Karen Flatteau – 365 Faversham 2021

Karen Flatteau

I’m  a nearly 65 year old woman who now lives alone, well, with my equally ageing border collie Cassie, on the outskirts of Faversham near the creek and the marshes. I am a self-employed social worker, who is looking forward to retiring properly to have more time for my passions, including walking, photography, gardening, music, theatre and cinema – remember those lovely pastimes?
I love living on my own, having the freedom to do what I want when I want, and live in the best road in the town, in my opinion. But then I guess we all might say

Tell us about your story with Faversham

I have lived in Faversham for a little more than seven years, having spent nearly all of my life in Kent. I grew up in North West Kent, on the borders of suburban outer London, but Deal played a significant part in my life from my early teens onwards. Absurdly I only discovered Faversham about nine years ago when my then husband and I were looking to move home. And when we moved here, I realised I had found my forever home. I have discovered the social joys of living in a small and friendly market town as well as the privilege of being part of a place with such history and beauty in its architecture. Being able to walk from my front door out onto Ham marshes within less than a minute is a wonderful thing, and my dog thought I had brought her to a doggy heaven when we first moved in. And I can’t answer the next question without mentioning my lovely neighbours. It feels a bit soap opera-ish, but truly my neighbours have become good and hopefully lifelong friends.

What is important to you about Faversham?

There are so many things about Faversham that are important, but its heritage has to be right up there at the top of my list of priorities. I am a member of, and was briefly a trustee of, the Faversham Creek Trust. The maritime and nautical past of the town is very special, and I want to do everything I can to support those who are working tirelessly to maintain this aspect of Faversham.
Then there is the immense history, back to King John and the Magna Carta and even earlier. I love learning more about the fascinating buildings hidden in every nook and cranny. Walking around the town is just always an amazing experience, and I love to have my camera with me to record amazing doors, roofs, walls, alleyways, gardens, the list just goes on and on.

The people of Faversham are also important to me. I love that I can get to know folks who have lived here all their lives, and whose families are part of the fabric of the town. I have had wonderful conversations with people who have told me about Abbey Street when it was dilapidated and a no-go zone. Hard to imagine now. I Love meeting people who have a genuine East Kent accent; I didn’t; even know that there was such a thing when I was growing up in suburbia.
I love how there is such passion for so many things in the town. We have a Plastic Free Faversham group, a Faversham and `Villagers Refugee Support Group, a Faversham Stands up to Racism Group, and a wonderful Mutual Aid group that started during the pandemic and has been a source of support to so many over the past year.
Then there are the festivals and events. I am sure Faversham has more events in a normal year than is decent. Everyone knows about the Hope Festival, but what about the food festival, literary festival, transport festival, hat festival…. The list goes on and on.

Why did you decide to participate in A year in the life of Faversham?

I heard about the Faversham 365 project the last time it happened here, a couple of years ago, and was excited to become involved that time.
I enjoy recording interesting things around me, in the local area, and often spot fascinating happenings, scenes, people and events when I am out and about. The chance to be able to photograph these as part of a bigger project was too good an opportunity to miss. I am hoping this time round to help capture Faversham as we (hopefully) gradually return to some kind of post lockdown normality.

Which camera do you use?

I use my Canon EOS SLR camera, a gift to myself about 18 months ago when I received a small lump sum from a pension for a lot of photography, and will use it for some of the pictures I take this year. However I also always have my trusty iphone in my pocket, and this is so useful to get those unexpected shots.
Learning to use the Canon is a work in progress; I am learning how to make best use of it, and attending Kent Adult Education classes to achieve this. It is challenging to figure out and remember all of the different functions, but ultimately I know that I will be able to achieve vastly superior result using a “proper” camera’. We should never underestimate the value of that phone in the pocket though, and even though it is a point and shoot affair, it is ideal for capturing a chance moment.

What do you like to photograph?

I love taking street photography, the people of Faversham meandering around the market for example. To me, this shows the real life of the town.
I also love quirky corners such as doors, door handles, griffins in odd corners, sneaky alleyways. There is so much of this, we are spoiled for choice.
And then there is the creek, the boats, the mud, the various stages of the tide. And I walk the dog every day over on Ham marshes and can always find fascinating plants, trees, cows… there is way too much to see, and to photograph.

My plan is to document the town coming out of winter into spring, out of lockdown into something more hopeful. I think I can do this with some street photos of people out and about a bit more, some signs of hope in terms of plants and trees showing the spring emerging.

What have you learnt about Faversham photographing for 365 Faversham?

I have learned how much I still have to learn about the hidden corners and gems that are still waiting for me to find them.

The remains of the big freeze – Ham Marsh, Faversham Creek. Waking up on Monday 15th February was strange, after a week in which Faversham had featured in the South East news as a result of the blizzards and snowdrifts. Walking my dog on Ham Marshes, there were just a few residual patches of snow and iced over pools.

Monday 15 February 2021 – The remains of the big freeze – Ham Marsh, Faversham Creek. Waking up on Monday 15th February was strange, after a week in which Faversham had featured in the South East news as a result of the blizzards and snowdrifts. Walking my dog on Ham Marshes, there were just a few residual patches of snow and iced over pools.

Author: nathalieb