the cold, I grabbed my camera and wandered out to try to catch some photos - some at the beginning of the snowfall from the footpath outside my house, the rest from the warmth and dry of my bedroom, the landing, the kitchen and lounge.

I even woke at random points through the night to check if it was still snowing (eg. 4:30am and again at 8:30am), and shooting off some more photos.

My landlady and housemates were not so excited by the prospect of snow, with concerns about driving and potential flight delays. And though I worried about the impact it would have on Kyle's arrival (it caused slight additional delay); and knew that the novelty would pass once I had to venture out, once the snow had turned to sludge, and when the pure white snowfall was discoloured by so many neighbourhood dogs' urine, I think my inner tourist was showing.

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Posted by Bronwen Hyde at 14:17 GMT
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2 October 2011
park royal
Now Playing: bat for lashes - trophy
Topic: london

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Posted by Bronwen Hyde at 18:13 BST
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8 June 2011
Topic: london


I was going to use the image above to promote a new project I'm working on with a writer from Brisbane, that we're just about ready to launch as a blog on Tumblr, but which is ultimately intended for publication as a luscious coffee table book of text and image.

It fits with the title of the blog as it currently stands, but wasn't an image I necessarily felt would inspire a piece of writing from my lovely friend. And as I want to keep the majority of images I create for that project solely for that project (though the first one will be recognisable from my blog, Flickr, an issue of F-Stop Magazine, and my website), that worked out nicely, thankyouverymuch.

However, on looking up the actual name of the building on Google Maps, also specifically trying to ascertain if what I was told was correct in regard to the occupants of the building, I have to admit, I descended into rant mode.

Because, like so many other photographers in London, I've now become just a statistic in the "I'm a photographer, not a terrorist" debate that still, unfortunately, rages here.

I didn't get into a barney with the guy; it didn't get heated; I didn't have anyone threaten to confiscate my camera, my memory card, or threaten to call the police. Hell, the guy didn't even ask my name, and didn't ask to see the photo I took.

I'm guessing because he'd seen me take the photo of the ceiling in the outer entry of the building, and that was okay; but taking a photo aimed at street level wasn't, so he came to stop me at that point.

And on one level, yeah, I can kind of understand the paranoia of "You can photograph the building at a distance, above ground level, that's okay, but no images of entrances, the ground floor, etc".

I have been alive long enough to witness planes flying headlong into the World Trade Centre, the removal of all bins in major London train stations, and so on.

This gentleman's reason for me not being able to photograph the building, on this occasion, is that apparently this building houses a Metropolitan Police office. Funnily enough, there was no sign screaming this to me, I had no idea. To me it looked far too fancy for them, but maybe that's because I've watched The Bill for too long: I expect The Fuzz to be all about bleak and grey.

But this building: it has character. I only saw one section of it, close up. The rest I barely saw as we only passed by on our way from Tate Modern to Southwark Station, and I was wary about lingering too long after being berated.

And looking the building up online tonight to find it is the Palestra building, I thought about the architects. How pissed would I be, as an artist (because architects are, mostly), that this fantastic design is not able to be interpreted and recorded by other artists as a pretty interesting and stylish building?

I'm sure if Gaudi were alive and heard that power-hungry security guards were banishing photographers and artists, rendering any section of his fantastic buildings out of bounds for interpretation, he'd have a fit.

You don't create elaborate, highly decorative buildings simply so a select few* can see them. At least, that's not how I understand it. In metropolises that often harbour ugly, dated, oppressive buildings, shouldn't we be celebrating those that stand out from the crowd, not cordoning them off from bystanders?

*okay, so the entire population of London isn't a "select few", but compared to the world's population, it's kinda piddling.

Posted by Bronwen Hyde at 21:53 BST
Updated: 9 June 2011 06:59 BST
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