Thursday, 28 June 2012

Flowers In The Rain

Just to show you that we have had some rain here in the arid east of England (!) here are a few pictures taken in the garden at the weekend:

Take care.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Another World

What kind of people...

What kind of people
live on boats.
trees are rooted,
driftwood floats

What kind of people
 coil those ropes,
paint their castles,
live their hopes.

What kind of people
cast off here,
slip their moorings,

What kind of people
so remote
still need wheels to
float their boat

What kind of people
the means by which they

What kind of people
freedom seek,
then find shelter 
cheek to cheek.

What kind of people,
might just choose,
set their roots in
dancing shoes

What kind of people
live on boats.
Trees get cut down,
Driftwood floats.

Take care,
ye mariners all,
take care

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Follow The River On Down

Think of the River Cam in Cambridge and you probably have an image of the river flowing slowly past Kings' College Chapel, willows sweeping the water and tourists passing on punts. The picturesque Backs end at Magdalene Bridge. Magdalene College seems to turn its back on the river and with good reason; the opposite bank used to be built up with warehouses as it was the end of the navigable waterway for most of the cargo boats that brought supplies into the town.

Beyond Magdalene Bridge the river takes on a subtly different character. Lets go and take a look. And it's easy to take a look too as there's a riverside path all the way; it was once the towpath for horses that pulled the barges. Incidentally a few boats did go further upstream to King's Mill and Newnham Mill but because the land on either side of the water had been grabbed by the colleges the poor old horses had to walk in the river on a specially constructed path. You used to be able to find parts of it with your puntpole, I remember.  

The old warehouses have been converted to luxury apartments and riverside restaurants. Soon we're walking through riverside parks. First of all through Jesus Green where there's the uncommon sight in this part of the world - lock gates.

The path makes its way past the open air swimming pool and The Fort St George pub which once gloried in its full name of The Fort St George In Olde England, but even then we always called it the Fort. It used to be the place to meet up with friends in the days before text messaging, Facebook and Twitter meant that every young person knows what their peers are doing at every moment of the day.

As you travel on to Midsummer Common there are more and more boats with people living on them. There's another kind of boat which often makes an appearance on this stretch of river....

....this is the home of the various rowing clubs, both from the colleges and the town. Boathouses line the northern bank of the river and eights shoot by at astonishing speed leaving quietly rippling water in their wake.

Further along the skyline is dominated by the chimney of the old sewage pumping station. The old works now house an industrial museum.

Much of this part of Cambridge is being redeveloped and there is a spectacular footbridge and cycle bridge connecting developments on opposite sides of the river.

We may well explore the river further downstream in the next few weeks, probably by bicycle - you can ride on my crossbar if you like - but before that I'd like to show you some photos of details from the many houseboats along the river. Their inhabitants seem to inhabit some kind of parallel world to the dwellers in bricks and mortar as you shall see. But lets end with a lone rower on a peaceful part of the river...

Take care.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

The Word On The Street - Trinity Street

Just an idea I had.
Can you show the character of a street
 by the words and signs seen there?
It took a long time to assemble,
but I may try it again for another street.

Take care.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Pennine Way Companions

It was the summer of 1977. Two young men, just out of university and living a carefree life, were walking the Pennine Way, a long-distance route leading from Derbyshire, which is roughly in the middle of the country, up to the Scottish borders. "Along the backbone of England" is the phrase used in the guide books and maps showed something that looked like a line of mountains. On the ground there proved to be areas of incredible beauty connected by stretches of endless dreary moorland. Or, from our point of view at the time, long trudges between one pub and the next.
Today's exertions had led us by Cotherstone Moor to Balderhead Reservoir and eventually down into the fabled Teesdale which Pete had been talking about incessantly for the last few hours. Pete was an enthusiastic botanist and Teesdale held promise of rare specimens not to be found elsewhere. But that was in another part of Teesdale. We had descended beneath grey and ominous skies into a rather dreary Middleton-in-Teesdale where there were rumours of a campsite.
We stumbled upon it as the skies began to open. The charge for pitching a tent was outrageously high. "There's a space over there", said the man in the office, pointing to a rough slope of stony ground, "Come back and pay once you've settled in", he shouted through the steady-falling rain.  Our fellow campers were comfortably accommodated in chalets and touring caravans, eating their evening meal and quaffing their wine. We'd be much happier crouched in our leaky tent and cooking our freeze-dried ready-meal on the camping-gas stove. We lied a lot to ourselves in those days.
We huddled damply around the simmering slops of food. The little pieces of grass added both flavour and protein to the meal and we wolfed it down voraciously before wandering off through the drizzle in search of the nearest pub. It was a cheerless place but after a while it was enlivened by the arrival of some loud Welshmen. We fell into conversation with them and discovered that they were staying at the same campsite - "Hanging on the side of a mountain our tent is, see?"
Funds were running low and we knew we still had to pay for the night's camping so we swayed back to our inadequate quarters and crawled into our sleeping bags. Just as we were drifting off to sleep we were rudely awakened by the sound of "Men Of Harlech" getting closer and closer. A loud banging sound came from close by, "Wake up, you softies. ******** caravanners! It's lovely out 'ere in the dark and rain!" Laughing and more crashing about ensued then a quite lovely rendition of "Land Of My Fathers", lovely if you're not trying to sleep anyway. Following this, rather than the deserved applause, were more curses and insults in Welsh accents, then an unmistakable English accent with a reasoned argument for repatriation. Pete and I listened with amusement for some time.
"Right now, Bonny Lads, we've been summoned here to remove you from the campsite. You've occasioned the annoyance of other campers and the manager has asked us to evict you, which is what is about to happen forthwith."
"Aw, sorry, officer," said a pleading voice, "Just 'aving a bit of fun, no 'arm done, see"
"Come on, Bonny Lads, or do we arrest you for a breach of the peace?"  said a stern voice. Much mumbling and muttering and the sound of a tent being taken down. Then, suddenly, the roof of our tent , which we were observing disinterestedly while trying to stifle our mirth, descended with worrying rapidity.
"You drunken Welsh ****!" I exclaimed.
"Very sorry, sir, must've tripped on a guy rope." said the apologetic voice of the law as we struggled to extricate ourselves from beneath a large policeman.
"I suppose we'll laugh about this one day", philosophised Pete next morning, "The Night The Law Came Down Heavily Upon Us", he chuckled as he pulled on his socks.
"You know what cheers me up at the moment?" I asked, "We haven't actually paid for this shenanigans yet. Reckon we can be gone before anyone's about?"
We didn't see why we should pay for such a terrible night and hastened to leave without paying. The tent came down with unusual speed. But just as we were about to stow it in the rucksacks the manager of the site hove unwelcomely into view, obviously about to charge us the extortionate fee.
"Sorry about the little problem last night, boys," he said, "Here's a full refund." And he pressed a crisp banknote into my hand. Well, what would you have done? Come on now, what would you have done?
What we did was the next four miles in just under an hour! 

Take care.  

Monday, 18 June 2012

In And Out The Windows

I've been out collecting windows again.

From the top:

1) near Magdalene bridge, Cambridge
2) a cottage in Grantchester
3) in Meldreth
4) shop window in Cambridge
5) we aim to take you to exotic locations;
view from gents public toilet in St Neots!
6) in Meldreth again
7) old house and new car, Trumpington
8) back to Magdalene bridge -
 the half-timbered building (top left)
is the same one that's reflected in the top picture

Take care.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

A Special Sort Of Shed

If you enjoyed our little ramble around the gardens of Docwra's Manor the other day you might remember that I said that the garden occupies an area that was once a farmyard. Some of the buildings are still there and form an eccentric addition to the gardens; you wander through as you go from one part of the garden to another. These sheds are clearly still in use but have also collected a selection of discarded tools and machinery, plant pots, pieces of harness, bits and bobs that have been kept for dried flower arrangements (and forgotten!), and an odd, whimsical pieces of folk sculpture. 

I can't think of much to say about it except to echo the words of a lady whose words I couldn't help but overhear, "Oh my goodness, well just look at that. Extraordinary!

Take care.