Christmas decorations

Christmas Lights and Lights at Christmas

My walk this week, being in an early morning urban landscape, remained dark almost to the end of the walk. Some of the Christmas lights of Swansea were to be seen creating abstract growth patterns against the night sky, but there were more abstract patterns than this to be seen in the lighting at this early hour.

Christmas lighting

Some long exposure and movement of the lens allowed the traffic to create light trails en route to daytime and the darkness in other areasContinue reading

Fen grasses

Back at the Bramble Beginning – Reviewing the Walk

Looking back from the bramble beginning by the road on my walk this week along the Tennant Canal near Swansea, South Wales, I can see and hear again some of the varied natural and industrial features of this environment that I enjoy so much.

return to the road

I first discovered the beauty of this place on a guided walk with a bird specialist who worked his magic at identifying and translating all the birds and, seemingly, their conversations. The ability the human brain has for focusing our senses in different ways is remarkable but there is no questionContinue reading

Posted

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

Chapel Alley Fulford

Heading for Chapel Alley

My walk this week is a circular one and at this stage I am three quarters round the circle and heading back to Fulford and Chapel Alley. Fulford is on the edge of York City and the main street is busy with traffic going out to the ring road. So I was pleased on my previous walk along this route, to have found Chapel Alley as a short cut that took me away from the noise and fumes.

Fulford Road

If you can read the sign in image 4 then you will see where the Chapel Alley used to lead – but really, it’s pretty obvious! I liked the feel of the narrow alley,Continue reading

In the land of the Living

During my woodland walk this week it was easy to forget that anyone else existed while in amongst the trees – except for the background sound of human activity. The traffic of a suburban area on the edge of farmland was not really significant – more-so was the rising and falling volume of the tractor at work in the fields, recorded on my iPhone 6s. This, however, could not detract from the enjoyment of the woodland environment on a peaceful end-of-summer day just prior to our holiday in Scotland.

roadside woodland

Stainton Woods – Traffic and Tractor

Sounds Down the Street

Having crossed the road on my walk this week I continued walking down the street and found myself enjoying the various sights and sounds much more than I would normally in an urban environment. This was because I was looking and listening to everything around me – I was focused on what could be seen and heard and not thinking about what had to be done that day or a forthcoming meeting, none of the things that are usually going through my head on a working day.

In the midst of a busy working day and what can seem like cacophonous activities or surroundings, we can take a rest just by changing our focus and paying attention to the intricacies of our local environment, outside or inside, urban or rural.

Walking down the street

The urban aural environment is obviously different to the rural – this is confirmed visually for me when I look at the spectral display for a sound clip like the one below. I am used to seeing the patterns of bird song in a sound clip and depending on the bird, these sounds show up at a range of different frequencies – the cries of the gulls in this clip are at a relatively low frequency. The highlights shown scattered across this spectral display create a quite different pattern and seemingly quite random – they are  the squeaks and squeals of vehicle brakes. Some of these, the highest pitched, are out of my hearing range these days, but it’s good to be able to see that they are there.

Walking Down the Street

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Sound clip spectral display

Sound clip spectral display – click to enlarge

Sensory Perception at the Lakeside

Nearing the end or turning point of my walk this week, I emerged from the riverside woodland footpath at the Enterprise Park near Llansamlet in Swansea. This zone has grown over the years and one of its main characteristics is that you are almost forced to take the car from place within the zone.

However, despite the sound of passing traffic (below), once I had crossed the road I was able to enjoy the lake that forms a central feature in the area. As in any urban area, there is always the background sound of city activity and traffic, but the lake here forms an essential and effective oasis from all that.

Lakeside

We need these oases in modern urban living, but it is not just a matter of them existing. We need to make sure we use them as they were intended and enjoy the natural benefits they can bring on a regular basis.

Walking around a lake or park, down a tree-lined street, along a river, we are offered the opportunity to not just exercise of our limbs, but also to exercise our sensory perception. Looking and/or listening is possible for almost everyone and in my experience is well worth it.

Passing Traffic

Lakeside Ambience

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Environmental Range

The walks I have been taking each morning recently, include a range of environments – urban, coniferous forest, deciduous woods and open farm land.

Although I prefer the natural woodland environments on these walks, I also enjoy the faster, more even pace of walking through the (semi) urban area. Even in the woods there is still the background sound of traffic on the motorway – except at one point along the footpath where the sound from the motorway (see last photo) almost completely disappears and there is only the sound of individual vehicles occasionally passing on the road below.

The sounds as well as the plants and animals of these places are many and varied. The field recording I have posted below and in previous posts this week illustrate something of that variety.

There is an intrusion into the sound clip below. I was recording on my Edirol R09 and had forgotten to switch off my phone! So there is another element of the urban environment unintentionally included.

landscape sunrise

forest floor

lichen

motorway

Fforest Birds 4 and Traffic