Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Ones That Got Away

A few small fry that slipped through the holes in the net.

Children on board

Real life got in the way of my seeing the Tour de France leave from Cambridge on Monday - though I caught some of it on TV. But my last post showing the cyclists and bikes of the city gave rise to a comment from "stardust" enquiring about mothers transporting their little ones to and from school. Oh, yes, there are plenty of them to be seen. As you can see we have bright kids around here who soon learn to lift their feet from the pedals and let mum do all the work.

Is it a spire? Is it a tower?

This is the beautifully situated church in Guilden Morden. The small-scale spire sitting within the parapets of the tower is known as a "Hertfordshire spike" as it's a common arrangement in that county. Just to confuse the issue this church is actually in Cambridgeshire, but architectural styles, like regional accents, have no respect for county boundaries. 

There are two explanations for the origin of the "spike". One is that Hertfordshire lacks the right kind of building stone to build spires so compromised by constructing these lead-clad spirelets.

The other story goes thus:
In the early days of Christianity would-be church builders were dismayed to find that the Devil already owned all the best sites. After lengthy negotiations the Devil agreed to hand over some of his lands provided that the churches built thereon had no steeples. Apparently the Devil can only enter via the tower and a steeple prevents him from doing so. The crafty church builders stayed within the letter of the agreement by constructing the spikes instead on which the Devil would become impaled should he attempt to enter. 

Le Strange's Folly

Back in 1840 Henry L'Estrange Styleman Le Strange inherited some 10,000 acres of North West Norfolk. Far from being "strange" Henry was a remarkably talented and progressive Victorian gentleman. He made many improvements to his estate, was responsible for many church restorations as well as designing and painting the beautiful ceiling of Ely Cathedral. He also designed and had built the Golden Lion Hotel, high on a cliff between Old Hunstanton and Heacham, in 1846.

For 16 years it stood alone and little used and became known as the Folly by those with less foresight than Le Strange. This was the time when seaside holidays were becoming fashionable amongst the elite and Le Strange campaigned to bring the railway here in order to open up the area to the masses. He also drew up elaborate plans for a new resort town, New Hunstanton, on this greenfield site.

Although all these plans came to fruition Henry himself did not live to see it as he died of a heart attack, aged just 47, in the same week that his station opened. 

What goes around comes around...

When the fens were drained to provide agricultural land some method was needed to pump the water into the drains and rivers. Just like in Holland hundreds of windmills provided the power to drain the land. Wind power was replaced by steam engines. They in turn were replaced with diesel-powered pumps which more recently have given way to electric pumps like this one at Ten Mile Bank...

....which, as you can see, has a wind-turbine to supplement its electrical supply.

Here comes the sun...

In Queens' College there is possibly the world's most complicated and comprehensive sundial. With it you can work out not only the time of day but also the sign of the zodiac, the month of the year, the time of sunrise, the length of daylight hours, the elevation of the sun above the horizon, and the compass bearing of the sun. In addition you can, theoretically at least, tell the time by the moon. However at the time of making the sundial they didn't have sufficient understanding to compute some of the information with any great degree of accuracy. Also the dial has been repainted several times, not always very precisely. Better to stick with the digital watch.

Early Health and Safety

A sign from the railways which, when you analyse it, doesn't say much more than.....

.....Take care!


  1. the finale' sign made me smile. I enjoyed your shot of Mum and her children cycling - certainly the way to keep fit; I admire them! At least the youngsters have helmets, but not Mum; I guess it does a number on the image when we arrive at destination. Your other photos are in such good weather; lovely colour. Carole at

  2. What a wonderful collection of this and thats, John. Enjoyed them all but took particular note of the lack of agreeable stone in Hertfordshire, as I have a great great grandmother from that vicinity, and it's nice to know they found a way to thwart the devil...

  3. The bicycle shot really gives a sense of speed where in reality they probably were going quite slow. Well done image John. And the sign at the end, I'll not say how many times I had to read it before it made sense to me. You Brits are a strange lot.

  4. That tandem made me laugh John. In the far distant past, my first husband and I had a tandem and cycled all over on it (Lincoln to Lowestoft in one day). I was fine in the country but scared in the town, so if ever we went through a town and the situation got a bit hairy, I would take my feet off the pedals and close my eyes!

  5. Enjoyed all your photos today. Always so interesting. That lady on her bike with her kids made me smile. Thank you for my birthday wishes :)

  6. Great set of photos. I love the first one for its action and the last for its long winded message:)

  7. The wind powered pump is certainly more elegant than the squat little electric building. And what a lot of words to say, Mind the gap!

  8. Love that smart girl letting her mom do all the pedaling... priceless!

  9. You do find interesting things all around you. That "take care" sign is pretty funny.

    Take care.


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