EXPLORING SOUTHSEA SEAFRONT IN THE FOG
Katie Dawes (aka travel writer The Hostel Girl) recently went exploring Southsea seafront in the fog with fellow local Russ and let us know what they got up to.
“A friend of mine came here the other day, and focused just on the ‘Be Love’ part of the sign,” Russ mentioned as I was failing to get an original shot of the ‘It Must Be Love’ sign. It was shrouded in deep fog, which in literature traditionally symbolises the decay of Victorian London and the arrival of Dracula to the shores of Whitby. But the fog that settled over Southsea at dusk in the final days of 2016 had nothing to do with industrial pollution or an imminent vampire.
It came as a blanket to comfort the weary at the end of a tumultuous political year. Bringing with it a sharp ice chill, not to signify threat for the coming year, but to momentarily preserve our frozen thoughts on what the New Year brings with it.
Resolutions. Hopes. Desires. And a clean slate.
…the fog that settled over Southsea at dusk in the final days of 2016 had nothing to do with industrial pollution or an imminent vampire
…as we meandered through the gardens at the foot of the Pyramids it dawned on me that I need to stop worrying about being late
I’d met Russ on a few of Strong Island’s photo walkshops. We stayed in touch, partly through our joint passion for Instagram but mostly because Russ is the kind of person who actively pursues his passions. Whether it be for photography, creativity, or mindfulness. And with the New Year just a day away, I could do with some of that.
So we met at Southsea Castle. As a local and a regular on the photography scene in Southsea, I let him choose the start point. And as none of my New Year Resolutions to be on time ever stick, I was characteristically late. But as we meandered through the gardens at the foot of the Pyramids it dawned on me that I need to stop worrying about being late. And as Russ and I discussed the benefits of free writing, and waiting your turn for the perfect subject to stroll across your viewfinder, it dawned on me that I needed to stop forcing creativity. Instead, it was time to just be present.
“See that couple there? That’s the shot I want. But I just can’t get it,” I said to Russ, gesturing at a couple on a bench above the Castle wall. I’d decided to be present, but the cold fog hadn’t frozen that idea in place just yet. I gave up, and carried on walking and chatting when we came across a spray-painted stencil that just said ‘Love’.
…I’d decided to be present, but the cold fog hadn’t frozen that idea in place just yet…
…I had no gloves and my fingers were struggling to adjust my aperture when I needed them to. But with the icy cold fog came presence…
I’ve seen it all over Southsea. I have no idea who the artist is, why it’s there, and whether it too has anything to do with the Victorious Festival lineup. But if I had still been fretting about getting that photo of the couple on the bench, then perhaps I would have missed it. And then again missed the stencil I saw next to the bandstand, and then again on a bin later on in the walk.
By this time I was freezing. I had no gloves and my fingers were struggling to adjust my aperture when I needed them to. But with the icy cold fog came presence. These stencils. They were exactly what I needed to see that day.
Robert Frost once wrote “I think I know enough of hate / To say that for destruction ice / Is also great / And would suffice.” But here’s what he got wrong. Ice doesn’t destroy. It can kill physical organisms, but it can never destroy or decay in the same way that fire does. It suspends and preserves. And by blanketing Southsea in fog on dusk in the final days of 2016, ice preserved the goodness that accompanies New Year’s Eve.
The fog preserved the season’s goodness that manifests itself in its resolutions, its hopes, and its desires. The fog gave us all the hope of a clean slate for 2017.
Written by: Katie Dawes
Photography by: Katie Dawes