Thursday 28 January 2021

Misty Blues And Muddy Shoes

Raising the kitchen blind revealed that a sudden fog had enveloped the neighbourhood, making everything look strange and unfamiliar. As good a time as any for this morning's walk. Are you coming?

The sun has not yet arisen from its slumbers and the light has that magical blue cast which occurs at this early hour. Time then for some gentle, soft photos of the High Street and North End.

This won't last long so I'm all the time debating whether walking faster or slower is the best for taking photos. 

This mighty horse chestnut tree stands right outside where I used to work.

By the time I turn off onto the footpath that runs along behind the church the blueness is beginning to fade, but the mist will linger for a while yet.

This silhouetted tree with the fallen branches lying in front appealed to me for some reason on this particular morning. I must have walked past it more than a hundred times before!

The same with this group of trees, though the heavy overnight rainfall has picked out what may well be an old trackway across the meadow.

It was still misty when I reached the flood-prone meadow of Shepreth Moor, but I decided to take some shots of closer details like these floating grasses.

I've taken lots of pictures in the past of these sawn-off hawthorn stumps - and I added more to my collection, but I won't inflict them on you this time. Though I will show you a fallen tree that is covered with moss.

It's partly submerged by the water and the general dampness has brought out the colour in the swirling grain of the wood.

Yes, I got carried away and took several pictures of the woodgrain, including this little temporary rainwater pool which has collected in a hollow in the trunk.

Isn't moss amazing stuff? Like a forest in miniature. Just then I was interrupted by Harry.

Harry is a dog who, his owner explained, likes to come here and run up and down the fence beside the railway, chasing trains. He barked at me in the disapproving way that most dogs do when they realise that I haven't got a dog with me; not many people are out and about at this hour without a canine companion.

I extended my walk by taking the muddy track across the fields and beside farm buildings. Not very scenic but good exercise without too many picturesque distractions.

Take care.

Monday 25 January 2021

There At My Feet

Sometimes you scan the far horizon for something to photograph: at other times it's right there at your feet.

And if like me you nearly go base-over-apex within a few seconds of leaving your back door, you tend to keep a lookout for it for the rest of the morning.

Ice! It was on every puddle, just waiting to catch the unwary. They say that art often arises out of adversity, so I resolved to train my camera lens on its extraordinary patterns and see if I could come up with any interesting photos from my morning tramp.

I suppose I was looking for some kind of abstract images, though that implies that what you see is removed from observable reality and makes you puzzle about exactly what you're looking at. That won't apply here because I've already told you what they are - frozen puddles, every last one of them.

It was an overcast morning so I've had to give the pictures more contrast and boost the colour on some of them. But all the strange patterns were created by nothing more than the effects of sub-zero temperatures on muddy water.

The green patches on the photo above seemed to be caused by some kind of algae, but exactly what caused all the wriggly lines I cannot explain.


I was just on the look out for pleasing, or puzzling, patterns, but I'm sure some of you will find faces or animals lurking somewhere. I used to have that kind of imagination when I was younger but I seem to have lost it somewhere along the way!

It's an oddly addictive kind of photography and one on which it was very easy to get hooked as there is such a plentiful supply of puddles around at the moment.

And every puddle seemed to have different patterns, even when they were only a foot or two apart and lying along the same tractor wheel rut.

I suppose some scientists can explain just how all these patterns are formed. Even more scarily a psychologist might be able to tell you why I photographed some and let others go unphotographed!

Or indeed why anyone would take pictures like this at all!

Or, for that matter, why you'd be looking at them!

Anyway it passed a couple of hours of my time in a most pleasant way, and gave me a good appetite by the time I got home.

Take care.

Saturday 23 January 2021

A Watery Walk

A set of photos from a couple of strolls around the RSPB's bird reserve at Fowlmere, just a short distance away from home.

As most of you will know it's a regular haunt of mine, though at the moment it looks a little different as much of the wet woodland is wetter than usual, some of it very much underwater.

The main path around the reserve is mostly raised above the flood, though the woodland loop is, if not underwater, at least under-mud. The mud can be interesting though when it shows the tracks of the many Muntjac and Fallow Deer that make their homes here. We sighted both species in the flesh, including an almost white Fallow buck splashing through the reedbed.

As it's been a relatively mild winter so far, fungi are continuing to thrive on the sodden rotting wood.

Ivy grows on many of the trees in this part of the country and, although it can eventually strangle the life out of the tree that supports it, its evergreen foliage provides a warm winter refuge where many small birds hunt for insects.

Most of my other local walks are also very wet at the moment, some involving a good deal of paddling while others are deep with mud. The path here at Fowlmere has another advantage in these Covidious times of being designated as one-way, so you don't spend all your time dodging out of the way of oncoming pedestrian traffic.

And there are some gorgeous little corners to explore, like the little pool above which was opened up a couple of years ago by cutting back some of the scrub vegetation.

There are several trees on the reserve which have the strange shape of the one above; they seem to have collapsed in all directions as the ground gets regularly inundated every winter.

Mosses and lichens thrive too, anywhere they can get a foothold.

As it's a bird reserve you'd probably expect a list of birds seen, but there's been little of any great interest about on the last couple of visits, though on Christmas morning, when my brother and I went for a pre-dinner stroll, we spied a White-Fronted Goose on the meadow beside the entrance road. I knew they'd been seen elsewhere, but later learned that it was the first ever (!) sighting of this winter visitor on this particular reserve.

Take care.

Friday 15 January 2021

Houses - Private And Public

 .....and a few other buildings found along the way.

Just a few pictures of quaint cottages and other structures discovered during nearly ten years of blogging but which, as far as I know, have never seen the light of day before.

You are of course being treated to these pictures because I've not been venturing out much during the latest "lock-down" in this country. And to be honest the weather hasn't been very tempting either.

The Rose And Crown at Histon, photographed some years ago.

I think the house above stands in Castle Rising in north Norfolk. The house looks very much as though it's built from carrstone, a form of sandstone that outcrops in a narrow band running up towards Hunstanton. Wherever it occurs the older houses have that "gingerbread" look.

This little building is the cricket pavilion at Langley in Essex. For some reason the teams' changing rooms for cricket are always called "pavilions", however small and humble they may be. More importantly tea is also served there - cricket being the only game in the world that stops for for sandwiches, cake and a cup of tea!

Cottages like these are much sought after by people retiring to the countryside. Without this constant influx of people (and money) many of these homes would have fallen down long ago.

The evening sun here is picking out the pargetting, or fancy plaster work adorning the front of the building above.

I think these lovely roses were growing around a cottage in Barrington, which was also where the first photo in this set was taken. It's just three or four miles down the road from me.

Many cottages in this part of England have the upper storey partly contained in the roof-space under the steeply-pitched thatched roof. Some of the oldest of these dwellings would originally have just had sleeping platforms reached by ladders and conversion to proper rooms only came later.

I suspect the little building above, standing beside a farm, may have started out in life as a small granary, though probably just used for general storage today.

It's thirsty work whizzing all over the countryside like this, so you'll be glad to stop for a drink in The Poacher Inn.


Another strange structure that I'm not absolutely sure about. I'd guess it was once a dovecot; nesting boxes for the pigeons were placed around the inside wall and reached by a rotating ladder fixed to a central post. The recently hatched pigeons, known as squabs, were considered a great delicacy.

An ancient half-timbered house in the village of Ashdon.

You not only need a certain amount of wealth to buy one of these old houses, but you then find that constant repairs are needed. Thatch, despite its obvious charm, needs replacing every thirty years or so and is a fairly laborious process, as can be seen below.

(I meant to put in this link:
- a post explaining a bit about thatch. Thanks to Marcia for asking in a comment below and thus reminding me).

Take care.