Contrary to common belief there are many hilly areas in Norfolk. But there is in truth a lot of flatness in places where the skies can be viewed in their glory. A lot of places though the view is obscured by the tree lines - which make you feel a bit of a voyeur when walking a footpath and a gap in the hedge rows gives you a view. If you step back a bit the contrast of the hedge and trees frame this view very well.
Another dip-pen & ink and watercolour.
Yet another scene with Crows across the Norfolk sky - Dip-pen and watercolour
Yet another watercolour sketch of a Norfolk sky-line, and again it is the broads. This is the sort of sky and desolate place which helps you reflect on your life and your success and failures. Not so much because of the expanse which makes you feel small. But due to the loneliness which is bounced back at you. And everynow and then it is good to face this reflection and ask questions about your life, career - or job choices, your loves and marriage(s), and whether you should have waited for just that bit longer before committing. Why do your kids hate you - where they used to adore you? If you have never been out - just as night is falling - and faced a sky like this one, I would advise you to do it. I can't say that it wiill supply the answers - but it will start the questions.
There is a sort of buffer zone around some parts of the Broads where it seems few seem to tread. Well maybe because in parts the drainage isn't so great ansd it is the perfect area to find out if your boots have any holes - I often come home with at least one soggy sock. It is also because you can walk for ages towards an object in the distance - such as a Mill- and then find yourself cut off from preceeding by a huge drainage ditch. You then have to backtrack and folow another route. Like a sunken maze it can be very disorientating.
But it also feels like the farmers don't like to have a lot to do with these lands and seem to superstisuosly wait for their cattle at the gate rather than venture in to round them up. Whatever it is the birds always seem to know where they are heading. And as an evening draws in it is the perfect place to watch them flying in.
A typical sky full of Crows against a Norfolk Winter sky-line. Watercolour wash and dip pen and ink.
What is left of Neatishead Tower Mill - which is one of the few Mills still standing around Norfolk which was a dedicated flour and not a drainage Mill. Seems to have had a lot of various owners over the years and is very close to the Broads at Horning. Originally built in the early 1800's to replace a previous post Mill it was a bright red brick feature with Norfolk boat shaped cap with a petticoat, the sails turning two stones. Now painted to a black tarred finish - with a rusty green cap it is another point on the landscape who's annonymity invites exploration. It excites the imagination when you think of what went on there for the years it ran as a Mill and what larks and tragedies it has seen.
An interesting snippet from the Norfolk News of 6th February 1875
Wanted, an APPRENTICE to work in a Tower Windmill and go out with the Cart sometimes. Must be a steady careful young man.
Apply personally or by letter to Mr. T. Knights, Neatishead, Norfolk. An improver not objected to.
I wonder who they got in the end?
I have sketched this Mill a couple of times in the past and there are some good walks around the area.
Brograve Mill operated between 1771:and 1930 when it finally ceased working as a drainage Mill. Built by Sir Berney Brograve, 1st Baronet (1726-1797) the Mill has many legends associated with it and has also been known as the Devil's Mill. One of the legends as to how it got its name relates to a story about Berney Brograve being chased into it one night by the Devil. Apparently when he came out in the morning he found hoof prints in the wooden door where the Devil had tried to kick it down. However, the most likely reason the locals named it so was because it has a long running association with needing constant fixing and maintenance due to subsidence.
I have walked the circular walk from Horsey many times, which takes you past this derelict Mill and sketched and painted it from different vantage points. For yearsthe remnants of the sails have been used by Cormorants to sit and stretch and dry their wings. These, prehistoric style, birds add to the atmosphere of this once working Mill and of an evening it is an eerie place to linger.
There is something about a big Norfolk sky over a wide expansive area such as the Broads. It makes you feel introspective - and if you are walking alone (or dog-less) then this feeling borders on a heightened sense of lonliness. Which actually helps you put other things in perspective.
So - continuing the theme of Norfolk sky-line sketch with another view. Watercolour wash followed by a dip pen sketch of the tree-line against the sky.