Lodge Hill, Hoo Peninsula, Kent
Between downpours the security guard goes behind the building for a cigarette. Beside him is a fire-bucket of sand in which a thousand stub ends from countless shifts have been placed. We are admiring the yellow brick Victorian building across the road which he tells me used to be a railway station and the road a narrow-gauge track. He points out the cast-iron ventilation grills in its walls and compares them to the plastic vents in the security building. There is something cheap and mean about the vents in his building, something that symbolises the unreadiness of our own time to face the future and a regret that the resilient qualities inherent in historical architecture are missing. Buildings used to be built to last a long time and when they needed repairing it was a straightforward matter, he says, and mentions Westminster Abbey: a building continually renewed by traditional means for centuries. Not now. We are a few days away from the Euro referendum, we look as if we may hold opposing views on this and many other things but we are both peering through the rain at a dissolving world. His job is to prevent entry to abandoned buildings - ruins. My job is to celebrate the weeds and wildlife that are taking over. In the office he has a ring-binder full of pictures of army ordinance still scattered around the site – grenades, shells, mortars, bullets – which he read to me like a natural history field guide to a military past. He finishes his cigarette, adds the butt to the fire-bucket collection and returns to his duties. I, on the other hand, am drawn up the road-once-railway by the songs of thrushes, blackcaps and nightingales falling into wet grass to resume mine.
Paul Evans, Lodge Hill, 17 June 2016
Photograph © Maria Nunzia @Varvera
Find out more about Re-imagining Lost Landscapes at Nature Needs People
Paul Evans is the author of Field Notes From The Edge, Journeys Through Britain's Secret Wilderness and Herbaceous:
Field Notes From The Edge a Journey into Britain's Secret Wild...through the in-between spaces of Nature – such as strandlines,mudflats, cliff tops and caves – where one wilderness is on the verge of becoming another and all things are possible.
Herbaceous is gardening with words. It is a book of audacious botany and poetic vision which asks us to look anew at our relationship with plants and celebrates their power to nourish the human spirit. - See more at: