What more attractive sight after a winter walk along the towpath than the traditional British Pub.
The whitewashed walls reflect in the water, and the weeping willow seems to invite us in as it swoops low over the narrow boats moored to the river bank.
Although it is a cool day, the sun shining in the pastel blue sky make it warm enough for us to consider sitting outside to contemplate the British countryside over a pint.
There is a lot of very important architecture out there in the world, but also some that would never make it to any list of buildings that have to be saved. Sometimes, a building is just old.
On a street in Ely, Cambridgeshire, England is this house. Once, someone decided that this old cottage would look good with a fresh coat of paint. But that was a long time ago, and the bowed front shows signs that the paint has peeled, and is dirty, and along the side of the cottage weeds are growing on the wall.
And yet, this is a solid and interesting cottage, with classic lines and a long and happy history seeping out of its walls.
Maybe it would not win any awards, but it is a place that could be called home.
Sometimes we need a reminder that Mankind has been around a long time.
High on the cliffs above Hunstanton in Norfolk, England stand these two buildings.
The builders of St Edmund’s chapel in 1272 must have considered that this was the pinnacle of human achievement, as must the workers who proudly erected a lighthouse in 1844.
Yet today both have become tourist attractions, something for the visitor to admire.
But maybe we can sit a while and contemplate the broad sweep of history, and our place in it.
As we cycle along the North Norfolk Coast, our route takes us inland across pastureland, and then to a small pond, where we see a single horse standing looking eastward.
We get closer and stop, but the horse remains motionless and seemingly intent on some far off vision. We notice that he is standing by the fence that comes down to the pond, as if his intention was to go further, but his movement has been stopped. His gaze never moves, his stance never alters, only the occasional twitch of the eyes gives away that there is some part of him that is aware of our existence.
This image is strangely haunting, speaking of far off memories and imagined locations far from this peaceful scene. A good time to contemplate our life and our journey.
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Walking along the riverbank, we pass all the working fishing-boats, and then, just outside of the port, we come across this boat, high on the grassy bank.
Even though the boat is abandoned and rusting, we can tell it was once a powerful little craft. We can just see that it has been tied up forward and astern, although the growing grass tells us that it has been some time since the river tried to float this craft.
But rather than being sad, the image somehow makes us smile – this is a good craft, we seem to hear, once much used, and now resting its way into retirement, as it rusts its way into the riverbank.
This scenic view draws us down past the Old Barge Inn on the left, along the riverside cottages, and into the tree line in the distance.
We imagine ourselves going into the Inn, and meeting the locals who have tales to tell of the way life used to be “in the old days”. Hearing them talk, it would be easy to recreate in our minds the bustle of a time when working barges moored here on their journey to London.
But for now, all is still and restful, allowing us a moment in time to stand and reflect.
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It is a warm and sunny day, and we are feeling happy and content as we walk through the graveyard.
There in front of us is a monument in the shape of a boat, and, intrigued we go to look more closely. The inscription speaks of a terrible storm at sea, and many lives lost.
Suddenly the pleasantness of the surrounding countryside is thrown into stark relief by this reminder of the darker side of nature. Despite the warmth we feel from the sun, we are reminded of the cold of the sea that these souls succumbed to.
We carry on with our walk, but a part of us stays here by this reminder of harder times.