Sunday, 12 July 2020

Farmland

I can't help it! I lived my childhood beside a big field, Dad was a farm-worker and tractors and trailers passed our back gate.


So it's no surprise that I like to be out there in an agricultural landscape, especially at this time of year. The trouble is it's all been looking a bit gloomy lately or, as the weather-man has it, "A series of low-pressure systems has been daisychaining west to east across the country". Very grey and grubby daisy chains though!


But then, one morning, it will suddenly look a lot brighter, tempting me to get the bike out of the shed and pedal off in search of some photographs.


Very flat, Cambridgeshire - and even Hertfordshire which will be on the skyline during most of this ride. But, hey, if the Dutch can have fine landscape painters then I can at least try my hand at showing you the "level hills" of East Anglia. Lots of sky will assist in these endeavours. And I'll probably find some oddities along the way too.


As you may have noticed from the photos you've seen already, the crops are ripening in the fields. No use expecting this chap to help with harvest though, it's just a "scarecrow" made for a festival of such characters in the village of Litlington - just one way to keep families entertained during lockdown.


Litlington is one of the few villages I've seen that has a one-way system to get you around its narrow streets.


Sometimes this landscape almost has the feel of the Praries. Those three huts are on the site of the wartime airbase at Steeple Morden.


Difficult as this landscape is to turn into pictures, it's the kind of landscape with which I have a deep connection. It means something to me despite the concerted efforts of art galleries and photographic competitions who try to convince me that I ought to be snapping spectacular mountains and silky-soft waterfalls. Yes, I know they're pretty but....


....I also know that Hollywood stars are photogenic. But they don't mean as much to me as the real people I grew up with - or even the odd crazy scarecrow. I used to make things like that when I was a child. It's all tied up with memories.


I'm also aware of some of the faults of this way of land management; it's often regarded as an environmental disaster. But it's a constantly encouraging to see how much it can be improved by just a few simple changes like allowing hedges to grow up, planting small woodlands and leaving field edges to do their own thing. These ideas are slowly taking hold.


I like to see into working farmyards. I saw quite a few elderly tractors on my travels - and I think I know why and I'll probably tell you next time.


Plenty of people were out exercising on their bikes. They all sped past me, of course. I hope they glanced up from time to time to see where they were.


There are some idyllic homes scattered about this countryside, many of them are former farmhouses. They are no longer required as farms amalgamate into bigger and bigger enterprises, but there are always plenty of people with large wallets willing to snap them up. Which is just as well because otherwise much of our rural heritage would soon become derelict. 


This is what happens when farmers don't cultivate the edges of their fields - wildflower gardens! No one's planted these, the seed is there in the soil just waiting for its chance.


It's just like Dick Gaughan and Robbie Burns told us in my last post:

 ....waving grain, wild o'er the plain
Delights the weary farmer

And with that thought I'll make my weary way back home and put the bike back in the shed.


Take care


29 comments:

  1. Thank you.
    Heart balm and solace at its very best.

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  2. How lovely. I'm glad you don't rush down the lanes like other cyclists and take time to appreciated the land around you. I also like the topical scarecrow:)

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  3. Lovely post John - love the scarecrows and the ox eye daisies. Up here in the Dales leaving field margins really isn't an option on many farms as the stone-walled fields are small in the first place. Can you please remind me what the pink 'feathery' flowers are in your first photograph - I have grown it in so many of my gardens but just can't recall its name (it will probably come to me in the middle of the night.)

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    1. I think they're Astilbe - at least that's what I call them!

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  4. It's a great thing, John, to be so close to areas that evoke fond memories from your childhood. So many of us have moved away from our natal turf we no longer have that pleasure.

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  5. The natural landscape around your home ... photogenic. Looks like a painting. Greetings from Indonesia.

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  6. your agriculture fields loooks lovely

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  7. The countryside here is similar. A hill is an oddity. I love those scenes looking out over the rolling hills, fields etc. Beautiful. And don’t get me started on the thatched roofs.

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  8. One of the advantageous practices some of our farmers are using now is no-till. They will grow corn one year and then the next year plant soy beans between the harvested corn rows. It saves lots of energy - no plowing, harrowing - and helps to preserve the texture of the soil.
    Big skies are great.

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  9. I love your shots of the landscape! Such big skies!

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  10. Such a beautiful bike ride through the agricultural landscape there. It really is so lovely, yes even without mountains and waterfalls. How wonderful that these scenes are the backdrop of your memories.

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  11. Good for you to stick to your ideas about what landscape to choose for photos. I have lived my whole life on the western Canadian prairie. Excellent photos.

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  12. Living in a rural area is indeed a delight this time of year, and thanks to the rain everything grows well. We also enjoy the views on the farmlands in our region of the country. Thanks for a great series of photos John.

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  13. I understand just how you feel about your own patch of land, the place of your birth. Mine was Derbyshire so hills and valleys have always played a part in my heritage.
    It is great that the weather does finally seems to be on the turn again.

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  14. It’s nice to see the peaceful countryside of England and the cheerful scarecrows at work on the farms.

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  15. Beautiful photos, John. I enjoyed the wonderful tour you gave us.

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  16. Reminds me very much of where I grew up, in Aroostook County, Maine. Very beautiful - thanks much.

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  17. When I visited the UK a long time ago, I loved the quality of light in East Anglia - unlike any other place and strangely reminiscent of Australia. Thank you so much for your tour.

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  18. Steeple Morden is where my father was stationed. Thank you for the photo of the place. I meant to see it when I was over but never got there. I am amazed by the poppies--I always thought they liked hot dry conditions, but they seem to be all over the place in England! The sky is stunning in your photos, John.

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    1. Those three huts and some bits of concrete road are all that remains of the wartime base, Sue, though there is a fine memorial which I think you've seen a photo of. It's been a good year for poppies.

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  19. Lovely countryside. What is the pink looking crop in photograph 9?

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  20. You are right these landscapes are as good or better than mountains and waterfalls. Your landscapes, skycaps and traditional houses are just lovely.

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  21. Hi John - stunning views and thoughts ... love the tractor and its driver - fun to see. Gorgeous part of the world ... thanks - Hilary

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  22. What beautiful landscape one after another! This post is like a song in love and praise of your birth place. Love the life-size scarecrows.

    Yoko

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  23. Oh my, such beautiful photos. I just love all the open sky shots. And that area full of daisies and poppies, oh my. I wouldn't mind a yard full of them! I love these types of photos so much more than what you find in the galleries. Thanks for bringing me along on your bike ride. Enjoy your day, hugs, Edna B.

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  24. So many of these scenes are definitely worth a'painting John, gorgeous landscapes. If the edges left untouched bloom like this naturally, leave them untouched I say 🌸🌼💮 As always I enjoyed my walk in the English countryside 💙

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  25. Beautiful photos, a real treat for my eyes this grey Thursday afternoon, especially as I've not got out for a walk myself for some time.

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