Monday, 23 December 2019

Feet Wet And Lunch Forgot - That's The Way To Travel

Does anything look sadder than a wet horse in December? Perhaps only two wet horses.....

…..with wet walkers and photographers not being far behind! The truth is that since I wrote on this blog that our rainfall totals here are very low compared to other places, it has contrived to rain pretty much every day. At least it should have restored the water levels in our little rivers and maybe even returned Shepreth Moor to its proper soggy state. Lets go and see if I can get a few photos.

There's still plenty of puddles on the village street as I set out early on Sunday morning.

A few hardy souls have turned out for the eight o'clock Holy Communion service. In every village there's a small group who turn out in the darkness of winter mornings, or amid the early-morning birdsong of summer, and seem to almost worship a different God to the normal run of churchgoers. There'll be a lot more people at the Christmas Carol Service in the afternoon.

Sloshing across waterlogged Shepreth Moor in the murky half-light of a gloomy dawn has a certain wild charm, though it's not one that translates easily into photographs. By nine o'clock it had started getting darker again with fine drizzle blowing in the breeze.

Ain't it good to be out and about on a morning like this? Well, yes, it is actually. Lonely and forlorn as it may look, the path at this point is busy and cheerful with a flock of Blue Tits. They are probably attracted by bird-feeders in a nearby garden, for there is a handful of houses whose land backs on to footpath. There's no way I could photograph these active bundles of energy for you - though I can show you some I came across just last week.....

The birds on the right are all Blue Tits, familiar in almost any garden where food is provided. Perched on the left feeder is the less common Coal Tit. Great Tits and Long-Tailed Tits usually complete these mixed flocks, but there's always a chance of a rarer bird turning up amongst them, like the Pallas's Warbler that was associating with the Long-Tailed Tits on the edge of Cambridge recently. Incidentally I think you can see how the seemingly colourful plumage still manages to camouflage them among the remaining leaves.

There's always a little colour on the banks of the Shep too if you look for it, and the water levels seem to be back to normal having been low since the Spring. Sometimes you have to slow down, move quietly and notice where you are. Then, with luck and persistence, little details show up and bring pleasure.

It may lack the grandeur of big mountains or the exotic charms of distant lands, but on this damp, chilly morning it's all mine and I don't have to travel far to enjoy it. 

Against all expectations the clouds are slowly tearing themselves apart. A pale, watery sunlight begins to creep across the fields. Maybe I'll go back the way I came and see if I can get some photos of the waterlogged Shepreth Moor so that I can show you what it should be like at this time of year.                                                                                                          

Though in the past, before the chaotic shifts in the seasons that we've been experiencing in recent years, it might well have been frozen over or even under snow by mid-December. Perhaps I should publicly state here that we don't get proper winters any more, then maybe the Law of Natural Perversity will provide us with a little snowfall - not too much though!

This is just a fragment of undrained pastureland that's managed as a nature reserve. Wild Orchids are slowly returning to the grassland in summer, along with other plant and insect life. I showed you some of the flowers last summer and hope to wander about and photograph more next year.

I'm wearing my waterproof rubber boots, but of course I keep jumping from tussock to tussock till I finally get a boot full of water. I'm all for immersing myself in the landscape though not as literally as that. Not to worry, at least I got lucky with the weather and got some of the photos I was hoping for. And speaking of good luck....

…..look who crossed my path on the way home!

Take care.

* the "feet wet and lunch forgot" quote that is the title of this post comes from a little notebook of quotations that I kept when I used to do a lot of backpacking. I have it attributed to the poet Gary Snyder, but whether it's from one of his poems or whether it was said by the character based on Snyder in a book by Jack Kerouac, I can't recall.


  1. Just delightful John - and good to know Shrepreth Moor is returning to the norm. Wonderful photos and yes I can imagine the early morning walk. We have clear skies here, though Alfriston on the Cuckmere is flooded, - for how long ... who knows ... have a lovely Christmas with many more carols and scenes of delight - cheers Hilary

  2. That area of wetland looks like a perfect habitat for a whole range of creatures. Perhaps you would mark it on your calendar to go back there in spring to show us the waterfowl coming in to find refuge, food and potential breeding sites. I doubt that I will ever make it back to the UK, John, but if I do I vow to hook up with you to go for a walk!

    1. It should dry out in the spring so doesn't get many wetland birds at all. There are other places near here where interesting species do spend the winter and others breed in the summer. I'm seriously considering getting a super-zoom bridge camera just for bird photography, so may well be sharing some pictures next year.

  3. What a lovely walk...and the Snyder quote which you followed with a wet foot, sorry about that. Glad you think of black cats as good luck, for the legend I've learned is the opposite, however I do think we make our own luck.

  4. I love that you went out there in the rain-soaked Moor. There really are beautiful views and things to see, once you get those waterproof boots on. It has been very rainy here for days as well. Hard to find the inspiration to get out there and walk. I think I need waterproof boots.

  5. Wonderful series...I enjoyed them all, but oh, I so love the horses.

  6. Add 2 bedraggled Lurchers to your list John! I thought I was going to get stuck in the mud the other day. Lovely post. Merry Christmas.

  7. Love your photo of the wet horses! Thanks for letting us join you from inside our dry homes!

  8. Even in damp weather, these are pretty shots. The horses don't seem impressed.

    The cat, of course, is my favourite.

  9. You made wet and soggy look and sound interesting!

  10. Some say 'bad weather' doesn't exist.. I don't know if that's true but it's what you make of it I suppose. Well there is no doubt that even rainy weather is good for charming scenes!
    Merry Christmas John.

  11. Those poor horses! They do look pathetic lol. I would love to be one of those "whatever the weather" churchgoers but it will have to wait until my kids are older. I love your countryside. It is so beautiful. Merry CHRISTmas!

  12. What a lovely walk. I've been taking my own little wander today, noticing tiny things along the way - a real blessing, that I'll write up in a post after Christmas (got too many other things to show!) One of the best things though was seeing a nuthatch at my bird feeder! I've never seen one here before. We don't get a wide variety of birds in this urban patch with tiny gardens. I've used a different bird seed so perhaps it found it to its taste!

  13. Even in the wet conditions, this looked to be a lovely walk in some very scenic spots, John. Waterproof boots are definitely a must-have too.

  14. John, I was wondering if you would be kind enough to give permission for a cropped version of your photograph of Meldreth High Street to be used on the cover of Meldreth Matters? I would give you full credit, of course.


Thanks for taking the time to comment. I'll try to answer any questions via a comment or e-mail within the next day or two (no hard questions, please!).