Photos of the Year - 2022

From Sussex bluebells to Brighton in the snow, 2022 has been a great year for photography. 

As my mother and I sipped Aloxe Corton Pinot noir on my birthday, and we prepared to sit through 24 hours of Carry On films on ITV3 over Christmas, we looked back at the last 12 months of gardening and photography. The garden is (mostly) dormant, but the snowdrop bulbs I planted in November are sprouting through the central bed and should provide the first flowers in the new year. One hundred English bluebell bulbs sit 10cm below the surface in my newly-created woodland bed, along with crocuses, snowdrops, and anemones. Over in East Sussex, I was very pleased to discover two new bluebell sites. Dense, established carpets of bluebells is a sign of ancient woodland. In the coming years, my bluebell bulbs will multiply, self-seed and push themselves deeper underground in search of moisture.

Despite having taken wildlife photos for 20 years, I never managed to get even a half-decent picture of a wild fox. In May, I spotted a vixen making her way along the edge of a field, so I rushed to the entrance of a track, hoping she would head towards the camera. She did, and it was evident, from her wet coat, exposing the teats of her nipples, that the vixen was a hard-working mother. The vixen collected a dead rabbit she had killed earlier and took it back to her young.

A territorial dispute between two male roe deer provided an ample opportunity to photograph the unfolding duel in a buttercup meadow. The pair didn't seem to mind me being nearby. It was a privilege to spend an hour in their company. The hot summer and extremely mild autumn meant I had to wait for true autumn colours. Two weeks away from the stresses and responsibilities of my job took me to a better place. The High Weald rocks never disappoints. Apart from photographing Powis Square, Brighton, when it snowed, I haven't taken any other winter photos. To get exercise and to enjoy the countryside in winter, without spending time at home burning expensive natural gas, I've been starting walks just before the mid-winter sun goes down. After drinking a flask of tea, I've been setting off through the woods and onto the South Downs by torchlight, finishing a few hours later at bus stops along the edge of Brighton. Sadly, night walking is not an activity that women and girls feel safe doing. It shouldn't be a privilege afforded only to men — personal safety is a right. As a birthday treat, I decided to make my walks a bit brighter with the Sofirn Q8 Pro. With a sustained output of 1500 lumens and an 11000 lumen turbo mode, night will become day, should I need it.

 

Bluebell Wood 

  Bluebell Wood, East Sussex

  Red Fox (Vixen)

  Roe deer giving chase

  Roe Buck in meadow 

  Roe deer in buttercup meadow 

  Roe deer browsing 

  November on the Rocks 

  Autumn Forest - Mid-November 

  Powis Square, Brighton - Snowfall on 11th December 2022 

2022 ended with bitterly cold arctic air being drawn into Western Europe by low pressure wedged between two larger high pressure systems. Brighton experienced rare snowfall on 11th December. Powis Square is architecturally and scenically one of the most attractive parts of Brighton and within walking distance of where I live. It very much reminds me of London, and the area is home to the upper-middle classes. I've been inside several homes at Powis Square, and they boast very grand interiors, albeit with small gardens. Residents of Powis Square converted the old red telephone boxes into miniature art galleries.

  IMG_20220718_161748a 

With lows of -8 °C being recorded in Sussex, it would be easy to forget that 2022 was the year when the UK reached and exceeded 40 °C for the first time since records began. I was at Wakehurst, as the temperature rose to 38.4 °C and staff patrolled the grounds on carts, checking the welfare of visitors. It was certainly the hottest day of my lifetime, but I coped very well, having enjoyed a good night's sleep and taking plenty of cold water. I managed two circuits of the 500 acre grounds. Like many modern bags, my rucksack has a black metal USB charging port for powerbanks — when I touched it by mistake, the port was extremely hot. When exposed to direct sunlight, my smartwatch abruptly shut down due to overheating. Even the tops of my shoes felt like they were burning. Most Wakehurst visitors behaved like perspiring statues.

The poor ducks took shelter in bushes, exhaling through their beaks in an attempt to cool down. Wildfires raged around London and the south-east. Temperatures in Brighton soared to 28 °C by 7am. I'd never felt so hot this early in the morning. Seven miles away, Charlwood weather station recorded 39.9 °C. In email correspondence with the Met Office, I pointed out that the weather station is in West Sussex, not Surrey, as widely believed, and my home county should have a new temperature record. They wouldn't budge. The narrative reads that vaccines block Covid-19, Russia blew up their own €23bn Nord Stream gas pipeline and Charlwood weather station is in Surrey. This is official truth, and anything else is called 'doing your own research'.

Climate change is making heat waves hotter, and cold waves milder. It might not feel that way, but the awkwardly-named 2022 'Troll of Trondheim' that we're experiencing is less severe than January 1987 or February 1991. Fortunately, it'll be Martini and barbecue time before Christmas, with 13 °C forecast. Time to get the garden tables and chairs out prematurely.

In all seriousness, with soaring inflation and record energy prices, the winter could end up being very unpleasant for many people, so wherever you are, I wish you a safe Christmas and a happy New Year. Take care.

 

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