Archive for the ‘Whittlesey’ Category

England’s Lost Lake a Review

 

 

Englands Lost Lake

England’s Lost Lake, The story of Whittlesea Mere.

 

 

The fen country was for centuries, millennia even, a vast expanse of open water fen and bog that stretched from the Wash inland to the higher ground to the North and West. It has been described as a vast sump soaking up and holding the water flows from those surrounding counties on higher ground. A map of Huntingdonshire dated 1645 shows towns and villages as islands amongst the bogs fens and open water. Although drainage had been started in Roman times it was not until the seventeenth century that the serious work began with Van Vermuyden as the chief engineer. Eventually the last mere left undrained was Whittlesea Mere; Paul Middleton’s  England’s Lost Lake tells the story of that nineteenth-century project updating an earlier work produced by the WEA in 1986.

It is an interesting read, detailing not only the draining of the Mere itself and the methodology but also describing some of the players involved. The way of life of those that had earned a living from the mere is explored too. We learn of the Reed Cutters, Wild Fowlers and those that fished the Mere. We are informed of how the different seasons provided other means of earning a living for those whose livelihood depended on this vast lake. Details are given of the wildlife, insects, flora and fauna that occupied the area. The species that have survived and those that were lost, some completely unique to the area.

One is left with the feeling that the project was not the overwhelming success envisaged and returning a good proportion of the fen to its past state was partly an act of expediency. This though is purely my own personal view. Whatever the reasons the Great Fen Project is something that those of us that love this landscape, welcome, a view I share with the author.

If you have an interest in the Fens and its history this is a book you should own.

One last point Paul if you are reading this can you tell me about the Shelerode?

This book was sponsored by the Fenland Trust.

 

 

Rudi Jennings

Rudi Jennings at Whittlesey Library

Rudi Jennings with his book The Last Myon at Whittlesey Library

 

A few weeks ago in August I had the opportunity to meet the author Rudi Jennings at Whittlesey library. Rudi is a local author living nearby in Wisbech, at present, he grew up near there. Writing  is fitted around running his pest control business. Rudi draws on his experiences in the personal protection service to give colour and to inform his plots. His first book The Last Myon has  been snapped up and published by Olympia Publishers, a truly remarkable result for a new author. A new book is underway, a stand-alone novel following on from his first.

I was able to ask Rudi how he writes and where his inspiration comes from The Last Myon or to be more precise its first few chapters were the result of a dream. His writing takes the form of, in his words pasting ideas on a storyboard linking the characters piece by piece until the individual characters and their actions form a complete cohesive story. A trip to Tesco’s provided the diversion needed to enable him to resolve a problem with his plot which had dogged him. I suppose, every little helps.

He writes as ideas come to him during the day, recording his thoughts on scraps of paper or emailing them to himself. Breaks and lunchtime provide Rudi with writing opportunities during his working day. Once home from work, the scraps of paper are collected then filed or pasted onto the story board.

Rudi’s first book is an interesting read, the characters we have been introduced to will no doubt grow and develop in future work. There is the implied promise of a series with these characters featuring in the world Rudi has created for us.

Keen that children are encouraged to not only acquire the love of reading and books but also stimulated to write themselves, Rudi has visited local schools to promote this message. He is hoping that children become inspired to record their thoughts, share their experiences and  tell the stories within them.

The Now Near Daily Weekend Treat

Before I retired and before our dog died from old age, the weekends, most weekends would see Sophie and I at the nearby Whittlesey’s Lattersey Nature reserve. Sophie was a lovely old girl with a lot of black collie in her heritage, a rescue dog, she was clever, loving and funny.

During the working week my wife would give Sophie her daily walk but at the weekends it was my turn. This man and his dog would wander round the two parts of the reserve, Sophie running around not normally venturing too far away from my side, except sometimes to unsuccessfully chase the odd rabbit. Now and again she would have a swim in one of the ponds but it wasn’t a regular event. Sophie’s death put an end to my weekend treats, her ill health had limited and ended them a while before. Having no reason to visit the nature reserve, I seldom ventured into its confines. Sophie’s absence was not only something we felt in our home but something more profound than that.

Sophie

Sophie our old dog

Just over a year ago my son and his girlfriend adopted a golden Labrador pup, Hugo. We participate in a dog share during the working week. Monday to Thursday, my wife and I look after Hugo. He is a character, about sixteen months old, still full of puppyish naughtiness and bounding with energy. Most days we go to the nature reserve for one of his twice daily walks.

Young Hugo

A young Hugo

We usually start on the right hand side of the reserve entering through the galvanised metal kissing  gate into the reserve. Before us a large field fenced on the right hand side to accommodate grazing cattle. We walk  along a mud track worn into the grass, to the left rough grass edged by trees, falling away into a dip. Moving down the track, Hugo enthusiastically exploring new smells, pulling on his lead his tail wagging constantly.. The grass, mainly uncut is often still  damp from the night the air full of wet leaved earthy smells. The field path ends at, the reserve’s boundary, marked by a hedge of Birch trees, Elder and Hawthorn bushes. The reserve is higher at this point, originally brick workings, then a refuse tip. Turning left, the track descends a slope then joins a raised board walk, about a foot from the ground which is prone to winter flooding. The ground is dry in the summer months the reeds and rushes flourishing. Alongside the slope are brambles their uneaten fruits available in the late summer and early autumn, an avenue of silver birch flank the board walk. The walkway follows the line of an old railway siding which had served the brickworks, broken willows decay amongst the birches, many perforated by burrowing Goat moth caterpillars. There is little audible bird song most is drowned out by the noise of vehicles at a gravel works and from the railway nearby.

The boardwalk in spring

The Boardwalk in spring

 

The boardwalk in autumn

The Boardwalk in autumn

The walkway planking is topped with wire mesh to prevent slipping, to our left is a pool of open black water, much of it filled with reed and rushes, these die back brown for the winter. A few red dragonflies skim about as we walk, one foolhardily lands on the decking in front of us, Hugo fortunately doesn’t notice it, he eats them. During the autumn around the boardwalk the leaves of the trees and bushes, are a riot of brown and gold.  Later in the autumn any greenery left is mainly from grass. brown leaves, predominantly hawthorn and birch form thick carpets in places. We leave the boardwalk ascending rough steps in the slope that are edged with old railway sleepers. Following another track through more brambles before ascending another set of steeper narrower steps back to near our starting point, then through the gate crossing to the left hand part of the nature reserve.

Ducks and Coots on the big pond

Ducks and Coots on the big pond

We enter by a kissing gate and descend wide  steps cut into the slope edged by old railway sleepers. This part of the reserve has a larger cleaner pond, another former clay pit, home to ducks coots and the occasional visiting Canada Goose. At times we have witnessed fights by both ducks and coots in the water. If there are no young coots or ducklings around, Hugo likes a swim retrieving the sticks I throw for him. When either he or I have tired of the activity we resume our walk round the reserve. There is no boardwalk network this side of the reserve just one across an area that becomes waterlogged in the winter months. The paths are of rough earth  worn into the ground through constant use. Leaving the pond area the reserve splits into woodland on the left and grass and scrub and bushes to the right. If the sun is particularly hot we stick to the shade of the woodland. retracing our steps when we reach the end before returning home. On cooler days we leave by a gate at the top and walk the long way home along the roads.

.

 

Whittlesey Wordsmiths

Lattersey Nature Reserve Whittlesey the walkway in Autumn

The walkway at Lattersey Nature reserve the beauty of this scene constantly changes with the seasons

Whittlesey Wordsmiths are fortunate to have within their ranks, two published authors, winners of fiction writing prizes, a very able editor/ proof-reader  and a talented biographer.

Set up under the Whittlesey U3A umbrella this local group meets monthly at the Scaldgate Centre in Whittlesey. Meetings are held every first Thursday of the month from 11am, anyone is able to attend a free taster session but will need to join the U3A to become a member of the group, the fee is £3 per meeting to cover venue costs.

At recent meetings we have been fortunate to have had presentations by two local authors on the intricacies of publishing a book, both in print and online. The talks were informal, informative and very instructive. Thank you Stephen Oliver and Stuart Roberts. Like many commonplace objects that successfully manage their function, we ignore the container, giving it little or no regard but delight only in its contents. In the same way that we ignore the jar the jam arrives in, caring little for its design, construction and functionality, so it is with a book. We care little for the printing unless the quality is so bad it makes reading difficult, little for the binding (unlike Samuel Pepys) but only on the written words within.

Publication, its details, fonts, layout, sizes, printing, copyright and a myriad other things, though only covered briefly, were for most of us a completely new field.

A current project is to produce a collection of work by the Wordsmiths in time for Christmas, these talks were a help in focussing attention on the job ahead. The content is being assembled with ease from the increasing pool of talent, that is the group. The hard work will probably be assembling it into a finished product, not the filling but the container.

www.mycancerand.me/

The highs, the lows and the bits in between.

Tessa’s poems

Poetry from a Septuagenarian

MattyAndAnnika.Life

MattyAndAnnika, husband and wife who love to bike and hike, and treat everyday as an Adventure. #AZBIKENHIKE

Nicholas C. Rossis

Award-winning, dream-protecting author

Nicholas C. Rossis

dream-protecting author

Linda's Book Bag

Loving books and reading

John Ager's Home on the Web!

reflecting my eclectic life

Stuart Orme

Historian, Folklorist, Writer, Re-enactor, Museum Professional. Follow me on Twitter: @stuartorme

Laura N Books

Book Blogger | Cat Mother

thedrabble.wordpress.com/

Shortness of Breadth

Elves Choice

Holiday Bargains & Recipes

Best Dog Training Tips & Tricks

Dog Training Guidance

Fenlandphil's Blog

A blog from the low country

So You think you've got problems?

The advice columns of two eccentric agony aunts who guide the bewildered of Britain through their personal problems,

Grumpy old fart!!!

"If you talk to God you're religious. If God talks to you, you're psychotic."

The Art of Blogging

For bloggers who aspire to inspire

How I Killed Betty!

The Diary and blog on How to Tackle Depression and Anxiety!

The Nerdy Lion

Lions can wear glasses too

Seriousgardener's Blog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

The Incomplete Verse

Here I share words and illustrations I discover on the journey within the crevices of my mind and the outside world. 💚

Dread Poets Sobriety

Irreverence's Glittering New Low!

MovieBabble

The Casual Way to Discuss Movies