weeks have slipped away and I have not managed a new blog post until now. perhaps this is because I have taken up my knitting again. it’s very slow, but I must do a bit every night if I can, the yarn was far too expensive (yak/merino/silk fingering) to leave in my previous fashion, perhaps only for the moths to enjoy.

it’s no news to anyone in the UK that we’ve been having a very wet autumn and now a wet winter too.

water is lying in puddles and ruts in fields and walking round the village involves wearing gaiters or wellies and dogs need a bath on their return, the lanes are full of mud.

on a day like today when the sky clears there is so much damp in the ground and in the air that my washing hung out on the line has more water in it at the end of the short day than it started with.

here’s the river Stiffkey on its way through the water meadows below Stiffkey village before it flows out through sluices at Stiffkey freshes, looking very full, about two feet higher than in August and September.

and today the Glaven, even fuller after yesterday’s rain, its surface pitted and burnished by the strong current.

it looks quite clear, unlike two or three days ago when it was definitely murky. these North Norfolk chalk streams should be as clear as crystal, but agricultural runoff can add silt and chemicals. they rise from chalk springs, from the aquifer that underlies the whole county, and from which our drinking water is pumped. it’s also used by farms to irrigate, especially potatoes, so it’s ironic to see a field of potatoes locally, unharvested, with water between the ridges, basically abandoned because it was too wet even two months ago to get them out of the ground.

on rainy days there is something magical about the drops hitting water and making circular ripples that widen and then disappear.

at Glandford the river narrows under the footbridge and then widens out into a deep wide pool that tractor men and others with large tyred vehicles love to cross in a wake of pebbles and froth.

a few weeks ago I came across this pickup sitting in the middle while its driver made a phone call, not stuck, just enjoying being in the middle of the river.

I’ve been filling a sketch book with these watery drawings. the khadi handmade cotton rag paper mops up the pools of water I brush across it, leaving tidemarks of watercolour. there’s something elemental about watercolour paint, the way it can imitate weather and light.

our writing outside group met in Edgefield this week to come to this place, Pond Hills, on a rainy day when the drops pattered down from the trees and the overflow of the pond gurgled happily down its sluice to join the Glaven.

you don’t see the water from the road, but have to climb up a bank covered with fallen chestnut leaves to stand and watch the raindrops opening their concentric ripples in an infinite pattern of widening circles that disappear into the silvery sheet of the pond’s surface.

on a still day the reflections are clear.

trees lower their tangles down to meet themselves

grey sky meets grey pond

and the mirror trees are perturbed by the ripple patterns.

larger drips from the trees make louder pops as they land on wet leaves

and submerged branches stick their rotting stubs up through the meniscus.

my new notebook for these sessions is a landscape-shaped hard-back sketch book. it offers a tempting space to draw as well as write.

fallen trunks crouch on the edge of the bank, limbs propping them like reptilian monsters. it seems as though we are in temperate rainforest, surrounded by otherworldy beings, as we wander between the feet of great trees in the misty rain. the sound of the rain and running water remind me of the soundtrack of Tarkovsky’s film Stalker, filmed in a wet spring in Estonia.

the other occupation that has side-tracked me is painting of course.

I’ve been making small abstract paintings on thick watercolour paper and small canvas-covered board

perhaps the watery weather has been influencing them

here there’s a saturnalian brushwork too.