december started a drab month, with little light, but the forecast for saturday 4 suggested the mist and cloud would clear, so i set off for stanford-le-hope. single or return asked the ticket seller, i wouldn't want to stay there i told him.
from the station i turned left and then south towards mucking and the river. disappointingly the church in mucking is now a private house, and the churchyard only open by arrangement. the footpath led through a nature reserve, the largest bog of its type in england, and then turned past a large complex of unfilled gravel pits towards mucking creek.
names on maps can have a fascination, and mucking marshes, mucking flats, mucking and mucking creek were places i needed to see. in good light they would have been great, but on a dull grey day they lacked sparkle.
the footpath led along the riverside towards corringham and shell, but
disappointingly the bridge across a small creek had disappeared. there was
an unmarked detour along the goods line, but not the same. i returned to
stanford le hope splashing through huge puddles in the rutted lane. one
of its few claims to fame is as the home of writer joseph conrad, but the
cottage in which he lived is surrounded by a high fence and there is little
just a few pictures i took on my way to a meeting in the city, walking
over london bridge, then along by the thames before heading north.
santas came to town en masse to demonstrate for fathers 4 justice on dec 18. several hundred men, women and children dressed in santa gear (and a couple of individualists, including a young spiderman), a band, and a large and unwieldy baloon gathered at green park and then began a parade around the west end.
fathers 4 justice have hit the headlines several times, not least when batman and robin turned up at buck palace a few months back. batman managed to shin up a drainpipe and sit on the roof for several hours, but robin got held up by the police.
neither was charged for their demonstration (new laws announced shortly after will outlaw protests on royal property, but until then it isn't a crime) but robin was found to have a stanley knife, getting him in court on the pretext of 'carrying a bladed weapon'.
their campaign is for access rights for parents and grandparents to see children after the breakup of relationships. although courts may grant this at the moment, where they feel it is in the best interests of the child, there is seldom any enforcement of such decisions. so currently access depends entirely on the cooperation of whichever parent was granted custody.
fathers 4 justice (and they include many mothers, as the number of mother xmases in the demonstration showed) want enforceable rights of access, keeping a relationship between the child and both parents.
many of the protestors carried images of their own children (or grandchildren) who they can no longer see, and there were some children also demonstrating.
the main message on the placards was "put the father back into xmas"
and they carried an image of david blunkett in a santa hat and the message
"i'm the daddy". the march was taking place as blunkett was forced
to resign after having been found to have eased an immigration application
for his former lover's nanny. he is currently fighting in court to be recognised
as the father of her children.
the next day i was busy writing, but the sun came out and i couldn't resist
a short ride on the brompton. i took the bridle path next to the m25, which
was a mistake. the path has been moved to allow widening of the motorway,
and the poorly surfaced temporary path was full of puddles and potholes.
cycling through a foot of water i hit a large rut, and almost went flying,
putting a foot down into some very cold water.
some of my work gets put into nice organised websites.
this isn't meant to be like that, but you can see some of the rest at
and you can read what I think about photography at