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.

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.

Friday 15 June 2012

On The Moor

Between the villages of Meldreth and Shepreth in Cambridgeshire lies our local Nature Reserve - Shepreth L-Moor. The "L" in the name refers simply to its shape. It's not a moor in any usual sense of the word, just an area of rough grazing land that, because of its poor drainage, is only grazed in summer.

It supports a wide variety of flowering plants - nothing too rare or exceptional but very pretty even so. The scrub and bushes make the area attractive to birds, Yellowhammer, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Linnet, Blackbird, Whitethroat, Robin and Goldfinch are all likely to be seen. I've also been lucky enough to encounter Wheatear, Redstart, Yellow Wagtail and Peregrine here in the last few years.

A common dozen!
Creeping Cinquefoil, Field Speedwell, Goat's Beard
White Campion, Herb Bennet, White Bryony
Marsh Thistle, White Clover, Dog Rose
 Sowthistle, Zigzag Clover, Birdsfoot Trefoil. 

If you're desperate to see Twayblade this is the place to come and you might find an odd Common Spotted Orchis too...

Twayblade, Common Spotted Orchis

But it's really just a wonderful place to wander around slowly with the sun on your back and watch nature at work...




At one time there would have been ground like this on the outskirts of every village but arable agriculture has expanded to such an extent that there's hardly any rough grazing land left nowadays, certainly very little that's cared for and protected like this little patch.
Long may it survive!

Take care.