Sunday, December 24, 2006

Foggy Photography ... Fography? Phoggography?

The uncharacteristic fogbanks that have engulfed the UK this past week have provided some unexpected benefits. They may have caused air traffic chaos but, aesthetically, Britain looks great in the fog.

Despite the best efforts of American film-makers who seem to believe that our country is permanently wreathed in smog (and that we all talk like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins) we don't really suffer serious foggage. Foggery. Fogginess. Whatever. But recent unusual weather patterns and unseasonal temperatures have left the country wreathed in pea-soupery. So it's not so much a White Christmas this year as a Grey Christmas that you can't see; at least beyond 100 yards. But it does make for pretty pictures. Oh yes.

I had to drive to Stokenchurch a couple of days ago to pick up food supplies for our various pets and as I passed through the village of Studley Green, I couldn't help noticing how picturesque the Shoe Tree was. I should explain ...

Just outside the village is a tree that has pairs of shoes hanging from it like some kind of strange laced and leather fruit. No one seems to know how the 'tradition' started, but the current tree is the third to have appeared on this stretch of road. The first fell down. The second was cut down by some vandal with a chainsaw. But the third one is still up and sprouting more and more shoes by the month.

Some claim that it stems from an ancient fertility rite whereby a couple would tie one shoe each together by the laces and throw them into the branches of a tree. But the truth is that no one seems to know why it all started. Nor why, apparently, there is a bra tree somewhere near Oxford and a panties tree near Henley on Thames.

I must go and look for them sometime.

There are shoe trees all over the UK, America, Australia and Canada, and I'm sure there are many more in other countries too.

Anyway, I decided that this was a great photogenic opportunity to add my own pair of shoes to the tree. So I went home, found an old pair of boating pumps and headed back to get a bunch of shots, several of which I include for your bemusement and pity.


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