Monday, 29 September 2014

An Estate lake in the land of flint & brick.

Last Friday, early, I drove to the land of flint & brick that is North Norfolk. I exhibit in a gallery there so its a pleasure to get the opportunity to visit this part of the world several times a year. Its such a contrast to where I live & as they say, a change is as good as a rest. After delivering some paintings & a frame for a painting to the gallery I spent the rest of the afternoon pottering around antique shops in & around Holt. As the shops started to empty of customers for another day I decided to have an explore of an old Estate lake a few miles away. This is my account of the hour I spent there.

Not having much time in Norfolk on this visit, knowing that come tomorrow morning I will be heading West back to Wales & home, a land of hills & forested valleys, of mountain streams & wild ruggedness I thought that perhaps a wander around an old Estate lake would be the perfect thing to do for the last hour of daylight. I'm glad I did.

For much of the afternoon I had meandered my way through the myriad of narrow country lanes & at each corner or edge of field Wood pigeons would clap circles into the air as they rose on furious wings, sounding like the last sweet in a paper bag being shaken. Pheasants too, smart & dapper with cheeks blushed scarlet & plumage echoing the changing season & of course in the fields between the furrows, Partridge round & pudding like, & the occasional glimpse of a Hare.
As I stood at the head of the drive leading to the Estate a familiar feeling, an instinct, a sense took hold, one of timelessness or stepping back into another era. Walking over the imaginary threshold I could feel the history of the place, of the lives lived & past times layered thickly all around for anyone sensitive enough to attune to them. I'm not saying that I am one of those sensitive souls who can see or sense things from times past but I do feel the weight of history in places like this, its a certain feeling thats hard to put your finger on but you know it is there.
Down the drive & to the right I took a narrow path which skirts the lake. Here it is wooded & smells musty & of Autumns decay. As the sun is low it is shadowed here, the lilies glazed in cool blues & scattered with the first of this seasons decaying leaves, like chilli flakes on pizza.
The Autumnal sky reflected in the shaded end of the lake.

The shaded end of the lake where the lilies are scattered with leaves.

I adore being by lakes like this as it allows the imagination to go somewhere, to go beyond what can be seen, to imagine the wondrous creatures that live within its depths. A few years back I walked around this lake for the first time & I know that fish live here. The lake is weedy & rich & shallow. I walked & watched Carp, long & lean, flanked with bronze & as they sped through the shallows, their broad backs would break the surface, sending out bow waves as they cut through the water like torpedoes. Glimpsed through the medium of water a Carp takes on a blue, purplish hue & because of the angle & nature of its liquid home, its depth is diminished, instead appearing long & narrow. Back then on my first visit it was the middle of the day, bright & clear & hot. Not now though as the sun slowly sinks to meet itself in the cool waters. Peering into the dark water, silty & umber hued, bubbles rise but not from fish but gas I think. They are here though & not just Carp. How I would love to cast a line into this beautiful pool of water, watch a red tipped float tremble then slide under & connect to one of those magnificent scaled beasts that live within this watery world, & just for a moment gaze upon its beauty with wonder & awe.

Moving out of the shade into the sun.

Going through an old rusty iron gate I found myself in two things, a field & sunshine. I strolled along the bank where huge Willows weeped into their own reflections & where rushes cast long cool shadows over the water plants. The floating leaves & stems trembled & swayed giving a clue to the fish beneath, unseen or identified. Dragonflies hovered & darted about on gossamer wings like military craft on manoeuvres.

Cool shadows reach across the floating leaves.

Great hulking Willows dot the edges of the lake.
As I turn & head back to the drive, what seems like a zillion insects take to the air backlit & haloed in the golden rays of the setting sun. Everything is green gold & rust & dazzling. The day has been warm, unusually warm for the time of year but I sense the change about to come as I reach a small stone bridge halfway along the drive & over a small stream that runs alongside the lake. Here the world is green again, moist, rich & the scent of earth & decay hangs in the air. Looking towards the sun, now sinking to its bed until tomorrow I notice that someone has left a small group of five conkers upon one end of the stone bridge. Its a case of being in the right place at the right time as I enjoy the serendipitous nature of my find, admiring the way they are arranged so perfectly for this time of day, with a gap between each & the shadows long & fat. A conker version of Stonehenge. The warm sandy textures in the stone revealed as the last of the suns rays rake across the surface. The conkers rich saturated burnt sienna tones, shiny & smooth.

Beautiful conkers all shiny & smooth.

Conker Stonehenge.
Just seeing conkers again always takes me back to childhood. Memories of conker fights with knotted shoe laces, bruised thumbs & the conker shrapnel all creamy white & rich brown, scattered over the playground after a defeat or the flush of pride when ones conker survives to live another day or even better, becomes an all conquering conker & gets to retire intact, to live on a shelf in your bedroom as a champion conker.

Looking up the driveway the suns rays are quite low & have an almost unearthly radiance, the way they filter & cascade through the foliage, soft & hazy. The leaves coated in liquid gold, each edged in magic. Insects dance in the light & as I stand upon the stone bridge to get a better viewpoint I cannot help noticing that the air around me has taken on a distinctly cool & damp demeanour. As I take photos I feel that I'm not alone & although Squirrels scamper about at the top of the drive, around me is silent, not a rustle or the tick tick of a Robin that I would normally expect at this time of day. Something else is here, a presence of something or perhaps someone. Maybe a gamekeeper from times past still doing his job & keeping an eye on me. As I watch columns of soft mist rise from the damp woods to my right, drifting across in front of me, illuminated by the dying sun I smile to myself as I often do to when confronted by the sights that nature offers us.

What wonderful colours we get at this time of year.

Insects dance in the fading rays of the sun.

Beautiful golden Autumnal light.

The drive of the Estate bathed in the last of the suns rays.

Its time to go & as I walk back up to the entrance of the Estate along the drive I stop to admire & photograph a beautiful Spider in her web. On reaching the road outside It feels like I have left another time behind me & am once again back in the present. What a lovely afternoon though & I think i'll let that beautiful spider with legs of glass & amber have the last word.

Upon my web with my legs of glass & amber I let the suns last rays nourish my soul.

                                                                             The End

1 comment:

Mike Woodcock said...

Lovely piece David. I've been stuck indoors the last couple of weekends, decorating and such. You've just reminded me that I must get out again before the weather changes.