Escape: an urban runner’s daydream

Escape. A new short running film.

For most of us northern Europeans the city is our natural environment. But, being runners, we can daydream over a morning espresso, maybe a piece of lemon cake too. This is one such daydream.

Despite our deserved reputation for heavy industry the city is woven through with, hemmed around with, ribbons of woodland and river and field. You can run from the horrors of Meadowhall shopping centre almost into the city centre along tree lined canal or river barely touching tarmac, although the remains of that heavy industry surround you most of the way.

To be fair, many cities have such hidden areas, get your shoes on and go explore your local patches. Enjoy your own escape





Part of my Running Shorts series. The film was shot in and around my home city of Sheffield; the outdoor city. It’s shot on an iPhone6, sometimes with Olloclip lenses, edited in iMovie. The main soundtrack is Country Boy, composed by Ben Tissot,

Running Shorts; a film intro clip

I’m a big fan of Salomon Running’s films, made by The African Attachment. The gorgeous, impressionistic “The Forest” is really what nudged me into finally trying to make small films myself. Being professionals, they have a common introduction sequence. So I decided it might be an idea if I did that too.

Off to Ecclesall Woods I went, iPhone in bag and shot a few clips. This one I’m happy with. Simple, a long trail off into white for later editing in and a slightly silly soundtrack. I was, I freely admit very lucky with the light, a glorious English spring day fresh minted after a night of rain.

One other thing. The intro also has a pun, feeble even by my standards. As I grew up on BBC Radio4 and it’s ilk I not actually going to apologise for that.

Be well all,

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Getting out the door: A morning run


A short film made after I’d been woken by my neighbourhood version of the dawn chorus. The local blackbirds and sparrows started up around 0500, some three hours before my alarm was due to wake me.

I yielded to the inevitable, got out of bed, found my running kit, drank coffee, ate cake and went out for a run in the half light. I also picked up my iPhone and did a little filming.

It was a really rather lovely run, a peaceful morning, surrounded by a birch woodland emerging into spring and filled with the sound of birdsong. And this magical place of twisting paths, of squirrels and foxes and birds and bats and the occasional badger is just one minute’s run from my suburban housing estate back door, in the middle of what was the South Yorkshire coalfield, a mucky place of pits, glassworks and shunting yards when I was a boy.

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Winter bicycle, waiting in the shadows. Sheffield.

A cycle wheel casts a shadow into deeper shadows outside Sheffield railway station. Monochrome image.

On a late autumn night a bicycle, chained to a lamp post, casts it’s own shadows into the deeper shadows cast by Sheffield railway station. [sb030173]

Sheffield, my home city, a hilly place(like Rome, seven of them, allegedly) a city surprisingly full of bicycles. In winter, as the nights have drawn in they dodge and weave amongst cars and buses and pedestrians alike. Or, like this they wait, casting shadow amongst the shadow, carefully tethered until their riders return.

City Living

In a fire exit, of a company charged with helping the unemployed find work, a rough sleeper has abandoned their bed. The door opens onto Paradise Street. [sb008164]

I was out making images for my Noctilucence project a few years ago. In 2011, in Sheffield, a comfortable relatively prosperous city. The first image offered itself up on the ironically named Paradise Street. It’s just a linking road really, down between anodyne office blocks in the midst of the legal district. So I braced my back against a sub-station gate, got my breathing pattern right, squeezed the shutter release and made the image.

My notebook entry reads:

“The sad remnants of someone’s life. Fire exit of New Bank House, Paradise Street”

The last image of the night presented itself as I was hurrying for the last train home. In the city centre, in Barker’s Pool, in John Lewis’ window. A horribly fake, utterly kitsch, display selling ‘Retro Reborn’ tat as yet another home must have.

John Lewis, Barker’s Pool , Sheffield. Selling ‘retro’ a currently fashionable decorating style. (sb008209)

I’ve presented the images here, together, the way they juxtaposed in my mind at the time. Walking between them through Sheffield they’re physically seperated by about 500m. For me, emotionally, they’re a world apart. Before anyone asks, if the sleeper had been there I don’t know if I could or would have made an image. Or how.

I don’t know any answers. I’m not sure anyone else does either. Certainly not our current(2018) disgrace of a government. I do know however, but for fortunate chance, I would have been the human vanished from the cardboard and empty bottle rather than the man who shops in John Lewis.

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