3 August 2021
Took a last minute decision to head over to St. Helen’s Skeffling after travelling up from Welwyn Garden City today. Popped into home to have a shower and take in a parcel, got some groceries from Tesco, filled up the van and headed up the M62 across the Pennines only to be halted on the motorway for an hour by a truck on fire.
I’ve been recommended a spot to stay by the church key holder. Before I do I call in at the church to get an idea of its layout and size. The sun is briefly on the north side – so I get the tripod out and take a few shots. I head past the church and down to the Humber estuary chasing three hares into the clover.
I’m parked up for the night with my side door looking on to the estuary. The tide is out and it looks like a vast prairie. Every now and then the prairie myth is dashed by a tanker gliding along the horizon. It confounds expectations: there doesn’t seem to be any depth to the distant shimmer of water. The tanker looks like a cardboard cut-out slotted into a groove.
Storm clouds are scuttling by from east to west. The horizon is blackened by the forced perspective of several thunder storms rolling one after the other. As the sun sets in the west, the clouds take on a fiery luminosity ranging from pinks to hot poker reds.
This is sky country.
Whilst sat back in the van the view is in triptych – spliced by the van windows. I open the side door and I’m met by salty blasts from the estuary. A kestrel to my right takes advantage of the updraft to hover over the marsh.
It’s getting dark and the clouds are reflecting the tungsten glow of Hull to the west. There’s been a brief shower – enough to dot the side window with specks of rain. I get out and clean it with my chamois. Back inside – I shut the door just in time to see an owl dart in front of me – 10 metres away across my path. I’m struck by its silhouette – bold, with a body like a plum-bob and fruit-bat wings.
In the distance a curlew signs the day out with its melancholy warble.