Mrs Weir and I were due to be back up in the North this week, however as we’re not as blindly confident as the government about how things are working out post lockdown, we decided to cancel our plans and made the decision to remain in the county of Norfolk, which to be frank is not exactly a hardship.

As a result of this it’s given us time to investigate places closer to home that we’d perhaps normally pass by on the way to locations further afield. This included (for me at least – Mrs Weir was less convinced of these particular plans) a journey along the A1101, apparently the lowest road in Great Britain – although don’t research that too thoroughly because it’s open to a certain amount of interpretation, that being the case Wikipedia claims it as such, so that’s what I’m working with.

The completists among you will probably appreciate the fact that the Society for All British and Irish Roads (SABRE), who have a website well worth a moment of your time, also states it’s the longest four digit A-road in the country – a fact that I am unlikely to use outside of this blogpost. 

In less upbeat news the A1101 has been categorised as a High Casualty Route, with signs along the road reminding you to ‘Slow Down – Take Care – Stay Alive’. Presumably the long straight stretches of road are what cause this particular A road to have such an alarming fatality rate, I can attest to the fact that it’s easier than you’d imagine to find your gaze drifting off towards the distant horizon rather than keeping track of the vehicles heading towards you.

It’s also one of the few roads that’s closed every year for a few days, or in more extreme cases weeks, when the Ouse Washes are intentionally flooded to avoid the River Great Ouse overflowing it’s banks, although not everyone takes notice of the closure signs.

In his excellent book on The Fens – Discovering England’s Ancient Depths Francis Pryor mentions the road in passing too:

“I gather that when the first astronauts orbited the Earth, two, if not the two, man-made features that could be seen from space were the Great Wall of China and the Ouse Washes. A cheaper alternative is to see them from the ground. You can get excellent views from the A1101, the Littleport to Upwell road, which, unlike many a fenland road, actually wiggles as it crosses the great Hundred Foot Washes between the new and old Ouse rivers.”

His assertion about what can be seen by those orbiting the Earth is largely disputed by the people at NASA, although given their involvement in the great moon-landing hoax* it’s difficult to consider them entirely trustworthy. So on the assumption that Francis rather than NASA is right I’m suggesting that on a clear day maybe the A1101 is visible too?

I travelled just over half of the 53 miles available to me on this first stage of the journey, turning home when I’d crossed over the New Bedford River at Welney, and while that’s not exactly Around the World in Eighty Days pace the earlier signage did suggest I slow down, take care and stay alive so the remaining miles will have to wait until another day. 

I’m sure that you, like me, can’t wait.

* Don’t worry I’m not a tin hatter.


Up

15Jul20

It’s always worth looking up.


Solstice

03Jul20

BLOG - Solstice

Thankfully the ability to travel a little further happened just before the summer solstice.

Leaving Mrs Weir to continue her admirable efforts to sleep, I left the house just after 3am to drive up to the North Norfolk coast and sit and watch the sun come slowly up. The weather forecast the previous day had been unclear on whether getting up at such an early hour was worth the risk, however I think the photograph above is evidence enough to confirm it clearly was. 

The summer solstice is always something worth celebrating, if nothing else for this letter that appeared in my local paper a few years ago (which for some largely unknown reason I kept a copy of). I wonder whether Mr Sells is still struggling to explain to his toddler about the concept of the ‘longest day’? (I’m making an assumption that it’s ‘his’ toddler rather than just a random toddler, although we do live in strange days.)

It simply isn’t

Why do you do it every year (Lynn News, June 21)?

Friday was the longest day you said. It is no longer than any other. You are not alone in perpetuating this misinformation. Try explaining to a toddler. 

Barry Sells

By e-mail


As restrictions on movement have eased (albeit because the government have decided to make decisions based on commercial rather than medical evidence) I’ve been venturing marginally further from home for the first time in months.

The initial location I chose for these (somewhat) extended journeys, was Ongar Hill. Thankfully usually free of people at the best of times, but particularly so on my early morning visit given that the flatlands had been enveloped in an early summer sea fret.

Despite the diminished views across the Wash I took the time to venture out onto the salt marsh below the seawall and walked out as far as I was able (which according to the map above resulted in me ending up some way off dry land). Always odd to be located in a place that feels quite so remote given the relative proximity of my hometown, but given how odd our everyday has recently been it was at least it was a good odd.


All Hail

06Jun20

After days and days of relentless sunshine (record breaking sunshine it seems) the weather seems to have decided to offer up something a little different over the last few days including even hail. Were my dad still alive and well we would no doubt have had a conversation about it, given his particular penchant for all things meteorological. And it’s almost guaranteed that he would have recounted the fact that even snow is perfectly ‘normal’ in June, given that on the 2 June 1975 it fell in many parts of the country interrupting a cricket match between Essex and Kent in Colchester, and resulting in a match at Buxton between Derbyshire and Lancashire being called off after an inch of snow settled on the outfield.

I do miss those conversations.


All About Eve

04Jun20

Having now watched the third series (sorry season) of Killing Eve, I’ve been as taken by the location captions as almost anything else about it.

This piece in the Guardian on the rise of “colossal captions” seems to suggest that their use has a somewhat mundane explanation in that they’re possibly a response to an increasing audience who is as likely to be watching on a smartphone as a television, so “in an age of small screens, it’s best to go big”.

Regardless as to whether the decision for their use in this instance is down to function rather than form I’m a big fan of this particular example, a typeface created for the show by graphic designer Matt Willey.


The Decision

04Jun20

So today marks twenty-four years with Mrs Weir, albeit specifically only four years with Mrs Weir as Mrs Weir (it never pays to rush these things).

As a man who has made some remarkably poor decisions over the years it’s good to be reminded that I did once make a spectacularly good one.


Lost At Sea

09May20

Although I’m extraordinarily lucky in respect of where I live (and who I live with) one of the things I’m missing more than anything else is the opportunity to stare out to sea.

I look forward to being reacquainted at some point soon (although if you’re reading this and also happen to work for Her Majesty’s Government not too soon eh?).


I’ve no idea what’s going on with my WordPress account at the moment, although I think it’s reasonable to suggest that the problems I’m experiencing are marginally overshadowed by events elsewhere. This should have been something like blogpost number twenty-two on what appears to be day number fifty (although mathematics isn’t my strong point so I may well be wrong). We’ll gloss over the treasures that you’ve missed in the intervening days, and yes I know you’ll cope just fine regardless, however given that my mental health is back on a somewhat even keel (for me) I’m going to continue posting at a slightly more relaxed pace and release myself from the race to reach the centenary mark.

Today it’s the turn of St Felix, specifically St Felix church ‘in’ the deserted medieval settlement of Babingley, and somewhat less specifically St Felix of Burgundy – the man responsible for introducing Christianity to the kingdom of East Anglia back in (or around) 636.

Over the years I’ve driven past the ruins of St Felix church out in the distance many hundreds of times, sitting as it does out in what I had assumed was a difficult to reach field that edges out towards the nearby coastline. However with time on my hands and a hope that landowner Baron Howard of Rising was otherwise engaged, I spent part of my weekend making my way through the overgrown edges of the surrounding fields and managed to arrive at my intended destination with relative ease.

As a child I recall rumours that building was a local black magick hot spot, however all I found was a largely unloved and slowly decaying church, badly fenced off and housing nothing but a nesting(?) pair of Greylag geese – who on my arrival exited hurriedly from somewhere in the remaining tower, in turn frightening the life out of me. 

Although St Felix is famous for introducing Christianity to East Anglia and guiding the region towards eternal happiness (albeit that’s still a work in progress), he’s perhaps better known (at least locally) for the story of his arrival to the area:

“it is said that when St Felix landed in East Anglia from Burgundy in 631 with the noble intention of introducing Christianity to the region, he arrived at the Wash and began to sail up the River Babingley which was, at this time, still navigable. Caught in a violent storm, St Felix’s ship floundered in the water and he was saved from drowning, so the tale has it, by a colony of beavers which guided him to safety.

In gratitude, the Apostle to the East Angles sought out
the chief of the beavers and consecrated him as a bishop
to thank him for saving his life”

from the people at Weird Norfolk

While it’s perhaps difficult to ascertain the success, or otherwise, of Christianity, the worth of beavers has been extensively checked and confirmed, and as result they have recently been re-introduced to the (relative) wilds of Norfolk once again. So if a latter day St Felix is headed this way to continue with his predecessors efforts then his arrival at least should be a safe one.

For further reference, and to remind me as much as anything, I was also able to add further context to my visit via a couple of books on the shelves here at Weir HQ. Firstly a short extract from The Buildings Of England – North-West and South Norfolk by Nikolaus Pevsner:

“St Felix. Said to be the place where St Felix landed about 636
from Burgundy and thus where Christianity entered East Anglia.
The present church is not older than the C14.
Like so many others in this part of Norfolk, it is ruinous.”

and then this from Bede’s A History Of The English Church And People – Book II Chapter 15, translated by Leo Shirley-Price (a book I have to be honest doesn’t get referred to with any great regularity):

“In this enterprise he was nobly assisted by Bishop Felix, who came to Archbishop Honorius from Burgundy, where he had been brought up and ordained, and acquainted him with his desire to preach the word of life to the Angles. Nor did he fail in his purpose, for like a good farmer, he reaped a rich harvest of believers. He delivered the entire province from it age-old wickedness and sorrow, brought to the Christian Faith and a way of life, and – as his own name signifies – guided it towards eternal happiness.”

And all this just a stone’s throw from where I’m currently sat. Not bad eh?


Normal Service

29Apr20

Again locked out of my WordPress account for a few days – I know that there’s nothing here of tremendous interest but it does seem a little harsh. Back tomorrow, access allowing.

 




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