Category Archives: photography

Full of festivals

Secret Garden Party Pirate Ship

It struck me today that Cambridge, in particular, overflows with festivals. Whatever your hyperspecialised desire, there is probably a festival that will include it in this town. I just got an email from the Food and Drink festival about their fundraising quiz, where you go and drink wine and eat cheese and try and answer insanely specialist food and drink questions in one of the beautiful medieval college halls. Worth doing it for the architecture alone, which is frankly wasted on undergraduates.

The image above of dawn breaking over a pirate ship is from the Secret Garden Party. It’s a kind of English-country-house-themed tiny Burning Man, part music festival, part theatre event that takes place over four days in the grounds of a Georgian country house outside the city.

The University culture means that more cerebral festivals are strong – we’re having a Darwin Festival in July to celebrate the anniversary, and there is always the Festival of Ideas in November, to mop up anything intelligent that hasn’t been covered to death earlier in the year. Also the science festival starts this weekend under the auspices of the university, which deliciously has guidance on some events “Warning, loud bangs”. And for grown ups we can “join the Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk, Professor David Spiegelhalter as he discusses ‘Statistics: can we sex them up without dumbing them down’. ” Telephone booking is now open.

A particular favourite is the Shakespeare festival – it takes place in July in various college gardens, and is again worth it as much for the architecture as the acting, although the standard is fairly high.

Edit: I forgot Cambridge Word Fest, which is booking now for April with a cornucopia of literary events and workshops.

Then there is of course all the music, so much music. The Folk festival, the Summer Music festival, the Rock fest (in association with a beer festival, naturally) and on. Put out more flags, it’s going to be a beautiful year.

folk-festival-imagesImages of the Folk festival by Arkadyevna on Flickr
If I’ve left any out of my list please do let me know.
Science Festival 9-22nd March – Science fun for adults and families
Cambridge Word Fest 23-26th April – Book events and writing workshops for all genres
Cambridge Super8 Festival 29th April – 2nd May
Cambridge Beer Festival 18-23rd May – Real Ale drinking
Strawberry Fair 6th June – Free festival of music, theatre, arts and crafts
Cambridge Comedy Festival 8-14th June – Live Comedy
Cambridge Shakespeare Festival June-July dates TBC  – open air shakespeare in college gardens
Pink Festival 09 date TBC – Gay open air music festival
Darwin Festival 5th – 10th July – philosophy, literature, history, theology art and music arising from the life of Darwin
Cambridge Fringe Festival 16 July – 2nd Aug – open access performance
Cambridge Summer Music Festival 17 July – 8th Aug 09 – world class classical music
Secret Garden Party 23rd – 26th July – music theatre performance camping
Cambridge Folk Festival 30th July – 2nd August 09 – world class folk music
Cambridge Rock Festival 6-9th August – Rawk and Beer
Cambridge Film Festival 17-27th September 09 (submissions open 1st March)
Festival of Ideas 21st Oct – 3rd Nov – explore more about the society we live in
Cambridge Music Festival 8-29th Nov – Serious classical music trienniale, commissions new work
flags_and_skyNB If you’re interested in reading more about art, design and culture in East Anglia, please do follow the blog to its new home at – you’ll find more posts on everything interesting happening in the area.


I’m escaping the mud season here to a much warmer place for a week – back with increased optimism that spring will happen* at the beginning of March.

Steve McCurry Srinagar - boat filled with flowersThis beautiful photograph of India is by Steve McCurry, who has made me completely overexcited about going with his beautiful, atmospheric images. I hope the real India lives up to his books.

*I am beginning to doubt it will happen, even as I sort seed packets and see the green stubs of the first spring bulbs

Edit: I have moved the blog to a new URL at These posts will remain here as an archive, but do come and join me for more current posts at the new blog.

Memories of the Norfolk Broads

I’ve just been spending time on a fascinating site, an archive of photos and reminiscences of the Norfolk Broads from the 1900’s to the present day.

For me the best part is the photo galleries from the 1930’s and 1950’s – the men in their one piece wool bathing suits, wearing sports jackets in the pubs. Otherwise not much has changed – the same pubs and landmarks in the same places, the ineffable joy of messing around in boats…

Also such fascinating ephemera as original invoices and provisions lists:

Norfolk Broads provisions order formThis is from the 1950’s when Dunham’s stores would deliver to your boat in time for your arrival so you could immediately set sail with your three quarters of a pound of typhoo tea, four pounds of tinned pineapple, six pints of custard powder and three pounds of jam and marmalade. Sounds like they had a sybaritic week in store…

NB If you’re interested in reading more about art, design and culture in East Anglia, please do follow the blog to its new home at – you’ll find more posts on everything interesting happening in the area.

Arctic blasts

It’s been a cold and chaotic week round our neck of the woods, but today has been beautifully sunny and the snow is retreating. I abandoned the plans I’d had to drive a hundred miles away and instead took a walk over the snow dusted fields to look at some big skies.

Definitely a week to stay close to home and enjoy the simple pleasures of hot cocoa and a wood burning stove.

A couple of weeks ago there were so many signs of impeding spring – bulbs shooting through the soil and a rash of snowdrops. Now all the growth is on hold again, under the snow and ice, ready for next week when it’s going to warm up again.

I took a picture of that tree around harvest time – it’s hard to imagine it’s the same tree.

I love this walk every time of year, with its simple pleasures of flat fields and enormous skies.

And I know, the amount of snow looks a bit pathetic compared to the fuss that has been made, but there was much more before, honest guv!

Also, we came across this, which is rather wonderful on so many levels

NB If you’re interested in reading more about art, design and culture in East Anglia, please do follow the blog to its new home at – you’ll find more posts on everything interesting happening in the area.

Bleak Norfolk

It has been bleak here recently – damp, cold, windy, grey. The only possible response is to stay home in front of the fire and drink sloe gin instead. I’ve been virtually travelling instead, enjoying the visual pleasure of the flatlands through other people’s eyes.

This is the Norfolk marshes, as seen by Rusty Projector on Flickr. It proves definitively that flat, wet and grey can be beautiful seen in the right way. 

Clouds and grass by seeks2dream.  Horizontal wind and cloudy skies, but in a way that captures summer. I’m feeling more cheerful already.

Sunset over Norfolk by Alex Layzell. Definitely November, leafless trees silhouetted against the light. It’s all about the skies here. The golden hour is extra golden when the landscape is so stark.

Sunset over the Broads by Paul Russell.

Wide Norfolk skies by Colin 30d.  

And back down to earth with some beautiful buildings for when the weather draws in.

Eco-photography’s picture of beach huts in Wells-next-to-the-Sea was taken before a summer storm.


And finally the Cromer telephone exchange, to remind us of the cosmopolitan nature of North Norfolk

Photo by rosberond

And look, the sun has come out – better get out there blinking in the light – there’s sleet forecast for later. Thank you to the Creative Commons community on Flickr for the reminder how beautiful it can be here.

Sailing away

Last weekend I had a glorious, quintessentially Norfolk experience, of going sailing on the Broads for an entirely wind powered weekend.

 I’m a sucker for beautiful things, so the almost the best part was that we were on two beautiful 1930’s wooden cabin yachts.

We were the most elegant people on the Broads that weekend. And the slowest, as there was hardly any wind, but that just made it more relaxing as we whispered along at well below walking pace. The people who know how to sail in our party (I was more of a passenger/landlubber) exclaimed how much better they sail in light winds than modern yachts. Apparently not having an engine, only a pole to punt if the wind fails, really concentrates the mind.

It is fabulously silent, all we could hear was the whispering reeds along the riverbank and occasional shouts of “ready about” and “helm to lee” and other nautical jargon. (I wasn’t quite prepared for quite the level of special language, which makes it very difficult for the non sailor to help out. What can you do with an instruction to scandalise the forepeak?)

The cushioned benches in the tiny cabin were actually very comfortable to sleep on, and as the boat only had an oil lamp rather than electric lights, it was pretty muchhome from the pub and straight to bed. I woke up early, dying for a wee, to this.

Also the smell of frying bacon wafting across the water.

If you don’t know any sailing geeks, Hunters do a skippered two-hour sail, so you can have a go with someone who knows what they’re doing. Have a look at the Hunters website here, and check the weather. It’s an idyllic ride in sunshine but would be miserable on a cold wet weekend.

NB If you’re interested in reading more about art, design and culture in East Anglia, please do follow the blog to its new home at – you’ll find more posts on everything interesting happening in the area.

Hunter’s Yard,
Horsefen Road, Ludham,
Norfolk NR29 5QG,
United Kingdom 


Telephone/Fax: +44 (0)1 692 678 263.
The season runs March to October.