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  • Writer's pictureMalcolm Hackett

Getting to know you again ... the explorations of a Photographer in Kent

Updated: Jun 3, 2020

It's been in the planning for a while, but I've finally relocated life and business down to #Kent.

Malcolm the Photographer is now offering services throughout the county and into neighbouring areas. Or rather, I will be, just as soon as something close to normal life returns to us. This is being written in the week that coronavirus led our government to call for over-70's to self isolate, for schools to shut down, and for everyone to avoid any unnecessary social interaction.

Whilst my business is focused (pun intended) on pictures of people, I have a personal love of the outdoors, of fresh air and of nature. So, over the next few weeks, and as long as its safe to do so, I hope re-familiarise myself with the county that I left back in 1993.

The Bargeman sculpture by Jill Tweed, Sittingbourne
"The Bargeman" sculpture by Jill Tweed, Sittingbourne

My new home is #Sittingbourne. Those who know the town will doubtless think of it as a busy centre located close to both the M2 and A2. It's this latter road, the Romans' “Watling Street” from Dover to London, which has accounted for much of the town's growth. From the Middle Ages onward, the number of houses and inns grew to accommodate travellers who needed a meal or an overnight stay. Visitors have included an impressive number of Kings and Queens. Henry V stopped off in 1415 on his return from the Battle of Agincourt, likewise King Henry VIII , Queen Elizabeth and Princess (later Queen) Victoria all eat in the town.

Milton Creek is the shallow tidal inlet, which connects Sittingbourne to the Swale and on to the Thames. These watery route-ways helped Sittingbourne to become a major industrial and agricultural area, with a thriving barge industry shipping goods to the capital. Boats took bricks to build London's houses and paper to provide the raw material for London newsprint. Such was the extent of trade that Sittingbourne Mill become the largest paper mill in the world. Today's modern mill at Kemsley is owned by DS Smith plc, who manufacturer corrugated case materials, speciality and high-performance papers for packaging. They also boast of being the second biggest recovered fibre-based paper operation in Europe.

Milton Creek - industry and wildlife
Industry and wildlife side by side at Milton Creek

Surprisingly, Milton Creek also offers an oasis for wildlife. Its country park is full of trees and birdsong, with easy access paths across the green spaces and to the children's play areas. The site is home to hundreds of animal species, including the rare Shrill Carder Bee and a number of protected species including Great Crested Newt, Slow Worm and Common Lizard. A walk along the creek may offer glimpses of wading birds – on my visit, including one avocet, a living embodiment of the RSPB logo! If you are planning on a visit anytime soon, enjoy the fresh air but please remember to observe safe social distancing.

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