Photography: walking, thinking, plotting and writing – visual notes.
Anyone visiting here often knows I enjoy photography, walking, and visiting places of interest such as ancient houses, cathedrals, churches and interesting old villages.
I love visiting the gardens of the great estates we are so fortunate to have in Britain. Not only are they interesting and relaxing…
They inspire me.
Rather than take a notebook and mess around finding pens, or typing notes on to my phone in glaring sunlight, I prefer to take photographs. I know these will trigger memories when I come to write.
Some walks are for sheer pleasure and I take photos just for fun and to create lovely memories. One such recent walk was at Virginia Waters in Windsor Great Park. I love it there, here are some of the photos I took during my second visit.
I don’t see violence or murder when I photograph something of interest. It’s hard to put into words. I suppose I get a ‘feeling.’ I look into a dark forest and I might get a flash of an idea for the location of a dastardly deed, or a character might pop into my mind, but what actually sets these thoughts in motion, I have no idea. Looking at a scene of intense beauty shouldn’t inspire images of death, or conjure up a personality type for a one of my characters. But they do.
Walking (often) on The White Horse in Uffington (Oxfordshire) is spectacular. You can see 6 counties from the top where there was once a Neolithic settlement, and archaeologists are often on a dig up there, and of course you can see the White Horse itself. The area is part of the ancient Ridgeway giving a panoramic view.
Actually, at one time you could walk on the horse and Dragon Hill and there wasn’t a charge for the car-park, as there is now…you just went there. Further down the hill and along a lane you come across Waylands Smithy…a Bronze-age burial chamber.
Somewhere our son spent the night when he was about 10, just to see if it was haunted and if there were witches there! I don’t think you can do that any longer. The National Trust runs the site.
It was whilst walking on White Horse Hill that I first got the idea for setting Ms Birdsong Investigates in the Vale of the White Horse. The rural setting, with its natural beauty and pockets of isolation seemed just the place to set her story.
Facing an uncertain future after ‘voluntary’ retirement from MI5 I could imagine her fleeing to a such place where she could try to come to terms with her changed circumstances and possibly reinvent herself.
The fictional village of Ampney Parva sprang to mind – an amalgamation of many villages I’ve visited over the years when travelling around England. It would be a rural village at the foot of White Horse Hill with few occupants, most tracing their families back over generations in the area.
There would be one or two newcomers – ‘new money’ – recently settled in the area occupying some of the big country houses which had been sold off to pay death duties perhaps, but some of the larger estates were still owned and lived in by the same family over many generations; landed gentry living just outside Ampney Parva, secluded and mysterious.
When I started the divine Ms B (as I call her) she was a very different character to the one she is today, as I work on completing the first book in the series of Ms Birdsong Investigates. Originally she was going to be a modern-day Miss Marple, but a family wedding in a lovely Manor House on a 6,000 acre estate changed all that and as soon as I got home I started writing book two, based on my experiences at the wedding.
I’d also been taken to Herstmonceux Observatory for a birthday treat, and suddenly I had book three ready to be written, which caused a serious problem for me; the original Ms B I had written about was nothing like the Ms B from two most recent books: Murder at the Observatory and The Safe House.
I’ve had to complete books two and three, returning to book one to re-write her story and change her character so everything would tie in together. It has been a long slog.
Book one has meant a great deal of research into the Security Services, organised crime and the various agencies trying to track and bring international criminals to justice, and a massive re-write…I am still battling with it.
Enjoy the photos. Quite a few have appeared in previous blogs I’ve posted on here.
Photos (c) Jane Risdon All rights Reserved.