MiSC: Random Thoughts

Friday morning, and Teresa’s off to work, doing teaching stuff for one of the agencies she’s with. I believe she’ll be working somewhere in Peterborough today. Tiggy’s on the bed next to me. And I’m not due to leave for my teaching for a couple of hours. So I’ve some time to think, reflect, and jot a few thoughts down.

One thing I’ve been wanting to have a think about is freedom. Not just freedom of thought or action, but freedom from the potentially wearying sense of expectations, be they one’s own, or those of others, real or imagined. I think one reason I vastly prefer living out in’t sticks is because I find it easier to be free of the burdensome sense of societal expectations here.


Yesterday, thursday, was – under my current dispensation (having recently given up my teaching in Bishops Stortford) – a day off. And having several books on the go, I wanted to find somewhere outside the home to go reading. Tuesday I had discovered the joys of Welney WWT as just such a perfect place, so I resolved to go there.

As often as I can, at present, when time allows, I’ll go out into the garden, and take a wheelbarrow or two (or more, if there’s lots of time), fill it with bricks and rubble – our garden is a mammoth project, esp. what with previous owners appearing to have smashed up and buried several outbuildings in the garden – and ferry them to the local dump, in the inevitably small batches that the boot of my poor little MX5 constrains me to.

So I gathered up my books and my iPad, donned some heavy working gloves, and set to work loading up the boot with hardcore…

No, no, no… not that type of hardcore…

Stopping off at the local PO depot to pick up some packages that I’d missed when out working wednesday,  I made my way to the local municipal dump, where I enjoyed smashing up some bathroom sinks as I emptied my car boot of broken bricks. Filled up at Tesco with petrol, and headed to Wisbech in search of a quick bite.

So far so good. But the trip to Wisbech wound up being ‘epic’, in the dullest and most tedious sense of that word; no idea why – roadworks, probably (East Anglia is lousy with ’em at present!) – but the traffic on the B198/Cromwell Road was appalling. It took 15 mins to get to the outskirts of Wisbech, and then 20 mins to get from there the less than one mile to the industrial estates where KFC and McRonalds are.

B198, Wisbech
Screenshot of Google Earth’s street-view of the B198, at a less congested time.
KFC's Dirty Louisiana
KFC’s Dirty Louisiana… mmm!*

The former, it transpired, no longer do their Dirty Louisiana, which I was rather partial to, so I bought cheeseburger and fries from the latter. But this whole ‘quick fix’ of fast food wound up taking bloomin’ aeons. Fivetunately for me I had time on my hands, as well as ketchup.

Lost in Space
Lost… but not *that* lost!

Next we come to the essence of what prompts this particular post: I got deliciously, wonderfully and semi-deliberately lost, by taking B-roads I’d never used before. One of the many things I like about such times is how the familiar local landscape can suddenly become an unknown foreign land, and produce the sensation of being a tourist at home. It’s also nice to be able to explore and get to know one’s own neighbourhood better.

For quite a while I was totally adrift, with no real idea – other than near Wisbech heading vaguely south-east – where I was. Occasionally I would drift through places I knew, albeit coming at them from different directions, some with such delightfully Fenny names as Three Holes, or Rings End.

The church at Welney.


At one point I stopped to ask a dog-walker where I was – Outwell, it transpired – and did they know which direction Welney was in. ‘About 15 minutes that way’, he said, pointing. And off I went, guessing my way along the indicated axis. And after a while, driving pretty slowly, frequently pulling over to let more impatient and local road-savvy traffic past, I found myself in Welney itself. Although once again coming at a relatively familiar place from a fresh and different angle.

Driving slowly like this, and almost aimlessly, no music, just the sounds of the car and the environment around me is, I find, really rather pleasant. At other times I’ve done similar things, but getting really into a particular CD, or enjoying an audiobook. But whereas those experiences can bring on highs of the epiphany type, the quieter moments can be just as joyful and intense, but in a much calmer way. And that, it seems, is my preferred MO these days.

Floods at Welney
Floods at Welney

I was half hoping that, what with some recent rain, the area around Welney might, as it sometimes is, be flooded. Indeed, the road there can be impassable, and is even shut off with gurt big metal gates occasionally. The perfect moment is when the water is just encroaching on the road, and the fields either side are flooded. It can be tremendously beautiful, driving slowly along that very winding stretch of the A1101, with stunted wind-blasted willows either side of the road, and sheets of water reflecting the huge fenland skies.

So I finally arrive at the WWT, my second visit in just three days. When we lived in Cambourne I went through a phase of reading and writing at the café at Anglesey Abbey. Could Welney WWT be my new haunt? The Anglesey Abbey centre tended to be very busy, and sometimes quite noisy. This WWT place is, by comparison, much calmer and quieter, which I definitely prefer.

Welney WWT
Crepuscule at Welney

I spent three hours there, reading several chapters of The Iron Marshal, and also having a look over The Dark Powers of Tolkien, by David Day. Both are free review copies, the first from Greenhill/Pen & Sword, the second from Amazon Vine.

I was the only person there on my own. Everyone else was in either a pair or a larger group. They all came and went, many having their lunch in the café. Myself, not being a paid up visitor to the centre, and being stony broke as usual, I was nursing first a tea, and later a latté. I had toasted tea cake with the coffee; £4.95 for the burnt offering and beverage… outrageous!!!

The key thing in all this was that I was free, and I could spend my day as I wished. And some of the most pleasant time was that in which I was temporarily ‘lost’.

* See my post about advertising. Needless to say, the real thing doesn’t look quite so good.

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