Tuesday, 4 September 2012

A Busy Ol' Summer

"Combines" drone across the East Anglian prairies as the long summer days diminish by degrees.  At sunrise Broadland is shrouded in morning mist and at sunset a chill pervades the evening air.   All these signs tell me   summer is rapidly coming to its end. 
 For me this time of year is always tempered with the slightest tinge of melancholy as the Swallows leave our shores and summer slowly fades away.    Very soon the rolling acres of golden stubble will be turned to brown by the plough and the entire county will melt from green and gold into an array of reds and browns.

Golden Stubble.

Looking back, summer has not been so bad in spite of the weather and quite productive even though good shooting days were few and far between.

By the beginning of  May we had finished a two part DVD set for the Aylsham Navigation centenary.  "A Wherry For Aylsham" and "The Aylsham Navigation".   The DVDs are currently on sale and raising urgently needed  funds for the fledgeling BNCT.  

On the North Walsham and Dilham canal work has been progressing at an astonishing pace.   The lock at Spa Common has been completely renovated and the lock gates have been built from scratch.  Both these items have been fascinating to watch and have produced some priceless archive footage.
Completed Lock at Spa Common
 At Ebridge the canal has been returned to its former glory and is teeming with wildlife.   I have never seen so many froglets at one time in my entire life.  The little critters were crawling over each other in their hundreds in the sheltered waters of the mill pool. This abundance of frogs will create a vital link in the food chain  - not the best news for frogs but it will please the Herons .   A Yellow Wagtail made himself at home on the dredger and a Kingfisher showed a great deal of interest as he sped up and down the renovated waterway, in a flash of iridescent blue.   It was at Ebridge that a (four spotted chaser) dragonfly kept me engrossed for almost two hours as it repeatedly skimmed the water and landed a few feet from the camera lens.  More great shots for the archive.

Further downstream  Briggate Mill and Honing lock are looking spruce and well cared for.   In fact the entire length of canal between Honing lock and Royston bridge has seen unbelievable progress which has been diligently recorded and safely stored.

A few miles away at WYCCT yard the wherry yacht "Olive" is undergoing some major surgery on the slipway.  My weekly visits have produced some interesting archive material.   Sister ship "Norada" was re-launched earlier this summer in time for her centenary year. Although the weather did it's best to spoil the day there was a gathering of wherries on Salhouse broad to welcome her back.
"Norada" On The Slipway

One of the highlights of the summer was the shoot on Wroxham broad,  I was invited as a guest of the Norfolk Wherry Trust.  The event was a celebration of the last Norfolk wherry to be built.  The wherry in question was the "Ella" now long gone - but not forgotten  -  sunk in Decoy broad some years ago when she reached the end of her useful life. Her skipper on that last journey, (Mr John Bircham) was among the guests. Five of the eight surviving wherries sailed into Wroxham broad in honour of "Ella"   Making a fantastic sight as they sailed in a loose formation around the broad.  It was a great filming opportunity which allowed me to capture some of my best wherry footage to date.
"Albion" Shooting Wroxham Bridge (Photo courtesey Chris Holloway)

Another highlight this summer was filming "Albion" passing under Wroxham bridge on her way to and from Coltishall where she was one of the star attractions of the BNCT centenary event.   In order to shoot the bridge it was necessary to flood the bilges to gain those precious inches of air draught that would allow her through.

 I am looking forward to Autumn and the softer light that comes with it and those sumptuous Autumn colours. 

If you would like to view clips of  the projects mentioned above click on the link below.


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