Another weekend in deepest, darkest Derbyshire (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derbyshire), another baking hot day under the sun. Now, there has been a precedent for this. Apparently and according to records, in 1739, they even encountered three consecutive weekends of unbridled sunshine and smiles, but locals just believe this to be an urban myth. So of course the camera just has to come out.
Off I trotted, beard, camera, shades and hat firmly in place, looking every inch like I deserved to be on some kind of register (I don’t deserve this, just to allay any fears!) and parked my car at Broadbottom station. I make be using creative license in some elements of this posting, but use of the name Broadbottom is not one of them. I meandered out of the car park, left at the war memorial that remembers our valiant heroes of the past and then pointed myself down the hill and in to the woods. Down, down I went, further in to the muggy darkness and out of the way of the world. A right turn at the bottom and I found myself on a wandering path and as ever, it would have been rude not to take the path presented to me. To my left I could hear water, to my right was one of the joys of the English countryside, huge spikes of metal joined together to protect what looked like a series of dead and fetid ponds. I kept my gaze to the left and eventually found the water.
A beautiful river flowed past, wended and babbled its merry way and there in front of me, what did I spy? Of course, I found an old Dye works with its incumbent dye vats. On first look they appeared to be a series of very deep, stone graves for a very organised killing company, but the handy little note put paid to that line of thinking. A river, stone graves/dye vats and all surrounded by nature’s bounty of flowers. I couldn’t get my camera out quick enough. I leap over the vats, up the stairs and across the stepping stones in the river. I poked my camera in to beds of blue and yellow posies, jammed up the noses of fox gloves and harrassed the flying yellow and black things that seemed unperturbed by my presence. I was in heaven. Humming to myself, smiling like a mentally deficient fairground attraction and leaping around, all the while clicking away with gay abandon.
And then I saw him. Back up the deserted pathway he shuffled, blue jeans, purple t-shirt and red converse. His slouched gaze was directly ahead and looking at me. From his vantage point, dependent on how long he’d been there and how slow he was at walking, he would have seen my full and acrobatic display. He would have seen my interrogating the flowers, reveling in the graves/dye vats and probably heard my tuneful humming.
As I looked down from my lofty position on top of the vats, I stopped. I stopped leaping, stopped jabbing my camera at innocent flowers and cleared my throat. Despite the full and secure knowledge that I had been doing nothing more than enjoying myself in the smorgasbord of photographic loveliness, I suddenly felt as though I had been rumbled. The inner 6 year old had deserted me. Calmly and with a casual air of “Yeah, whatever”, I leapt down from the uppermost vat on to the path below me, brushed myself down, plugged my headphones even deeper started to walk towards him. slowly but finally we met, fleetingly. As he passed, I kept my eyes dead ahead, nonchalant and aloof. As his facial whisps and violent pimples advised, he couldn’t have been more than 14. I was safe, I was the adult here. I relaxed. Then, just as he passed me by, and this may have been reawakened teenage paranoia, a gust of wind or a technical glitch on my iPod, but I could have sworn I heard him utter the withering phrase; “Tit”.