I spent much of my childhood living on the edge of a small town in Hampshire, just outside of the New Forest in the South of England. We would sometimes go out for family trips on weekends into 'The Forest', which must have instilled in me a love for the wild woodlands and stretches of heathland that made up much of this relative wilderness. But what really awakened me to the beauty and fascination of wild creatures was the long, cold Winter of 1981/'82. I remember looking out from our dining room onto the snow-covered school playing-field at the back of our house, and feeling quite glad that I was safe and warm indoors, whilst also empathising for any animals that must be struggling to survive the inclement conditions. As a matter of some urgency, I decided I must put out food for our feathered friends, using my parents' wooden camping table as a makeshift bird-table, and gradually began to be able to identify some of the bird species that came to visit our small garden. My highlight of this first Winter's watching was a Waxwing which perched on the fence by our Rowan tree. Little did I know it would be over twenty years before I would see this handsome species again! I soon ventured further afield into the local woods and farmland, being lucky enough to discover a pair of Barn Owls nesting in a local barn, and delighted watching them out hunting on Spring and Summer evenings. I began to see the woods as a refuge from the harshness of everyday life, sometimes spending Sunday lunchtimes sitting in a Yew tree eating a Marathon bar amidst a sea of Bluebells, in preference to having dinner at home amongst familial unpleasantness. After a two-year stint living in Canada, during which time I generally lost my nature-loving mojo, we returned to the U.K. to live, this time in South Wales. A close-encounter with a Fox just outside Cardiff led me to wish I had a camera with me, and I thus cajoled my Mother into going halves with me on buying a camera and zoom lens for a Christmas present when I was 21. Photography then became my main interest, and I gradually spread my wings further afield, spending the next 25 years travelling around Great Britain doing wildlife and landscape photography. Being an environmentalist, with no car, all locations were reached with the aid of public transport! In around 2003, I began submitting stock photographs to the Alamy photographic agency, and have had numerous pictures published through that avenue. As I write this (in November of 2020), I have barely taken a 'serious' picture in five or six years, but have instead been dabbling in videography, supplying video clips to the Pond5 videostock agency. My health has not been too good as of late, but I continue to find solace in the peace and beauty of nature. Thanks for your interest, and best wishes to you all! Jez.
GENTLE BOY OF HAMPSHIRE
You ran with the wind through the waving grass;
You glowed in the noonday sun.
You played in the golden fields of Youth;
You shone till the day was done.
You were wild in the woodland, young and free;
You were lost in the forest of green.
You marvelled at beauty and bluebells in Spring,
And the flowers and birds you had seen.
You were one with the Nature, the good in the world;
You laughed and you smiled with ease.
You sat watching Barn-Owls hunting the meadow
And clamouring Rooks in the trees.
You were pure of heart in your halcyon days;
You were kind to the people you met.
You saw the appeal of everything;
You hadn't become cynical - yet.
You frolicked with friends like Marchtime lambs,
Riding bikes down English lanes;
Playing soccer and cricket until the dusk,
You revelled in schoolboy games.
You were gleaming fresh at the dawn of life;
You glistened like morning dew.
The garden of childhood held no fears;
There was nothing to spoil the view.
Yes, all seemed good in the gilded days;
That nothing could ever go wrong.
You never did dream of the Summer's end,
That the sunshine wouldn't last long.
But somehow, somewhere, it slipped away;
The sun sank over the hill.
Darkness enveloped the depths of your soul,
And cynicalness made you ill.
The woes of the world furrowed your brow;
You were buckling under the weight.
Your dreams of boyhood turned to dust;
To fulfil them, far too late.
And teetering now on the brink of death,
With your tender heart shot through.
Oh, gentle boy of Hampshire,
What became of you?