I've taken to using the Norwich-Cambridge-King's Cross rather than Norwich-Liverpool street connectiion recently, since it gets me directly to Eurostar, even if it does take a bit longer. And looking out of the window, I've been wondered; where does Breckland end, and Fenland start? Where does the landscape change?
Breckland is unmistakable. Scots pines stride across the landscape, straggly lines, their branches akimbo, gaunt and angular trees. Heath and furze and huge arable fields give the land its texture; there are dark pine forests, work of the Forestry Commission, and open cornland, patchworking the landscape.
Then coming towards Ely there is the fen. It's not the flatness that always amazes me, though true, it is flat; it's the blackness of the soil. Not dark brown but absolutely black, velvety black like a pint of Guinness or a pair of black suede gloves. It's a hard land, the wind keens everywhere and the air is cold; but the soil is luxury compared to the sand of the Breck. Telegraph poles march across the Fen, but while once they were uniform, neat and pressed, now every other one leans one way or another, out of true, out of line, out of kilter. Lonely houses stand in their tiny patches of green, not pretty cottages but foursquare boxes, four brick walls against the immensity of the sky and the force of the wind.
The train and the river run above the fields, embanked, embattled. This was sea once, and the land doesn't let you forget it. From time to time it floods, and the fields are silvered or mirrored over with the inundation, and you feel as if the train is chugging on an embankment through an inland sea.
But where does it change? I've never managed to work it out. I turn my attention to the newspaper for a bare minute, and the landscape has changed already...