Savouring what we have

Saturday March 4, 2006

The eastern side of Lincolnshire, from the Wolds to the sea, is essentially flat, reclaimed from the sea over the centuries, drained by shallow, meandering rivers and long, straight ‘drains’. The coast itself is an ill-defined affair in the main, the natural state of which is salt marsh, having the quality of merging with rather than outlining the sea. The roads tend to follow either the line of the Wolds or the waterways, avoiding where possible the difficulty of building bridges in soil conditions where heavy constructions tend slowly to sink into the subsoil. You have to dig down an awful long way here before reaching bedrock and the digging tends to be a very wet affair.

In hilly country, wheat was commonly ground in watermills, placed on the banks of swift-flowing rivers. Here in the flat lands, the job was done by windmills and unlike watermills which tend to have rotted away over the century or so since the latter part of the industrial revolution moved flour production into factories, many of the old windmills survive, derelict in some cases, mostly converted into characterful dwellings but some, grandly, surviving and maintained as museum pieces, often as tourist centres and tearooms.

We pass one such on the outskirts of Sibsey each time we go shopping. If our route takes us into Boston, as it did today, we pass a second, just on the edge of the town centre and close by the long river that makes for an uplifting drive, winter and summer. I’ve tried to photograph it several times but it’s difficult to get to by car and just that little too far from the place where I usually park for me to undertake the walk.

So today, as we drove along the river bank, I caught sight of the windmill, all sunlit on the skyline, and decided that a drive-by camera shoot might yield good results.

“Do us a favour and take a phonecam shot of the windmill as we pass,” I said. “I’ll go as slow as I can.”

“Right you are,” said Graham, pulling his phone out of its pocket and winding down the window in readiness.

Conditions couldn’t have been better and he got several shots in as we passed, all of which are good album stuff and one that is good enough to show around.


Windmill, Boston, Lincolnshire
phonecam photo


These phonecams are getting to be really rather good. Mine is poor, not that I find that to be much of a problem, but it refuses to commmunicate with my computer so I don’t tend to use it. Graham’s is startling, producing clear, well balanced photos that he can download to his computer with ease, and share with me over our home network.

It’s making me into a lazy photographer, I confess it. Instead of pulling my pencam or the Fuji out of my bag I’m far more inclined to point something out and get him to click it. Property ownership has never been a problem with us—we share just about everything we own and everything we do.

I’ll tell you something for free. Just as the digital camera has rendered the film camera obsolete for most people, so the phonecam is going to push the common digital aside and into the history books. Most cameras have been used by folks wanting simply to record their lives and the people in them, and to share the results. With the old film cameras it might be weeks or months before the film was finished and the results available. With the digital camera you can see and share them as soon as you can get to a suitable computer. With the phonecam you can send the pictures off to friends and family within seconds of them being taken.

The progression and its implications are clear.

And to think it all started with the Kodak box brownie. I’m sure there are still a few of those lovely old peer-and-click boxes about and in use. They do rightly belong in the museum, though. And, another bit of free information, I suspect that Kodak itself will join them if they don’t integrate with our digital, communications-led world pretty darn quick.

I don’t intend to jump on the band wagon anytime soon. Both my mobile phone and my digital cameras have a good amount of life in them still. I’m convinced, though, that at some time in the not too distant future both technologies will merge for me just as they are already doing for a lot of people.

It was cold out there in Boston today, though not so very much so as it has been and, when we got home and I opened the car door to step out on to the drive, I remarked that it was almost warm once more.

“They say it’s going to warm up now. We’ll probably start packing the garage stuff tomorrow.”

“Got to happen,” I said. “We can’t stay in this comfortable in-between state for much longer.”

“No, but it’s nice while it lasts.”

It is nice, too. If it were not for the spectre of a house move always hanging in the background, this would be one of the most pleasant interludes in our close to thirty years together. The days meander past, slow and easy, just like the Lincolnshire flatland rivers, and we are making the most of them.

Rivers may move slowly, but they do move, and one day soon now we’ll get to the point where our Lincolnshire days are effectively done and we shall have to turn our eyes inward and settle to the task of uprooting ourselves once more and take ourselves off to a new landscape. For the moment, though, I’m savouring what we have.

* * * * *

Following a lead, I discovered a new-to-me addition to my daily blog reading list today. Not a thing that happens too often. It’s John Baker’s Blog. While there I found good, solid, writing. I also found opinions clearly expressed and the progress of a deeply inquiring mind. Good stuff.



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