On a cold and frosty morning such as today’s it seemed like a good idea to get up early and go out for a walk to take a few photographs. I wandered into Chippenham snapping away at places I haven’t really taken much notice of in the past. There are some lovely old buildings here in a place which, unknown to many, is steeped in history.
For example, did you know that as well as me, famous people such as King Alfred the Great, railway engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, rock legend Gabrielle Aplin and jazz legend Jamie Cullum have all lived here? The car crash that eventually finished off the late great rock ‘n’ roll singer Eddie Cochran way back in April 1960 was only just over a mile from where my house is situated. Also, Dyson vacuum cleaners were first made on an industrial estate on the other side of the town from my dwelling place. For that reason, just ask anybody in Chippenham and they’ll tell you that Hoovers suck.
Our biggest claim to fame though is that back in 1834 William Henry Fox Talbot, who lived just up the road in the village of Lacock, began mucking about with his calotype process for producing images on paper, so some would argue that the first ever photograph in the world was taken near Chippenham.
The trouble with Chippenham is that, despite all of this, nowt much has really happened here since I arrived from Yorkshire about seventeen and a half years ago. So although we do have a few claims to fame, it’s taken us nearly twelve centuries to accumulate them.
Taking all of this into consideration, I would say it’s a rather sleepy rather than a rather boring little town and it’s a town where good photographs can be taken if you go looking for the material. I’m planning on taking loads more pictures as soon I expect to move away and I’ll need something to weep over when I have my soppy moments of nostalgia in the future and to show Mr Fox Talbot, if he’s looking down on me from above, that his efforts weren’t wasted.
Chippenham's Yelde Hall which, since it was built in 1776, has had many uses including military barracks, court house, town gaol, Burgess' office, tourist information centre and fire station.
This afternoon I took a car full of stuff to the household recycling site at Compton Bassett. This comprised of the bits of Christmas that we didn’t need anymore. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say our vast collection of empty bottles. I didn’t take my camera but wished I had for the site is neatly tucked away amidst a wooded area and it’s not as busy and hostile as the one on the northern side of Chippenham, so I might even dare to describe it as serene. But what sets it aside from all the other household recycling sites I have visited down the years is the magnificent view from atop the metal gantry that sits between the skips for unwanted cardboard and for cast off cast iron objects. I hadn’t noticed before that there was a nearby lake (or more likely a flooded quarry) which had become a home for hundreds of waterfowl. In fact, not far beyond the lake there is a large country house which has in recent years become a home for Robbie Williams but, rather strangely, the birds don’t seem to mind. I suppose I’d be able to cope better with him too if I was able to fly over his house and bombard him with the contents of my bowels.
So that was my fourth day of Christmas. Not all that Christmassy really but I enjoyed it in a lazy, leisurely way and I ate more leftover food and drank more leftover wine. I ate one or two sweets too. I’ve enjoyed all of the sweets we got in for Christmas this year bar the humbugs.