If you don’t do it often, going back home can be quite a momentous occasion, especially if the surroundings are vastly different to the ones you now live in. Living out in the sticks has its pros and cons but for me, I find that I enjoy my time at home when I’ve been in the city or on the road for a prolonged period of time. Getting a break in familiar surroundings can make a huge difference to your mood, for sure.
I bought my first film camera a few months back, in preparation for one of my trips. I found the transition between digital and film pretty seamless, in terms of adjusting to the manual nature of analog. There’s something romantic about shooting images on film, I felt that this was the perfect occasion to bring my new camera.
For me, living in the city has a million and one benefits but there’s something nice about the familiarity of going home and exploring all the little places I used to spend my time in. I packed my bag and headed home, with some new film, my camera and nothing else. Sometimes less can be more when you’re going out to take photographs, especially in an area that you have a good level of familiarity with. It was nice to walk around the village with a fresh perspective and focus solely on taking it all in. I’ve been travelling a lot over the past few weeks and it was nice to relax and get a break from the city. I’m finding that this project has really opened up my schedule a lot, I’m finding myself taking more time off and looking after my inner adventurer, I’m becoming more and more attached with the outdoors and exploring places new and old.
I walked from the bottom of the town to the top, taking photos along the way. The first place I stopped to take photos was in a now-derelict industrial area, once famous for its textile production. Returning home to see the current state of the area was bittersweet, things have changed. I was stopped by a kind old man who asked me about my camera, and whether I’d like to go inside one of the abandoned lace mills that he still held the keys for. I was delighted about the opportunity to see the interiors of a once prosperous part of Scottish industry. The walls were bare, carpets ragged, light fixtures destroyed and the development carried an eerie sense of abandonment, this place deserved better. With the trade agreements of governments in years past, the Scottish lace trade found itself battling against foreign competition, where fabrics and production could be done at a fractional cost. It wasn’t long before The Irvine Valley’s famous textile industry collapsed, taking this business (Milltex) with it. The jovial spirit of this man embodied everything good about the town, his optimism for new opportunities and a possibility of change in the future seemed typical of the warm-hearted business people of small villages like Newmilns. After I’d spent an hour or two inside the factory, I decided to walk further along the area, to the car park that my friends and I had spent many, many years in.
I spent close to 10 years playing in this car park after school, on almost every single night. Football and skateboarding played massive parts of my childhood, this was the place that I found my love for both of those things. I knew that in 2015, it had been completely destroyed, with the surrounding factory knocked down. It felt strange to stand on the ground that shaped my childhood and view it in an entirely different way, physically and emotionally. I walked over the rubble with a sense of nostalgic pride, remembering all the goals I scored, the skateboard tricks that I learnt, all the bruises and bumps that the concrete had given me. It was a moment I’ll probably never forget. I carried on, following the river that flows through the whole length of the village. The landscape of the riverbed is now vastly different to what it once was, with water levels significantly higher than they were when I was younger. I walked down to see the water running directly onto the grass verge, with no land mass whatsoever, it was a strange sight. I stepped down toward the water, the current moving at such a high pace. The higher banks of the river had given way a few years back, the effects seemingly permanent.
I walked a little further toward the top of the village, where my Grandmother lives. I spotted her in her garden and I popped in for a cup of tea, a few hours later, it was dark. It’s hard to take photos when it’s dark, so I called it a day. Haha.
I’m going to get the film from the day (before I stopped for a cup of tea, or 6) developed over the coming days, I’ll be posting a second blog post for this feature, later this week!