Tell us about your story with Faversham
We left London and moved to Faversham in 2003, and immediately loved it. We live in the Mall, opposite the entrance to the railway station car park, and we love ‘having our own railway station’. Since electrification, trains are no longer either noisy or dirty, and we can just step across the road with a travel mug of tea in our hands and be in London, Whitstable, France or further afield in a very short time. We have a walled garden, which I blog about as The Middlesized Garden, and I’ve extended that into a YouTube channel, also the Middlesized Garden. The combination is a full time job, especially making videos, either in the garden or visiting other gardens. I used to be a journalist and novelist, but I’d never been involved with creating pictures, so I’ve learned about photographing and filming for the blogging and vlogging.
We were both still working in London when we moved, and our children were just about to enter secondary school. So my husband did a spreadsheet of places that had good access to London, good secondary schools and a house price we could afford. An estate agent mentioned Faversham, and although David had lived in Kent with his family at various points, he’d barely even heard of it. So he drove into Faversham, spotted some houses he liked and sent them a letter asking them if they were interested in selling. The owners of our current house, Wreights House, replied, and although there were quite a few ups and downs, we eventually landed here in July 2003. We didn’t know anyone, but had six addresses of ‘friends of friends’ and everyone was very welcoming (if surprised, as the house hadn’t been on the market so no-one knew who we were or that we were moving in). We really loved the sense of history and also the community. We’ve found out as much as we can about our house and I can feel the sense of those who lived here before, and I think there is a great sense of that in Faversham generally. It’s also been wonderful to see the growth of the arts in the town, and to feel that there’s a huge amount of creativity here.
What is important to you about Faversham?
I like the people, the history and the architecture… I also love that it’s close to the sea, without actually being in direct line of sea breezes.
Why did you decide to participate in A year in the life of Faversham?
Taking pictures is like telling a story, and I think it’s an important record of the town, especially now in lockdown. Even though conservation is important here, some things won’t last or will get swept away and this will leave a record of how they looked in 2021.
Which camera do you use?
I use an Olympus Pen ELP-8 and my Samsung 20. Because of the blogging and vlogging I need as good a camera and phone as I can afford, but I’m always working outside in gardens or shows like the Chelsea Flower Show, so I have to walk a long way. So my equipment needs to be as light as possible, especially as I also use a tripod (a Manfrotto light one). I also carry three lenses and some other bits and pieces. I have my phone on me the whole time, so that gives me the opportunity to take more photographs for the project with that.
What do you like to photograph?
I really like to photograph in the ‘golden hour’ after Sunrise and before sunset because the detail is so much clearer and the light is so much better. Faversham has amazing textures – the wavy old roofs, the ancient brick, wood and stone, the uneven cobbles – and texture is much better at the beginning or end of the day. I also like to photograph from different angles, out of windows, for example.
I think I will go out into the fields once the spring is here, and also look more actively for situations that could be photographed. I keep finding myself fumbling in my pocket for my phone as my subject disappears from view!
What have you learnt about Faversham photographing for 365 Faversham?
That it’s very layered – you might see a Georgian frontage, but there’ll be a medieval building built into it behind and then a courtyard to a contemporary part, and then there’s a path leading to an alleyway, which takes you through a gate and perhaps even out to a field or a housing estate. Which reminds me, I must try to go out to the new housing estates and see what’s going on there…
Have you had a special experience whilst photographing for the project?
I saw some funeral staff in black face masks polishing their hearse and I just didn’t quite dare ask them if I could photograph them. It seemed like such a moment of lockdown.
I also met a grandmother bottle- feeding her grand-child in the churchyard because she couldn’t go inside the home when she was looking after the baby, but I just didn’t want to intrude on her privacy. I now wish I’d photographed her (with her permission) from quite a long way away as it seemed such a lonely lockdown way of doing things.
I also wanted to photograph a fedge (a mix of dead wood and bracken or branches used as a hedge) out in the fields just across the motorway. It was a beautiful habitat for wildlife and was covered in the most amazing moss, but it has been taken away. Fedges are so important for biodiversity and because they’re on a boundary, they’re not using space that would otherwise be used for crops, but it had just been bulldozed and is now completely gone.
So regrets…I’ve had a few.
We woke up to a thick fall of snow on Thursday, and although hardly anyone was out, a man walked by in orange high vis, which was amazing against the snow. But he vanished. Then my daughter left the house wearing red, so I wanted to take the red against the snow.