Books, life the universe

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

The countryside

I was thinking about the Fens on the bus to work this morning. It was getting light and there was a mist over the fields like the start of an atmospheric film. What attracts me to this area is that it isn't full of chocolate box pretty cottages and tarted up fields and hedges. It is real down to earth working countryside. It's not pretty and to some people can be very depressing and gloomy in winter with all the damp fields and water filled ditches. I love it but then my ancestors lived here so I suppose you could say I'm rooted in the Fens.

At the weekend I had an e-mail from someone who'd seen my web site and wanted to know how work was getting on with the new multi-million pound pumping station I'd mentioned at St Germans near Kings Lynn. As I didn't know - having not thought about the contents of my web site for quite some time - I did some web surfing and found an excellent site maintained by the developers This has to be one of the best web sites I've seen for any sort of construction work in progress and photographs are posted regularly and frequently.

How this low lying marshy area is kept from sinking back into the morass it was at the time of Hereward the Wake fascinates me. It's a partnership between man and nature which seems to work because man never takes nature for granted or assumes he has her tamed. The internal drainage boards with such names as Black Sluice, Middle Level, Witham Fourth etc are quietly working away in the background making sure we are not walking around up to our knees in water for half of the year.

These days all the pumping stations have two sets of powerful pumps - one diesel and one electric - and they're computer controlled though people are still essential to their smooth running. During periods of heavy rain when all the pumps are going staff can be working very long days. The drainage board employees are the unsung heroes of this area in my opinion. They make it possible for all the vegetables which are grown round here to thrive.

During my journey to work I was also thinking about the Fen Slodgers - as people used to be called. This was because they used to get about on stilts through the marshy ground and I suppose the noise they'd make would be similar to the sound of the word. I wonder how many people fell in before they mastered the art of stilt walking!

Back to books tomorrow before I put off all my loyal readers!

No comments: