Welcome to the Gallery

Imagine is set in the Suffolk village of Long Melford.
This is an attempt to record the daily trials, tribulation and pleasure of running an art gallery.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

I must be one of the only people in the country that hasn't put pictures of snow on there blog,
well that's just about to change.
It did seem little point putting photographs on just to announce "we have snow", as at the moment it would be hard to find somewhere that hasn't any, well in this country at least.
It is strange to have it "white" so early [or late] in the year, but it does start to make sense of all the old fashioned Christmas cards that we are used to seeing.
"A white Christmas"?
Whatever next? "Peace to all mankind", somehow I doubt it.

So much as I was "itching" to take pictures in the snow I hadn't had a chance as I have been in the gallery with the heaters on full power, looking out at the winter landscape not being part of it.
That changed at the weekend.
The snow, while looking pretty is a mixed blessing. Yes, it looks very seasonal but it has put an end to Christmas shopping as so few people have been venturing out.
It has also caused some problems for us with travelling to the galleries, both here and to Irene's in Lavenham.
Neither are far away from home but with the country roads being unusable they might as well have been 50 miles away, as we were unable to leave home in a car.
However, there has been a growing list of frames to be made that has been slowly building up and I had decided that on Sunday I would go to Lavenham and get a few done.
They had to be done as people were expecting [with pictures] them to give as presents, so I decided that I would walk to the Lavenham gallery and get them done just in case conditions got worse.
The village of Lavenham is only three miles from our home and the journey shouldn't have taken too long but I decided to "speed" things up by walking cross country rather than taking the meandering lanes.
I wish that I hadn't, but I'm glad that I did.
The journey took far too long but it was a delight.

I walked out of our gate and proceeded directly into the fields opposite.
Although I have walked the route before this time it was so different.
I walked along the old wooded path that follows the stream that passes by our house, it was lovely to walk in the virgin snow, sheltered by a roof of trees but being able to hear and occasionally see the running water.
I came to an unsheltered part of the track where the stream was in clear view. This is an important location for the family as our old dog loved to sit here and bark while Irene threw
stones into the stream, with each splash he became more excited and would bark louder.
I couldn't help but imagine him sitting there in the snow, I'm sure he would have loved it.
Dogs do like adventures.

I continued on my own, walking through the snow, hearing nothing but my own footsteps,
apart from the occasional gunshot of course.
It seems that whatever the weather there are always pheasants "just asking" to be shot.
Eventually I came to, then waded the small ford.
This was really starting to feel like an adventure, everything seemed so much more romantic and dramatic than it would normally be.
In fact it seemed that I was incapable of walking 50 metres without taking at least 5 photographs, most of which I knew would be rubbish but I couldn't help myself, we don't often have snow.
I arrived at the pine forest, unfortunately my path didn't take me through it and I really didn't have time to spare to detour, so I passed on by and crossed the empty fields, empty except for
Crows and Rooks who so fitted the isolated landscape.
I walked through a small wood which resembled 'Narnia', pausing only to look at a frozen pool,
it was strange to think that only a few months before I had been tempted to strip and bath in it
on a rare hot summer day as I sat watching a Kingfisher dart from perch to perch.
Now it looked black and foreboding against the snow covered banks.
From the wood across a beautiful wild field [beautiful in any season], then into the "tunnel".
It isn't really a tunnel, but it is a tunnel of trees that runs for about a mile.
It was once the route of the old steam railway, before the "cut backs" of a previous era.
It was strange to walk this route thinking that once in a time before modernisation and good communications all of the small villages were connected by the rail.
Now they are all isolated and older people can only travel by the "once a day bus".
That's progress.
Walking along the disused track it was easy to imagine people looking from windows of the train carriages, watching the countryside pass by, and if they were young putting heads outside to watch and smell the clouds of steam from the engines.
As a child I used to be so very frightened of the big steaming monsters as they pulled slowly into the station.
So loud dark and menacing.
I used to put my head under my mothers coat until they stopped and the "hissing"had subsided.
Now, I miss them so, but walking the track I was once again that young boy, head out of the window, sniffing the strange smell of the steam.

Now the rail track was silent, silent, sad and very beautiful.
The tunnel before me illuminated by snow, and there in the far distance the circle of light
where the woods stopped.
The wood stopped but a steep hill beckoned. In fact it didn't really beckon it's just that I had no other choice, so puffing like a train off I set.

So it was much, and many pictures later that I eventually saw the distant church tower of Lavenham in the distance.

Oh dear!
I knew things were going to get worse, after all who can resist taking pictures of Lavenham in the snow?
No one. Including a local like me. It is so very pretty and at Christmas everyone seems to make a great effort with their decorations, it really seems like a place where Christmas does really exist.

I took pictures [too many to show], and yes I even completed my picture frames and then I had the excitement of returning home in the dark.
It's strange how nothing is a pretty, or as friendly in the dark and I'm sure the woods were longer, deeper and darker than those I had walked through earlier.
At one point I knew that I had heard hoofs on the track.
Images of Dracula's stagecoach came to mind, only to be swiftly replaced with images of
'Black Riders'.
Then they appeared.
Three deer ran across the track, then another four, then another two, then more.
Fourteen in total, silhouetted against the snow, any other night I wouldn't have seen them and in my imagination they would have remained as Black Riders.
The sounds of the deer, owls, startled pheasants and the "cawing" and flapping wings of the rooks I disturbed as I walked the wooded path made it all a memorable day.

I survived my "big adventure" and here are a few pictures to prove it, none of them convey what I experienced but maybe a lot of that was in my mind.
I don't want to do it too often, but for one day in my life it was good to be young again.


  1. Lovely country there, John. And you've the same coating on it that we have here on Cape Cod. Merry Christmas to you!

  2. Your top photo reminded me of the Frost poem, "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening." You are intrepid to walk 3 miles in the snow!

    Hope you and yours have a Merry and a Happy and many more! WOL8>)

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