broads-burghcastle4I felt that a natural next step in this impromptu series would be to look at some ruins – what’s more, ruins almost immediately adjacent to sites looked at previously. While we’re here, and all that!

Just a short walk south of Burgh Castle’s Church of St. Peter and St. Paul is what remains of a Roman fort. An imposing site it most certainly is, the walls some fifteen feet of crumbly flint, stone and tile construction, dating back to around 300 AD. One of a series of strategically placed shore forts, its main duty was to watch over and fend off assaults on both Breydon water – which was not so much water as vast inland sea at the time – and the North sea. After the Romans had left Britain, it was reoccupied, believed to be the site of an early Christian monastery and later a Norman castle.

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The western wall has long since collapsed, tumbling down the hill and into the water and unveiling a breathtaking view across the broadland, now dominated by Berney Arms Mill and passing leisure craft. Needless to say, as if the area weren’t attractive enough to me as a child, this sealed the deal! And it remains quite gripping as an adult, I’d say – coupled with the birdsong, the wind rustling through the trees and a warm, spring sun, one of the most peaceful retreats I know.

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Large pieces appear precariously askew, but nevertheless are stable – an enduring testament to the skills of those who built them. Many of the wonks were caused by the Norman castle, whose construction entailed breaching several sections of the fort’s south wall, and erecting a giant mound upon which it would perch. While very little trace of the castle itself is evident, the mound is clearly identified, as are the consequences of such a project!

broads-burghcastle3More good playtime. Some of the experimental scatter brushes I made to help with the wall’s make-up are a bit iffy, especially in the last one, and I probably won’t use those again, but it’s been quite invigorating trying to capture some of this landmark’s striking energy and mystique. I may yet return to it!

Just a few odds and ends in my apparently unending obsession with bygone Broadland landscapes. The scope for this is broad – if you will – and I feel far from over. I could do these all day. As it is, these were all very quick; probably no more than a quarter-hour for any one of them.

It’s been a tad chilly lately – and you know it’s cold if I’m noting the drop in temperature, for I can usually go around in next to nothing (a treat of an image for you, there) of a winter without complaint. I think snow was forecast for earlier in the week, but I don’t think it came; if it did, I was in bed, like when it actually did arrive last month. What woe.

Still, that prospect appears to have eked through to my landscapes, as the urge came over me to blow a blizzard upon my unsuspecting broadland.

The first attempt was pretty unspectacular, a little rigid but on the right lines.

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I much prefer the second, even quicker attack, and the different aesthetic that came of such improvised quickness. Hmm, perhaps an old, wintry capture of Mill Cottage in its heyday?

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On a different note entirely, and a swerve backward to my previous postmy previous post, I had another look at pathways. In becoming a bit more clued up on their uses, Photoshop’s blurring tools have become increasingly useful for creating mist, haze and general atmosphere. What’s more, a motion blur achieves quite a nice look for water:

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And, to conclude a rather denser forest walk than in the previous, this time forming a creepy arch. Again, we’re very much dependent on those blurs. At least there’s light at the end, I suppose!

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broads-pathway-1Yet another trawl through the Broadland in my mind and further attempts to develop this brisk aesthetic. Yet more fun.

After last time I began thinking about the woodland walks beside the waterways, the boathouses and the windmills, for they are often the means of getting to those places. They are quite the beauty spot of their own; what could be more alluring than the snaking pathway beneath an arch of trees? Whatever could be waiting at the end of the line?

broads-pathway-5The uneven, overgrown walkways trailing parallel to dykes and rivers, pathways of their own, separating the wild greenery. I did use this as justification for more playing with water, and building on the techniques used for the vegetation.

broads-pathway-2And an incredibly quick one:

broads-pathway-4I intended to do more with this quick render below, namely using it as a reference for a drawing of similar composition, however, it didn’t quite pan out this time. Next time, maybe!

broads-pathway-3-mAnd with that, we’ve reached the end of the line. Well, at least we’ve not arrived at a curiously inviting cottage, or, even worse, nothing at all…

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clayrack3-20bBack to resplendence for a moment, as this model has been sitting around for about a month now, waiting to say hello. Here is Clayrack Drainage Mill, a small but very impressive hollow-post pump which dates back to the early 19th century, with its career ending in 1903. Though it spends retirement beside the River Ant in How Hill, Ludham – just a short walk north of Boardman’s Mill and Turf Fen Mill – it was situated in the village of Ranworth until 1981, when it was moved and fully restored.

With three different mills so close together, it’ll come of no surprise to anybody reading this that I loved How Hill as a child, and indeed still do. It’s a really lovely place; you not only have these on a nice riverside walk, but also the Edwardian How Hill House and the Toad Hole Cottage, a tiny museum set in what was a marshman’s house.

These are the fruits of my playing around with Vue. It’s been something of a mixed bag. While the skies and vegetation look incredible, integration of my Cinema 4D models has proven harder than expected, with a couple of crashes here and there, though I’m quite sure that’s down to my machine not getting any younger. What’s more, the free program stamps even more watermarks over you once you’ve used it for thirty days, as you can see in the above renders. That’s totally to be expected, but they are bothering me, and I have a viable alternative in C4D, so I’m probably going to revert to that. Vue is a great looking programme, though, and comes much recommended.

clayrack3-3The sun sets on Vue, for now at least. It’s been fun!

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broads-3-1Yet more of this old timey Broads stuff. I’m really rather engrossed at the moment, even more than usual, so I sat myself down with some Jelly Babies, turned the music up and got going, once again aiming for brisk.

I didn’t think too much of my river on Black Beauty, so began with a view to tackling that. The water of the above image was created with the same brush, but below I took a thinner, tapered brush also used for grasses and reeds, but with its ‘head’ rotated. The rather more agitated, turbulent look is I think fitting what I’m going for; it even compelled me to add a spot or two of drizzle…

broads-3-2…which promptly escalated to full-on storm! Curses. But – excuse my fanboy screams – look what’s peering over those thrashing reeds…

broads-3-3…that’s made it all worthwhile! And we got there, eventually, the filthy weather proving decidedly brief. Hmm, maybe it looked prettier in the stormy dark?

broads-3-4aIt’s a skeleton mill; furthermore, a specimen heavily inspired by Boardman’s Mill, which I tried to build in 3D last spring. After a number of bloodbaths trying to briskly draw sails, I instead opted for creating them with Photoshop’s Lasso Tool and erasing sections. A little conspicuous, but vastly better than what came before it.

These weren’t initially intended to be sequential – it rather took its own course as progress was made. It’s nice when that happens. Success or not, rivers are definitely flowing from the overarching theme and archival sources. What fun!

burghcastlechurch-0These two churches actually bookend my previous post within my latest pursuit of old Norfolk material, with the last above and the first below. So, really, I’ve posted the three of them in entirely the wrong order. Oh well!

I didn’t have much time to draw, but really wanted to get something out today, so took that as the push to go stark raving mad. Above is a drawing of the church of St Peter and St Paul, of Burgh Castle, replete with its round tower. While much of the building’s fabric is of medieval age, it most likely originated in the late Anglo-Saxon period. Small wonder, then, that it has such a presence; while I’ve always adored Burgh Castle and the ruins of the Roman fort, the church unsettled me as a youngster. Besides summer visits, we would go annually on the Sunday before Christmas for a carol concert, and naturally it would be pitch dark and freezing, the winds howling around you. Scary. Thankfully, I can say that, on revisiting in 2013 for my sister’s wedding, I’ve got over this apprehension and was just able to enjoy it for the evocative wonder that it is. I’m even tempted to go back out there at night to see what’s going on!

Coming in at under thirty minutes, it was chaotic by my standards, putting me in mind of the Wheel of Time (one for the long-standing readers, there!) It’s really pretty mediocre, but at least the restrictions produced a different outcome, and there’s semblance of energy there. Above all else, it was fun.

St Mary’s of Somerleyton is a treasure for me – mostly, I confess because it was on that Norfolk episode of Interceptor, which I’ve probably referenced more on this blog alone than anybody else has the entire series in the past twenty-five years. Oh well! I don’t think I’ve ever been inside, but it’s a most pleasant little church, and dates back to the 1400s. It sits not too far away from the splendid Somerleyton Hall.

somerleytonchurch-1I think the above a bit stolid for the structure. Uninspiring. I enjoy working quite meticulously, as you’ve probably gathered, but I got to feeling that churches demand far greater atmosphere than is tendered here with or without the Photoshop trickery, so took the opportunity today, with the results you’ve now seen. While not completely convinced, I feel there is perhaps a happy medium in lurking in there somewhere – it’s not like there aren’t a wealth of other churches with which to practice. I suppose I’ll have to try some more and see where it goes!

wherry-3I’ve been spending a lot of time recently viewing various old clips of life on the Norfolk Broads. My noseying into these broadcast and personal films isn’t uncharacteristic, as you’ll probably have summed up by now; each choppy, flickering and often silent clip is gripping in atmosphere and thought-provoking in narrative, a total joy when you’re a Broads boy like I am. Explorations did lead me to the above drawing, subsequent Photoshop adjustment, and the prominent subject.

You won’t have to go through many historic snippets to catch sight of a classic Norfolk wherry, for these were just as prolific as the windpumps they sailed past on every cut. The tough jet black sail waving some sixty feet into the sky, busier routes would be teeming with these boats, and indeed it wasn’t uncommon to be circled by several, each transporting vast amounts of goods with far greater storage space and maneuverability than other, earlier options. Dating as far back as the seventeenth century, trading vessels were produced in the county right through to the early 1900s, by which time they had generally fallen out of favour for the quickness that rail distribution offered. On this lull, and noting the potential of the area, they were revamped for recreational means, adopting the name ‘pleasure wherry’, with some swapping the black sail for a white one to give greater distinction. Nowadays there are only six surviving wherries on the Broads, the oldest being two trading wherries, Albion and Maud, who are both approaching two-hundred-and-twenty-years; along with a couple of her pleasure wherry peers, Albion is in fine fettle for her age, still available for charter.

Learning those stats, it’s less of a surprise that I’ve rarely seen them save for some fortunate glances in the distance, and it’s mostly been restricted to old photographs and that Norfolk episode of Interceptor. I hope to see some more, for they are quite the hypnotic sight!

I had to throw in a windmill, too – of course I did. It’s the law.