Saturday, 28 February 2015

Travels in East Anglia

Yesterday I jumped on a train to visit a friend I haven't seen in ages.  The first part of the journey is on one with just two carriages. The second station it goes through is home to the East Anglian Railway Museum, so you never know what you're going to see on the track next to you when it stops there. I was very chuffed one time to see 'Captain Sensible' (in locomotive form...)

Nothing quite so memorable this trip but I take the opportunity to point my camera through three sets of windows as we pull up next to one of the exhibits.

And I like this logo.  You can't go wrong with a dragon red lion! (thanks, mondoagogo)

The view from the viaduct always thrills me; it's the height, you see – don't get many of them round here. It's about 80ft up and I love the way the houses below look like little models.

The train continues through the flat fields... the clouds give a real sense of distance. Gorgeous day, isn't it?

A few minutes later I'm on another train - four carriages this time.  We pass through Colchester.

What can I tell you about Colchester?  It's meant to be the oldest town in Britain, and in Roman times it was their capital here. It has a medieval castle, a zoo and a garrison and was also once home to Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon. Many many years ago I saw Joe Orton's play 'Loot' in Colchester - very good it was, too.

I take a few snaps as we make our way through more flat fields...

... and abandoned industrial areas.

My train journey finishes at Ipswich, where I walk across the bridge over the River Orwell towards the centre. I don't know this city at all and find its simple unfamiliarity oddly exciting.

What can I tell you about Ipswich? It's another one of England's oldest towns, home to the Tractor Boys (not a band but Ipswich Town Football Club).  Nik Kershaw once lived in Ipswich... as did a band I recall hearing on John Peel back in around 1980 I think, the Adicts:

Do you remember them and their Clockwork Orange look?

Anyway... I find my way to an old street and into a sweetly-scented gift shop, above which is a small art gallery, where my friend greets me. There's a sign at the bottom of the stairs warning that some of the work on show is not suitable for children...

I really enjoy looking at my friend's creationsand I'm so pleased to see them on display:

Then we walk down to the waterfront. It's a somewhat schizophrenic place; perhaps the same could be said about every city. The bright white yachts on the sparkling water are photogenic enough but other sights catch my eye more.

We have lunch in a quayside bar, watched over by this chap; I've no idea why he's there...

...and enjoy catching up on life over chips and a pint of Black Horse Stout from the local brewery, which the barmaid tempted us to try, because we'd asked for Guinness.  It tastes just like Guinness.

As the afternoon draws to  a close I decide to catch the bus home so I can enjoy a different journey and views from the top deck.  Parts of Ipswich's outskirts are grim.  In the distance I notice an end of terrace house with large words spray-painted across its grey wall 'KEEP AHHT! GUARD DOG'. The phonetic spelling makes me laugh but the thought of living next door has me shuddering. Then the bus swings out into open countryside again and I spend the next hour hanging onto the yellow rail as it lurches around the tight bends. I try to take some photos but not very successfully - this old barn looked more interesting from the other side.

I wish I could have captured the rotting exoskeleton of the old coach I noticed in someone's back garden, and the llamas too - we have lots of llama farms round here - but I wasn't quick enough, or steady enough, with my camera.  Never mind, I just love looking through the windows.

* for more info on the artist whose work I've shared here please email me


  1. Lovely post and photos. And words.
    Swiss Adam

  2. That's a lion, not a dragon! Lovely post, though, I especially love
    the octopus and the peeling pipes.

  3. Many thanks - glad you enjoyed. Mondoagogo - d'oh, of course it's a lion! I don't know why I said dragon, I think I'm away with the fairies today!

  4. Quite splendid journey around a part of the world I know very little about. Some fab photos there, C - the sense of dereliction in a couple of them is particularly enticing. I'm envious of those big skies you get over there. Your friend's artwork looks intriguing. Thanks for taking us a along. BTW, I was reading 'Akenfield' the other day and a 'crinkle-crankle' wall gets a mention. I thought you'd made the name up!

    1. Thanks, SB - I'm finding pleasure in looking for the extraordinary in the ordinary somehow. I've always been an avid observer, happy to stare out train or bus windows for hours with no other distractions, but snapping away with a camera now gives it added dimension too.
      I haven't read Akenfield - I should, Ronald Blythe was born in the next village to here, and educated in my local town. I'm glad he could prove the crinkle-crankle wall!
      The big skies are lovely - but I envy your big hills!

  5. Thanks for letting us tag along on your excursion, C. I love the photos - particularly intrigued by the ones that show reflections from the train's windows. Your friend's art is very interesting and thought-provoking. I had the same thought as you did after reading the sign placed by those (likely) neighbours from hell.

    This is what I was trying to say in my email - in the U.K., you can hop on a train (or bus, I suppose) and, in as little as an hour, have a mini-adventure in the countryside or a small village or even a larger urban area. (I could weep, I miss it so much!) So, thanks again for sharing your lovely day!

    1. Thanks, Marie, happy to give you a little reminder of this part of the world. On one of the photos I took of the adjacent train, when I got home and uploaded it I thought I'd captured the image of a ghost. I was amazed. It looked like a man sitting in the seat, leaning forward, but for some reason he had no shirt on so he had pink-coloured flesh. I knew the train I'd photographed was ancient, and certainly empty. Weird. Then I realised... oh... it was the reflection of my hand taking the photo!

      Indeed, Friday's excursion was my little adventure! (and I don't get out much...)

  6. A lovely set of photos C. You even make parts of Ipswich look quite nice - no mean feat! Your friend's art looks very interesting, the kind of stuff I really like.
    As a matter of interest, not long after my family moved to Ipswich in 1975, I took a dozen black & white photos around the town and waterfront as part of a school project. I still have the photos and have often thought about trying to take a comparison photo from each spot again today, as there have been so many changes over the years. Your post and its wonderful images have rekindled my enthusiasm for the project.

    1. Thanks - I thought the pics would resonate with you! Ipswich seems such a mixture of old and new, ugly and beautiful, like most cities I suppose - but I know it has a pretty crappy reputation. Your photo project idea sounds great and I'd really like to see how things compare. My friend grew up in Ipswich and was telling me about the dock area, how gritty and hard it all once was, so different to how it is now with all the expensive yachts owned by people who don't actually live there... and the university campus on the waterfront.
      I'm so pleased you like his art - they have a 3D quality that these two photos don't really do justice to, but they're great pieces. On show in St Peters St 'til 7th March.

  7. Brilliant. I've never been to Ipswich (though I feel you've taken us all there now) but I remember the Addicts along with a few other Clockwork Orange-type bands such as the Violators and Blitz. Favourite photo from your set is the one of the waterfront area and the dilapidated iron posts and girders. The lack of people in your photos gives Ipswich/East Anglia an almost haunted look so perhaps that's not actually a reflection of your hand?

    1. Thanks very much, John... oh yes, you've reminded me too about the Violators and Blitz.
      I hadn't even thought about the lack of people in these photos and, considering it was a Friday lunchtime, with bars and cafés open, the waterfront area was particularly quiet. I think it has a bit of an identity problem!
      It does all look a bit haunted, doesn't it? This is Witchfinder General country too...

    2. Yes, it is Witchfinder General country isn't it. I hadn't thought of that. I reckon they're missing a trick down there. Rather than Humphrey Bogart in the window they should have Vincent Price in his full witch hunting regalia. It might raise a few eyebrows but it would be culturally more significant and might attract a few tourists. Down here in Devon, by the way, we still get a few practicing witches out in the fields on certain nights and there are still some old signs up outside some of the villages warning witches to stay away if they know what's good for them. Honestly, it's another world down here...

    3. Haha, I love the idea of Vincent Price's Matthew Hopkins doing a bit of window-dressing.
      I'd like to see some of those witch warnings in deepest Devon! It's a good few years ago now but I've enjoyed a few visits to the Witchcraft Museum in Boscastle (ok I know it's Cornwall, but if we're talking West Country witchcraft!) and some of the things on display there certainly fire up the imagination....

  8. An interesting bunch of pics C, I had nephew and friend staying recently and he is a Police photographer, they both have top of the range cannon Cameras and took pics all the time. I is a different class of pic, I must show some they are so professional and they seem to be able to catch momemts.

    1. I'd love to see them some time, Old Pa! Nice to see you back too, hope you and family all doing ok.

  9. These pictures are a delight ma'am. More of these anytime.

    One thing though...out is pronounced awwut not ahht. :)

    That was my favorite detail.

    1. Ah, thanks, glad you liked them - I've started taking my camera everywhere with me. Only problem is, I hardly ever go out. I mean *awwut*... :-)


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