Today’s blog post is a slightly different travel story. I still had my faithful red rucksack, water bottle, camera, and mobile with me but the journey itself only took me across town: I explored my own city as part of an Instameet.
Instameet is a planned, local gathering of Instagram users who meet up for a few hours of photography. I went to my very first one last summer as a relatively new Instagrammer without really having a clue what to expect! Meeting a bunch of interesting people and taking photos with them whilst exploring a specific part of the city was so much fun though that I was definitely going to take part again. As these events are global, I was even thinking how cool it would be to photograph your way around the world through Instameets!
Yesterday’s gathering was organised by Natasha from Candy Pop and Rosie from Kinship of Oxford. After the troops had assembled and enjoyed the necessary morning coffee at the Jam Factory we headed towards Jericho along the Oxford Canal in beautiful April sunshine. What a difference from the previous day’s rain and wind!
Jericho is a historic suburb of Oxford that has gone through a transformation from an industrial area, red-light district, and slum to one of the most sought-after neighbourhoods. Its backstreets tend to be quiet on Sundays, ideal for a stroll, and the different buildings and architectural styles show off its history and character.You may even come across a front garden full of toys! Many of the old factory buildings have now been converted into luxury apartments but you can still also see glimpses of the more modest past.
When I’m in a new city or on an organised photography walk, I definitely pay more attention to details and anything quirky around me than when I’m just minding my daily business: a cat on the window, colourful doors, symmetry in buildings… It helps that others in the group are likely to notice something I hadn’t, and vice versa.
There may not be such a thing as free lunch but yesterday we did have a free pastry. Peter from 2 North Parade (a real treasure trove of beautiful food) was kindly handing them out to all of us when we made a pit stop in North Parade, a colourful short street lined with restaurants, pubs, produce shops, and cafés. A bustling place to be in the evening and relax in the afternoon.
Our journey took us through the outskirts of the University Parks, a vast recreational green area ideal for walks or picnics. We stopped at the Museum of Natural History where a serious but simultaneously light-hearted battle of Morris dancers was taking place as part of the Folk Weekend festival. To me, Morris dancing is a quirky tradition often involving sticks, bells, and handkerchiefs that is difficult to describe to someone who hasn’t seen it. May the pictures speak for themselves.
The museum itself – worth visiting for its stunning neo-Gothic architecture alone – has a range of exhibits from dinosaurs to the dodo. You get a great view of the main gallery from upstairs, which currently houses Kurt Jackson‘s exhibition Bees (and the odd wasp) in my Bonnet. On the grassed area outside is a dinosaur footprint trackway made from casts taken from Ardley Quarry in North Oxfordshire. The sight of a dog enjoying a lazy day and belly rubs was a great way to finish the exploration and head towards lunch in town.
Would I go to an Instameet again? Definitely! I could go photographing local areas any time but sometimes it’s just more fun to join a group and make it a shared activity.