The Norfolk Broads in all its wonderful beauty.

My sister told me of a video that had recently been posted on facebook. Now this site is ok as far as it goes but if you want to see a site dedicated to this beautiful part of the country I urge you to click here:

This site beautifully captures the magic and majesty of The Broads. The photography is absolutely stunning, the music and voiceovers on the videos sensitively portray the natural wonder of the place. I cant find out much about the gentleman who put this site together, I believe his name is John, but I would venture that he has an obvious love for his subject and expresses this perfectly, that he has the heart of an artist is obvious to me. I cant recommend this site highly enough, I have often thought of making videos of Norfolk much along the lines of those on this site but lack the skill and technical knowhow forbids me, John perfectly shows it should be done.

As I said this site is ok as far as it goes but The Waterland is stunning. Unfortunately my limited subscription to my site does not allow videos but click the link above and prepare to taken on a beautiful and heart warming journey through Norfolk and The Broads.



Spring and a walk with my Grandson

I think that spring is my favourite time of the year. The coolness of the early morning air turned vaporous by a warming sun still low enough in the sky to not overpower. The land emerges from receding mists full and abundant, glowing with the rich, vibrant hues that dazzle the eye and lift the soul.  The urgent buzz of new life restored after a long winter sleep fills the air and is intoxicating . It is a time of rebirth, of fertility, of youth and of life. I have been fortunate enough to witness fifty-seven springs burst into life then fade into hot summer. With the exception of probably the first five or so I have never lost the excitement of watching mother nature weave her magic. I would even venture to say that the first five or so seasons left their mark on an impressionable child but age has faded the memory of it.  I have always been a believer in magic and don’t feel in the slightest bit embarrassed to admit it. In fact I would go further and say that I don’t believe, rather, I know there is magic. I have encouraged my children to see it and now I do the same with my grandchildren. Not just to see it, but to hear it, to feel it and to taste it in the deepest way possible. It’s not hard to do, just stop for a little while, be still and witness it being conjured all around us, in nature.  In this season a most potent tincture is blended, a life enhancing potion drawn from the fecundity of the ever giving  earth. She appears, at this time, in her guise as the Spring Maid, seductively dressed. Her alluring form garbed in a lush finery, she dances her magic over a pregnant land . Just stop and drink it in, there is no better nor a more intoxicating brew. It is full, heady and overflowing, a draught of the finest blend, life enhancing and sustaining. Sister winter is reluctant to end her reign however and returns still, but with decreasing force now. Her energy spent, the warming spell cast by the spring overpowers and diminishes her icy rule. This mock battle is as old as time itself, an endless mystery play. The stage is willingly given and set to act out the cyclic ritual to conjure up the spirit that pervades all, seen and unseen. An ancient circle dance is performed that engages something deep within. Unable or unwilling to resist, we dance to the muted strains of a dimly remembered tune that begs you to move to its primordial rhythm. It is a time of joy and of play, a time to bask in the gaze of a forgiving sun whose energy promises to rise as temperate spring dances into the heat of summer.

Of course the man/woman of today would proclaim, with arrogant confidence, that there is no magic in it. All can be explained by science and reason and that cold facts can drive away such mystical fantasies. But the fact is it can’t. Yes science will explain the mechanics and action of it, but it is lost, still, in dogmatic theory, probability and belief. As to the force that they believe drives it, it is all theory, all speculation and it is still a mystery. You can call this  intelligent force by many names or none, it does not need our labels or our consent. It does what it does, ‘ I am that, I am’ is its mantra, it is ever a mystery and thus to me, it is magical. I am happy to know it, but equally, to never really KNOW it, blissful in my ignorance. Content at the unknowing of it, the energy drives this fertile season and I am lost to it.

What better way is there to soak up the joy of a spring day than in the delightful company of a child. Today (Sunday) I had the privilege of accompanying  my youngest grandson on a walk through the “magic woods”. A place special to all the grandchildren where creatures, mysterious, lurk unseen in the undergrowth and that roam just the other side of imagination. Caves and arches formed by knotted branches hide the gate keepers to this enchanted world, still vivid to fertile minds as yet uncorrupted by the material woes and tormented hearts of adulthood. Here I am allowed to play for a while in his world, climbing trees, dodging well-aimed missiles in a pine cone fight, and enjoying the squeals of laughter that joyfully lights up this small but special place. I join him in his excitement as he flies and soars , precariously perched atop a tyre dangling at the end of a long thin rope. He swings and spins paying no attention to the danger of the drop below, the possibility of which filters uncomfortably into the uncertain mind of his adult companion ever open to doubt. But his joy draws out the child suppressed and I join him in the delight of the moment as he swings immersed in that innocent freedom which is a gift given to youth. Then, exploring the woodland we drum on fallen trees  with sticks to call the mythical woodwose urging him to cross the veil and to step from his hidden kingdom. We wait a short while but he does not come, briefly the boy is lost in the excitement of expectation, maybe next time. We marvel together at the equally mysterious creatures of this world too. At a strange-looking insect that forages for food on elder flowers that permeate the woodland with their pungent essence. At the scurrying woodlice uncovered as enquiring little hands gently peel back the bark of a decaying tree. Lifted high on shoulders he cautiously explores knot holes, little gloomy caverns that penetrate deep into the heart of an ancient oak. What treasures or hidden creatures lie in its depths is only limited by his  imagination. Still perched upon aching, but willing, shoulders we knock little puffs yellow of pollen from pine cones and he is lost in the wonder of it as I try to explain the small, but important, part he has just played in conjuring some magic as smoky streams of pollen drift on the breeze ensuring  the generations of woodlands yet to come. We walk and talk and play for a while then, all too soon, the day is done. I return him, reluctantly, to my daughter glad to have shared this special time with him. His mum tells him to thank me for taking him out which he does willingly and with a loving hug. As I drive away, content in the bond that has been reinforced, I know in my heart that it is I that should be thanking him for allowing me the privilege of spending time in his joyous company.

The Spirit of the Hare

Inspired by the magical sight of a Hare darting for cover at my approach. I wrote the following verse. There is something very other worldly about this illusive creature that both captivates and fascinates.  For me the Hare is an ethereal animal rarely seen it haunts the fields and the margins and in this verse I imagine the Spirit of Hare as a presence in this and another, more mysterious world. The artwork came later but I hope captures the mood of the words.

The Spirit of the Hare

I am the herald of the Spring,
The harbinger of life renewed am I,
A fleeting shadow, a hedgerow form,
A dweller of the margins, you will not see me.

I am the phantom of the borders,
Where day and night meet,
A spectre in a sleeping land, lighted by mistress moon,
Into silver threaded mists I silently fade, you will not hear me

A true creature of nature I, born of The Mother,
The alchemy of life combines in me,
Rich earth, sweet dew of morning, the fire of dawns spark,
These form my bone, my blood, my sinew, you will not control me.

I am the mystery of natures call to life,
When Lord Sun brings warmth to awakening land,
Full throbbing with the ache of fertility,
To seed new life, you will not restrain me.

I am the creature you long to see,
In full view the bare, ploughed earth masks my form,
Under the vast celestial firmament you may find me,
But quick of foot, fleeting as a falling star, you will not catch me.

I am known by many names,
Bandy, Wat, Sally, Sukey,
But no label conjured by man will define me,
Much more than animal am I,
I am the pure force of the living land,
No flesh imprisons me, no world confines me.
I am the walker between the veils,
The trickster, The portent of doom,
And the bringer of good fortune too.
This and more is said of me,
But you do not know me.

I am the mystery of life,
I am the myth, a totem, a glyph.
Forever hidden from tortured hearts,
Chained minds curse my liberty and in that torment,
You cannot ever know me.

I am freedom, I am liberty, the driving lust for life itself,
I am of the earth, the air, the water and the fire,
I am the reminder of your long occulted nature,
Of the paradise lost,
I am of the hidden realms of fey and of the angels too,
I am The Spirit Of The Hare.

Nigel Canham 2016

Spirit of Hare

To Autumn



Autumn Sketch


I think autumn is a wonderful season. The harshness of the summer sun is fading but it still has a little strength yet. It is rising later now and, after a noticeably shorter journey across a sky full of ballooning rain clouds, the darkness soon returns. This period of daylight punctuates the increasing gloom. The mornings and evenings may be cooler but the days can surprise with a burst of warmth that, even now, entices out the occasional bee or butterfly and dragonflies still hunt but with a little less vigour. The energy that so fiercely and urgently powered these little creatures is now all but spent. Autumn is a time when the earth slips in to a kind of comfortable drowsiness, it is quietening down and moving towards the deep sleep of winter. The sun casts a mellow light, it no longer bleaches the scene as it had at its height in summer and the earth is wrapped in a golden glow. Persistent  greens are fading and now offered is a pallet of raw umber, burnt sienna and yellow ochre. Russets, auburn, and bronze dominate. Yellows, too numerous to be labelled, radiate in this tawny, twilight quarter of the year. The abundant fruits of the season are being harvested and offer a reminder and the promise that, after a brief period of rest, the earth will awaken again in the spring, full brimming with potent fertility.


The farmers best friend

Nature can be a wise teacher if we allow ourselves the time and space to connect with her, so as the autumn slips towards winter I believe we should find a few quite moments to slow down, to move away from the incessant busyness that dominates our often over active lives. We need to rest too, just for the shortest while, drinking in the languid, soporific draft that she offers, unwind and take stock.


Being a lover of the written word I was going to offer one of my poems and work it around some of my artwork. But then I heard on TV the following poem ‘ To Autumn’ by John Keats. It is way, way above anything that I could ever hope to compose and is so beautiful I had to include it here instead of my ramblings. I have still included my artwork which may not quite work with the verse but I had to get the Norfolk theme (and a little bit of Suffolk)  in there some how!


Autumn Rains

To Autumn

John Keats, 17951821

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, 
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless 
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees, 
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core; 
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells 
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees, 
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store? 
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor, 
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep, 
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep 
Steady thy laden head across a brook; 
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they? 
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,--
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day, 
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn 
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies; 
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn; 
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft, 
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.





Cove Hithe



Still morning waters



Sunset over Cley



Rewards of the Harvest





To Norfolk


Misty marsh – by Nigel Canham


To Norfolk

When mellow mists the earth enshroud
sweet moistened breath on marshes lie
Then  golden morning light endows
Bright ribboned waters reflecting sky

Slow  lifting veil from sodden turf
reveals amorphous form of mill
Sun casts its light across its girth
Dark shadowed in the marshland, still

Then plaintive song of wading bird
Greets the new awakening day
The haunting call of curlew heard
As subtle breeze move mists away

Such glory to my sight revealed
Comes broken mill and church to view
Across watery land of marsh and field
This hallowed land my heart imbues

Abundant in its snaking course
The sleepy river gently glides
Emerging from its hidden source
To where the sea and earth collides

Now drifting down its watery lane
White triangles cut the tranquil scene
Lighted fins dissect the plane
to elusive winds full sails lean

As warming sun climbs in the sky
Legs weary at the plodding toil
But merry in my heart am I
To tread upon my homeland soil

So under vaulted firmament
I wander down a winding lane
No wasted idle moments spent
To travel blessed lands again

Beneath the shade of leaning oak
I take a while to linger there
Let drifting memory invoke
Thoughts of beloved Norfolk fair

Nigel Canham 2016

Saint Fursey

Quite some years ago now I stumbled upon the story that Saint Fursey was said to have  come to England and, at the invitation of King Sigeberht, established a monastery at Burgh Castle. I thought  that I would retell the story here as a good way to draw to a close, for now, the theme of Burgh Castle and the surrounding area. We have moved forward a few hundred years after the Romans retreated from Britain . The area has now been settled by the Anglo Saxons and Christianity is starting to become firmly established as the main religion of the British Isles.

The Life of Saint Fursey



Saint Fursey- By Nigel Canham (BroadNorfolk)


The Venerable Bede, Monk and  historian of the early English church, records this of Fursey:

WHILST Sigbert still governed the kingdom, there came out of Ireland a holy man called Fursa. renowned both for his words and actions, and remarkable for singular virtues, being desirous to live as a stranger and pilgrim for the Lord’s sake, wherever an opportunity should offer. On coming into the province of the East Angles, he was honourably received by the aforesaid king, and performing his wonted task of preaching the Gospel, bv the example of his virtue and the influence of his words, converted many unbelievers to Christ, and confirmed in the faith and love of Christ those that already believed. Here he fell into some infirmity of body, and was thought worthy to see a vision of angels; in which he was admonished diligently to persevere in the ministry of the Word which he had undertaken, and indefatigably to apply himself to his usual watching and prayers; inasmuch as his end was certain, but the hour thereof uncertain, according to the saying of our Lord, “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour. ” Being confirmed by this vision, he set himself with all speed to build a monastery on the ground which had been given him by King Sigbert, and to establish a rule of life therein. This monastery was pleasantly situated in the woods, near the sea; it was built within the area of a fort, which in the English language is called Cnobheresburg, that is, Cnobhere’s Town; afterwards, Anna, king of that province, and certain of the nobles, embellished it with more stately buildings and with gifts. This man was of noble Scottish blood, but much more noble in mind than in birth. From his boyish years, he had earnestly applied himself to reading sacred books and observing monastic discipline, and, as is most fitting for holy men, he carefully practiced all that he learned to be right. Now, in course of time he himself built a monastery, wherein he might with more freedom devote himself to his heavenly studies.

The 12th century version of the life of St. Fursey, the Beatha Fursa, states that he was born c.584 AD at Rathmat on the island of Inchiquin on Lough Corrib. He is thought to have been the son of Fintan, King of Munster. His mother, Geligies was a Christian and daughter of Aed-Fin King of Cannacht.  Traditionally he was said to have been baptised by Saint Brendan who was Fintan’s uncle, however, there is some doubt about this version of his life. Another version, written shortly after his death, reports that Fursey came from Ulster and also casts doubt on his lineage.  It is said that Fursey decided when still a child “To spend his life as a pilgrim for the love of our Lord.” He was duly sent to study under Abbot Meldan.

As his reputation grew, large crowds gathered to hear Fursey. This made him increasingly uncomfortable and so he retreated to a small island off the west coast of Ireland and there sought God’s guidance. During this period he felt that he was being prepared for a new mission and around 630 AD Fursey, along with his brothers Foillan and Uttan and two other companions set sail from Ireland probably under invitation of Sigebert, King of the East Angles.


The Church of St.Peter and St. Paul Burgh castle & Cross of St Fursey


Sigebert welcomed Fursey and his companions and it is believed that he gave them the old Roman fort of Gariannonum, Burgh Castle as it is known today, and adjacent land for their monastery. At that time it would have been a remote place on the southern shore of a large estuary, the area was known as Cnobheresburg. It has been attested that Fursey, assisted by devoted followers, built a place of God within the walls of the fort. From this centre a great missionary movement was established that brought the Christian message not only to the people of the area but also to the Saxons, Picts and Franks of Northern Gaul.


Both before and during this time at the fort Fursey was given a series of visions. According to Bede, Fursey “quitted his body from sunset to cock crow” and saw great choirs of Angels singing praises to God and the Saints. Bede recorded that in one of these visions the Angels took Fursey to a great height where, upon looking down, he saw a gloomy valley where four fires burned in the air. The Angels told Fursey that fires threatened to consume the entire world.The fires were called Falsehood,  Covetousness, Discord and Cruelty. Fursey watched with terror as the fires formed together into one great conflagration and a great battle ensued between Angels and demons. Bede relates;

But as for the story of his visions, he ( Fursa ) would only relate them to those who, from desire of repentance, questioned him about them. An aged brother of our monastery is still living, who is wont to relate that a very truthful and religious man told him, that he had seen Fursa himself in the province of the East Angles, and heard those visions from his lips; adding, that though it was in severe winter weather and a hard frost, and the man was sitting in a thin garment when he told the story, yet he sweated as if it had been in the heat of mid-summer, by reason of the great terror or joy of which he spoke.



Window dedicated to St. Fursey

Upon the death of his patron, King Sigebert the King’s successor, Anna continued to support the monastery. But as Fursey’s reputation grew so too did the crowds who wished to visit him and with another war threatening to engulf East Anglia, Fursey decided to disband the monastery until the situation calmed and so he sailed to Gaul. At Ponthieu Fursey was said to have raised a young boy from the dead, he was the son of the Lord of the area, Duke Hayson. With this and other events his reputation and fame spread and he was given land to establish a monastery at Langny on the river Marne by Erkinoald, ruler of the area. It was here that Fursey built his monastery and three chapels and it was from here that the message was disseminated. He was greatly renowned throughout Picardy and his message spread throughout Europe.There are many miracles attributed to him. After receiving premonitions that his life was nearing its end, Fursey decided that the time was right to return to Cnobheresburg (Burgh Castle) and once there recall his, now scattered, community of monks to reestablish the monastery. Fursey was never to achieve his ambition. He was struck down with a mortal illness at Ponthieu and died there on 16th January 650AD. In his honour the town was renamed Forsheim (House of Fursa) and is still known by that name today. His body was taken to the monastery at Peronne that later became a large shrine and here too  many miracles were witnessed.



Foillan took over the care of the monastery at Burgh Castle after Fursey’s departure to Gaul. He too left to establish a monastery in Belgium where he later died.

It is said that, with Saint Columbia, Fursey was regarded as the most influential missionary to come from Ireland .

Archaeological excavations in 1958, 60 and 61 revealed evidence of foundations of a group of huts within the walls which may have been the site of Fursey’s monastery.

The arms of God be around our shoulders
The light of the Holy Spirit in our minds
The sign of Christ’s cross upon our foreheads
The sound of the Spirit in our ears
The fragrance of the Spirit in our nostrils
The vision of heaven’s company in our eyes
The conversation of heavens company on our lips
The work of God’s church in our hands
The welfare of God and neighbor in our feet
Our hearts a home for God
And to God, nurturer of all, our whole being.

Old Irish, attributed to Saint Fursey.



St.Peter & St.Paul Church- Burgh Castle

The above information came from various sources. For further details regarding St. Fursey and his legacy, please refer to the following: