It was one of the coldest days of last winter when I travelled up to London to spend the day with a wonderful gentleman I had met on a photography forum. He and his wife were over from America for just one week and had already taken in Rome, Paris, Stonehenge and Bath. With such a strict timetable, he hadn’t been able to spend much time with his camera and he was thrilled to be able to have the entire day just taking photographs. I am used to working alone, but I learned a valuable lesson that day in that sometimes a trip can be better for sharing time with a like-minded friend and that it’s also OK to walk around with the lens cap off. Some time later I saw the results of their short holiday and I was amazed at how well he had captured the spirit of all the locations.
Our first port of call was the wonderful Highgate cemetery, but a lot of work had been done since my last visit and I couldn’t get my bearings. Instead, we just wandered around, enjoying the peace and tranquility. The cemetery opened in 1839 and was run by a private company, but in the 1970s they found it was no longer profitable to run commercially. Nature took over and the place was vandalised. Founded in 1975, the Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust rescued the cemetery and have battled ever since to reverse the damage. The trust is run by volunteers, supported by paid staff and countless people who do everything from guiding tours to helping maintain the landscape. The most famous resident is probably Karl Marx, although I prefer the smaller graves, cloaked in ivy and twisted tree roots.
Much as I love the place, I have never had much luck with the camera here, although this particular photograph was taken on an earlier visit. The light wasn’t quite right and I have tried to find the grave on subsequent visits, but I fear it was too dangerous and perhaps it has since been tidied up.
From Highgate, we made our way back to the river and one of my favourite haunts not far from Charing Cross station. I had previously photographed these arches on a visit one hot afternoon in late summer, so this was quite a change. The light was now much softer, with the sun so low in the sky and passers-by were wrapped up well against the bitter cold. We lingered for about ten minutes, but it was enough for me to capture the featured photograph here. It remains one of my personal favourites.