2019 in Pictures & a Look Forward to 2020

2019 in Pictures from Marionseye

I last wrote a newsletter in February, maybe you haven’t noticed but here I am again, here are a few highlights from my work in 2019…

I won a tour behind the scenes at Westonbirt Arboretum with Director Andrew Smith and photographed the acers in Autumn which were spectacular.

One of my commissioned images for the Woodland Trust’s Tree of the Year.
A cheesy grin at winning an RHS Silver Gilt Medal at the Botanical Art & Photography Show this summer for the ‘Diversity of Beech Trees‘ portfolio.

Community Art Project with Ormiston Rivers Academy, working on a 3 week photography project on multiple exposures & creative photography.
Two Rivers aerial photography collection for Burnham Art Trail, full gallery here.

Works in touring exhibitions with International Garden Photographer of the Year and Celebrating Our Oaks which have been visiting gardens and arboretums around the UK. Images also appeared in these two books.

Events Coming up in 2020

15th to 17th May 2020
National Flower Show, Hylands House, Chelmsford

20th to 28th June 2020
Burnham Arts Trail including Art on the Quay TBC

More Events will be booked in the New Year, check my events page for updates
Photography Workshops

Woodland Photography Workshops in Epping Forest
24th April 2020
Autumn Date TBC
Book Here

RHS Hyde Hall Photography Workshops
21st March 2020
Indoor Botanical Studio Photography
5th September 2020
Creative Tree Photography
Book Here

1:2:1 Photography Tuition

37 Workshops (c) Marion Sidebottom
Don’t forget you can book a 4 hour 1:2:1 Photography Tuition Session with me in East Essex for £120.
Learn at your own pace at one of the many woodlands, gardens and parks in the area.
Bring a friend for an additional £35
Gift Vouchers are available

Many of you may already know that I am an artist as well as a photographer. Here are a few pictures of some of my latest work. I honestly don’t sleep as I don’t have time! An online shop for prints, cards and the work below coming in 2020.

Flower & leaf pressing and resin

Fluid Art and handmade glass beads


I wish you all a lovely Christmas and Happy New Year whatever you may be doing. I hope that my work inspires you to appreciate both the natural world, art and photography. If you want to try a workshop with me in 2020 I would be pleased to help. I promise my Spring newsletter will be shorter but I did have a whole years news 🙂

Best Wishes, Marion

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Art on the Quay, Burnham-on-Crouch

I’m back at Art on the Quay between 11am – 3pm this Saturday for Burnham Arts Trail. Some new prints arrived today which I will bring tomorrow, might be some places you know Burnham Art Trail #BAT18

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I also have a display of some of my Epping Forest Ancient Tree prints in Burnham Museum until Sunday.

S21 Oak, Barn Hoppitt

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Last few days of Ancient Trees & People of Epping Forest Exhibition

I cannot believe how quickly the last year has gone and I am in the last few days of my artist residency in Epping Forest. My last official day is 2nd April, Bank Holiday Monday and this is also when the exhibition finishes. I will be there all day so if anyone would like to pop in you would be very welcome. Thank you to everyone who has attended so far, I really do appreciate your support, encouragement and comments.  It is through this interaction that I find out how my work is received.

Web 72 -_DSC6339 (c) Marion Sidebottom


The new edition of Forest Focus magazine has a centrefold about the project which is on pages 12 & 13.  Click here to read an online copy on issuu.

The project & exhibition has also featured in the following magazines & newspapers recently:

Royal Photographic Society Journal, March edition
Epping Forest Guardian
WRENS Conservation Group Autumn/Winter Newsletter
Forest Leaves Spring 2018, newsletter of the Epping Forest Conservation Volunteers

New YouTube Channel

To my kids surprise I now have a YouTube channel for Marion Sidebottom Photography.  I am not planning on embarrassing tree selfie videos (and believe me I did try this at one point) but I have uploaded the slideshows with soundbites to accompany the exhibition.  I have separated the full 35 minute film into the 12 different stories which are just a few minutes each. I have 4 subscribers and not many views so I am counting on you to have a quick look, especially if you were involved in the project. You can also share the videos to your Facebook or Twitter directly from YouTube.

Click HERE to view the Tree Story Playlist on YouTube


Exhibition Prints

Exhibition prints are available with a special discount for the Tree Story galleries for participants of the project. Contact me for details.

Click here for links to the galleries on my website

Screen Shot 2018-03-20 at 15.02.53

Screen Shot 2018-03-20 at 15.04.43I will be taking orders at the View on Monday 2nd April or you can email me directly.  I would like to do a bulk order on Friday 6th April which will save on postage and they will be available to collect from the View Visitor Centre, alternatively I could post them to you at an additional cost. All galleries are on my website and I will need to know the gallery name and image number. Please contact me for details if you cannot find what you are looking for and I will be happy to help.

You can share images and galleries directly from my website to your own social media using the share button on the bottom right of the images in each gallery.

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Ancient Trees & People of Epping Forest Photography Competition

You have until midnight on Sunday 1st April 2018 to enter the ‘Ancient Trees & People of Epping Forest’ photography competition. Details below.

Web 72 -_DSC3374-Edit (c) Marion Sidebottom


Submit an image of yourself, family, friends with your favourite ancient/veteran tree in Epping Forest to be part of an online gallery and the chance to win an A3 mounted seasonal print of Epping Forest.


Email the image to me at marionside@btinternet.com

Instagram use #ICanSeeTheTrees

Tweet me @marionside and use #ICanSeeTheTrees

Facebook me @marionseye

Or simply bring in your print in an envelope marked for the attention of Marion Sidebottom.

Include your name & the names of any people in the picture, location, date taken, email address and/or phone number.

Terms & Conditions

The image must be your own work. By submitted an image you will allow me to use/display it (with image credits) in online/written/printed material in connection with this project.

You accept responsibility that you have permission from the people in your image before it is submitted.

Family friendly images only please 🙂

Entries must be received by midnight on Sunday 1st April 2018 and the winning image will be announced at 2pm on the 2nd April which is the last day of the exhibition.

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Ancient Trees & the People of Epping Forest Exhibition News

Over the last couple of months I have been busy preparing for my exhibition which will be at the gallery in the View Visitor Centre in Chingford from 3rd March until 2nd April (see link below for details). This is the culmination of my year’s artist residency at Epping Forest. I have met many interesting people along the way who have kindly allowed me into their lives to observe, photograph and interview them. Of course I have hundreds of images but as an artist I also want to interpret this information in my own unique way so you can see the forest through my eyes.

Web 72 -_DSC4424 (c) Marion Sidebottom

One of my favourite Beech trees in Epping Forest (self-portrait)


What will be at the exhibition?

There will be three elements to the exhibition.  The first will be a selection of portraits and documentary photography of the people I have met.  This includes individuals with connections to the forest, conservation groups, City of London staff and walking groups amongst many others.

Web 72 -_DSC6995 (c) Marion Sidebottom

Elke, one of the Epping Forest Conservation Volunteers

Secondly, I will have a slideshow of the tree story galleries as I do not have the space to exhibit them all. These will also be on my website and should be online just before the exhibition.  I have also taken audio recordings of people I have met and I will be collating these into soundbites to play at the exhibition. You can hear what it is like to work in the tree canopy and how can you tell what a fungi is by it’s smell.

Web 72 -_DSC7183 (c) Marion Sidebottom

Emma Gilmartin, PhD Student & researcher in the forest

Tree Story Photo Montages

The last part of the exhibition and one I am quite excited about are my tree story photo montages which evolved into artworks. To create them, I listened to the audio recordings, studied my images and thought about all the connections between the person/people and their link with the forest. I then collated my images into photo montages for each tree story which are multilayered both visually and in their meaning. This is the how I have made sense of what I have seen, heard and experienced during my time at Epping Forest. Below is a preview of one of the nine artworks. It is the story of a PhD Student Emma and her research into Beech tree heart rot in Epping Forest. Each one will be printed 90cm long so you will be able to see all the details.

Web Mycologist (c) Marion Sidebottom

#homeiswheretheheartrotis 1 of 9 tree story photo montages created during my artist residency in Epping Forest

I would be so thrilled if you can make it to the exhibition this March!

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Merry Christmas from Epping Forest

We were so lucky to get some snow on a Sunday this December. On the following day I woke up to rain near the coast so I dashed up to take some pictures. It was a very different picture in Epping Forest as I arrived in sleet and was rewarded with a few hours of whiteout and heavy snow. Apparently the best days were the snowy Sunday and sparkly icy conditions on the Tuesday. Typically I came up on the Monday whiteout and rain on Wednesday!

Web 72 -_DSC5072 (c) Marion Sidebottom

Web 72 -_DSC7467 (c) Marion Sidebottom

In November and December I accompanied two walking groups in the forest.  Both are organised by the Buckhurst Hill Community Association who do a range of activities for local people.  The first walk was run by Robert Levene and we walked from Earl’s Path.  It was a beautiful autumn day and so refreshing to be out in the forest. The second walk was led by Tricia Moxey at Lord’s Bushes and Knighton Woods.  She talked about the natural history of the area and we discussed the beautiful trees there. I love the fact that members of these walking groups have many different motivations to be there but all enjoy the sociability and being out in the forest during the different seasons.

More Introductions to Interesting Trees & People

Robert Levene and his walking group in Epping Forest

Robert Levene & his walking group in Epping Forest

Web 72 -_DSC7247 (c) Marion Sidebottom
Tricia Moxey’s walking group at Lords Bushes & Knighton Woods

The WRENS Group Tree Photography Exhibition

I was pleased recently to meet the WRENS Wildlife and Conservation Group at theTemple in Wanstead. I attended a short walk led by Tim Harris the Chairperson and then attended their beautiful exhibition with the theme ‘Trees in the Landscape’. I got the opportunity to talk to members about their images and then talked about my project and displayed a small selection of prints from my Ancient Trees of Epping Forest exhibition.

Web 72 -_DSC6981 (c) Marion SidebottomWeb 72 -_DSC6901 (c) Marion SidebottomWeb 72 -_DSC6984 (c) Marion Sidebottom


Despite the brief snow we had, Winter is one of my favourite times of the year for trees. You can really see the shape and form of the trees in all their glory. I particularly like the characterful shapes against dramatic winter skies and if you look more closely the textures and patterns in the bark. This little robin appeared at Lord’s Bushes during one of the winter walks. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas whatever you are doing.

Web 72 -_DSC7211 (c) Marion Sidebottom.jpg

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Tree Stories of Epping Forest

I have been busy in the last few months photographing and speaking to people who live, work, study and visit Epping Forest. Read on to find out about some of the interesting people I have met along the way.

Over October half term I accompanied a family session run by Kate Sharp of Epping Forest Field Studies Centre.  It was a pleasure to see the children enjoying the forest and doing tree related activities, some of the parents joined in too!  I got the chance to talk to the parents about their motivations for bringing their children here. Thank you to those families who have allowed me to use their pictures. Here is a link to the full gallery of images on my website.

Web 72 -_DSC5395-Edit (c) Marion Sidebottom

Mick Collins, a Constable Keeper in Epping Forest, spent the day taking me to many areas of the forest which are managed by the City of London but rarely visited by the public. He nick-named this tree the ‘Beer Belly Oak’.

Web 72 -_DSC3572-Edit-2 (c) Marion Sidebottom.jpgI particularly liked the remains of an Oak stump that he showed me below which has a 30 year old Silver Birch growing out of it in the Deer Sanctuary! He remembered when it was just a sapling. Gallery will be coming soon on the website.

Web 72 -_DSC3458-Edit (c) Marion Sidebottom

Meet Loulou & Her Owner

Meet my sister & her fox terrier Loulou. They walk in the forest every day near their home in Loughton. For the last 15 years she has lived in the forest, worked there, has twice daily walks with her dog and is also a volunteer keeper. A fascinating story of a life interwoven in the forest.

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Interview with BBC London News!

On the morning of the 800th anniversary of the Forest Charter I got an email, and 3 hours later I was filming a piece about my project for BBC London News which was shown just a few hours later. See the short 2 minute film here.


I have loved spending time in the forest this Autumn, everywhere there is beauty, incredible colours, natural patterns and interesting light. I have revisited some of the Beech trees from my July exhibition to see how their colours have changed since the Spring. A gallery will be coming soon…

Web 72 -_DSC5746-Edit (c) Marion Sidebottom

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The Forest is Changing…

The landscape and trees of Epping Forest are always changing. Seasonal changes are the most obvious and I’m sure I’m not alone in looking forward to the vibrant colours that are coming with the Autumn. Sadly there are also physical changes to some of the veteran and ancient trees. Two of the trees that I photographed for my ancient trees exhibition have been affected so far.

The first being this Beech Tree at Flagstaff Hill (print number S13):

S13 Beech Tree, Flagstaff Hill

As you can see a couple of huge branches from this lapsed pollard collapsed under their own weight.  This picture gives some idea of the size of the tree and how big these branches are, each one is effectively the size of another tree. The picture below shows its discovery by the people attending the Ancient Tree Forum Conference during a field visit.

Web 72 -_DSC3412 (c) Marion SidebottomThe second tree which is a beautiful old oak at Barn Hoppitt (print number S21) was affected by a deliberate arson attack a few weeks ago.  This is one of the locals favourite trees in the forest and there was disgust and outrage on social media when this happened.  Here is my portrait of it from the exhibition.

S21 Oak, Barn Hoppitt

I have photographed this tree many times and returned last week to see if it had sustained much damage.  I believe the London Fire Brigade got to the scene very quickly and this popular tree was saved.  When I arrived I could still smell the burn’t wood from the fire two week earlier.

Web-_DSC4133 (c) Marion Sidebottom

Thankfully it didn’t look too affected by this trauma.  I noticed a branch missing and it’s  remains in a pile nearby but it must have already been dead and was breaking down.   I also saw a couple of its large exposed roots had been damaged and a few had scrapes on them, maybe this was due to trampling whilst it was being saved.

Web-_DSC4105 (c) Marion Sidebottom I peered inside the tree to check the damage.

Web-_DSC4120 (c) Marion SidebottomIt was a little charred in places but thankfully not too extreme.

Web-_DSC4096 (c) Marion Sidebottom

As an artist you can find beauty in everything and a small piece of charred ancient wood is no exception, despite the circumstances in which it was created.

Web-_DSC4136 (c) Marion Sidebottom

I spent an hour with this tree and whilst there it was dropping its huge acorns, two of which landed on my head.  I filled my pockets and imagined that the tree was signalling to me to plant the next generation after its recent scare.  Following instructions I found on the internet I have now planted the acorns in pots and hopefully they will go through the stratification (hibernation) process and if I’m lucky they might pop up next spring.

So now I’m looking forward to photographing the forest in its Autumnal colours whilst collecting my tree stories.



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Up High on Pole Hill with the Conservation Arborists

Web 72 -_DSC3475 (c) Marion Sidebottom

At the beginning of August 2017 I spent a day observing and photographing the Conservation Arborists working at Pole Hill in Epping Forest.

What is a Conservation Arborist/Arboriculturalist?

In Epping Forest there are 3 teams of Conservation Arborists with a Senior Conservation Officer in each team.

An Arborist is much more than a person with a chainsaw who removes dead branches.  An Arborist climber is a professional tree surgeon and to become one is no mean feat. They are highly skilled and have spent years learning and putting this in practice. It’s physically and mentally demanding and involves working in all weathers in a difficult environment.  Safety has to be their topmost priority as it is a dangerous occupation so teamwork is vital.

A Conservation Arboriculturalist has another string to their bow in that they view tree, woodland pasture and forest management by taking into consideration the biodiversity of the tree and its surrounding ecosystem.  I have met many different Conservation Arboriculturalists through my work and they all have one thing in common, a passion for the natural sciences and trees.  Not all are tree climbers and many have different specialisms such as bats, fungi, invertebrates, soils or different tree species, but all have the same ultimate aim which is to conserve and manage the health of trees. Public safety is also taken into consideration but trees are not removed or cut unnecessarily unless they pose a significant hazard which cannot be remedied by alternative means.

The Day’s Events

So, back to my very interesting day. I met the team Gavin, Tom & Colin at the Warren and travelled with them and their equipment to Pole Hill.

Web 72 -_DSC9400 (c) Marion Sidebottom

The area was cordoned off for public safety due to falling branches and dangerous equipment

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Web 72 -_DSC9406 (c) Marion Sidebottom

Meet the MEWP (Mobile Elevating Work Platform). It can be controlled remotely and moved around uneven terrain


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I was taken through their Health & Safety Procedures and shown the equipment they were use.  I noticed on the H&S form that I was one of the potential hazards for the day!

Web 72 -_DSC3477 (c) Marion Sidebottom

Web 72 -_DSC9437 (c) Marion SidebottomI was lucky enough to be taken up to the full height of the MEWP to 100ft so I could see right across the forest canopy and parts of London. I think they were really trying to find out if I had a head for heights and could cope for the day.  I was so distracted by the view and taking photographs that I didn’t get any vertigo at all.  After this the real work began and I spent a few hours photographing two different arborists from the MEWP which was quite a unique experience.


Pollarding in Epping Forest

The purpose of the work on this day was the crown reduction of some hornbeam trees. This is a managed and gradual repollarding of lapsed hornbeam pollards as part of a 10 year wood pasture restoration project in Epping Forest.

Pollarding is where tree branches are lopped back out of the reach of browsing animals and the new wood growth can be harvested on a regular cycle without destroying the tree.  This has been done successfully for centuries and in the past created a wood supply for London. A ‘lapsed pollard’ is where the original pollard has not been cut on a regular cycle. After the Epping Forest Act in 1878 pollarding ceased in Epping Forest so there are many veteran ‘lapsed’ pollards within the forest, mostly Beech and Hornbeam which have become top heavy.  These veteran trees make the forest a unique place for biodiversity and is why it has been designated a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and a SAC (Special Area of Conservation). New pollarding of younger trees is being done in Epping Forest to maintain the landscape and some of the veteran lapsed pollards have crown reductions to reduce the risk of them splitting from bearing so much weight and to extend their life. You can find out more about veteran trees and pollards in Epping Forest here.  Dr Jeremy Dagley, the Head of Conservation has done extensive research and written many papers on pollarding in Epping Forest.




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Sequence of 6 images to show how physically demanding this job can be (and occasionally a little fun!)

Web 72 -_DSC3489 (c) Marion Sidebottom

We were lucky with the weather during the climbing but the rain didn’t stop play later, lunch was eaten under a canopy and the branches & logs were chipped and the area cleared during the afternoon summer rain.

Web 72 -_DSC9667 (c) Marion Sidebottom

Thank you so much to the team for allowing me to observe, photograph you and record  your interesting tree story.

The full gallery of images of this tree story can be found on my website here

 “Conservation Arboriculture, while being informed by the natural sciences, also draws from cultural traditions, the humanities, arts and other sciences, to develop a holistic approach to tree management’. (Neville Fay). Click here for full article.

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24th July 2017 – Thank you!

C6 Tree Canopy, Dulsmead Hollow

I would like to say a huge thank you to all those people who attended my ‘Ancient Trees of Epping Forest’ exhibition during July at the Queen Elizabeth Hunting Lodge.  I had some very positive feedback and enjoyed showing people around.  I could not have asked for a more beautiful and apt location to display my work, a Tudor hunting lodge, made from ancient oak with incredible views over the forest.

S27 Dulsmead Hollow

I asked if visitors preferred the sepia Gothic ‘mugshots’ of the trees on the first floor or the Beech Trees in Spring Colour on the second floor.  The views were very mixed with some people not being able to decide between the two collections.  The collections are now all on my website here and are available to order as limited edition fine art prints.

If you would like to join my mailing list for project updates you can do so here

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5th July 2017 Exhibition is Almost here!

It has been a hectic few weeks but I am almost ready for my first solo photographic exhibition of the Ancient Trees of Epping Forest. Over the next few days I shall be mounting and framing my work and laying out the final hanging plan.

Invite General & Flyer

The exhibition is set in the Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge which is a beautiful Tudor building set on three floors with stunning views over the forest. It is located next to The View Visitor Centre and Museum, 8 Rangers Road, London E4 7QH. There is plenty of parking and places to get refreshments next door. You could make a day of it and go for a lovely walk in the forest, I find it a truly beautiful and inspiring place.

As you may know I have been working there as Artist-in-Residence on a project since April in partnership with the City of London Epping Forest and supported by Arts Council England funding.

I will be present at the exhibition on Saturday between 11am and 4pm and Sunday afternoon if you want a tour round or chat about the project.

Here is a link to the  The View Visitor Centre

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Beeches of Flagstaff Hill in Epping Forest

Back in April I was introduced to ‘Big Bill’ which is an important keystone tree at
Flagstaff Hill, near High Beech in Epping Forest. This is an impressive tall and straight pollarded Beech which is used for training arborists in climbing and health and safety.

Web 72 -_DSC5637-Edit(c) Marion Sidebottom

Big Bill at Flagstaff Hill

Although the picture gives no sense of scale, the tree’s impressive height can be inferred  as it was taken in April and the tallest branches are visible before it came into leaf.   I really must put more people in my tree pictures for scale and historical context but I often prefer just the tree. The next image shows what can happen to top heavy lapsed pollards in severe weather which unfortunately is a common scene all around Epping Forest.  This one is completely hollow and blackened from the Brittle Cinder Fungus (Kretzschmaria deusta). Part of the tree is still alive and may survive for a few years to come, although I’m not sure what it’s life span will be with this fungus inside it.

Web 72 -_DSC5590-Edit(c) Marion Sidebottom

Lapsed Pollard with fallen limbs and Brittle Cinder Fungus

Beech trees grow in all shapes and sizes but always with shallow roots. I like the shape and balance of this girthy tree below which looks like it has twisted as it has grown. It is scarred with age and has missing branches which tell the story of it’s life.Web 72 -_DSC5624-Edit(c) Marion Sidebottom

Twisted Beech tree

The next two are character trees, this first one reminds me of a Chinese Lion Guardian sitting on its haunches like the ones seen guarding restaurants in China town.

Web 72 -_DSC5686-Edit(c) Marion Sidebottom

Beech tree resembling a Chinese Lion Guardian

The second one below resembles a self-important person with an aloof and pointy turned up nose and a long neck.

Web 72 -_DSC5692-Edit(c) Marion Sidebottom

Rather aloof Beech tree

Lastly I was attracted to the colours and textures of this decaying trunk which still has a useful role to play in nature as it gradually breaks down and decays back into the earth.Web 72 -_DSC5699-Edit(c) Marion Sidebottom

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Search for the Aeroplane Tree on Pole Hill

This week I met with a lady called Cheryl at Pole Hill who used to play there as a child in the 1960s.  Pole Hill is in Chingford and sits on the border between Greater London and Essex in line with the Greenwich Meridian. She had so many interesting stories to tell including tales about riding their bikes around the tracks, picnicing and even a rumour that her Aunt used to deliver milk to Lawrence of Arabia who once lived there. We searched for a special tree she called the ‘Aeroplane Tree’ that grew on the slant so you could easily climb it and spread out your arms as if you were flying.  She last saw it about 10 years ago but sadly there is just a stump where it was located.  She also told me about her Great Grandfather who was on the committee to get the Forest Act through in 1878. Cheryl also cares deeply about what happens to the forest which obviously runs in her family.  I am saving the full story to go in my Epping Forest Storybook which I will be starting soon.

Web 72 - Quirky Oaks of Pole Hill (c) Marion Sidebottom

Quirky Oaks with exposed roots at Pole Hill, Epping Forest

The whole place is full of hills and dips which Cheryl and her friends named ‘The Dips’. I can just imagine them whizzing around and up and down them on their bikes, it still looks like it could be great fun.

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The Dips at Pole Hill, Epping Forest

I met some dog walkers who come to the same place everyday to let their dogs play with, jump and bite a wooden swing which hangs from an old hornbeam tree.  The dogs came rushing over the hill in excitement but were a bit wary to see me with my tripod and camera in their usual play spot. As you can see I soon got out of the way quite quickly so they could get on with their fun.


Dogs at play on Pole Hill

At the top of Pole Hill is a nice location for quiet contemplation with stunning views overlooking the City from the forest. In the distance you can see the Post Office Tower.

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View across London from the top of Pole Hill

Whilst there I saw a boy catching Pokemon on his phone whilst his mum waited anxiously at the bottom of the hill, great to see kids out and about in whatever capacity. Lastly this was one of my favourite veteran oak trees on Pole Hill, it looks like it could almost get up and walk away.

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Oak Tree at Pole Hill with exposed roots


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Deer Shelter Plain

Recently I visited Deer Shelter Plain with Jeremy Dagley.  It is a small triangle of land off of the busy Wake Arms Roundabout to the North of Great Monk Wood in Epping Forest. I’ve driven past it many times but would never have thought to stop and explore there. It was a bright sunny day and we parked across the road and entered the forest.

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Holly Sapling growing out of a tree trunk

After walking through a small area of forest the trees parted to reveal a wide open space hidden behind a screen of trees between the two busy roads. Jeremy told me the last Redstart nest was seen here in 1994. This beautiful bird is included on the Amber list of birds of Conservation Concern (BoCC) in the UK as a species with unfavourable conservation status where it is declining, although it still has a big range and numbers in the rest of Europe.  I hope that one day it may return to this site.

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Deer Shelter Plain, Epping Forest

We stopped to admire the shape of a fallen oak tree which had turned into a phoenix tree and discussed the possibility of it surviving.

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Fallen Oak tree, still alive

Things were astir at my feet, I was told these were baby Wolf spiders rustling about in the undergrowth. I was quite glad at this point that I had boots and long trousers on but even so I didn’t linger in the same spot too long.

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Jeremy was keen to show me the beech pollards which had also been coppiced becoming coppards. It is difficult to tell the age of such trees.  Nearby buzzing indicated a wild bees which had made their home in a monolith tree.  Jeremy said even when no longer alive, trees are still performing many important functions.

I was left alone to take some pictures and to enjoy this part of the forest. It’s difficult to take pictures in a forest when the sun is so bright as there are deep shadows and bright highlights. I prefer taking images in the early morning or late afternoon when the sun is lower in the sky creating less harsh shadows. However I am lucky to have such a fantastic guide to show me the forest and I can return again at any time.

Lastly I enjoyed exploring an area with some small gravel workings.  I was fascinated with the way the beech tree roots had grown around the outside of the pit.  I took a number of photos from different angles and finally decided I wanted an image from low down inside.

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It was full of crunchy leaves.  I stepped in and immediately started sinking covering my boots in dank smelling mud.  My heart leapt as I jumped out, not knowing how deep it was, reminding me of quick sand, especially as by this time I was alone in an isolated part of the forest. Next time I will think before I jump in with both feet.

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Posted in Artist in Residence, Botanical, Environment, Epping Forest, Essex, Fine Art Photography, Forest, Gnarly, Landscape, Landscape Photography, Oak Tree, Photography, Roots, Tree Photographer, Trees, Woodland | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Morning at Barn Hoppitt, Epping Forest

Today I left my home at 6:30am so I could catch the early morning light shining on one of my favourite trees by the pond at Barn Hoppitt.  I was not disappointed, it was a beautiful spring day, the birds were singing and all the people I met seemed to have  smiles on their faces whilst they were enjoying a walk in the sunshine. The first person I met had two beautiful greyhounds who kindly let me photograph them. I didn’t have time to change from my wide-angle lens but actually quite like the perspective it gave.

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Dog Walker at Barn Hoppitt, Epping Forest

I made two mistakes today I forgot to bring a model release form for when I photograph any people and I also forgot the plate which connects my camera to the tripod!  Lucky I had enough light today to get a fast shutter speed and hopefully I will bump into this man again.

I also met another dog walker whose husky took a dip in the pond, he looked so refreshed when he came splashing out but I had to protect my camera as he had a good shake when he came past.  The man told me about a tree which he likes nearby which overhangs, I didn’t ask the location but hopefully I will come across it on my travels.

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Spring Morning at Warren Pond, Barn Hoppitt, Epping Forest

The last people I met were a couple, I shall presume married.  The wife Cheryl told me about her childhood memories of a tree she calls the Aeroplane Tree at Pole Hill.  Apparently kids past and present all pretend they’re an aeroplane when they climb it.  The husband David used to be a Pond Bailiff and is now a bee keeper.  He was looking for a wild bees nest that he had been told about in the forest and came back to tell me when he had found it and showed me a picture.  I gave them my email address and they promised to email me as I would love to talk to them again and hear about their many stories about the forest.

Later on I met Jeremy Dagley, the Head of Conservation and he showed me the holes where solitary bees live around the roots of the tree I was photographing.  He also told me what birds we could hear singing which were Black Caps, Mistle Thrushes and Nut Hatches. I have since been listening to Radio 4s ‘Tweet of the Day’ so I can recognise which birds are singing when I’m about in the forest, I think it will take me a long time to recognise them all.

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Holes under ancient tree root for solitary miner bees

Lastly, this is the tree that I came to photograph.  I checked the LightTrac app on my phone to see where the sun would be when I arrived but I didn’t account for my shadow getting in the way!

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Me and my shadow

This image was taken a little earlier in the golden light and I have edited myself out of the picture.  If you are very small you could actually climb underneath this tree and through the other side.  This tree looks different from all angles, it looks like a crab and others have said Medusa and a Lion’s Head.  I would love to know your thoughts and what you think this tree’s name should be.

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Ancient Oak Tree at Barn Hoppitt, Epping Forest

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Posted in Ancient, Ancient Tree, Artist in Residence, Botanical, Epping Forest, Essex, Forest, Gnarly, Hollow Tree, Landscape Photography, Marion Sidebottom, Marion's Eye, Nature, Oak Tree, Photography, Roots, Tree Photography, Trees, Woodland | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments