Station exterior wall

The Train Leaving the Station is . . .

My walk this week has been around the area next to Bristol Temple Meads and at the end of this architectural walk I entered the railway station, not just to view its structure and design but talso to listen to its sounds.

Bristol Templemeads

The start of my soundscape for this walk, like the photos posted at the start of the week, provide some evidence of people – footsteps and voices – but not nearly as much as you might expect for the number of people that were actually there. Perhaps the sounds of human voices and the actions of individuals were being absorbed or muffled by the three dimensional complexity of the city’s architecture and the activities taking place, such as building construction, trains, traffic, etc.

The sounds inside the station were, as you would expect, different. Aside from the echo and reverberation of the cavernous space, the density of people and subsequently their voices and conversations rose to another level. And then the trains arrived and the background ambience changed again – until the train left.

This walk did not involve much in the way of nature and for me there is no question about which is more pleasant and relaxing (a natural environment), but I still find the urban environment of huge interest and I am just as fascinated by the textures, patterns, shapes and colours to be seen and heard around me in the city as I am in a wood or on a mountain – less relaxed but still interested.

Bristol City Soundscape

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Out Around the River Ouse – Reviewing the Walk

My walk this week, titled as it is – “Out Around the Ouse”- suggests that there might have been more images of the river expected than there actually has been. But my circular route started by heading for the river.

leaf and shade

Heading away from York City meant that there was more tree and plant life along the riverbanks and in turn this meant the footpath didn’t follow the river quite so close to the edge as it does heading into town (as in a previous walk a few weeks ago).Continue reading

Climbing into Forest Stillness in November

It’s a steep path into the forest from the road but during a murky November when the days are getting very short the stillness that can be found there when the wind isn’t blowing is a real treat. Don’t get me wrong, I like the sound of the wind, but I also like the quiet peacefulness amongst the trees of this small forest when the sound of the motorway to the west is not carried over the hill. Even in the upper, thinner parts of this woodland, in amongst the spiky gorse, the air can be still and the sound of the conversing birds carries through the trees.

Forest Gorse in November

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September Forest Footsteps

The light in September was fantastic! Its a time of year when its not too difficult to get up and catch the sun rising and a mist lingering in the valley. But it is the sounds I recorded during this month that I really love. Below is a short clip from a soundscape I am reserving for the first day of the New Year. It features my footsteps on the forest floor with leaves underfoot and the passing of early morning traffic in the background.

Forest September light

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Water Under the Bridge

The old iron railing on the footbridge which I crossed on my walk this week will be familiar to those who saw my posts a couple of weeks ago about my previous walk on this route. I wasn’t originally going to include the sound clip below because it’s just water flowing under the bridge – but then on listening to it again, I changed my mind!

The sounds of that flow have three distinct stages: the first part has a lot of bubbly texture to it, including trickles and tickles, gloops and bloops, splashes and plashes (in preference to more technical language), the second is more even with those highlights less noticeable, and the ambience of the third stage has greater weight on the right hand speaker but with a gloopy base returning in the background – and then the sound fades to my footsteps climbing a dry leafy slope.

cwm-dulais-16

Water Under the Bridge

Seeing Snippets with a Photographic Blinker

I like to think that I would spot different details or snippets of my surroundings regardless of the photographic blinker provided by a camera. But I also think that using a camera over the years has helped me to put a mental frame around aspects of my local environment that has allowed me more easily to focus on certain details.

On my walk this week along Aberavon seafront I took many photos, both detail shots and wide angle. Thinking of using them and my field recordings for a StillWalks video of this time and place, it was important for me to view the bigger picture as well as the details. The “bigger picture” shots below reveal that the sea fret that had lifted a little for a while, had descended again to mask the details in the distance.

sea wall snippet

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Doing the Boardwalk

The last stage of this circular Taste of Gower walk is enjoyable for the same kind of reason as the stepping stones are when crossing Pennard Pill (river) in Three Cliffs Bay – it’s fun, a novelty, a change underfoot from the normal footpath surface, not only in feel but also in sound.

Doing the Boardwalk

Doing the Boardwalk

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Stones in Circles and the Textures of Grass

These stones arranged in circles at Three Cliffs Bay on South Gower have been there as long as I can remember (which is not necessarily all that long!), but I don’t think they go back to neolithic times. People’s footsteps have worn the ground down over time as they walk around the pattern and if it is a construction of modern times, then it is perhaps remarkable that it has remained without damage or rearrangement for so long. Is this a sign of our respect for our ancient past, even though it may be an installation of modern times, or do we just like and respond to the pattern and texture of the arrangement.

And thinking of textures and patterns, I was taken with the grasses growing alongside Pennard Pill as it twists down the valley to the bay. The subtly changing flow of the grasses in the wind, their hues of blues, yellows and greens and the dots of white and buff grass seeds and flowers remind me of the circles of stones, at least when viewed in monochrome.

stone circles

Stones in Circles

Those changing textures and patterns can also be perceived in sound. The clip below presents the susurrus (there’s that word again) of my footsteps, firstly in soft sand and then through flickering, tickering grasses as my feet brush through them on my way to catch up with the other walkers.

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