On a day that the government announced a review of the spending of HS2, I revisited my continuing project on the damage to 16 Acre wood near to Berkswell. I first started taking pictures of this small wood in March 2021 and revisited the area in 2022. The spiralling costs of HS2 have made the headlines and there is talk of scrapping parts of the line from Birmingham to Manchester. These pictures show that so much alteration of the land has taken place that reversal of the project would leave so much scarring. Keeping the project going is the lesser of the two evils.
The footpath in Berkswell skirts around the wood and you are fenced off so that you are not allowed to wander onto the working HS2 area. This is understandable as there are large land moving equipment on the site and the signs are very explicit about trespassing. The former farmer’s field now resembles an assault course with deep trenches and large mountains of soil. The edges of the 16 acre wood look sad and tired following destruction of the trees at the edge of the wood. The old pond still looks on over the fields although today the wind was strong and this meant there was little insect life showing on the water. The new artificial pond created by the contractors is populated with reeds and rushes but again the signs and the barriers do make it look as if there is something special going on in the area.
As it was a Sunday, there was little activity so the large trucks and cranes were all quiet resting until the start of the week when they will begin again. I took more pictures and the main changes were around the amount of earth that had been moved since I was last here.
My next visit in 2024 will reveal what further progress has been made and whether they are any closer to completing the line.
There is a hidden gem close to Birmingham city centre and must be ranked as one of the places to visit. Martineau Gardens is a beautiful community garden just off Priory Road in the middle of Edgbaston. After getting off the 61/63 bus that leaves the city, cross the Bristol Road and make your way up the hill on Priory Road. After a short walk, Martineau Gardens is on your right. There is a wooden entrance hut that leads you into two and a half acres of beautiful gardens. Martineau is a mixture of traditional gardens and a woodland towards the back of the property. The hub of the gardens is the Pavilion, so named, as there were originally tennis courts here as part of the land. The building, which will be renovated in the coming year, is a welcoming centre for the gardens. There is the opportunity to sit out on the table and chairs and share a cuppa with the volunteers and other visitors.
IgersbirminghamUK run Instameets where we invite local photographers to a venue. We tag our pictures and share them both on Instagram and also with the venue who kindly allowed us to photograph their property. At the start of the meeting, we were met by Jenni Fyer, CEO of Martineau Gardens who gave us an introduction to the gardens. Jenni outlined the history of the place where it was once used by teachers to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Now it is a community garden and is maintained by volunteers. The gardens pride themselves on being a therapeutic environment of organically maintained land, close to the city centre. The environment helps the community and supports people from different backgrounds especially those with various special needs. Jenni invited us to roam around the gardens, which were just waking up from the winter months, to take as many photographs as possible and then to join her and the volunteers for a cuppa at the Pavilion. After the obligatory group photograph of the IgersbirminghamUK participants, we were then left free to wander around the grounds.
– I do love Instameets as it is a chance to catch up with old friends. Therefore there was much chatting with people before the real business of the visit; the photographing began. I made my way to the entrance and then into the formal gardens. There were spring flowers around and the buds were only just appearing on the trees. Next was the herb garden and the orchard. The sun was out making shadow play on the greenhouse glass and the wood of the garden huts. The shipwreck play area looked fun, and a mental note was made to bring my grandchildren back to see the place. Whilst the wildflower area was not yet up and running, I enjoyed taking pictures of the wheelbarrows, watering cans and the potted flowers. I then moved onto the woodland walk and was immediately surrounded by tall trees and foliage.
This part of the gardens is Designated a Site of Local Importance for Nature Conservation (SLINC). Jenni Fryer had mentioned that this area is teaming with wildlife and is a welcome green corridor amongst the urban conurbation that surrounds the gardens. There was a pond that looked a great place for dragon and damsel flies over the summer months. Next along the path was a Sacred Circle for meeting on a common ground and then a collection of beehives. There was much activity in the hives so I did not get too close! I slowly wandered back as I found myself content just strolling through the gardens. There was the occasional sound of tennis balls against rackets as we were neighbouring onto the Edgbaston Priory Tennis Club but otherwise you could lose yourself in the environment.
Upon returning to the Pavilion, one of the volunteers made me a lovely cuppa. Then there was time to chat talking about the photography and the gardens. Before saying my goodbyes, I purchased some apple and mango chutney from the shop. Something to remind me of the visit later.
I started off this blog saying that this is a hidden gem. It is no longer hidden to me and this will be a place to visit in the future with the family. Martineau Gardens is a place to visit to meditate, to unwind and let the stresses of life fall away. There is so much to enjoy and see.
– Finally thank you to all the volunteers and staff and thanks to Jenni Fryer for welcoming us and to Sarah Hill-Daniel at the gardens for arranging the date and timing of the IgersbirminghamUK visit.
Please follow these tags on Instagram to see more photographs by the talented people @IgersbirminghamUK. #martineaugardens #igersuk_meet_martineau
The Royal Birmingham Society of Artists (RBSA) organise a Photographic competition every 2 years. This is a very prestigious photographic exhibition, and the judging is very competitive. Two years ago one of my Lockdown photographs was selected and I was very pleased to have been selected. This year my picture of Alder Lake in Washington State, USA was selected. The picture was also given a good “hang” meaning it was in the centre of the room and therefore more accessible for viewing. Although I did not make the final prize selection, just being selected means a great deal. I am only now, at a late stage in my life, making the most of my photography and I am enjoying every moment. There were several other photographers and friends that I knew at the private view in the gallery which made the evening more enjoyable as well.
You can learn more about the work of the RBSA on their website.
More pictures from my time in Washington State that include the picture are included in a previous blog entry.
Looking back, my last entry in the RBSA competition was ‘Mystery in the Fog’. The photograph was one of several photographs that did well in 2021.