In the Cambridgeshire Fenlands I often stumble across defunct and discarded farm machinery, sometimes surfacing, sometimes sinking, like forgotten clusters of alien bones amidst fields of wheat and barley.
A Fenland house possessing all the pretension and self-importance of a full-sized house. I could see Dougal having a problem with the scale of this one… Is it small? Or far away? Who lives in a house like this?
The rotunda at Ickworth House near Bury St Edmunds.
‘Discover the flamboyant conceit of the 4th Earl of Bristol. A magnificent Italianate Palace in the heart of Suffolk’. Source: National Trust.
‘Flamboyant conceit’… well I guess we’ve all known a few individuals of that persuasion.
Adventurer’s Drove, Pymoor, Cambridgeshire
A few days ago, a fire all but destroyed the Corker’s crisp factory near the small village of Pymoor. Corrugated roofing and metal bars twisted and deformed in the intense heat; debris from the wood framed structure exploded and fell to earth in a meteor shower of charred fragments. The air was thick with soot and carbon as a thick black column of smoke spiralled upwards and drifted across the Fens.
Today, as I walked along Adventurers Drove the landscape had forgotten the recent conflagration and fully recovered its poise and composure.
Fish (fly-replete, in depth of June,
Dawdling away their wat’ry noon)
Ponder deep wisdom, dark or clear,
Each secret fishy hope or fear.
Fish say, they have their Stream and Pond;
But is there anything Beyond?
This life cannot be All, they swear,
For how unpleasant, if it were!
One may not doubt that, somehow, Good
Shall come of Water and of Mud;
And, sure, the reverent eye must see
A Purpose in Liquidity.
We darkly know, by Faith we cry,
The future is not Wholly Dry.
Mud unto mud! – Death eddies near –
Not here the appointed End, not here!
But somewhere, beyond Space and Time
Is wetter water, slimier slime!
And there (they trust) there swimmeth One
Who swam ere rivers were begun,
Immense, of fishy form and mind,
Squamous, omnipotent, and kind;
And under that Almighty Fin,
The littlest fish may enter in.
Oh! never fly conceals a hook,
Fish say, in the Eternal Brook,
But more than mundane weeds are there,
And mud, celestially fair;
Fat caterpillars drift around,
And Paradisal grubs are found;
Unfading moths, immortal flies,
And the worm that never dies.
And in that Heaven of all their wish,
There shall be no more land, say fish.
Rupert Brooke’s ‘Heaven’, composed in 1913
I think late Autumn and Winter are probably the best seasons for landscape photographers living in the Fenlands. I know that Cambridgeshire doesn’t have the dramatic landscapes of the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales or even the Trough of Bowland, but it does have something special.
At this time of year the landscape maintains a gritty and determined resolve. There is a complete absence of pretension and prettiness. The uneven roads and tilted telegraph poles, the isolated columns of tall trees, vast skies with fields stretching to the distant horizon makes me feel as if I have been cast adrift on an open sea.
John Clare: The Fens
There’s not a hill in all the view,
Save that a forked cloud or two
Upon the verge of distance lies
And into mountains cheats the eyes.
And as to trees the willows wear
Lopped heads as high as bushes are;
Some taller things the distance shrouds
That may be trees or stacks or clouds
Or may be nothing; still they wear
A semblance where there’s nought to spare.
There was a magnificent sunset this evening in Cambridgeshire and I captured the evening light on the River Great Ouse, not far from Wicken Fen.The sun had just disappeared below the horizon and the sky became a kaleidoscope of colour. The image was taken with a Fuji X100F on the Velvia film simulation setting.