10 January, 2008

Winter blossom - and a candidate for smallest pub in the country

"When gorse is out of flower, kissing is out of favour," goes the old country saying. Among a stand of gorse there's always a little bit of it in blossom somewhere, even in the darkest depths of winter, and the bright yellow flowers are a welcome promise of spring to come. This especially exuberant specimen is growing on the shores of Alton Water, a reservoir near Ipswich in south-east Suffolk.

When the reservoir was constructed, it drowned the minor roads that used to cross the valley, and a bridge was built to connect the two parts of the village of Tattingstone. The main part of the village, with the church and most of the houses, is on the left shore in the photo, the pub is on the right shore. Which explains why it was essential to build a bridge. If you can make out the numerous pale dots on the water around the bridge (click on the image to enlarge), they're greylag geese and black-headed gulls, both of which congregate in large numbers on the reservoir in winter.

Edit: I have been reminded that the main part of the village did have its own pub (see photo). The Orange Box was attached to the post office opposite the church, about the size of someone's front room, had a bar and a minuscule stove, and could cram in about 20 people at a pinch. Alas, 'tis now no more.



Gabriele Campbell said...

Lol, we can't have the drunken pub visitors try and swim the lake. :)

Though I won't be surprised if some tried nevertheless.

Constance Brewer said...

Damn engineers. Any excuse to ply their trade. And separating the pub? That was just cruel.

Anonymous said...

I should know this, but does gorse have a coconutty sort of smell? There was gorse on the common where we played as children but I don't recall it having that scent. Yet a while ago we passed some gorse on a walk and caught a strong whiff of that very scent. I do remember hearing the seed pods cracking open on hot summer days, though.

Carla said...

Gabriele - or try punting across on a makeshift raft, or driving miles round the lake to get there and (worse) back. A bridge was the only possible option :-)

Constance - it was probably just geography, the pub having happened to end up on the opposite side of the valley, no doubt at a discreet distance from the church.

Sarah - yes, gorse has a distinct coconut scent, especially on hot days. It's not as noticeable at this time of year, but I don't know if that's the plant or the temperature. Maybe the scent varies with the time of year - or maybe there are different varieties of gorse?

Anonymous said...

just read a fascinating book, "orlando's nemesis"

Bernita said...

Thank you.
I have always wondered what the bush looked like ( from numerous, pre-internet references) and was always too lazy to look it up.

Anonymous said...

I always thought that The Smith's Arms at Godmanstone in Dorset was the smallest pub in England, but it seems there are other contenders, e.g. TrekEarth.com

Carla said...

Bernita - Gorse bushes are quite variable in size. This one is on the large and luxuriant side, perhaps because it's growing in a sheltered site in the lowlands. On exposed heaths where they're constantly cut by the wind, gorse bushes can be quite small and stunted. The flowers are just as bright, though.

Sarah C - Hello, and welcome back. That's a great photo of the Smiths Arms, and what a good story to go with it!