Saturday, February 18, 2006

A view across the roof tops

click photo to enlarge
" On the roof it's peaceful as can be,
And there the world below can't bother me."
from "Up on the Roof", Gerry Goffin & Carole King

When I was a child I lived in an eighteenth-century terraced house in a small country town. My bedroom window was next to the flat roof of a building bordering the courtyard of a coaching inn of a similar age. From that roof I could see the coming and going of the people down below, and the sparrows and starlings as they surveyed the courtyard for scraps of food. I felt very much like the person in Goffin & King's song - above and apart from everything happening below in the real world. It was a good feeling, a feeling of escape. As I grew older I found that walking on the hills and mountains gave me that same sense of release.

Those memories came back to me when I looked at this photograph that I took of the view across the city of Lancaster. The intruding chimneys belong to nearby eighteenth-century houses, and the domed tower with the clock is on the Town Hall. In the background are Victorian terraces curving up the hillside, and the whole scene is lit by February morning light, after a night of heavy rain. Living in hilly towns and cities is a quite different experience from living in those that are on the flat lands. The variety of views is much greater among the hills, and you get a better and quicker understanding of the topography, consequently it's harder to get lost! By contrast, in flat areas you have to remember where you are by the nearby streets and buildings alone. There is no hilltop landmark or slope to give you a bearing. I like hilly towns.

This photograph was taken from between Lancaster's Priory and Castle. These medieval buildings are at the summit of a defensible hill that has been built on since Roman times. There is a great view in whichever direction you look. I used a 300mm lens to select part of the view, and deliberately placed the big clocktower between foreground interest (the chimneys) and the background of houses.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen