The great Rochester Castle towers over the city of Rochester, dominating the skyline together with its inseparable twin, the magnificent cathedral. These two buildings have resisted siege and destruction for over 900 years, and are all that remain of this war-battered keep.
On the day I took this picture, it was impossibly cloudy. I drove 2 hours for a sunset photo, only to arrive in the bleakest conditions. To my astonishment, the front passed over the castle grounds just as the sun sank toward the horizon, creating a beautiful rainbow that linked these two ancient buildings together.
I love to explore. I especially love finding off-the-beaten-path locations that tourists rarely visit. Each week, I pick a different destination in England. Sometimes I close my eyes, and place my finger on a map. This week’s lucky winner was the sleepy village of Eye in Suffolk. Covered in cute thatched roofed homes and old churches, this village was straight from a fairy tale. My favorite bit was the church of St Peter and St Paul, pictured here. In this photo, I’m standing on the ruined ramparts of an old Norman Castle. Not much remains of this castle, but it does provide an excellent look-out point over the village.
The town of Eye derives its name from the Old English word for ‘island’ and it is believed that the first settlement on the site would have been almost entirely surrounded by water and marshland formed by the River Dove. In 1781 some workers dug up a lead box containing about 600 Roman gold coins dating to the reigns of Roman Emporers Valens, Valentinian , Gratian, Theodosius, Arcadius, and Honorius from the 4th century. This was the largest hoard of Roman gold coins ever discovered in Britain.
I hate waking up early. Always have. But if there’s one thing that will get me out of bed before the crack of dawn, it’s a sunrise photo. For this photo, I’ve been waiting several months for the sun to be in just the right position in the sky and for the weather to be clear. This morning was finally my opportunity to shoot Ely Cathedral reflecting in the nearby lakes. I woke up early (granted, only 6:30am but that’s early for me) and headed down to the footpaths around the lake. It was cold. Dark. Muddy. The weird things photographers do, eh?
This cathedral owes its existence to St. Etheldreda, who was queen and abbess of Ely. Etheldreda restored an old church at Ely, reputedly destroyed by Penda, king of the Mercians, and built her monastery on the site of what is now Ely Cathedral. After its restoration in 970 by Ethelwold it became the richest abbey in England except for Glastonbury.
I have traced my ancestry back to this city, and one of my great (great great…) grandfathers lived here and, being Catholic at the time, probably worshiped in this very church nearly 400 years ago.
Say hello to Kersey, a small picturesque village in the Babergh district of Suffolk. The district of Babergh takes its name from one of the old Saxon hundreds, referred to in the Domesday Survey of 1086. Although the name Babergh is not widely known, many of its historical villages are. The picture book villages of Lavenham and Kersey are very popular with visitors to Suffolk, and this area’s landscapes are made famous by 18th century painter John Constable.
Just recently, I read a study that said 24% of all houses in the Babergh district were built before the 16th century. The area remains largely untouched, and walking through the old village feels like walking back in time. There is a general quietness about this part of the countryside too. All one can hear is the distant sound of doves cooing, and an occasional resident walking through the snow.
It’s a magical place. You should visit sometime.
There’s something about snow that magically transforms the English landscape. Suddenly villages are quainter, cathedral are more majestic, and castles are grander. I love when it snows around here. I really do. Especially with photo opportunities like this all around.
But as much as I like how this photo turned out, I’m afraid my memory of this day will always be tainted by the traumatic experience in which it was captured. To reach the spot in which I’m standing, I had to hike through a large icy field. Little did I know that this field was actually a bog containing water up to my knees. I got stuck. I got stuck real bad. I was wearing the worst shoes you can imagine, and there I am standing all alone in this giant empty, icy field with my feet stuck deep in the freezing mud. When I managed to dislodge my feet, I realized my right foot was so cold I couldn’t feel it anymore. It was a solid, icy brick. I started to panic. I was so cold I could barely move, my foot was turning colors, and I was still a mile away from my car. Bad planning! Luckily there was a very nice man who approached me minutes later. He was also a photographer, out there with his tripod. And nice, warm boots. Smart guy. Dumb girl. He helped me put my shoes back on (because my hands were frozen), didn’t laugh at me while I cried there like an idiot in the field, and showed me the quickest way out of the field. After heating my foot in the car for an hour (a very painful process by the way), I was good to go. Thanks to the man who helped me, whoever you are. Thank you.
I wonder if this picture was really worth all that…
Yeah. I’m crazy.
Pictured: Framlingham Castle is considered one of the most important and beautiful medieval castles in the British Isles. It changed hands on several occasions and was at one time in the possession of Mary Tudor: here she waited during the summer of 1553 with a large encampment of followers, awaiting the results of the succession following the death of her brother, Edward VI.
I was out for an evening drive, looking for photo opportunities, when the road to Wisbech suddenly disappeared into a giant body of water. I had driven this stretch of road before; I remember seeing the landscape dotted with fences, horse gates and a few barns. But today, there was nothing to see but miles of water. It stretched across the road, and in both directions for as far as I could see.
I pulled over, and walked to the water’s edge. A few local families hovered around, and little kids in Wellies were splashing about. For the village of Welney, situated in the heart of the Fens, this is an annual occurrence. According to a local woman, this particular stretch of the A1101 (called the “Welney Wash”) crosses over part of a flood defense system. Its an area of several thousand acres that provides storage for floodwater that the River Great Ouse cannot discharge directly into the sea without overflowing its banks. The excess waters are held within the washes until tides and river flows allow discharge back into the river and the sea. This can take a few days or several weeks, and creates an difficult situation for the local villagers who typically use this road as the main route between Wisbech and Cambridge. Locals must drive an extra 30 miles to avoid the flooded road! As such, many drivers are braving it just to avoid the long detour. Seems pretty crazy to me! After doing a bit of searching, I found this video of two guys driving the road a few weeks ago: www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dXq8kl0bI8
Anyway, in this particular photo, a man is using the flood waters to give his car a bath! Meanwhile, a brave soul emerges from the around the corner after driving the entire stretch.