Cooling off beside sifting waves at Felixstowe Ferry

August 15th, 2020

Sitting on a warm shingle beach where the river Deben joins the North Sea, feet stretched into the cool water. It's a hot afternoon and the ferry over to Bawdsey has made its last crossing of the day. Waves wash over the fine shingle, shifting and sieving, sweeping to and fro, fizzing and receeding. A little way over on the right, a rock pool fills and empties with the swell. Seagulls fly out over the estuary mouth towards the sea. Small motor boats pass. Tilled up by the action of the waves a fragment of stone tinkles like a bright piece of metal. There's a gentle onshore breeze. Towards the end, the soft sound of a high altitude jet becomes a rumble that dissolves into the eastern sky.

Peace beside the tidal Thames near Stanford-le-Hope in the county of Essex

August 8th, 2020

Forty minutes walk from Stanford-le-Hope railway station, along residential avenues and a service road that leads to the nature reserve, past a single story brick built municipal transformer station that hummed in the hot afternoon sun, down a stony footpath where we stopped to pick blackberries and over the freight railway line to the nearby London Gateway deepwater container port  via the level crossing, we found this hidden away beach. It is set back from the main channel of the Thames in a small bay. The beach was empty except for one other family. We put the microphones to record in a sheltered spot and retired to brew tea on a camping stove, then relaxed to the lapping waves and the sound of the children playing happily in the sand. This is almost twenty four minutes of pure bliss As the tide goes out and the waves change. The engine of a marine vessel moored some way off emits a low bass note. Occasionally a deep industrial thud can be heard from the container port. Towards the end the mud slightly fizzes as it is exposed to the air. A lone bird calls faintly as it scours the fresh mud for food. A propellor plane hums distantly over in the South West.

Crickets sing under the A10 flyover

August 1st, 2020

Lying on dense grass below the A10 in the Hertfordshire countryside, relaxing to the whoosh of the passing traffic. It's hot in the afternoon sun. Crickets and grasshoppers are everywhere and birds are calling, perched the low lying trees that speckle the farmland. The flyover has been designed to reduce the noise and impact of the road on the local environment. Its noise-cancelling parapets make the passing traffic sound like objects shooting along a tube. From a certain angle the cars seem to just vanish out of earshot in mid air! Far over on the right, as cars join the bridge on stilts, each makes a loud thump, like a giant see-saw. Wading through the high grass to get back into the sun a train speeds by on the nearby branch line. Its steel wheels ring over hot rails. We felt this heat for ourselves as we stepped over the rails a few minutes ago. This is the start of the New River Path. This section enters this field via a level crossing. It links the Hertfordshire town of Ware with the county town of Hertford.

A summer sun rise over a lake in the Lee Valley - free and raucous birds start the day

July 26th, 2020

The Lee Valley reservoir Chain comprises thirteen lakes that separate the London Boroughs of Haringey and Enfield to the west from Waltham Forest and Essex in the East. The area is made up of marshes and parkland rich in wildlife, including woodland and water birds. This recording is of the dawn chorus  around 5am when nobody is around. It was captured by a pair of microphones looking out over the lake from a tree that overhangs the water's edge in the Fishers Green Nature Reserve. It starts gently, water birds dabbling around for food, and builds up over 40 minutes to swirling raucous gulls and flapping flocks of geese taking off and landing, against a backdrop of woodland birds from the surrounding area, and the sound of distant traffic on the A10. It's a surcluded spot on the soily bank, almost close enough to dip your feet in, hidden under trees, an ideal position to listen to life on the lake.

Murmurs of the Ceri Ridgeway Part 2 - what rush hour sounds like in the hills of mid-Wales

July 20th, 2020

Over the hills above the sun is going down. It's been a warm dry April day along the Ceri Ridgeway. High pressure, light breezes. It's late afternoon and cars, tractors, farm vehicles and the odd lorry rattle past. Hidden behind hedgerows down a steep bank a timeless stream flows under trees. It is alive with birds. The ground is ankle deep with dry leaves. Occasionally a roving bee comes along, to look at the microphones. This is a secluded spot in a wide open landscape of steep fields and woodland.

An afternoon walk in the Essex Countryside in summer

July 12th, 2020

Along a narrow footpath that threaded through wide open farmland we came across a lonely outcrop of young and exposed oak trees. Their dry leaves hushed and rustled and hissed in response to the changing strength of the wind. It blew quite strong at times. We set up the microphones to record. The occasional lilting bird calls are from a Buzzard, a broad-winged hawk that was circling the area. About five minutes into the recording a tractor began mowing a neighbouring field. These are the sounds of nature, the wind and of a worked landscape. At the end the Buzzard flew right over us as we came to collect the microphones.

Suffolk Wood Part 4 - the hour to Midnight

July 5th, 2020

Inside the wood the ambience is changing from evening to night. Now it is owned by the crickets, hidden in carpets of leaves. Muntjac deer move about softly. Twigs and dead branches drop surprisingly often into the soft ground with a thud. Aircraft of indeterminate origin over-fly the wood at high altitude. Owls call. The parish church strikes midnight near the end. Deep listening with headphones helps to uncover the qualities within this recording.

Sound-scenes of a summer walk in rural Hertfordshire - sunshine and showers

June 29th, 2020

Yesterday on an ancient bridleway that runs through open farmland, just before the rain clouds caught us up, we stopped for a picnic on the edge of a wheat field. As the clouds approached we recorded the sounds of the strong breezes playing in the dry wheat and through an outcrop of trees. The wind dropped and we carried on walking along the bridleway as the rain fell, scattered through the leaves of the trees that line the path either side. The sun came out, the air became heavy and humid. Crickets signalled to each other, hidden in the thick grass,

Cathedral of trees - the Forest of Dean - Part 1

June 21st, 2020

About a kilometre into the forest we left the microphones strapped to the trunk of a huge ancient tree. The spot was well off the beaten path andopened onto a natural clearing with a cathedral like acoustic sound. This recording starts just after 9pm to capture the sound of twilight turning to dark. At 33m there's an owl. More at 40m. What the strange flying quacking thing is no idea. Quite subtle but definitely there.

Early summer breezes

June 14th, 2020

Yesterday afternoon on a warm breezy walk in the Essex countryside we left the microphones in a tree at the top of a rarely used bridleway to record the sound of the wind. The tree was one of an outcrop that lines fields of barley and is home to a Robin. High above the fields are Skylarks, not a common sound these days. In the distance there's the odd ice cream van too in the Lea Valley Park. It's a lovely spot to get away from everything and soak up the warm sun grassy freshness and summery sounds.

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