To recommence my British Road Project for this year I decided I wanted to go to somewhere that this country had relied on for years. Both a place of defence and port of travel. The white cliffs of Dover and areas surrounding are a part of this fair isle we have relied on for centuries. I wasn’t quite aware how recently we had been reliant on them until the penultimate day of this leg (see: ……).
Initially I had planned on going to Dover for 2 days, Canterbury for 3 and spend the rest of the week in London visiting some friends and nabbing some shots. Unfortunately by the time I had the money together to book everything up the only hostel left with beds in Dover was an exclusively female dorm, and as I don’t fit that criteria I had to rethink my weeks plan.
Much against the advice of people I know “don’t do that Dover’s got nothing going on.” I decided to spend from Monday to Thursday in Dover and move onto London from there (found a coach for £3 oioi). Upon initially leaving the train in Dover I almost wished I had listened to those unfaithful voices. I was met with the scene of a town in disrepair, half torn down buildings with diggers paused mid motion like giant dinosaurs tearing apart the remnants of lives gone by. The mood I was gaining from the place wasn’t exactly helped by the fact that the light was so miserable and grey. I could see upon the hill (which I was later to discover was the start of the white-cliffs) a descending cloud which gave the place an almost ghostly air.
I decided to try and swallow these pre-conceptions and rising sense of dread toward the next few days and head into the town and find my hostel. Upon initial walking through the town I was met with nothing but cold stares and curious glances, could have been the camera or my bag throwing me up as an instant stranger but I definitely felt somewhat out of place whilst trying to acquaint myself with the town.
When I reached the street I believed to be parallel to where I would be staying I had another surge of nervous adrenaline as I realised that clearly some large scale redevelopment was taking place in the town, and there was a large area of it that had been completely leveled for this purpose. Being the pranger I am I immediately put two and two together and came to the conclusion that my hostel booked through a third party provider must surely have been demolished in the wake of this big old revamp to the town center. Low and behold upon exploring the street a little further I found the hostel I was staying at. All in one piece, or there abouts…
I immediately ditched my bags and headed to the seafront as I wanted to gauge a better feel for the town I would be spending the next few days in. The feeling of impending doom imposed by the light and atmosphere hadn’t lifted at all by this stage, but I had managed to get my eye in somewhat to some interesting compositions. And the soft lustrous light was causing wonders to the colours and making me search for neat compositions as opposed to stark contrast and brilliant light. I like the effect this has had on my images at this stage, the one by the seafront with the road and markings for half the shot and then sky and a reflection effect in the centre. Something I plan to explore a little more in my journey around this island.
As it got dark I decided to grab something to eat, following the smell of boiling oil I hunted down the nearest fish and chip shop, a tradition I feel must always be obliged when in a British seaside town. I also took this as an opportunity to gain a little more knowledge on the local area. Sparking up a conversation with the people working in the shop they looked a little bemused at first when I said I was doing a photography project on Dover. But they warmed up, and were happy to divulge some of their knowledge on the town of Dover. They pointed me toward some old Napoleonic tunnels which I unfortunately never actually made it as far as. As well as the castle and further tunnels within the White-cliffs (which I had no idea about previously!) Seeing that Dover did have a warmer side and perhaps more buried beneath the surface than I had initially thought I went to bed with a solid feeling of positivity towards the following day.
See below for the shots I captured on the first day ( please excuse the prominent dust visible on the sensor, have had it cleaned since and also for those keen eyed you may notice some strange lack of clarity in the bottom left hand corner, this is in fact an internal defect with the 28mm SMC pentax lens I used for this leg of my trip, the first. And last, time this lens will be coming out with me on an outing 🙁 )
Onto day two of Dover. Following a lovely breakfast of cereal and toast at my hostel I decided to pound the streets for a little bit. See what this new day had to bring me. I initially walked back into the center to see where I could head other than the waterfront.
Faced with the same soft light as the day before with the clouds appearing to not want to budge at all I realised that whilst there would be a nice aesthetic flow to these images that the shots wouldn’t necessarily