Out on the Fens again, and a discovery on a back road between Eye and Crowland. This is one of the distinct pleasures of keeping one's eyes open in this, some would say, featureless landscape. Apart from there always being something odd out of the corner of the eye there will also be the names: Teakettle Hall, Whipchicken Farm, Dog Drove South, Dog Drove North. And so Powder Blue Farm. At first I thought it was simply a farm named after a favourite on a colour swatch, perhaps there'd also be a Fowler Pink Farm, a Lamp Room Gray Rectory. Then it occurred to me that Powder Blue might be a local name for the Holly Blue butterfly, here right on the edge of its territory. Thank goodness for Edward Storey's The Solitary Landscape. Storey tells us that woad was grown around here right up to the late-eighteenth century, and the French Huguenots were the only ones prepared to take on the unpleasant task of grinding woad into the blue powder sold as dye to the clothing trade. They would have called it poudre bleu,and their presence is also still remembered in the names French Farm and French Drove. But the condition of this sign still suggests to me that Prairie Gold Yellow Farm might break through at any moment.
Peter Strausfeld: Single vision
1 day ago