Action or Extinction

Action or Extinction. Three words on a billboard, made me look at my daily commute in a different way.

I’ve assumed these are linked to Extinction Rebellion, who are lobbying for a step change in how we address climate change — to ensure we don’t destroy the planet and the human race.

I started looking at the street below in a different way. Out of the shadows and the murky windows emerged oddly de-populated spaces — only to be replaced by the hordes emerging from the caves and streets below.

A shrouded London emerges from the shadows and the twilight as we make our way across the city.

A Journey Along the Lea

An extract from A Tale of Two Swannes by William Vallens published 1590

‘From Stansted unto Hodsdon goe these Swannes, From thence to Broxborne, and to Wormley wood And so salute the holy house of Nunnes, That late ato captaine Edward Dennie, A knight in Ireland of the best accompt Who late made execution on our foes, I meane of Spanyardes, that with open armes Attempted both against our Queene and us: There now lord Talbot keepes a noble haouse: Now see these Swannes the new and worthie seate Of famous Cicill, treasoror of the land, Whose wisedome, counsell, skill of Princes state The world admires, then Swannes may doe the same: The house it selfe doth shewe the owners wit, And may for bewtie, state, and every thing, Compared be with most within the land. Downe all along through Waltham street they passe, And wonder at the ruines of the Abbay, Late supprest, the walles, the walkes, the monumentes, And everie thing that there is to be seene: Among them all a rare devise they see, But newly made, a waterworke: the locke Through which the boates of Ware doe passe with malt, This locke containes two double doores of wood, Within the same a Cesterne all of Plancke, Which onely fils when boates come there to passe By opening anie of these mightie dores with sleight, And strange devise, but now decayed sore. And as they stayed here, thy chaunst to see The stately crosse of Elnor, Henries wise Then Enfield house that longes unto our Queene, They all behold, and with due reveverence Salute the same. From hence by Hackney, Leyton, and old-Foord, They come to Stratford, cal’d also the Bowe: And underneath the bridge that thwartes the streame And partes the shires of Middlesex, and Essex both At last (though long and wearie was their way) They come unto the mouth of river Lee,’


The edge or boundary of something, or the part near it.

Borders define the spaces in-between — the crossing points from one place to another. Following the course of London’s second river, the Lea, I’ve discovered the series of edgelands — real, historical and mythological that occur along it’s path.

Whether in transition from London to the home counties, the traditional Middlesex Essex border or the more ancient Danelaw Wessex border we are in a landscape of present and ancient liminal spaces a shifting space — a boundary land that is neither one thing or the other.

Borderlands is also available in book form from Urban Impressions.

An Elevated View

This is a commuter’s perspective of London – a passing view of the city defined by the top deck of a London bus.

How we negotiate and observe the urban space from the bus is constrained by the prescribed routes that define our commutes, the random flow of traffic and most simply by where we end up sitting. The familiar streetscape is caught in a series of momentary glances as the bus lurches and sways toward its destination.

The shifting seasons and the distinct districts of the city flicker across the screen of the bus windows — the leafy north, the cool grunge of Stroud Green Road and Hackney and the steel and glass of the City of London. This elevated view of the street is disconnected yet strangely intimate as we watch the city and its people unfold beneath us.

Created from multiple journeys, this series of photographs is a composite portrait of some of the fixed pathways through the city.

Meandering along the Lea

Meandering – to follow a winding course, to wander in a leisurely or aimless manner.

Meander originates from Maiandros, the name of a river, which flows through modern Turkey. It has come to define not just a wandering river but aimless journeys more generally.

This sense of an aimless journey was my starting point to explore the Lea, London’s second river, which rises in rural Hertfordshire and winds it’s way through East London to its eventual confluence with the Thames near the old East India dock.

The Lea has played a variety of roles in London’s development and history – as an ancient trade route for transporting wheat for bread and grain for gin, a border between Middlesex and Essex and more recently it’s winding path through East London has determined the boundaries of the island on which the London Olympics were held in 2012.

For centuries the Lea has been managed, re-routed and shaped to satisfy a variety of uses, blurring the demarkations between the natural and man-made. These cycles of history have left their traces in the landscape – a treasure map to explore and uncover.

The Lea is a landscape that shifts between the natural and the man-made – shaped through centuries of human habitation. This is what makes London’s second river such an engaging route to investigate. It is an integral part of London but one often forgotten.

My Lea river walk follows a meandering course up and down stream at will, building an iterative series of impressions of my experience of the river.


Paris Murs

The walls of Paris provide an ideal canvas to showcase the work of street art. It’s an alternative perspective on the city.

I’ve been walking the same streets and re-tracing my steps countless times to observe the ephemeral and the permanent. While Mosko et Associés prowling tigers at Villa de L’Ermitage are long gone the urban tigers at Rue des Rosiers remain much as I first found them in 2006 – though someone has added ‘nature strikes back’ over the original work.

As street art has become more popular, and sanctioned by local councils, walls can become shared spaces with regular ‘exhibitions’ to maintain a constant cycle of new work.

Some spaces remain permanent such as Mesnager’s homage to Matisse on rue de Menilmontant.

Then there are the spaces that incorporate the response of one artist to another, such as Mesnager’s overlays on the work of Nemo and Mosko et Associés.

The walls and the work continue to evolve and warrant regular visits.

I’m grateful to Kasia Klon who arranges street art tours in Paris and ‘Invisible Paris Walks’ for giving me a greater insight into what I see on the walls of Paris.

The artists whose work I have catalogued over the past years include;

Bernard Bellon

BMX ride in peace

Claude Feuillet 

Clet Abraham 

Jérôme Mesnager 


Mosko et Associé 

Mr Pee


Philippe Hérard 


Regents Canal the linear London village

The Regents Canal in London runs from Paddington in the west to the Limehouse basin in the east. I’ve been walking the canal path for several years observing this little slice of London – a landscape in transition as a new wave of re-development transforms the environment of the canal towpath.

The plan for Regents Canal was developed by John Nash in 1811, as part of a larger development of north central london, which included Regents Park. The canal provided a link from the Grand Union Canal reaching to the industrial north – through to the Thames at Limehouse.

Constructed between 1812 and 1820 the canal was soon overtaken by the growing development of railways and road traffic and by 1969 the canal’s original function ceased. But growing environmental awareness has seen a re-use of the canal with cyclists and strollers competing for space along the narrow towpath.

The canal route takes in a broad microcosm of London. At the western edge are the grand houses and mansion blocks of the established affluence of Little Venice and the splendour of Regents Park. Not far beyond the gentrified grunge of Camden Town a new district of apartment blocks and a university campus is arising out of the old goods yards and warehouses around Kings Cross station.

As we move to Islington and Hackney, new housing developments, old council estates and a decaying industrial landscape define an urban landscape that is rapidly transforming. The old canal-side living of the narrowboat is being replaced by apartment blocks that crowd the canal path and define a new urban district for London.

As we approach the Limehouse Basin the landscape flattens and the rows of canal-side apartments disappear. For now the luxury apartment blocks remain constrained by the green spaces of Victoria and Mile End parks.

The evolving story of the Regent’s canal is perhaps a broader reflection of the history of London’s cycles of invention and re-invention.

London Southbank – a random walk

The Southbank is one of my favourite parts of London – a great public square along the Thames. From the London Eye to Tower bridge you can follow the course of the river and the concert halls, galleries and cinemas that line it’s path. At low tide the beaches emerge from the river and close to Tower Bridge is a flotilla of boats arranged in a square, facing the luxury flats along both sides of the river.

I wander along here as often as I can to catch the changing seasons and the ever changing enviroment around the Royal Festival Hall.

What I see from the London bus

I’ve been continuing to explore London streets from the viewpoint of the bus – what started as a bit of a distraction from my commutes to west London has evolved. I’ve been taking other routes and watching the London landscape pass by.

Some of the more recent images are along Holloway Road..



On the way back from Broadway market I travelled through Shoredtich and Hoxton..

The Eagle

The Eagle



And onwards via the Angel



You can take a look at the most recent updates at London from the bus or follow my tumblr blog to keep up to date with new image updates as I add them.

Paris Lovelocks

I first came across lovelocks on Pont des Artes in Paris in November 2011 and I’ve read countless blogs about the appearance and re-appearance of these lovelocks on paris bridges.

During my most recent trip to Paris in late November 2013 the lovelocks of Pont des Artes have transformed to form a wall of multi-coloured locks on the surface of the bridge – a pattern of little shapes declaring undying love and togetherness. As the real estate of the main bridge becomes oversubscribed the locks have found their way to the bridge approaches – and other bridges in Paris that provide a way to attach a lock.

As we look at the walls of locks the individual declarations of love and togetherness are lost in the crowd – its seems that with some the writing has worn off, or in some instances the declaration of love is for country or some other purpose.

The ever inventive tourist touts of Paris have found a new market of goods beyond the eiffel towers and I love Paris t-shirts. If you haven’t brought your own lock they will sell you one – and a marker pen to write your message… I wonder if the lock-makers are experiencing a shortage of supply?

The range of padlocks, bicycle locks and combination locks create a lovely pattern, encouraging a further layer of paint, graffiti and other artistic additions. Clearly some lovers come prepared with carefully engraved locks with strong colours to stand out from the crowd – or you could perhaps design a specific banner – like the fake paris street signs with lovers names inscribed. But of course you could always buy a lock if you need to…

When I lived in Paris in the late 1990s I remember the Pont des Artes as a public space for meeting up, having a picnic or just getting together. On a cold winter day in November it was full of tourists making photos against the walls of locks, attaching locks or making selfies of their locks before attaching them – somewhere – on the bridge.


Kings Cross Journeys

I recently spent an afternoon wandering around Granary Square in Kings Cross London – a new public space arising out of the goods yards and sidings that surround the Victorian railway station. Granary Square is just a one part of a vast re-development of central London.  From 67 acres of post-industrial landscape a new district is arising from the detritus of the ‘railway lands’ that were built in the 1850s and 60s.

New streets and public squares are being created as well as thousands of new homes, and a university campus. Granary square is host to the new campus for the University of the Arts, social housing and the Global Generation Skip Garden – which uses the symbol of re-construction, the skip, to provide a new home for a garden in a landscape of cranes and barriers as the ‘railway lands’ are re-born for a new purpose.

If you want to read more you can visit the official site for the new kings cross