Ross was the second stranger I met at the Bikes & Barges event in Maldon this afternoon. He was playing bass with his tribute band The Doll Set Tones, entertaining folks on the quayside with a couple of catchy sets. I made a picture as he was playing – his colourful sunglasses immediately caught my attention. But that image wasn’t great, and at that point, I hadn’t spoken to him, so it was just a candid portrait. Sometime later, I was wandering around making images of the bikes on show and Ross walked towards me and the two friends I was with. I was just about to grab the chance and ask if he would mind me taking his picture, when he suddenly recognised my two companions whom he’s know for about 15 years but hadn’t seen for ages! So of course we got chatting. He started out as an apprentice motorbike mechanic working for my friend Simon, but left a few years ago. The modest rock and roll lifestyle he leads clearly wasn’t sufficient for his wife, who was apparently at a Robbie Williams gig today, rather than listening to hubby play! He also breeds cats as a hobby – Simon and Sue have one of his (now grown) kittens, Sox. It’s a small world really, and although Ross was a stranger to me, he was an old friend to my mates. Great to meet you, Ross.
Tony was attending the Bikes & Barges event in Maldon this afternoon, which I went along to with a couple of friends. There were lots of shiny motorcycles on display which we enjoyed photographing. Tony was admiring a particularly well kept 1959 Harley Davidson and we got chatting. He’s been riding bikes since he was a teenager, but had a break when he discovered girls and decided a car was a much more practical vehicle for taking them out on dates! Having decided he needed to get back on two wheels some years later, he now rides a Kawasaki ZZ1400 which he says can be a bit of a beast to handle, but he enjoys it rather than having a show bike which he would never dare to ride for fear of scratching it! Thanks for agreeing to be Stranger #29, Tony, it was lovely talking to you.
This morning I went to Ingatestone Station to photograph a steam special which was passing through – the lovely Tornado. There were plenty of other steam heads lurking on the platform – I happened to stand next to Brian and we got chatting while waiting for the train to arrive. He has been chasing steam trains since he was a little lad, and had his first train set when he was 8 – a Hornby Dublo set which he still has (much like my Dad’s). His favourite engine is Sir Nigel Gresley, mainly because he has very fond memories of riding behind it nearly 25 years ago on the last railtour he did with his 10 year old son before he died. Today, his wife was keeping him updated of the train’s running times by checking the website at home and sending him text messages. He said he preferred Tornado in its new Blue livery rather than the previous BR Green. Thanks for being my 28th Stranger, Brian, it was great to meet you.
Today I went to the Museum of Power in Langford with some friends on a photowalk. There were vintage cars, motorbikes and traction engines on show as well as the usual static steam engine exhibits. I got talking to David, who was there showing his hand-built miniature traction engine, McGrew. He took five years to build it from scaled down plans and regularly takes it to steam fairs and country shows. David was very enthusiastic about his machine and quite happy to chat. Thanks for your time David, it was a pleasure talking to you.
This evening I went to an event associated with Culture Code, where developers who can build things were encouraged to mix with folks from local museums and the cultural sector to find out what sort of data and information is available to be used. I didn’t speak to Liz until quite late in the evening, but she stood out because she was holding a stuffed pigeon. She is from the Woodhorn Museum & Northumberland Archives. Amongst their collection is a lot of pigeon-racing memorabilia, including that of Iron Man, a remarkable pigeon who won the Pigeon Olympics. The bird certainly provided a talking point! Unfortunately, the lighting was either very dim or very harsh, so I wasn’t able to get as good a picture as I would have liked, but I wanted to include Liz (and Iron Man) in my Strangers gallery as they had such an interesting story.
I enjoyed the outing to Portobello Market on a photoshoot with the London Flickr Meetups group today. Shayna was one of the other people who came along – I had not met her before but we enjoyed chatting from time to time during our walkabout. She is an American, hailing from New York, who moved to London 25 years ago to run a shop in Portobello Road. She is now an Attitude Adjuster. What a fantastic job description! Thanks for your company Shayna, it was great to meet you.
Today I went to Portobello Market on a photoshoot with the London Flickr Meetups group. I met Michelle in the market, selling delicious home-made cupcakes at her stall. She is a professionally-trained chef, but since becoming a mum she has been running her own business, Minklez catering. She has had a stall in the market for about three years and loves the vibrancy of meeting people there. I bought one of her baby cupcakes – which was delicious! Thanks for taking the time to chat, Michelle – I wish I could bake half as well as you!
I seem to have neglected my Strangers again recently; the last was in November when I met Lucia. Today I went to do some street photography with friends from GNPC. We visited Columbia Road Flower Market, Spitalfields and Brick Lane in London – all great opportunities for people watching. On our way down Brick Lane, this dapper gent was merrily dancing along the pavement to some rap music. He was soon joined by a couple of other guys who seemed to know him and they looked like they were having a great time. My picture of the trio made it for Day #1511. But afterwards, I thought he was too good a character to pass up, so I managed to have a quick word with him. His name is Johnnie Walker and he lives locally to Brick Lane. He initially introduced himself by saying “I’m nobody” – but then concurred that he was, at least, a pretty snappy dresser! He is often to be seen in the area and loves the East End and its friendly inhabitants. It was great to see someone who appeared to have such joie de vivre, and wasn’t afraid to show it. Thanks for bringing a smile to many people’s faces this afternoon, Johnnie – the pleasure was all ours.
It’s been ages since I last took any stranger photos – my previous was Patrick back in August. I’ve been thinking I needed to get back into the swing of things, so when I was out with friends today shooting some street photography, I vowed to progress the project again. The event we were at was celebrating the switching on of the Christmas Lights in Chelmsford town centre. There were various attractions and groups performing all afternoon. Lucia was with a team of Ceroc dancers who were strutting their stuff in the High Street. She came and sat on a bench next to me to catch her breath after a particularly vigorous dance. We got chatting. She’s been going to ceroc classes for about 4 years and was very enthusiastic and passionate about it. She says it’s a great way to socialise and meet new friends. She is also a big fan of purple, so we had something in common! Her daughter is a budding photographer too; Lucia says she has a very good eye for a picture, so I pointed her towards Flickr to share her work. Thanks Lucia for being so friendly and for sitting for me this afternoon.
Patrick was enjoying the sunshine with his wife Mary (Stranger #20) on the beach at West Mersea. He saw me taking photos of the pastel-coloured beach huts and made a comment about how nice they looked, and we got chatting. They are a retired couple who used to live in my town but have now moved to Maldon, a few miles away from Mersea. Patrick was telling me that the beach huts cost about £20,000! That’s a lot of money for a hut on the sand, and being Britain, it’s not every day which is as sunny as today was. We also talked a bit about the weather (those of us living in the UK seem obsessed with the subject!). I detected a slight Irish lilt to both Patrick and Mary’s accents, so I suspect they have not always lived in Essex. Thanks for letting me take your picture Patrick, and for passing the time of day on a pleasant afternoon.