I like to imagine landscapes without human development all over them. I will play with my mental time-machine to create a picture of what a place looked like maybe after the last Ice-Age. I blot out all the signs that say “human was here 10,000BC-2018 AD”, the electricity pylon, the radio mast, the houses that have replaced the curving brow of a hill, the pavements that cover grasses and shrubs. I replant forest across farmland in my minds eye.
I left Manchester some years ago but still come back to visit once or twice a year. Every time it seems more crowded, noisy. Every street is stuffed full of cars, every bus and shop full of people. It feels...tight, everything and everyone packed in on top of each other. Rushing, busy, non-stop.
I find it hard to play my game here, to imagine the wild landscape that was here before this cityscape; in most part of the city all traces of anything wild and natural have disappeared, cut down or tarmacked over to make way for humans.
When I come to Manchester I quite often visit two places/projects that I used to be involved with; the HEAP community food growing project in Highfield Allotments, Levenshulme and the Forest Garden in Birchfields Park, Longsight. This park is where Gorton Brook re-emerges after flowing hidden beneath the roads and houses and bustle of Longsight. I am as grateful now as I was when I lived here for these spaces. Yes they are designed by humans and traffic hums nearby yet by focusing my attention on water, plants, birdsong I feel grounded, spacious. Corners of wildness.