Saturday, 23 July 2016

Footnotes And Updates

Neat And Trim

I recently showed you some cottages being re-thatched. At the time they looked rather untidy and dishevelled, but now the thatch has been tidied up and these historic buildings, opposite Trumpington church, are very smartly turned-out.

Fitting The Bill

When I published some photographs of Cambridge's narrow and impractical streets recently, I mentioned that busses regularly used this street. Bill, from "Somewhere In Ireland", commented that he'd like to see it. Your wish, Bill, is my command.

The observant reader will have noticed that the vehicle belongs to Whippet, who presumably were inspired by the more famous Greyhound busses. They started out in 1919 with Mr Henry Lee driving a converted ambulance while Mrs Lee collected the fares. They remained a family firm right up till 2014.

Physical Remains

We often visit Cambridge University's Botanic Garden (though my plan to visit every month soon came to grief, as I suspected it might). So what's this little patch of untidy greenery in Free School Lane got to do with the majestic gardens near Bateman Street? Believe it or not this is what remains of the original Physic Garden which preceded it, now partly built over but never very large. 

An Unlikely Friend Of The Bog

Although the underlying geology of Dersingham Bog prevents a lot of plants from flourishing, some parts of the area are nevertheless prone to revert to poor scrubland if just left alone. Originally the land was grazed by cattle during the summer months which was enough to maintain the fragile balance of its ecosystem. Changes in the economy of the area caused this practice to die out but an unlikely ally appeared.

The railway to Hunstanton passed along one side of the bog and sparks and hot ashes from the old steam trains meant that from time to time in the heat of summer fires started which cleared the area of brambles and low bushes. 

When the railway closed the scrub started to creep back and a lot of work had to be undertaken when it became a nature reserve. The desired landscape is now maintained by a herd of Black Galloway cattle.

After my explanation of the differences between bog, fen and marsh I half-expected someone to ask where swamps fitted into this scheme of things. We don't have any swamps, but they are basically any kind of marsh which is able to support trees.

A Solution For Hilary

A short time ago I showed you some pictures of the little "tin tabernacle" at the Museum Of East Anglian Life at Stowmarket. 

Hilary, of "Positive Letters....Inspirational Stories", commented that she had once lived in a building with a corrugated metal roof and the sound of rain falling on it was deafening to those inside. Well, I lived the first 12 years of my life in such a building too and I couldn't agree more!

But of course one can't have the sound of thunderstorms and hail drowning out the prayers and hymns of the worshippers. Therefore the parishioners of the hamlet of Babingley in Norfolk have come up with a traditional and very attractive solution to the problem....


A Rude Address

This is one of a handful of houses on the road between Kings Lynn and Hunstanton that share an unenviable address. There is no sign to proclaim this highly individual place-name but the Ordnance Survey map and the local bus timetable agree that it's known as Cat's Bottom. 

Take care.


  1. Hi John - thanks for including me and a solution to my old home in Johannesburg ... I should have done that ... but I escaped back home before the roof needed attention - I rather wonder what happened to walls - as there was little 'purchase' ...

    Still beautiful views here - love the photos - and yes the thatch looks quite brilliant, while the bus - is clean and fascinating to know it was still owned by the same family til 1914 ...

    We do have some wonderful names for our villages, streets and pockets of land - we can always tell what went on ... those few gravestones - show life before modernity set in ...

    Cheers and thanks again - Hilary

  2. A Mixture of interesting anecdotes and pics.

  3. Lol. Great variety in the post and quite entertaining!

  4. Nice images, John. I especially like the old church in Babbingley.

  5. Not sure I would care to live in Cat's Bottom, but I absolutely love the idea of Whippet Busses.

  6. Love this follow-up and wonderful images as always.

  7. This was enjoyable read on a Saturday morn. Well...all your posts are enjoyable and informative. What is the life expectancy of that new thatch roof job?

  8. Thanks John for posting the bus. I see there's no room for any stumbling :) The re-thatched roof is looking real good and those small churches are quite attractive. The Cat's Bottom is an interesting name for a house. Thanks for being our tour guide!

  9. Swamps are probably our most common type of wetland.

  10. An informative and fun post John!

  11. Cats bottom made me smile. :)

  12. Nice update for us! I'm still amazed by those thatched roofs.

  13. At least the Whippet bus must be quite thin!
    Cat's Bottom... ooh. There's a hamlet called Slack Bottom near here....

  14. Wow - I think that is a brilliant address "Cat's Bottom". I would love to live at Cat's Bottom. By the way, your photographs and writings are absolutely brilliant. I really enjoy your stories. Kind regards, Louise S, Cheshire.

  15. You always make me laugh John :) The bus Bill wanted to see 😃 looks like a tight fit down those narrow roads. The little blue thatched church is a delight to behold and to finish off with 'Cat's Bottom ' .. brilliant 😃

  16. Lots of great bits and pieces here John - I especially like Cat's Bottom:) The original Cambridge Physic Garden is interesting, I wonder whether any of the herbs survive or whether it's just weeds now.

  17. We don't have any Alligators either John, well not four legged ones anyway.

  18. Nice series, and lovely photos.


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