It looks plain and ordinary, a house out in the countryside, probably built in the 1970s. Until one looks more closely at the right hand side. Ignore the replacement windows and a little stone built cottage reveals itself. It's just down the road from my village, alone in the fields near a pub we frequently find ourselves in- The Wheel & Compass at Weston-by-Welland. The river is running at the back of the house, but this was a level crossing keeper's dwelling on a lane that crosses the valley from Weston to Slawston Hill. One of many on the line of this branch of the London & North Western Railway (oddly for this part of the world), and to the right of this picture the tracks kept close company with the willow-fringed Welland through Ashley station and on through Rockingham and Seaton, thence to Stamford or, leaving the river, to Peterborough. It closed many years ago, but just off to the left of the photograph is a wood yard on an old junction (soon to be blogged) where they once made pit props and railwaymen tended allotments. It's still open, and this is where I get my logs. A chap working here still remembers steam locomotives snorting and shuffling by as they negotiated the steeper gradients. It's still easy to imagine that on a cold snowy morning, a line of intermittent white smoke drifting off across the valley.
I am a designer, writer and photographer who spends all his time looking at England, particularly buildings and the countryside. But I have a leaning towards the slightly odd and neglected, the unsung elements that make England such an interesting place to live in. I am the author and photographer of over 25 books, in particular Unmitigated England (Adelphi 2006), More from Unmitigated England (Adelphi 2007), Cross Country (Wiley 2011), The Cigarette Papers (Frances Lincoln 2012), Preposterous Erections (Frances Lincoln 2012) and English Allsorts (Adelphi 2015)