Another collection of oddities encountered while walking or cycling through this pleasant and constantly surprising land. The Village Blacksmith
In the days before the invention of the car, and perhaps more importantly the tractor, every village had its Smithy, like this one at Thriplow (no longer in use of course) where horses were shod, metal rims made for cartwheels and many farm implements repaired. The pub name The Three Horseshoes often indicates that a blacksmith once operated nearby and that you could get a pint while he went about his business. Lucky Horseshoes
Everyone knows that horseshoes are lucky but nobody is sure why! One tale says that a blacksmith once put a horseshoe on the hoof of the devil and that since the devil had a cloven hoof it was very painful for him. The devil kicked the shoe off but he's never forgotten the pain and is reluctant to enter where he sees a horseshoe above the door. Or it may be that people feared the powers of the man who could bend iron; the word blacksmith contains the same element as black magic or black arts. Maybe folk who didn't understand the process thought that horseshoes contained some kind of mystical power. Whatever the reason the person who put up all these horseshoes was taking no chances! In Disguise
The area around Foster's Mill in Cambridge is being redeveloped. Work on the mill itself was delayed by a major fire. But suddenly, overnight, it seems to be finished! But look closely; the blackened building has been hidden by specially painted sheets hung over the walls. What will they think of next? Dead Ringers II & III
I recently mourned the loss of our rural phone boxes. But new and exciting uses have been found for the now-redundant kiosks. Like the Olympic display cabinet done by Barrington primary school (above) or the mini-library at Wimpole (below).
When I travelled through the villages of Hatley St George and East Hatley recently I was, unbeknown to me at the time, on the road trod by my ancestors. My learned cousin, who knows about such things, informs me that in 1770 my great-great-great-great-grandparents, William and Susannah, were married in St George's Church, Hatley. Here Be Dragons!
Meanwhile in Whaddon I stopped to photograph this village sign. It shows a sheaf of grain and a sheep signifying the importance of agriculture to the settlement. It shows the village pump, which you can still see today. It shows an oak bough, which you will understand if you read this post. And it shows a dinosaur! This is a reference to remains that were found nearby. There aren't any around today. Or are there?